Wednesday, February 25, 2009

How to Handle Worry

Have you been under alot of stress lately? Do you find yourself worrying alot about the future? I corresponded with a friend recently about worry and thought this might give you some encouragement today.

When you worry...

1) Don't forget who is in control.

When you worry remember that God is in control of everything. Nothing happens in my life that caught Him offguard or has Him wringing His hands. Psalm 139:16 says, "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be..." He knows what's happening in your life and He wants you to trust Him. I've realized that I can categorize everything that happens to me in life under 2 categories: "Things I Can Control" and "Things I Cannot Control." Most of the things I worry about usually fall under the "Things I Cannot Control" list. When you think about it rationally, it really does no good to worry about things I cannot control because I cannot control them! Jesus talked about this in Matthew 6:24-35. We really do worry about stuff that we can't do a thing about!

2) Choose to pray instead of worrying.

The next time you feel yourself paralyzed by worry turn that moment into a prayer. I think that Worry and Prayer are actually the same mental exercise. In both instances I'm thinking about a particular situation and wondering how it's going to turn out. In both instances, I'm focused on the issue and am blocking out other things around me. The difference between Worry and Prayer is that when I worry I'm asking how am I going to solve the problem...and when I pray I'm asking God how is He going to solve the probelm. That's a HUGE difference!

Here are some great verses when you feel paralyzed by worry:

Matthew 6:25-27 in particular
Psalm 55:22
Psalm 139
Proverbs 3:5-6
I Peter 5:7
Phillipians 4:6-8

Monday, February 02, 2009

Men and Emotions

We're starting the message series "Fireproof Your Marriage" this coming Sunday and I'm extremely excited about it. We had a packed crowd on Sunday to watch the movie this past Sunday morning. The day was a success. I really hope that many of our new visitors will return to catch the messages on marriage this month. A much deserved shout-out is due the college students and other adults who watched the nursery and children so our regular children's ministry volunteers could watch the movie. I could tell that people were engrossed in the film. One girl told me that she couldn't tell what was happening during one part of the movie because her dad was crying so hard behind her. She turned around to check out the commotion and he sobbed out, "I hate this movie!" I admit it. I'm a softie, too. I cried both times I watched it. Later that night in our home group we talked about the differences between men and women. We touched on an interesting topic that was off-script, but very apropos. The topic came up about how many men don't show their emotions - ever. This is not just in public, but also in the context of the most intimate relationship of all, marriage. I know some of you wives are "amen-ing" here because your hubby seems distant. In fact, you've probably said at some point in frustration, "Why don't you tell me how you're feeling?!" Many men don't show emotions to anyone because we've been trained from childhood to "suck it up" or "don't act like a sissy"...or worse...when we cried.
Sadness, hurt, and pain are universal emotions.
Don't lie men.
You get hurt.
We've just been conditioned from years and years of cultural pressures to not show it. I have one question: How does crying, or showing emotion, equivocate weakness? In actuality, it's being honest. When we tell a little boy to "suck it up and not cry" we're encouraging him to lie about what he's really feeling. From the start, we're encouraging him to not share what he really feels. Is it no wonder that these boys grow up to be men who have difficulty being emotionally open with their spouses...or anyone...for that matter?
In Acts 20:36-37 Paul is bidding his Ephesian brothers and sisters goodbye and the Scripture says, "When he had said this, he knelt down with all of them and prayed. They all wept as they embraced him and kissed him. What grieved them most was his statement that they would never see his face again. Then they accompanied him to the ship." Do you think this crowd was a bunch of women?! The Ephesians had become tight with Paul and they were genuinely overcome with the emotion of never seeing him again. What a beautiful sight! When is the last time you cried with emotion over an important issue...loss...sadness...sin...lost friends...?
I encouraged a recent convert recently to give his testimony in front of the church because his story is SO POWERFUL. He outright refused, as tears welled up in his eyes, because he said he'd start crying and didn't want people to see that. But that is exactly what our people need to see. Brokenness is not evil! Blessed are those who mourn (over their sin), etc. etc. We need emotional men to lead out in our churches. Men not afraid to really convey how they are feeling. Men who will raise their hands and cry out to God in worship. Men who will cry over the lostness around them.

I had a father who cried. He didn't mind sharing what he felt. It was always a touching thing to see him cry because it was usually over spiritual things or family issues. Aren't these the 2 areas where we should see men cry...where they should be passionate and emotional!? How awesome would it be if men were open with what they were feeling or thinking? I think a revival would break out in both churches and homes if dads would tear down the walls they've built inside...constructed over years and years of emotional denial...and lead with emotion. The women in our lives need to see ALL of us. We're actually hiding (ie: being dishonest and lying) when we're not conveying what we're feeling inside. Crying is not weakness, it's honesty. Just a thought... here's a tissue.