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The Christian Habits Podcast
22 minutes | 25 days ago
How to Meditate on Scripture
Often before a trip, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night with my mind buzzing. I remember all I have to do and have a hard time getting back to sleep. That happened last night, so I got up and had my quiet time. I was having a hard time focusing so I decided to do some Scripture meditation. It wasn’t long before God’s peace washed over me and I felt better about the day. On today’s podcast and blog post, I’d like to talk about how to meditate on Scripture. What is Scripture Meditation? According to Google, the definition of meditate is to think deeply or focus one’s mind for a period of time. So when we meditate on Scripture, we’re not just reading through it. We’re taking time to really think deeply about it. And the deeper we think, the more it seeps into our bones so God can use it to change us. This morning is a good example. I began my quiet time stressed with all I had to do today. But by the end, I was completely relaxed and feeling peaceful about my day. That wouldn’t have happened with a quick read of a short devotional or a passage of Scripture. I needed to deeply interact with God and the Bible in order for it to change me. And thankfully God gave me the perfect Bible passage this morning in my regular reading to give me the help I needed today. What’s the Difference between Meditating on Scripture and Bible Study? Bible study is all about getting to know and understand God’s Word. That’s a good thing. But Scripture meditation carries it a step further as it’s about soaking in God’s Word and applying it to our lives, allowing it to shape us and change us. BillyGraham.org puts it this way: “When we meditate on the Word of God, we seek to make personal application of the Scriptures to our own lives and circumstances. This results in more than the intake of information; it transforms by leading to the formation of the individual into Christlikeness.” Below this paragraph, you’ll see an example of a Scripture meditation I did on Luke 8:4-15. You can see what I wrote in my journal, but I also spent time thinking about what I was seeing in the Word and talking to God about it. The little box on the left about halfway down the page was where I applied the passage to my own life, which led to some good prayer time with God and insights I could apply to my life. Scripture Meditation on Luke 8:4-15 How Do You Meditate on Scripture? There is no written procedure in the Bible for meditating on Scripture, and I’m guessing you already have your own way of doing it. But I thought I would include a few tips here in case you haven’t tried it before. Find a quiet comfortable place. You can meditate on Scripture anywhere, but it helps to have someplace you can completely focus on the Bible passage. Choose a small portion of Scripture. This could be anywhere from one verse to three or four verses to a very short chapter of the Bible. If I’m meditating on Scripture for my quiet time, I’ll choose a longer passage than if I’m meditating on Scripture to break a habit. Consider diagramming the Bible verse. I often do this in my journal. I’ll look at the verse and start drawing it out in my journal. This helps me make sense of it and see the connections between the different parts of the verse. You can see an example of this in my previous journal image and also later in this post. Think about the imagery of the verse. If the verse describes God or someone else doing something, imagine what that would have looked like. For example, Zephaniah 3:17 talks about God rejoicing over us with singing. Close your eyes and picture Him doing that with you. If the verse talks about things in nature, picture what that would look like. Ask what the verse means on a practical level. For example, Proverbs 23:17-18 tells us not to envy. Ask yourself, what does envy mean? What would that look like in my own life? Do I envy? Is there anything I need to change? How could I go about that? Think about how you could stop being envious, then spend some time in confession and asking God to help you change. Meditating on Scripture is all about getting to know what that Bible verse means and then soaking it in and letting it change you. These kinds of practical questions can help with that. Ask God to give you insight. The Holy Spirit is our counselor and He can help us understand Scripture. But occasionally, we’re stumped and we have a hard time knowing what a verse means. When that happens, try the next step. Check out a good commentary. BlueLetterBible.org has lots of good commentaries you can use to gain insight on a Bible passage. I would try to learn as much as you can without a commentary first, but then use a commentary for added insight if you’re having a hard time understanding the passage. Scripture Meditation: An Example Based on Psalm 95:1-7a When you’re learning a new skill – or interested in seeing how others do things – it can be helpful to look at some concrete examples. We looked at an example of Scripture meditation earlier from my journal. Below you’ll find another example of how I meditated on Psalm 95 this morning. Psalm 95:1-2: 1Come, let’s sing for joy to the Lord, Let’s shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.2 Let’s come before His presence with a song of thanksgiving, let’s shout joyfully to Him in songs with instruments. The first thing I noticed was that David asks us to do four things. So I wrote the word ME on the left hand side of my journal page and circled it. Then I drew four lines going out to the right in sunshine fashion. At the end of each line, I wrote one of the things we’re supposed to do: Sing for joy to the Lord. Shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Come into His presence with a song of thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to Him in songs. I noticed there was a lot of joy going on–something I needed at the moment! I looked at the next verse and realized that it told us why we can be joyful: 3 For the Lord is a great God and a great King above all gods. The first thing I noticed about this verse is that we can be joyful because the Lord is a great God. NOT because: life is going great all our loved ones are doing well we’re all caught up on our to-do list So even though my life felt overwhelming at 3:00 am (and not super great), I could still rejoice because the Lord is a great God no matter what is going on in my life!! The next things I noticed about that verse is that He is a great God and a great King above all gods. I spent a little time thinking about what kings were like and didn’t get a lot out of that. Then I noticed it said all gods. I thought to myself, What other gods is David talking about? There’s only one God. Then I realized, Oh, he’s talking about idols. That’s when I realized why I was stressed. I was making other things–getting things done before my trip for example (including writing and taping this podcast)–more important than God wanted to make them. So I spent a little time talking to God about that and repenting and then I went back to the Scripture. 4 In whose hand are the depths of the earth, the peaks of the mountains are also His. 5 The sea is His, for it was He who made it, and His hands formed the dry land. This passage led me into meditating on God’s creation. I thought about the depths of the earth (backpacking with my family to the bottom of the Grand Canyon), the mountains I’ve climbed, and visits to the beach. I thought about how free I feel when I’m in the wilderness and the majesty of God’s creation. It made me realize God created life to be simple–He put Adam and Eve in a garden, not a busy office. That doesn’t mean He wants us to stay in the garden. But it does remind me that overall life is pretty simple. It’s about God. So even though God wants me to get things done today, He also wants me to remember that His yoke is easy. His burden is light. He doesn’t demand perfection. He doesn’t demand a finished to-do list. Nothing drastic will happen if I don’t write this blog post and tape the podcast. This automatically started relieving my stress. I was starting to feel pretty peaceful by this point. I went back to the Scripture and I could fully engage with it as I worshipped God through those ancient words of David: 6 Come, let’s worship and bow down, Let’s kneel before the Lord our Maker. 7 For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. At that point I stopped. I could see that the Scripture switched gears, but I felt like I’d already received a wonderful lesson from God. I decided to save the rest of the passage for tomorrow. Before I finished, I went back up to the top and read the passage again. I read it differently this time than I had the first time because I’d taken the time to meditate on it and apply it to my life. The first time I read it I was stressed and distracted. When I read it again, I was peaceful and free and rejoicing with David. We’ll look at another example of how to meditate on Scripture in a minute. First, let’s look at some reasons to meditate. Reasons to Meditate on Scripture There are many reasons to meditate on Scripture. We just looked at one of them–it changes our attitude! Here are some other reasons to meditate on Scripture: It changes our perspective. The more the word sinks into us, the more we think biblically rather than culturally–and life always looks better when you think biblically. It helps us break free from sin. God uses Scripture to empower us to change things He wants us to change. There’s an old hymn called There Is Power in the Blood. There’s also power in the Word. Jesus used that power when He was tempted by Satan, and we can use that power when we face different temptations. God uses truth to set us free and His Word is truth. It gives us peace and joy in situations that don’t warrant it. Remember David? He’d often begin a Psalm super depressed but he was often joyful by the end of it. His spirit lifted because he started to see life from God’s perspective which led him to trust and hope in God. It helps us understand God’s Word better and also get to know God better. Reading Scripture is always good. But when we take the time to meditate on it, we’ll get to know it–and God–at a much deeper level. It’s like the difference between our relationship with the friendly grocery store clerk and a loved one. Even though they’re both great people, we know our loved one far better because we spend a lot more time with them. It helps us replace bad thoughts with good thoughts. It’s easy to go into a spiral of negative thoughts, especially if life isn’t going well. Reading our Bible as a casual experience doesn’t usually grab our minds enough to scatter the negative thoughts. But if we get our pen and paper out and spend some time meditating on a Scripture passage and looking at how it applies to our lives, we’ll be far more likely to end up with a clearer, more peaceful mind by the end of it. It helps us memorize Scripture. I’m terrible at memorizing Scripture, but I’ve found that it’s easier to memorize it after I meditate on a verse. For some reason, fully understanding a verse and seeing the connections makes it easier to memorize. It can help us be aware of God throughout the day. If we keep a Bible verse close to our thoughts throughout the day, it will help us remember that God is there and take time to visit with Him. How to Use Scripture Meditation to Break a Habit – An Example I’d like to include one more example before we finish: how to meditate on Scripture to break a habit. For this purpose, I’d look for a relevant Bible verse first rather than just using whatever I’m reading that morning in my quiet time. You can easily find Bible verses for negative emotions, habits, and losing weight in the Renewing of the Mind Project or I Deserve a Donut (and Other Lies That Make You Eat). Let’s try meditating on 1 Corinthians 6:12: All things are permitted for me, but not all things are of benefit. All things are permitted for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. How would you diagram that verse? Do you see any connections right off the bat? If you want, take a minute to diagram it. You don’t need to diagram a sentence to meditate on Scripture, but it’s helpful if you have a pen and paper at hand. Right away I noticed that one phrase was repeated twice: all things are permitted for me. I think to myself, Really? I don’t think I’m permitted to murder. So right off the the bat I start thinking, oh, Paul must be talking about things God hasn’t told us not to do–so neutral things. I then think about my habit. Let’s say I’m working on trying to control how much time I spend on the Internet. I think, Well that’s pretty neutral as long as I’m looking at okay sites — so I would say it’s permitted for me. Then I look at the passage again and notice there are two other phrases. I would probably take the time to diagram the passage at this time. It would look something like this in my journal. Scripture Diagram for 1 Corinthians 6:12 I diagrammed this the day after writing this blog post. My mind went a different direction than what I shared below. But it’s a good example of how different things can come out of Scripture meditation each day. I’d look at that diagram and think, I wonder why Paul just chose two thing to talk about: 1) Not all things benefit and 2) I won’t be mastered by anything? I’d mull this over for a bit and realize it makes perfect sense. Too much time on the Internet is not beneficial to me and it can control me – it’s a hard habit to break. At this point I could go in a number of different directions. I might make a little chart that says “Benefits of Controlling Time on the Internet” and “Benefits of Letting Myself Spend As Much Time As I Want on the Internet.” Or I might just think of how I feel when I spend too much time on the Internet and how it affects my life. Then I might go back to the passage again and read it all over. That’s when I’d remember to look at the other part of the verse: I will not be mastered by anything. I’d ask myself, Does the Internet master me? Can I easily stop? If I can’t, I might visit with God about that. Maybe I’d come up with a set of boundaries for how much time I could spend on the Internet. I might make another commitment to renew my mind whenever I broke my boundaries. Or I might ask, “Why does God want me to control of my habits–and not have them control me?” This could lead to all kinds of helpful insights. In Summary So basically Scripture meditation is taking the time to really interact with God and the Bible passage in a way that will impact you. I did that this morning with Psalm 95 and I’ve been peaceful all day, doing what I needed to get done (including writing a much longer blog post than I needed to write!) and doing it peacefully and joyfully. With breaking a habit you’ll have to meditate on Scripture or renew your mind throughout the day. But with some things, the truth can last all day. And that’s a wonderful thing! How to Listen to the Podcast: Stitcher: Click here to subscribe or listen on Stitcher. Apple Podcasts: Click here to subscribe or listen on Apple Podcasts. (If you haven’t subscribed to the podcast on Apple, this can sometimes take a few hours to update.) Android: Click here to subscribe or listen on Android. Spotify: Click here to subscribe or listen on Spotify. Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Taste for Truth Podcast.” The post How to Meditate on Scripture appeared first on Barb Raveling.
30 minutes | 2 months ago
8 Signs You’re People Pleasing and How to Stop People Pleasing
When I was in my forties, I didn’t even consider “no” an option. Instead, I did everything everyone asked me to do without even thinking about it. This led to stress, resentment, and sometimes doing things God didn’t want me to do. Not bad things, but things that weren’t right for that time in my life. In this post and podcast, I want to talk about people pleasing: how to know when you’re doing it and how to stop people pleasing. Note: This is an old post that I have updated and added a podcast to. People Pleasing vs. Self-Pleasing vs. Pleasing God Before we look at how to stop people pleasing, let’s look at the difference between people pleasing, self-pleasing, and pleasing God. Most of us lean towards one of two camps: “I’ll do what I want to do!” or “I’ll do what you want me to do.” The second camp seems more loving but it’s not. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 1:10: “Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” With people pleasing, we’re putting others above God and it’s hard to be loving when you do that. So no matter what camp we’re in, our goal should be to move out of that camp and land in the I-want-to-please-God camp–not the I’ll-please-myself camp. It can take years to overcome people pleasing. I should know because I’ve been working at it ever since I started writing this blog eight years ago! God has made great strides in this area of my life but I’m not all the way over it. Here’s the truth though: The more we focus on pleasing God, the happier we’ll be–especially when we remember that God gives grace. We’re not pleasing him to get Him to love us or accept us. He already loves us. This is also a good reason to please others–out of love for them rather than to get them to love us. 10 Signs You’re a People Pleaser If you’re a people pleaser, chances are good that you already know it. But it can still be helpful to look at a list of signs to be able to check yourself. When I googled people pleasing, I found this post. Since I can’t improve on it, I’ll share the link so you can check it out yourself: 10 Signs You’re a People-Pleaser. I also thought it would be helpful to include my own list of 8 signs you’re people pleasing in an unhealthy way. I came up with this list during a coaching session. I was having a hard time making decisions (because I want to make everyone happy), and my coach asked me to make a list of signs that I was making decisions in an unhealthy way. Following is the list I came up with. 8 Signs You’re People Pleasing in an Unhealthy Way You’re committed at a level higher than the situation warrants. For example, let’s say you’re in a bad dating relationship and you’re doing everything you can to fix it because the other person really wants to stay with you. You’re committed at a level higher than the situation warrants. Leave that guy! Do it in a kind way but remember that his feelings are his responsibility, not yours. You’re feeling a responsibility God hasn’t given. When my kids were little, I played piano at a church that had both an organist and a piano player. The organist was happy playing each Sunday, but the piano players (there were three of us) were busy and didn’t enjoy it as much so we rotated. I should have quit – they didn’t need me since they had an organ player, but I kept playing because I felt like I would make the other two piano players have to play for more weekends. In reality, they could have quit as well or chosen to keep their own schedule. There wasn’t a need for me to live up to the expectations of the church that we always have both piano and organ. You hate (or are overly stressed by) what you’re doing. Often, God has given us the freedom to quit something, but we keep doing it because of our warped sense of responsibility. This happened to me during Thanksgiving when the kids were little. I always felt like I had to make all the different dishes even though I was the only cook at the time. This stressed me out and made me enjoy the holiday less. It would have been better to simplify the menu. Sometimes, God hasn’t give us the freedom to quit, though. In those situations it’s best to work on learning to like it! For a lot of those years when the kids were little, I was stressed with life in general–but God hadn’t given me the freedom to quit being a mom. :) You’re missing out on other things God wants you to do (or other wonderful opportunities) because you’re trying to please people who want you to do things for them, with them, or in a certain way. One example would be if your friends are always wanting you to do something every night and you do it out of responsibility even though you’re an introvert and need a little alone time to recharge and God would also like to see you recharge. Or you may be ignoring family responsibilities to do all the things the church or your Christian group wants you to do or even work if you have the possibility to say no. You’re putting other people’s desires ahead of your own (and totally ignoring your own) in a situation where God is not calling you to lay down your life out of love for the brethren. Sometimes God does call us to lay down our desires–you have to do that a lot when you have young kids, for example–but other times we do that when God isn’t calling us to do it. I was such a people pleaser in the old days that I didn’t even know what I liked or wanted. My husband and I are doing this new thing where we each say what we want (which helps us both figure out what we want since we’re both people pleasers), and then we negotiate from there. We’ve found that we actually come up with better decisions that way. You’re fulfilling responsibilities others could fill even though you don’t enjoy them, you aren’t uniquely gifted for them, or they stress you out. This often comes up in parenting when we refuse to delegate chores to our kids because we know they won’t be happy. It’s good for kids to work so this would be a good area to change. You’re living other peoples’ lives (the ones who want you to keep doing it). Let them do it if they care so much about it! Sometimes people want us to do things because it will make their lives better if we do it. We just have to be sure that either we want to do it or God wants us to do it. You’re creating a stressful life for yourself because you’re trying to keep everyone (or a particular someone) happy when God hasn’t called you to do what they want you to do in this particular situation. Isn’t that all of us at times? So often I’m stressed out and when I dig down deep I find that I’m worried about making someone unhappy. Perfectionism? The question is, how do we change? How do we stop people pleasing when the behavior is so ingrained in us? The first step is to renew our minds with truth. Four Truths That Will Help Us Stop People Pleasing Here are four truths we need to remember on a big picture level. These truths correspond to the reasons we people please up in the first section of this blog post: It’s not terrible if people don’t like us or respect us–it’s normal. We’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Some people will love us and think we’re the cat’s meow, and some people will think we’re just so-so, and some people will think we’re terrible. That’s life and it’s okay. Not to mention the fact that not everything about us is likable or worthy of respect! Just because people are annoyed with us, that doesn’t mean they don’t like us. Here’s the truth: Sometimes we’re annoying. When we do annoying things, people are going to be annoyed with us–unless they’re so spiritually mature that they rarely get annoyed. Most people aren’t that mature so they’ll get mad at us from time to time. Thankfully, they are usually mature enough to love us even though we’re sometimes annoying! Our best bet is to work on our annoying behavior (if it’s something God would also like to see changed), but believe that people are mature enough to forgive us and love the real us–faults and all. It’s not worth getting people to like or respect us if it’s conditional love and respect. So if we have to keep working hard to measure up, it’s not worth it. What we really want is unconditional love and respect. I’m not saying we should end all of our relationships where we feel like we have to measure up to be accepted (although I would seriously consider ending a dating relationship like that), I’m just saying it’s not worth trying to live up to expectations to get people to like us. Most people will like you even if you don’t live up to their expectations or do what they want you to do. Just like most people are mature enough to love us in spite of our faults, they’re also mature enough to love us if we don’t do what they want. Sometimes they just want us to do something because it makes their life easier. So of course they might seem unhappy if we aren’t doing what they want. How to Stop People Pleasing After filling our minds with these overall truths, it help to process situations one at a time when we find ourselves people pleasing. Here are some steps for how stop people pleasing based on my book, Rally: A Personal Growth Bible Study, which is a Bible study about going to God for help with trials.. Recognize when you’re people pleasing. The lists above should help, but you could also ask these questions: Why am I stressed? Am I trying to make someone happy? Am I trying to live up to expectations, either perceived or real? Renew your mind. You can do this with the people pleasing or living up to expectations questions from I Deserve a Donut or the Renewing of the Mind Project, but you can also do this on a big picture level with the four truths I mentioned above. Renewing your mind will help you discover if you’re people pleasing or laying down your life to love others well. Often we think we’re doing the latter when we’re really doing the former. Accept the fact that 1) not everyone will like or respect you and 2) the people who do like and respect you will be annoyed with you and/or judge you at times. If you feel like someone is judging you, ask, “Do I ever judge this person?” Chances are good the answer will be yes. And if you judge them from time to time, is it any surprise that they judge you from time to time? Let go of the unrealistic expectation that everyone will like you and never be mad at you. This will just make you frustrated and unhappy because you can’t control everyone! If you want to stop people pleasing, it’s critical to let go of the idea that everyone has to like you and never be mad at you. Let go of your have-to-haves. We don’t have to have everyone like and respect us for us to be happy! God is enough. Yay God. Thank God for the people who do love you and respect you, even when you mess up. That includes God! Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Truth Journaling Rally Bible Study Renewing of the Mind Project I Deserve a Donut 5 Tips for People Pleasing I hope these ideas will help you overcome people pleasing. If you want to start a people pleasing project, just renew your mind every time you catch yourself doing it. How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” The post 8 Signs You’re People Pleasing and How to Stop People Pleasing appeared first on Barb Raveling.
32 minutes | 3 months ago
How to Create a Bible Routine You Can Enjoy | Brittany Ann
Do you ever struggle to read the Bible? Maybe you wake up in the morning, turn off the alarm, roll over, and think to yourself, Just five more minutes. Then you wake up again 30 minutes later and your Bible reading window has disappeared. You would love to create a Bible routine, but you can’t make it happen. Or maybe you’re like I used to be twenty-five years ago. You feel like you should read the Bible, but you’re kind of bored with it. Or maybe you’re so busy you feel like you don’t have the time for it. Whatever the reason for not following through on your goal to create a Bible routine, the good news is that God can help you change. On this episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, Brittany Ann from EquippingGodlyWomen.com talks about her book, Fall in Love with God’s Word: Practical Strategies for Busy Women, to help us create a Bible routine we can truly enjoy. Brittany Ann is an author, speaker, and owner of the popular website EquippingGodlyWomen.com, where she challenges, encourages, and equips Christian women to be “all in” in faith and family. Her work has been featured on CBN, The Christian Post, Crosswalk, and more. If you’re someone who wants to make reading the Bible a priority, Brittany’s website can help you. Things We Talked About on the Podcast Reasons why we don’t read the Bible more often How to change what we do so we actually want to read the Bible Different things you can do in your quiet times to make Bible reading more interesting How to find the best time of day to read your Bible How to create a Bible routine you can enjoy How spiritual attack affects a Bible reading habit Brittany Ann’s advice if you’d like to start a quiet time habit Quotable Quotes “I wanted to have a heart that wanted to read God’s word.” -Brittany Ann “We have a very loving Father God who has wonderful things for us.” -Brittany Ann Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Fall in Love with God’s Word: Practical Strategies for Busy Women by Brittany Ann 21 Day Bible Reading Challenge on Brittany’s website Connect with Brittany Ann: Brittany Ann’s Website About the book How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” The post How to Create a Bible Routine You Can Enjoy | Brittany Ann appeared first on Barb Raveling.
21 minutes | 4 months ago
10 Lies that Make Us Give Up on New Year’s Resolutions
How do you feel when you hear the phrase, New Year’s resolutions? Excited? Defeated? Skeptical? In recent years, New Year’s resolutions have gone out of style in favor of goals. The idea is that New Year’s resolutions are vague, so they don’t work—but goals are more defined with action steps, so they work. I disagree with this philosophy. What I’ve found in my own life is that neither one will work unless I go about it the right way. Before we get into that, though, let’s look at the difference between New Year’s resolutions and goals. New Year’s Resolutions vs. Goals According to Google, the definition of resolution is “a firm decision to do or not do something” and the definition of goal is “the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.” With those definitions in mind, I would say a resolution is about stopping and starting habits, and a goal is more of a check-it-off-your list accomplishment, such as building a garden shed or writing a book. Both of those are good things. The problem isn’t in the word resolution or goal, the problem is how we go about trying to follow through on our resolutions and goals. Two Approaches to New Year’s Resolutions and Goals If we only use man-made tools (plans, lists, action steps, etc.), we’ll only be able to do the things we can accomplish in our own strength. For example, I’ve always been great at accomplishing my recreation goals because I’ve always been good at recreation. But I used to be terrible at accomplishing my work goals, because I’m not naturally good at work. I can’t do those goals in my own strength. Thankfully, we don’t need to rely on our own strength. If we’re willing to go to God for help and lean on His strength, we’ll be able to succeed even if we aren’t strong in that area. At the end of this post, we’ll look at a 5-step process for achieving goals and resolutions using both practical tools and spiritual tools, but before we do that, let’s look at 10 lies that get in the way of our New Year’s resolutions and goals and 10 truths and Bible verses that will help us persevere and gain success with them. 10 Lies That Hurt – 10 Bible Verses That Help 1. This will be easy. At the beginning of the year, we’re all fired up. We think, This will be easy! I’ll just make a list of goals and then I’ll change! Unfortunately, change can be a long, slow process with a lot of glitches and failure along the way. We’ll be more likely to succeed if we have realistic expectations of the process. Jesus told us what to expect from life, and this is also true any goals or New Year’s resolutions we take on. These things I have spoken to you so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world. John 16:33 2. This is too hard. After we realize it’s not going to be as easy as we thought, we often jump to this conclusion: It’s too hard. This isn’t true! The truth is what we told our little kids when they were growing up: You can do hard things! Especially when we know that God is with us. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let’s approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace for help at the time of our need. Hebrews 4:15-16 3. I can’t do it. This is the lie that always come after “It’s too hard” in my journal. I don’t know how many times I’ve written it. Hundreds, I would guess. But here’s the great thing. I’ve written this lie over and over, recorded the truth each time, and then years later, have seen success in the area I thought I would never change. Not because I’m a super disciplined, I-can-do-all-things sort of person, but because of the real-life truth of the following Bible verse. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 4. It should be easier than this. Because we live in an era of entitlement, we often think everything should be easy. Or we might believe the Christian version of this lie: All I have to do is pray and God will give it to me. The truth is that God usually wants us to be involved in our own transformation. It’s a partnership: He asks us to renew our minds and do anything else we need to do on a practical level to succeed with our resolutions or goal, and He does the transforming. All of that—even the renewing—takes time and effort. It rarely falls into the fun and easy category. Instead, we see the truth of this Bible verse over and over. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Hebrews 12:11 5. I will never get over this. Because we start out thinking it will be easy, we’re always surprised when we fail. This usually happens in the first week or two, and that’s when this thought comes into our heads: This is just like all the other times. I’ll never change. The truth is, it will only be like all the other times if we give up and if we fail to keep renewing our minds. If we instead go to God for help, renew our minds to get His perspective, and keep trying even though it’s painful, we’ll succeed. God will help us. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 6. I’m such a (hopeless case, loser, wreck, failure, miserable excuse of a Christian, etc.). One thing that gets in the way of renewing and also pursuing goals on a practical level is self-condemnation. Satan loves to see us beating ourselves up because he’s the condemner of the saints. It helps to remember that ALL of us struggle with not being able to change the things we want to change. The apostle Paul gives us a glimpse of what to expect when we try to change something we haven’t been able to change before. It’s not pretty. When you’re tempted to beat yourself up, read he wrote in Romans 7:15,18 and then tell yourself, “I’m not a miserable excuse for a Christian. I’m a NORMAL Christian.” For I do not understand what I am doing; for I am not practicing what I want to do, but I do the very thing I hate. For I know that good does not dwell in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. Romans 7:15,18 7. Why do I bother? After the 10th year of putting the same New Year’s resolution or goal on our list, we’re ready to give up at the drop of the hat because we don’t really believe we’ll be able to change this time either. We tell ourselves we’ll never change anyway, so why bother? Here’s the truth: We bother because God wants us to bother! He has things He wants us to do and He also wants us to live an abundant life—not a life controlled by our habits. Yes, it’s hard to press on, but it’s always worth it in the end when we slowly begin to see God changing us. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:12 8. I just need more discipline. One of the problems we run into when pressing on is to think that we just need more discipline. This is a problem because most of us set resolutions in areas of our lives where we don’t have discipline. So if we need it, we’re out of luck. Thankfully, God is in the business of giving discipline to those who need it. Another word for discipline is self-control and self-control is a fruit of the Spirit. It comes through walking with God in hard times—so it doesn’t come all in a flash and it doesn’t come by madly trying to drum it up. Instead, it comes as we go to Him each time we fail and allow Him to fill our minds with truth, perspective, wisdom, hope, and the strength to carry on. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:16, 22-23 9. If I just renew my mind in the morning, that will be enough to make it through the day. Truth changes our desires. So when we renew our minds, we actually want to follow through on our resolutions. Unfortunately, truth doesn’t last all day—at least in the beginning. So we’ll need to renew our minds throughout the day if we want to follow our plans. That, in reference to your former way of life, you are to rid yourselves of the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you are to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. 10. God won’t love me until I change in this area of my life. Another thing we often do is to think we have to be perfect for God to love us. When we get in that frame of mind, we feel like we need to get perfect first and then ask Him for help. This is backwards. What we really need is go to God first, confess our sin, then work together with God on sanctification. We need His help. And working on goals and resolutions is far more enjoyable and hopeful when we have Him helping us along the way. And here’s the thing, we have a God who knows what we’re going through and wants to help. Why not take Him up on it? But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 (Hebrews 4:15-16, which I listed for the second lie, is also a good Bible verse for this one.) My prayer is that God will set us free with His truth in the areas we want to change this year. I hope you’ll consider making some New Year’s resolutions or goals this year and then go to God for help with the transformation process. Let’s take a look at a process to find success with your goals and resolutions. How to Succeed with Your New Year’s Resolutions and Goals Make a resolution or set a goal. The quandary is always, how many do you make? I think that depends on how far along you are in the self-control process. In the old days I used to make probably 20 of them, but the only goals I would accomplish were the goals in the recreation department! Now I make maybe 10 and I would guess I would complete about 8 of them. In my coaching classes, they tell us that it’s best to have only three big goals to work on at a time. If you have too many, it will be hard to follow through on them. So even if I have 10 for the year, I don’t work on all of them at once. I would try to set at least one resolution (breaking, controlling, or starting a habit) and one goal that you can check off when it’s finished. Make a plan, dividing your goal or resolution into manageable action steps. It may help to research your goal or resolutions (find out how others have accomplished it) before you come up with a list of action steps. Make the action steps small enough that they’ll be easy and non-intimidating to tackle. With a habit, your action steps may be something like “lay your clothes out to go to the gym each evening” or “put your phone in the kitchen at 7:00 at night” or “make a chart to record how many time you renew your mind and/or do your habit.” Forget about the goal and focus on the first step in your action plan. When you see the whole goal stretched out before you , it seems overwhelming. It will be much easier to make yourself work on it if you just focus on a) the first step if it’s a goal or b) just one day with your habit if it’s a resolution. This keeps you from getting overwhelmed. Renew your mind whenever you can’t make yourself do the next step. Since we’re transformed by the renewing of the mind (Romans 12:2), it’s essential to renew our mind if we want to see change. Click here for ideas of how to renew your mind: Renewing of the Mind Tools. Keep your eyes on the real goal (eternity with God) so you don’t get stressed out along the way. When you feel like you have to succeed, it’s easy to get stressed because you know you may not succeed. But when we focus on Jesus, we’ll be far more relaxed, as we remember our final destination and His grace along the way. (Hebrews 12:1-2) Following are some resources you can use for help with your goals and resolutions. Resources for Going to God for Help with New Year’s Resolutions and Goals Freedom from Procrastination – You can use this Bible study to overcome procrastination if you’re a chronic procrastinator, but you can also use it to work on your New Year’s resolutions and scary goals. I’m currently going through it myself to work on a hard goal (one I’ve procrastinated for a few years) and it’s really helping! Renewing of the Mind Project: Going to God for Help with Your Habits, Goals, and Emotions – this is a book that will help you make a project out of your goal or resolution. It contains practical renewing-the-mind help plus 250+ Bible verses and 49 sets of questions you can use for conversations with God about your goals and resolutions. If you struggle with fear of failure, check out the Fear of Failure, Disappointment, Worry, Lack of Confidence, Fear of Condemnation, or Reward/Obsession questions and Bible verses in the Renewing of the Mind Project. Also, remember that you have a Helper The self-condemnation, insecurity/feeling inadequate, perfectionism, greed/lust, and failure questions and Bible verses from the Renewing of the Mind Project would all be helpful ways to renew after failure New Year’s Bible study – this is a Bible study series you can do at your own pace on my blog How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” Question: What do you do to get yourself to follow through on your New Year’s resolution or to focus on your word for the year if you’re going that route? What do you say that makes you want to give up? Note: This is an update of a post that was first published 1/20/13 without a podcast episode. The post 10 Lies that Make Us Give Up on New Year’s Resolutions appeared first on Barb Raveling.
21 minutes | 5 months ago
How to Stop Being Depressed During the Pandemic (or in Regular Life)
If I were to ask the question, “Have you been depressed at all during the pandemic?” my guess is that every single one of you would answer that question with a yes. I know I have. Many days are great, but there are also those days when I feel like I’m going go stark raving mad crazy if this doesn’t end soon! That’s why I thought I’d do a blog post and podcast on how to stop being depressed during the pandemic. If you’re reading this after the pandemic, the tips will help for regular life as well! The first thing I want to show you is how I came up with the tips. I find that if I renew my mind first, it’s easier to see how to handle life. The following is an option chart I made to renew my mind about this issue. This isn’t a chart to brainstorm options–it’s a chart to analyze the options we’re currently taking to see how they’re working out for us. The left column shows the options we often take during a crisis. I always put the healthy option choice at the bottom of the chart (the one we don’t often take!). The second column shows how that option affects our peace and joy, the third column shows how it affects our relationship with God, and the last column shows how it affects our lives. An up arrow means that it improves that area (peace and joy, relationship with God, life) and a down arrow means that it makes it worse. After you’re through filling out the chart, take a minute to look it over and ask, “What’s my best option?” I’ll often find that I’m taking those middle options that don’t get me where I want to go in life. The option that requires giving up my “rights”–and also putting out some effort to change life–is pretty much always the best option. I may know that intellectually before I renew, but filling out the chart helps me to see it at the gut level. These are the tips I’ve come up with about how to stop being depressed based on the results of the chart. How to Stop Being Depressed during the Pandemic (or in Regular Life) Get a biblical perspective of the situation. From a cultural perspective, there’s nothing good about trials (and a pandemic certainly qualifies as a trial), but from a biblical perspective there is. God uses trials to help us grow: to mature us, build our character, and help us grow closer to Him (James 1:2-4). Also, Jesus reminds us that life is about loving God and loving others. We can still do both during the pandemic, so life isn’t terrible! It’s only terrible when we think life has to be fun and exciting or safe or free to do whatever we feel like doing. If you’re struggling with how to respond to the trial of the pandemic, ask yourself, “How would Jesus respond if He were living in your state or country during a pandemic?” Then don’t get annoyed with your friend or neighbor if they come up with a different answer. Renew your mind as soon as possible when you become upset. There’s lots of different ways we get upset during the pandemic. We’re fearful. We’re annoyed. We’re bored. We’re grieving. And we’re probably regretting some of our coping mechanisms. When we let those negative emotions simmer for too long, they morph into depression. You can avoid that by renewing as soon as possible. Try truth journaling to renew, or answer the questions in I Deserve a Donut (and Other Lies That Make You Eat) or the Renewing of the Mind Project for the emotion you’re experiencing. I Deserve a Donut is also available as a free Android or iOS app. Accept what you need to accept. Often what you need to accept feels unacceptable. But if you can’t change it, you’ll be far happier if we accept it. Here are a few things you may need to accept during the pandemic: 1) you don’t get to make the rules in your state (unless you happen to be the governor of your state), 2) you can’t make everyone do what you think they should do, 3) sometimes you’ll have to put up with regulations you think are really unreasonable, 4) you may have to wear a mask at work now which makes your job WAY less fun, 5) you may miss out on some important things in life because of the regulations in your state or country or because you or your loved ones have COVID, and 6) you may even need to accept the death of a loved one which is incredibly painful. Accepting doesn’t mean we don’t grieve. We need to grieve! But it does mean that we learn to hold that thing we want with open hands, willing to give it up if necessary. Work on making your life the best possible life within the context of what you can’t change. Eat healthy. Exercise. Spend time outside. Call people and visit (maybe go on walks with them by phone). Go on hikes or walks with people. (We’ll be doing a few snowy, wintery hikes over Thanksgiving.) Turn on a great song and dance–by yourself if necessary! Get out every day even if it’s just to run an errand if you feel like you can do that safely. Set goals. Watch a funny movie (but not five funny movies in a row).Make plans. Schedule your day. Ask, “Who can I help or show love to today?” Use this as an opportunity to develop a thankfulness habit. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Paul tells us to rejoice always, and give thanks in ALL circumstances. We can assume that also means during a pandemic. One way to develop this habit is to buy a journal or grab a notebook and write out five different things each day that you’re thankful for. This trains your mind to look for the good in life. They don’t have to be big things. Right now I’m looking out my window and I’m thankful for the little flakes of snow falling from the sky. I’m thankful for the larch in my yard with its rusty Fall needles. And I’m thankful (and shocked!) that I had the discipline to go to the store this morning at 6:30 am before the Thanksgiving rush. Work toward change if you feel so led. Often people will say, “You’re such a defeatist!” if you accept hard things. But here’s the truth: Unless you can change things or unless you’re the type of person that wants to go into politics or research or some other field where you may be able to make a difference, it’s not defeatist to accept things. Often our only choice is to accept things with a good attitude or a bad attitude because like it or not they’re happening. But while you’re doing that (accepting), don’t forget to work on items 2, 4, and 5 above because those are ways you can actually make a difference. #2 is what will lead to #1. That’s about it. I hope some of these things help. Life is hard right now, but it can always be harder so we have lots to be thankful for! If you’re grieving today, take a little time to grieve, but then move on to these other things as life can be better. Also, if you get really depressed, talk to a counselor or a friend. This isn’t a good time to be alone! Resources Mentioned on the Podcast Online Counseling Service: Faithful Counseling. I Deserve a Donut (and Other Lies That Make You Eat) Renewing of the Mind Project I Deserve a Donut app If I’m a Christian, Why Am I Depressed?, by Robert Somerville Rally Bible Study – This is a Bible study on growing through trials. Podcast episode: 7 Ways to Get Closer to God How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” The post How to Stop Being Depressed During the Pandemic (or in Regular Life) appeared first on Barb Raveling.
11 minutes | 5 months ago
10 Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating
Do you ever find yourself putting off a dreaded task for weeks or even months or years? I have been known to procrastinate a 10-minute job for ten years. Thankfully, God is slowly changing me in this area. Here are ten tips I’ve been using to help me stop procrastinating. Hope they help you as well! Note: This was first published as a blog post years ago. I’ve updated the blog post to reflect my current practices and also included a podcast to go with it so you can listen while you’re working on one of those dreaded deeds! 10 Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating Find out why you’re procrastinating. When you feel like procrastinating, ask, “Why am I procrastinating?” Sometimes just hearing the answer to that question will help you stop procrastinating. For example, if the answer is “I don’t know how to do it,” then the first step is to ask someone how to do it or watch a YouTube video. When the reason for procrastination is hazy, we can’t find a solution to the problem because we don’t know what the problem is. Ask, “What’s the first step?” Often, we procrastinate because we see that huge project all at once the minute we think of it. It seems so overwhelming we don’t want to begin. When we only think of the first step, it seems more manageable and we’ll feel like doing it. Break your project into smaller tasks. Sometimes it helps to break the project into little steps before you even start. That way when you ask, “What’s the first step?” you’ll have a ready answer which will make it easier to start. You could even get a project notebook that contains steps for all your projects or use Todoist, Trello, or some other productivity app to create project task lists. Set up your project the night before. Sometimes the hardest thing is to just get the job started. It really helps to lay out everything you need the night before. Something about doing that just makes it easier to start the next morning. This could work for making dinner as well. Decide on what you’re having in the morning, take out some of the ingredients, and it will be easier to start the meal later. Start with an easy, non-threatening task. Sometimes it helps to do an easy task before you tackle your dreaded task just to get your work motors revved up. For example, you could sweep the kitchen or vacuum the floor or walk the dog around the block. Anything to tell your brain that, “Hey, we’re going into work-mode now.” If you do that, set a time to start your hard work. So for example, you might start sweeping at 7:00 and say, “From 7:30 to 8:30, I’ll work on that difficult project.” This will help you get it into your mind that yes, you are going to work on that dreaded project today! Give yourself a pep talk. While you’re doing that easy task, give yourself a pep talk about the hard task. Tell yourself how good it will feel to accomplish it. Tell yourself, “You can do this!” Maybe even picture yourself working cheerfully away at your task. Anything to get you in the mood to do it. When the set time comes to do it, resist the urge to wait “just another five minutes.” Instead, treat it like you’re going to a job outside your home and you have to get there on time! Try to make it as fun as possible. While you’re actually doing the job, try to make it as fun as possible. Put on some great music. Get a friend or family member to work alongside you. Or go to the bakery where it is at least a fun atmosphere and you can have a cup of coffee by your side if it’s something you can do at the bakery. Take advantage of momentum. Have you ever tried to push a car down the street? It’s hardest at the beginning. But once you get it rolling it doesn’t require that much effort. That’s also true of our most dreaded tasks. The hardest part is to get it rolling. Try to work on it every day but Sunday so you can take advantage of the momentum. 9. Be thankful. Do you ever catch yourself complaining when you’re working on a really hard job? Those negative thoughts sap our energy. Reverse them by being thankful. As you do your job say things like, “Thank you, God, for helping me work on this today. Thank you for what you’ll help me accomplish.” 10. Give yourself a reward for finishing the job. Remember the old days when the teacher would give you a sticker for completing your homework assignment? Rewards can motivate us to work, even if they’re small ones. You could give yourself a small reward for each step of the process if the steps themselves are huge, or just give yourself a reward when you finish the whole project. You could even use those cute little stickers and put them next to the tasks on your project list after you complete them! It feels great to accomplish a dreaded project. If you have one of those projects hanging around the house or the office, see if some of these tips will help. Resources Mentioned on the Podcast To-Doist App Freedom from Procrastination. God used the writing of this book to completely change me in the area of procrastination, and I’m hoping He’ll use it to help you as well. The book contains Bible studies as well as practical tips, project lists, weekly to-do charts, and questions and Bible verses to help you renew your mind when you don’t feel like doing the next thing on your to-do list. How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” Discussion: Do you have any other tips for procrastination? Which tips would help you the most? The post 10 Tips to Help You Stop Procrastinating appeared first on Barb Raveling.
24 minutes | 6 months ago
Secrets to Self-Control with Drew Dyck
Do you wonder if there really are secrets to self-control? Do you feel like you’re stuck and just need to live with it? In today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, Secrets to Self-Control with Drew Dyck, I visit with Drew about his book, Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science. Drew gives us some great tips on how to preserve willpower and strengthen self-control even after failing at it over and over again. You’ll find hope for the battle and practical help for the day. Drew Dyck is an acquisitions editor at Moody Publishers and a contributing editor at CTPastors.com, a Christianity Today publication for church leaders. He is the author of three books: Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Church…and how to Bring Them Back, Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying, and Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including USA Today, CNN.com, The Huffington Post, Christianity Today, Books & Culture, and Relevant Magazine. Things We Talked About on the Podcast What got Drew into writing about self-control How to strengthen and grow your self-control and your willpower What to do when your willpower is depleted How to creating bright lines can help with self-control Do we really need self-control as Christians? How to gain self-control with our phones Setting boundaries with phone usage Drew’s advice for the person who keeps failing at strengthening their self-control Quotable Quotes: “If you wallow in that guilt and you just beat yourself up, what follows is actually more bad behavior; so you need to internalize that grace, cut yourself some slack, forgive yourself, and move on from there.” – Drew Dyck “The key is to strive, but to strive with God’s Spirit, instead of against God’s Spirit.” – Drew Dyck Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Your Future Self Will Thank You: Secrets to Self-Control from the Bible and Brain Science (A Guide for Sinners, Quitters, and Procrastinators) by Drew Dyck Generation Ex-Christian: Why Young Adults Are Leaving the Church…and how to Bring Them Back by Drew Dyck Yawning at Tigers: You Can’t Tame God, So Stop Trying by Drew Dyck How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” Connect with Drew Dyck Drew Dyck’s Website Drew Dyck’s Twitter The post Secrets to Self-Control with Drew Dyck appeared first on Barb Raveling.
32 minutes | 7 months ago
How to Mend a Broken Relationship with Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh
Are you struggling in one of your relationships? It could be a friend, an adult child, a sibling or parent, or even a spouse. In today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, I visit with Blythe Daniel and Dr. Helen McIntosh about how to mend a broken relationship. Helen and Blythe are a mother-daughter team who coauthored the book, Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters. Although the book is directed toward mother and daughter relationships, they offer all kinds of tips to mend any strained or broken relationship. Here are a few of the things we’ll be discussing on the podcast. Things We Talked About on the Podcast: How to initiate a conversation about your relationship Sample questions you can use to start a conversation Where to go to have conversations The importance of showing respect and how to show respect in a conversation What to do if it doesn’t seem like the other person wants to talk What to do if you’re trying to mend a relationship with someone who doesn’t like relationships or someone who avoids conflict Three types of forgiveness you need when mending relationships Why there is hope for your relationship Resources We Talked About on the Podcast: Mended: Restoring the Hearts of Mothers and Daughters Our Mended Hearts website – This authors’ website includes all kinds of resources including a printable pdf that includes seven ways to start a conversation to help begin a discussion with the person you’re in a strained relationship with. Just click on the link and scroll down to the freebie section to find that printout and other helpful resources. Anger questions on the I Deserve a Donut app How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” The post How to Mend a Broken Relationship with Blythe Daniel and Helen McIntosh appeared first on Barb Raveling.
18 minutes | 9 months ago
Spiritual Attack: 10 Tips for Spiritual Warfare
When I first started writing, I noticed that I’d often get attacked at different stages of the process–especially when I was beginning something new. I’ve since studied spiritual attack and discovered there are many things we can do to be successful in spiritual warfare. We’ll discuss those things on today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, but I’ll also include the information below in case you don’t have time to listen to the podcast. Examples of Spiritual Attack in the Bible There are four different stories in the Bible about Satan influencing or interacting with people.We’ll go into these more in depth on the podcast, but I’ve listed the Scripture passages below so you can read these on your own. Eve – Genesis 3:1-8 Job – Job 1:6-12 Jesus – Matthew 4:1-11 Peter – Luke 22:31-32 Types of Spiritual Attack There are two different types of spiritual attack shown in the Bible–a physical attack and an attack of the mind. Here are examples of each: Physical: Satan attacked Job’s health, his crops, his animals, and his family. Mental: With Eve, Satan made sin look attractive and caused her to question God’s goodness and reasonableness and also God’s commands. With Jesus, Satan tempted Him to turn the stones into bread, throw himself from the top of the temple, and to gain all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. With Peter, Satan tempted him to worry about what people would think and to focus on his own safety rather than being there for Jesus. What can we learn from people who were attacked in the Bible? Satan often attacks at the start of things. Eve was attacked at the beginning of the world. Jesus was attacked at the beginning of his ministry, and Peter was attacked at the beginning of a new phase of ministry–one without the physical presence of Jesus there. We’re like the people in the Bible–we often experience spiritual attack at the beginning of a new ministry, a new job, a new phase of a relationship (such as married life), or a new try at breaking free from a bad habit or sin. Satan often attacks when we’re weak. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says,”Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour.” Prowling lions don’t go for the strongest animal in the group. They go for the one who is weak. The one who is separated from the group. The one is vulnerable to attack. So at different stages in our lives when we’re super discouraged or alone or sick or weak in some way, that’s when we’re most open to attack. We see this in the Bible. Satan attacked Jesus when he was hungry from 40 days of fasting. He attacked Peter when Jesus was being tried and it looked like everything was going south for their ministry. If Satan attacks, it’s not a sign that you’re a bad Christian. Sometimes when we’re struggling with temptation, we think, oh, I’m such a bad Christian, but this isn’t true. Jesus told us we’d have trials in this life and Romans 3:23 tells us we’re all sinners. The truth is, we’ll be tempted until the day we die, and we’ll give into temptation until the day we die. Yes, we need to work on growth and gaining victory in our areas of sin, but we also need to realize we won’t be perfect until we see Jesus face to face. Satan often attacks people who are strong in their faith. Satan is an equal opportunity attacker. He’ll attack us when we’re weak, but he’ll also attack us when we’re strong as he wants strong people to become weak. Just look at the people Satan attacked in the Bible: Peter, Eve, Job, and even Jesus. Those were all people who were strong in their faith and had close walks with God. Satan uses lies and condemnation as a weapon. Revelations 12:10 tells us that Satan is the accuser of the brethren. John 8:44 tells us he is the father of lies. He uses lies and condemnation as weapons. That’s why it’s so important for us to renew our minds–to get those lies and condemnation out of our system! Sometimes you’ll suffer for a long time and not feel close to God. When Satan attacked Job, Job suffered for a long time. He started out strong but then he wavered. That often happens when we go through a trial that seems to last forever. It may be easy to stay strong in the beginning, but when it goes on and on and on, we begin to lose hope. That’s when we need to persevere and stay steadfast–keep going to God and His Word for help even though it’s hard to do. You’re not the only one going through this. Sometimes we feel all alone and think we’re the only ones going through trials, temptations, and struggles because we don’t see our friends struggling. But 1 Peter 5:8-9 tells us to resist Satan, staying firm in our faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by our brotherhood (and sisterhood) throughout the world. So even if we don’t see the suffering, it’s happening. People don’t always broadcast their struggles so don’t get discouraged if you feel like you’re the only one. How to Fight Spiritual Attack Although it can be discouraging to experience spiritual attack, it’s also a good opportunity to grow. If we want to grow, though, we need to fight. Here are some ways to resist spiritual attack based on the four examples of spiritual attack in the Bible: Use Scripture. That’s what Jesus did. Every time Satan gave Him a temptation, Jesus answered with Scripture. So whatever area it is that you’re being attacked in, try to memorize some Bible verses to help. That way, when those thoughts come into your head, you can hit them with Bible verses. Try not to feel sorry for yourself. It’s easy to feel sorry for ourselves when everything is going wrong, but just think of Job. After the first wave of bad things happened, Job said, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job didn’t understand the whole picture (it was Satan that destroyed everything, not God), but he had the right attitude. He continued to trust God and worship Him even when things were going wrong. Don’t leave the church. I think it would have been easy for Peter to leave the church after denying Christ because he probably felt like a failure. It also would have been easy for Job to leave the church because his fellow believers were so judgy when they came to help him (Job 4-23). But here’s the truth: we need each other. Our only choice is to fellowship with imperfect Christians and to be an imperfect Christian ourselves. There is no perfect church, but we still need the church. Wild animals who leave their packs are vulnerable to attack, and we’re also more vulnerable to attack when we’re not in regular fellowship with other believers. Close relationships with people you can share everything with is important. Don’t beat yourself up and say what a terrible Christian you are. Revelations 12:10 tells us that Satan accuses the saints. So try not to beat yourself up when you give into temptation. We do that when we say, “Oh, I can’t believe what a bad Christian I am because I did that.” Just confess your sins and move on, believing Romans 8:1 that tells us there’s no condemnation in Christ and 1 John 1:9 that tells us He’ll forgive us if we confess our sins. Don’t believe everything your friends tell you. Remember Job’s friends? They weren’t speaking God’s words to him. It’s good to ask for advice and read Christian books, but we need to be careful to sift everything we hear (including anything I say or write) through what we’ve heard in the Bible to see if it lines up with truth. Don’t hide from God. Often we feel like avoiding God when we’re struggling with sin or doubt. We think, I’ll get myself fixed up first, then I’ll go to God. That’s exactly what Satan wants us to do, because that keeps us from getting the help we need from God. Hebrews 4:15-16 tells us that Jesus understands what we’re going through because He’s experienced all the same temptations! He wants us to come to Him for help. Renew your mind, fighting lies with truth. The sooner we go to God for help and perspective on our daily troubles the better. I find that when I go to Him right away when I’m feeling a little upset during the day, He helps me get over it quickly–but when I wait until the end of the day when I’m completely discouraged, it’s far harder to get over it because my mind has been inundated with lies all day. If you need help with ways to renew your mind, check out the renewing of the mind tools tab at the top of this website. Spend more time with God than usual where when you’re in a season where you need it. Jesus had all kinds of all-night prayer sessions with God during His ministry. My guess is that He needed that extra time with Him. If we’re going through an intense trial or temptation, we also need more time with God than usual to stay close to Him and also to grow and mature as Christians. Resist. Years ago, I took a woman’s self defense class. The teacher (who also happened to be our pastor) told us that if a person fights back, most attackers will flee–but surprisingly, a lot of people don’t fight back. When we’re spiritually attacked, it’s essential to fight back. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil and he will flee. We need to make the effort to resist even though it’s much easier to go watch something on Netflix or have a bite to eat. Follow the tips in Ephesians 6:10-20. When I recorded this podcast, I was thinking of tips learned from watching Eve, Job, Jesus, and Peter during their spiritual attack. But one of the best sections of Scripture for spiritual attack is found in Ephesians 6:10-20. Check those tips out for more help. One last thing I’d say is that not all temptations and struggles come from Satan. In my Bible study Rally, I list all kinds of reasons for trials and temptations. That said, we don’t really need to know where the struggle is coming from because the solution is the same regardless. Go to God for help. That’s something we can all do. Check out the resources below the following image for some Bible studies that will help, plus you can check out the Bible study tab at the top of this blog for printable Bible studies. Spiritual Warfare Resources We Talked About on the Podcast: Bible verses (see at the bottom of this blog post) Spiritual Warfare Bible Study Spiritual Warfare Bible Verse Personal Application Chart Renewing of the Mind Tools Tab (see the colorful tabs at the top of my website) How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Amazon Alexa: To listen on Amazon Alexa, say, “Alexa, play the Christian Habits Podcast.” Bible Verses about Spiritual Warfare 2 Corinthians 10:3-5 (ESV) For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ James 4:7 (ESV) Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 1 Peter 5:8-9(ESV) Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. Revelations 12: 10(ESV) And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. John 8:44(ESV) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 2 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV) But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. Ephesians 6:10-18 (ESV)Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. The post Spiritual Attack: 10 Tips for Spiritual Warfare appeared first on Barb Raveling.
31 minutes | 10 months ago
Building Racial Unity – A Conversation between Friends with Ngina Otiende
Have you ever been hurt by prejudice? Or have you watched others dealing with prejudice and wondered how you can help? On today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, I visit with my friend Ngina Otiende about how to heal and help. Ngina and her husband moved to the United States from Kenya nine years ago, so they’ve experienced life as both a majority and a minority. On the podcast, we’ll visit about some of the differences between living life as a majority and a minority, plus talk about some ideas for how to help build unity. Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Ngina’s blog: IntentionalToday.com Unashamed and Free Podcast How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Ngina Otiende is a Certified Marriage Breakthrough Coach, author, and blogger. Ngina helps newlywed wives navigate the early years of marriage at IntentionalToday.com. The post Building Racial Unity – A Conversation between Friends with Ngina Otiende appeared first on Barb Raveling.
36 minutes | a year ago
Allen Arnold: Life with God vs. Life for God
Do you ever find yourself going about your daily work and not remembering God is there? I do sometimes. It’s easy to do when we get busy. On today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, Allen Arnold talks about how to do life with God–remembering Him throughout the day and visiting with Him about life and work. When we visit with God throughout the day, life goes much better. First, He helps us to do things we can’t do in our own strength. Second, we enjoy life more. And finally, we grow closer to God as we learn to rely on Him and look to Him for support. Here are a few of the topics we discussed on the podcast: Topics We Discussed on the Podcast What it looks like do life with God on a practical level How to pursue growth without feeling like you have to be perfect Living each day with expectancy vs. expectations A Christian definition of success How to do life with God when you’re pursuing a goal you’ve failed at before. Resources We Talked About on the Podcast The Story of With by Allen Arnold How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here Allen Arnold is the executive producer of content for Ransomed Heart Ministries with John Eldredge. He currently speaks to groups on the subjects of identity, creativity, and intimacy with God. The post Allen Arnold: Life with God vs. Life for God appeared first on Barb Raveling.
36 minutes | a year ago
Breaking Free from Idolatry with Brad Bigney
I first came across Brad Bigney’s material at a biblical counseling conference in Bozeman, Montana. Brad had written a book on breaking free from idolatry and I found his material super helpful. Today, I’m excited to have him on the Christian Habits Podcast. Here are a few of the topics we’ll be discussing: Topics We Talked About on the Podcast What is idolatry? Do you have idols? How do you know what your idols are? What are three questions you can ask to determine whether or not something is an idol? How does idolatry affect your relationships and marriage? How do you break free from idolatry? How do you get to the point where you’re willing to let things go? Brad is an ordained minister with the Evangelical Free Church of America, and is a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary, with his Master of Divinity. He’s a certified biblical counselor with ACBC (Assoc. of Certified Biblical Counselors), author of the book Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols, as well as a national conference speaker. He and his wife, Vicki, have been married since 1986 and have five adult children. Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Gospel Treason: Betraying the Gospel with Hidden Idols by Brad Bigney Brad’s website: bradbigney.com Brad’s sermon series on Idolatry Lost in the Middle by Paul Tripp Other Resources for Breaking Free from Idolatry Counterfeit Gods, by Timothy Keller Motives: Why Do I do What I do?, by Ed Welch Barb’s blog series on Idolatry How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here The post Breaking Free from Idolatry with Brad Bigney appeared first on Barb Raveling.
20 minutes | a year ago
How to Avoid Gaining Weight during Coronavirus
One of the things we tend to do during hard times is head to the refrigerator for comfort, excitement, or stress relief. The other night, the only thing that saved me from that was that I had no treats in the house–and didn’t want to go out to buy any with the coronavirus going around! To help with this, I thought I’d do a podcast episode on how to avoid gaining weight during the coronavirus. How to Listen to the Podcast: Click here to subscribe or listen on Apple podcasts Click here to subscribe or listen on Google Play Click here to subscribe or listen on Stitcher. Click here to subscribe or listen on Android. Click here to subscribe or listen on Spotify. Resources We Talked About on the Podcast: How to Truth Journal Routines vs. Schedules: How to Organize Your Time Other Resources for Procrastination My Interview on the Homeschool Sanity Podcast with Homeschooling Tips Facebook Live Videos (You can also watch replays of these by clicking on the previous link. Next week I’ll be doing daily FB Lives Monday-Friday at 1:00 EST) My Facebook Page I Deserve a Donut app Things We Talked About on the Podcast: Practical tips to help if you’re busier than normal Practical tips if you’re newly working from home Practical tips if you’re just experiencing the general stress of the pandemic These will be tips to structure your life to avoid emotional eating (which will help you avoid gaining weight during coronavirus) and also tips to avoid eating so much. Lies and truth that will help you renew your mind Lies We Talked About on the Podcast: Life is so boring and it will always be boring. I can’t make myself work at home. (We’ll have a FB Live on this topic next week.) I deserve to eat because life is boring. I’ll just eat something and then I’ll start working. I’m so busy I deserve a treat. I’m so busy I don’t have time to plan. I’m so busy I deserve to eat since I’m suffering like crazy while the rest of the world does nothing. (One thing I forgot to mention in the podcast is a big shout out and THANK YOU to all of you who are putting yourself in harm’s way to go to your jobs and help people! I appreciate all of you!) I can’t handle all this pressure. This will last forever. Why This Episode Is on Both Podcasts: Basically, it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing! Usually I have a helper put these podcasts out, but she can’t do it right now due to the coronavirus, so I’m taking her place – and I don’t know what I’m doing. So I thought better safe than sorry, and I’ll just leave it as is – so enjoy it on either podcast (Taste for Truth or Christian Habits). It will be the same episode either way! The post How to Avoid Gaining Weight during Coronavirus appeared first on Barb Raveling.
13 minutes | a year ago
Coronavirus Anxiety, Stress, and Boredom: 6 Tips + Facebook Live
Earlier this week, I was sitting at a restaurant in the Denver airport having a cup of coffee and journaling. I’d already sanitized my hands, checked the news for Montana (6 cases), and was wondering if I should sanitize my hands again since I’d just picked up the cream pitcher to pour cream in my coffee. As I took all these unusual precautions, I thought of you guys and wondered, How are you doing with coronavirus anxiety? Note: My fork is on my journal so it doesn’t pick up germs from the table! Are you in a frenzy? Taking precautions but not super anxious? Or are you blowing the whole thing off and living life as usual? No matter which camp you fall into, we’re all affected by Covid-19. Either we’re in immediate danger of the virus itself, someone we love is in danger, or we’re affected by all the closures. It’s no longer life as usual. On today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, we’ll be talking about six tips for letting go of coronavirus anxiety, stress, and boredom. These are the tips we’ll be discussing: 6 Tips to Ease Coronavirus Anxiety, Stress, Fear, and Boredom (We’ll go into these more in depth on the podcast. Scroll down to see how to listen to the podcast.) Stay away from the news as much as possible (at least if you tend to be a worrier). Visit with God about the things you read. Renew when necessary. Plan your day. Place your trust in God–not fun, safety, health, or being in control. Every time you catch yourself being worried, bored, or stressed, pray for the person you’re worried about, thank God for five different things, or do something for someone who needs help. Facebook Live I’ll also be doing 3-5 minute Facebook lives for the next few weeks on Monday through Friday (and maybe Saturday) beginning Monday, March 23 at 11:00 EST. You can find these on my Facebook author page. I think if you click the like and follow button, notices of these FB lives will appear in your notifications (you can turn the notifications off if you don’t want to be notified). You can also catch the replay of these later by going to my Facebook page and looking in the posts for that day or clicking on videos on that page. During the FB Lives, we’ll be going through Philippians and discussing things like: Finding peace in the midst of chaos Not beating ourselves up when we’re not handling things well Persevering (and tips) for handling things better Loving each other Growth vs. grumpy Getting along with each other in close quarters (both in parenting and marriage) How to stop coping with food and internet How new trials such as coronavirus quarantine and potential illness affect our walk with God, our attitude, and our habits An antidote to worry How to dwell on the good Free Coaching and Daily Challenges At the beginning of each Facebook Live, I’ll let you know if I have any openings for coaching that day – and then you can leave a comment on the video if you’d like to coach. These coaching calls can be used for help with things like marriage, parenting, fear, anxiety, and procrastination. (I won’t be doing any weight loss coaching during those calls.) I’ll probably only have 5-6 openings each week but I’m hoping I can help a few of you at least. I’ll also include a daily challenge at the end of each Facebook Live based on the topic for that day. Hope to see you Monday morning on Facebook! How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast: To listen to today’s podcast, click on the links below: To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here The post Coronavirus Anxiety, Stress, and Boredom: 6 Tips + Facebook Live appeared first on Barb Raveling.
28 minutes | a year ago
11 Tips for Making Decisions Peacefully
Do you ever agonize over decisions for days or even years? Do you wait until the last possible moment to make the decision so you can keep your options open? Do decisions stress you out? If so, today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast will help. We’ll be talking about how to make decisions peacefully. I’ve also included a chance to renew your mind at the end of the podcast with the decision questions from The Renewing of the Mind Project for a decision you’re currently struggling with. Following are the 11 tips we’ll be discussing in case you don’t have time to catch the podcast. 11 Tips for Making Decisions Recognize that there are no perfect decisions. Often we head into a decision not just wanting to make a decision, but wanting to make the best decision possible: the perfect decision. Because there are no perfect decisions out there, we take forever to make the decision. After all, we’re sure that if we just wait long enough the perfect solution will present itself. It’s critical at the beginning of the decision making process to recognize that there are no perfect decisions. Each choice will have its advantages and disadvantages. That’s why the next tip is so important. Limit your options. One of the reasons we have such a hard time making decisions is because we have too many options. If you can narrow down the choices, it will be easier to make the decision. For example, when my friend Lauren and I used to go over to each others house after grade school, one of us would choose three games to play. The other person would narrow it down to two, then the person who started would eliminate the other. It was an easy way to decide which game to play. Make a deadline for the decision and try to stick to the deadline. This is huge. Often we put off decisions for years that could easily be made much sooner. When we do that, we have constant low-grade stress hanging over us because the decision is always there in the background. If you don’t want to make the decision now, just say, “I’m going to keep going as is and then revisit this decision in a year.” Then don’t think about it until next year. Which leads to the next tip. Set a timer and only think about the decision when the timer is running. Too often we wear ourselves out thinking about the decision for hours on end. To avoid this energy drain, set a timer. You have x number of minutes to think and pray about your decision. When the buzzer rings, time’s up. No more thinking about the decision until your next decision-making session. Use helpful tools and ask friends or mentors for advice. Here are a few things you can do in your decision-making sessions: Make a pro and con chart. Answer the decision questions from the Renewing of the Mind Project. Ask some friends for advice. Ask yourself, “What’s my gut feeling?” These are all helpful ways to gain input. You can also use the decision making template or problem solving worksheet that I often use, which you can find at this link: Resources from Freedom from Procrastination Bible Study. Pray for a set amount of time. If it’s an important decision, you may want to make a commitment to pray about it for a few hours. I did this with the last book I wrote. I made a plan to pray for three hours before I chose the topic of the next book. I did this in 15 and 30 minute increments, often while walking. I felt far better about my decision than I usually do (and also didn’t quit writing it halfway through like I often do) because I took so much time to pray about it. That said, it’s possible you’ll pray for three hours and still not have a feel for what God wants you to do. This leads to the next tip. Recognize that God doesn’t always care what decision you make. God gave us free will at great sacrifice to Himself. Why? Because He knew we would use our free will to hurt others and ourselves. If He knew we’d use free will to hurt ourselves, and maybe even walk away from Him, why would He give it to us? I think He gave it to us because He didn’t want us to be perpetual teenagers. He wanted us to be free to make our own decisions. Often He’ll have some boundaries for us but will give us free will for us within those boundaries. So for example with marriage, He tells us not to marry an unbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14), but He never tells us to make sure we marry the exact person He wants us to marry. I’ll expound more on this in the podcast. Renew Your Mind: When we take the time to renew our mind, we’re taking the time to see the situation from God’s perspective. Doing that often helps us realize that it’s really not that big of a deal what we decide. And for the important decisions, renewing helps us remember that life is about God–not about making perfect decisions. If you want some questions to help you see your decision from a biblical perspective, try the Decision Making and God’s Will questions. (We’ll be using these questions at the end of the podcast to renew.) Find out why you’re so obsessed with the perfect decision. When I renew, I often find I’m caring more about something than God wants me to care about it. If we’re stressed out by decision making, usually it’s because we want something: fun, success, comfort, approval, or even the best decision possible. The more we learn to make life about God, the less we’ll worry about perfect decisions. This leads to the next step. Remember that you don’t need to make perfect decisions (and have a perfect life) to be happy. Often we feel like we have to make the perfect decision so we can have the best life possible. But here’s the truth: The best life possible is a life lived with God–loving Him with all your heart, soul, and mind. And after that, loving your neighbor as yourself. And joy comes from walking with the Spirit, not having a perfect lifestyle, perfect spouse, perfect job, etc! That’s a super hopeful truth. Go ahead and make your best decision, but then let it go, knowing that you don’t need perfect decisions to have a great life. Make the decision and hold the outcome with open hands. Once you make the decision, embrace it! Dwell on the good of the choice you actually made. For example, if you decided to marry one person, don’t think about how great that other person was that you used to date. Following are 4 things to accept, which will help you embrace your decision. 4 Things to Accept About Making Decisions You can’t make everyone happy. Yes that’s sad, but true. Different people want different decisions. Try to ask, “What would God want,” since He’s the best person to make happy? You can’t always know God’s will. It’s important to ask God what He wants but we also have to face the fact that we can’t always know what He wants. I’ll expound more about this in the podcast. There are no perfect choices. Often we want the best decision possible, but here’s the truth: there are no perfect choices. I’ve come to realize that usually there are a few 90s but rarely a 100. Each option has a different 90 and a different 10. Choose your 90. (I talk more about this in the podcast.) Your decision may not turn out well. If it doesn’t turn out well, that doesn’t necessarily mean you made a bad decision. You just made a decision with what you knew at the time, which was incomplete knowledge. You also made a decision at your then-current maturity level. You might make a different choice now. Thankfully we know that God causes all things to work together for the good to those who love Him – so we can sit back, breathe a sigh of relief, and thank God that He can redeem anything! How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast: To listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen and subscribe on Android: click here To listen and subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen and subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here The post 11 Tips for Making Decisions Peacefully appeared first on Barb Raveling.
29 minutes | a year ago
How to Use Habit Stacking to Create Habits with Ian Warner
Do you ever feel like you’d like to start a new habit but you just can’t make yourself do it? In today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, I interview Ian Warner, an expert on habit stacking. Ian created a habit tracking app. Interestingly enough, the number one positive habit that people want to build is reading the Bible each morning. Ian Warner is a follower of Christ, Olympic athlete, NCAA all-American, and the author of two books. In the podcast, he gives a wealth of information and ideas on how to use habit stacking to start habits that are hard to start. Here are a few of the things we discuss on the podcast: Tips for starting a quiet time habit. How to habit stack—adding the habits we want to start to the habits or activities we already have in place. The value of starting out small. Habit stacking during those difficult times of the days such as the 3:00 mid-afternoon slump. How to use rewards to get yourself to do new habits. Using times such as the morning “making-your-coffee” session to set yourself up for success. Resources we talked about on the Podcast: Ian’s App – https://apps.apple.com/us/app/wewake-morning-routine-habits/id1445178269 Ian’s Book for Athletes – https://www.amazon.com/Endure-Athletes-Guide-Faith-Success/dp/0692232443/ref=sr_1_1?tag=habitstacker-20 Ian’s Website – https://thehabitstacker.com/ Ian’s Course – https://habitmastery.thinkific.com Freedom from Procrastination Bible Study I Deserve a Donut app How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast: To listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen and subscribe on Android: click here To listen and subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen and subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here The post How to Use Habit Stacking to Create Habits with Ian Warner appeared first on Barb Raveling.
57 minutes | a year ago
Breaking Free from Strongholds with Neil Anderson
On today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, I interview Neil Anderson about gaining freedom in Christ. Neil Anderson is the author of many best-selling books including The Bondage Breaker and Victory Over the Darkness. He writes and speaks worldwide, helping people resolve personal and spiritual conflicts. Here are just a few of the things we’ll be discussing on today’s podcast: What a stronghold is and how to break free from strongholds. The steps to freedom in Christ. Why it’s important to know who we are in Christ The difference between identifying ourselves as sinners saved by grace or saints who sin How unforgiveness affects us and why we need to forgive The importance of replacing lies with truth The importance of letting go of rebellion and submitting to God How the things we learn in childhood affect us. Tips from Neil Anderson Podcast Here are two tips I got from Neil’s podcast that I thought were super helpful: Go through the Steps to Freedom in Christ that are in his books. Neil said that if you want information, you should read the book. If you want transformation, do the Steps to Freedom in Christ with God because we need an encounter with God if we want transformation. Try reading through the “Who Am I in Christ” once a day for 30 days. Neil gave a great example on the podcast of a person who was transformed by doing this. Click here for a downloadable PDF: Who I Am in Christ Resources We Talked About on the Podcast Victory Over the Darkness Freedom from Fear The Bondage Breaker Freedom from Addiction A Way of Escape: Freedom from Sexual Strongholds Managing Your Anger How to Truth Journal Other Helpful Resources from Neil Anderson Great free resources from Neil’s website Steps to Freedom in Christ How to Listen to the Podcast To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here The post Breaking Free from Strongholds with Neil Anderson appeared first on Barb Raveling.
18 minutes | a year ago
How to Overcome Fear of Failure – 7 Steps
A few weeks ago, I asked members of my Facebook page if they were afraid of failure. I was overwhelmed by the responses. It seems that I’m not the only one out there who fears failure! In today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, we’ll talk about seven steps you can take to overcome fear of failure. But first let’s look at some of the things we’re afraid of. Examples of Fear of Failure Here are just a few of the examples Facebook readers gave of the areas where they were afraid of failure. Trying weight loss again after so many defeats. Messing up at work. Trying to be social and being or feeling rejected. Starting your own company and having it not work. Making decisions because you might make the wrong one. Deciding to resign and stay at home with the kids. Losing weight and then gaining it back. Raising kids. There’s no end to the things we could come up with in the fear of failure arena. Let’s take a look at how to overcome fear of failure. If you’d rather listen to this as an expanded podcast episode on the Christian Habits Podcast, click on the links below. Keep reading for the blog post version. To listen or subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen or subscribe on Android: click here To listen or subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen or subscribe on Google Play: click here To listen or subscribe on Spotify: click here How to Overcome Fear of Failure 1. Find out what you’re afraid of and why you’re afraid of it. We can’t fight something until we know what we’re fighting. Thus the first step in overcoming fear of failure is to ask yourself, “What am I most afraid of?” and “Why am I afraid of that?” Naming your fear will help you take the next step which is to evaluate your fear. Here’s an example: I’m afraid whenever I publish a new book. When I ask the question, “What am I most afraid of?” my answer is that I’m afraid someone will write a horrible review on Amazon berating me up and down for how terrible my book is. When I ask the next question, “Why am I afraid of that,” I answer with “then no one else will buy my book” and “all of my friends and family will read the negative review and think I’m a loser.” I’m not the only author with these fears, but there are many who don’t feel this way. I was talking to one very successful artist a few months ago and he told me that every time he finishes a painting he thinks its great and that everyone will love it. By the time I finish a book, I usually think it’s terrible and that everyone will hate it. This is probably the main reason I’m so bad at doing book launches – I’m afraid to put the new book out there. Often our fears are shaped by our childhood. When I was young, I had two different experiences where I did something in a public way and got yelled at for not doing it perfectly enough. Thankfully, God has given us wonderful brains we can use to evaluate those things we believe and see if they’re true. This leads to the next step. 2. See if your fears are realistic. When we have a nameless fear it’s pretty easy to be convinced that what we fear will take place. But when we name it, we often realize that oh, that’s probably not going to happen. This is helpful. For example, when I tell myself there’s a less than 1% chance of my fear coming true, it’s easier to see that it’s ridiculous to worry about it. And easier to stop worrying. Let’s see how this works with my publishing example: Is it true that no one else will buy my book if I have a terrible review for it? No, that’s not true unless 1) all of the reviews for the book are bad or 2) there aren’t enough good reviews to counteract the bad ones. It’s also true that God is really in charge of all of this, not me, and my only responsibility is to do my best to write the book He wants me to write. The rest is up to Him. Is it true that all of my friends and family will think I’m a loser if there’s as terrible review? No! First of all, I would guess that none of them even read my reviews – and if they did, they’ll feel sorry for me and love me – not berate me and think I’m terrible. This is true for you guys, too. If you fail in a public way, people will still love you. Most people will be compassionate and feel bad for you. People care far more about your character and how you interact with them than they care about how successful you are in some arena of life. That said, it’s still possible that people will judge you if you fail or that there will be other consequences of failure. That’s why we need the next step. 3. Hold success with open hands (or let go of your have-to-haves). We’ll never be able to let go of the fear of failure if we’re not willing to have our fears come true. When we set out to do something scary, there’s no “guaranteed success with the project” option. We have to step into the project knowing we could fail. Because of that, the more we hold success with open hands, willing to fail, the less scared we’ll be. It will be easier to do this if we take the next step. 4. Look at your fears from a biblical perspective. Here’s what happens when we look at our fears from a biblical perspective: we usually realize that we’ve been barking up the wrong tree. We’re either caring about things God doesn’t care about (like looking good in the eyes of the world) or caring too much about things God does care about. In my example, God just wants me to love people and serve them by writing. His definition of success is so much easier than my own definition because I’m successful each day I work on the book and the minute I publish it. Even if I get a million bad reviews and no one buys the book. I’m also successful even if I don’t write – which leads to the next point: 5. Find your identity in who you are rather than what you do. Try to remember that whatever you’re trying to succeed at – that’s just a little part of who you are. So for example in my case, I’m not only a writer. I’m a child of God. He loves me and created me as a unique person, different than everyone else. It can help to look at those differences because they’re part of who we are. So in my case, I’m not just a writer. I’m also an outdoorsy person who loves to hike and camp and backpack and kayak and ski. I’m a wife and a retired homeschool mom with four kids. I’m also a person who loves to read and play games. And I’m an extrovert who loves meeting new people and visiting with them. Writing is just one of the things I do, it’s not who I am. 6. Remember that the spirit-controlled you is better than the non-spirit-controlled you, but that’s a work in progress for all of us. It’s also helpful to remember that we’re all works in progress. Often our sinful and fragile human selves show through. People see things in us that are worthy of condemnation. They may speak those things and they may be true. But rather than beating ourselves up, we can go to God for comfort, strength, perspective, love and finally, for help to change those things that need to be changed. That’s why it’s so important to take this last step: 7. Keep your eyes on Jesus. As you work on your goals, try to remember that Jesus is the main goal. Hebrews 12:2 tells us to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Jesus knows what it’s like to experience failure in the world’s eyes. But his failure led to great success for all of us in being willing to come to God and have our sins forgiven. That’s what’s really important in life – not success with our projects. If God wants us to succeed, He’ll help us succeed. And if we don’t succeed, it’s not a big deal because Jesus is the our main goal. And we already have Him! More Help If you’d like more help to overcome fear of failure, check out the Week 5 Bible study in Freedom from Procrastination. The post How to Overcome Fear of Failure – 7 Steps appeared first on Barb Raveling.
24 minutes | a year ago
How to Hold Onto Your Faith When Life Is Hard with Michele Cushatt
How do you hold onto your faith when it seems like God has disappeared? Whether in struggle, illness, death, or failure, the presence of pain is often so overwhelming it can drown out God’s voice. On today’s episode of the Christian Habits Podcast, I visit with Michele Cushatt who offers hope and faith for times when life is so hard we can’t always feel God’s presence. A three-time head and neck cancer survivor, Michele is a (reluctant) expert of trauma, pain and the deep human need for authentic connection. Michele shares her story on the podcast and also helps us with the following questions: Why doesn’t God take away the pain? What do you do on the days when the emotional and/or physical pain feels devastating? How do you deal with the doubts about your faith that often accompany relentless pain? How do you deal with the fairness issue–when it seems like everyone else has great lives and you’re stuck with this hard life? What final advice do you have for the person who is suffering? Relentless, by Michele Cushatt Michele also discusses these questions and more in her new book, Relentless: The Unshakeable Presence of a God Who Never Leaves. Like the Old Testament story of Joshua’s altar of twelve stones, Relentless delivers twelve key biblical stories that demonstrate God’s unfailing presence. Each chapter offers an invitation to identify a “stone” in your own life as tangible evidence of God’s nearness. With the turn of the last page, you will have discovered twelve markers of your own, an altar of memory to carry you through questions and losses, even ones yet to come. Where to Find Michele Cushatt Online WEBSITE: michelecushatt.com SPEAKING: http://www.michelecushatt.com/speaking/ FACEBOOK: facebook.com/michelecushatt/ TWITTER: twitter.com/michelecushatt INSTAGRAM: instagram.com/michelecushatt How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast: To listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen and subscribe on Android: click here To listen and subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen and subscribe on Google Play: click here The post How to Hold Onto Your Faith When Life Is Hard with Michele Cushatt appeared first on Barb Raveling.
13 minutes | a year ago
How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed – 5 Steps
Do you ever feel like you have a million things to do, but you only have time and energy for about three things? Do you often ignore the important things in life because you’re too busy doing the million things in life? If so, you’re in the same boat as most of us. We’ve all experienced this at some point. The question is, “How do you stop feeling overwhelmed when you have a million things to do?” We’ll be talking about that today in the Christian Habits Podcast (but I’ve also included a summary below if you don’t have time to listen to the podcast). How to Listen to the Christian Habits Podcast: To listen and subscribe on Apple Podcasts: click here To listen and subscribe on Android: click here To listen and subscribe on Stitcher: click here To listen and subscribe on Google Play: click here How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed 1. Do the important things first. In Dr. Stephen Covey’s book First Things First, he gives an example of how to put a few big rocks and lots of little rocks and pebbles into a jar. If you start with the big rocks and fill in with the little rocks and pebbles, it works. But if you start with the pebbles and fill in with the big rocks, they don’t all fit. In like manner, when we focus our lives on all the little details, we ignore the important things we need to do (the big rocks) and that completely stresses us out. We can avoid that by starting the day with this question: What are the three most important things I need to do today? 2. Don’t let others choose your important things. Often we let other people answer that question for us. We’ll open an email and all of a sudden that email item is first on our list. We spend an hour working on it, ignoring our other to-dos, even though the email to-do wasn’t all that important. Or we’ll get involved in projects and goals that aren’t important to us–all because someone else wants us to do them or we feel like we should do them. Sometimes when we feel like we should do something, it’s legitimate. God wants us to do that thing too. But other times it’s not legitimate. It’s on our list only because others want it on our list or because experts tell us we should do that thing. This happens on a daily basis, but it also happens on a monthly and yearly basis. If you look at your life, you may find all kinds of things in it that don’t belong there. Not because they’re bad things, but because we don’t have time to do them. 3. Eliminate the things that don’t belong on your list. Sometimes we’re overwhelmed because we’re procrastinating or not managing our time well, but other times we’re overwhelmed because we really do have too much on our plate. We’re trying to fit too many huge rocks into that quart-sized jar. When that happens we need to take a close look at our lives and visit with God about what to keep and what to eliminate. If you need help with this, I have a chapter on reducing overwhelm in my Freedom from Procrastination Bible study. 4. Don’t let the little things distract you. This happened to me when I was writing this blog post/podcast. I had the outline all ready and turned on my computer to start typing. Then I thought, I wonder if I’ve ever written on this topic before? So I did a search, and sure enough, I had a blog post on it. I started reading it, wondered if that outline was better, and before I knew it, 15 minutes was wasted. This happens to me all the time, and I’m guessing it does to you too! We have so many options for distraction these days, it’s not even funny. Since a whole post could be written on how to focus, I won’t go into that here. Just be aware that this is something to think about and keep reeling yourself back in when you find yourself being distracted. 5. Go to God for help. Last but not least, we need to go to God for help. Philippians 4:13 tells us, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Here’s the problem, though. When we read that verse, we have a tendency to focus on the “I can do all things” part of that verse, and we use it as proof that we can do all things. We forget that the important part of that verse is the second half: “In Him who strengthens me!” It takes time to go to God for strengthening, just like it takes time to go to the gym for strengthening. We don’t get strong by walking into a gym and looking at the weights; we get strong by walking into the gym and interacting with the weights consistently and time-consumingly. It’s like that with God. The more we interact with Him and actually take the time to develop a habit of relying on Him–the more we’ll be able to do, because He will strengthen us to do it. So what does that look like on a practical basis? For me, it’s taking the time to renew my mind when I feel like I can’t do the next thing on my list. God speaks truth to me and strengthens me, and by the end of our visit I actually feel like doing the next thing on the list. If you’d like some help with going to God for that strengthening, see below. Freedom from Procrastination Bible Study Online Classes If you need help with the relying part of your relationship with God, I’ve just published a new Bible study called Freedom from Procrastination that will help you develop the habit of relying on God for your daily to-dos. I’ll be teaching both an evening and a daytime class with the study beginning the week of November 4, 2019. For more info on those classes, click here: Freedom from Procrastination Classes The post How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed – 5 Steps appeared first on Barb Raveling.
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