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Which values do you think make for a thriving and productive society?
Would you say it’s things like hard work, integrity, meaningful relationships, and compassion that create a healthy and prosperous society? Or do you believe that laziness, infidelity, disrespect, and substance abuse are the keys?
Which societal norms are most advantageous for a nation desiring to reclaim world leadership in technology, science, and industry?
These sound like ridiculous questions, right?
But when an article came out on August 9, 2017 in the Philadelphia Enquirer titled, “Paying the price for the breakdown of the country’s bourgeois culture” the public response could make you wonder.
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Recently, another heartbreaking event occurred. A church massacre left 26 dead and 20 more wounded. And now there has been another school shooting. And unfortunately, we can probably expect more.
We take to social media with comments like, “What do we tell our children? How do we keep them from thinking this is “normal” with new reports of violence, hatred, rioting, etc with each new week?”
Before we address this with our children, we must address this with ourselves. How are we interpreting what is happening all around us? As a Christian, I turn to the Bible to help adjust my view, my perspective on things happening in the world. If I only look from the ground level, I can be filled with fear and hopelessness. I look around and see senseless violence, hatred, and discord, and tremble in fear for my self and my family. But when I pull back to the bigger picture, with a different perspective I find understanding, power, and hope.
Where does confidence come from? We can all recognize self-confident people— they seem to know who they are, what they should be doing, and believe they can get it done.
That might describe you or how you have felt at a particular season of life, but rarely can we say we have always felt clear and confident in what we are doing or in our own ability to do it.
It reminds me of these string puppet toys that stand upright and strong until you push a hidden button causing them to collapse. As you release the button, they are transformed and stand completely upright again.
Confidence helps us to stand upright and be fully committed, but once our own “button” is pressed, we may start to “faint” or crumble due to our lack of conviction. You could call this uncertainty or doubt. These buttons can be triggered by life’s circumstances which are beyond our control, or losses that throw us into a state of confusion. We may begin to question everything we previously relied on and left unchecked, those doubts can crush our confidence and hopes for the future.
a glimpse of the multi-leveled city
Never before have I ever been so terrified for a complete stranger.
He was no ordinary stranger though, he was a child.
We were gathering at an outlook on Machu Picchu, situated atop a mountain at an altitude of almost 8,000 feet, looking out over a gorge hundreds if not a thousand feet below and there was NO GUARDRAIL!
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If you have been struggling to hear God, to know where He wants to you go, what He wants you to do, and you have been praying, seeking, and patiently waiting, then maybe there is something wrong.
If you are standing at the foot of a mountain, but in spite of your trust and faith in God’s power to move it on your behalf, it remains in your path. Then there may be something else in the way of your prayers and the answers you desire.
I was hurt by a friend recently. She doesn’t know she hurt me, but she did. And I’ve struggled with it for months now. I knew it was unintentional and deemed it unworthy of the instructions outlined in Matthew 18:15-17 for confronting an offending brother or sister.
I had forgiven this individual and felt free from the anger I had previously felt in my heart. But then something would happen and the anger returned. She hurt another friend of mine. Little things here and there reminded me of her offenses and my list of grievances grew and grew.
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Both women had experienced inexplicable pain in life. Margaret was angry and bitter over yet another divorce and had accepted that her only recourse was to toughen up and protect herself. She became demanding, paranoid, and quite lonely, not to mention, an extraordinarily difficult co-worker. Most could guess that her caustic personality was the result of many hurts and betrayals she had suffered in relationships both professional and personal.
Grace was sexually abused by her father for over a decade despite her reporting this abuse to the one person she could trust, but who had ultimately failed to protect her— her own mother.
Anxiety Disorders affect roughly 40 million Americans according to the National Institute of Mental Health and women are 60% more likely to experience an anxiety disorder in their lifetime than men. This means that anxiety disorders (Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Phobias, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) affect roughly one out of every five adults!
Statistics indicate that you or someone you know will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in life.
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In my last post, I wrote that anxiety is often rooted in the false belief that we can/should be able to do everything on our own- but the realization that we cannot possibly control every circumstance, nor can we have complete confidence in our own strength, abilities, efforts, or relationships— creates tension. This tension may motivate us toward greater effort and discipline, but also may produce fear and anxiety we cannot manage properly.
You lay in bed, trying to sleep, but you can’t. The minutes fly by and soon the hours, but you can’t stop thinking– your brain is going a million miles a minute playing out scenarios, ideas, replaying past events, wondering where you went wrong. You ask why this is happening to you and what you will do about it. You see no answers or easy path forward. You are dealing with anxiety.
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Anxiety is worry, impatience, restlessness, unease, or eagerness to see things happen— and if left unchecked can have disastrous effects on our health, relationships, even our faith!
To root out this issue, we have to dig deep.
Most of us believe anxiety is driven by our circumstances – financial instability, conflict in relationships, uncertainty about the future, feeling a loss of control, etc…but those are just circumstances. They are still part of the surface. What is the root problem when I am experiencing the financial instability, a broken relationship, or uncertainty about the future?
We all enjoy stories of hope, success, overcoming the odds, and victory over our struggles. Most of us do not see ourselves in those stories, however. They are usually other people’s stories- at least in our minds they are. We rarely see our own life story as one of overarching hope, victory, and blessing.
But that doesn’t have to be the case- it mustn’t be the case– because God’s wisdom gives us everything WE need to accomplish those goals and experience transformation. Wisdom guides us in our relationships, in management of finances, our parenting, taking control of harmful habits and destructive thought patterns, and much much more!
But most of us don’t know where to begin. Most people do not know the foundational elements to a life of wisdom and sadly, they miss the countless rewards that come from it!
A dear friend of mine was expressing exasperation at her constant influx of defeating and destructive thoughts. In fact, as I speak with many women, it is shocking to hear the negative, accusatory, and hopeless thoughts that plague their minds. I must admit, I struggle with this to some degree also, but depending on one’s past, or even their present situation, the enemy often uses that as evidence that we don’t deserve better anyway.
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Is it any wonder that many women, Christian women, are overwhelmed and incapacitated, like being a prisoner trapped in our own minds?
It is critical that we do something immediately to turn this around! Our future hope depends on it!
The critical action– we must take our thoughts captive.
“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
My dear friend knows this verse, as do I, and probably you too. But knowing what we should do and how to do it are two different things.
I want to quickly share just a few steps in HOW to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, essentially freeing ourself from the prison of our own thoughts.