The Carbon Monoxide Of Anxiety

Carbon monoxide can poison our bodies and our emotions

Carbon monoxide can poison our bodies and our emotions

Our human red blood cells have a unique protein that carries life-promoting oxygen throughout our bodies. Hemoglobin binds to both oxygen (O2) and carbon dioxide (CO2) in a way that holds them “loosely” so that they can be released at just the right place and time in our bodies.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the enemy of this respiration process. CO binds to hemoglobin 240 times more firmly than oxygen and CO2. With the CO so firmly attached to the hemoglobin, O2 and CO2 cannot be exchanged properly in our bodies. In other words, CO hijacks the respiration process. The sneaky thing is that CO is odorless, tasteless, and colorless, so it’s subtle poisoning. It simply brings about a lethargy that deepens into death.

As we move past Thanksgiving Day, I believe that a similar process can take place in our emotional lives. Thankfulness is the “oxygen” of our souls, and anxiety is the “carbon monoxide.”

In Philippians 4:6 Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything,” where he is echoing the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:25: “Do not worry about your life.” Anxiety and worry can begin to dominate our emotional life: they bind so tightly that thankfulness and gratitude are forced out. This leads to emotional lethargy, and—if not corrected quickly—emotional deadness.

The cure for carbon monoxide poisoning is to twofold: (1) remove the victim from the toxic environment, and (2) give the victim pure oxygen to breathe. The same cure holds true for emotional CO poisoning—(1) Get out of that environment: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6); and (2) get the pure emotional oxygen: Philippians 4:8 gives us the checklist for the pure oxygen of our emotional thought life: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.“

If you find yourself sighing, or emotionally drained, or even depressed, it could be that the carbon monoxide poisoning of anxiety has snuck in. Get out of that toxic environment by praying and giving thanks to God, and then guard against future hijack attempts by breathing deeply on the things which are pure and lovely and excellent.

Still Poppin’ Out

pop-out3

In an earlier post I wrote that my 8-year-old son, Brandon, was challenged by his children’s pastor to “Pop Out For Missions.” All of the kids in The Rock were challenged to give up pop, and get adults to sponsor them in raising money for missions. Brandon was reluctant to try this, as he loves his pop, but I offered to pop out with him, and we made it to Thanksgiving. In the process, Brandon raised $75 for missions!

Samantha, my 11-year-old daughter, took the same challenge. She could have been done today as well… and then Grandma & Grandpa upped the ante. My Mom & Dad offered to take their pledge from $10 to $25 if Samantha could continue to pop out until Christmas. Samantha was about to say, “One month was enough for me,” when I offered to continue popping out with her. Samantha agreed, so we’re continuing on for the sake of our missionaries.

Samantha has already raised over $100 in pledges. As she and I continue through Christmas, will you consider sponsoring us? All of the money we raise goes to BGMC (Boys & Girls Missionary Challenge) to buy teaching materials for our overseas Assembly of God missionaries. If you are willing to sponsor us, please comment below. Thanks!

Thanksgiving Thought from Mark Batterson

Just read a great reminder from Mark Batterson about Thanksgiving. Check it out.

The Village That Wasn’t There… Yet

In my devotional time I am studying the life and leadership of Joshua. This morning I was beginning to read the sleep-inducing list of boundaries and towns that were assigned to each of the Israelite tribes (Joshua 15). I read the description of the territory for the tribe of Judah, and I must admit that I sorta glossed over the names of all of the towns. I got to the last verse and was ready to move on, and then it hit me.

As a pastor I’m always thinking ahead to my next series of messages, and currently I’ve been thinking about our Christmas series. So all of a sudden it jumped out at me — something I didn’t read in that list of towns. I went back and re-read the list a little more slowly this time. Nope, still not there. I looked a third time at all 38 cities: still missing. There are a couple of very notable figures that dominate the Old and New Testaments, and they have something in common — King David and Jesus both come from the tribe of Judah. And both of them were born in Bethlehem.

But in the list of towns in Judah’s territory, there is absolutely no mention of Bethlehem.

This town either didn’t exist, or it was so “insignificant” that Joshua didn’t even think to mention it. It would be almost another 500 years before David would be born in Bethlehem, and then another 900 years or so after that before Jesus would be born in this tiny village.

God had in mind for the greatest earthly king in Israel’s history and the King of all kings to come from such humble origins… from a village that didn’t even make the list. On this Thanksgiving Day, I’m grateful to belong to a God who has time after time made a “Bethlehem” for me at just the right moment!

My friend, if you are facing a difficult situation today, know that God already has the answer. He already has a Bethlehem prepared for you!

How Do You Do “Without Ceasing”?

Acts 12:5 says “prayer was made without ceasing” while Peter was in prison. Okay, an intense circumstance calls for intense, prolonged prayer.

In Romans 1:9 Paul says, “without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers” (KJV). Sure, Paul wanted ministry to be effective in the capital of the Roman world so I can understand his constant prayers for the Roman Christians.

Paul tells Timothy, “without ceasing I remember you night and day in my prayers” (AMP). Right, the mentor is going to be passing the baton to his protege so I can understand his passionate prayer.

And then the Apostle Paul drops this one on all of us: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Seriously?!? How do I do this? I cannot be on my knees all day. I can’t even walk around praying all day. Or can I?

Prayer lists are a good start, but what about the rest of the day? I’ve been trying to build in reminders to pray in my day:

  • The necklace I wear is a gift from a friend. I breathe a quick prayer for him whenever I feel it slide.
  • When I see the ring on my finger from The Silver Ring Thing I pray for the purity of my children and the purity of their future spouses.
  • The carved pen on my desk is from missionary friends in Malawi… I ask God’s blessing on them whenever I write with it.
  • When I eat the lunch my wife packed for me, I pray that God will help her be an excellent teacher in her classroom.
  • One of my mugs is from the Chi Alpha pastors at Western Michigan University… as I sip my morning tea, I pray for them.

These are just a few of the ways I’m trying to train myself to pray without ceasing. Feel free to comment on what helps you to remember to pray without ceasing?

Saturdays At Panera

“A mentor has been defined as someone whose hindsight can become your foresight.” —Richard Edler

For almost three years I have had the privilege of being mentored by Hank Zampa. Once a month we meet at Panera and Hank pours into my life. Sometimes he simply lets me unpack my frustrations, sometimes he asks me challenging questions that cause me to rethink my current strategy, sometimes he gives me a word of encouragement or a book to read. His hindsight has been my foresight time and time again, and I am a better man because of that. And all of this came about because I simply recognized the need for a wise man to speak into my life, and I asked Hank if he would be willing to invest in me. I am so grateful he said “yes.”

Who are you allowing to speak into your life?

Heritage & Legacy

My heritage will be their legacy

My heritage will be their legacy

Heritage (hěr’ĭ-tĭj): something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth.

I’ve been reading today about the early history of the Assemblies of God, so I’ve been thinking about my own heritage. I am blessed to be the son of A/G Pentecostal parents; and both of my parents come from Pentecostal A/G parents too, as well as two Pentecostal great-grandmothers. That makes me a fourth-generation “holy roller”! But the definition of heritage says that just came to me by reason of my birth; in other words, I had nothing to do with making that happen.

Legacy (lěg’ə-sē): anything handed down from the past.

Whereas I had nothing to do with my heritage, I have everything to do with the legacy I leave behind. Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful (1 Corinthians 4:2).

Mom & Dad, thanks for the heritage you have entrusted to me. You have helped make me into the man I am today.

Harrison, Samantha & Brandon, with God helping me I promise to do my very best to leave you a legacy that will make you proud to be fifth-generation Pentecostals. May you be so equipped with my heritage to raise up the sixth generation of Pentecostals in our family!

All Means, Um, All

allWe started a new Sunday evening series called “All.” At least that’s the abbreviated title—the full title is “all the church taking all the gospel to all the world all the time by all the means necessary.”

Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:18-19). I am more and more amazed and disappointed in how this gets watered down…

  • “All the church can’t mean me because I’m nothing special.”
  • “All the gospel only means the part about ‘getting saved,’ right?”
  • “All the world is only for people who are called to be missionaries.”
  • “All the time is just for special ‘evangelical outreaches.’”
  • “All the means is just whatever happens in a typical church service.”

I checked Webster’s Dictionary and all means “wholly, entirely, completely.” I even checked my Greek Bible dictionary and discovered that all means, um, “all.” I think the problem comes from another word in that verse: therefore. If I don’t believe that I belong to Christ, then I’m not operating in all of His authority. If I’m not operating in His authority, I will more than likely find all the excuses I can to avoid being a part of the all Jesus intended.

Thank-Fullness Challenge

Write down 50 things for which you can give thanks

The Challenge: Write down 50 things for which you can give thanks

We began a new series on Sunday called “A Season Of Thanks,” by seeing how we have the ability to program our reticular activating system in our brains to allow in what we choose. If we are truly overflowing with thanks (thank-fullness) then we will see more things for which we can give thanks.

Here’s the challenge. We handed out the Full of thanks worksheet you see here, and I challenged everyone to write down 50 specific things for which they are thankful. I’ll admit to you that I had only filled in 23 blanks before my pen started slowing down, and by 36 I thought I was out of things for which I could give thanks. But then a quick look around and my pen started moving again and I could finish up all 50 blanks. I have so much for which I can give thanks!

How about you? Can you fill in all 50 blanks before Thanksgiving Day? Feel free to comment on what number you slowed down.

Thoughts At A Funeral

Jim Jesko

Jim Jesko

I attended a funeral today for Jim Jesko. I only met Jim a couple of times, but it was such a joy for me to celebrate his life today.

One of my life verses is found in 2 Timothy 2:2, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” I try to find reliable people in which I can invest because it always pays such great dividends.

Jim’s son, Aaron, was my next door neighbor in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had the privilege of leading him into a personal relationship with Jesus. Because of that investment, Aaron had the privilege of leading both his Dad and his brother, Scott, into that same relationship. Both Jim and Scott were water baptized on the same day, just four months ago. My investment into Aaron allowed him to invest into his Dad and Scott. Isn’t that the great thing about investments: If you invest wisely in reliable people, you always get back more than you put in!

Who are you investing in today?

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