Tag Archives: Anxiety

3 Keys to Maintain a Positive Attitude

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A family who had twin boys wanted to teach them a lesson about attitude. They took each boy and placed him in a room by himself. The room was full of horse manure. They told the boys they had to stay in their rooms for an hour, then they would come get them. When the family returned to the first boy’s room, he was sitting in the corner of the room just watching the clock, but when they returned to the second boy’s room, he was shoveling the manure out the window. “why are you doing that?” they asked. He replied, “With all this manure in here, there has to be a pony at the bottom of the pile.” The boys were in similar situations but took completely different approaches. 

Attitude determines how we approach life. Our attitude determines the approach we take to life. Paul, the writer of Philippians, gives three keys to help us take the right approach.

The first key is not to worry.

Philippians 4:6 says, “Do not worry about anything….” A scholar did a word study on “anything,” and discovered it really means, “anything.” Don’t worry, that sounds an awful lot like what Jesus says, “do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.”

Jesus uses birds for an example; they do not go out and sow seed in the spring, and water the seed all summer so they can reap a harvest in the fall. They don’t do that, yet they still have food to eat. God provides for them, and if he will provide for birds, why wouldn’t he also provide for us?

When we worry, we are putting God into a box and slamming a lid on it. This problem is too big for me to handle, so it must be too big for God. We can’t go there; we can’t raise that much money. In all honesty, that is what we think sometimes. Yet, Ephesians 3:20 says God can do immeasurably more than we can imagine.

Think about that for just a moment. Immeasurably more than we can imagine; you can’t measure something that is immeasurable – it is impossible, and we can imagine some pretty big things. That means God can do immeasurably more than we can comprehend. When things come up that are too big for us, we should be asking, “How big is God?” The answer is, he can do immeasurably more than we can imagine. Jesus says if we seek after the Kingdom first, all our other needs will be met.

 Stop and think. There is not anyone who has added time to their life by worrying about it. Jesus says we shouldn’t worry about tomorrow, because today has enough troubles of its own. Not worrying is the first key.

The second key is to pray about everything.

Instead of spending time worrying about tomorrow, Scripture suggests that time would be more wisely spent praying about it. Paul says the result of carrying everything to God in prayer is that his peace will guard our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. A peace that we know no matter what comes our way, we’ll be able to get through it with the help of Jesus. We may not understand it or comprehend how this is possible, but we know that it is true. We should not worry about anything but carry everything to God in prayer through Christ. Praying about everything is the second key.

The third key is to have a positive outlook.

We should have a positive outlook. We are encouraged to dwell in the following territory: whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

 Every adjective in this list points to something good, something positive. The opposite of things that are good and positive are bad and negative. The question is, which one are we going to concentrate on – the negative or the positive?

 Two men attended the same church service on the same Sunday morning. The first man noticed the organist missed a note during the prelude, the music was too loud, and the preacher had a slip of the tongue six times. The second man enjoyed the prelude because it was one of his favorite hymns, was deeply moved by the music, and listened intently to the sermon because it answered a question that had bothered him for a long time. The difference between these two men is what they concentrated on. The first man took a negative outlook, while the second man took a positive outlook. Which outlook in life are you taking?

The past year or so has served as a great reminder there will always be trouble in life. Lost jobs, economic hardships, and uncertainty will always be a part of our lives. And, I’m not saying if we get up in the morning and think it is going to be a beautiful day, that it will automatically become a beautiful day. We will experience trouble from time to time. We will face trials of many kinds, but how we respond to these trials is up to us. We can either sit around dwelling on the negative, or we can concentrate on the positive.

 We all have something to thank God for. Here are some stats.

  • If you were able to get up this morning in good health, you are better off than 2 million people around the world.
  • If you are not persecuted, you are better off than 3 billion others in the world.

Attitude determines a lot in life. Put yourself in the story of the twins. Which boy are you? Are you the one sitting in the corner absorbed by the smell and watching the clock? If so, consider putting these three keys into practice.

God, Why is This Happening?

“God, why is this happening?” This is a question Job asked poetically. He couldn’t understand, and he wanted to hear from God. Job’s older friends offered solutions, but they were incorrect. Job himself tried to conclude what was happening, but couldn’t find a reason. Job’s youngest friend, Elihu, offered an idea, but wasn’t completely right. As they were talking, God interrupted their conversation and began asking Job some questions.

Job 38 records God answering out of the whirlwind with a series of questions. Obviously, Job knows none of the answers, and one question may have been enough to grab Job’s attention, but God uses a long series of questions. Not to incriminate the questioner, but to help him develop a clear perspective of God’s almighty power. When God gives Job an opportunity to speak, Job does not have an answer. He fully realizes God is the one in control. In the midst of his storm, God answered Job.

Amid storms, God answers many of us. Not to incriminate us, but to give us a clear perspective. We may not always understand what is happening. Isaiah 55:8-9 says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

While we may not fully grasp what is happening, we can rest assured God is in control.

The Lord stayed with Job through his pain and suffering, and he promises he will stay with us as we may endure pain and suffering. The Lord says, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

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light of the world

Night time in an unfamiliar terrain can be a scary place. With darkness all around, a traveler is not sure what lies ahead. The pitfalls of the land are unknown, so anxiety increases and nerves grow razor-thin. Have you ever been in this situation?

Israel was. As they were leaving Egypt, they found themselves in the unfamiliar territory of the desert. They were unsure what lie ahead, but the Lord gave them guidance. Exodus 13 records the Lord leading Israel by a pillar of fire. The light provided by this pillar gave Israel protection, it provided salvation, and it helped the people remember the Lord was with them.

Like Israel, life may place us in some unfamiliar territory, and the Lord will give us guidance in these moments. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Just as Israel followed the pillar of fire, we can follow him.

“here is a promise of salvation much greater than Israel experienced. For it is deliverance not just from a national enemy, but from the forces of rebellion against God that lie behind every form of evil in the world. And, this deliverance is not just a rescue from darkness and a glimpse of the light, but an ongoing life apart from darkness through possession of the light of life,” according to the IVP New Testament Commentary. Jesus is our guiding light.

It is through Jesus we find protection, salvation, and the truth the Lord is with us. He is our light in unfamiliar places. He is our light guiding us through the darkness of this world. What areas of life do you need the Lord’s light to shine?

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bread of life

The people of Israel found themselves in the desert where there are not a lot of food choices. Walking through the desert day after day is bound to strike up a hunger, so they had to eat something. They did not know what they were going to eat so the people grumbled. They had been pulled out of the fertile lands of Egypt and placed in the dry, parched desert. How on earth were they going to survive? Anxiety levels elevated; the Israelites quickly forgot how the Lord brought them out of Egypt.

But the Lord had a plan. Exodus 16 reveals the Lord sent manna each day for the Israelites. Verses 21-22 record, “Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much, two omers, for each person, and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses.” For the entirety of their trip, the Israelites were provided manna. The Lord met their needs.

The Israelites were taught a valuable lesson. The Lord can provide for our needs. What seemed impossible to them, was easy for the Lord. They saw a dry and parched land, but the Lord saw a bread basket. The Lord had provisions to meet the need. All the Israelites had to do was trust him.

Later, Moses recalled, “He humbled you, causing you to hunger then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known to teach you that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8:3). The people spent 40 years in the desert, yet they had food, water, clothes that stayed wearable, and feet that were not swollen. The Lord continually met their needs.

The Bible teaches the Lord is still in the need meeting business today. John 6:35 says, “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Like the Israelites, our anxiety levels may be high. We may not understand how the Lord could possibly meet the needs in a situation or circumstance we are facing, but he put manna on the ground. What needs do you need to trust the Lord to meet today? Like the Israelites, he desires for us to trust him with our needs.

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perfect love caused christmas

“At the beginning of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown is in sad shape. It’s Christmas, and he knows he should be happy, because the pond is open for skating and he likes getting Christmas cards, but something doesn’t feel right, especially after Snoopy has entered a doghouse-decorating contest and his little sister is asking Santa Claus for money in the form of Hamiltons and Jacksons.

The commercialization of Christmas has left our hero searching for answers. For a five-cent co-payment—and the beautiful sound it makes rolling around in the can—neighborhood psychiatrist Lucy suggests some possible diagnoses for Charlie Brown’s depression.”

Lucy offers some suggestions for Charlie Brown’s depression as defined here, and eventually concludes Charlie Brown has Pantophobia. This is the fear of everything.

What is causing you to have fear this year?

Charlie Brown is not the only one who struggles this time of year. Christmas can be an emotional time. We celebrate Christ’s birth, but paralleled to our celebration can be feelings of loneliness and emptiness for many people. These are real emotions, so I certainly do not want to minimize them in any way. In fact, I wish I had a “magical” answer that could take away these emotions at Christmas time. Obviously, I don’t, but I can offer one piece of encouragement from God’s Word.

1 John 4:18 says, “Such love has no fear because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.”

It was this perfect love that caused Christmas. The Bible teaches Jesus was willing to leave the majesty of Heaven to be with us to save us. It is in this perfect love we find the Lord’s mercy and grace. It is in this perfect love we find the absence of fear, especially the fear of judgment. In this perfect love, Jesus says we are his friends, and we can be open with him.

This means we can talk with the Lord about feelings of loneliness and emptiness. This means he will be with us even if it is not a joyous time of year. God’s perfect love is what caused Christmas, and it is his perfect love that will carry us through the difficulties of the season. Jesus longs for you and me to shelter ourselves in his perfect love this Christmas season.

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through the pain

“He looked around the carpentry shop. He stood for a moment in the refuge of the little room that housed so many sweet memories. He balanced the hammer in his hand. He ran his fingers across the sharp teeth of the saw. He stroked the smoothly worn wood of the sawhorse. He had come to say goodbye.  It was time for him to leave. He had heard something that made him know it was time for him to go, so he came one last time to smell the sawdust and lumber. Life was peaceful here. Life was so safe,” Max Lucado writes.

Raise your hand if you like pain. I’m assuming you do not have your hand up. I don’t know anyone who likes pain; however, pain is sometimes a part of life. The safety of jobs, good health, stability, and control can be painfully ripped from our grip. We desperately cling to them, but eventually, our fingers become so sore we have to let go. Pain enters and we are not sure what to do.

Jesus too faced pain. He understands what it is like to be bullied and hated. He understands what it is like to endure physical stress. Jesus helps us see how to handle pain.

Look past today’s pain to tomorrow.

Jesus left the safety of the carpentry shop to walk a path leading to a Roman cross. Jesus knew the agony and pain of the cross would lead to a better tomorrow. He knew closing the door of the carpenter’s workshop would lead to death, but he also knew closing the door would lead to a better day. A day when he would be able to help you and me out of our pain. Jesus looked past today’s pain to tomorrow.

In the midst of our pain, we do not fully know what tomorrow will bring. All we know is the Bible promises the pain will eventually give way to a better day. Try to look past today’s pain to a hope of a better tomorrow. Tomorrow will be better.

Rely on the Lord

As we look to a better tomorrow, Scripture encourages us to rely on the Lord.

  • The Psalmist proclaims, “The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”
  • Hebrews 13:6 says, “So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

As you may be facing painful circumstances, remember, Jesus understands what it is like. He encourages you to look past the pain of today to tomorrow and to rely on him.

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Pressure Cooker of Life

Life is a pressure cooker.

Good cooks, which does not describe me, know a pressure cooker can be a useful tool. It can turn the toughest cut of meat into a tender dish. The heat and pressure help cook the dish perfectly. You need just the right amount of pressure though, or you end up with ketchup on your kitchen ceiling. Pressure cookers are useful as they reduce cooking time, and a well-versed chef can use the tool to create delicious food.

Life can be described as a pressure cooker. Each day is filled with stresses which cause our anxiety levels to rise. The decisions we are forced to make can be overwhelming. We have more bills than income, deciding how to keep our families safe amid a pandemic, and juggling our home being the center for work, school, and everything else. The pressures of life can certainly come from all directions.

The pressures of life may cause us anxiety, but we are not alone. Others have had the same experience including the writer of Psalm 119. In verse 139, the writer states he is overwhelmed with indignation. He feels insignificant. Perhaps nothing is working out in the way he planned. Pressure is increasing, yet the Lord is still there.

Psalm 119:143-144 says, as pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands. Your laws are always right. Help me to understand them so I may live.”

Though he was in the pressure cooker of life, the Psalmist kept his focus on the Lord. The challenge for us is to follow the Psalmist’s pattern.

Amid stress and anxiety, remember…

  • The Lord is with us.
  • The Lord is trustworthy.
  • Jesus asks us to trust him. He says, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me” (John 14:1).
  • The Lord sees the big picture and is a master chef at using life’s pressure cooker. He knows when to release the pressure so the ketchup doesn’t end up on the ceiling.
  • Christ has promised he will come and take us where he is.

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Hope in Unsettling Times

Darkness doesn’t prevent the Lord.

Isaiah is a prophet who brought some shocking news to God’s people. Israel was going to fall into the hands of Assyria; they would have difficult days ahead. The time would seem unsettling and dark, but God would not forget about his people.

Today may be an unsettling time. COVID19 is still present in our lives causing interruptions. Other problems have reached a boiling point. It does not seem good headlines exist in the news, but God has not forgotten about his people.

In chapter 8, Isaiah says, “The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, ‘Don’t call everything a conspiracy like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear; he is the one who should make you tremble. He will keep you safe.”

He promises to keep those who are faithful safe. Isaiah goes on in verse 16, “Preserve the teaching of God, and trust the instructions of those who follow me. I will wait for the Lord, who has turned away from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my hope in him.”

Isaiah recognizes God is the one constant hope. Hope in anything or anyone else is fallible, but hope in the Lord is unfailing. Isaiah was living in an anxious time, but he centered his hope on the Lord.

“Look to God’s instructions and teachings,” Isaiah encourages in 8:20-21. “People who contradict his word are completely in the dark. They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry, and because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their god. They will look up to Heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.”

The next time life seems hopeless and you are plagued by yesterday’s mistakes, try looking to the hope and grace offered by the Lord. Partake in his grace, and allow it to wash over the feelings of hopelessness and despair you may be encountering. Isaiah’s promise is as good today as the day he originally prophesied.

The Lord offers hope to his people even in the most unsettling times.

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Feel Like a Failure?

Failure comes and goes.

It has happened to us all. No one likes it, and it is not one of life’s enjoyable experiences. It hurts, it is painful, and it is a part of everyone’s life. It is failure.

One stumble does not break or define a person. Some of history’s most successful people have experienced the agony of failure.

  • Babe Ruth held the record for the most strike outs, and struck out multiple times in a World Series game. Yet, look at his overall record.
  • Robert Frost was rejected by a magazine stating there was no place for his poetry.
  • An English teacher wrote on Winston Churchill’s report card that he did not have much potential for success.
  • Oprah was fired from a Chicago TV station. She went on.
  • You and I can insert our failures here.

Max Lucado says, “Though you’ve failed, God does not. Face your failures with faith and God’s goodness.”

  • “The Lord directs the steps of the Godly. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they never fall for the Lord holds them by the hand,” remarks the Psalmist in 37:23-24.
  • Proverbs 24:16 says, “The Godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.”

Failures will come, but the Lord will help us overcome those failures and move on with life. Remember amid failure, the Lord is with you.

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Always Confident

Confidence even when bad news and opposition surrounds us. Headlines may be bringing bad news to mind. It does not seem there is a shortage of bad news in our current culture. Opposition may stand at every corner. It is easy to lose trust, but we can have confidence. Our bad news may not make the headlines and our opposition may not be as well-known, but it is as devastating to us. The relationship that ends and the job that is lost probably will not make the news, but it still shakes us. Even though our trust is shaken, we can have confidence. Psalm 112:7-8, in speaking of those who follow the Lord, says, “They do not fear bad news. They confidently trust the Lord to care for them. They are confident and fearless, and can face their foes triumphantly.” Psalm 112 states this confidence in the Lord comes in true wisdom. It comes in following his guidance for our lives. Following the Lord will give us light in darkness. It will provide us with a path when it seems there is no path to be found. As you read today’s headlines and survey your current situation in life, ask this question. “Where is my confidence?” Confidence in the Lord will give us the boldness to tackle today and approach tomorrow.