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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Getting Rid of Self-Criticism

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent– (Eleanor Roosevelt).

Many women are very critical of themselves. This constant critical introspection can cause all kinds of problems in their lives. Obviously, there are many reasons for their constant self-criticism, but the first reason unfortunately often comes from having had a parent who constantly mentioned the negatives that he or she saw in their child rather than focusing on the positives. These negative criticisms can be constant verbal criticisms or they can be the subtler criticisms of facial expressions and body language. But whatever kind they are they are, all criticisms given during the formative years can do great damage.

 Even overt snide remarks, or the subtle rolling of the eyes can be criticisms that a child will easily pick up on. In fact, young children can often pick up on sarcasm and other negative statements that adults may not think they understand; all the while understanding that those words, sarcasms, and those hateful looks were really said or made to hurt rather than to help. This type of constant criticism can eventually lead to an inferiority complex, shyness, or even fear of others. These criticisms can also lead to low self-esteem. To make matters worse, when the child enters school, other kids can quickly pick up on the child’s insecurity or poor view of themselves, and then they, too, will often jump on the bandwagon and continue the criticism, which can easily turn into bullying from others.

Most criticized and bullied people survive, but not without some strongholds that they can’t seem to let go. For, when this browbeaten child finally becomes an adult, it sometimes isn’t easy for her to put away or forget about all those negative statements, sarcasm, and distaining looks that she received over the years. Now, she will often criticize herself because she thinks that is the thing to do. This is because she has been trained to look at herself in a critical way. So, even when others may not continue the criticism, the woman may continue to look at everything she does with a critical eye. The result is that in an attempt to overcome the negatives that she has faced and heard all her life, some women may take on the role of critiquing themselves, or they may even become critical toward others.

Certainly, a born-again Christian woman needs to let go of self-criticism and she needs to quit being critical of others. But, it isn’t always easy to overcome self-criticism and criticism of others without the help of Christian mentor that can help explain to the woman that Christ loves her. This is where the counseling type of Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) can be of great help to the woman. Furthermore, the counseling type of ARCM can be especially important to a new Christian who needs someone to walk them through what being a Christian means.  

Obviously, self-criticism is extremely harmful in many ways, but one of the most detrimental things that self-criticism does is to undermine what God wants for the life of that woman. Remember, that God loves each of His children, and He wants what is best for each of us. He doesn’t want any woman to feel inferior or critical of herself. Moreover, God made each one of us with special gifts and talents that can be used to not only be the best person that we can be, but so that we can also use those gifts, talents, knowledge and wisdom to help other women become all that they can be for the Lord, themselves, and their family. Furthermore, God created each person to be a special envoy for the LORD and to glorify Him within their life. Indeed, it is important to understand that God loves us and wants us to love Him back. But it is hard to love God with all your heart when you are focused on criticizing yourself or others. That is why it is so important to help another woman focus on loving others and loving God. A good active relational Christian mentor who is grounded in the Word of God and who has a great deal of love for others in her heart can be just the person to help the woman who is self-critical.

God does not want us to be so critical of ourselves that we cannot live for Him or do the work of helping others. Yes, God wants us to learn from our mistakes and to try not to make those mistakes again, but He does not want us to wallow in self-criticism or self-pity either. Those two things keep us from being able to focus on servanthood and on loving others. In fact, God sent His Son into the world to forgive us of our sins and in believing on Him as the risen Son of God to then receive Salvation and righteousness. So, if you are an authentic “born-again” Christian your sins have been washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Moreover, you no longer have to be self-critical, but instead remember to always turn to Christ to ask Him to help you to not focus on your mistakes, but to correct those mistakes if possible and then continue living for Him with all your heart.

We all have room for improvement even after we have accepted Christ as our Savior. Yes, our sins have been forgiven, but we can still miss the mark at times. However, instead of being critical about ourselves and getting into a depression or beating up on ourselves, we need to evaluate the situation. Can we see where we went wrong? Is it possible to correct the mistake? If not, can we ask for forgiveness, if needed? Can we start again? Can we learn from our mistake and then help others to not make the same mistake? Answering these questions and others is called evaluation, i.e., when we look closely at our motives, for ways to improve or for ways to correct negative situations, look at how to not make that same mistake again, and then to look at how we can grow from what we have learned from our mistake. As you can see, there is definitely a big difference between self-evaluation and self-criticism. Evaluation is a method of improving ourselves without being self-critical.

Evaluation vs. Self-Criticism

Yes, there is always room for improvement in our lives. But in order to find ways to improve ourselves, we must first learn to evaluate the situations we have found our self in or learn to evaluate the mistakes that we have made to see if there are ways to avoid making those mistakes again. Certainly, we need to look at “missing the mark” through eyes that can look for positive changes rather than through self-critical eyes. Only when we have positively evaluated the situation or the mistake can we make the needed positive adjustments and then find ways to not make those mistakes again.

There is definitely a difference between evaluation and self-criticism. Evaluation is supposed to be constructive, i.e. leading to improvement or leading to a more positive outcome or response, whereas self-criticism can be very destructive. Self-criticism tears a person down. It leads to even more hurt when the self-criticism continues. However, when we evaluate our lives, looking for ways that we can improve or become more helpful and servant-oriented Christians, we take the emphasis off ourselves and put it on living for the Lord. The result is positive and growth-related responses that not only encourage our own emotions, growth, and wisdom but which can then lead to responses that encourage other women as well. But when we criticize our lives, only negative, hurtful, and harmful responses are the result. That is because, self-criticism focuses only on things that probably lead to the self-promoting lies of hurt and which ultimately encourage low self-esteem.

Unfortunately, much of the self-talk that we do to ourselves is actually the repetition of lies that the devil wants us to believe. You see, the devil wants to destroy not only the hearts of all Christians but he wants our souls as well. The devil cannot have our souls, but he can do everything in his power to promote our own self-loathing. If he can keep us from focusing on Christ and the Father, then the devil has had a good day. He does this by encouraging us to focus on ourselves and our own problems. So, the devil plants lies in our minds and then encourages us to not only believe them, but to make those lies into strongholds within our hearts. These strongholds then bind Christians up into a type of bondage that keeps them from living totally for the Lord. Obviously, the devil can’t take the soul of a true born-again Christian, but the devil wants to make that soul as miserable as possible. For when we are miserable and not turning to Christ in faith and trust, we do not express the love of Christ to the rest of the world. This is what the devil wants; he does not want Christians to be advocates for Christ or to help other people come to know Christ as their Savior. So, if the devil can get Christians to focus on themselves instead of on Christ and living the Christian life, he can eliminate one more potential Christian mentor and one more person who would have shared the Gospel Message with another.

Obviously, when we are focused on ourselves, we are not focused on Christ. Nor does self-criticism encourage us to think of other people who may need help or support. However, Christians should be looking at others and finding ways to help those that need help. That is why all Christians should get in the habit of evaluating their lives in the light of what Christ would want us to do rather than for looking for ways to put ourselves down.

Christians women can live fulfilled and productive lives for Christ when they get in the habit of evaluating their lives through the eyes of God and His Son, Jesus Christ. How would Jesus want us to live? What can I do to share God’s love and Salvation with others? These type of questions and evaluation leads to productive and happy lives that are focused on Christ and doing for others instead of thinking only of themselves and what they may or may not have done wrong. In fact, we can build ourselves up and can build up other women by not only evaluating our own lives, but by meditating on God’s Word and then sharing God’s Word with others.

Meditating on the Word of God

We have all heard of the word “meditating”. However, the word “meditating” often gets a bad rap, because people immediately think of the “new age” type of meditating that is so common today. However, God used the word meditating long before there was yoga and its meditation or before the far east transcendental meditation arrived on the scene. In fact, shortly after Moses died, Joshua was given the responsibility of leading the Israelites into The Promised Land. The Lord spoke to Joshua at that time and among other things the Lord said to Joshua, “Be strong and courageous. Obey all the Laws of Moses. … Study this Book of Law continually. Meditate on it day and night so that you may be sure to obey all that is written in it. Only then will you succeed.– (Joshua 1: 7, 8. NLT).

The Book of Law at that time consisted of the first five books of the Bible which had been written by Moses under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. So, Joshua did not have the entire Bible as we do today to meditate upon because he only had the first five books of the Bible. But God told Joshua to meditate upon the Book of Law and to tell the Israelites to meditate upon it too.

Later as the Lord spoke to other believing men about writing and recording His Words, the number of books added to the Bible grew. We, now have a total of 66 books of the Bible to read and meditate upon. In fact, these Holy Spirit Inspired Scriptures were written by more than 40 authors on three different continents over a period of 1500 years. Moreover, every word from Genesis to Revelation is God-breathed through the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Apostle Paul wrote a letter to Timothy in which he reminded Timothy and us that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.– (II Timothy 3: 16. NIV).

Training, teaching, rebuking, and correcting can only be accomplished, though, if Christians study and meditate upon the Word of God. This means that we must first read the Word of God and then think upon what we have read. How does what we have read affect our life? How can we use the information that God has given us to live a better life and to share our faith in God? Could we possibly meditate upon a particular scripture until we have it memorized so that we can then bring that scripture to mind when we need it? All these and many other questions can be answered if we are willing to meditate upon the Word of God.

The book of Psalms is one of my favorite books in the Bible. There is so much information in the Psalms and so many God inspired words that touch my heart just when I need help. Several of the psalms also touch specifically upon meditating upon the Word of God. In fact, the longest psalm and the longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119. This psalm may have been written by Ezra around the time of the rebuilding of the Temple after the Israelites were allowed to return to their land. But, what is so interesting about this particular psalm is that it is actually a repetitive meditation upon the Word of God and its beauty. Indeed, meditating upon the Word of God helps God’s children to stay strong and pure, while at the same time it teaches us how to grow ever stronger in our faith toward God. In fact, in Psalm 119 some of the verses actually speak to and promote the concept of meditation on the Word of God. For example, in Psalm 119: 15 the author of this psalm says of the Lord, “I meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways.” Then in verses 77 and 78 he again says, “Let Your compassion come to me that I may live, for Your law is my delight. … I will meditate on your precepts.” And then in verse 97, the author says again, “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long.” – (NIV).

If a person is meditating on the Word of God they cannot be focusing on self-criticism. So, instead of continually looking for things that others or you have done wrong, it is much better to focus on meditating on the Word of God to learn from it. God’s Words will soak into our brains and create a pathway to even greater love for our Lord. Try it sometime. You will be surprised at how much peace you will receive from meditating on God’s Word.

As you may know, David wrote many of the Psalms. He, too, talks of meditating on God’s Word in several of his psalms. In fact, in the very first psalm, which may have been written as a preface to all the psalms, David wrote: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.”  -- (Psalm 1: 1, 2. NIV).

In another one of his psalms of praise, David wrote:
Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.
One generation will commend Your works to another; they will tell of Your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on Your wonderful works.”
 -- (Psalm 145: 3-5. NIV).


We can build ourselves and others up by constantly meditating on God’s Word and then sharing that Word with others who may need to hear it. This means, though, that we have to actually make the time to sit down and read God’s Word, then think upon what we have read, contemplate how the words that we have read impact our own life, and then memorize some of the words so that we can use them to impact the lives of others. Obviously, we cannot do the work of the Lord if we do not know what God says about the different subjects that we may encounter in life or know how God wants us to use them in talking to another woman. But, God’s Word addresses all aspects of life. We just need to be willing to read His Word and meditate upon it.

The Word of God is the living Word that is always there to give us strength, direction and purpose. God put His Word into print so that we can access His Word at any moment in time. This also means that if we meditate on God’s Word and keep it close to our hearts that we can pull up God’s Word within our minds at both the crucial times in our own lives and at crucial or needed times in another woman’s life. This wonderful Words of the Lord can be just the right words that a mentee may need to hear. However, if we do not have the Word of God in our hearts, we cannot fully mentor or share those words with another woman who needs to hear the Word of God for a specific moment in her life.

God is Pulling for You!

Did you know that God is always pulling for you? In fact, God wants you to succeed in all your good endeavors. However, God does not want you to be self-critical or to put yourself down. For, God knows that self-criticism is a tactic of the devil. So, God wants you to walk with His Son, Jesus Christ in all aspects of your life, including in your evaluation of your life. We know that God wants the best for us, because we are told in the Bible that God has good plans for everyone that He created. However, everyone was created with “free will” so that we can choose how we live, and we can choose the direction that our life will go. That is why some people refuse to acknowledge God or Christ as their Savior. They are afraid that they will have to give up their free will. They have instead chosen to live for themselves and for the devil. But those who use their free will to choose to live for Christ and His Father instead of for themselves will find even greater freedom in the love of God. Moreover, they can take to heart the words that God told to the prophet Jeremiah. God said, “For I know that plans I have for you, declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” – (Jeremiah 29: 11. NIV).   

Notice that God told the Israelites that He has plans to give them a hope and a future. God’s plans are always good and do not change. He has good plans to give you a hope and a future too. Indeed, He plans are to give all His children a hope and a future. But it is up to each of us to choose to live in obedience to God’s Word and to choose to live with a servant’s heart toward others. This means that we must quit being self-critical or critical of others. Instead, we must look to leaning on and trusting in God for everything.

Keeping those words in Jeremiah 29: 11 within our hearts can give us strength and direction for our lives. Indeed, God has specific blessings just waiting for those who seek them out through trust in, obedience to and love for God. All you have to do is ask the Lord for His help, and then the Holy Spirit will help you find or bring to your mind the specific Scripture that you need as you read and meditate on God’s Word. Instead of being self-critical, God’s Word will then help you accomplish wonderful productive things in your life that God has planned for you.

If you are having a rough time not being self-critical, try to find a Christian woman mentor who has the love of Christ in her heart. This Christian mentoring woman should be able to help you see, by using God’s Scripture, what words you need to focus on to understand how God views you, His child. For, God loves you and wants you to enjoy your life lived for Him. Having a woman Christian mentor who also loves the Lord and sees the good in embracing what the Lord has given us through His Word will help you see not only yourself but others in a whole different light.

Yes, words can hurt! People can be cruel. But we have a choice in the way that we allow those words or that cruelty to affect our lives. If you choose Christ to be your advocate and your Savior, you will never again have to accept those negative words. For, God has good words for you. Christ has loving words for you. Moreover, you are important and special to God. You were chosen to be a member of the Kingdom of God. That is special!

Mistakes Happen in Life


The greatest mistake that you can make in life is continually fearing that you will make one.”  -- (Elbert Hubbard).

Part of being self-critical is dwelling on the mistakes that we make in life. Mistakes just happen in life. Mistakes are a part of life and can be the impetus to developing something even better. For example, just think of how many mistakes that inventors and entrepreneurial people make before they finally succeed in accomplishing their goal. Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, made many mistakes before the light bulb worked. What if he had just given up on himself and his project? What would have happened if he had become so self-critical about the mistakes that he made that he couldn’t continue with his invention. Someone else may have come up with the light bulb, but Edison would not have achieved what he had the capacity and knowledge to achieve if he had just given up, stopped, and become self-critical.


Instead of giving up because of your mistakes, you need to ask the Lord for grace and the understanding to know that you are a work in progress. In other words, we have to be kind to ourselves, if we are ever going to accomplish what God has given us the ability to do. That is why we must ask God to help us rise above our mistakes with grace and to help us to not get down on ourselves when we do make a mistake. Along the way, we have to also ask God for patience to accomplish what we need to do in life.

Remember that discouragement is prompted by the devil, and you cannot let the devil get a foothold in your life. Instead, ask God to give you His words of encouragement through your study of His Scriptures. Then ask God to keep you free from self-criticism and self-condemnation as you meditate on and cling to the Holy Scriptures. Then choose every opportunity to help others as you continue the good work that God started in you.  Also remember to:


Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.” – (Ephesians 4: 29. ESV)

  Prayer for a less self-critical attitude

Dear Lord, please help me to focus on the positive aspects of my life, and to not be critical about the things that I cannot change about myself. Also help me to be less critical of others.

Please, Lord, help me to not be judgmental or critical toward myself or others. I know that no one is perfect. In fact, the only perfect person is Jesus Christ, my Savior. But knowing that I am not perfect should not turn into a pity party or into constant self-criticism. Nor, should I allow the past or present criticisms of others keep me from becoming everything that You want me to be. Those criticisms are not who I am. So, instead, I ask You, Lord, to help me understand and accept that You love me with all my faults and my failures.

I know that you want me to learn from my mistakes. I also know that you want me to grow into a healthy wise person who loves You and others. So, please help me to overcome my true faults and failures as You show me Your truths from within the pages of the Bible. Through complete trust in You I will accept Your help in changing what I need change or in accepting those things that I can’t change, so that I can work at totally living for Christ. Instead of focusing on self-criticism please help me to focus each day on living for Christ.

I thank You, Lord, for your Word! For, it is through Your Word that I can find answers to my problems. And, in reading Your Word, I now know that I am not the only one that has at times failed You. I also know, that You forgive those that are truly repentant. You gave us an example of Your loving forgiveness through the story of the Apostle Peter who really could have succumbed to his own self-criticism for his failure to stand up for Your Son, Jesus Christ.                                                                                                                          

 It is through Christ, and Your Holy Word that I learned that even when Peter did the most horrible thing of denying that he knew Christ, that You and Christ forgave Him. For, the Bible tells us that Peter was in a terrible self-loathing state, after he had failed to acknowledge knowing Christ after Christ had been taken into custody to be crucified. It was in reading the Holy Word written by the Apostle John, where I learned that Peter made his big mistake when he followed Christ and the men who had captured Him to the High Priest’s courtyard.

 Peter had been sitting in the courtyard of the high priest to whom Christ had been taken, waiting to find out what they were going to do with Christ. There in the courtyard a serving girl asked Peter if he was one of Christ’s disciples, but Peter denied knowing Christ. During that evening, Peter was asked two more times if he knew Christ, but he ended up denying that he knew Christ a total of three times before daylight. When Peter realized what he had done, i.e., disavowing any knowledge of Christ, he was disgusted with himself. He believed that he was no longer worthy of Christ’s love.

But Lord, the story did not stop there for you showed Peter that even when we do something terribly wrong we can be forgiven. We do not need to live by self-criticism and under a cloud for the rest of our lives. For later after Christ arose from the grave, You, Christ, met Peter and the other disciples for breakfast on the beach when You appeared to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. For, the Scriptures tell us that,

After breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these’? ‘Yes Lord,’ Peter replied, ‘you know I love you’.
Then feed My lambs,’ Jesus told him.
Jesus repeated the question. ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?’
‘Yes Lord,’ Peter said, ‘you know I love You.’
Then take care of My sheep,’ Jesus said.
Once more He asked him, ‘Simon son of John, do you love me?
Peter was grieved that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, ‘Lord you know everything. You know I love you.’
Jesus said, ‘Then feed My sheep.’”  -- (John 21: 15-17. NLT).


In this exchange, Lord, you showed us that Peter was not only forgiven, but was being charged with an extraordinary job to do for You. Just like Peter learned, Lord, I have also learned that it is one thing to say that we love you, but something totally different to be willing to do what you have asked us to do in serving you. For in order to do the job that you have given each of us to do, we have to take the focus off of self-criticism and take the focus totally off of ourselves and instead focus on You.

In the above Scripture, I learned that Peter had repented from making the mistake that he made in the courtyard when he denied You three times. I now understand, Lord, that in these verses, You Lord, were asking Peter to make a commitment to living for You. I, too, want to commit my life to living for You and working for You, Lord.

Although it seemed like Peter at first tried to give quick superficial answers, You knew Peter’s heart, and Peter had to face his true feelings for You and commit to doing Your work, dear Lord. I, too, can give up my self-loathing and self-criticism when I make mistakes and allow You to cleanse me and show me how I can become better and wiser through self-evaluation, just as Peter began to understand his commitment to You, Lord. I know Peter had to commit to self-evaluation, I want to commit to self-evaluation too, Lord. And in so doing, Lord, I want to be the person that You created me to be. Thank you for Your forgiveness and for being my Savior!
Amen.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Blessings from Sharing and Giving

Sharing is something that doesn’t come naturally for many people. As children, we start out early in childhood claiming and holding on tightly to our toys and our belongings. Humans seem to naturally not want to share what they consider to be their own, leading most children into using the word “mine” early in childhood.  Because sharing does not seem to come naturally, most children have to be taught by their parents to share.

Sometimes the parental teaching about the importance of sharing takes and is understood by a child, that is to a certain degree, while at other times the worldly selfishness within a particular child or an individual keeps them from learning about the blessings that can be received from simply sharing with another person. Sadly, that selfish individual’s heart is still focused on themselves. However, once that naturally selfish individual turns to Christ and repents of their sins, they become a born-again Christian receiving a new heart with the attainment of Salvation. For the love of God infuses their heart from the moment that they received forgiveness of their sins and from the moment that they asked Christ to enter into their life. True born-again Christians receive a new heart that has within it a desire to not only share with others, but a desire to use the gifts and talents that they have been given by God to help others. One of the greatest desires of a new Christian is to share with their friends the Gospel message. Moreover, with their new Christian love infusing their heart, there is a constant desire to help others any way that they can.

"Do not withhold good from those who deserve it, when it is within your power to act." -- (Proverbs 3: 27. NIV).

Unfortunately, Christians still live in a fallen world, so even true Christians sometimes have to overcome the selfishness of this world in which they live, while overcoming their own busy timetables and their own internal desire to do and live for themselves. Sometimes this results in an internal conflict between the selfishness of their old ways or the ways of the world and the generosity of what their new heart in Christ wants them to do. This, then, is where a whole scenario of personal excuses can come into play to dissuade them from sharing and giving. The excuses range the gambit from “I am too busy to help that person right now”, to “I can help give some time to that person later on when I get a few more things done that I need to get accomplished”, as well as the most often expressed personal excuse of “I need to take care of my own needs before I help someone else”. The excuses, though, don’t stop with just those few. In fact, there are many other excuses that keep Christians from sharing and helping others when there is an opportunity to do so. I am sure you can think of several that you may have used over the years.

People Who Decide to Share

But for those authentic Christians who decide to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit in their heart and soul, the sharing of gifts, talents, time, and knowledge, etc. with others when given the opportunity is a daily experience. In fact, I have met some wonderful Christians who truly listen daily to the Holy Spirit’s promptings and know just when and with whom they need to share or when they can help others in need. One such authentic Christian is a good friend of mine who just this last week-end gave up her family time and her down-time to help me at my book signings in Osage Beach, Mo. My wonderful husband was there to do the heavy lifting and the giving of support that I needed. But my friend, Vicki, offered to help too and gave up her own personal time to be there with us to tell others of her own personal experience from reading my recently published book entitled: The Three-strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

Vicki is a very busy personal trainer who not only finds the time to work with others every day but also finds the time to take care of her family. She is a true born-again Christian who uses every opportunity to share the Gospel message while helping people who may need her help. For Vicki is constantly on the look-out for people in need that she can personally help in any way. Only God knows how she fits in all her helping of other people and her sharing of the Good News on daily basis between all her other responsibilities, but somehow, she is there for Christians and non-Christians alike when someone needs her help. This wonderful Christian woman is doing exactly what Christ has asked all Christians to do. For within the Bible, Christians are told to “… not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”  -- (Hebrews 13: 16. NASB).

Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) is a great way to focus our lives on sharing, serving, and helping other people. ARCM is a service for the Lord that doesn’t have to take a great deal of time, but can also develop into wonderful Christian mentoring relationships that can benefit both the mentor and the mentee. Actually, ARCM is an easy way to shepherd and disciple those who are struggling in some particular area of life. In fact, the Apostle Peter told Christian leaders and pastors to “Shepherd God’s flock, for whom you are responsible. Watch over them because you want to, not because you are forced. That is how God wants it. Do it because you are happy to serve.”  -- (I Peter 5: 2. NCV). But this verse is not just for pastors. It is really for all Christians who are expected to participate in the sincere service of loving one another as they love themselves. For, we are to share with others because we are happy to serve!

Did you know that God delights in our willing service to Him and for others? In fact, we are told that in heaven we will receive crowns for disciplining and shepherding people while we are here on earth. For “when the Chief Shepherd (Jesus Christ) appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”  -- (I Peter 5: 4. NASB). On the other hand, God knows our hearts, and He is often saddened by our grudging compliance to help, serve, disciple, and to be there for others. For, when we grudging comply with His instructions we are not living up to God’s admonition to “love others as we love ourselves”, nor are we showing God that we love Him. A heart that is in love with God obeys His commands eagerly and wants to reach out to help others in any way that the Holy Spirit suggests or when the Holy Spirit places opportunities in front of us.

Remaining Humble in Serving and Sharing

Of course, we are to always remain humble in serving others. God does not approve of the proud. In fact, the Apostle Peter wrote: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.– (I Peter 5: 5. NASB). So, it doesn’t matter whether you are a CEO of a large company, teach a class, become a missionary, minister to shut-in, or work as outdoor parking attendant as long as you are willing to do whatever you have been called to do for the Lord and for other Christians around you.

We must remember, too, that non-Christians are constantly watching what Christians are doing, and they will be exposed to either Christians’ kindness or to Christians’ uncaring attitudes. Non-Christians will naturally zero in on a particular Christian who projects pride in all they do and achieve. This turns the non-Christian off from even listening to the truth of the Gospel. In fact, no one wants to listen to or be around the proud. So, remaining humble in all our services for the Lord and for others is important. Indeed, humility is important in helping others and in spreading the Gospel message. Will you step up to serve others with a humble and caring attitude no matter how menial the job that God has given you to do?

Sharing Our Giftings with Others

This next paragraph is a wonderful excerpt from a devotional type of book that has blessed me throughout the years. I hope that this excerpt will touch your heart too.
We live in a fast-paced, competitive world where it is easy to say, ‘Me first.’ But God instructs us to do otherwise. In God’s kingdom, those who proclaim, ‘Me first’ are last. God loves a cheerful, selfless giver. If we seek greatness in God’s eyes, we must look our neighbors squarely in the eye and say, ‘You first.’ When we do, we will lead our families in the footsteps of the humble servant who died for our sins: Jesus Christ.– Anonymous

Each one of us has been given a special gift or gifting that will enable us to be a benefit to the kingdom of God. We are to employ our gift “… in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” – (I Peter 4: 10. NASB). For it is by serving others that we serve God. Sometimes though, we think of serving God and serving others as a big commitment such as the commitment of becoming a missionary or taking it upon ourselves to do some important job within the church. However, serving God and others is as simple as sharing our time, our information, our knowledge about God, or sharing the many varied giftings that God has bestowed upon us individually to help another. Wherever we are in life, we can also share the Gospel message, but above all we need to be there to simply listen to someone else’s sorrows or problems, so we can have the opportunity to tell them how much Christ can help them. Moreover, when we share our time even to just listen to the needs of others, God will show us ways in which we can help them even if it is to just be there for them.

Even though we have each been given special gifts and talents, we are not to sit upon them or use them only for our own benefit, but rather we are expected to use those gifts and talents for the glory of God. The Apostle Paul encouraged the Roman Christians with these words: “Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.– (Romans 12: 1-2. NIV).

 God in His mercy sent His only Son into the world so that you and I could receive Salvation and enter into eternity upon our physical death. This act was God’s mercy given to all those who would believe on His Son, Jesus Christ. Otherwise without God’s mercy we would all not only die a physical death, but enter into a spiritual eternal death as well. But with God’s mercy, those who believe on Christ as the living Son of God who died and arose from the grave for our sins, will have eternal life with Christ in Heaven. With that glorious gift of mercy and grace comes a responsibility to offer our bodies “as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God.”  Those sacrifices come in the form of sharing our time and our giftings and talents with others and in helping others to come to know Christ as well.

Part of our responsibility toward other women means that we are use our gifts and talents to help others grow their relationship with Christ as well as to help those who do not know Christ come to know Christ as their Savior. We can only do this by sharing with other women what God has given us to share.  In the process of sharing we will then be blessed beyond anything that we could have expected. In fact, I have been blessed so many times by simply being there for another woman who just needed a friend to listen to her. Although, the mentoring or sharing on my part may not take place immediately, the sharing of my time to listen always seems to mean a great deal to the woman who just needed to talk or just needed someone to listen to her. The result is that not only is the other woman blessed with someone who is willing to listen, but I the listener have been blessed as well. The greater result is usually the development of mentoring relationship that empowers the other woman. Invariably, I also learn from her as well. That is why ARCM can be a wonderful service to engage in for the Lord and for others.

The Blessings from Sharing our Lives

John Bunyan wrote: “Christians are like the flowers in a garden; they have upon them the dew of heaven, which being shaken by the wind, they let fall at each other’s’ roots, whereby they are jointly nourished.

True joy in this life can only be found in sharing with my family, friends, and acquaintances what God has blessed me with, i.e. the sharing of my knowledge, information, wisdom, giftings and talents. In fact, there is no delight in keeping God’s blessings to myself. Indeed, it is only when I share those blessings with others that I can then become the humble, loving, caring, person that God created me to be. For, if I keep everything, i.e., all knowledge, wisdom, talents, etc, that God has bestowed upon me to myself, I will ultimately become an ungrateful, thoughtless, and selfish Christian who looks only to her own salvation and forgets about the millions of others who so desperately need Christ as their Savior too.

Authentic Christians cannot read the Bible and live for Jesus without sharing what God’s asks them to share. Remember that Jesus told us to share and care for others who have less or have needs that we can fill. For Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.– (Luke 3: 11. KJV). But, it isn’t just food and clothing that Christ was talking about sharing. We are to also share the Word of God with others. We are to share our wisdom and knowledge with others. Indeed, sometimes, the things that we have learned and can then share with another person can be that answer to someone else’s problem. It is then through this sharing that we truly learn from the words of Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.– (Acts 20: 25. NIV). Moreover, when it comes to sharing the word of God, the blessings are innumerable.

What kind of blessings am I talking about? Well for starters, when we share with others we are blessed with new friends and acquaintances. Some of these people will become life-long friends who constantly touch our lives in some positive way. Friends are a blessing indeed! But God’s blessings encompass all aspects of our lives. Besides the blessings of friends, family, and acquaintances, God blesses us with His protection, His peace, His comfort, and His provision in our lives. In fact, we cannot possibly enumerate all the blessings that we receive from God on a daily basis nor can we enumerate all the blessings that we receive for obedience and sharing with others. “May the Lord bless you and protect you. May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. May the Lord show you His favor and give you His peace.– (Numbers 6: 24-26. NLT). The Lord loves to bless His obedient children in so many different ways, yet the greatest blessing of all is to bless us with His presence.

Those that have accepted Christ as their Savior are God’s children. As God’s children, we are blessed in enumerable ways, but sometimes as busy women with many demands on our time, we fail to count our gifts from the Lord. Worse still, we fail to say thank you to the Lord and praise Him. But did you know that the gifts and blessings that we receive from God are multiplied when we share them with others? “For surely, O Lord, you bless the righteous; you surround them with your favor as with a shield.” – (Psalm 5: 12. NIV).

We should be praying to the Lord and giving thanks for the many blessings that God has bestowed upon us. But we should also pray that we always share our gifts with others just as God shared His gifts with us. For, again in the book of Ezekiel God says, “I will bless them and the places surrounding My hill. I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessings.” – (Ezekiel 34: 26. NIV).

The greatest feeling in the world, is to bless someone else that needed your help in some way or another. Whether it is sharing through some aspect of Active Relational Christian Mentoring, or it is sharing your time to help out a friend as Vicki did when she supported me at my book signing, the sharing of you time, knowledge, talents, gifts, wisdom, etc. empowers the other woman to be more than she ever thought that she could be. We can be a blessing for that woman in ways that we cannot fathom, and God in turn will bless us in ways that we cannot fathom. Step forward and give of your heart and time to bless another person. You will be surprised at what you can accomplish as well as what blessings you will receive for doing so.

Among the blessings that we receive from God is inner strength. We receive inner strength from the Lord when we reach out to bless other people with our time and giftings. In fact, the Apostle Paul told the Ephesians, “I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will give you mighty inner strength through His Holy Spirit.” – (Ephesians 3: 15. NIV). When we stay connected to other believers through our time and service, we receive even more of God’s blessings. So, whether you are engaging in Christian mentoring, leading a Sunday school class, sharing the Gospel message with another woman, or simply befriending a Christian woman, you will receive the blessing of inner strength from the Lord. There will also be crowns given in heaven to those who tell others about the Gospel message. That is just one reason that we can’t forget to tell others about the gift of salvation waiting for them through Jesus Christ. But, we do not have to wait until we get to heaven to be blessed for the work that we do for Christ, for blessings in sharing the God’s Word abound here on earth for those who reach out to others to share the Gospel message.

Do You Know Christ as Your Savior?

For those who have not asked Christ into their heart, it is very simple to do so.

You just have to realize that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  -- (Romans 3: 23).

And understand that “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  -- (Romans 6: 23).

But so that you would not have to pay the wages of sin, which is eternal death and separation from God and all love, God sent His Only Son into the world to save you and all of those who would believe on Him. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” – (John 3: 16).

In fact, God loves us so much that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” – (Romans 5: 8).

“… and He (Christ) died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.– (II Corinthians 5:15).

Repent of your sins!

But unless you repent of your sins and acknowledge that Christ is the risen Son of God who died and arose for you in order to take on all your sins so that you would not have to pay the wages of death, and unless you believe in your heart that He is the Savior, you cannot be saved and enter into the Kingdom of God. Indeed, one must be born-again in order to be Saved. For, “Jesus answered and said to him (Nicodemus), ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the Kingdom of God.– (John 3: 3).

For, it is only through Jesus Christ that one can become a child of God and enter into the Kingdom of God. Indeed, “Jesus said to him (Nicodemus), ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me’”. – (John 14: 6).

But it is easy to be saved. Just acknowledge Christ as the Living Son of God. For the Bible says “That if you confess with your mouth ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in Salvation.”  -- (Romans 10: 9-10).

Don’t wait too long, though, because once you die it is too late to make a decision for Christ. Each person has been given many opportunities to repent of their sins and acknowledge Christ, as the Holy Spirit has been touching their heart throughout their life asking them to make a decision for Christ, and Jesus has been knocking on their, i.e. your heart to let Him in. For Jesus said, “Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me.– (Revelation 3: 20).

Finally, please understand that “Whoever will call upon the Name of the Lord will be Saved.”  -- Romans 10: 13.  

If you need more of an explanation about Salvation, please contact a faith based church in your neighborhood or ask a Christian friend to help you understand. I pray that you, too, come to the foot of the cross repenting of your sins and accepting Christ as your Savior!

Telling Others about Christ and the Gospel Message

Christian Women have many opportunities to mentor other women, some of whom have not yet made a decision for Christ. Mentoring is easy to do and doesn’t have to be frightening. The book, The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring: Women Mentoring Women with Christ at the Center, explains not only the importance of Christian mentoring, but shows how simple and easy Active Relational Christian Mentoring (ARCM) can be. It contains many examples of mentoring and enumerates the different mentoring styles and categories for easy understanding. If you want to know more about ARCM and this type of service for God, then read this book.


May God bless you in all your mentoring and sharing endeavors!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Worry and Thankfulness

"A child of God should be a visible beatitude for joy and a living doxology for gratitude."  -- C. H. Spurgeon


The opposite of joy is sadness, which is often brought about by worry. Thankfulness, on the other hand, is often the result of joy and gratitude. Why then would I put these two very distinctive words, “Worry” and “Thanksgiving”, within the same title? It may seem strange to combine these two words within a title. The strangeness, though, does not come from the two words, per se, when they are used individually, but rather comes from the fact that these two words are often seen as opposites, and indeed they are opposites from God’s perspective. So, why would I put such opposite words together as a title for this posting? Well, the answer is quite simple. Rather than focusing on thanksgiving, we all have a tendency to let worry control our lives, when we should actually be daily thanking the Lord for everything that comes our way. Instead of spending our time worrying about what is not happening or about what could be occurring in our lives, we should be thanking the Lord for what is occurring in our lives whether it is something that happens unexpectedly or it is some blessing that we have wished for a long time. Whether the situations are good or bad, there is a blessing that can be seen within both, if we just look for it. Those blessings should come under the heading of Thanksgiving.

And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” – (Colossians 3: 17. HCSB).

You are probably thinking that I have lost my mind. For how could I thank the Lord for something terrible or hurtful that has suddenly occurred in my life? But I really haven’t lost my mind. For, it is the Apostle Paul who tells us in one of his epistles that we are to thank the Lord not only for our blessings but also for our trials. Moreover, we are to also thank the Lord for our troubles. In fact, in writing to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote, “We urge you brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.– (I Thessalonians 5: 14, 16-18. NASB). But how can we always rejoice and give thanks when we are in the midst of turmoil or in the middle of a problem for which we can’t seem to find a solution? Well, the Apostle Paul also gives us some answers to that question.

Thankfulness for Admonition and Discipline

The Apostle Paul told the Thessalonians within the summation of his instructive letter to them, that in their Christian service to God and in their service to other Christians they are not only responsible for their own personal actions, which includes the encouragement of others, and the helping others, but that they are also responsible for the kind-hearted admonishment of others when they see another Christian doing something against God or they see another Christian doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. In other words, Christians are to step forward to tell the truth to another Christian who might be missing the truth in their behavior.

Certainly, most Christians think that admonishing another Christian can’t possibly be a blessing when we are admonishing them for doing something un-Christian. However, just as we would feel uncomfortable in admonishing someone today, it was also a big worry and uncomfortable for those Thessalonian Christians back then who did not want to get involved in the lives of others either. But Paul understood that after the admonishment, and along with the subsequent change in their behavior because of the admonishment, that the Christian who was admonished would then receive blessings for then behaving as a true Christian. However, if there was no correction received, then that Christian’s faith would be watered down and mean less that it should. Moreover, he or she would be setting a bad example for other Christians.

Today, we have allowed our Christian faith to be watered down by accepting any and almost every behavior from other fellow Christians as long as long as he or she calls him/herself a Christian. Consequently, we have many people today who do not receive the blessings that God wants to bestow on them, because they do what they want, live as they want, and then worry without faith or trust when things don’t go their way. But if these Christians allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them into providing the instruction for living for God or into providing the simple but kind admonishment of others when a person is doing something against the faith, then they and we would also receive many blessings and have subsequent thanksgivings for which to honor the Lord.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – (Colossians 2: 6-7 HCSB).

Patience with Each Other and Learning from Different Experiences

Paul also adds within his letter to the Thessalonians the instruction that Christians are to be patient with everyone. Why are we to be patient with everyone? Well, even though it is sometimes difficult to be patient with our family, friends, and even strangers, we must remember that God is patient with each of us. He expects us to follow in the path of Christ who was patient with His disciples and followers. Sometimes the disciples had to have further explanation in order to understand an event or situation. So, like Christ was patient in teaching the disciples, we are to also become patient with other Christians who like ourselves are still growing and learning from Christ and the Word of God. For becoming mature in our faith and wisdom takes time. In fact, we have to realize that just as our Lord ministers to each of us in different ways because we all learn in different ways and at different times, that we need to minister to other Christians in different ways and at different times and according to their needs too. Therefore, we need to be patient with each other and share our positive and godly experiences as well as our spiritual and earthly knowledge with those who are still growing too.

God can use many different things to help us grow spiritually. Indeed, God can use the tragedies and bad things that happen to us while living in this fallen world as learning experiences that draw us even closer to Him. Remember, God is very patient with us! Indeed, He knows that we all grow and mature at different speeds and at different times. Furthermore, God knows each of us personally, therefore He knows what we each individually need at any moment in time, and He knows exactly what we need in order for us develop a closer walk with Him. So, besides the blessings and love that we receive from God, He knows that we also sometimes need correction or discipline. Yet, it is during those times of discipline that we are to recognize the importance of the discipline and so be thankful to the Lord and joyful for the correction. What a dichotomy! In other words, we should also not only be joyful for our discipline, but joyful in our trials as well, just as we would be joyful if we were receiving special blessings. For in many ways, even if we can’t see it at the time, our trials will actually become a blessing as we grow and learn from the experience.

Another way to look at this dichotomy is look at the actions of a good father. For example, Christians must remember that along with the provisions and blessings that we receive from the love of a good earthly father, we will also receive discipline and correction from a father who truly loves us. In other words, if our earthly father did not dispense blessings, provisions, and discipline, we would not grow or mature into the well-rounded and morally upright person that our earthly father wants us to become. So, just like a like a good earthly father, who wants the best for his son or daughter, God, our heavenly Father wants what is best for us, and He will bestow upon us His love, provisions, and blessings along with His discipline as well. Indeed, every child needs discipline and correction, because it teaches the child the right way of doing things and the right way of living. Moreover, God is the ultimate good and loving Father, so He, too, will correct or discipline His children when we need it, and we should be grateful.

Thankfulness and Gratitude

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.” – Psalm 118: 29. HCSB).

I know that it is hard to thank our earthly father for discipline at the time that it occurs, but later when we look back on the discipline that we received from our earthly father, we realize the importance of him taking the time to discipline us. We also will come to realize that we learned a great deal from the discipline we received at the time, and then we come to appreciate the fact that our father cared enough about us to discipline us, even though at the time when we received the discipline we may have been angry or sad over the consequences of our actions and the resulting discipline.

We must remember, that if our earthly father had not loved us or cared about what we learned in life, then our earthly father would have essentially neglected his responsibility to discipline us or neglected to lay down expectations for our behaviors. In the long run, without discipline for misbehaving, we would not have felt that our earthly father loved us, because his failure to act with discipline would ultimately portray a father who didn’t appear to care or love us. For, a lack of discipline when needed can portray a father who just doesn’t care enough to take the time to set his child right. Certainly, when a person has no discipline or expectations for positive behaviors from their earthly father or mother, they can grow up to be ungrateful, unloving, and possibly even a corrupt individual without morals or values.

But God loves us so very much! So, even though it may be hard to thank our heavenly Father for His discipline, we need to remember that He is disciplining us out of love for us and out of the desire for us to grow in maturity and wisdom with values and morals that lead to righteous behaviors. That is why instead of moaning about the troubles that we are facing or about the situation that we find ourselves in, we need to remember to thank God for the problems that we face, as well as for the discipline, or for the uncomfortable situation we may find ourselves in, because we know that God is teaching us something through the experience. We may have even placed our own self in harm’s way, or the experience or trial that we are facing may be the result of our own actions, but whatever problem we encounter, God can use the situation to teach and grow us if we keep our eyes focused on the Lord.

Thanking the Lord in all Things

With the help of the Holy Spirit and prayer, we can figure out what it is that we are to learn from each problem or situation that we encounter. They say that hindsight is 20/20 and that is certainly the case when we go through trials and tribulations. For, often it is not until we look back on the situation some time later that we see clearly how we benefited or grew in wisdom and stature from having gone through a certain trial. Thus, we need to be thankful for being able to learn from even dire situations. I know that I would not be the person that I am today had I not faced the trials of having to learn how to walk again after being struck by a car in a crosswalk. Nor, would I be the person that I am today if I had not had to deal with constant pain every day. Along the way, though, I learned to thank God for each and every step that I was able to take and that I am still able to take today.

My whole life has been learning to lean upon and trust in the Lord for my next step in life. Moreover, I have received so many blessings along the way by simply leaning upon and trusting in the Lord. Christians need to thank the Lord when we are going through a trial and then also thank the Lord when He brings us through the trial. Above all, Christians are to thank God for the blessings that He bestows upon us daily whether they are seemingly small blessings or the large blessings like being able to walk when doctors have told you that you will probably never walk again. But whether small or large, we need to enumerate all our blessings instead of just accumulating them without thankfulness. This means that we are not to worry about what tomorrow holds, but thank the Lord for His provision and care for us each and every day! Thanking the Lord honors Him and shows our love for Him.

I will give thanks with all my heart.”  -- (Psalm 138: 1 HCSB).

One of the reasons that thanking God in every situation big or small, bad or good, or happy or sad is so important, is that in thanking God in every situation we are acknowledging the importance of having God with us and of having Him at all times within everything in our lives. Saying thank you to God for both the good things and then thanking God for the bad situations from which we can learn means that we can see God working in every area of our lives. In fact, God is with us at all times, and He knows what we need at every moment in time. So, we should be grateful and thankful to Him even when we face trials or difficulties in life. For we know that there is “but one God, the Father from whom are all things and we exist for Him; and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we exist through Him.”  -- (I Corinthians 8: 6. NASB). Furthermore, …we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God who are called according to His purpose.”  -- (Romans 8: 28. NASB).

Who are those people that “are called according to His purpose”? Well, they are the authentic Christians, i.e., the individuals who have asked Christ to come into their lives when the Holy Spirit called them, and are those people who have asked for Christ to lead them in all aspects of their lives. These authentic born-again Christians have Christ and the Father supporting and taking care of them. So, when this fallen world dishes out trials and tribulations, these Christians know that they are to rejoice and be thankful, because God will help them grow and learn something from each different situation or trial that they encounter – even though it could be a situation that this fallen world has provoked or a situation or trial that comes from some arrow that the devil shot at them probably hoping that it would turn them from their devotion to God. But, authentic Christians know that God will never forsake us! (See Hebrews 13: 5b).

Authentic Christians also know that if we turn to God and rely on Him in faith and trust, we will come through every trial or tribulation with greater faith and insight, as well as with an even closer relationship with God. Moreover, throughout whatever trial or tribulation that we encounter, while clinging to God and resting in His love, we will find that we will grow deeper in our godly maturity, knowledge, and wisdom when we are thankful and willing to learn. We will also find our specific Christian purpose or service to others when we understand that Christians are called according to God’s purpose for our life. Then we can become thankful in everything! Being thankful in everything also means sharing your thankfulness within some service you have engaged in for the Lord and for others— a service such as Active Relational Christian Mentoring.

Worrying

Thankfulness can be difficult to achieve, though, when we are constantly worrying about something in our lives or in the lives of others. Constant worrying has a tendency to push all thankfulness to the back of our minds, which brings the worry to the forefront to consume all our time. Obviously, all people are tempted to worry and most people have moments of worry before they can catch themselves and then refocus their minds on God, but many people worry all the time. It is like their entire life is caught in an endless circle of worry. This type of constant worry affects Christians just as much as it does non-Christians. But why is that, because Christians should know better? We do not need to worry, because God is for us and not against us. He will take care of us.

And my God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – (Philippians 4: 19)

Has worrying ever changed or fixed a single problem or situation? No, because worrying cannot fix anything. But how does a person get transfixed on worrying, or how does this cycle of worrying come about? Well, the phrase, “what if” is usually what gets most people started with their worrying. “What if” involves the imagination. People begin to imagine the worst-case scenario or terrible scenarios and outcomes. Then they wrap themselves up in those scenarios to the point that they actually believe whatever they are imagining could actually happen. For example, what if this happens, what if that cold I have is something worse, what if I can’t make my payments because I am sick or laid off, and the list of “what if’s” just goes on and on. Really good worriers, however, no longer have to include the actual words “what if” within their daily worrying. They just focus on the issue or their imagination and begin to worry about anything and everything to the point that they do not have to include the words “what if” in their thought process. Good or what I call “professional” worriers, which also often includes Christians, usually start and finish their day worrying about something for which they have no control. They forget that God is in control of their lives. Obviously, this is not surprising for non-Christians who do not have Christ to rely on and do not trust in Him or His Father to take care of them, but what does this constant worrying mean for Christians who are supposed to trust in God for all things?

When Christians worry they are actually expressing a lack of trust and faith in Christ and His Father, which is a sin. Indeed, worrying is a sin. We know this because a sin is anything that we do that that goes against our becoming righteous in the eyes of our Heavenly Father. We cannot be righteous in the eyes of God when we question God’s authority or question His ability to take care of us. Nor, can we be sin free when we do not have trust and faith in God’s plan for our lives.

Remember, Abraham? Well, Abraham was called by God to go into foreign land and he obeyed God on faith. “Even when he reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith, -- he was a foreigner, living in a tent.”— (Hebrews 11: 9. NLT). Obviously, Abraham had a lot to worry about, such as how to provide food for his family or how to protect them from bad people, but instead of worrying he put all his trust in God to provide and care for him and his people. As a result, Abraham was made righteous by God. In fact, the Lord told the prophet Habakkuk that “the righteous will live by their faith.”  -- (Habakkuk 3: 4. NLT). Certainly, Abraham lived by faith and he was deemed righteous by God. So, as redeemed, i.e. Saved children of God, we are to certainly live by faith and not by distrusting God or worrying about something that we have no control over. For God is in control of everything.

The Bible also tells us that “A man cannot please God unless he has faith. Anyone who comes to God must believe that He is. That one must also know that God gives what is promised to the one who keeps on looking for Him.”  -- (Hebrews 11: 6. New Life Version). So, for those authentic Christians who believe that Christ is the living Son of God Who redeemed them from their sins and made them righteous before God, they must also live their lives showing their belief and trust in Christ to the world and at the same time disavow any worry or thought processes that denigrate the power of God in their minds to provide, protect, love, and care for His children. The evangelist, John Hagee, said it best when he described this worrying thought process of faithlessness. Hagee said very succinctly, “Worry is practical Atheism.”   

What did Hagee mean when he said that “worry is practical atheism”? Well, worrying is not only unbelief in God but unbelief in the power of God to control the universe and everything in it. But, God has a plan for all His children. In fact, God tells us in the book of Jeremiah, “For I know the plans that I have for you… plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”  -- (Jeremiah 29: 11-13. NASB). So instead of worrying we are to trust in God and pray to Him for our needs. God will never forsake us!

Worry, is to not only sin, but worry also shows and projects to others unbelief in God. Certainly, we know that those who do not believe in God are called Atheists. Furthermore, by describing worry as “practical atheism”, Hagee is telling us that our worrying actually hurts the heart of God just as God’s heart is hurt by all those people who call themselves Atheists and who do not believe in Him. But I can imagine that God’s heart truly aches when a born-again Christian doesn’t trust enough in God to allow Him to move at His own pace in His will for their lives. Christians are supposed to be His authentic children with full and complete belief in Him and His Son, yet those Christians who constantly worry are actually acting like atheists who did not believe in God. Furthermore, we read in Hebrew 11: 6, that “A man cannot please God unless he has faith.” This means that Christians who worry constantly are being unfaithful to God and are not pleasing God when they worry about things that they have no control over. To please God, we must have faith in Him and believe that He cares about us and that He will take care of us when we can’t take care of ourselves.

Ultimately, worrying means that we are doubting God and His ability to provide and care for us, which also means that we are doubting His ability to provide for our health issues in due time, provide food, lodging, clothing, friends, family, etc. In fact, James, the brother of Jesus, said that “…a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. People like that should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. They can’t make up their minds. They waver back and forth in everything they do.”  -- (James 1: 6, 7. NLT).  James is right, for when we worry, we can’t figure out what we can do to make the situation better, so we vacillate between different ideas and outcomes, ultimately not believing that God will be there to guide and provide for us. Instead of worrying, all we need to do is turn the situation, be it a  health issue or crisis, over to the Lord. We need to trust in God for His will to be done and then quit worrying.

The Apostle Paul believed God would provide and care for him through all the trials and beatings that he endured. In fact, Paul told the Philippians not to worry about anything and told them: “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.– (Philippians 4: 19. NASB). In this verse, Paul was telling the Philippians and us today that we can be confident that God will meet every need in His timing, provided that we obey and trust in Him.

Christians have been given an extra blessing of peace. We just cannot allow the devil and this world to take our peace away by worrying. In fact, Jesus said, “Peace I leave you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”  -- (John 14: 27. NASB). Obviously, worrying produces fear and not peace! Christ our Lord does not want us to either worry or fear. Rather, He wants us to have a peace that passes all understanding. In fact, if we depend on Christ in everything we face, we will find that Christ keeps us from worry and fear, because trusting in Him brings us directly to Him. Indeed, if we trust in Christ and allow His peace to come over us, He will sustain us through every situation. Moreover, Christ will strengthen us and enable us to walk through every situation with victory, because Christ is actually walking beside us.

Finally, Christians are supposed to trust Christ fully. However, when we worry or stress over things that we can do nothing about, we are showing others around us that we do not completely trust in Christ. A better path would be to turn all our worries and anxieties over to God and submit every circumstance, problem, crisis, or health issue over to the Lord. He alone has the power to take care of anything! Moreover, God has our best interest at heart, and He wants to help us. Therefore, we must quit stewing over things for which we have no control and instead lean on God. We can lean on God by praying for strength and faith. For in prayer, our need is immediately connected to God’s supply of strength and faith. God will provide unending love and sustenance. If we obey God, He will provide for all our needs.

I will end with one of my favorite Psalms. It is Psalm 91 which enumerates how God will provide for us in every situation.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!
For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may see refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.
You will not be afraid of the terror by night, or of the arrow that flies by day; of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or of the destruction that lays waste at noon.
A thousand my fall at your side and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not approach you.
You will only look on with your eyes and see recompense of the wicked.
For you have made the LORD, my refuge, even the Most High your dwelling place.
No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent.
For He will give His angels charge over you, to guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and cobra, the young lion and the serpent you will trample down.
Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name.
He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him and let him see My salvation.”

What a beautiful song of faith and thankfulness. This Psalm teaches us not to worry. Moreover, it tells of the salvation of God. Have you seen the salvation of God? You too can have God’s Salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. All you need to do is believe in the One and only Son of God as the risen Savior who died for your sins and then arose conquering eternal death so that you, i.e. those who believe on Him, can spend eternity with Him and His Father in Heaven. If you repent, i.e. if you ask forgiveness of all your past sins and promise to try not to focus on sinning, Christ will forgive you of your sins. Then if you believe that Christ died on the cross and then arose from death to remove the unrighteousness of human sin from all who will believe on Him and that He is now sitting at the right hand of God in Heaven, you will be saved. For, the Bible says, “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus as Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” – (Romans 10: 9-10).


If you are interested in pursuing a service for the Lord such as the service of Active Relational Christian Mentoring, you should check out the book The Three-Strand Cord of Active Relational Christian Mentoring: Women Mentoring Women with Christ at the Center by Vicky Lynn Thomas. This book is an easy read with lots of examples of the different type of mentoring that a person can engage in. It also contains many mentoring examples from the Bible as well as from present day.