Worry? A Plan to Worry Less and Trust More

worryWorry is a continual tempation in life, isn’t it? And there are reasons to worry: ISIS, shootings, illness, mounting credit card debt, faltering relationships, rebellious kids, and on and on and on.

But God says,

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7, NKJV

Be anxious for nothing? Does this mean if you worry, you’ve committed. . .sin?! (Yes. And knowing you’ve fallen short of the mark might create even more worry, right? Ugh!)

In this short article you’ll discover. . .

  1. The good news: You’ve got company.
  2. The better news: God provides a plan to dump worry like garbage.

Worriers Jesus Loved

Martha Woes

Worry pestered Martha of Bethany. She whirled like a dervish in the kitchen while her sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet, listening, learning, loving.

But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:40-42)

Peter Missteps

When Peter took his eyes off Jesus and focused on raging waves, he began to sink.

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:28-30)

Did you know a Christ follower who worries is saying to herself, “God, I know what you’re saying but I’m not sure I can trust you”? Worry is distrust of the goodness, love, and power of God. It’s makes sense, then, that he commands that you and I stop worrying.

Worry Chokes You

In Anxious for Nothing by John MacArthur, he identifies that the word worry comes for the Old English term wyrgan, which means “to choke” or “strangle.”

Just as Martha worried about meal preparation and Peter feared he’d drown, you and I sometimes let our worries choke us. Even panic attacks may jump on our frazzled nerves.

But worry accomplishes nother productive. It steals sleep. It causes stomach upset. And it even increases blood pressure and messes with your nervous system. Indeed, worry ruins quality of life!

And for nothing! Listen to Jesus’ words:

Who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Matthew 6:27

Worry-Free Plan

First, agree with God that he gives you strength for each day. God gives you what you need when you need it. He is faithful (I Corinthians 10:13).

Second, intentionally adjust your focus. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are of earth.” God promises to take care of your physical needs: food, clothing, and shelter. He wants to free you from misplaced priorites.

Jay Adams cautioned in What Do You Do When You Worry All the Time?

God wants you to seek to please Him first, and think about the problem of fear secondly. that is why when speaking of worry (a lesser form of fear) in Matthew 6:33 He commands ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.’ If you put anything else first–even the desire to rid yourself of a terrifying fear– you will discover that you will fail to achieve ether goal. God will not take second place, even to a legitimate concern to be free of fear.

Third, thank God that he cares for you.

To implement these applications, begin a list of how he is providing, jotting down one or two things each day for a month. During the first week memorize Matthew 6:33 and ponder it. Later in the month, memorize and ponder other verses that dump worry. Some ideas are Philippians 4:19, Colossians 3:2, and 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

I like to artistically write verses in an unlined notebook as I memorize them, adding graphic elements and simple pictures with colored pencils. You may like to do this too. Let me know how this worry-free plan works for you, or contact me and I’ll pray for you.

You can be anxious for nothing!

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

If You Feel Abused, Were You Abused? (Part 2)

abusedAbused? Were you abused, phyically or sexually, in your marriage? In part 2 of this multi-part series on domestic violence, guest writer Jim Newheiser carefully looks at common assertions and takes a balanced view. This post appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is reprinted with permission.

Read Part 1 here: When to believe the victim, when to believe the abuser

heart

I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse. Abuse affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.

Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop. They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups.

I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.

If You Feel Abused, Then You Were Abused?

ASSERTION: If you feel abused, then you were abused.

  1. The valid concern: This statement is often made to express the reality that abuse may have taken place even if the abuser does not recognize or acknowledge his behavior (yelling, pushing, bullying, coercion, threats, and intimidation) as wrong.
  2. The harm that can be caused: On the other hand, the Bible teaches that it is possible to wrongly interpret the words, actions, and motives of others (1 Corinthians 2:11).

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:11

For example, Eli falsely accused Hannah of drunkenness because her lips were moving as she prayed (1 Samuel 2:12ff). We cannot judge one person merely by the subjective feelings of another. For example, a man may be in a rush and accidentally bump into his wife (with whom he had had a recent conflict) as he turns a corner. She may accuse him of doing it deliberately to harm her when that was never his motive.

Words also can be misunderstood. What is taken by one person as angry and abusive might have never been intended as such. Nor might it have been interpreted this way by an objective third party.

Scripture reminds us: “Love hopes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7); in other words, love seeks to assume the best.

3. It would be better to say: A person who feels abused should be helped to objectively evaluate what has happened and to get assistance if genuine abuse has taken place. Part of this objective evaluation involves considering the ongoing pattern and cumulative effect of the accused person’s behavior, as well as the immediate accusation at hand. Proper evaluation over time keeps us from wrongly escalating the consequences for one individual incident while also not dismissing the whole situation because one incident wasn’t deemed as abusive.

Sometimes a Victim Has a Sin Issue Too

ASSERTION: It is never the victim’s fault.

  1. The valid concern: Many abusers claim that their victims are to blame because the victim provoked him or failed to be as good a wife or child as they should be. Many victims suffer from false guilt. There is no valid excuse for physical or sexual abuse.

Even if the abuser believes that he was provoked, he is never authorized by God to take physical or verbal vengeance.

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18

2. The harm that can be caused: Some victims have sin issues which also need to be addressed. I counseled in a case in which a wife would berate and insult her husband, saying “Come on Jesus man, hit me!” She admitted that she felt that she had won the argument when he finally struck her. Again, I emphasize there was no excuse for him hitting her. But she also needed to address her personal sinfulness.

There have been cases of sexual assault in which the woman got herself into an extremely compromising and dangerous situation (i.e., drunk, alone, and making out with a man with whom she is not married). Again, the man should have stopped when she said, “no” (also see Habakkuk 2:15). If he assaults her, he is guilty of a crime and should be punished. But she also needs to acknowledge before God her personal sin in the situation. Deuteronomy 22:23-24 addresses situations like this.

3. It would be better to say: Abuse is never justified, but victims may need to examine themselves to see if they have any sin for which they also need to seek God’s forgiveness.

(Friend, if someone has abused you, please seek help from a caring pastor, a spiritually wise woman at your church, or from a biblical counselor, who counsels the compassionate, effective Word to your hurting heart. Learn more about biblical counseling by Skype.–LAM)

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

Believe the Victim or the Abuser? (part 1)

victim
An abuse victim needs loving support from friends and spiritual leaders. In this multi-part series, guest writer Jim Newheiser
 recognizes a pendulum swing in addressing this very difficult problem. And he provides balance. Read on and let me know: Do you agree with him? Disagree? Please leave a comment or contact me.

This is part 1 in a multi-part series, which appeared first here at the Biblical Counseling Coalition, and is reprinted with permission.

heart

I am thankful to God that many necessary and important books and articles are being written to increase awareness of physical and sexual abuse as they affect both the society at large and the Christian community in particular. Spiritual leaders have been rightly admonished for their failure to protect at-risk women and children.[1]

Abuses which should have been exposed have been covered up, leading to more unnecessary suffering which grieves Christ.

Battered wives have been wrongly told that if they were just more loving and submissive, their husbands would change and the abuse would stop.

They are then wrongly sent back to take further verbal and physical beatings. Many church leaders need to repent of their failure to “rescue the weak and needy; [and] deliver them out of the hand of the wicked” (Psalm 82:4).

While I affirm the importance of understanding the dark nature of abuse and protecting the victims of abuse, I am concerned that some, in their zeal to correct the failure of the past, have swung too far the other way. This can lead to false accusations and unnecessary family breakups. I would like to give a few examples of what I believe to be common overstatements, and for each one, I will describe the good intention behind the statements, the harm which can be caused because of imbalanced thinking, and a more balanced way of expressing the same concerns.

Always Believe the Victim?

ASSERTION: Always believe the victim.

  1. The valid concern: This statement is made out of sympathy for many victims of abuse whose claims have been rejected as unbelievable when no one could imagine that the perpetrator, who seems like such a nice guy, could have done such a bad thing. Or those hearing the claim may prefer not to get involved in the messiness which will surely follow if the claim is substantiated.
  2. The harm that can be caused: Innocent people have been harmed by false claims of abuse. Some alleged victims have learned how much harm they can do to another person with an accusation of abuse. I had a counseling case in which a fifteen-year-old girl threatened that she would falsely accuse her stepfather of molesting her if he didn’t give her what she wanted. We had another case in which an alleged victim had someone else scratch up her face so that she could call the police and accuse an innocent party of doing it. To be falsely labeled as an abuser can destroy a person’s reputation, damage his career, and potentially lead to false imprisonment. The Bible teaches that a high standard of proof is necessary before we can treat someone as guilty (Deut. 19:15).
  3. A better way to say this would be: All claims of abuse must be taken seriously. When hearing an allegation of abuse, we should immediately offer compassionate care, ensuring that the threatened party is safe. Allegations need to be investigated, in many cases by the civil authorities (Romans 13:1-7); however, it is not biblical to treat the accused party as guilty without proof.

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.

Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.

 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. (Romans 13:1-4. ESV)


[1] Because most cases of abuse involve women I will refer to the victim as being female. I acknowledge that men can also be victims of spousal abuse and have counseled men in such situations.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Parenting Teens: Tips from a HS Counselor (part 2)

teensTEENS: Parenting teenagers means understanding technology and how is shapes their world. Expect success and failure too. It’s a part of parenting teens! These tips from Leia Joseph — a crisis counselor, high school music teacher, and mother — appeared first here on The Biblical Counseling Coalition website and is used with permission. This is part two of a 3-part series on parenting teens.–LAM

I have had the privilege of spending the last 13 years working as a music teacher and crisis counselor for teens. The following six tips represent a handful of lessons I have learned along the way. If you are the parent of a teenager or pre-teen, I pray that you find this helpful. Read part one here.

3. Technology Really Changes Everything

Technology has drastically propelled time forward as we watch culture changing at a faster pace than ever before. Parents who have fond memories from high school naturally desire for their children to have the same wonderful experiences. However, your memories of sports, student government, dating, or football games are more dissimilar to your child’s than you could probably imagine.

The mere fact that smart phones, email, and the internet didn’t exist during your childhood radically changes things. When one of my friends wanted to talk, he or she called my house on the landline. My parents could pick up the phone at any point and listen in. Other than face-to-face interaction and handwritten letters, that was the only way to interact with peers.

Fast forward to 2017 and students can interact on screens via FaceTime, Google Chat, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, Snapchat, and Yik Yak simultaneously–and all in the privacy of their own bedrooms at night while their parents sleep.

Practical Help

Let your mind wander about the myriad of technology’s effects to get a better understanding of your teen’s world. It is much harder for a child to talk to parents about sexting or cyberstalking if parents don’t have even a basic understanding of how the technology works.

Aggressively seek to learn and understand apps, modes of communication, and its mountains of temptations. Then you will better understand the world through the eyes of your teenager.

Furthermore, as you begin to understand how pervasive technology is in their lives, you can then begin to help them learn a healthy stewardship, which will hopefully carry them through college and beyond.

Whether specifying a nightly time that your teen turns in his or her electronics or monitoring their usage through Covenant Eyes or some other protective accountability program, teens need your help navigating the challenges that face them as a result of technolteensogy, particularly in the area of discipline . Remember the undeveloped prefrontal cortex.

Technology is here to stay and invades your teen’s world at every turn. Taking it away or preventing usage is not a long-term option. Learn it and help your teen build a foundation of using technology for good and not for evil.

4. Expect Failure and Sucess

Teens want to know that you are their biggest fan and that you believe they can “reach for the stars.” But it’s equally important that you actively see them for who they are: a human being living in a fallen world, just like you.

Lord-willing, they will leave the world a better place, but they will also make some bad decisions and mistakes along the way. Let them fail, and expect them to fail.

Avoid a helicopter parenting mentality that always swoops in to save the day. Most success is a result of learning from past mistakes. Further, in expecting them to struggle, don’t forget that this includes sin. Don’t act shocked by sin, no matter how harmful or harmless our culture has labeled it to be. Don’t excuse it either.

The biggest roadblock to a teen’s willingness to share his or her struggles is the parent acting uncomfortable or mortified with what he or she shares.

  1. Begin to invite your child into your own world of struggles.
  2. Share why you so desperately want them to avoid sin because you know that it will ultimately destroy them.
  3. Let them know you understand how hard it is. Tell them you are there with them in the fight each and every day.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Self-Care: Heart Checkup for Your Soul (part 1)

self careSELF-CARE: The best self-care is a heart checkup.

In part one of this 3-part series, you’ll discover…

  1. Why you may bristle at the word “self-care.”
  2. A definition of heart checkup.

Self-Care Hangup?

Self-care may sound…extravagant, even selfish. But for some of up — my old me! — I didn’t think I deserved self-care. Then I dared to ask myself, What’s my hangup?

Also I considered that Jesus took time to rest, didn’t he? He got away to the mountains and rejuvenated. He hung out with the broken people and lunched. I can imagine him smiling and laughing and cracking jokes.

And I asked myself, Am I denying the reality of my own humanity when I think I’m too busy to watch birds flit about my neighbor’s feeder? Or take time for a walk?

Could I reek with. . .twisted pride?

Reminder: The self-care of rest, exercise, meaningful work, eating well (and, for me, chocolate too!) isn’t selfish when your self-care is “onto the Lord.”

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

But divorced from a Godward focus, self-care can be selfish, wouldn’t you agree? Your motivation matters.

Heart Checkup

Most people think the heart is the emotional part of a person. Scripture suggests that it is your mind, emotions, and will. It is the center of your being. You can compare it to a control center. Your heart controls what you think, feel, say, and do.

Proverbs 4:23 says it well:

Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.

Everything.

But there’s bad news. The Bible says your heart “tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves,” writes Elyse Fitzpatrick, biblical counselor and author.

And this is why you need a heart checkup.

During the check up you’ll see whether your thoughts align with God’s thoughts. Also, you’ll find out if your actions and emotions are rotten or good.

By the way, in the counseling office, we focus on the heart. And when the counselee’s heart changes so does her life. But the goal isn’t life transformation per se; it is growth in Christlikeness.

3 Parts of the Heart

As mentioned, “heart” is the word the Bible uses for your mind and your emotions and your will altogether. Your mind, emotions, and will influence one another. Let’s look at the parts of the heart.

Your mind: Your mind involves your ability to understand, reason, and discern. It includes your beliefs and opinions.

Taken aback with news from angels about her son, Mary the mother of Jesus “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
The power of God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7, NLT).

Your emotions: You emotions include your moods as well as your longings, desires, and hopes.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).
If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts. . . (James 3:14).

Your will: Your will is the part of your inner person that chooses what actions to take. Your mind and emotions inform your will what to do.

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth (2 Corinthians 12:6)

I pray this three-part series helps you understand why your do what you do, so that you can choose God’s best always. Next time will focus on your emotions and thoughts. If you haven’t signed up for my blog and complimentary eBook, please do. Then you’ll get parts 2 and 3 delivered to your inbox.

God bless you as we grow together.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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