7 Tips For A Better Night’s Sleep

Psalm 4.8It’s no secret that being tired can lead to a lot of not-so-nice consequences. Everything from automobile crashes, to poor work performance, to foot-in-mouth statements, to giving in to temptations, to health issues are all traced back to not getting enough peaceful sleep.

But did you know that sweet sleep is something God wants to give you?

Psalm 127 says, “God grants sleep to those He loves.” Guess what? God loves you, and wants you to have a peaceful night’s sleep!

Here are some benefits to getting solid sack time:

  1. Muscles are repaired—the body “turns off” muscles during sleep so they can repair themselves.
  2. The hormone leptin, that regulates your appetite, is adjusted.
  3. Your blood pressure is lowered.
  4. Your heart rate is lowered.
  5. The energy-producing cells we all need are restocked.
  6. Your immune system is re-energized.
  7. Memories are consolidated from short-term memory banks to long-term memories.
  8. The hormones that allow you to concentrate are replenished.
  9. Your “database” of decision-making options is re-calibrated.
  10. Bottom line—you get healthier physically, mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.

All of this God wants to give to those He loves. “God loves me, so I’m going to sleep peacefully tonight!”

The problem is we often sabotage God’s blessing of sweet sleep by our own poor decisions during the day. So here are seven things you can do to cooperate with God’s blessing of sleep:

  1. Reduce stress. Stress causes your body to release cortisol, which prepares your body for fight-or-flight. This means when you’re trying to quiet down for the night, your body is still screaming, “Go, go go!” Stress is mainly triggered by worrying over things outside of our control, so check out what Jesus said to us about not worrying—Matthew 6:25-34.
  2. Reduce late-day caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours, so if you are pouring it into your body late in the date, you might fall into bed exhausted but the caffeine is keeping your brain buzzing. As a result, you don’t have the normal deep sleep patterns.
  3. Eliminate emotional caffeine. Arguments with other people release cortisol and adrenaline in your bloodstream. If these disagreements are happening later in the day, your body is fighting against God’s plan for your tranquil sleep. So take care of any disagreements quickly (Ephesians 4:26).
  4. Exercise. Getting some movement into your daily routine flushes cortisol and adrenaline from your bloodstream.
  5. Go to bed and get up at the same time. There’s a reason God made the sun to rise and set at predictable times. Your body also functions best on a predictable schedule.
  6. Reduce “blue lights” close to bed time. The blue light waves of dawn tell our bodies to stop releasing melatonin, the sleepy hormone. The red light waves of dusk tell our bodies to increase melatonin so we can go to sleep. But when we’re staring into the blue light of our phones and tablets, our body is being sent a conflicting signal.
  7. Pray. Two great passages you can pray before bedtime are Psalm 4:8 and Proverbs 3:24. Claim those promises of sweet sleep!

God loves you. He wants to give you the blessing of peaceful sleep. If you’re going to sleep peacefully tonight, make sure you are not sabotaging what God wants to give you.

10 Quotes From “The Psychology Of Redemption”

The Psychology Of RedemptionOswald Chambers always gives me a paradigm-expanding look at the Bible and Christianity. In The Psychology Of Redemption (see my book review here), he does so in a unique way, by joining psychology and theology. Here are just a few of the many, many passages I highlighted in this fascinating book.

“Christian Psychology is the study of a supernatural life made natural in our human life by the Redemption.” 

“Sin dwells in human nature, but the Bible makes it very clear that it is an abnormal thing, it has no right there, it does not belong to human nature as God designed it. Sin has come into human nature and perverted and twisted it. The Redemption of God through our Lord Jesus Christ delivers human nature from sin, and then begins the possibility of the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. We are saved by God’s grace, but, thank God, we have something to do. We must take care to meet God’s supernatural work of grace by our human obedience.”

“The vital relationship which the Christian has to the Bible is not that he worships the letter, but that the Holy Spirit makes the words of the Bible spirit and life to him.” 

“The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice through our physical life all that God has put in our hearts by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes we shall find that we have not only God’s grace to stand by us but our own nature also, and the crisis is passed without any disaster, but exactly the opposite happens, the soul is build up into a stronger attitude towards God.”

“Jesus Christ sets the standard of God’s life in us. We have not to ask what good men have experienced, but to go direct to the Lord Jesus Christ and study His exhibition of the character of God’s normal man.”

“When Christ is formed in us, we are a satisfaction to our Lord and Master wherever He places us. The point of importance is to know that we are just exactly where He has engineered our circumstances. There is no ‘foreign field’ to our Lord.”

“Another evidence of new birth is that we see the rule of God. We no longer see the haphazard of chance for fate, but by the experience of new birth we are in able to see the rule of God everywhere. … We all see the common occurrences of our daily life, but who amongst us can perceive the arm of the Lord behind them? The saint recognizes in all the ordinary circumstances of his life the hand of God and the rule of God, and Jesus says we cannot do that unless we are born from above. … Nothing happens by chance to a saint, no matter how haphazard it seems. It is the order of God.”

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.”

“We have to nourish the life of the Son of God in us, and we do it by obedience, that is, by bringing our natural life into accordance with His life and transforming it into a spiritual life.”

“The curse of much modern religion is that it makes us so desperately interested in ourselves, so overweeningly concerned about our own whiteness. Jesus Christ was absolutely interested in God, and the saint is to be a simple, unaffected, natural human being in dwelt by the Spirit of God. If the saint is paying attention to the Source, Jesus Christ, out of him and unconsciously to him are flowing the rivers of living water wherever he goes (John 7:37-39). Men are either getting better or worse because of us.”

To read more Oswald Chambers quotes, you may want to subscribe to my blog. Every Thursday I publish a lengthy passage from the current Chambers book I am reading. You can subscribe by simply filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of the screen.

I also share Oswald Chambers quotes frequently on both Twitter and Tumblr.

Spend This Week For God

Joseph AlleineJoseph Alleine was very concerned about using every moment of his time to honor God. He wrote, “Give me a Christian that counts his time more precious than gold.” To help him do this, he built in reminders to his weekly journaling and prayer times.

At the beginning of each week he wrote in his journal—“Another week is now before us, let us spend this week for God.”

And each morning he wrote in his journal—“Let us live this one day well!”

The Bible instructs us to:

What can you do this week to make sure that you spend this week for God?

John Piper On Defeating Lust

John Piper“Faith is not content with ‘fleeting pleasures.’ It is ravenous for joy. And the Word of God says, ‘In Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11). So faith will not be sidetracked into sin. It will not give up so easily in its quest for maximum joy.

“The role of God’s Word is to feed faith’s appetite for God. And, in doing this, it weans my heart away from the deceptive taste of lust.

“At first, lust begins to trick me into feeling that I would really miss out on some great satisfaction if I followed the path of purity. But then I take up the sword of the Spirit and begin to fight. …

“As I pray for my faith to be satisfied with God’s life and peace, the sword of the Spirit carves the sugar coating off the poison of lust. I see it for what it is. And by the grace of God, its alluring power is broken.” —John Piper

6 Quotes From “The Fi5th Gospel”

The Fi5th GospelI have been watching the One Minute Apologist videos from Bobby Conway for quite awhile, and find them very helpful. Recently I finished a reading plan in YouVersion based on Bobby’s book The Fi5th Gospel. Here are a few quotes that especially caught my attention.

“If I am the only Gospel people will ever experience are they experiencing the true Gospel?”

“At no other time in human history has God so plainly and blatantly revealed Himself than at Calvary. At no point has He so graphically uncovered His heart for mankind. It was there, on a hill outside Jerusalem, the Messiah bled for us, suffering hellish agony and sin-induced banishment, all the while enduring the brutal wrath of a holy and righteous God.”

“The exclamation point to this graphic love letter to us was the resurrection—Jesus’ conquering moment of triumph over sin, satan, and the grave. This is what Christians are all about right? It’s how we are saved. Take away the Cross and we’re no different from any other religious idea. It’s Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection. Strip away all the modern church fluff and this is what you find at the core of our faith. It’s essential. Nonnegotiable. Undeniable. It’s what makes us who we are. It’s what makes Christians ‘Christian.’ And it’s why Jesus is the answer to all of life’s deepest issues.”

“The sacrifice [God] requires isn’t death on a cross, but rather death to our pride and fear of what other might think. God just wants us to be proud of Jesus and what He has done for us. He wants us to be unashamed of His Son.”

“Though we were originally created in God’s image, God’s reflection in us was marred in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. And though His image wasn’t completely erased, it was defaced and tarnished. When you trusted in Christ, the Holy Spirit began a beautiful work of ‘image restoration’ in you; masterfully remaking you to more accurately reflect God’s virtue. He began sculpting, forming, and transforming your character to better display Christ to the world. You become His image-bearer, and His ongoing work in your life distinguishes you from the world. This is a lifelong process, by the way, and one God is committed to completing.”

“None of us will ever perfectly represent God’s character. As long as we’re on this earth, we’ll have imperfections. And it’s these imperfections that some unbelievers are quick (and happy) to point out and expose. But there is value in listening to what others say, of taking an honest look in the mirror, of stepping into an unbeliever’s shoes to see what they perceive about Jesus and His bride. Think of it as a spiritual awareness-building exercise.”

10 Quotes From “Letters To A Birmingham Jail”

Letters To A Birmingham JailIn Letters To A Birmingham Jail, it was very eye-opening to read how modern-day clergy respond to Dr. Martin Luther King’s 50-year-old “Letter From A Birmingham Jail.” What an innovative book! Check out my review of this book by clicking here, and then enjoy a few quotes.

“Our nation is losing a sense of gratitude for the abundance and great bounty that God has bestowed upon us. In America we have witnessed the god of materialism sink his teeth into the fabric of the human soul. He has unleashed a spirit of rugged individualism, fueled by selfish greed. This has become normalized behavior that discourages a care for the other, and especially for the poor. The hope for America is that we will see our responsibility to care for the least among us in recognition of the truth that every person is created in the very image of God.” —John Perkins

“God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated churches where the gospel is cherished—these are the birthplace of the kind of racial harmony that gives long-term glory to God and long-term gospel good to the world.” —John Piper

“Some may have quoted, ‘Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!’ (Psalm 27:14). But this call to wait for the Lord never meant stop doing what He commanded us to do in the pursuit of holy goals. Waiting for the Lord means our action is essential, but His is decisive. The farmer must wait for the harvest. But no one works harder than the farmer.” —John Piper

“Now, to be sure the Bible teaches that the government does exist for the well-being of the people; but too many Christians got lock-jaw, saying very little or nothing when in fact the country needed the engagement of the church and a word from God. Silence and business as usual did severe damage to our prophetic integrity. We’ve made progress but our efforts are still woefully inadequate.” —Crawford W. Loritts, Jr.

“I believe from Genesis to Revelation that God is the God of all nations and all peoples. He created all things, including all peoples, all people groups, all races, and all skin colors. From the beginning of the Bible to the end of the Bible, you see God redeeming all people to Himself. John 3:16 tells us God sent Jesus because ‘God so loved the world.’ The Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the earliest church plants. The gospel-dominated people of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John spilled over into the launching of gospel communities, or church plants in Acts. Racial and cultural issues surfaced almost immediately. Jesus had actually been the One to begin stirring the pot in His ministry as He intentionally went to Samaria, and did all sorts of things with and for Gentiles that Jewish men were not supposed to do.” —John Bryson

“If the torrential force of the first church as found in the book of Acts is to become our twenty-first-century reality, then the faces of most of our churches must look like the faces of the first-century church: multiethnic.” —Bryan Loritts

“If folks feel that this kind of ‘affirmative action’ equals ‘reverse discrimination,’ we can gently lead them to the apostolic solution to the racial controversy in Acts 6:1-7, where the men appointed to resolve a serious ethnic crisis all appear to be from the minority Hellenistic population! It’s called Christian wisdom.” —Sandy Willson

“The mission of the church, the pursuit of the legacy of Christ, cannot simply be about business and culture as usual. If we allow it to be so simple, we will soon find ourselves in the trap the disciples are caught in as they begin to walk around Samaria out of habit, only to notice that Jesus is going a different way. How often this conflict arises when we attempt to follow Jesus! We set out with the best of intentions, and soon find ourselves not following Him but expecting Him to follow us. The sin in us longs to travel only the road that offers comfort and familiarity. Yet Jesus unapologetically walks the more challenging road, inviting us to witness what He will do if we choose to follow.” —Albert Tate

“Diversity is an implication and hope fueled by the gospel, but it is not the good news. Yet, while the gospel and diversity are not equal ideas, diversity is nevertheless an issue that we are weak in and need to grow in—an issue that requires much time, energy, and prayer.” —Matt Chandler

“Producing homogenous churches can be done with relative ease and a total lack of dependence on the Spirit.” —Matt Chandler

How To Escape Your Fears

Jesus is ChampionFear is crippling. Fear robs us of seizing opportunities. Fear cuts short the abundant life God desires for us to have. One definition of fear captures it well: F.E.A.R is False Evidence Appearing Real.

Oversized fears can turn into what psychologists call phobias. One website actually lists 543 unique phobias!

Where does this fear come from? Why are so many plagued by fears?

I believe the answer is found in this: fearful people aren’t looking far enough ahead. They are looking at their fears, and not the Champion of their fears.

King David knew what it was to have assassins stalking him, to be on the run for his life, to not know if someone was a friend or foe, to not even know where he was going to sleep at night. So he begins his second song of ascent with this thought: “If the Lord had not been on our side, here’s a list of really bad things that would have happened to us.”

Notice the “if” statements. David is not saying “if there were no God,” of “if God didn’t care for us.” In other words, David is clearly saying that God exists, and that God is for us!

I like this—Oh, blessed be God! He didn’t go off and leave us. He didn’t abandon us defenseless, helpless as a rabbit in a pack of snarling dogs (v. 6, in The Message).

David is not telling us how to escape our fears, but to begin celebrating that we have already been freed from our fears! 

We seem to think that satan and Jesus are still duking it out, that the outcome of the struggle is still up for grabs. I’ve got fantastic news: Jesus already won! He is already the Champion!!

We’ve flown free from their fangs, free of their traps, free as a bird. Their grip is broken; we’re free as a bird in flight (v. 7, The Message).

Speaking of birds flying free, J.B. Figgis wrote, “Do you find yourself asking, ‘But am I to step out onto nothing?’ That is exactly what the bird is seemingly asked to do, yet we know that the air is there and that the air is not nearly as insubstantial as it seems. And you know that the promises of God are there, and they certainly are not insubstantial at all” (emphasis added).

What fears plague you? Jesus has already set you free from that. The battle has already been won. You just need to find the promise of God in the Bible that tells you how He has canceled that fear.

Now begin to swing that promise like a sword at your fear every time it raises its ugly head! Stop being crippled by your fear, and lift your eyes up to the Maker of heaven and earth who has set you free!

Check out my full message on this song of ascent—

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