Undoing Discouragement

In his article, “Resist Discouragement“, Rick Warren rates discouragement as being the second greatest enemy of fulfilling your life mission (first was procrastination). I agree with Rick that there’s very little that puts a damper on the accomplishment of activity in your life more than the oppressing weight of discouragement. I’m sure my readers will agree as well – when things don’t go the way you thought they would, when people pick apart your “grand ideas” or when illness prevents you from doing what you want to do the resulting discouragement can not only put a halt to any progress you’ve made in your dream, mission, or idea but can also create a cycle of second-guessing and apathy that hinder any future activity.

So what to do about discouragement? We all suffer it from time to time – how do we undo it? Well, I agree with the start that Rick Warren suggests. It comes from recognizing that discouragement is a choice. It’s a choice that occurs when something contrary to what we expect, or opposition to where we’re going disrupts our plans and we choose to be discouraged because of it. The truth is – nothing ever goes hunky-dory, there will always be someone opposing you, or a wrench of some sort thrown into the plans we make (sometimes little wrenches, sometimes wrenches the size of buses!). We have no control over those things – what we do have control over is what we think about such things…

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable?if anything is excellent or praiseworthy?think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me?put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)

The key is to dwell on Christ.? When you get discouraged, remind yourself that no matter how bad things get, or how awry plans go – you can find peace and comfort in the fact that Jesus won’t abandon you.? More often than not it’s in the midst of those things that could bring discouragement that we can find new direction, purpose, and vigor as we surrender to the thought that He is ultimately in control.? Don’t fret, pray.? Affect the things you can change and leave the things? you can’t in His hands.

So, an important element in undoing discouragement is to not dwell on the things that discourage us but instead dwell on Christ – but another help would be to include people who are encouragers in your relationships. In other words surround yourself with people who encourage you.? This takes work. It’s very easy to find people who will tear you down, are ambivalent, or drain you but not so easy to build relationships with those who will be there when you’re discouraged.? The key word in that sentence is build.? These kinds of relationships only come with an investment of time. This means that sometimes you may need to be the encourager in someone else’s life.

Needless to say, I believe discouragement can be undone.? It is a choice.? Be encouraged!

Five non-religious arguments for marriage over living together

I’ve always been against the practice of living together before marriage and for the wonderful commitment between a couple in getting married. However, even though I disagree with a guy and gal living together before marriage I still understand why some people think it’s okay. There are many reasons why I disagree and of course among them is the Biblical teaching on the sanctity of marriage. However, I must admit (to my chagrin) that the Bible just doesn’t carry the initial influence that it once had in society (gasp!) and frankly a “religious” argument just doesn’t have any impact on “reasoning” with people that it once had. That doesn’t make the Biblical teaching invalid or worthless – it just means that I can’t make the assumption that quoting scripture is going to convince people that living together is not a good idea or is even living in… (whispers conspiratorily) sin!

Another problem with talking about living together before marriage is that (for the most part) we preachers (and many others who disagree with it!) approach the whole subject from a negative direction rather than positive. In other words, we spend more time talking about why living together before marriage is bad instead of emphasizing why getting married first is good. Anyway, I said all that to introduce this article I came across in my reading that is a good approach on the subject. In it Dennis Prager briefly outlines five good non-religious arguments for why marriage is better than living together. Some very wise words are written in this article and I’ll definitely add this to my file of articles I’ll give couples that I counsel in the future!

Where does worrying get ya?

Worry - Ugly ain't it?Today I went with my mother to her lawyer’s appointment. My Dad died about a year and a half ago and his life insurance company denied my mom’s claim for the insurance. To make a long story short she (with the support of us!) has decided to sue the insurance company as the advice we received suggested we have a case. Anyway, with the court systems the way they are it’ll be a while until we get to trial. I said all this to say this… My mom has had a lot on her mind in the last while (no wonder!) and she’s really finding it difficult to just let go and leave things in the lawyers hands. But this post isn’t really about my mom – it’s about the the observation going through my head that worrying really puts a damper on life. While this may be an obvious one for most people it’s surprising how many of us “non-worryers” still get caught in the trap of nail-biting, ulcer creating hyper-anxiety syndrome once and a while. The funny thing is – all our worrying really doesn’t accomplish anything. There’s a favorite scripture of mine in Matthew 6 where Jesus basically tells people ‘Don’t worry!’ The conclusion of Jesus’ thought as he goes through some of the things we humans worry about is that there’s really only one thing that matters

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

After all, there are things that make an eternal difference (going beyond this life) and things that are just temporary.

And then Jesus, goes on to say these nifty words, “Don’t worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own” (v. 34). How true is that! Is there anyone that can really say worrying about something made it better? If there’s something in your control – do something about it but if it’s out of your control…leave it – don’t worry because all the worrying won’t do one thing for you.

Case in point: have you ever communicated with someone (a friend maybe, or aquaintance) and later on remembered something you said (or wrote) that you get thinking, hmm…I wonder if they were offended by that — some people will let that thought run away on them and create a gigantic worry “snowball” that consumes there thoughts until eventually they do everything they can to avoid that person because they may have offended them. Instead, they could’ve nipped that worry in the bud and gave that person a quick call and cleared it up…just one example.

whoah..just realized I’m starting to write a chapter rather than a post – signing off!