Worry: Is It Making You Sick?

worry
Worry is EVERYWHERE today, and it’s making you sick. Scrolling through Facebook is enough to churn anyone’s stomach nowadays. So much hate, so little grace!

Yet God says, “Do not worry” about anything. But how?!

In this short article, you’ll discover:

  1. Jesus’ wise words on worry.
  2. Worry makes you sick.
  3. How to stop worry.

Wise Words on Worry

Read this peace-filled passage, these Jesus words:

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 

Luke 12:22-24 (NIV)

Birds and wild flowers — valuable, yes. But God values you so much more than them. Don’t his words calm your soul?

Worry Makes You Sick

Here’s what happens to you when you worry. And almost anything contributes to worry-stress: grumpy kids, a messy house, an overbearing or passive husband, gossipy coworkers. . .but especially your attitude about your circumstances.

So what’s your main stressor? How do you respond?

You feel stress in your body. Stress may tighten your neck, tense your back, or bring on a migraine. It can mess with your digestion and raise your blood pressure.

You eat poorly. You are more likely to turn to more snacks and less fruit, plus LOTS of chocolate and skipped meals. Here’s a better choice right here

You skip exercise. When stressed, you may lack the energy to work out or take a walk when getting moving will actually energize you. And it wil give you more time to ruminate on my worries.

Wouldn’t you like to know how to stop worry?

How to Stop Worrying

Simply, FOCUS. Focus on Jesus and his love. Focus on God and his greatness and protection and care. This thought journal right here helps you do transform your thoughts.

Stop focusing on yourself. Be other-centered. Be God-centered.

With a new focus, right now decide one thing you can do — yes, action! — that helps someone. I’ll start with a few ideas and I’d love to hear yours.

Write a thank you note and mail it.

Help your child with a school project.

Phone a family member or friend and ask about her life.

Think About It

How does the action of helping someone help squash worry? What are other choices you can make to stay safe from worry sickness?

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

 

Self-Counsel: Counsel Yourself and Improve Emotions

self-counselSelf-counsel: When you counsel yourself with biblical truth, your emotions become more stable and you respond in better ways. Why? Because you’re speaking truth to your heart! This article by Heart2Heart Counselor Ellen Castillo appeared first here at BC4Women blog and is used with permission. Check out Ellen’s page in the Heart2Heart Counselor Directory.

A couple of months ago, I was in a car accident. My van was totaled, but my daughter and I were not seriously injured. Whiplash, bruises, and soreness have become our daily battles, but those things will get better.

Emotional Effects Post-Trauma

The emotional effects are the most difficult to overcome. I have counseled many post-accident and post-trauma victims. As biblical counselors, we know how to come alongside someone gently in the immediate days following trauma. We know how to eventually begin to target the heart when we see unhealthy and unbiblical responses to the trauma.

When the trauma is our own, do we know how to “self-counsel” our own hearts? There is no trauma too big or too small when it comes to the need for counsel.

When we find ourselves repetitively dwelling on and reliving the accident details, condemning ourselves for the guilt we might bear for the cause of the trauma or accident, having panic attacks at the thought of re-entering normal life again, getting behind the wheel, or seeing the place where the trauma occurred, we must cling to the good counsel we offer to others by offering it to our own hearts.

Goals of Biblical Counseling

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel. Self-counsel means that when someone is struggling with sin or suffering, she can turn to God’s Word for answers. She can read, study, memorize, and pray as she seeks to bring the gospel to bear on her struggle.

One of the goals of biblical counseling is that the counselee would eventually be able to do self-counsel.

In that process, God can reveal her heart issues, and she can focus on mind renewal as she repents of her sin. This is how we are all to live, every day, as self-counselors.

Good Self-Counsel Helps for Trauma

As I continue to recover from whiplash as I write this, I have found these things to be most helpful. This is good self-counsel for someone who has recently suffered any kind of trauma:

  • Take every thought captive. Remember that every struggle we have begins with a thought. 2 Corinthians 10:5 tells us to destroy the things in our thoughts that are not consistent with the gospel.
  • Focus on what is true. Philippians 4:4-9 is a passage to go to often and consider it as sort of a checklist. Run your thoughts through that Philippians 4:8 grid, and redirect your thought life.
  • Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving. Thinking on the gospel recalibrates our minds and reminds us that we are no longer under condemnation, that we have been given a new identity, and so much more.

Rehearse the gospel. This phrase is not a cliche, it is life-giving.

  • Fight the fear with the knowledge of God’s sovereignty. God is either in control or He isn’t, and I believe He IS. Yes, even over my car accident. I do not need to know the why’s or how’s in order to trust His promises. Romans 8:28 keeps me from dipping too deep into the “why me’s”.
  • Know when your natural initial responses are becoming debilitating, and ask for help. Low-grade temporary depression, for example, is common to most trauma victims. But debilitating depression requires intensive biblical counseling. If you are unable to function at home or on the job, spend most of your day isolating or sleeping, have turned to substance use to self-medicate, are unable to make decisions, or get along with those you love, then it is time to ask for help. God’s Word has answers you need, but we sometimes need someone to come alongside us and show us the way.
  • Some people say that “time heals” even trauma. I suggest that although that may seem to be true sometimes, it is only God who can truly heal a traumatized heart. Because of my self-counsel, I am struggling far less with the effects that the accident had on me.

How to Self-Counsel

To self-counsel, you must seek Him more intentionally, dig deep into His Word – read it, study it, memorize it. Keep a meaty prayer life, stay in the church, and in fellowship with Christian friends who encourage you (and also admonish you as needed.)

Serve in ministry at your church, putting others before yourself. And do not hesitate to call on a biblical counselor if you are stuck, and she will be glad to come alongside and offer help and hope. These are the things that helped me and I believe they will help you, too, regardless of your struggle.

Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) “Fear not, for I am with you;

be not dismayed, for I am your God;

I will strengthen you, I will help you,

I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

 

Focus: Seeing Life Clearly Brings Peace

focus

A right and godly focus cuts through the complications of life and brings peace to your heart. In her article, which appeared first here on her website, Heart2Heart Counselor Karen Gaul shares insights from story of Ruth as well as Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Life has a way of being very complicated. It is so easy for us to get lost in the situations that happen around us that we quickly lose our focus and our way. We become overwhelmed, disillusioned, fearful, maybe even bitter and angry.

When Paul wrote his letter to the Philippians it seemed that might be the case. Paul hoped to encourage this church. I wonder if they were thinking that since Paul was a follower of the Way and was imprisoned that maybe it could happen to them too. Perhaps the scuttlebutt around town was “imagine Paul in prison, chained up. I wonder if he is going to be killed soon? He must be scared. This is terrible. How could God let this happen? Is Paul wrong?”

But this is what Paul writes,

Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.

Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.” Philippians: 1:12-14

Deciding Your Focus 

Wrong thinking is one of the first places we look focus.

You can hear it in the true story of Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah. 

Naomi’s focus: Naomi faced famine and moved to Moab, a godforsaken land, where her husband dies. Her sons marry idol-worshipping women. They produce no offspring. Then her sons die, leaving her with two daughters-in-law. Life couldn’t get much more difficult than that.

She believes God’s hand is very heavy on her and that she has been emptied of anything and anyone who mattered to her. Now she was old. Death would have been a welcome visitor for her. She saw nothing but her difficult circumstances. Poor Naomi … lost, alone and disillusioned and bitter. She sees no hope for her future..

Ruth’s focus: Ruth, on the other hand, could have thought that if she went with Naomi to Israel, she would not be welcomed. She could have thought: “I will never marry or have a child. Perhaps I will face abuse and ridicule. I may starve.”

These were all real possibilities for her future. Yet she did a remarkable thing. She wanted to be where God was in the Land of Bread, and she was determined to go. She persisted and off Ruth and Naomi went to Israel.

Orpah’s focus: Orpah, the other daughter-in-law, returned to Moab and her idol-worshipping life. She lacked God’s perspective. To her, returning home looked most promising.

When we focus on circumstances, we miss what is really going on.

Listening to Paul’s Solutions

The aspostle Paul…

  1. clarifies the gospel
  2. focuses on results
  3. looks at the big picture

Clarification

Paul clarifies things so this little church isn’t discouraged or fearful. He doesn’t go into the details of what has happened to him. Instead, he reminds them that the Gospel is being advanced all over the place.

Focus

Paul focuses on the results. Paul reminds them that he is in chains for Christ and that the Gospel is advancing.

When we get lost on the problem, doesn’t our vision become limited? Naomi couldn’t see past her circumstances, Ruth saw something way beyond herself. She was going to be in the place God was and she couldn’t wait to get there. It didn’t matter what happened to her as long as she was close to Him.

We become self-absorbed when we focuse only on the horizontal of life. Our world gets smaller and smaller and it appears nothing will ever change. Naomi was caught in that place for quite some time.

But Paul took advantage of his circumstances and shared Jesus to everyone who was attached to him as well as anyone else. Ruth also took advantage of her situation and lived a life of integrity committing herself to the care of this older bitter woman who she loved. Both Paul and Ruth were witnesses of what a follower of Jesus looks like and people noticed.

  • How can we think differently about the situations that happen to us? What might God be up to? 

Sometimes we know the purpose but other times we don’t. Paul took advantage of this situation and proclaimed Christ.  Ruth on the other hand just lived her life in love and obedience to the God she found.  She wasn’t a great teacher or spokesperson instead she lived a life of grace and others noticed.

Big Picture

Paul looks at the big picture. Paul sees he is in chains, and other believers speak more boldly. And that is all that matters to him, that Christ gets proclaimed.

God desires for us to change our thinking. We live in a soft and comfy world and we quite like it that way, but following Jesus comes with great cost.  We might not be in chains like Paul was, but there will be ample opportunity for us to suffer and go through hardship and in it we can choose to respond like Naomi and get bitter or we can like Paul see the big picture.

Paul endured, he suffered, he sacrificed, he gave and he served because he loved.

How can we take up that same challenge?

During your darkest hours God is working, He is up to good things. He wants to redeem your struggle and use it for nothing but good in your life. You may not always know what He might be doing but you will know the end result is to make you reflect Christ more. (Romans 8:28,29)

What an honor we have.

Will you allow God to use your suffering to produce in you a most pleasing aroma for Him?

An Invitation to You

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Trials: Take the Wild Path to Joy

trials

Who likes trials? Only masochists, right?

Yet in Jesus Christ’s flip-the-world-upside-down gospel — where the weak are strong, and the poor are rich, and the messed up are cleaned up — trials are the wild path to joy, to true happiness. And here’s a key:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.

Blessing of Trials

Sucky trials get your attention.

Then you feel a need to deal.

And Jesus is the real deal.

Did you know he wants you to think like he thinks? Did you know you canwhat a mind-boggling thought!  because he empowers you to do so? It’s all Jesus.

‘For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinshtians 2:16, ESV

With Jesus, trials help you and me see, really see. They help us gain a new perspective, God’s perspective, as long as we’re open to listen to him. But Satan tries to interfere.

As Timothy Lane and Paul Trip say in How People Change:

Nothing is subtle about the ongoing war that rages throughout the Christian life. Trials and temptations about, but we respond to them from a new vantage point.

 New Perspective of Trials

We can change our perspective of trials. Here are just three ideas.

1. Remember that God continually blesses you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10.

2. Decide to want what God wants: a close relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

3. Embrace the truth that God uses sucky trials to increase your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can spend the rest of your life enjoying him? That trials have a goal?

And what is this goal? To become more and more Christlike as you love God and love your neighbor.

Invitation for YOU

Friends, we gave one hope: Christ. But sometimes life beat us down. This is where biblical counseling can help. If you’re facing trials and want God’s best for you, I invite you to consider biblical counseling.

I’m a trained biblical counselor persuing a doctorate in biblical counseling. I also am certified by the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors and by the Association of Biblical Counselors.

I meet with counselees (women, teen girls, and couples) in person and by Skype. (Skype-to-Skype calls are free.)

May our great God bless you, as I know he will. Ephesians 1:3

Sharing Hope for Your Heart,

3 Myths About Depression (part 3)

depression

DEPRESSION: Many of us feel depressed around Christmas. Did you know scientists and biblical counselors recognize at least three myths about depression?

In part 3 of this three-part series, learn the truth about medication for depression. Part 1 looked at . . .  Part 2 covered diagnosis and the Bible. This post first appeared here on CareLeader.org, June 29, 2016, and is used with permisison.

Would you like caring biblical counseling for depression? I offer counseling by Skype and in person. Contact me. Let’s set up a short complimentary consultation. Don’t go it alone.

Myth #3: Medication Doesn’t Help Treat Depression

Some people are under the impression that depression is purely a spiritual issue and that medication isn’t effective or needed in treating depression. Some who cite the ineffectiveness of antidepressants claim that they are slightly more effective than a placebo.

A fact sheet produced by MIT explains the origin of that idea:

Clinicians began hearing this question from patients after news articles reported on a 2002 analysis of published and unpublished studies submitted to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the approval process for several new types of antidepressant medication. This analysis concluded that the newer types of antidepressants are only marginally more effective than placebo.

However, these analyses do not reflect how antidepressants are used in actual practice. Drug trials measure only how a person responds to a single medication taken at a specific dose for a limited time. In clinical practice, however, the patient and clinician work together to find the dose and the medication or combination of medications most effective for you. Most clinicians believe that this process results in much better results than these analyses imply.

Medication: A Wisdom Issue

Dr. Michael Emlet, in an interview for our DivorceCare and Single & Parenting projects, pointed out that the Bible doesn’t prohibit taking medications for psychiatric disorders. He said,

When Jesus came, He not only forgave sin but He also healed disease. He also relieved suffering. Medications may be one way that suffering is relieved…. I would say medication is a wisdom issue. It’s going to vary from individual to individual whether or not medications may be wise.

I think some people want to rush too quickly to medications. Other people refuse to even consider the possibility of medications. Both of those positions could be problematic because they reflect motives of the heart that may be off base.

Dr. Emlet reminds us of the importance of remembering the limitations of medicine:

Medication can help treat depression and shouldn’t be written off as one of the ways that God can bring healing and relief to a person’s life. For example, with stabilized emotions and higher energy, people can be enabled to make needed changes in their lives.

But people need more than drugs. Drugs, as helpful as they can be, do have limitations. They don’t treat any of the underlying spiritual or environmental issues that contribute to a depression.

Some people may not require medication to treat their depression at all. Less severe cases can be treated with nonmedicinal approaches and basic behavior changes. For example, one study reported by Reuters found that simply getting active three times a week reduces the risk of depression in adults by 16 percent, and additional exercise reduces the risk even more. You can also suggest that a person try a change in diet, since a lack of essential vitamins and minerals can result in depressive symptoms.

Conclusion

A strategy for effective care begins with an accurate understanding of the person’s problem. For more on how to understand depression from a biblical perspective, see Jeff Forrey’s article How pastors can help the depressed. It will help you understand the unique role pastors play in helping people deal with depression.

Also check out Kathy Leonard’s article 3 reasons depression is complicated, which features interviews with counselor Leslie Vernick and Dr. Robert Kellemen. It’s a great post to share with your church leaders to help them understand why we shouldn’t use simplistic reasons to explain depression.

Now What?

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Struggling? Make an appointment (in person or by Skype). The Lord has effective and caring solutions to depression.–LAM

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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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