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Posts tagged ‘self-discipline’

Adultery – I Would Rather Die: Letter to a Would-Be Adulterer

SOURCE:  Francis Chan/Desiring God

“Lord, please kill me before I cheat on my wife.”

This is a prayer that I prayed many times when I was first married. I’m not saying that it was mature or biblical, but it gives you a glimpse into my mind. I did not ever want to bring shame to the church, and I knew that this potential for evil was in me.

I spent my single years battling for purity and often failing. At times the battle was all-consuming. Days were filled with a paralyzing guilt that kept me from effective ministry and enjoying Jesus. I tried many things to discipline myself. At one point, I even decided that if I gave into lust, I would spend the next day fasting. This forced me to spend days in prayer, asking for more strength and self-control. I’ve found that when you refrain from eating, it makes refraining from sin easier. While it didn’t work perfectly, it was helpful. (And I did lose a few pounds.)

The Bible is clear and simple when it comes to impurity: Run! “Flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart” (2 Timothy 2:22). Run away from temptation, and run towards righteousness. How we each pursue this may look different, but here are some pillars that have helped me in my journey.

Fear Can Be Good

The Scriptures teach, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10). I am grateful that by his grace, God has gifted me with a deep-seated fear of him.

Many years ago, I remember reading an article about a man who had a fatal heart attack while having sex with a prostitute. I imagined how terrifying it must have been for that man to enter into the presence of a holy God at that moment. If nothing else keeps you from adultery, maybe the fact that Almighty God could take your life amidst the very act would terrify you enough to repent.

It was years later that a friend of mine, a fellow pastor, committed adultery with his assistant. I didn’t see him for months after it happened. When he came into my office, he looked awful. He proceeded to tell me the whole story. He explained how one thing led to another, and before he knew it he had committed the act he preached against for years.

What impacted me most was when he explained his thoughts and feelings after sinning. He told me of how he kept looking at his revolver, tempted to pull the trigger. He reasoned that everyone would be happier if he was dead. The other woman’s husband would be happier. His own wife and kids would be happier. His church would be happier. It was only by the grace of God that he was still alive.

Of course, taking his own life in the aftermath of adultery would only be multiplying the sin. But I was struck by the misery he felt. He seriously thought it would be better to be dead than to have done this and to live with the consequences! His misery was both a wake-up call and a warning to me. Fear can be a great grace.

Vigilant Discipline

My pursuit of sexual purity has been a discipline. I have said with the apostle Paul, “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).

I live each day with severe caution. I rarely counsel women, and never alone. I won’t go anywhere with a woman alone. In 23 years, I have never even been in a car alone with another woman (aside from relatives). It has felt silly at times to inconveniently tell women they had to drive separately even though we are going to the same location, but I believe it’s been worth it. My wife has access to all of my email accounts, phone records, and I don’t have a Facebook profile. There are no secrets between us.

I have alcoholic friends who were supernaturally delivered from any desire for alcohol. I have other friends who pray for deliverance, but are tempted daily. They refuse to have any alcohol in their homes, and stay away from tempting situations. After reading John Piper’s letter to a would-be adulterer, it sounds like his story has been one of supernatural deliverance, while mine has been one of discipline and daily strength. I believe God is glorified by both.

Focused Mission

Early on in my Christian journey, I focused only on running away from sin. I believe it was good and right, but not complete. It was later that I discovered the truth of Galatians 5:16, “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

God calls us not only to run away from temptation, but to run toward him. He promises that when we are walking by the Spirit, we will not gratify the flesh. As I have followed God’s Spirit into meaningful ministry, it has been amazing to see the craving for sin diminish. The thrill of the Holy Spirit manifesting himself through me to bless others fills me thoroughly, crowding out sinful desires that might otherwise have had room to grow (1 Corinthians 12:7).

It’s like playing in an intense basketball game. I get tunnel vision. Winning is all I think about. My mind does not wander one bit. In the same way, when my wife and I are intensely pursuing God’s cause and kingdom, our minds don’t wander toward sin. Soldiers stay focused when they are in battle. “No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him” (2 Timothy 2:4). It’s when we relax, when we forget we are actually on a mission, that trouble comes.

More of Jesus

Just this morning, I read in Psalm 73,

I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. (Psalm 73:23–25)

I pictured God holding my right hand, guiding me, receiving me into glory. The longer I imagined that, the more I understood why the next verse says, “There is nothing on earth that I desire besides you” (Psalm 73:25). Take time to meditate on these truths. If you’re anything like me, you tend to take God’s commands more seriously than his promises. He wants us to have faith in both, and to find enjoyment in both.

While I am fifty years old, and have been walking with Jesus since high school, it has really been over the past few years that I have grown significantly in my enjoyment of him. A few months ago, I told a friend that I didn’t want to have any sin in my life because I am enjoying such close fellowship with Jesus. That was a new experience for me.

Fear, discipline, and mission are all biblical motivations — and have all helped me in my pursuit of holiness. But now that I have been enjoying deeper connection with Jesus, I feel like I’ve missed out.

I hesitated in writing this letter after reading Piper’s. I have been praying the five prayers he suggests there, and it has been life-changing. It has opened my eyes to the shallowness of my prayers, and it brought a new satisfaction into my life. It makes me wonder if the struggle could have been lesser, and the journey sweeter, if I had read and followed his letter years ago.

Or maybe the path to righteousness will look different for each of us, so long as we arrive in a place of deeper enjoyment of Jesus.

I want more and I WANT IT NOW!

SOURCE:  Leslie Vernick

When is Enough, Enough?

Walking through the store recently, I heard a young girl (about nine years old) whining loudly. She was following her mom with big crocodile tears flowing down her face. “Mom, I want it. Why won’t you buy it? Mom, pleeeease!”

As the mom ignored the youngster, her pleas escalated. Now sobbing, her daughter howled, “Mom, I want it. I WANT IT NOW.”

The mother valiantly tried not to lose her temper. Finally she turned to her daughter and said in a very firm voice, “Stop it. You are not getting it. You did not behave.”

My heart sank. Although this mother may have been correct in not rewarding her daughter’s misbehavior with a special treat from the store, she missed a larger opportunity to teach her child an important truth.

We live in a culture of “I want more” and believe “If I had more, I would be happier.” Even as adults we’ve bought into this lie. Who hasn’t said to themselves, “If only I had more ___________, then I’d be happy.”

If only you had more money, more time, a bigger house, a different spouse, a newer car, then you’d feel happier? Right? Not really. That kind of happiness only lasts for as long as it takes to start dreaming of the next thing you want.

This little girl in the shopping mall is growing up in a culture of entitlement where we not only want more, we think we NEED more and we deserve more. Every television commercial reminds us that we deserve more because we’re worth it.

Entitlement thinking enlarges the self as we become more and more self-centered and self-absorbed, but it diminishes the spirit and poisons the soul. Instead of feeling happy and grateful for what we have, we feel gypped and grumble and complain because we are not getting more of what we think we need and deserve. More isn’t better because more never satisfies. More just fuels our desire for more.

So how do we break free from the mindset of more? The apostle Paul tells us that if we want to grow we must retrain our mind to think in new ways. (Romans 12:2). We have to realize that the world’s way of thinking is not only incorrect, it leads to death.

Paul shares with us a secret that he learned that helped him reject the tyranny of more. He learned how to be content in every situation (Philippians 4:11).

We too can learn to be content, but it takes some discipline. Here are two practices you can begin and teach your children in order to learn contentment.

1.  Gratitude: The Bible says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord (Psalm 92:1). Gratitude counters our entitlement mindset and helps us appreciate the things we do have. On the way home from the store, this mom could have invited her daughter to think of five things she is thankful for. As she turned her attention toward her blessings, her daughter’s grumbling attitude may have changed.

Even when it’s hard to see the good in a particular situation, God calls us to give thanks in all things (not necessarily for all things) (1 Thessalonians 5:18). Mom might have been tempted to grumble internally about her daughter’s misbehavior and immaturity, but retraining her own mind would have reminded her instead to give thanks. Although aggravating, that teachable moment was a gift from God to help her and her daughter see things in a new way. They don’t need more in order to be happy.

2.  Turn to Praise and Worship: When our entitlement mindset looms large, consciously turn your heart away from more and turn it toward God in praise. Praise thanks God for who he is and what he has given us. As we faithfully practice praising and thanking God, we learn to trust his character and his plan for our life even when we don’t understand or like it.

The apostle Paul learned these lessons while sitting in a prison cell. Often it is in the hardest places where we are most teachable. Today when you are tempted to grumble and complain or just want more, stop; tell yourself “enough already” and turn your heart and mind toward all that you have and all God has done. See what a difference this small shift makes in your mood.

7 Tips for Handling Stress

SOURCE:  Adapted from an article by Ron Edmondson

Stress is all around us. Every day I encountered burned out and stressed out pastors.

Regardless of your career, it appears life is more stressful than ever.

Here are 7 ways I handle stress:

Prayer – God really does answer this request. When I’m really stressed out, I get alone with God.

Time management – Most times a well planned schedule will greatly diminish stress. I try to plan my activities at the beginning of the week in a way that allows for unexpected interruptions, yet still also allows me to complete the tasks required of me.

Exercise – This may be my best secret for battling stress. The more stressed I am the more I need to run.

Disciplined life – There are activities and habits that add to stress. If you stay up way too late and never get enough rest, your stress-factor will increase. When I’m especially stressed, I try to build in down time and time just for me.

Balance – I have learned to say “No” to some things and balance my time between all the things that pull for my attention.

Not allowing problems to build long without addressing them – If a relationship is causing stress, the sooner I deal with it the less likely I am to stress about it. If I need to make the hard decisions…make the now…the sooner…the less long-term stress it brings.

Asking for help – When I am really at my limit with stress, I am not too proud to tell someone. I have learned to delegate well.

If I Could Live My Life Over

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Robert Boardman

During the early years of the Second World War, a young American Marine named Robert Boardman was beaten up in a drunken brawl in Australia, and wound up spending several weeks in a hospital.   In remorse he turned to prayer and to the pages of the Bible, and soon committed his life to Christ.

Later in the war, in the battle for Okinawa, an enemy bullet pierced his throat, and still today he can speak no louder than a husky whisper. Yet he prayed then that he would be able to return to Okinawa and serve the Lord there.

By 1953 he was back, ministering both to American servicemen and to the people of Okinawa. A few years later he moved to Japan, where he has been the Lord’s servant in leading the nation’s Navigator ministry for more than a quarter-century—years of lessons learned about the truly important things in life.

IS IT RIGHT to dwell on past weaknesses, failures, and needs? It could lead unnecessarily to resurrecting what would best be left alone—letting sleeping dogs lie is often the better part of wisdom. The apostle Paul spoke of “forgetting what lies behind me, and straining every nerve towards that which lies in front” (Philippians 3:13).

But the Bible is history, and it tells not only of successes but also of failures by individuals and by nations—failures that teach us lessons. We are to learn from the past.

So if I can tell you in a positive, constructive way about my own mistakes and failures, and thereby warn and challenge you not to repeat them, this article will be a valid venture. If I can help just one other person avoid one of my pitfalls, then I rejoice.

It is important to remember, however that God in his sovereignty has made each of us different in temperament, personality, emotional makeup, spiritual gifts, capacities, callings, and experiences. My areas of need and failure may be your areas of success. Nevertheless, I believe that many of my listed weak points are those we may have in common, at least to some degree.

If I could live my life again, I would seek to make these changes:

1. I would stand more boldly upon my God-given calling, and not be so fearful.

In September 1943 as a young Marine in the South Pacific, I became a Christian through reading a small Gideons’ New Testament. Six months later, after serving in the battle of Cape Gloucester on the island of New Britain near New Guinea, the God of all grace called me to serve him with my whole life. In subsequent years, he faithfully continued to reveal details of that call step by step, including sending me to Japan as a missionary.

I was not a heroic missionary volunteer to the land of my former wartime enemy, but rather a reluctant’ fearful candidate whom God had to “draft” into his service. I was much like Jonah, who resisted the Lord’s plans to send him to Nineveh, the great city of his enemy. My temptation is to be fearful—of the unknown future, of men’s reactions to certain ventures of faith I want to take, of real adversaries. Nevertheless, the gracious call of God to me in early 1944 has been the anchor of my soul when the storms of circumstances and my own limitations would resurrect the specter of fear.

I know that if my heart were more fully set on this calling from God I would be more Kingdom-minded, and therefore bold as a lion, remembering the admonitions and promise in Isaiah 54:17—

“No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.

2. While they were young, I would spend more time with my children in worship, in spiritual disciplines, and in just enjoying life.

I have read that by the time a child enters the first grade, the basic direction of his life has already been determined. What you and I have done or not done before our children enter school has made them what they will be.

My temptation as a young, full-time Christian worker some years ago was to think that what I did with my little children was not so important. I thought when they grew older and could understand better then I would give them fuller attention. So I became busy in a ministry with young adults, waiting for my own children to grow up.

But such thinking is a fallacy. I foolishly took too much for granted, and gave my excellent wife Jean more than her share of the load in the children’s upbringing.

There is some consolation for me in seeing that the twelve disciples had the same limited outlook on the importance of little children. But to this Jesus responded, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Mark 10:14).

3. I would ask God for greater blessings and victories, claiming his mighty promises.

Salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ is a matter of believing and claiming his word in order to be saved from our sins. The subsequent, progressive steps of life are also a matter of continuing to believe God’s word—a belief that will determine our spiritual growth. Common people become uncommon as they stand on the promises of God.

Today I have mixed feelings as I think of portions of Scripture I claimed in the past that are now being fulfilled. On the one hand, I rejoice and am overwhelmed at how God works and blesses. On the other hand, I ask myself why I didn’t claim more of God’s amazing promises so that he could do more through this unworthy servant.

I came to the Land of the Rising Sun as a result of praying over God’s precious promises. One of these verses I continually claimed was Psalm 2:8—”Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for shine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” As an heir of God and joint heir with Christ I believed I could legitimately claim that portion of Scripture.

With that verse in mind, I learned from Dawson Trotman how to pray for the nations using a world atlas. He and I would kneel in his study and put our fingers on country after country, key city after key city throughout the world, praying, pleading, interceding.

As time passes, our temptation is to rely on our past experiences, on the knowledge we’ve gained, on new methods and ideas—on everything except God’s exceedingly great and precious promises. Yet these promises are as sure as if they were already fulfilled, if we will but claim and believe them.

4. By God’s grace, I would be quicker to turn from temptation and sin.

Our tendency is to play with fire as long as possible without getting burned, even though it puts us in constant danger of destroying all that is beautiful to us, including our own life and family.

We have an extremely clever enemy—much more clever than we are. He knows our weakest point, studies it, and works on it continually in his desire to ruin us. He is a master strategist at knowing where, when, and how to attack.

Each of us has a point of vulnerability, something referred to in Hebrews 12:1 as the weight and sin “that so easily besets us” or “which clings so closely.” It could be the love of money, the lust for power, an uncontrolled tongue, pride, lust for the opposite sex, sowing discord among brothers, procrastination, or just plain disobedience—refusing to do the clearly known will of God. Often, victory is ours only if we resist Satan and flee from our strong temptation, by God’s grace.

The couple who live across the street from us are acupuncturists and shiatsu specialists. Mr. Suzuki is gone in the daytime. One day during a period of extreme pain in my neck, Jean urged me to go see Mrs. Suzuki for treatment. My conscience clearly revealed that I would have risked too much by visiting alone such an attractive woman. It is far better to have a bad neck than a ruined moral life.

I want Jabez’s prayer to be mine: “that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!” (1 Chronicles 4:10).

 5. I would be more systematic and single-minded in following a lifetime personal Bible study and Scripture memory program.

God has been gracious in helping me discover in the Scriptures some things about himself, about my own life, and about the needs of the ministry. Yet I feel I’m operating only on the fringes of his word, which is more powerful than any nuclear weapon.

The supernatural word of the living God melts and breaks our hard hearts! “‘Is not my word like as a fire,’ saith the Lord, ‘and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces?'” (Jeremiah 23:29).

There are gaps in my life regarding the rich books of the Bible that I ought to have studied and mastered by now. But the temptation is to procrastinate and not redeem the time—to live and act as if I have all the time in the world.

Yet I am now fifty-nine years old. If the seventy years of a normal lifespan were squeezed into a single 24-hour day, it would now be 8:30 in the evening in my life. It is late; time is slipping by so rapidly.

If I were young, I would work out a tentative lifetime Bible study plan that I would review and revise as necessary each year. If you develop such a plan, make it flexible, so that it fits your lifestyle and ministry calling. Memorizing Scripture and reading through the Bible once a year ought to be a part of the plan. You must take the initiative in it, but get someone to help you.

I will delight myself in thy statutes;I will not forget thy word.

(Psalm 119:16)

6. I would be more determined in my one-to-one discipling ministry.

I would expect and demand more of people under my leadership, those whom I had responsibility for training. The temptation in this ministry is to underestimate men’s and women’s capacities and their desire to grow, to serve, and to accept challenge. Sometimes I have been fearful of offending them by asking too much, yet seldom have I met this kind of reaction.

The Master Challenger of all times, Jesus Christ, never hesitated to stretch men beyond their abilities, and over a period of time to bring them up to their true potential. His dealings with the unpredictable fisherman Peter are an example. It is a work that takes time, tears, failure, faith, prayer, trust, humility, love, responsiveness, perseverance, intercession—and clear objectives.

Waiting for the right time is important. There are various growth stages in a disciple’s life, and what can be taught to him tomorrow cannot be taught today. Jesus knew this: “I have yet many things to say unto you,” he told his disciples, “but ye cannot bear them now” (John 16:12). God can reveal the right timing to the disciplemaker in answer to prayer.

So timing is important; yet in my life I may have been too cautious. We have wonderful promises for the men and women God has given us, and by active faith in these promises we can see God work, bless, and multiply beyond our expectations.

7. I would welcome trials and even failures as mends and as builders of my poor character.

This is in response to the command in James 1:2—

When all kinds of trials and temptations crowd into your lives, my brothers, don’t resent them as intruders, but welcome them as friends! Realize that they come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance.

God always has his own special training programs for our lives: a physical injury or disease, a broken heart over a love affair, a potential disciple who becomes an adversary, relatives who harass us, fruit in evangelism that turns out to be false after testings, disunity on our ministry team, our own lack of personal consistency and discipline, financial struggles, career conflicts, and so on. These can bring us a sense of failure and low self-esteem, and a loss of confidence.

In such trials and testings I am tempted to complain, and to not trust in God’s sovereignty. I may want to give up, or to fight against God’s special purposes. I may murmur against my spiritual leader or against others who I feel are conspiring against me. Or I am tempted to think God has forgotten and forsaken me.

But with the reflection that comes from a faith rooted in God’s word, I know he has my best interests at heart. He is a loving Father who chastens me because I am his son. He is purging out the dross, and only the heat of the fire of trials can bring the impurities to the top. So to these trials I must say with fear and trembling, “Welcome, friends!”

8. I would be more considerate, kind, tender, and communicative toward my wife, my children, and my fellow workers.

God has given me an unusual and wonderful wife. Jean and I have been married thirty years. Yet it took me the first ten of those years to learn to praise her. In Proverbs 31 we read that the woman of virtue is praised by her husband and her children. If I, as her husband, praise Jean, my children will also. If I don’t, they won’t. They learn from my example.

In the early years of pioneering the Navigator ministry in Japan, there were times when I made major decisions affecting staff members and their families. Sometimes I made these decisions with little consideration for their feelings, and with little discussion. They were not always bad decisions, but the manner in which they were made was not always thoughtful. Looking back, in certain cases I would certainly have done things differently. Scripture admonishes me to walk in my calling “with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:2–3).

Over the years the Japanese have taught me much about this kind of thoughtfulness, contributing more to me than I have ever contributed to them in the area of decision-making.

9. I would seek to develop a hobby earlier in my life.

Christian workers are often hard-driving, hard-working people with little recognition of their need to slow down—for a diversionary hobby, for example. I’m not sure anyone could have convinced me in my early adulthood that I needed a hobby, and not until I was 46 did I begin to discover some hidden talent in woodcarving.

Since then I’ve learned that a hobby can relieve tension and pressure by diverting my thinking and attention from the ministry. It also brings out the creativity that is within me waiting to be released, and gives me opportunities to use my mind and hands in a new sphere. It leads to a new circle of friends, and involves the whole family in wider horizons of experience. And it also teaches me much about the wonders of creation and about the Creator—the One who made us, and who is still at work within us; “for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

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Scripture quotations are from the Twentieth Century New Testament, the New International Version, theKing James Version, the Revised Standard Version, and J. B. Phillips’s The New Testament in Modern English.

IDEAS FOR A HEALTHY LIFE & HEALTHY FAMILY

SOURCE:  Unknown

Consider these suggestions and adapt them to your life situation, temperament, interests, talents, and gifting to help bring more calmness and peace to yourself and your family.  As a result, you will experience healthy change in your life and in the life of your family.

1.  Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bed-time).  Experiment with a new pattern for your sleep to find out how more sleep might be helpful.

2.  Declare one night a week to be a “quiet night” (no TV, music, noise of any type).  Talk with each other, play games, read.

3.  Give kids an alternative to watching so much TV or being on the computer.  What about hobbies, family chore time, family fun time, date time with one child?

4.  Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit.  Experts say it takes 21 days of practice to develop a habit.

5.  Turn down a promotion or area of service that would demand even more time from your family than you can afford to give.

6.  Don’t accept any unnecessary business breakfast/dinner appointments.  Make it a working lunch when possible.

7.  As possible, sit together as a family at church….at least on occasion.

8.  Avoid the cultural pressure to give your children “everything now.”

9.  Establish strong family traditions around birthdays, holidays, back to school.  Make time to celebrate significant times in the life of the family.  Also celebrate “fun” times (successful studying for a test, completion of a hard task, “for no special reason” times)

10. Have a purposeful 10-minute dialogue with each family member every day for 21 days.

11. Unclutter your children’s schedule.  Balance them between work, play, friends, family, and rest.

12. Unclutter your own schedule.  Take 4 hours of “unnecessary” events out of your week.  Give one hour to your spouse, one to your children, one to a friend, and one to the Lord.

13. Help your children establish “purpose goals.”  These are goals that help them improve as an individual like goals in music, school, work, relational skills, involvement with older people, handling money, learning to maintain the car, etc.

14. As possible, write each one of your parents and children and tell them why you think the world is better because of them.

15. Give each family member a hug for 21 days in a row.

16. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors.

17. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate.

18. Praise your spouse and children (genuinely) in their presence to someone else.

19. Help your kids with their homework.  Let them know you are available and interested.  But, don’t do it for them.

20. Make every effort to not let the sun go down on your anger.

21. Make a list of people who have hurt your feelings over the past year…then check your list to see if you have forgiven them.

22. Make a decision to honor your parents, even if they made a career out of dishonoring you.

23. Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.

24. May a priority to get out of debt.

25. Be willing to accept legitimate criticism from your spouse or a friend without reacting or defending yourself.

26. Say “no” to at least one thing a day that pulls your time, attention, and health away from what is better – even if it’s only a second piece of pie.

27. Go through your closets and give everything that you haven’t worn in a year (or longer) to a clothing relief organization.

28. Exercise a little every day for 21 days.

29. Establish a budget.

30. Pray for your spouse and children every day.

31. Take your spouse on a “dialogue” date.

32. Go to a Christian marriage enrichment seminar or read a book together on marriage and parenting appropriate to where you are in your family life cycle.

33. Establish a family mealtime at least one evening a week.

34. Develop distractions from problems and stresses such as hobbies and interests, but be sure these things do not contribute to the stress.

35. Develop a low-fat, low-sugar, low-salt diet.

36. Laugh.  Have fun.

37. Learn how and practice Christian meditation in the Presence of God and on His Word.

38. Choose friends wisely.

39. Don’t let things drift or be postponed – deal with them.

40. Admit fears and face them.

41. Work on a realistic self-image.

42. Do what is right – don’t cheat, lie, or be immoral – admit your faults and confess your sins.

43. Take one thing at a time – set priorities and steps to action; then cross them out when they are finished.

44. Be realistic – some things you cannot change.

45. Slow down – move, eat, and talk more slowly, to feel less pressured.

46. Avoid excuses – take responsibility for yourself and your own actions.

47. Talk things over – with a friend, relative, pastor, or counselor.

48. Complete unpleasant tasks first.

49. Set up “recovery times” after particular periods of stress.

50. Postpone making major decisions in times of stress.

51. Give yourself permission to fail.

52. Value life’s little blessings.

53. Accept yourself for who you are.

54. Cherish God’s love and wisdom.

55. Lean to say “no” to unreasonable demands without feeling guilty.

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