The Big One

Get ready; be prepared, you and all the hordes gathered about you, and take command of them. – Ezekiel 38:7

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St. Augustine defined peace as “the tranquility of order.” At the highest level, Jesus Christ’s return will bring peace through the restoration of order lost in Eden. And the truth is: peace cannot co-exist with chaos.

How much order do you have in your life? However much, my hunch is that it’s directly proportionate to the levels of tranquility and peace in your life as well. Is your desk and garage kept in such a way that you’re able to find what you need when you need it? How about those drawers and closets?

If you can never find what you thought you filed, you’re much less efficient. If you can’t find a tool when you need it and have to buy another, you’re much less profitable. If you have to spend time hunting for your keys, your wallet, or your mail, you’re much more frustrated. And if you can’t find the things you need when you need them, you’re much less prepared and confident.

Be prepared.” These are words used by military leaders, coaches, athletes, musicians, and others whose lives demand excellence. Order puts us at peace, brings tranquility, and readies us for service.

– Steve Arterburn

TODAY’S PRAYER
Father, please help me to bring order to the areas in my life that are chaotic. Amen.

Perfectionism

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? – Hebrews 7:11

Perfectionism

Are you a person who’s never quite satisfied because you can’t attain perfection? I have good news for you! Perfection is unattainable, so you can rest from your efforts. Yes, excellence is a worthy goal, but perfection is nothing but pure fiction! You’re not perfect, and neither is your spouse, your children, your boss, or your coworkers. Not even your dog is perfect.

Nevertheless, if you’re a perfectionist, you’ll be quicker to judge rather than show mercy. Most perfectionists end up correcting other people rather than connecting with other people.

If you struggle with this, remember relationships are always more important than regulation, so be careful not to push yourself and the people in your life toward perfection. Lay down your spears, tear down those walls, and step forward to discover that it’s perfectly fine to be human in every area of life.

– Steve Arterburn

Perfection consists in one thing only: doing the will of God.– St Vincent de Paul

Self-Talk

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind.  Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation.1 Peter 2:1-2

Self-Talk

Go ahead and admit it, you talk to yourself. It’s not something to be embarrassed about—self- talk can be used to your benefit in order to greatly improve your success in controlling your desires.

One way to use it is to constructively direct the anger you feel when you’re tempted by an unhealthy or inappropriate desire. Instead of getting angry with yourself, get angry at the offense, and at the stumbling block it poses.  This will help you resist it.

Another way self-talk can be used is to confront yourself and your appetites in order to bring rationality back into play when temptation threatens to confuse and disorient you.  When you actively engage your mind by talking to yourself, you’ll be less likely to act without thinking, and you’ll reinforce what you believe to be true, right, and good.

Make no mistake about it.  Self talk can be a very spiritually wise thing to do.  Listen to what the master theologian, J. I. Packer says on this topic in his book, A Quest For Godliness: “Richard Baxter convinced me long ago that regular discursive meditation, in which as he quaintly put it you ‘imitate the most powerful preacher you ever heard’ in applying spiritual truth to yourself, as well as turning that truth into praise, is a vital discipline for spiritual health.  This unanimous Puritan view is now mine too.

– Steve Arterburn

If you hear a voice within you saying you are a painter, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced. – Vincent Van Gogh

Your self-talk is the channel of behavior changeGino Norris

Open the Eyes of Your Heart

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which He has called you, the riches of His glorious inheritance in the saints. – Ephesians 1:18

Open the Eyes of Your Heart

Are you going through difficult times? If it does nothing else for you and to you, it will open the eyes of your heart. Walking through troubled waters is one way that God has of shifting your vision. When your heart breaks, there’s an avenue for God’s compassion to trickle in and envelop your heart with His. You’ll begin to look at others through the eyes of your heart and not through the eyes of quick judgment, harsh conclusions, or self-interest.

Your trip to the grocery store, to church, to Wal-Mart or Starbucks will take on a new hue. You’ll look at people and wonder what their story is; what their childhood was like; what caused them to be so happy or unhappy, why they seem this way or that.

Their job titles will be less important, their type of car won’t impress you, what kind of clothes they wear, or whether they’re wrinkled or stylish won’t matter anymore. You’re more likely to understand that they are in some pain and trying to run from it or trying to hide. Or, you’ll see their smile and demeanor and wonder if they’re truly happy or masking some inner, silent suffering or anger.

Now, you won’t get answers to all that you wonder about people and their stories, but your heart will be softened. You’ll find that you have a level of compassion that most people don’t have. If your heart is broken, let His compassion trickle in to your heart through the brokenness. Let Him open the eyes of your heart today.

– Steve Arterburn

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal. – Steve Maraboli 

What value has compassion that does not take its object in its arms.Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Perspective for Today

Sometimes, amid the demands of daily life, we lose perspective. Life seems out of balance, and the pressures of everyday living seem overwhelming. What’s needed is a fresh perspective, a restored sense of balance . . . and God.

If a temporary loss of perspective has left you worried, exhausted, or both, it’s time to readjust your thought patterns. Negative thoughts are habit-forming; thankfully, so are positive ones. With practice, you can form the habit of focusing on God’s priorities and your possibilities. When you do, you’ll soon discover that you will spend less time fretting about your challenges and more time praising God for His gifts.

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When you call upon the Lord and prayerfully seek His will, He will give you wisdom and perspective. When you make God’s priorities your priorities, He will direct your steps and calm your fears. Pray for a sense of balance and perspective today and every day hereafter, and remember: your thoughts are intensely powerful things, so handle them with care.

Earthly fears are no fears at all. Answer the big questions of eternity, and the little questions of life fall into perspective. Max Lucado

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

Today’s Prayer
Dear Lord, when the pace of my life becomes frantic, slow me down and give me perspective. Give me the wisdom to realize that the problems of today are only temporary but that Your love is eternal. When I become discouraged, keep me steady and sure, so that I might do Your will here on earth and then live with You forever in heaven. Amen

Is This Gaslighting?

Sheri Keffer and Milan Yerkovich answer a viewer who thinks her husband may be “gaslighting” – when someone manipulates you with misinformation in order to decieve. But that might not be what’s going on in this case. Click here to watch.

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Forgiving People Who Don’t Repent

It’s a common misconception that in order to forgive another person, that person must first repent. But Jesus is very clear on the subject of forgiveness. Watch as Dr. Dave Stoop explains:

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Step 12: Carrying the Message

Step 12 in the Twelve Steps of Recovery is centered around carrying a message of recovery to others who suffer. It’s also about “practicing the principals” of right living in all our our affairs. It’s a tall order, but striving to do God’s will on a daily basis is a practice that is transformative for anyone, not just a recovering addict or alcoholic. Check it out!

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Josiah

Steve Arterburn

Even men who don’t want to be like their fathers often turn out to be amazingly similar in their behaviors and personalities.  Through the power of God and hard personal choices, however, it’s possible to break out of an ongoing spiral of sin and dysfunction.

Take Josiah, for example.  Josiah was a young king who chose to stand against a virtual tidal wave of disobedience fostered by his grandfather Manasseh and his father, Amon.  Breaking from this downward spiral was particularly difficult since Josiah had little knowledge to guide his actions.  The Scriptures containing God’s laws had been lost for years.  But when the high priest discovered the Book of the Law in the Temple, young Josiah immediately initiated spiritual renewal for himself and his people.

As a result, Josiah was able to break the cycle of sin that had captured Israel in its whirl. Josiah was not a perfect man but he was a true champion of spiritual renewal.  He was committed to God and had the courage to pursue both personal and national renewal.

Josiah made the difficult choices necessary in order to ‘cut loose’ from the sins of the past and to build a new life for himself and the people of Judah.  Are you like Josiah?  Do you need to make a break from the past in order to build a new life for yourself? I hope you’ll seek the same powerful God who renewed Josiah.

The Cross-Shaped Christian Life

Steve Arterburn

 

 

The triumph of the cross is the pattern for the Christian life. In the death of Christ we witness the death of death itself. Through the cross, Christ defeated your worst and last enemy. He won the war. And in this same way, you’re to fight the remaining battles, confident that the outcome is decided and in your favor.

 

Reading the gospel sets your thinking in a completely different direction than that of personal potential and self-empowerment’things our society put such a high value to. The gospel calls you to be out of step with the world. You and I must die in order to live. We lose our lives in order to find them. We become strong by becoming weak.

 

Yet we too often lack the courage and conviction to embrace these gospel paradoxes. Instead, we look at our needs, wants, and desires and formulate a plan we expect God to honor in order to meet them. This keeps us focused on getting our own way rather than on releasing God’s redemptive power in our lives.

 

How different this is from praying ‘Your will be done”Jesus’ prayer as He went to the cross. The world looks upon this and sees weakness, vulnerability,’and foolishness. Yet, if you believe the Bible, you believe the apostle Paul when he says the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

 

Men, we’re not better than our Master. Jesus Christ’s life was cross-shaped, and ours should be also.