Emotional Strength

Monday, May 24, 2010

Did you know that if you can master your emotional life, you can produce more joy? Our negative feelings and reactions deplete us of our energy and steal our joy. Emotional strength gives us fuel so that we can experience life the way God wants us to. It is not necessary or even healthy to deny our problems, but if we dwell on them, we become bound to them and they have power over us. Emotional strength is found when we give God our attention instead of our problems.

In his book The 4:8 Principle, Tommy Newberry tells us that emotions are like biochemical couriers that provide feedback about our mood. Emotions help us to feel whatever we are thinking. These couriers tell our bodies whether to communicate pain or joy. What we think shows up in our emotions. It makes sense then to think about things that bring us joy instead of pain.

I encourage you to try Newberry’s strategy for improving your capacity for joy. Make a list of three positive emotions you want to increase and a list of negative emotions that you want to decrease. Then over the next few weeks use the Laws of Emotional Strength to decrease negative emotions and increase positive ones.

The Laws of Emotional Strength
1. The Law of Attention: Knowing that you will feel what you dwell on, make it a practice to broadcast your blessings and think about your hopes and dreams and the future God has planned for you.
2. The Law of Exchange: Replace a negative thought with a positive one. Replace thoughts of fear with thoughts of boldness. Replace thoughts of criticism with thoughts of praise.
3. The Law of Reversibility: Learn to act your way into the feelings you desire. Fake it till you feel it. This is not hypocrisy. It means that you will respond to circumstances in a way that obeys God’s principles and eventually your feelings will follow.

Making our emotions obedient to Christ takes action. It takes motion. In fact, the word emotion is 86% motion! Both our actions and emotions need to be pleasing to God. Let’s work this week to increase our positive emotions so that we will experience the joy and peace that our Father wants us to have.

Take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5

America's Christian Foundation

Sunday, May 16, 2010

How often have you heard or read media reports that tried to convince you that the foundation of our country was not based on religious principles? Did you know that beginning in the 1960s historians began emphasizing the “economic view of American history” instead of the broad or all-encompassing perspective of our country’s founding which had been recognized for three centuries? It is likely that if you were an American high school student in the last few decades, you were never really exposed to the full view of America’s moral, religious, and constitutional foundation.

Historian Dr. David Barton is trying to change that understanding through WallBuilders, an organization designed to provide a positive influence in government, education, and families through educating the nation about the Godly foundation of our country. As a former American Studies teacher, I sat with rapt attention last week at the Chattanooga Leadership Breakfast where Dr. Barton was the guest speaker. Barton took the 1,800 Christian leaders on an historical journey of America’s early roots. His information is based on extensive research from thousands of first-edition works by our Founding Fathers. From these documents he shared with us a rich moral history of our foundation.

Below you will find excerpts from Barton’s speech and other historical facts I found on his website at http://www.wallbuilders.com/.

In the portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence posted on this page, how many forefathers can you identify? Benjamin Franklin? Thomas Jefferson? Any others? Most of us do not recognize the names much less the religious backgrounds of these signers. Unfortunately, these two men have the most questionable faith of all signers. Did you know that 29 of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence had degrees from seminary or Bible schools? Did you know that most of these men wrote extensively about their Christian faith and belief in God’s divine work in our country’s founding?

From the personal writings of the signers of the Declaration of Independence…
Charles Thomson
"I am a Christian. I believe only in the Scriptures, and in Jesus Christ my Savior."

Samuel Adams
"I . . . [rely] upon the merits of Jesus Christ for a pardon of all my sins."

Robert Treat Paine
"I believe the Bible to be the written word of God and to contain in it the whole rule of faith and manners."

John Witherspoon
"[T]here is no salvation in any other than in Jesus Christ of Nazareth."

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and ratifier of the U.S. Constitution started the Sunday School program in America. He wrote,
“If we can live by scriptures, we can solve all our social problems.”

In a letter to Benjamin Rush, John Adams said,
"The Holy Ghost carries on the whole Christian system in this Earth. …There can be no legitimate government but what is administered by this Holy Ghost."

The documents of the founding fathers show that one of the most commonly quoted scriptures was Psalm 33:12
"Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord"

James Madison declared that he saw the finished Constitution as a product of
“the finger of that Almighty Hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the critical stages of the Revolution,”

In 1774 the first act of America’s first Congress was to ask a minister to open with prayer and to lead Congress in the reading of four chapters on the Bible.

In 1781 Robert Aitken presented a petition to Congress offering to print
"a neat Edition of the Holy Scriptures for the use of schools."

In 1782 Aitken’s Bible became the first known English-language Bible to be printed in American and the only one to receive Congressional approval.

On religion and government, George Washington wrote in his “Farewell Address,”
"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. … reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

By 1815 various state governments had issued at least 1,400 official prayer proclamations.

How fitting in this season of political unrest and conflicts abroad that Barton closed his speech with a call to patriotism and Christianity. He reminded us of Washington’s speech to his beleaguered soldiers at Valley Forge in 1778,
“To the distinguished character of patriot, it should be our highest glory to add the more distinguished character of Christian”
An open promoter of Christianity, Washington saw the value of proclaiming his Christianity. How far we have come from a nation that once extolled Christianity and one whose leaders proudly acknowledged their faith to one that denies the rich Christian heritage of our country!

If we, as Christians, do not stand up for our faith and reclaim the truth of our historical and biblical foundations, then who will? The words of President James A. Garfield ring as true today as they did in 1877…
"Now, more than ever, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature. . . . [I]f the next centennial does not find us a great nation. . . . it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces."

It’s time to learn the truth about our past in order to effect a positive future.

In order to learn more about WallBuilders and David Barton, go to http://www.wallbuilders.com/.

Faith as a Tool

Monday, May 10, 2010

Have you ever received a small appliance that you never put to use? Over the years I have had many domestic devices that I thought looked handy and that I would use frequently. However, I used them a time or two and then stored them in the farthest corner of the pantry never to be seen again. Oh, I’d run across them occasionally and put them in a yard sale or give them away. I readily recall finding new homes for a wok, crepe maker, fancy roaster, and cappuccino machine. They each had a purpose, but I failed to put them to use on a regular basis.

Sometimes our faith is like those gadgets. Some people have faith but rarely use it for its intended purpose. Some call on faith when it’s convenient. Sometimes we shelve our faith instead of exercising it every day. Faith is not just a set of ideas that we think about. An active faith requires action. Faith is living out our God-given beliefs in relation to God and others. Faith is not just something we put on for Sunday mornings in worship services. It is something to be used every day as we study God’s word, worship God, and serve others.

I recently read a story about missionaries in Africa that illustrates this point. Some missionaries were looking forward to working with a primitive tribe in a remote part of Africa. Unsure of how they would be received, the missionaries decided to send a goodwill gift to the tribe. They arranged for a shiny new plow to be dropped by parachute into the village. When the missionaries arrived a few days later, they encountered something unexpected. The natives, who had never seen a plow and had no concept of how to use one, put the mysterious equipment to an unusual use. They put it on a pedestal and worshipped it!

Instead of using the plow as a tool, the natives used it as a reverent ornament. Like the plow, our faith is an active tool. Our faith can revolutionize our lives and the lives of others. We have to put it to use!

Faith is an active tool. Use it in service for Him!

“Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” Philippians 1:27

Life is good

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Life is good. When brothers Bert and John Jacobs wanted to do something creative to make money, they didn’t have to look far for inspiration. Brought up in a family of eight in very modest means, the sons give their mother Joan credit for her positive outlook and encouragement. Joan saw the bright side of life even in bleak financial circumstances. At dinner each night, Jean cheerfully asked the family, “What good thing happened today?”

Through their highly successful t-shirt company, Life is good® the brothers promote their mission: to spread the power of hope. They have chosen to live a life of optimism. They focus on what’s right in the world, not what’s wrong. People connect with their message, Life is good, and as a result their profits have been very good too. The Life is good® corporation has reached sales of over $100 million a year through nearly 5,000 retailers in 29 countries. Sharing their success, the Jacobs are enthusiastic philanthropists and support the development of at-risk children through their non-profit organization, Project Joy. Their influence doesn’t stop there. The Life is good® company employs productive team members who enjoy their work, have fun, and deliver great customer service. The brothers used three simple words to make a difference in the world.

The story of these men and the choice they made to focus on hope and optimism is inspirational and there are many examples of encouragement.

  • Their mother Joan made a lasting impression on her family by choosing to focus on the sunny side of life.
    Bert and John used three words to spread a message of hope.
    They share their good fortune with the less fortunate.
    They provide a workplace that enables employees to be productive and enjoy their work at the same time.

We all have the same opportunity to make a choice about how we view the world. We, as Christians, can reflect on the message we send to the world by asking these questions. Have I made a choice to reflect the hope of Christ to the world? What three words would I use to describe life? Do I share my good fortune with the less fortunate? Do I provide a loving, positive environment for those that work with and for me?

Hebrews 10:24, "So let us spur one another on toward love and good deeds."

Do I spur on one another toward love and good works? Life is truly good. Let us spread that good news in our words and deeds today.

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