What to Know When Facing Life’s Storms

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The weather report in Colorado Springs, CO issued a warning of a storm coming.  We packed our bags, started driving early, so we would beat the storm.  As we drove south, we saw thick, dark, pregnant clouds directly in front of us.  The thick clouds loomed over, and appeared like they would swallow us alive. It appeared as if we were leaving daylight heading towards a dark night.  I said a prayer, and held the steering tighter. Suddenly, the freeway curved east and we avoided driving through the storm.  We thanked God for letting us evade the wrath of the storm.

As we headed over the mountains we saw the other end of the storm in front us.  Soon, what seemed like a big gray wall approached us.  The ferocity of the heavy raindrops pelted our mini-van from every angle.  Visibility was down to just a few feet in front of the vehicle.  I slowed the vehicle down to 20 miles an hour, and so did many other drivers on the freeway.  The heavy raindrops morphed into hail.  I pulled the car onto the shoulder and stopped. The hail came down with a vengeance.  I was so loud and strong that we feared it would break the windshield.

Storm

It appeared as if the storm parked where we stopped, encompassing the vehicle. The hail and heavy rains poured incessantly. We prayed, asking God to save us from the storm.  I made the decision to start driving slowly to get out of the storm.  After what seemed like eternity, we saw the sun shining ahead of us.  The tail end of the storm was visible light at the end of a tunnel.  In a few more moments, we were out of the storm.  It was bright and sunny.  The temperature rose from about 50 degrees to 90 degrees in a space of few miles.  I looked in the rear view mirror.  I saw the thick, dark, pregnant clouds behind us.  We had gone through the storm, and made it out.  Praise God, it was all behind us now.

Like the storm we went through in Colorado, we all go through storms in life.  Here is what we can learn about storms:

  1. Storms are part of life. It is a guarantee that every human being will go through storms at some point.  Some more than others.
  1. Storms hit everyone. Life storms are indiscriminate. Young, old, rich, poor, we all go through storms.
  1. Storms build and prove strength. Storms are not meant to break us but to make us strong. If we take notes, storms build character. They strengthen our faith, if we apply what we learn.
  1. Storms make us run to God. Some people curse God, or run away from God when life hurts.  For most, we run to God when we face danger.  In some sense, storms work as a magnet that pulls us towards God.
  1. Storms can be discouraging and tiring. Storms can make us weary and doubtful.  Storms take much out of us.  We can lose faith and focus when life hurts. Storms can make us question our very existence, and God.
  1. Storms can be scary. Storms bring fear.  Storms bring us face to face with danger.
  1. Storms can kill. Storms can destroy us.  Each year, storms kill people at sea, on land, and in the air.
  1. Storms reveal who is with us. Storms can reveal who our friends are. It’s one thing to have 500 friends at a party, or 2,000 friends on Facebook. It’s another to know who really will be there when you need them. Storms can show us who stands with us when we hurt.  Our friends are seen in our times of deepest need.  Jesus shows up in style when we call on Him during our storms.
  1. Storms reveal whose we are. Storms show that our God is bigger than our storms.  Storms ask us the question, “Who and where is your God?”  During the storms, we call on God, the Creator, to quiet down the creation.

If you are going through a storm, please remember:

  • Fear not. God is with you.  He will never leave nor forsake you.
  • Don’t give up. He will see you through it.
  • We cannot make it alone, but with God, we are more than conquerors.
  • Victory is yours. Victory belongs to God.  God fights our battles for us. You will make it.
  • Thank God

 

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What to Do When You Get Discouraged

THIS IS A REBLOG.  Written by Rick Warren

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We put in long hours, we experience a unique form of loneliness, and we face difficult decisions everyday. It’s easy to get discouraged.

And I think discouragement is one of the most deadly of diseases. Everybody can catch it, and you can catch it more than once. It’s highly contagious and spreads easily and quickly.

But here’s the good news: Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement in ministry.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be that you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around. So much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your ministry? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up? If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

Now, what is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God’s called you to do. It could be committee meetings. It could be television. It could be just about anything that turns you from God’s purposes.

The third cause of discouragement is failure. They were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned, and as a result, their confidence went down the drain. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.” And you might be thinking, “I was dumb to ever think I could lead this church. I can’t do it any more.” You feel like a failure.

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. The fact is – if you’re in the ministry, you’re going to fail. Everybody fails. Everybody does dumb things. So the issue is not that you failed – it’s how you are going to respond to your failure. Do you give into self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining, “It’s impossible?” Or do you re-focus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

Finally, fear causes discouragement. Nehemiah 4:11, says this: “Also our enemies said, ‘Before they know it or see us we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to their work.’” You know the background to this story. You’ve preached on Nehemiah before, and you know there were people who did not want the wall to be rebuilt. They were doing everything they could to keep that from happening. First, they criticized the Jews, and then they ridiculed the Jews. When that didn’t work, they threatened the Jews.

Notice who gets fearful the quickest: “Then the Jews who lived near them came and told us ten times over, `Wherever you turn, they will attack us.’” (Nehemiah 4:12) The people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can. It’s like the old saying, “If you’re going to soar with the eagles, you can’t run with the turkeys.”

Let me ask you this: what fear is causing you to be discouraged? The fear of criticism? Embarrassment? That you’re not capable of the task? That you can’t handle pressure?  How can you tell when fear is causing discouragement in your life?

It’s simple. You have an intense desire to run! “I’ve got to get out of this! I’ve got to leave the ministry! I’ve got to leave this church!” Yet, I’ve learned in life that it’s rarely God’s will for me to run from a difficult situation. If you don’t learn in one place, guess what? God just gives you another chance to learn somewhere else. Otherwise, you just jump from the frying pan into the fire. Running from fear only makes it bigger. So, don’t try to escape from life’s pressures.

If you’ll just hang in there, you’ll outlast that carnal person who’s giving you so much trouble in your church. But it’s important that you stick it out. A friend of mine in Los Angeles says, “When you go to a new church, the first year is the honeymoon. The pastor can do nothing wrong. The second year, usually the pastor can do nothing right. The third year, usually, somebody has to go. And it may be that just like God had to kill off a couple million Jews in the desert before He’d let them go into the Promised Land, God may have to move some people out of your church before He fulfills the vision that He’s given you.” Never give up.

Reflection:

What is it that causes discouragement in your life? Maybe you’re just fatigued. You’re just out of energy. It was the most relaxing day of my life when I resigned as General Manager of the universe. I realized something: the world did not fall apart the day I did that. I felt like I was Atlas – the whole world was on my shoulders. Would you relax and take a deep breath right now and just let it out and let God drain that stress out of your life? Let God take those pressures, those problems, those people, those circumstances, those critics, those challenges, and those impossible situations.

Take a deep breath and just let it out. And rest. Maybe you need to take a vacation. I read a statement the other day that was a great stress reliever to me. “No football team in history ever won a game without substitutions.” If you feel like you have to be there every Sunday, you’re wrong.  Maybe you need to start a regular exercise program. For instance, try walking. If you walk two miles a day, you’ll get more energy. Maybe you need to start watching your nutrition, or develop a hobby, something you enjoy so much you’re willing to leave your work for it. And sometimes that’s hard to do when you love the ministry as much as we do. But you need it if you’re going to last in the ministry.

Maybe you have frustration in your life and that’s why you’re discouraged. Rubble has piled up and your desk is heavy with work, deadlines and commitments. You’re trying to burn the candle at both ends. What you need to do is reorganize your life. Say, “God, help me see that I’m not doing the wrong thing. I’m just doing it in the wrong way.”

Maybe you’re discouraged because you feel like a failure. You say, “I’ve been in this place for six months (or six years), and I feel like I’m treading water.” You’re never a failure if what you’re doing is ultimately for the glory of God. Maybe God’s just been trying to teach you some lessons. He wants you to stay there but to do things in a different way. Maybe He wants you to move on. Only God can tell you when to let go and when to hold on. But never give up on your dream! If you feel like you’re a failure, listen to this: “There is, therefore, no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” God does not condemn you. God loves you. God’s not mad at you. God is on your side. “If God be for us, who can be against us.” One plus God equals a majority.

One of the great truths of scripture is that God is the God of the second chance, and He lets you start over. He says, “I will restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” If you would commit yourself and say, “Christ, whether I have five years or fifty years left, I want to commit it to You. I want to renew my life commitment to You right now. Lord, whether you take me home next week or in 50 or 60 years, I want the rest of my life to be the best of my life.”

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it. It’s the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life, if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God help me get my eyes off the problem – off the circumstance – and keep my eyes on You.” Tension is a warning light that you have taken your eyes off the Lord. When you get tense, it’s God saying, “You’ve lost your focus.” “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on Thee.”

Resist the devil and his discouragement. Recognize where it’s coming from – The answer may be just around the corner. Anybody who watches basketball knows that the game is often won in the final second.

Pray this prayer:  Heavenly Father, I thank You that Your work done Your way will not lack Your support. I thank You that You can use me in a significant way. Lord, help me have a new vision and new inspiration that comes, not from motivation or psychology, but from knowing You. Help me realize that sometimes You have to make me lie down in green pastures in order to get my attention. Help me spend some time by those still waters that will restore my soul. Lord, I look to You for strength. I thank You that – for whatever it is that You’ve called me to do – You will bring it to pass. I thank You that I can be confident of this, that You who began a good work in my life will bring it to completion in the day of Christ. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

RICK WARREN

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

My 2016 Goals

Goals

  1. This year, I want to spend a minimum of 30 minutes in prayer a day. “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2
  2. I want to read a minimum of 2 chapters of the Bible (1 Old Testament chapter, and 1 New Testament chapter) a day. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” Joshua 1:8
  3. I want to spend more intentional time in fellowship with other believers. I will do this at church, the beach, at our house, at coffee, etc. “Not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Hebrews 10:25
  4. Keep the main thing the main thing. Set and keep my priorities For me, my priorities are: my relationship with God, first.
    1. My relationship with my wife, second.
    2. Followed by my relationship with my children, family, friends, and then ministry. But seek first his kingdomand his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” – Matthew 6:33
  5. Visit your family I love my family.  I want to be intentional in calling, visiting and talking with my immediate and extended families.
  6. This year, I choose to live by faith. I want to overcome pessimism by choosing to look on the brighter side of life.  For we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7 
  7. I want to avoid petty arguments, negative Some small issues take up our time and energy. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.” 2 Timothy 2:4
  8. I intend to continue with my post-graduate education. I want to read one leadership book a month.   study-the-bible-640-360
  9. I never want to stop learning. When I stop learning, I cease to grow.  Good learners make good leaders.  Good leaders are readers.
  10. My health and sanity demand I minimize stress. I plan to let things go.  Walk away from what I cannot solve.
  11. I want to speak out I want to communicate my feelings.  Bottling up problems creates unwanted health problems.
  12. I want to forgive more this year. I refuse to hold onto grudges and bitterness. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32
  13. This year, I want be conscientious about my eating habits. I want to buy, cook and eat healthy foods. Yes, broccoli, kale, egg whites, will be in my diet.  Did I just say that?

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    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
  14. This year, I will exercise for 5 days a week, 30 minutes at a time.

 

  • What are your 2016 goals?
  • What are obstacles that might bar you from achieving those goals?
  • How can you overcome them?