Antidote For Anxiety

Anxiety is a joy-crushing, life-sapping, happiness-draining burden. Anxiety is also something that plagues more people around us than we care to admit.

But there is hope in our anxiety, because there is an antidote for our anxiety.

The Bible outlines a simple strategy that helps us not only recover from the downward pull of anxiety but also shows us how to quickly fight off anxiety the next time it rears its ugly face in our hearts.

Join me at Calvary Assembly of God every Sunday in November as we share the antidote for anxiety that will set you free and restore your happiness.

Godly Leaders Prayerfully Plan

“… I pray…grant me mercy in the sight of this man [King Artaxerxes]…” (Nehemiah 1:11).

Nehemiah prayed this in the month of Chislev. Four months later—in the month of Nisan—we read Nehemiah’s words, “So I prayed to the God of heaven” (2:4).

It took four months before God began to answer Nehemiah’s prayer, but he definitely wasn’t idle during this time!

During these four months, Nehemiah did more than pray; he planned. In Nisan, the king asked Nehemiah why he seemed heartsick.

“This is nothing but sorrow of heart,” said the king. “What’s bothering you, Nehemiah?”

“My hometown is in ruins,” replied Nehemiah.

Then the king asked, “What would you like to do?”

“So I prayed to the God of heaven. And then I said to the king…” (vv. 2-5).

Nehemiah’s request to King Artaxerxes was very specific.

  • He told the king how long he would be gone
  • He told him the building supplies he would need
  • He requested a letter from the king granting him safe passage
  • He requested another letter authorizing him to have access to the forest for lumber

“And the king granted them to me according to the good hand of my God upon me” (v. 8). Not only that, but the King gave Nehemiah an armed escort back to Jerusalem!

Nehemiah prayed and planned, allowing God to determine the perfect timing. Nehemiah didn’t just pray and wait; he worked while he waited.

A mark of a godly leader is one who prayerfully plans his strategy.

My prayer—May all my plans be made with prayer to You for guidance. You know the best plans and the perfect timing, so I will pray and plan; plan and pray.

This is Part 4 in my series on godly leadership. To read my other posts, please click here.

Your Anti-Porn Plan

The Porn CircuitPerhaps a New Year’s resolution you made was to stop viewing pornography. That’s a great first step! I like these tips from CovenantEyes for helping you stick with your no-porn goal.

  1. Develop a game plan. Instead of retreating to porn, have a book to read or another activity planned.
  2. Get outside of yourself. When you focus on your circumstances, the temptation to escape comes calling. Serving others is the best antidote to a self-induced pity party. Ring a bell for the Salvation Army, visit a nursing home or work in a soup kitchen.
  3. Burn off steam and calories. Go for walks. Get some exercise in. Hit the gym with a friend.
  4. Reach out. Call a friend. Be open and honest about your feelings and temptations. (Keeping secrets breeds failure.)
  5. Avoid Facebook and social media. Comparing your life to the façade on Facebook only leads to more stress and loneliness.
  6. Don’t throw in the towel. If you have a setback, get back up and start over!

And I’ll add one more of my own:

7. Learn your triggers. Do you usually feel the urge to look at porn at night? when you’re tired? when you’re lonely? Know when your temptation is at its strongest, and be ready with one of the above strategies before the temptation flares up.

CovenantEyes has some great ebooks and other resources you can check out here. You also might want to add their accountability software to your devices.

YOU CAN DO THIS—YOU CAN BEAT YOUR PORN ADDICTION!

Be A Witness

Good newsJesus said we have some really, really, REALLY good news to share! It’s news about how much God loves us and wants us to know Him personally.

Jesus wanted us to spread the word far and wide about this really, really, REALLY good news, but He didn’t want us to try to do it in our own power. In fact, the last words He spoke to His disciples before ascending into Heaven were—

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. (Acts 1:8)

Did you catch those words: power TO BE witnesses. The Holy Spirit provides us with the resident, miracle-working, moral, influential, and enabling power not to do witnessing, but to be witnesses.

“The Pentecostal believer is to be something, not just experience something. He or she must become a living witness of Christ on earth.” —Charles Crabtree

There are really two ways that we are witnesses for Him. Our witness is:

(1) Strategic

  • The New Testament believers strategically met house-to-house and in the Temple (Acts 2:46).
  • The church strategically picked leaders to help them be effective in their witness (Acts 6:2-3).
  • The Holy Spirit strategically picked missionaries to be witnesses in far-off lands (Acts 13:2-3).
  • Those missionaries were strategic in following up on their witnessing work (Acts 15:36).

(2) Spontaneous

  • The newly Spirit-baptized believers were able to spontaneously worship God (Acts 2:4) and testify of His power to others (Acts 2:14).
  • Peter could spontaneously respond to the crowd’s question after Peter had finished his sermon (Acts 2:37-39).
  • Peter and John had a spontaneous reply when the Sanhedrin called them in to testify (Acts 4:8).
  • This spontaneous witnessing power was available to them through the Holy Spirit just as Jesus had promised (Matthew 10:17-20).

If we try to just do witnessing, our strategy will be lacking and we’ll quite possibly be caught off-guard in a spontaneous setting. But when we allow the Holy Spirit’s power to transform us TO BE witnesses, our strategies are more effective and our spontaneous moments are too! The Holy Spirit helps us share the really, really, REALLY good news!

12 Quotes From “Tactics

TacticsIn Tactics Greg Koukl gives Christians more how than what/why in defending the Biblical faith. It is an outstanding read that I recommend to all Christians (young or old). You can read my full book review by clicking here. Below are just a few of the quotes I highlighted in this empowering book.

“First, Christ’s ambassadors need the basic knowledge necessary for the task. They must know the central message of God’s kingdom and something about how to respond to the obstacles they’ll encounter on their diplomatic mission. … However, it is not enough for followers of Jesus to have an accurately informed mind. Our knowledge must be tempered with the kind of wisdom that makes our message clear and persuasive. This requires the tools of a diplomat, not the weapons of a warrior, tactical skill rather than brute force. Finally, our character can make or break our mission. Knowledge and wisdom are packaged in a person, so to speak. If that person does not embody the virtues of the kingdom he serves, he will undermine his message and handicap his efforts.” 

“The tactical approach requires as much careful listening as thoughtful response.”

“It is not the Christian life to wound, embarrass, or play one-upmanship with colleagues, friends, or even opponents, but it’s a common vice that anyone can easily fall into.” — Hugh Hewitt 

“Always make it a goal to keep your conversations cordial. Sometimes that will not be possible. If a principled, charitable expression of your ideas makes someone mad, there’s little you can do about it. Jesus’ teaching made some people furious. Just make sure it’s your ideas that offend and not you, that your beliefs cause the dispute and not your behavior.”

“The ability to argue well is vital for clear thinking. That’s why arguments are good things. Arguing is a virtue because it helps us determine what is true and discard what is false. … Paul warns against wrangling about words and quarreling about foolish speculations (2 Timothy 2:14, 23). But he also commands us to be diligent workmen, handling the word of truth accurately (2 Timothy 2:15). And, because some disputes are vitally important, Paul solemnly charges us to reprove, rebuke, and exhort when necessary (2 Timothy 4:112). This cannot be done without some confrontation, but disagreement need not threaten genuine unity.”

“If you want skeptics to believe in the Bible, don’t get into a tug-of-war with them about inspiration. Instead, invite them to listen—to engage Jesus’ words firsthand—then let the Spirit do the heavy lifting for you.”

“You have to know why Jesus is the only way before it is helpful to tell people that He is the only way.” 

“There are three specific things you can do to ‘ready’ yourself to respond. You can anticipate beforehand what might come up. You can reflect afterward on what took place. And in both cases you can practice the responses you think of during these reflective moments so you will be prepared for the next opportunity.”

“Knowing when to step back requires the ability to separate the hogs and the dogs from the lost sheep looking for a shepherd. But how do you know when someone has crossed the line? When do we have an obligation to speak, and when should we save our pearls for another time? Part of the answer can be found in Jesus’ next words in Matthew 7:6: ‘…lest they trample [the pearls] under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.’ Be generous with the truth except with someone who shows utter contempt for the precious gift being offered him. He will simply trample it in the mud and then viciously turn on you. … There is an exception to this principle, however. I have learned from my radio show that sometimes my real audience is not the person I’m talking to, but the people who are listening in, eavesdropping on the conversation. … Lee Strobel calls this ‘ricochet evangelism.’” 

“When I face an aggressive challenger, I often give him the last word. Not only is this gracious, it’s also powerful, conveying a deep sense of confidence in one’s own view. Instead of fighting for the final say-so, give it away. Make your concluding point clearly and succinctly, and then say, “I’ll let you have the last word.” But don’t break this promise. Grant him his parting shot, and then let it rest.”

“Know the truth. Know your Bible well enough to give an accurate answer. Tactics are not a substitute for knowledge. Cleverness without truth is manipulation.”

“Culture is most profoundly changed not by the efforts of huge institutions, but by individual people.” —Chuck Colson

 

Tactics (book review)

TacticsI am a big fan of Christian apologetics: defending what I believe as a Christian. But until reading Tactics by Greg Koukl, I have found very few books which discuss how to present what I believe.

Tactics isn’t about parlor tricks, or playing games with words. It is truly a mindset to keep a conversation going with someone who wants to know (or challenge) what you believe. When we make a statement, the conversation comes to a screeching halt or explodes into an intense argument. But if we continue to ask questions, a dialogue can continue.

Greg Koukl uses some insights from TV detective Columbo to give Christians some strategies for productive conversations. Peter Falk’s character was an intuitive detective who got his information by asking people to clarify what they were saying, and getting them to open up and talk more. In similar fashion, Greg gives us some ideas of how to find out not only what the other person believes, but why they believe it, by asking some strategic questions.

From the moment I began reading this book, I have been able to immediately use the tactics Greg outlines. I have recommended this book to a couple of other people, and they are also reporting back to me that they are experiencing similar results. So I wholeheartedly recommend this book to any Christian who wants to have more meaningful conversations with others about their faith.

Thursdays With Oswald—Overcoming Temptation

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Oswald ChambersOvercoming Temptation

     In the silent years Our Lord learned how to be; at His Baptism He had revealed to Him what He had to do; in the Temptation what to avoid

     … The word “temptation” is built on a Latin word meaning “to stretch.” … Temptation is the test by an alien power of the possession held by a personality. 

     … Every temptation of satan is perfectly wise. The wisest, shrewdest, subtlest things are said by satan, and they are accepted by everybody as the acme of human philosophy; but when the Spirit of God is at work in a man, instantly the hollow mockery at the heart of what satan is trying to do, is seen. When we understand the inwardness of the temptation we see how satan’s strategy is turned into confusion by the Spirit of God. 

From Bringing Sons Unto Glory

We must always remember that the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted by satan (see Luke 4:1-2). The Spirit would only do this after Jesus was ready to successfully face satan’s subtle temptations.

We, just like Jesus, can be victorious over these temptations by doing what Jesus did. (1) He was fully submitted to His Heavenly Father, (2) He was sensitive to go where the Holy Spirit led Him, and (3) He uncovered the shrewd and subtle arguments of satan by using the Word of God.

The One who overcame satan’s temptations wants to help you overcome as well—

For because He Himself [in His humanity] has suffered in being tempted (tested and tried), He is able [immediately] to run to the cry of (assist, relieve) those who are being tempted and tested and tried [and who therefore are being exposed to suffering]. (Hebrews 2:18, Amplified Bible)

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