Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The "Present Time Zone" (Stress)

In the devotionals below, I talked about the “Past Time Zone” and the “Future Time Zone” in your mind.  The present is the only place where you can live.  However, if you keep thinking about all the things that you need to do today, you will get “stressed out.”  

Martha in the Bible is someone who was always stressed-out. Jesus said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary" (Luke 10:41-42).  She wasn’t properly managing the “time zones” in her mind. 

She was worried because her mind got stuck in the future, and she was bothered (stressed-out) because she was thinking about too many things in the present.  He says, “Martha, you keep thinking about things that I didn’t call you to do.  Only one thing is necessary.  Concentrate on what I want you to do.”

We usually get stressed out by taking on too many responsibilities.  In the old west, cowboys would put their branding irons in the campfire to heat them up so they could mark their cattle.  If they put too many irons in the fire, it would put out the fire. Too many irons in the fire will put out your fire, too!  You don’t need to do everything—but only the things God has called you to do. 

How can you reduce your stress?
1.Control what you think about.  Do you realize that you can choose to NOT think about some things?

2. Get more organized. Many people are stressed-out because they have no structure in their lives. They bounce around like a ball in a pin-ball machine, reacting to whatever happens to them. Write down the things you need to do for the day and prioritize them.

3. Handle one task at a time.  Don’t try to do five things at once. Accomplish the highest priority task first, then the next, and so on.

4. Simplify your life. Jesus said, “Only one thing is necessary.” He didn’t say “Four hundred things are necessary.”  What is that “one thing”?  It’s seeking to hear God and please Him in all that you do.

Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers)

Monday, January 21, 2013

The "Future Time Zone" in Your Mind

In the devotional below I talked about the “time zones” in your mind and how your thoughts can drift to the past.  Your mind can also travel in the other direction to the future.  Worry sends your mind ahead so you’ll agonize about the horrible things that might happen. Maybe you’re thinking, “The future scares me.  What if there’s a world war?  What if the economy collapses?”

Worry is the belief that the worst will happen to you.  Hope is the belief that the best will happen to you.  Which one do you think God wants you to do—worry or hope? Jesus specifically told His followers to not worry.  He said, “Do not keep worrying.” (Luke 12:29)

Studies show that 92% of things we worry about will never happen.  I know what you’re thinking.  “What about the other 8%?”  The other 8% will either not be as bad as you think, or God will give you the grace to get through them.  That takes care of everything you’re worried about.

If you are worried, it’s because you’re not trusting God to be in control of your circumstances and take care of you.  You cannot worry about the future and trust God at the same time.  Here are 3 things reasons why you can look forward to the future.

1. God exists in the future.  God is “I AM” the eternally existent one (Ex. 3:14), which means He is not bound by time and He exists in the future.  Tomorrow when you get there, God will be waiting there to welcome you.  It doesn’t matter what the world is like tomorrow.  If God is there, you don’t need to worry.

2. God has good plans for your future.  The prophet Jeremiah said, “‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’” (Jeremiah 29:11).  He has plans for His followers, too.  We don’t know what they may be, but we do know they are good plans to give us hope.  Hope for tomorrow displaces worry.

3. God promises to take care of those who put Him first. Jesus made this promise: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).  If you will seek Him as your highest priority, He promises to provide all your needs. 

My book The Sure Cure for Worry will be published in August 2013, which will explain why people worry and will give solid evidence that God is in control and can be trusted completely.

Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The "Time Zones" in Your Mind, Part 1

Do you realize that you have “time zones” in your mind?  Although you live only in the present, your mind can drift to another time zone—either to the past or to the future. Paul said, "One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 3:13-14).

The past does not exist anymore, except in your memory.  I grew up in New Orleans and in my mind I can see myself walking through all the rooms in that house.  In 2005 that house was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.  The house doesn't exist anymore—but it’s still there in my memory.  In reality that house is gone but in my imaginations, I can still go there—if I choose to think about it.  

In the same way, your past doesn't exist anymore, but in your imaginations you can still go there. It’s not wrong to briefly visit the past to reminisce about good memories, which can make you thankful.  But far more people climb into their mental time machine and travel to the past time zone to think about the horrible memories in the past.  If you dwell on your hurtful past, you will become bitter, or will feel guilty, or will sink into depression, or will fume in anger.  Calling up bad memories will affect your mental and spiritual health in the present.

Just like you can hold on to things with your hands, you can also hold on to things with your spirit. To let go of the past, you must let go of what your heart is holding on to.

If you have accepted Jesus Christ into your life and still feel guilty about past sins, trust this verse: “He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions” (Col. 2:13).

If you were hurt by someone in your past, you must forgive and let go. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just at God also forgave you in Christ” (Eph. 4:32).

If you regret something you did or didn’t do in your past, remember that God will accept you in your present situation and lead you from where you are right now if you will surrender to Him.  “We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28).

Next time I’ll talk about the “Future Time Zone.” 

Coming in April 2013: Slaying Your Giants by Kent Crockett (Hendrickson Publishers)