Anxiety

inflated gloveThe stress you feel is proportional to the amount of control you have over a situation.

That sounds very intuitive, but there’s a spiritual contradiction to that.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s an example of how that idea works out in the natural.  A month ago I go to the doctor and he says my lipid levels are high.  I roll my eyes and say, “same old same old.” I don’t get stressed about it because there is something I can do to correct it.  Anyway, I’ve been hearing that for 30 years.

When he sends me for another test and I find out my heart calcium score is high, almost in the danger zone, again, the first thing I do is look for something I can do about it, because I have a steadfast belief that I can do something about it.  So I’m motivated, but not stressed.

Same thing goes, even when I’m told I’m a Type II diabetic because of my lifestyle choices in the past.  Well, crud.  But I can do something about that by making different choices (and by the way I am making different choices and seeing wonderful results).

But when the doctor says I have a narrowing in the arteries at the top of my heart and he “wants to take a look at it” with an angiogram, and oh, by the way, if there is a significant enough blockage he may put a stint in it, suddenly he has crossed the line of my control.

Hello stress. [click to continue…]

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Dave was going through a rough season.  Looking back on it now, the load seems pretty mind-numbing.  He was being viciously verbally attacked by other people, including complete strangers.  His casual acquaintances were keeping their distance, but he had that feeling you get when all eyes are upon you.

He was physically impaired for a while, and his health looked pretty grim at one point.  I would say his life flashed before his eyes, but in Dave’s case it was more like his life grabbed him by the ankle and started dragging.  Dave was understandably terrified.

Then to make matters worse, one of Dave’s closest, most trusted friends betrayed him.  And for some time Dave had dealt with the anguish, disbelief, and downright bitterness that comes with that kind of pain.

But through it all, Dave learned a powerful lesson.  And you can read all about it in Psalm 55.  The lesson: [click to continue…]

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Pam is a worrier.  She knows she isn’t supposed to, but her underlying insecurity tends to frame every thought or situation in terms of what’s the worst thing that can happen.  When people tell her it’s a sin to worry, she just worries more about that.  She would like some joy in her life, but after a couple of times being burned or disappointed, she feels the need to protect herself from pain.

Pam is living in the tension of a core conflict.  And so is her boss, Alex.

Alex lives his life in pursuit of excellence.  Work excellence.  Play excellence.  Family excellence.  Financial excellence.  Your excellence if you get close enough.  The problem is that everything has to be so excellent that most times nothing is.  Because Alex can’t settle for ordinary in anything, he’s haunted by mediocrity in everything.

Alex is living in the tension of a core conflict.  And so is his sister, Teri.

Teri is one of the walking wounded.  Her life has been a vicious cycle of injury, followed by failure, followed by injury, followed by failure again.  It seems that whenever she’s working on forgiving somebody else, she becomes haunted by her own past sins or consequences.  These past mistakes and conflicts have left her fearful of trusting and shy of trying anything or anyone new in her life.  She knows her version of “playing it safe” is only adding to the sadness.  But she’d rather have a sad heart than a seared one.

Teri is living in the tension of a core conflict.  And so is her son, Will. [click to continue…]

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I know I’m not supposed to worry.

But…

I know I should have more faith in God.

But…

I know this should be an easy, clear decision.

But…

I want to pursue this direction.

But…

I long ago lost count of the number of times a counseling or coaching encounter started there.  Here’s what I know.  Here’s what I should be.  Here’s what I want.

But…

These are the starting points of conversations about something we all encounter – core conflicts. [click to continue…]

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Six Signs of a Spiritual Attack

“Well, how did it go?” Robin wanted to know.

“I just want to be teachable,” I said in a hollow, measured voice.

“What did he say?” she asked – getting ready to rise up in my defense.

What did he say, indeed?  The scene happened during my first pastorate.  Our church had grown quickly and had experienced changes, which is never an easy thing.  Now we were trying to establish our annual budget and define our biggest priorities.  And a man I’ll call Joe wanted to know if he could meet with me.

When we got together, the first words out of Joe’s mouth were, “It is obvious that you aren’t here to help our church grow, but to make a name for yourself.”

Ouch.

I listened mostly (although I did tell him I didn’t appreciate him judging my motives).  I listened as he talked about church’s former days.  I listened as he talked about troublesome people.  I listened as he offered his version of a solution to our problems.  I listened (and stared, frankly) as he “led” us in prayer – weeping all the while.

And I went home, still listening.

I Hate Criticism.

For years I hollered to whoever would listen that “there’s no such thing as constructive criticism.”

I was wrong. [click to continue…]

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Be a Shepherd, For God’s Sake!

by Andy Wood on January 31, 2011

in Leadership, Life Currency

Never has there been a higher call – or a greater need – for men and women of God with the heart of a Shepherd. 

The Shepherd leads.  He feeds.  He knows the sheep by name, and lays down his life for them.  His leadership arises from a heart that has once and for all died to all else but the lives of the sheep.  He cares for the ninety-nine who cling to the sound of his voice; yet he pursues with reckless abandon the one who, intent on finding his own way, is now lost. 

Be a Shepherd, for God’s sake!  And in so doing, be an overseer.  

Remember, you can never over-see what you aren’t seeing over.  Rise above your own sins, self-interest, and troublesome circumstances – then you will discern what is happening in the lives of other people.  Watch!  Don’t allow yourself to become oblivious to what is happening in their lives.  Remember, you don’t have to take your eyes off the sheep in order to hear from the Chief Shepherd.

Be a Shepherd, for God’s sake!  And in so doing, be a willing leader.  [click to continue…]

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multitaskingMy sister and I used to make mud tea.  We didn’t actually call it that, nor did we actually drink the swill, but when we were small, we’d play around outside with spare dishes.  One of our concoctions invariably involved mixing a little dirt ‘n’ water to make a tasty drink.  When we stirred and stirred our little elixir, the water would take on that irresistible shade of brown.  When we stopped stirring, it stayed muddy.  But when we gave it a rest and went off to other pursuits, the water would always be clearer when we returned.  The mud would have settled to the bottom.

Your life is like that glass in our backyard.  When stirred up, it gets muddy.  It’s easy to become confused, distorted, foggy, fuzzy and dull.  Under the pressure of circumstances, it’s harder to see issues clearly and make good, clear, meaningful decisions.

So… had any “muddy water days” lately?  The phone won’t quit ringing, the baby won’t stop crying, everybody needs your help at the same time, you have major, life-changing decisions to make, you have a week’s worth of money to pay a month’s worth of bills, you spend the entire day running about 30 minutes behind, and then you turn on the radio and some clown is singing, “It’s a Beautiful Morning.”

You aren’t alone, you know.  [click to continue…]

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“Anxiety in the heart of man causes depression, But a good word makes it glad”
(Proverbs 12:25, NKJV)

anxietyIn You, O Lord, I put my trust;  Let me never be put to shame… O Lord my God, I cried out to You,  And You have healed me… You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;  You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness… I will be glad and rejoice in Your mercy,  For You have considered my trouble;  You have known my soul in adversities,  And have not shut me up into the hand of the enemy… Who is a God like You,  Pardoning iniquity And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?

He does not retain His anger forever, Because He delights in mercy.  He will again have compassion on us,  And will subdue our iniquities.

You will cast all our sins Into the depths of the sea…

I will bless the Lord who has given me counsel;  My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.  I have set the Lord always before me;  Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved.

You will show me the path of life…. Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;  You will stretch out Your hand Against the wrath of my enemies,  And Your right hand will save me… How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How great is the sum of them!  If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand… Let Your mercies come also to me, O Lord –  Your salvation according to Your word.  So shall I have an answer for him who reproaches me,  For I trust in Your word… Remember the word to Your servant,  Upon which You have caused me to hope.  This is my comfort in my affliction,  For Your word has given me life… [click to continue…]

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