10 Ideas to Stay Engaged with Others in These Unprecendented Times

30 03 2020

A friend wrote to me recently and stated, “We are trying to keep our sanity while working at home, having our children home from school and feeling isolated.”  Well said, because the whole world seems to be on a pause.  It is not a season to fear, but we can embrace this season and believe for some good to come out of it.  So, here are 10 things you can do while feeling a bit like a captive.

 

10. Spend extraordinary time with God. Receive His peace.  Spend spiritual time with your family, praying and bringing them comfort, encouragement and security.  Keep reading and keep praying through Psalm 91 and other scriptures.  God’s word brings certain peace.

9. Go through your phone listing of names and locate those persons that you feel or sense may need a call or an encouraging text message. Let them know you are thinking of them.  Go alphabetically and work through your personal directory of names prayerfully.  Consider doing the same with your email addresses.

8. Ask your spouse how you can serve them. Work on taking shifts with the kids so you can get your personal work accomplished.  Keep some sense of school and learning going with your children.

7. Call your immediate neighbors and arrange a driveway or front porch shout out to one another. Say something like, “At noon on Saturday, let’s all go outside to our front porch or driveway and shout out a greeting to one another.”  Ask everyone how they are doing.  Let them know you care and ask if anyone needs any help.

6. Currently, there is no visitation in senior care homes and rightly so. Do you know someone living in this situation?  Call them or Facetime them so that you can be a voice and a face of encouragement. You can also call and ask if there is a senior who needs to talk to someone as you could volunteer to do so.  Do not forget the incarcerated or those in some form of rehab as well.

5. If you are headed to the store, who can you ask or check with to bring items back for them? We have a recent widow and a woman being cared for who is 100 years old that we keep checking in with.

4. Clean out your attic. It’s a great time to rid yourself of stuff.  Put free items out on your sidewalk or driveway for others who may need them.

3. Bake some cookies for your neighbors or perhaps someone needs a basket of encouragement filled with little gifts or necessary items.

2. There are missionaries still on the field serving and there are missionaries who have had to return home. You can contact them and ask how they are doing or if they need anything in the way of support during this time of transition.

1. Turn on worship music in your home.  While it plays in the background it will refresh, encourage and minister to the spirit of every family member.  Monitor the TV, espcially the news which can be scary to children.  Locate The Chosen and watch 8 amazing episodes with your family.  The Chosen has had almost 12 million views and already self-raised almost 2 million of 10 million dollars needed for season two.  View the trailor here.

Remember, God has made many rich deposits within you. It is time to give Him a return on His investment.  Ask Him what He would have you to do for others and trust Him for an amazing outcome.

 

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2)





Fear Not

23 03 2020

Did you know that the words “fear not” or “do not fear” appear well over 100 times in the New King James Version of the Bible?  God must be serious about fear in our lives.  Fear will steal our joy, remove our faith, decrease our love and cause us to not trust God.  I can still remember an often-seen bumper sticker from the 1970’s which read, “Fear or Faith.”  We have a choice; we can fear or we can have faith in our God.  Below I shared some of my favorite “fear not” scriptures.  May they bring you courage to not be in fear!

 

Isaiah 41:10, 13: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.  For I, the Lord your God, will hold your right hand, saying to you, ‘Fear not, I will help you.’

 

Isaiah 43:1: But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine.

 

Isaiah 54:14: In righteousness you shall be established; You shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; And from terror, for it shall not come near you.

 

I Chronicles 23:13: Then you will prosper, if you take care to fulfill the statutes and judgments with which the Lord charged Moses concerning Israel. Be strong and of good courage; do not fear nor be dismayed.

 

Psalms 46:2: Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.

 

Psalms 78:53: And He led them on safely, so that they did not fear; but the sea overwhelmed their enemies.

 

Matthew 10:31: Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.





7 Healthy Responses to the Coronavirus

20 03 2020

I love Psalm 91; it is so full of good news.  With all of the change the whole world is facing today, God’s word and His promises do not change and it is good to remind ourselves of this fact.  If you haven’t read this Psalm recently, please do and consider reading it daily as recommended in point number one below.  Its truth is so encouraging in this hour.

Did you know that God in His word outlined a process of how to stop an infectious disease?  Once it was diagnosed by the high priest, that person was to go into isolation for seven days.  They were then to be examined a second time and possibly go into a second seven day isolation.  (See Leviticus 13)

Let’s also be reminded and take to heart the process outlined by our government to keep the spread of this virus to a minimum.  Romans 13 instructs us to submit to the governing authorities as they have been established by God.  To not submit is to be in rebellion against what God has established.  (See Romans 13:1,2)

John G. Lake (1870-1935) was an evangelist and also known as a “faith healer” who lived through the Bubanic Plague.  He stayed on the ground, ministering to the sick and actually helped to bury the dead.  When asked by the doctors what protection he was using he said, “…the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.  I believe that just as long as I keep my soul in contact with the living God so that His Spirit is flowing into my soul and body, that no germ will ever attach itself to me, for the Spirit of God will kill it.”  (See the article here.)

Here are 7 words of encouragement for you and for those whom you touch.

  1. Meditate on Psalm 91 each and every day. Read it to your children so they know of God’s protection over them.  Pray this Psalm over your household.
  2. Remember the Passover when the Israelites’ doorways had blood sprinkled on them. (See Exodus 12:23)  Those dwellings were not touched.  You have authority in the Name of Jesus to pray protection over your household.  Take that authority boldly against the evil one and protect your household in the Spirit.
  3. Do not operate in fear or anxiety. The love of Jesus is perfect and casts out all fear.  (See I John 4:7-21)  Anxiety takes the place of prayer and keeps us from trusting God.  (See Proverbs 12:25; Philippians 4:6,7)  Rather, operate in a spirit of faith.
  4. Keep rejoicing and keep giving thanks. A thankful heart is a heart absent of complaint.  A heart that rejoices is a heart full of life.  (See Philippians 4:4; I Thessalonians 5:18)
  5. Think and pray about how you can serve others. Do you have a neighbor that you need to check on?  Is there an elderly person who should not go to the store at this time and you can make the trip for them?  How can you and your family serve those who are at a higher risk?  Remember that difficulties in life can also provide opportunities. (See Matthew 20:28; I Peter 4:10)
  6. We can trust God in all things, including this precarious season. Place all your hope and trust in the Lord; He does not disappoint.  (See Psalms 25:1,2; 31:14; 62:8)
  7. Pray for government leaders in decision making.  Pray for your church family to stay strong and faith filled.  Pray for opportunities to serve others.  Prayer will help us to maintain a proper focus.  Pray without ceasing!  (I Thessalonians 5:17)

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 says, “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

And Romans 15:13 states, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”





Couples Who are Committing Financial Infidelity

15 03 2020

A recent survey conducted by CreditCards.com, which included 1,378 adults, discovered that 44% of U.S. adults admit to “…hiding bank accounts or debt and spending more money than their partner is aware of.”  I was astounded when I read that statistic.

 

When asked why they do this, their answers included for “privacy” purposes or “a desire to control their own finances.”  Many admitted they spend more than their significant other would like them to or would agree with.

 

We know money issues are some of the biggest issues in relationships, especially marriage.  That is the reason why we dedicate a whole chapter to finance in our premarital book, Called Together and we also discuss it thoroughly in our follow-up book, Staying Together.

 

Some of the couples in the survey stated that they are keeping “secret accounts” or are carrying “hidden debt.”  It was also found that men tend to function in financial infidelity slightly more than women.  All of the above is a major sign of mistrust in a relationship, perhaps fear, a longing for independence, the misuse of finances or a sign of financial abuse.  It certainly is an indicator of something awry in one party or both.

 

Have you kept financial secrets from your spouse?  Here are a few reasons to never engage in this behavior:

  1. It will undermine the foundation of your relationship.
  2. You are living a lie and keeping secrets from a relationship that should have no secrets.
  3. Secrets always have a way of surfacing, at the poorest of times. It will then become far more difficult to try and deal with the infraction(s).
  4. Your partner might wonder what other secrets are being kept from the relationship, creating an unhealthy distrust.

And here are some reasons why this may be happening:

  1. You have an underlying fear of financial loss or separation of the relationship.
  2. There is something in your personal or family history that needs to be dealt with and healed.
  3. There is something in your marriage history that needs to be dealt with and healed.
  4. Money has become an inordinate form of security to you.
  5. Your spending is out of control and you are attempting to meet emotional needs in a wrong way.

 

It is interesting that the verse (verse four) before the one I share below is about marriage, and then Hebrews 13:5 says, “Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’”

 

How we spend our money, save our money and give away our money says so much about our heart and who we are as a person.  Who are you when it comes to money?  Integrity begins with the use of one single cent.  If you are concealing finance or accounts and keeping secrets from your spouse, please take steps to rectify this.  Do not allow personal secrets to invade your marriage relationship.





The Bondage of an Offense and Six Healing Steps

9 03 2020

Many years ago, I worked with someone who continually picked up offenses.  With tremendous immaturity and insecurity, they made life miserable for everyone around them.  We walked on eggshells when this person was present.

 

In reality, their unmet, inordinately high expectations in everyone but themself inhibited the vision of the ministry, inhibited the effectiveness of the staff to work together and literally put this person in a passive control of everyone.  To confront this person meant certain retribution from them because in order to maintain their offenses, they had to be right.

 

Offended persons value being right before relationship since it validates and justifies their holding onto the offense.  Offended persons concentrate and perceive what everyone else is doing to them.  It is a self-centered, narcissistic way of living.  Proverbs says it this way, “An offended brother is more unyielding than a fortified city…”

 

As believers, it is unacceptable to live with an offended spirit.  Our offenses expose the weakness of us, because we choose to be offended.  Jesus does not want us to walk in offense and become bitter persons; He wants us to be “deader” persons.

 

Dead people do not take an offense (see Romans 14: 7-8).  Jesus, Himself, who had plenty of opportunity to take offense at the Pharisees, once said that offenses will come, but woe to whom they come through (Luke 17:1-3).  Being offended and offending are from the same source, the spirit of self.

 

We walk in pride when we feel that we do not receive the recognition that we should receive and become offended.  We dislike being told what to do or being corrected and accountable and so we take up an offense.  We develop an overly sensitive spirit and then keep people away who might love us enough to tell us the truth about our overreacting.

 

Again, Proverbs reveals that wounds from a friend can be trusted.  Someone said it this way, “A friend will stab you from the front.”

 

Simply stated, the cross is about love and love does not offend.  Love is the ultimate cure for offenses.  Jesus died for those offenses so that we do not need to pick them up.

 

Can we offense proof our self?  Here are six suggestions to help.

 

  1. Catch it early. You know in your sprit when an offense is in the early stages because you feel the jab of a personal wound.  Do not embrace it (see Proverbs 19:11).
  2. Be honest with yourself and your emotions. Do not be in denial; accept the feelings you have of anger or letdown and disappointment.  (Romans 12:3; Galatians 6:4)
  3. As quickly as possible, speak blessing over the one who spoke what you determined to be offensive words. Those words of blessing will override negative thoughts so as to not nurse the hurt you may also feel.  (Luke 6:27-28)
  4. Ask God to show you the truth and the positive in the matter. How will He use it to grow you?  What steps can you take toward knowing that all things work together for good?  (Romans 8:28-29)
  5. Go to the person(s) and face the situation by confronting your own feelings and do your best to be reconciled. (Matthew 7:12)
  6. Forgive quickly and do not harbor an offense, release it. (Colossians 3: 12-15 NLT)




Unchecked Anger Will Slowly Kill a Marriage

2 03 2020

I read this scripture early one morning this week, “Better a patient man than a warrior, a man who controls his temper than one who takes a city.”  (Proverbs 16:32)

 

Are you controlling your temper or do you find yourself becoming inordinately angry at times?  Anger is funny in that it can pop up unannounced and uninvited.  You might be hungry.  You might be overworked or over tired.  You might be feeling extra stress.  There are emotional conditions that lead to more anger. Sometimes it can be good to do a bit of self-evaluation and search yourself concerning any of those emotionally related areas mentioned above.

 

In my booklet, Be Angry and Son Not, I defined anger as, “Our emotional response to a stimulus that we interpret to be threatening to our or another’s need for security and significance.”

 

Breaking that down…it would simply mean I have blocked goals.  Think about the last time you found yourself getting angry.  You most likely desired something and you were not getting it; your goal was blocked.  It does not mean you wanted something bad, but still your need was not met.

 

The other day my grandson wanted the blocks he was using to stay in place while he built a “tower.”  Because he’s only three, he had a tough time aligning the blocks so they would stay in place, and of course, they came tumbling down.  Then he came “tumbling down” with a huge meltdown.  No consoling would help; his goal was unrealized.

 

I understand we are no longer three years old, but we can have meltdowns too.  While there are some pretty normal emotions that go along with anger like, a higher volume with your voice, feeling tense, not maintaining total self-control and interrupting the conversation, there is also an anger in which we can sin by being verbally or physically abusive.  That latter type of anger is not normal and if that is your go to emotion, you are in need of help.

 

How often is anger present in your relationship?  A healthy marriage can tolerate certain outbursts as normal, but if anger is your “go to” mode of operation in order to get what you’re after, and you justify it as necessary or normal, then most likely your anger is self-motivated rather than other motivated.  You are using your anger for selfish means and you’ll need some form of intervention.

 

But now you must rid yourself of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.  (Colossians 3:8)








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