Holiday Stress Beginning Already? Learn Ways to Be Calm - Purity 887
Purity 887 11/12/2022 Purity 887 Podcast
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Today’s photo of the unnatural wonder of a mammoth artificial Christmas tree decorated to remind people of the need to go Christmas shopping, and possibly encourage people to remember the birth of or Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, comes to us from yours truly as I stopped long enough to capture it before running out the door of the Walden Galleria Mall in Buffalo yesterday…
Ok I have a confession to make. While it will be “yesterday” when I release this message, I am actually writing this moments after leaving the mall and before the David Jerimiah event I will be prayerfully serving at in just an hours time!
Yup, you see I am going back home tomorrow and I want to hit the ground running, as in, no, do not collect $200, do not even go to jail, go directly home because “we out of here”.
I have enjoyed my trip immensely thus far but tomorrow morning I will be raring to go and right now can’t imagine writing and recording the podcast at the Hostel again. “Hey guys, its been real. Later.” As if any of the Hostel guests would know or care, its that laid back and fluid in Hostel world.
Anyway, my ill conceived choice to go into the mall to kill some time caused me to stress in general about the holidays and specifically about my Exodus tomorrow. And As I was checking my email, I saw an appropriate message to share from the Freedom in Christ blog about the coming holiday season and anxiety and I figured that I should share that then rather come up with some wisdom from the Parking lot.
So I am sharing a message from Freedom in Christ Ministries’ National Director of Prayer, Sue Jantz entitled Calm – Part 1 that was released on FICM’s blog (https://blog.ficm.org/blog/calm-part-1) to give us all some helpful advice about how to be able to handle any social anxiety that may make a visit this holiday season:
“We have officially entered the holiday season! Do the activities surrounding the holidays make you giddy with excitement, scouting the stores for all things “grinch,” or somewhere wavering in the middle? Interestingly, Psychology Today reports that studies show that approximately 40 percent of all adults are riddled with social anxiety around the holidays.
The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines anxiety—and its synonyms care, concern, and worry—this way: “a troubled or engrossed state of mind or the thing that causes this.”
The Greek word for anxiety means “divided” with the implication that what is divided is our mind. When we live in anxiety, we can become a “double-minded” person who is “unstable in all his ways,” as James says.
Peter links anxiety with the roaring lion, our adversary, Satan, who prowls around seeking who he may devour (1 Peter 5:6-8).
So let’s take a moment to identify where we are facing anguished uncertainty (uncertain goals) this holiday season.
It may be:
The world gives us helpful (or not so helpful) advice to calm our anxious hearts:
Since our body, soul and spirit are connected, our anxious emotions trigger a physical response both for good and for ill. Scripture speaks directly to this.
Isaiah 13:7 NLT – “Every arm is paralyzed with fear. Every heart melts”
Jeremiah 50:43 – “The king of Babylon heard the report of them, and his hands fell helpless; anguish seized him, pain as of a woman in labor.”
Ezekiel 7:17 MSG – “‘Every hand hangs limp, every knee turns to rubber” (In view of God’s coming judgment upon His people).
In a frightening scenario painted in Psalm 46 of both physical upheaval and political turmoil, God gives a command, “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
But how can we know that He is God if we are in anxious turmoil?
Let’s start with some simple, physical practices to counter anxiety. Some of these we do subconsciously and don’t even realize they are calming such as massaging our arms or rubbing our face. But small practices done over time can make a significant difference!
The first is belly breathing—slow and low. This is the breathing taught to U. S. Navy Seals which helps deactivate the fight or flight response.
The next is quiet through participating physically in worship. The Scripture is replete with commands—let us sing to the Lord, let us shout to the God of our salvation, let us worship and bow down, let us exalt His name together. Dr. Richard Smith of the Oklahoma Neuroscience Institute found participatory worship causes a decrease in blood pressure, pulse and breathing slows, hand temperature increases, and there is a reduction in anger and depression because of increased dopamine and serotonin! If David’s harp music calmed the angry King Saul, it can bring peace to our soul.
As I mentioned in the beginning, it’s almost impossible to tell someone else or yourself to relax and then be instantly relaxed. But what is helpful is tensing and releasing various muscle groups from your head to your toes. This is something you can do discreetly like when I was on a flight when they announced there was a malfunction in the ventilations system, and there would be no air circulating from the time we touched down till we got to the gate!
Another practice is yawning. Yawning signals to your body that it is time to quiet and rest. Turn your head to left, yawn, and then to the opposite way and yawn. One article called it the fastest way to hack mental stress and gain focus as it gets more oxygen to the brain.
Laughter and play are helpful as well: “A merry heart is like good medicine” (Proverbs 17: 22). The Christian author Dr. Archibald Hart writes, “Delighting in the everyday pleasures of life actually repairs and heals the overstimulation of our brains.”
Lastly, physical exercise can help us to calm. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins which relieve pain and create a sense of well-being. Walking at a little slower pace gives us time to drink in God’s beauty in creation.
In Matthew 7, there’s a familiar story of two men, one who built his life on the rock and the other one on the sand. Jesus says this, “Everyone who hears these words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24). The wise are not those who simply get it, but those who practice it. This week should give us plenty of opportunities to practice these quieting exercises so that we can know the God who is the Prince of Peace!”
Sue Jantz – FICM National Director of Prayer
Okay, I hope that helps! Keep Walking and talking with God and I will report on my evening as a volunteer with David Jerimiah on Monday, possibly, because when you walk in the Spirit the Lord may have something else in mind and may point me in another direction.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
John 5:24 (NLT2)
24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
Today’s verse are the words of Jesus and the exclusivity of Christ alone to save us could not be made any clearer. If we listen to Jesus and believe in God we will have eternal life, we will never be condemned and have the assurance of our salvation like it is already a done deal.
Now you could play Jesus’ statements here and say “ Oh I hear you Jesus and I do believe in “A god” so we are good, right?
Unfortunately, Christ called his disciples to follow Him, not just hear His words and generally disregard them and then just have the faintest sense of mentally assent to a belief in God.
NO Christ came to earth to draw people to the Father, to bring people into the kingdom, to know God and to live for God, to love God with all of our hearts, minds, and strength.
So while Christ’s message is clear we have sure that we let those we share the gospel with that while the gift of salvation is free it is not cheap. It cost Christ His life, and the epistles indicate it will cost us ours as well as Paul writes that we are crucified and die with Christ and then are raised to new life through Christ’s resurrection.
So today’s verse is great news, but we have to receive all of it to live.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s “Discipleship”, also known as “The Cost of Discipleship”
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase Bonhoeffer’s books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.
The Sermon on the Mount
On the Hidden Nature of the Christian Life
The Simplicity of Carefree Life
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:19–24).
The life of those who follow proves to be on the right course when nothing comes between them and Christ, not the law, not their own piety, and not the world. The disciples always see only Christ. They do not see Christ and the law, Christ and piety, Christ and the world. They do not even begin to reflect that; they just follow Christ in everything. So their vision is simple. Its sole focus is on the light which comes from Christ. There is no darkness or ambiguity in their eyes. Just as the eye must remain simple, clear, and pure, so that the body may remain in the light, just as the foot and the hand have no other source of light except the eye, just as the foot stumbles and the hand gropes when the eye is clouded, just as the whole body is in darkness when the eye is blinded, so disciples are in the light only as long as they look simply to Christ and not to this or that. The disciples’ hearts must simply be focused on Christ alone. If the eye sees something other than what is real, then the whole body is deceived. If the heart clings to the appearances of the world, to the creatures instead of the creator, then the disciple is lost.
It is the goods of the world which try to turn away the hearts of Jesus’ disciples. What is it that attracts the heart of a disciple? That is the question. Is it attracted by the goods of the world, or even by Christ and the goods of the world? Or does it stand by Christ alone? The light for the body is the eye, and the light for a disciple is the heart. If the eye is dimmed, how dark the whole body must be. If the heart is darkened, how dark it must be in the disciple. The heart becomes dark when it clings to the goods of the world. Then Jesus’ call, be it as urgent as can be, nevertheless bounces off; it finds no entry in the person, because the heart is closed. It belongs to another. Just as no light can enter the body if the eye is evil, so the word of Jesus cannot enter the disciple if the heart is shut. The word is choked off, just as the seed among thorns is choked by the “cares, riches, and pleasures of this life” (Luke 8:14).
The simplicity of the eye and the heart is like the hiddenness in which nothing except Christ’s word and call is known and complete communion with Christ is all there is. How should disciples deal simply with the goods of the earth?
Jesus does not forbid them to use the goods. Jesus was human. He ate and drank just as his disciples did. In doing so, he purified the use of the goods of the earth. Disciples should gratefully use the goods required for their bodies’ daily need and nutrition—goods which are consumed in sustaining life. “We’re wandering Pilgrims day by endless days, / ill-clothed and poor yet freed in fearless ways. / We need not gather, hoard, nor trade, / lest our paths to God overburdened fade. / Who so craves with greed’s lethal eyes, / cannot along life’s journey with us have ties. / Few goods at hand, we live at peace, / with God our lot our needs decrease.” Goods are given to us to be used, but not to be stored away. Just as Israel in the desert received manna daily from God and did not have to worry about food and drink, and just as the manna which was stored from one day for another rotted, so should Jesus’ disciples receive their share daily from God. But if they store it up as lasting treasure, they will spoil both the gift and themselves. The heart clings to collected treasure. Stored-up possessions get between me and God. Where my treasure is, there is my trust, my security, my comfort, my God. Treasure means idolatry.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship