Three Things to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

It is so easy in today’s world to get to a point where we feel overwhelmed. Primarily, we are always connected technologically to the outside world, so we often don’t have buffers that guard our decompression time. Western civilizations are very task oriented cultures. We have objectives that need completed and boxes that need checked.

It can be difficult to identify times when we feel overwhelmed. A lot of this has to do with how each personality type deals with stress, but most often we just don’t slow down enough to evaluate why we feel the way we do. Feelings of tremendous anxiety and lack of control could be indicators that you are under a lot of pressure. Or maybe you deal with demand by disengaging and pursuing your hobbies till you are habitually lazy. Whatever your behavior, here are three action steps to help you correct an overwhelmed spirit.

  1. Get some stuff done. Sometimes feelings are just that, feelings. You may feel like you have too much to do, but with the right time management and a little hard work, you can complete your check list. Accomplish one item at a time. Finishing your to–do list one task at a time will help you get motivated when you see things are getting done, rather than being overwhelmed from all that isn’t finished.
  2. Take some time off/away. The key to this principle is balance. As I mentioned earlier, it can become easy to avoid tasks by escaping them. Taking time for yourself is supposed to rejuvenate and energize you for the upcoming work load, not give you an avenue of escape. Create a reward system that allows you to enjoy some free time when you get a desired amount of work done.
  3. Get away and get intimate with God. We read repeatedly in the gospels of times when Jesus stepped away from his earthly demands to be with the Father. If Jesus was God in the flesh, what makes us think we don’t need a supernatural recharge? I will use myself as an example. If I feel my spirit sinking in all I have to do, often times I like to break away and watch the sun set. While I watch, I pray. I vent, rant, or communicate with God in any way that may help me feel relief. Find your way of decompressing with the Lord. It’s the best solution.

In conclusion, make sure to maintain balance in your work life. It is easy to take on more than we can handle. Know your limits and try to circumvent pressure failures in your life before its too late.

God bless, and have a great Saturday.

The Solution to Our Turbulent Times

If you were to open up the Christian Post yesterday, you would have read numerous articles about persecution, absurd violence, and our failing political system. In the past, we would expect emotionally shaking stories like those to be written about different areas of the world. However, these stories were addressing our homeland, America.

Amidst all of this discord, people are looking for a solution. As I have written before, the solution is not a politician or an economic guru. A five-star general is not going to solve our foreign policy woes. The answer resides in the individual hearts of you and I. We are Christians. We are Americans. We bear the solution.

Our country is turning a moral curve that we will most likely not recover from. As my wise mother observed, if we want Christ to return soon, this is the type of world we can expect to be living in. As His return gets nearer, the world becomes more out of control. We have to learn to live in a restless world without submitting to fear and anxiety.

What is my proposed solution? The solution is simple. We must be completely surrendered Christians. We must be pure representations of Christ. We must love our Bibles more than our favorite Netflix shows. We have to take our relationships as seriously as we take our social media profiles. We have to be as devoted to serving our local church (and attending!) as we are our favorite hobbies. I believe there is a day coming in our country where nominal Christianity will be a thing of the past. Now is the time to seek God and beg him that he be your supreme satisfaction and passion.

Not once in the New Testament do we see an encouragement to be moderately committed Christians. There is no verse that tells us to seek the appropriate “dose” of God in our lives. Our lives our short. We have to make them count. Loving God and knowing him is all that matters. Nothing satisfies like knowing him.

So, Christian, I want to offer a word of encouragement to you. Please start making intentional choices to seek the Lord above and before all the things of this world. We will not last as the body of Christ if we do not learn to love him first, serve him with everything, and live for him only. Let’s shake the foundations of our country by being faithful to God, not just for the sake of revolution, but for righteousness and obedience as well! Let’s change our culture by loving like Jesus! Let’s start having quiet times that make us radically more like Jesus! Let’s give all of ourselves to knowing Christ and making him known! Let’s build the kingdom of God and leave the consequences to Him.

God bless, and I pray y’all have a wonderful Tuesday.

Photograph taken by Lucy Chian

Three Things to Remember When Sharing Your Testimony

Sharing your testimony can be intimidating. It is easy to over analyze what you said and over think your recipient’s response. I have noticed that many people have some harmful tendencies when it comes to sharing their story. I decided to write about three actions to avoid when sharing your testimony.

  1. Remember the purpose of sharing your testimony. I have heard quiet a few people share their life stories and I left feeling more defeated than uplifted. Since our past struggles are often strong memories, it is easy to want to focus on them. The purpose of a testimony is to show the faithfulness of the Lord to save and sanctify his people. Although not always care – free, those both are positive processes in the life of the believer.
  2. Focus on victory. It is easy to fall into the trap of insecurity when sharing your testimony. Everyone is moved by a powerful story of God quickly yanking someone from destructive sins. Honestly, the story of the 23-year-old drug addict is usually going to be inspiring, but that doesn’t make it more powerful than the story of a faithful 70-year-old man. Be honest about your story and confident. Its your story for a reason! Share it with humility and contentment. You shouldn’t be ashamed because you didn’t live recklessly in the past or walk away from the faith for a season.
  3. Share your testimony with passion. If you’re not excited about what God has done and is doing in your life, why would you expect a response from your listener? If someone is not excited about their favorite hobby, I am not going to have any desire to investigate what they are professing to love. How much more do we have to be intentional when discussing salvation! Even if you don’t feel the excitement, do your best to stress how important this decision is. Their lives depend on it.

No one is the perfect evangelist. Thank God he gives us the help of the Holy Spirit when we are sharing the gospel. Make sure you are not relying on technique. People want conversation and genuine interest. A personal connection will take you far when sharing your faith, and the three pointers above will help you find that connection.

I hope you all had a wonderful Saturday. God bless!

Photograph taken by David Marcu

Are You Pursuing Holiness?

New International Version: “For it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:16)

I see a scary trend happening among Christians. There is an acceptance of compromise in our walks with Christ. I have had conversations and overheard Christians sharing their convictions (or lack thereof) about issues that have a great impact on their relationship with the Lord.

What leads people to accept compromise in their convictions is a false understanding of holiness. Holiness is not defined as perfection. Perfection leads us to defeat; holiness inspires us to worship. Perfection pursues the right appearance. Holiness desires a pure heart. The church seems to have mixed the two up.

Observe this definition of holiness provided by BibleStudyTools.com: “Personal holiness is a work of gradual development. It is carried on under many hindrances, hence the frequent admonitions to watchfulness, prayer, and perseverance (1).” Holiness is being lead by the Lord, with an undefiled heart, towards a more perfect union with Him.

I propose three ways to check yourself to see if you are pursuing holiness in your life with Christ. I was convicted myself as I wrote these words, but I think they are practical and helpful insights.

  1. Check your heart.What is your heart yearning for? What stirs your affections and desires at the deepest level? Granted, there are many good things in our lives (e.g. family, friends, material possessions), but none should cause more of a stirring of emotion than thinking of Jesus.
  2. Check your mouth.The mouth will always indicate what is in the heart, given enough time. If you are compromising in your language, you have probably become complacent with compromise in other areas. Ask others around you how your tone sounds. Are you communicating with an edge? Maybe you are being short and don’t realize it. This is a regular check up for me. My tone can tell me a lot about the state of my heart.
  3. Check your entertainment choices. I’m not going to delve too deeply here since a lot of entertainment is a matter of personal conviction, but if you are actively searching and seeking material that clearly violates God’s desire for your purity, chances are you aren’t pursing holiness with your whole heart.

I hope you are encouraged by this post. My desire is that you realize holiness is not meeting a standard on your own. Rather, it is the action of setting your heart aside for the Lord and pursuing purity for the sake of your relationship with God!

Remember He loves you and wants to commune with you. He desires holiness because he desires you, and he wants all of you!

God bless, and have a wonderful Saturday!

(1) http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/holiness/

Photograph taken by Stefan Kunze

Three Benefits of Being a Humble Person

Proverbs 3:34 (GNT)

“He has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.”

Humility is both an endearing and elusive quality. People who are described as humble by others could be said to possess character traits like “unassuming, fun – loving, relaxed, nonjudgmental, or non – confrontational.” Here is the bottom line: humble people are attractive people.

Although we Christians understand that there are plenty of benefits to being a humble person, we often times find it difficult to practice this aspect of Christ – like behavior. I think there are three baseline problems that cause pride.

1.Familiar settings/surroundings.It is easy to be “in our element” at work, home, or school and feel very comfortable. We are most likely well known and feel capable in that particular place, so our need for provision appears to be less.

2. Sin in the life of the believer.Sin can create a skewed perspective of self and others. Repetitive sin leads to shame and shame leads to a misunderstanding of Christian identity and belonging. For some reason, the response is to put up walls between ourselves and surrounding individuals, and this wall usually appears in the form of haughtiness and impersonal actions.

3. A natural disposition to believing we are better than others.Don’t be ashamed of it. We all think it to some level. Everyone on this planet believes in some shape and fashion that you are better than most people around you. It may not be full blown narcissism or a belief that you are better at everything, but it is hard to fight the feelings of superiority in your areas of expertise when they rise up, and that’s just one example.

To contrast the list above, here’s a list of three things that humble people enjoy that arrogant people cut themselves off of.

1.Honest relationships.Humble people have no pride to maintain, so they are willing to be honest. They are not looking for someone to support their sin struggles or tell them that they are “good.” This type of honesty allows for them to have strong relationships full of trust.

2. A gravitational pull.Allow me to explain. Humble people naturally draw in almost everyone. Why? First, they are Christ-like, and people are naturally drawn to the love of Christ. Second, humble people accept others for who they are because they don’t feel a threat to their security. Therefore, humble people can love people purely, and that’s attractive!

3. Experiencing the strong presence of God.Read the verse again at the top. There is not much else I can add. God is ready and willing to lavish his love on the humble. If you want more of God, you will have to have less of you.

So, let’s choose humility this week! You never know what relationships could develop, especially your relationship with Christ.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

When No One Is Watching

Luke 2:52: “And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.”

Philippians 1:6: “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.”

We are taught in the Bible that from the time of salvation until the time of our death, we are being sanctified, or “being made holy.” Our sanctification process is a sometimes painful, always insightful, and seemingly boring walk through a challenging life. What I want to focus on in this post is that last point – “seemingly boring.”

I value Luke 2:52 because this verse encapsulates so much important information into a short, simple statement. In fact, our next encounter with Jesus is found in Luke 3 when He gets baptized by John the Baptist. Much is left out but there is ample to be gathered from the silence as well.

We know that Jesus was a carpenter (sometimes translated “stone mason” from the original language) because He was the son of a carpenter, Joseph. Additionally, it was commonplace for sons to retain the trade of their fathers. Thus, we can pretty clearly assume Christ was a craftsman that was familiar with wood and stone.

He also grew up in a small town of Nazareth. This town was simple, quiet, and uneventful. This is where Jesus “increased in wisdom and in stature.”

I don’t know what stage of life you are in right now, but we can all admit there are boring days. Some days drag on with nothing exciting to anticipate. Routine can be stifling. Think about this: Christ’s process of becoming the complete Messiah took place in a town where no one was watching with anticipation, while doing a career that no one cared to know about, with a family that was insignificant, or so the outside world assumed.

You may feel like you are a small fish in a big pond. Maybe you feel lost in this massive world. I bet that some of you reading this are struggling with insignificance. You think because no one is reading your name in headlines or because no one knows the intensity of your struggle that you must not matter. You do!

Just as your Savior grew and developed spiritually and physically in anonymity, so you are being grown and reared in your time of obscurity. This time of quiet is where the Lord works out the salvation that He promised to you from the time you put your trust in Him.

Although on the exterior things may look pretty dreary, inside God is doing a miraculous work that could not be completely described with words! Choose God’s vantage point today. Rejoice in the fact that there are no wasted moments in the economy of God. I promise you He is completing you and making you more like his Son. So rejoice in the silence, the mundane, and the tiresome. God’s only getting started with you.

God bless, and have a great Saturday.

Photograph taken by Sandis Helvigs

Resting

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.’” – Matthew 11:28 (NLT)

As with a lot of Christian teaching, some of these statements loose their impact as they are overused. Over time, Scriptures like these can become dull. I want to avoid that. Hopefully this post will provide a fresh take on what it means to rest.

Although overused, this verse is one of the most comforting in all of Scripture. Christ gives us the opportunity to rest. Our world is busy, and rightfully so. It is noble to be driven to accomplish goals and to gather achievements but there are times when we have to simply rest.

Note that Christ is inviting, but also instructing us to rest. In fact, the word “come” in the Greek was followed by an imperative. In other words, Christ is trying to instruct you in a behavior that he knows is best for you.

So, now that we understand the presentation of Christ’s words, how do we put it into practice?

First, we have to make a conscious effort to allow Christ to stow our minds. Some people aren’t over thinkers (God bless you!), but regardless, we all have a propensity to get worked up and worried over any number of variables. Furthermore, sometimes we are busy finding solutions for problems, analyzing relationships, planning, or any number of mentally taxing activities. Therefore, our minds must be submitted to hearing the Lord and giving him some time to speak to us. Obviously, the best way to do this is in devotional time, when we “come to Him,” so to speak.

Second, rest is granted when we give him our “heavy burdens.” Prayer is indeed therapeutic. It allows us to process our problems while using the wisdom that comes from heaven via the Holy Spirit. Prayer gives a new perspective. It provides clarity of thought. It allows for meditation upon God’s precepts, his promises, and his provision. Seeing things from His point of view reminds us Who holds it all together, allowing us to relax when we realize we don’t have to control our worlds.

Last, receive His rest. Submitting control can be hard. It’s a challenge to trust someone else with your life. It only makes sense that we want to call the shots because no one cares more than we do – or at least we think that. God has our best interest in mind, and often times, we aren’t even thinking for our long term best. Learning to submit and be in His presence through quiet time will grant you that rejuvenation you need.

To review, spend some time in God’s Word and prayer, quiet your heart, submit your problems and concerns to His care, and trust him with the results.

God bless, and have a great Tuesday.

Photograph taken by Patrycja Tomaszczyk