What to Do When You Feel Overwhelmed

overwhelmed

I must admit, my life lately has seen its share of uncertainty. Dealing with uncertainties on a daily basis can drain the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical energy from any of us. We can easily find ourselves overwhelmed.

Sometimes life is overwhelming. Happens to all of us from time to time. For you, it may be a seeming insurmountable circumstance that you feel you will never overcome. Maybe it is a pain from your past that never gives your mind a moment’s rest. Possibly, you face the prospect of an unpleasant future, and you do not know what to do about it.

You may not have one big obstacle, but a collection of smaller yet numerous obstacles that leave you feeling overwhelmed. I have often said that I dread the school of piranhas more than the great white shark.

Whatever the case, I have FOUR WORDS of encouragement from God’s Word that I want to share with you. DO NOT GIVE UP.

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. – Galatians 6:9 (emphasis added, of course)

The phrase “grow weary” deals with more than just physical exhaustion. It means to lose motivation or heart to do the things that you once enjoyed. When we grow weary, we decide it’s just not worth it to do the things we used to do.

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Running in God’s House Is OK

running

The other night at Vacation Bible School, I committed what some people consider the unforgivable sin. I ran in the church building.

After the kindergarteners finished music time, our director let the boys race the girls one lap around the worship center. I decided to run with the boys to encourage them. As I ran, I flashed back to the thousands of voices I have heard in my lifetime. Those voices shouted the admonition, “don’t run in God’s house.”

I’ve always had a problem with calling the church building “God’s house.” The main reason is that it is NOT. At first in the Old Testament, God instructed His people to build a temporary structure called the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle had two purposes. First, it was the place where priests offered sacrifices to God. Second, it housed the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolized the presence of God. The Ark was only a symbol because God cannot be confined in a place.

In the time of King Solomon, God’s people built a permanent structure, the Temple, that served the same purpose. Again, God was not confined to that structure; it merely symbolized His presence.   When the New Testament Church began to flourish, they did not have buildings. They met in homes and rented spaces. In their thinking, God’s didn’t have a house.

Before you label me a heretic and give up reading further, I understand the motive most have for their prohibition.

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Have a Mental Snack – Don’t Let Mental Hunger Happen to You

mental snack

I love Snickers commercials where someone is being a monster until they bite into a Snickers candy bar. After that bite, they revert to their real selves. The idea is that hunger can make a person do some uncharacteristically bad things.

A similar fate befalls us spiritually as well. In Friday’s blog, we looked at what I call our Mental Metabolism. The thoughts we think first thing in the morning will affect our attitude and productivity throughout the day. We can intentionally choose thoughts each morning that sharpen our focus for the remainder of that day.

As the day wears on, however, we may find our thoughts lagging a bit. The demands of the day can wear down our focus and slow our productivity. When that happens, we may act kind of like the monstrous hungry personas in the Snickers commercials.

Mental Snack Breaks

What can we do throughout the day to keep our thinking productive? Since we are what we think, how can we get our thoughts back into the realm of true and productive thinking?

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Mental Metabolism – Like Breakfast for Your Mind

mental metabolism

Nutritionists will tell you that the most important meal of the day is breakfast. Eating the right kind of breakfast kick-starts your metabolism and prepares your body for the day ahead. The wrong kind of breakfast may satisfy in the short-term, but quickly looses its effect and leaves your body sluggish.

Wednesday, we determined that just as physically we are what we eat, mentally we are what we think. Knowing that, how can we use our mornings to optimize our thinking and prepare our minds for the day ahead?

What Is Mental Metabolism?

Just as our breakfast determines our physical metabolism, so also our morning thoughts will determine our “mental metabolism.” The thoughts that start our day shape the way we focus our minds for the rest of the day.

If we wake up and begin stressing about the cares of the day, we start the day on the defensive. We allow ourselves to become victims of our circumstances.

Conversely, we can develop a morning strategy that helps us focus more productively on our day. The way we choose to think in the morning set our focus for the rest of the day.

Our mental metabolism is the outlook and attitude created by the thinking patterns we choose at the beginning of the day. We determine our own mental metabolism; we are not victims of our circumstances.

How Can I Maximize My Mental Metabolism?

I have found four morning practices that help me “get my mind in gear” in the mornings. These four practices set my focus properly and start me in the right direction. They are most effective if I can practice them first thing, before my day gets started in earnest.

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You Are What You Think – The Key to a Joyful Life

think

In April of 2007 I realized the truthfulness of the old adage, “you are what you eat.” While I was scarfing down my second piece of coconut pie, my doctor called to tell me I had diabetes. Genetics played a major role in that development, but my diet over the years certainly didn’t help. I became the result of what I ate.

In a comparable way, we are what we think. Our thoughts will determine our spiritual health. Solomon advised us,

Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

What the Bible refers to as our heart encompasses our emotions, our will, and most importantly our thoughts. Just as food enters our bodies through our mouths, so also our eyes and ears feed our thoughts.

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Remembering

Today we pause to remember those brave men and women who, down through the years, made the ultimate sacrifice and gave their lives for the cause we call freedom. The value of something is determined by its cost. Freedom is precious since it cost the lives of American men and women. According to statistics from the Office of Veterans’ Affairs in the US Department of Defense, we have lost 1,194,664 soldiers during times of war and conflict. We should never take our freedom for granted.

Our culture makes heroes out of the most unlikely people – sports starts, performers, politicians, cultural icons. But to me, the men and women who serve in our Armed Forces are truly heroes. And those who have given their lives in the service are worthy of remembrance indeed. Jesus said,

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What A Car Wash Taught Me about Trusting God

trusting God

A car wash in South Georgia sports the slogan: “Relax In Your Car – We Do The Washing For You.”

After you pay, an attendant uses a brush to wash your windshield and bumpers. As you to pull forward onto the conveyor you see a sign with the three simple rules. Yes, three simple rules for the car wash:

  1. Place Car in Neutral
  2. Take Foot off Brake
  3. Keep Hands off Steering Wheel.

That car wash sign taught me a lesson about trusting God. Those same three rules that lead me safely through the car wash will also lead me safely through life.

Car Wash Lessons in Trusting God

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Self-Awareness: Is It Time for You to Get a Clue?

self-awareness

I fill several roles in my life. I am a husband, father, son, brother, friend, colleague, pastor, mentor, coach, neighbor. The list could continue, but you get the point. More times than I care to admit two or more of those roles conflict with each other. Adding to the complexity, conflicting roles can change by the day; the hour, even.

Maybe you experience the same thing from time to time. How do we decide which role takes precedent? Which of our roles is more important than the others? The answer lies in what Sociologists call self-awareness.

Self-awareness is an individual’s understanding of their personality and individuality. (Miriam-Webster Online) Having a healthy and God-defined self-awareness helps us navigate through the conflicting demands others often place on us.

Developing a God-Centered Self-Awareness

Here are four things you need to know to develop a healthy self-awareness.

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We All Can Be Human Angels If We Want

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith. – Galatians 6:10

I want to do something a little different with today’s blog. In a post earlier this week, I lamented the absence of basic civility in our world. In today’s blog, I want to share a personal example of the opposite. Recently my mom and I encountered some human angels.

Yesterday, I accompanied my mother to a regular scheduled follow-up visit with her cardiologist. My mother is in declining health, and this day she was having a particularly difficult time with mobility. From the parking lot to the office involved a slow and, for her, uncomfortable journey.

After the visit, we went to the elevator to begin the arduous journey back to the car. In the hallway, we met a nurse from another office named Nancy who had already hailed the elevator. It soon became apparent that the elevators were out of order.

Human Angels in Action

This is when we experienced Galatians 6:10 in action. Nurse Nancy and everyone in the office at Cardiopulmonary Associates of Macon went beyond the call of duty. They made several phone calls to building maintenance personnel to try and get the elevators operational again. The office staff gave great attention to make sure my mom remained comfortable.

Dr. Malhotra and the entire staff at Cardiopulmonary Associates are tops. He is a great doctor and the staff is one of the most helpful and friendly you will encounter. They really know how to care for their patients, even in unusual circumstances.

Nurse Nancy does not work for them, and we have never met her before. We are not even sure why she was in the building. However, she was on her phone calling for help and doing all she could to help with the situation.

When the elevators began working again she rode down with us to make sure we made it safely to the first floor. At the first floor, she asked if she could sit with my mom while I went retrieved the car. She stayed with us until I get mom in the car and we started on our way home. Remember, she does not work for one of our doctors and we did not know her before this happened.

How Can We Be Human Angels?

Today we experienced more than just civility. We experienced good people going beyond the responsibilities of their jobs to help people. They had the opportunity, and the did good to us – Galatians 6:10 in action.

My point today is do good when you can to whomever you can. You never know whom you may bless by your simple acts of help and kindness. May we strive to follow the example of Nurse Nancy and the staff at Cardiopulmonary Associates.


Civility: Where Did It Go and Can We Find It Again?

civility

This week, two more stories from airlines provide even more evidence that civility is on the decline.

On Monday night a riot occurred at the Spirit Airlines gate at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport. Angry customers protested Spirit’s cancellation of nine flights. Then on Tuesday, a fight broke out between three passengers on board a taxiing Southwest Airlines flight. Authorities have publicized no reason for the fight.

Yes, civility is on the decline. Dictionary.Com defines civility thusly:

  1. courtesy; politeness.
  2. a polite action or expression: an exchange of civilities.
  3. Archaic. civilization; culture; good breeding.

Where have our manners gone?

Why the Lack of Civility?

It seems these days when things do not go someone’s way they default to riots, protests, and mob scenes. Several factors have brought us to this point in society.

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