Overcoming Anxiety

God's answersI remember visiting Denver, Colorado. The scenery was so breathtaking, so I decided to go for an early morning hike. Quickly I discovered that my hike became breathtaking in more than one way! Even though I was in good shape, I had a hard time getting my breath because of the mile-high atmosphere.

I learned later that this is why many top athletes train in high elevation: it increases their lung capacity and endurance so that they now have an advantage when they compete against others.

God trains us on His mountains, but He made us to live and minister in the valleys. Our ascent into God’s mountaintop presence is so important for godly maturity!

In the first song of ascent, I noticed something unusual in the very first verse. Some Bibles translate the verbs in the present tense (I call on the Lord and He answers me), but some translations use the past tense (I called on the Lord and He answered me). Which is correct? Actually both of them are correct!

The verbs are written in the perfect tense—something done at a specific point in the past, but still relevant and powerful in the present. In other words, we can say it like this, “I called on the Lord in the past and He most definitely answered me. That gives me confidence to call on the Lord today, knowing that He will answer me again.”

Past answers lead to present power and future hope.

But—oh wow!!—check out how God answers us! The word literally means that God answers us in song. God so loves it when you trust Him enough to bring all your cares to Him, that He sings His answer to you. For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty Savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs (Zephaniah 3:17).

If we don’t continue to recall how God has answered us in the past, we’re missing out on the blessing of hearing Him sing His answers over us again today. As a result, we begin to live in the world’s valley-level turmoil and anxiety.

Peace is longed for in verses 6 and 7. The Christian wants to live in peace, but the world loves turmoil. Want proof? Just look at what makes the headlines today! The solution is to keep going back to God again and again and again—

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

Check out the full message to find the peace you are longing for!

If you don’t have a home church, please join us this Sunday as we continue our look at the songs of ascent, or you can tune in to our live Periscope broadcast from wherever you are.

Psalms Of Ascent

The Psalms Of AscentEvery year, Jews from around the world made four pilgrimages to Jerusalem for various feasts and sacrifices. These journeys reminded them of God’s goodness as they went to the Temple to worship, and they helped refocus on God’s ways as they returned to their regular routines.

Jerusalem is over 2500 feet above sea level, so the pilgrimage there was a physical workout as well as a spiritual workout. So these times climbing up into God’s presence were beneficial for God’s people, preparing them to minister in their cities in the following months.

The Book of Psalms contains 15 songs that these pilgrims would sing to and with each other as they traveled up to Jerusalem. These Psalms of Ascent are still instructive for Christians today.

Please join me this Sunday as we begin a look at the life-changing truths these pilgrimage songs can still teach today to all of God’s people.

Love = Patience

PatienceLast week I wrote about how we can be empowered to get along with everyone, everywhere. But something I didn’t mention (which might be obvious) is this: Connecting with everybody, everywhere is hard work!

We have to remember that relationship is the goal. We’re not trying to make converts to Christianity and rack up some sort of high score. We’re building relationships with people because we love people; and that love for them should motivate us to:

  1. Want what’s best for them
  2. Be willing to serve them

The Bible says this: And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

Everyone?! There’s that word again!

This word patient has five parts to its definition. I’m struck by how these aspects of patience also echo the definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13

  • Patience doesn’t lose heartLove is patient (1 Corinthians 13:4a)
  • Patience endures misfortuneLove is not self-seeking (13:5a)
  • Patience is slow to angerLove is not easily angered (13:5b)
  • Patience bears with the offenses of othersLove keeps no record of wrongs (13:5c)
  • Patience perseveres bravelyLove always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (13:7-8)

How are you doing in your relationships? Are you losing heart? becoming angry? about ready to throw in the towel on a difficult relationship? Ask God to renew your love, and your patience level will increase as well. 

Let’s all strive to love others—even the difficult “others”—the way God loves us!

4 Ways To Share The Good News With Everyone

Everybody EveryoneJesus told His followers that their ministry assignment was to take His message of salvation throughout the entire world. One requirement to do this, is to be able to communicate with lots of people. Actually to be able to communicate with everyone.

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Romans 12:17-18)

Really? Everybody and everyone?!

Yes!

Jesus said our Helper would be the Holy Spirit. He would come to empower us to be witnesses to everyone, everybody, everywhere (Acts 1:8).

We have been learning how to communicate with others better, but noticing their communication style “accent.” Check out this post to get some more insight into this. In a nutshell…

  • Doers are action-oriented
  • Planners like to work out all the details
  • People want to make sure everyone is connected
  • Visions are imagining a better future

So if you are a Doer, and you’re trying to share the Good News about Jesus with a Planner, you can probably see a potential problem. The Doer is speaking in bullet points, but the Planner is wanting a lot more facts and figures.

This is where the Holy Spirit can help us. He has the insight that we don’t, and He can direct our words, just as He directed Christ’s words (see John 12:49-50).

Here’s how to talk their talk when you’re sharing the Good News:

(1) Doer

  • Keep it brief
  • Share more facts than stories
  • Stress now/today
  • Rely on the Gospel of Mark (action oriented)

(2) Planner

  • Tell them the who, what, where, when, why, and how
  • Be ready for lots of questions
  • Give them time to process your information
  • Rely on the Gospel of Matthew (lots of background, lots of Old Testament references to answer the who, what, where, when, why and how)

(3) People

  • Develop a friendship first
  • Share more stories than facts
  • Don’t tell them, show them your personal life
  • Rely on the Gospel of Luke (lots of personal stories about changed lives)

(4) Vision

  • Share both the facts and the stories
  • Encourage them to “Imagine what would happen …”
  • Give them time to ask questions
  • Rely on the Gospel of John (very poetic and image-rich)

You can connect with everyone, everybody, everywhere and share the Gospel with them in an effective way. Allow the Holy Spirit to give you the insight you need.

Check out how I describe this in more detail here…

Mom, Your Prayers ARE Making A Difference

Mother's loveOne day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother has several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Momma, why are some of your hairs white?” Spotting a teachable moment, her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for while and then asked, “Momma, how come all of grandma’s hairs are white?”

Mom, you have earned every one of those gray hairs or wrinkles through your loving care for us!

Gray hair is a mark of distinction, the award for a God-loyal life. (Proverbs 16:3)

The glory of the young is their strength; the gray hair of experience is the splendor of the old. (Proverbs 20:29)

Mom, your love for us can be summed up in one verse—Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

And the Apostle Paul’s words to a young preacher are just as true for Moms as they were for Timothy: Keep a close watch on how you live and on your teaching. Stay true to what is right for the sake of your own salvation and the salvation of those who hear you. (1 Timothy 4:16)

Don’t give up, Mom! You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised. (Hebrews 10:36)

What has God promised you about your family? Has He said your whole family will call on Jesus as their Savior? Then persevere in that. Has He said that your prodigal child will come home? Then persevere in that. Despite the odds, despite the obstacles, despite the setbacks, keep on loving them and praying for them. It IS making a difference!

Here’s an encouraging biblical example of a little-known Mom’s prayerful influence on a son that is listed in the genealogy of Jesus Christ…

Keep persevering in prayer, Mom. Your prayers ARE making a difference!

We ♥︎ Moms

 

We Love MomsThis Sunday is Mothers Day, and I cannot wait to celebrate the special ladies in our church. Both the biological Moms and the spiritual Moms have definitely earned my respect and admiration!

I’m going to share a special message about the power that comes when Moms persevere in prayer and a godly example. These prayers with the feminine touch not only change our present, but have a lasting impact for generations to come. In fact, we owe much of our spiritual heritage to those Moms who faithfully prayed.

Please bring Mom with you to Calvary Assembly of God this Sunday!

The Rewards For Getting Along With Difficult People

How To Get Along With OthersHere’s a shocking statement—Difficult people are difficult to get along with. I know, I probably just blew your mind with that one, but sometimes it’s important to state the obvious.

Christians should be the best at getting along with others. First of all, because they have the Holy Spirit to help them, and, second, because the world is watching to see if having a relationship with Jesus really does make a difference.

We’ve already learned that in order to change our behavior toward difficult people, we can’t change our behavior (check out my post on that topic here). Instead, we need to change our thoughts first. One thought to change is about ourselves, and another thought to change is the fact that Jesus promised rewards for those who loved difficult people—

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. (Luke 6:32-35)

One way to love others is by learning to “speak their language.” Most of us communicate with four different accents: Doer, People, Planner, Vision.

You can watch the video where I explain these styles in more detail, but you can learn their accent by listening for…

(1) How they handle stressful situations:

  • Doer—get hyper-focused
  • Planner—withdraw to plan
  • People—call a meeting
  • Vision—take time to daydream

(2) How they listen to others:

  • Doer—take short bullet points and then quick action
  • Planner—take detailed notes, and ask lots of detailed questions
  • People—make good eye contact, take very little notes, and then reiterate what was said
  • Vision—doodle, and express “ping pong ball” thoughts

(3) How they speak about folks with other “accents”:

  • Doer—this is taking too long; nothing ever gets done; they’re daydreamers
  • Planner—they jump the gun; they’re swayed by emotions; they’re unpredictable
  • People—why don’t they want to meet; they’re too aggressive; they’re too robotic
  • Vision—they don’t see the big picture; they’re too rigid; they’re too emotional

You CAN get along better with everyone. Romans 12:18 tells us that peaceful living with others depends on you and me. Let’s do this well so that Jesus is glorified!

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