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Posts tagged ‘decision making’

Wisely Planning “Neglect”

SOURCE:  Randy Alcorn

Planned Neglect: Saying No to Good Things So We Can Say Yes to the Best

I’ve recently been overwhelmed with seemingly endless opportunities to do good things.

I’ve been weighing what to say yes to and what to say no to. Seems like every year of my life I have to say no to more good things. (Young mothers and fathers may relate to this, as those children need a lot of attention, as do your marriages, and there’s no end to the things, both bad and good, that could distract you from either or both.)

Just today I backed out of two things I’d said I thought I could do, months ago when it seemed there would be time for them. I hate to do this, but it’s become clear that I have to be ruthless to carve out time to do what I believe God wants me to, or it’s just not going to happen.

We shouldn’t say yes to something just because it’s a good thing or even a great thing. When saying no to good things, I always remind myself what Nanci and I have learned over many years: I must say no to people concerning the vast majority of good things they invite me to, in order to be available to say yes to God concerning that small number of things He has truly called me to. Sometimes we tend to say yes to too many of the good things, leaving us exhausted and unable to bring our best to those relatively few God-things.

(Of course, some people are not saying yes to the things God calls them to, because they’re saying yes instead to three hours of TV and internet surfing or video games each night. I’m talking now about those who are using their time wisely but are still feeling overwhelmed.)

Whenever we say yes to something, we’ve found that it’s not just the new thing itself, it’s the new contacts, the new networks, and all the new requests that come out of them. We love people, and we enjoy making new friends. And yet, it’s also true that while we’re grateful when God brings us new friends, we are not actively seeking them, because as the years go by we have to work harder just to stay in touch with our old ones.

Sometimes I just have to give up on email, because it’s never-ending. I can’t possibly stay on top of it unless I do nothing else. There are only 168 hours in the week no matter what we do (and during a third of those we should be sleeping!) If we have X number of people to make time for, they have to come out of the same small pie of available time, and pretty soon the slices of the pie get smaller and smaller. You end up having dear friends who no longer get a sliver, because it’s been divided so many times.

As with people, so it is with causes. Rather than a large number of causes that we have tiny little investments in, better to have a much smaller number that you’re wholeheartedly engaged in, giving your very best. Ask God for wisdom as to which these should be, and God will give it (James 1:3). But NEVER say yes without asking whether this is one of those exceptional things God really wants you to do. Tell Him that unless He smacks you in the side of the head and makes it clear, you will assume He DOESN’T want you to do it.

This is planned neglect.

We need to neglect doing the things that countless people want us to do, so that we will be available to do what God wants. And sometimes He speaks in a still small voice, while people speak in a big LOUD voice. We have to make sure we’re listening. To do that, we need to put our ear to His Word and pray and seek His face.

Instead of exhausting ourselves doing many secondary things, may we do a few primary things well. And that begins with our daily time with God. When Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet soaking Him in, and Martha was mad because Mary wasn’t doing what she wanted, Jesus said to Martha, “only a few things are necessary, really only one; Mary has chosen the better portion, which shall not be taken from her” (Luke 10:42).

So, decide what you are going to neglect this week in order to pay attention to God. And while you do that, seek His wisdom and empowerment in doing those few things He wants you to do.

Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15-17)

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Not Just Knowing What Is Right — Doing It!

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Family Life 

A. W. Tozer said, “The word of God was not given to us to make us intelligent sinners, but obedient and authentic saints.”

 Obey God 

Our lives are made up of choices—difficult forks in the road where we must decide to choose God’s way or to pursue our own. And as Moses said to the children of Israel, the choice is really not between right and wrong but between life and death (see Deuteronomy 30:15-16). The prophet Amos said it very succinctly: “Seek the LORD that you may live” (Amos 5:6). Truly, the only sure path to life is found in obedience to God and His Word.

So when you don’t feel like loving your spouse, obey God.
When you’re tempted to steal or to compromise your integrity, obey God.
When your boss asks you to do something you shouldn’t, obey God.
When your lusts and passions are telling you to give in, obey God.
When you’re suffering and feel like quitting, obey God.
When the easiest thing to do is nothing, obey God.
When you feel like being lazy, obey God.
Whatever choice you may be facing, obey God . . . and live!

Thomas Carlisle wrote, “Conviction, be it ever so excellent, is worthless until it converts itself into conduct.”

It is not enough just to know what’s right.

Ask God to give you the strength and conviction to be not just His children but also His obedient children.

“How can I know what Jesus wants me to do? If I knew – I would do it!”

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Tim Clinton/American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)

Doing What He Says

Too often, the thought that echoes through the corridors of our minds is, “How can I know what Jesus wants me to do? If I knew – I would do it!”

You can know.

God has given us three wonderful gifts in this “following Christ” journey:

His Word.

The Psalmist declares that “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105 ESV) The Bible will clearly guide you as you “resolve” to do all that Jesus asks. Even Jesus, when faced with temptation, responded with “It is written…”

Spend some time in the gospels – in the “red letters” – the very words of Jesus. Soak in everything He spoke about grace…about forgiveness…about facing challenges…about a relationship with God the Father.

As those words take root in your heart and soul, resolve to follow His guidance, and whatever He says to you, do it.

Holy Spirit.

Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit – our Helper – and promised that “He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (John 14:26 ESV) In chapter 16 Jesus added “He (Holy Spirit) will guide you into all the truth” (vs. 13).

Listen and hear what Jesus says to do through the whispers of His Spirit.

Other Believers.

The great Apostle Paul reminded the Philippians “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things…” (Philippians 4:9 ESV) Again in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Paul admonishes, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (ESV)

You are who you spend time with.

Each one of us need spiritual leaders and “coaches” in our lives from whom we hear and see and learn and receive guidance in doing what Jesus says.

How To Forgive And Why It’s Good For You

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

Sheila said, “I know I’m supposed to forgive my husband for hurting me, but how exactly do I do it? I try but I still feel angry and bad thoughts come into my head. How do I know when I’ve let his offense go?”

I find many believers struggle with the practical application of biblical truths. We know where we want to go, we’re just not sure how to get there. Here’s a roadmap that will help you navigate through the process of forgiving someone.

First, forgiveness is a decision not a feeling. It’s a choice we make. You must decide to work toward forgiving those who have hurt you or sinned against you.

I find that people either forgive too quickly, before doing the emotional work they need to in order to process and get rid of their hurt and anger, or they don’t forgive at all because they have erected large, thick walls of bitterness and resentment.

Jesus tells us to forgive one another, and that alone is a good enough reason to do it, but forgiveness is a good thing to do even for those who don’t know Jesus or believe in him. Long before modern medicine studied the physiological effects of chronic anger, resentment, and bitterness on the body, God knew that harboring these toxic emotions could not only damage our health but also ruin our lives. He warns us to get rid of them promptly.

God knows sin destroys us. It is not the sin that is committed against us that wields the fatal blow. Rather, it is our own sinful reaction to the things that have happened to us. Unresolved anger often turns to depression, self-pity, bitterness and resentment, and these things poison our body and our soul. A person finds healing through the process of forgiveness–both receiving forgiveness and extending forgiveness. That is why God is so insistent that we forgive. He doesn’t want sin to ruin our lives.

Please don’t misunderstand what forgiveness is. Forgiveness isn’t excusing the offender or minimizing their offense. Forgiveness is your decision to cancel the debt they rightfully owe you. Many protest here and become stuck because they are rightly deserving of justice or an apology or some restitution for the offenses done to them. They don’t want to cancel the debt owed because it feels so unfair to them. Yet if they are waiting for the person to repent, apologize or show remorse, they may wait a very long time.

In the Old Testament story, Joseph forgave his brothers for selling him into slavery. Joseph’s obedience freed him to be used by God in Egypt. But Joseph never initiated reconciliation with his betrayers—nor did he expose himself to them when he first saw them again. Why? He did not trust them. He was kind and gracious to them because he forgave them, but he tested them to see if they had repented and changed their jealous and self-centered ways. Joseph invited them back into relationship with him after they passed the test (see Genesis 42–46). Joseph’s forgiveness and his brothers’ repentance were both necessary to bring reconciliation andrestoration to their relationship.

Some of you may never see repentance from the person who hurt you. Sandy lived stuck in her past, angry that her father abused her. She refused to give up her anger until “he admits what he did and says he’s sorry.” When she confronted him and asked for an apology, he told her she was crazy and denied everything she accused him of doing. That left her waiting for something that may never happen. She allowed her father to continue to ruin her present and her future because he would not do what she longed for him to do. Sandy’s anger and lack of forgiveness wasn’t hurting Sandy’s father. He lived selfishly just as he always did. It was Sandy’s life that was hurt by her angry and bitter heart. Finally forgiving her father released Sandy from those toxic emotions. Her father will still have to give an account for what he did to Sandy, only it will be God, not Sandy who will judge him.

In my own life, forgiveness usually comes in steps and cycles. It is not a one-time, over-and-done-with event. First, I decide to forgive, exercising my will. Then I begin the process of letting go, releasing the anger, the hurt and my desire to retaliate. I appeal to God for justice and turn the situation over to him. I also ask him to help me see my offender and myself differently. This is very helpful. When God shows me my own sinful nature and the things I am capable of doing, then I can have some genuine compassion for my offender because, but for God’s grace, I may have done the same thing. I no longer want to see my offender only as someone who did something wrong, but also as someone who has done some things right. I no longer want to see him or her as a victimizer, but as a person with weaknesses of character and a sinful heart, just like me.

When hurtful memories surface and I’m tempted to dwell on the wrongs done to me, I continue this process and keep at it until the negative emotions and thoughts are no longer in the front of my mind. They are fading and moving to the past, right where they belong.

To practice forgiveness, walk regularly through these four steps: Decide—Begin—Continue—Keep at it.

As we do this, we are changing. We are no longer defining ourselves by what has happened to us, but we are instead seeing ourselves by what God is doing in us. Our healing becomes a powerful conduit for God’s love and grace to flow to others, and we can honestly say what Satan meant for evil, God is using for good.

What Kind of Character is Your Adversity Revealing?

SOURCE: Adapted from an article at  Stepping Stones/Lighthouse Network

Unfortunately, we live in an era when people are more intent on being a character than in developing character. Why not, since we live in a convoluted upside down society that rewards characters and oftentimes punishes those who display real character.

Character is the set of outward-facing qualities that tell our friends, our families, and the world who we really are on the inside.

Character is the reflection of what is really at the center of our heart. It’s not about the words we speak, because anybody can say anything to mislead, pose, or evade the truth, intentionally or unintentionally. Character is about how we actually live our lives, not what we tell people we would do in a given situation. What we actually do, our outward behavior, reveals the attitudes and motivators in our hearts.

Anybody can wear a mask to hide the true nature of what is on the inside. This makes it difficult to know, rely on, or trust someone. But this is where pressure, stress, life’s storms, and adversity come into play and show their value.

You see, it is much more difficult to put on a mask in the midst of challenging circumstances … it’s often during those storms that people’s true colors are revealed. What’s exposed either makes us interesting and more attractive, or reveals some inner ugliness!

Pressure and adversity push what’s inside us up to the surface. Storms reveal whether your coping mechanisms are mature or immature. Most importantly, difficulties cut through all the layers to expose who is on the throne of your heart, God or self. We have talked many times about how decision-making gets very warped when me-centered propaganda is the basis of decisions, and this is a hallmark of “poor character.”

So how do we develop character?

In Romans 5:3-4, Paul teaches us that suffering produces character. While it is admittedly difficult, try to see and be thankful for the fact that God is using life’s difficulties … and Satan’s attacks … to build your character.

God brings storms to:

1. Build character;

2. Reveal to us what is at the center of your heart; or

3. Allow you to succeed through the adversity, shining His glory to others to guide them through their storms.

Today, take notice when things don’t go your way. What does your behavior reveal about the character of your heart? What is your knee-jerk response? If you acted on the first thought that came to mind, what would you learn about your heart? You can build character, but it will take intentionality and practice. Better to practice building character, instead of me-centered living … on the edge … at the whim of the next storm, which will exhaust you daily.

Character development is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father, Thank You, God, for the opportunities You give me to grow in Your strength through my difficulties. I pray that You help me develop character that pleases You and allows me to be an example of a good child of Yours. I confess, Lord, that I spend too much time and energy on my image management. Help me shift that effort to improving my character. Suffering and difficulty seem to be the norm for me rather than the exception. Help me, Father, to use them to build perseverance … and to use perseverance to build my character. With Godly character, hope will be strong and abundant. I ask in the name of our Suffering Servant, Jesus Christ; – AMEN!

The Truth
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.   Romans 5:3-4 

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”  1 Samuel 16:7

 

Placing My Decision In The Hands Of God

SOURCE:  Charles Stanley/In Touch Ministries

Where the Battle Is Won

Matthew 26:36-56

If you want to experience victory in the conflicts you face, consider how Jesus fought and won His battles.

The pivotal battle of His life was fought even before He arrived at the cross. Praying at Gethsemane, He wrestled with the knowledge that He would bear the terrible weight of sin and endure spiritual separation from the Father.

In His special place of prayer, Jesus got alone on His face before the Father and cried out. And when He left that garden, He walked out a victor over Satan, whose sway over mankind was about to be broken on the cross. Jesus would still drink the cup of suffering and separation, but He knew that in the end, He would triumph (Heb. 12:2). That’s why He could face His opponents with courage and authority. When Jesus went to confront the arresting party, He was in full control of the situation, so much so that the Pharisees and soldiers “drew back and fell to the ground” (John 18:6). He allowed them to arrest Him, determined to do His Father’s perfect will.

If you’re in the habit of regularly spending time alone with God, you will come to know His heart and mind. Then, when you encounter major decisions with lifelong consequences, you’ll be able to discern the guidance He offers through His Spirit.

When you fully surrender, you place the consequences of your decision into the hands of an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful God who holds the past, present, and future. Even when you face staggering trials, you can do so with courage and power that will glorify God and shame the Enemy.

[Copyright 2012 In Touch Ministries, Inc.]

Loss: Divorce Brings Grief … and Changes

SOURCE:  Living Free

“Who are those who fear the Lord? He will show them the path they should choose …” Psalm 25:12 NLT

Divorce is the ultimate relationship loss. When marriage problems end in separation and divorce, the loss is experienced by the entire family. Divorce can leave the family in suspended animation as custody and child support battles rage long after the initial disruption.

Recovering from divorce involves working through a grieving process, much like when a spouse has died. It also involves making choices. You might not have had a choice in getting a divorce, but you do have a choice in your response. Will you hold on to bitterness and anger … or will you forgive? Will you give up and give into despair … or will you trust Jesus to help you rebuild your life? Will you walk in fear … or will you place your faith in God to guide you and help you?

Divorce can bring one of the most intense pains possible into a person’s life, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Jesus loves you and wants to help you. If you will commit your ways to him, he will guide you in making those choices … he will give you the courage you need … and he will restore your hope. With him all things are possible.

Lord, forgive me for the poor choices in the past. Right now I have to make so many decisions. I need your help. Help me to choose the right path … the one that is right for my family, for me and, most of all, the one that is pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name …

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These thoughts were drawn from …

Handling Loss and Grief: How to Face Losses in Life and Grieve Christianly by Raymond T. Brock, Ed.D.

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