Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe. - Hebrews 12:28, HCSB
Stress! It's a word we hear or read a lot about. Medical professionals are concerned with the effect stress has on our bodies. Mental health professionals are concerned with the long-term effects on our personality, our temperament, and our spirit. Stress affects every area of our lives - our relationships, our jobs, our down time, our health - you name it, stress shows up.
So how do we deal with stress as Christians? The advice and opinions available, both on the internet and from books, is overwhelming, and much of it seems to conflict with a Christian perspective. So again, how do we deal with stress and live confidently in grace so we can serve God acceptably?
First, maintain an attitude of worship. A. W. Tozer said, “To maintain a lifestyle of worship, we must attend to it on a daily basis. If you regulate worship to a once-a-week event, you really do not understand it, and it will take a low priority in your life.” Worship is not a service we attend, but it is an act of the will. I must choose to worship daily. In each moment, I decide to honor Christ, or to act on my own without thought of how my actions affect Him. We are commanded in the Scriptures to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). I can't say that it is easy, though. It takes determination and a conscious choice to learn to worship moment-by-moment. I will say that it becomes easier the more I practice, and the practice is so worth it! The greatest benefit is the joy of staying focused on Christ. A wonderful side-benefit is that it is nearly impossible to feel stressed when I'm worshipping throughout the day.
Second, don't be afraid to seek help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We are commanded to bear our own load (Gal. 6:5), so we should not expect to have everyone do everything for us. Yet, while we do everything we can to the best of our abilities, there are times when we need assistance. That's why God also commanded us to bear one another's burdens (Gal. 6:2). In Philippians 2, we are told to think about what matters to others, not just about what matters to us. Be honest with yourself. Can you truly carry this load? Sometimes, we take on more than we should in an attempt to gain the approval of others. Or, we feel that we are the only ones capable of handling the burden. Either approach is incorrect and will lead to defeat.
If you feel stressed, stop what you're doing, or at least stop what you're thinking! Re-focus. Start with saying "thank you" about something - anything. Then, thank God for something else. Move to phrases of adoration, like "I love You, Lord, for saving me, for never abandoning me". Soon, you will be worshipping God, even if silently in your thoughts.
Next, don't be afraid to reach out to a trusted friend or advisor. In doing so, you are obeying the Scriptures, and obedience is never a sign of weakness.
It's your choice!
Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.
- written by John H. Sammis
When I am afraid, I will trust in You. - Psalm 56:3, HCSB
My youngest son was born premature with many health issues, the most concerning one being a serious issue with his heart. We have known since the day he was born that at some point in his life, he would need open-heart surgery.
God blessed us with a wonderful pediatric cardiologist. The care regimen that she set up for Jude allowed for him to grow and flourish in spite of his serious heart condition. Most folks would never know by watching him that such a critical problem resided inside the active child they saw.
This past summer, a new procedure was offered to us that would be minimally invasive but fix the problem for Jude via a catheter instead of opening up his chest. It was wonderful news and we agreed to let the hospital try this new procedure.
The night before the scheduled procedure, I didn't sleep at all. I discovered something rather unpleasant about myself. I struggle trusting!! I've always had difficulty trusting people because of past hurts and betrayals. Yet, I was struggling trusting God.
Now, God and I have been through many dark valleys together. At times, I have felt I was drowning in oceans of despair, but not once did God fail me. Don't get me wrong! Those dark experiences were difficult and in the middle of the furor, I did lose sight of God's comfort and help. Still, looking back, God did not fail!
So why was I struggling so hard to trust God now? I wanted to trust Him. Desperately! I wanted the words from the songs that echoed in my mind to be true. I wanted to go through this experience with absolute confidence in my Heavenly Father, but I struggled. All night, I wrestled with my fear and lack of faith. I repented over and over again for my doubts, but still the struggle raged in my heart.
An esophageal echocardiogram revealed that Jude was not a good candidate for this new procedure, so we are still looking at open-heart surgery. I don't know exactly how I'll handle the days before that happens. I'd love to think that I would rest confidently in my Father's love.
However, if that doesn't happen, if I find myself gripped with fear and doubt, I will trust. Notice that is an action, a deliberate choice. I will trust! Even if I must choose to trust again and again, every moment as the battle of fear goes on in my mind, I will trust. Why? I remember the dark times we've been through. I remember the answered prayers. I remember His incredible mercy in saving me. I remember His grace that I live in every day. So, in spite of the storm, I will choose to trust!
No matter the storms that come my way
No matter the trials I may face
You promised that You would see me through
So I will trust in You.
(written by Michael Popham, Regi Stone)
Copyright: kevron2001 / 123RF Stock Photo
For You are my hope, Lord GOD, my confidence from my youth. - Psalm 71:5, HCSB
When I was about 11 years old, my parents went through a very difficult time in their lives. My mom was very pregnant with her sixth child. My dad resigned from pastoring a small church in Rincon, GA, so they were suddenly without an income. The reasons behind the resignation are an entirely different story, but I'll just say that my father was trying to do the right thing, even if the right thing was extremely difficult.
A friend arranged for our family to stay in a tiny little pull-behind trailer that couldn't have been more than 18 feet long! I don't think many women would have managed to keep it together like my mother did. She had a 2-1/2-year-old toddler, two rambunctious boys, 4-1/2 and 7, and two girls, 9 and 11. She has 8 months pregnant so I don't know how she even turned around in that little tiny trailer. She hung two blankets outside the trailer to make a shower, using the side of the trailer as the third wall. Dad would pour water over the blankets for us to "shower" in. There wasn't a 4th wall; it was open to the woods!!
The lot that this magnificent little trailer was parked on had a well, but the water was full of sand. Every drop of water for cooking and drinking had to run through a dishcloth to catch all the sand.
To top things off, Mom and Dad tried to plant a garden (yes, while she was 8 months pregnant!). Her reward for her efforts was a horrible case of poison ivy all over her feet and hands. I remember a few tears of frustration at that point!
Just before the baby was born, someone arranged for us to move into a two-bedroom mobile home (on the same lot with the sandy well!). We thought it was a mansion compared to the little bitty trailer we had been trying to live in! My sister and I and the newborn slept in a bedroom on one end, and the other three children slept in a bedroom on the other end. My parents slept on the floor in the living room. Every morning, my mom had to put her "bedroom" away so we could have a place to sit.
Looking back now as a parent, I realize just how difficult that time must have been for both of my parents. My parents never argued or complained in front of us children. We played, ran, jumped, explored - all the things children love to do and we were happy. We were blissfully unaware of the dark, emotional trial my parents were enduring. We weren't troubled at all! We just knew we were loved and had absolute confidence that Mom and Dad would always watch over us.
If only we had that same absolute faith in our heavenly Father! Perhaps that child-like faith is what Jesus was referring to when He said, "I assure you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 18:3). It doesn't matter what storm, trial, or trouble is brewing, my Father watches over me!
Let not your heart be troubled
His tender words I hear,
And resting on His goodness
I lose my doubt and fear.
Tho' by the path He leadeth, but one step I may see,
His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.
(written by Charles Hutchinson Gabriel)
For I will be merciful to their wrongdoing, and I will never again remember their sins. - Hebrews 8:12, HCSB
This summer, I've been endeavoring to learn a new software program called Sketchup Pro. It is very cool and very intimidating at the same time. I'm so glad someone started the "For Dummies" series because I have watched a lot of "Sketchup for Dummies" videos on YouTube. I'm considering ordering the "Sketchup for Dummies" book.
One thing I have learned very quickly is that I can just draw a box around my project, highlight the entire thing and hit the delete button. Then I can start all over again. I've lost count of how many times I've used that feature. As I'm learning, I would realize that I should have done something or not done something before I got to a certain step, so I would start over. I would make progress again and then reach a point where I realized that I forgot a critical detail, so I would start over. Highlight, delete, start over - pretty simple!
That would be a nice feature in life, wouldn't it? Too many times, I've said, "If I only knew then, what I know now, I would have done things differently." Or, I've looked back and questioned, "Why? Just what was I thinking?" Sound familiar? If only I could highlight that moment in time, delete and do it over!
Life isn't a software program, although we do have the ultimate "Life for Dummies" book. Without the guidance of the Scriptures, I know that I would have stayed lost. And those moments we wish we could do over? We can't delete them, but somehow God does delete their memory. Psalm 103:12 says, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us." As humans, we can't help recalling memories, even of things we want to forgive. Yet, God doesn't even recall the memories. Omniscient God doesn't recall my sin! This is amazing, beautiful and wondrous!
Don't allow your past sins, past mistakes, past errors in judgment to shackle you today. To quote Spurgeon, "No stocks can hold a man as fast as his own guilty fears." There is forgiveness! That's the whole point of redemption's plan, isn't it? Forgiveness! What a blessed gift from the Divine! Live in that comfort now and allow it to empower you to do what you should today.
O infinite grace! O what wonderful love!
Oh love of the One I adore!
For a sinner unworthy, Christ came from above
He remembers my sins no more. (by Floyd W. Hawkins)
My name is Lynn Pauley. I'm just a normal woman, with normal struggles. Any success I've found comes from following the Scriptures. I'll update this blog as time and inspiration permit.