Category Archives: Motivation

Giving Up Our Vices

“You’re gonna have to pray for me, because I already gave up everything else for JESUS,” I lamented to my friend when the Holy Spirit nudged me to give up some of my rap CDs. “And there is no way I am getting rid of this Outkast CD. No. Way.” If you don’t know what a CD is, please take a moment to google the Dark Ages, and there you’ll find my early twenties.

To be honest, the first year or two of my discipleship journey was an uncomfortable process of elimination. I had to give up my vices, my coping mechanisms, the comforts I turned to when I needed a release from pain. Social smoking, drinking too much, binge eating, binge watching television, hiding in relationships, and finally, rap music.

For the record, I still listen to and love that genre, but I began to realize how much death I invited into my life as I considered the negative lyrics coming out of my mouth. I think we underestimate the power of media in our lives.

We’re saturated in pop culture, digital streaming, smart phones and tablets, email and social media, Ted Talks and teaching series. It can be so very difficult to hear God and to allow His word to shape our worldview. In fact, if we’re not careful, the world begins to shape our faith, more than scripture. We even start to think that “just a little bit of this” won’t hurt, right? What’s the big deal anyway?

On the cross, Jesus defeated sin, and He is alive, living in unbroken fellowship with God. Unbroken. There’s not a moment of disconnection between them. Stop with me for a moment and consider what it would be like to never feel a separation from heaven. What kind of joy is that? What would it be like to live without sin? I assure you that I don’t know, but I aspire.

Do you find yourself there in the gap with me? Reading the Apostle Paul’s words in Romans, earnestly desiring Jesus to be Lord of your life, but feeling the painful tension between your flesh and your spirit? Praying to be in deeper relationship with Jesus and others, but choosing a show on Netflix, a glass of wine, or a few hours of anything but meaningful connection, please?

It’s just that relationships are so much work. It feels too hard to find God in every single moment of every single day. Maintaining unbroken fellowship and the intimacy required makes me want to dive headlong into something a bit more mind numbing, with a bit less pressure. (You know, Netflix, wine, Pinterest, fill in yours here.)

You know what I’ve learned? God doesn’t make me perform like a circus monkey. He does not want me to entertain Him, or clean my house first, or be “on” in order to connect. Unlike the culture of this world, He takes me, as I am, hot mess that I am. Whether I am tired, worn out, happy, excited, frustrated, he receives me by His grace. Life in the Spirit relieves pressure; it does not add it.

Sin is not our ruler. Desire is not our master. Jesus is our Lord. Through the finished work of the cross, we do not have to live even a moment feeling disconnected from the presence of God. Together, let’s live receiving the blessing of unbroken fellowship with Him.

PRACTICE: Celebrate what you have already given up, even if it’s rap music. Celebrate your desire to live in unbroken fellowship with God and others. Turn on some Motown and throw yourself a dance party. You may not be where you want to be, but thank God you are not where you were.

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I Am Human. I Need Help.

It was close to midnight when I drove into an empty mall parking lot. The sound and sight of rain is distinct in my memory. “Where are you, God?” I shouted, pain coiling itself around my heart, torment gripping my mind. “Where are you?” I sobbed again. I parked my car and began to write the truth in my journal: I am absolutely terrified. My life is completely out of control. God, I need help.

Fourteen years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder (among other things, hello). But in that parking lot, I finally pressed beyond denial and admitted to myself and to God that I had a problem I couldn’t fix. I wasn’t ready to admit the same to others, but at least the pressure of pretending began to lift.

It took a few years for me to open my pain to close friends, and for my life to actually change, but I gained a level of freedom that night as I gave myself permission to say it, to write it: I am human. I am broken. I need help.

Brokenness opens a path for obedience. Not because it’s more spiritual to be jacked up across fourteen areas of life, but because of the humility it takes to engage in an honest relationship between the Holy Spirit and us. It takes guts to say, “I don’t have it all together and I’m not going to wait until I have it all together. Jesus, I need you now. Where are you? Can you please come to me now?”

He has all wisdom. He has all power. He is at peace with our humanity, with our brokenness. He comes to us in our pain, not in our pretense. He gives grace to the humble, but he resists the proud. And the Holy Trinity is the only force able to transform our lives completely, for good.

How I hated those first few times I risked taking off my mask. How I loathed giving up control of my environment and of how others saw me. How I despised living in that grey space between who I was and who I wanted to be. Denial was so much easier – at least my coping mechanisms were familiar, and pretending I had it all together was so much better than sitting in the ugly truth.

But truth-telling started the process of freedom. I began walking wholeheartedly towards integrity. And this opened my heart to receive the truth of the word of God as well. This opened me up to a life in the Spirit.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And when we make the simple, albeit difficult, decision to be honest with where we are, we can obey Jesus at each step of our discipleship journey, on our way to where we’re going. We tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and, by His grace, we can respond to our past with His love, remain present where we are, and look to the future with hope.

Humility in obedience is hard; but, oh, my friend, you’re worth it. Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction:

“I Am Human. I Need Help.”

It was close to midnight when I drove into an empty mall parking lot. The sound and sight of rain is distinct in my memory. “Where are you, God?” I shouted, pain coiling itself around my heart, torment gripping my mind. “Where are you?” I sobbed again. I parked my car and began to write the truth in my journal: I am absolutely terrified. My life is completely out of control. God, I need help.

Fourteen years ago I was struggling with an eating disorder (among other things, hello). But in that parking lot, I finally pressed beyond denial and admitted to myself and to God that I had a problem I couldn’t fix. I wasn’t ready to admit the same to others, but at least the pressure of pretending began to lift.

It took a few years for me to open my pain to close friends, and for my life to actually change, but I gained a level of freedom that night as I gave myself permission to say it, to write it: I am human. I am broken. I need help.

Brokenness opens a path for obedience. Not because it’s more spiritual to be jacked up across fourteen areas of life, but because of the humility it takes to engage in an honest relationship between the Holy Spirit and us. It takes guts to say, “I don’t have it all together and I’m not going to wait until I have it all together. Jesus, I need you now. Where are you? Can you please come to me now?”

He has all wisdom. He has all power. He is at peace with our humanity, with our brokenness. He comes to us in our pain, not in our pretense. He gives grace to the humble, but he resists the proud. And the Holy Trinity is the only force able to transform our lives completely, for good.

How I hated those first few times I risked taking off my mask. How I loathed giving up control of my environment and of how others saw me. How I despised living in that grey space between who I was and who I wanted to be. Denial was so much easier – at least my coping mechanisms were familiar, and pretending I had it all together was so much better than sitting in the ugly truth.

But truth-telling started the process of freedom. I began walking wholeheartedly towards integrity. And this opened my heart to receive the truth of the word of God as well. This opened me up to a life in the Spirit.

Jesus said, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” And when we make the simple, albeit difficult, decision to be honest with where we are, we can obey Jesus at each step of our discipleship journey, on our way to where we’re going. We tap into the power of the Holy Spirit and, by His grace, we can respond to our past with His love, remain present where we are, and look to the future with hope.

Humility in obedience is hard; but, oh, my friend, you’re worth it. Eugene Peterson, in his book, A Long Obedience in the

Same Direction: Discipleship in an Instant Society, said, “And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” Yes and Amen.

PRACTICE: What thoughts come into your mind as you think about leaning into the grey space of where you are now and where you want to be? Are you uncomfortable, afraid, lonely, angry? Share your thoughts with the Lord. He wants to hear you. Discipleship in an Instant Society, said, “And yet I decide, every day, to set aside what I can do best and attempt what I do very clumsily–open myself to the frustrations and failures of loving, daring to believe that failing in love is better than succeeding in pride.” Yes and Amen.

PRACTICE: What thoughts come into your mind as you think about leaning into the grey space of where you are now and where you want to be? Are you uncomfortable, afraid, lonely, angry? Share your thoughts with the Lord. He wants to hear you.

4 Go-To Tips to Take on (Unbearable!) Social Anxiety

Getting busy striking up a simple conversation or just helping an event organizer can allow you to ease discomfort in situations with A LOT of people

Photo: GeorgePeters/Getty Images

By Brittany Sibley

Over the years I have realized a few things related to my journey with Bipolar I. The fact that I can experience hard core anxiety is one of them.

In busy, active situations, my brain can sometimes label this as too overwhelming. These types of situations, for example, include riding a crowded bus, eating lunch in the employee lounge, holiday parties, birthday dinners, outside festivals/concerts, ordering food in a busy restaurant, and waiting in long lines at a local grocery store, supermarket or any other place a lot of folks—familiar or unfamiliar—may be located at one point of time.

At times, my “bipolar 1 mind” cannot conceive baring situations with lots of people because it feels a little too much for my five senses. I have learned a few tips to try and ignore the sense of unbearable discomfort to help you get through your day, run your errand, stay put at the party, and enjoy your family’s get-together, concert, festival or any other situation where your brain would like you to detach, resist, isolate or literally walk away.

I have experienced when walking away is necessary to maintain your calmness, and if you find yourself in this situation, please do what’s necessary to ensure stability. However, if you think you can stay put, staying active personally is a great way to get over that hump. These are often my go-to tools for keeping myself active in busy situations.

1. Try to make convenient, comfortable conversation with at least one person.

It does not matter who the one person is, and you don’t need many details to start the conversation. Just mention something you both have in common in that moment of time. I hate to be cliche, but it really could be the weather, how his or her day has been thus far, how and why the place you both are presently in is so crowded or decorated (depending).

Usually as the conversation progresses, your mind eventually fades from unbearable to sort of bearable to not so bad after all.

2. Always have something to read!

If not, pick up something to read. A magazine, a book, a schedule, a brochure, an itinerary—it does not really matter what it is.

In my experience, by reading, you are taking your mind off the sudden discomfort your body experiences in busy, or suddenly busy situations. Your mind begins to instead focus your energy on reading and learning, possibly information you did not know before.

If you continue to read long enough, the urge to walk away from the situation will settle. When in long lines, I usually read long enough until it is my turn to check out.

3. Offer/ask host of event or gathering if there is anything you can do to help.

I have found making myself available to the host keeps me very active at busy events. From helping with displays and food layouts, to assisting with clean up by gathering dishes, and finally helping any elderly with second plates, take home bags, and drink refills, these tasks can take your mind off of your anxiety.

4. Keep your head up and remind yourself that the reason you feel anxiety is because you actually got up and went to the situation, event or invite in the first place.

While some places can be required and unavoidable, choosing to remain active in them in any effort deserves a little recognition. Recognizing any small feat allows the next accomplishments to become easier and easier.

These few tools can help in trying to remain active in anxiety-inducing situations the same way they continue to help me. I speak from my personal experience, and you or your loved ones may have experiences quite different than what I know to be true.

Either way, trying the tools will not hurt, especially during this summer season where things to do abound! I would love to hear if these tips work for you and if not, what other tools you may know of to better assist in similar situations. Happy July and continue to take care of your mind as well as you do your body…until next time, Happy Summer!

Learn more:

7 Strategies to Outsmart the Sun: Staying Clear of Summer Mania

Stress or Bipolar Anxiety? How to Tell the Difference

Hope for Bipolar Depression

Even in our darkest places, we will eventually realize that there is hope to get through our tragedies and hardships. What may seem hopeless one day, will lead into another, that will assure us that depression does not last forever. When we are in the middle of it, we cannot see the light, but upon reflection, many realize that there is room to grow and learn from our experiences, no matter how bleak and dark. I know this to be true when attempting to fight off the darkness that never seems to end.

Depression is an element of bipolar disorder that we can never escape, but it is truly in reaching out for help that will bring us on a journey of recovery and acceptance that makes it okay to not be okay. It is imperative to know that clinical depression is not always triggered by something in particular, and there is often not a ‘reason’ for the experience. We are plainly dealing with a mental illness that often has no specific logical circumstantial indicator. As we travel through the valleys, we just have to remember than one day, we will once again soar into a place of stability and balance. Taking the first step by reaching out may be the most difficult, but it is also one of the most vital decisions that you will ever have to make.

Keep your heads up guys and know that you too are worthy of understanding, acceptance, and empathy. Never be afraid to ask for the help that you so rightfully deserve.

You Say

Lauren Daigle – You Say Lyrics

From the album Look Up Child

I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough

Every single lie that tells me I will never measure up

Am I more than just the sum of every high and every low

Remind me once again just who I am, because I need to know

You say I am loved

When I can’t feel a thing

You say I am strong

When I think I am weak

You say I am held

When I am falling short

When I don’t belong

You say I am Yours

And I believe

I believe

What You say of me

I believe

The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me

In You I find my worth, in You I find my identity

Taking all I have and now I’m laying it at Your feet

You have every failure, God, and You’ll have every victory

Oh, I believe

Yes, I believe

What You say of me

Oh, I believe

Publishing: © 2018 See You At The Pub & CentricSongs (SESAC) / So Essential Tunes & Fellow Ships Music (SESAC) / Flychild Publishing & So Essential Tunes (SESAC)

Words and Music by Lauren Daigle, Jason Ingram and Paul Mabury

Does God Care About My Problems?

wp-1531743650549.jpgGod cares and He does not cause bad things to happen. We live in a fallen world and have free will. There are natural disasters, death, disease, and all sorts of struggles people face each day. Everyone is dealing with something or many things. This life was not promised to be easy, but God did say He would always help us through our struggles. All we need to do is ask and have faith that God will help us.

When we ask Him faithfully in prayer God hears us and works all things for good, even the worst of tragedies. He still does miracles everyday. If you look for them in your own life you will see them. I know I do. Sometimes it’s big things, but it can also be little things. Sometimes I just know that was God and I say thank you.

When you have a close relationship and talk to God throughout the day like he is your best friend who knows all your thoughts and garbage (our worst parts of ourselves we try to hide from others) it is easy to talk about your struggles and ask for help. He may not provide the help in the exact way you think it should come, but thank goodness because God’s ways are so much better than our ways. He sees the big picture, how everything plays out and affects others. He answers prayers by helping us through struggles in ways we hadn’t even imagined.

One example of a miracle is  the boys trapped in the cave for 18 days. Every single day they expected it to rain and raced against  an impending  monsoon. We prayed all around the world and the rain never came. As soon as the  boys were rescued, it started to rain. They couldn’t even get their tools out. The rain was delayed for 18 days, and flooded the cave the minute the boys were rescued. That’s God. That’s the power of prayer. All Glory to God!

wp-1531743834113.jpg

Divine Control

“Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it.”

…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! MATTHEW 7:11

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7).

Life Church

Week 2:At the Movies

Key Scriptures

“… In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33 NIV

wp-1531743650549.jpg“But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”
2 Chronicles 15:7 NIV

wp-1531743761105.jpgFinally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
Ephesians 6:10 NIV

wp-1531743834113.jpg… though he may stumble, he will not fall. For the LORD upholds him with his hand.
Psalm 37:24 NIV

wp-1531743940041.jpg“… Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9 NIV

wp-1531744081211.jpg… stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.
1 Corinthians 16:13 NIV wp-1531744215744.jpg

Start talking. Find a conversation starter for your group.

  • What inspired you most from this message?
  • Who, or what situations, did you think of as you listened?

Start thinking. Ask a thoughtful question.

  • Read Jesus’ words in John 16:33. Do you see this Scripture as encouraging or scary? Why?
  • Do you have any questions about why bad things happen to good people? Talk openly about those.

Start sharing. Choose questions that create openness.

  • Have you experienced a major tragedy, trauma, or loss in your life? How was your view of God impacted?
  • Share about any areas in your life where you feel ready to give up.
  • What’s the difference between just giving up and surrendering to God?
  • Read Joshua 1:9. Where do you want to walk? What would it look like to be strong and courageous?

Start praying. Be bold, and pray with power.

Heavenly Father, we want to walk, but we need Your strength. Holy Spirit, give us the courage to take steps in the very moment we feel ready to give up. Show us that we’re not alone—You’re holding us up with Your hand. Thank You, Jesus, for overcoming the pain of this world. We put our hope in You. Amen.

Start doing. Commit to a step and live it out this week.

  • Share one area where you’re ready to quit. What’s a first step that would force you to rely on God’s might?
  • Pick a Scripture from this message that best addresses your struggle, and make it a part of your prayer time.
  • Find some life-giving help for the pain you’re facing: www.go2.lc/pain

Thai cave rescue: Divers begin mission to rescue 12 trapped boys as monsoon rain looms

‘Today is D-Day,’ officials say

Officials on Sunday morning said that “today is D-Day” as they face a race against time to extract the children from the narrow Tham Luang cave complex before more monsoon rains arrive.

Chiang Rai acting governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they are gradually removed.

The operation began at 10am local time, with authorities suggesting it would take at least 11 hours for the first person to be rescued.

Divers have begun the operation to rescue 12 Thai boys and their football coach, who have been trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks.

Officials on Sunday morning said that “today is D-Day” as they face a race against time to extract the children from the narrow Tham Luang cave complex before more monsoon rains arrive.

Chiang Rai acting governor Narongsak Osatanakorn said 13 foreign and five Thai divers were taking part in the rescue and two divers will accompany each boy as they are gradually removed.

Read More

The Way This Football Coach Kept 12 Boys, Trapped In A Thai Cave, Alive For 18 Days Goes Viral
5 days ago by​ Andželika

A few weeks ago heartbreaking story captured everyone’s attention. In Thailand 12 boys, aged between 11 and 16, and their 25-year-old coach went missing. After the boys’ bikes were found next to an entrance of a cave it became clear that the torrential downpour had left them trapped in it.
It took 9 days of an intense rescue operation to find the boys alive and another 9 days to get them to safety. After 18 days trapped in the cave twelve boys and their coach have finally been rescued.

However, during this intense and stressful time, many people blamed the boys’ coach Ekkapol Chantawong. In defense of Ekkapol, Twitter user yvvonelim9 posted a thread about the coach and gathered some very important facts. Despite being accused of irresponsible behavior by taking children into the cave, it seems obvious by now that Ekkapol played an important role in keeping the trapped children alive.

Reportedly, the kind-hearted coach was the most malnourished because he gave away his share of food to the children, he taught the boys to meditate to help them conserve energy and kept their spirits high until the moment they were rescued.

Ekkapol proved himself to be a true hero in keeping the children alive, scroll to read his life story below!

More info: twitter.com

In Thailand, 12 boys and their 25-year-old football coach became trapped in a cave when rain flooded the escape route

Twitter user yvvonelim9 posted a thread about the coach and gathered some important facts about his life and his role in keeping the children alive

Divine Control

“Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it.”

…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! MATTHEW 7:11

Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct in this passage for those people who have His Spirit. He urges us to keep our minds filled with the concept of God’s control over everything, which means that a disciple must maintain an attitude of perfect trust and an eagerness to ask and to seek.

Fill your mind with the thought that God is there. And once your mind is truly filled with that thought, when you experience difficulties it will be as easy as breathing for you to remember, “My heavenly Father knows all about this!” This will be no effort at all, but will be a natural thing for you when difficulties and uncertainties arise. Before you formed this concept of divine control so powerfully in your mind, you used to go from person to person seeking help, but now you go to God about it. Jesus is laying down the rules of conduct for those people who have His Spirit, and it works on the following principle: God is my Father, He loves me, and I will never think of anything that He will forget, so why should I worry?

Jesus said there are times when God cannot lift the darkness from you, but you should trust Him. At times God will appear like an unkind friend, but He is not; He will appear like an unnatural father, but He is not; He will appear like an unjust judge, but He is not. Keep the thought that the mind of God is behind all things strong and growing. Not even the smallest detail of life happens unless God’s will is behind it. Therefore, you can rest in perfect confidence in Him. Prayer is not only asking, but is an attitude of the mind which produces the atmosphere in which asking is perfectly natural. “Ask, and it will be given to you…” (Matthew 7:7)
From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition

Be Immensely Patient


But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:16 NIV
Be immensely patient. Think of the story of the mustard seed. If we have the faith of a tiny mustard seed, the outcome will be like a huge tree with many branches.

We need to be immensely patient with ourselves. We will mess up, but we need to push on and be patient as Jesus is with us. 

If you feel far from Jesus, then return to Him. Figure out what you want more than anything. I want Jesus.

https://bible.com/bible/111/1ti.1.16.NIV

Endurance


Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
James 1:2‭-‬4 NLT

https://bible.com/bible/116/jas.1.2-4.NLT

I blog about my personal struggle with trichotillomania and bipolar disorder. I also discuss helpful strategies, reflections, and treatments.

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