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positive lifestyle changes

3 COVID-19 Life Changes Worth Keeping After the Pandemic

 

Guest article provided by www.parentingwithkris.com

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has made an unprecedented impact on American life. Along with the health concerns and tragedies that have struck our nation, even those of us fortunate enough to maintain our health have had to make significant adjustments to our everyday routines.

 

Yes, many of the changes have proven inconvenient, to say the least. But many have also proven to benefit our families, boost our overall wellness, and add fulfillment to our lives. And these changes might continue to improve our lives significantly if we embrace them for the long term. Here are three examples:

 

  1. Making Time for Yourself

 

One way the pandemic has changed our routines is that we’ve been given more time to focus on things that bring fulfillment to our lives. For you, this might mean spending more time with the kids, coming up with creative date night ideas with your spouse, or pursuing a new hobby. The takeaway here is that perhaps you should try to always take time out of your busy schedule to do things that bring joy to your life.

 

Along with making time for yourself and your family, take this opportunity to restructure your quiet time. Whether you do it early in the morning, late in the evening, or in the middle of the day, make sure you are prioritizing time to simply take pleasure in God, study His Word, and soak in His presence.

 

  1. Reevaluating Your Career

 

This also may be a season for reevaluating your career. Are you using your gifts and talents in your current vocation? Or is there something better out there for you and your family? For example, maybe you’ve been mulling over a business idea for some time now. This could be an opportunity to get it going.

 

If you do decide to start a business, one of the first things you need to take care of is establishing a business structure. For instance, forming an LLC can provide you with limited liability, tax advantages, and many other benefits. It’s important to understand the regulations in your state, and you will need to file the Certificate of Formation. Rather than paying hefty attorney fees, you might consider hiring a formation service or handling it yourself.

 

  1. Improving Your Home

 

If you and your family are spending more time at home, it may be worthwhile to make some home improvements. For example, creating a comfortable workspace, hobby room, and/or outdoor living area can go a long way in making the time you spend at home more enjoyable. Not only does this make your home more welcoming for your family, but it also provides new spaces meant for bonding time or quiet solitude.

 

  1. Keeping It Local

 

Finally, in a world that is becoming more and more globalized, now is the perfect time to reflect on how we can become more invested in our communities. Consider what local businesses you can support—businesses that pour back into the community and provide jobs for your neighbors. You can also enjoy the benefits of nature by exploring local parks and nearby wooded areas. And, of course, see how you can get involved and build community through your local church.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has produced plenty of negative effects, but it has also presented many of us with the opportunity to make positive, long-term changes to our lives. Consider how you can make more time for yourself, your family, and your Creator. Lastly, figure out ways to make your home a more enjoyable place to spend time, and look for opportunities to invest in and enjoy your community.

www.parentingwithkris.com

We need hope

We Need Hope

 

With all of the negative news everywhere it seems, it is difficult to keep a positive outlook on things.  I have spoken with many people who are struggling with depression and anxiety because the perfect storm of world crisis.  Covid, the coming election, protests, riots on top of the usual stressors of work, family, parentings, marriage, and money.  It can be as overwhelming as a squirrel trapped in the dog pound.  Everywhere you turn, life bares its teeth, growling, ready to bite your head off with no place to run.  We need some hope.

We must remember the principles of God are not dependent upon our circumstances.  When God promises peace, the promise is not conditional to your dilemma.  God can and will keep His promises.  They are yes and amen in Christ and Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Whether you are living in a 1st world crisis as simple as a getting a flat tire on the highway or a 3rd world food shortage struggling to stay alive, His promises remain.  If God has promised it to us, we must not allow the drool from growling teeth to create doubt in our life.

Often, we are waiting for promises that have already been delivered.  Too often, it seems that God is withholding His promises from us, but faith, hope, and love remain constant, steadfast.  God doesn’t withhold His love.  The Bible says faith is a gift from God like a tattoo inked upon our soul (Ephesians 2:8-10). And hope, like love is the essence of God’s presence who never leaves us nor forsakes us.  As God is love, He is too the God of hope (Romans 15:13).  We need some hope!

But with all of the promises of the Kingdom of Heaven, hope must be grasped tightly with determination.  It is in you, but have you taken hold of it?

Hope is different from faith.  Faith is a belief that God will do something specific.  I have faith that God will protect my son as he travels the world on a Navy ship.  Hope has no specifics.  Hope is what we have when our situation overwhelms our mind that we can’t even conceive what could be done.  Hope simply believes that God can do something.  Hope is knowing He is above every situation and able to execute His unseen plan for our good.  Do you believe God is able to work things according to His will and our good even in the most overwhelming moments?  This is hope.  Sometimes, it is all we have.  We can’t even imagine what would make the situation more bearable, but we are confident that God does, and if He chooses, He is able to flip our condition from dark to light, from grim to possible, from death to life, from devastating to life-transforming.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

Without hope, there is no joy nor peace.  We need hope to find the greater blessings of God.  And hope is the linchpin of trust.  Until we can, at the least, say with confidence that God is able to do something even when we have no idea what that something might be, we will never really trust God.  We will never truly experience joy nor peace.  Hope holds our hand and walks us to trust who gives the gift of joy and peace.

Whatever overwhelms you, remember that God is able to do whatever He wants to change everything for your good any second.  It could be right now, five minutes from now, or five years from now.  But rest assured, God knows what we need and He will not leave us here forever.  Hope is the belief that God is still in control of the chaos.  He still reigns in the madness.  There is no storm that can break His peace.  There is no demon that can kick Him off the Throne of Heaven.  You may not can see anything to have faith in, but take hold of the hope that God is still in control.  When you can grip hope with all your might, peace and joy will soon follow.

Leave me a comment to tell me how you are doing with all the junk going on right now.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

 


Find HopeFinding Hope to Rebuild What is Broken

​I have been sharing excerpts from my new book With All Your Heart. I have appreciated all of the encouragement from folks and I am grateful the Lord is using With All Your Heart to minister to people on a deep level. Today, though I wanted to depart from my book. I want to share some of what I taught recently at a homeless mission, Church Under the Bridge, that our church partners with.

In the book of Nehemiah, we find the nation of Israel obliterated. Babylon has conquered them and as was the custom then, to maintain control, many of the Israelites were relocated to Babylon and many Babylonians were relocated to Israel.

 

 


guard your heart

Guard Your Heart

Do you believe God has a beautiful plan for your life?  If you don’t, you are denying Scripture and the very words of God.  He has said that He has a plan for your life and that plan is beyond comprehension filled with hope, purpose, and prosperity of the soul (Jeremiah 29:111 Corinthians 2:9-10Ephesians 2:10).  These bring meaning and enjoyment to life.  But how do we find this plan?  let’s consider this passage:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:1-2 (NIV)

 


Refuge in the LordHow to Find Refuge in the Lord

Have you ever wondered how to find refuge in the Lord?

I love the imagery we get from Proverbs 18:10 when it says the Lord is a strong tower and the righteous run into it and they are saved.  Clearly, the Lord wants us to see Him as a refuge when times are difficult.  When we are hurt, afraid, anxious, or fearful, He is our refuge.  But how do we find refuge in the Lord? And this brings us to our Verse of the Day: As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
Psalms 18:30 (NIV)

 


 

Rivers of Living Water

Rivers of Living Water

The Bible says that God has given us the extravagantly designed creation all around us to help us understand Him and how we can enter into a relationship with Him. When Jesus taught, He would often use parables and analogies using things of this Earth to help people understand spiritual principles. And this brings us to our Verse of the Day:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
John 7:37-38 (NIV)

Water is the analogy. Specifically, a river is the example Christ is using to help us understand what happens to us when we put our faith in Him. John who is recording the words of Christ here goes on to help us understand the analogy. The rivers of living water is the Holy Spirit alive within us. We must be careful to fully analyze the illustration Christ has left for us.

We know one of the great themes in Paul’s writings in the New Testament is our need to live by the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit. He illuminates the human struggle to lay down our agenda, our fleshly desires in order to align our thoughts and actions with the Holy Spirit. Christ gives us the possibility of what could be in us if we submit to the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a forceful river of life-giving power available to us. This doesn’t mean that we have jumped into the river to be carried along by Him. When our thoughts and actions do not align with the Holy Spirit, we dam up the river. We can be sure that the river is powerful and does break through the dam, nevertheless, the Holy Spirit is unable to move in us like a flooding river taking control of our life.

When we don’t keep in step with the Spirit, we reduce the raging river to a sparse trickle of water in our soul. We see this in those who have put their faith in Christ for salvation. They have made Him their Savior, but not yet their Lord. Rather than obeying Christ to keep in step with the Spirit, we let other things move us to not walk by faith. We doubt. We fear. We run for escape. We have a faith to save, but not a faith that lets the river run wild in our hearts.

To believe in Christ is to believe that He is God who is omniscient knowing the Way to Abundant life. To believe in Him as God is to trust His commands through obedience. To disobey is doubt or rebellion. These are the dams we construct within that shut down the rivers of life.

It is not one river. One river at flood stage would be massive and powerful, but Jesus says many rivers. He is indicating exponential spiritual abundance. This is joy unspeakable, love that never ends, peace that transcends understanding, power to overcome all struggles and attacks. It’s not a river, but rivers. How wonderful!

Take a moment and examine your own heart to see where you are not in step with the Holy Spirit. Do you need to forgive someone who hurt you deeply? Have you stopped honoring the Lord with your wealth, withholding your offerings? Do you let fear and anxiety control your behavior rather than obeying the commands of God? Do you gossip? Do you handle stress with continual prayer or lash out in anger or escape to your choice addiction?

Each area of our life where we are not quite in step with the Spirit, to be sure, we are reducing the power at which the river flows. We are surely missing the full experience of God’s presence and goodness. What are you missing? Tear down the dam and let the river flow.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

 

PS: Be sure to subscribe and I will send you “10 Principles for Living in God’s Abundant Plan for Your Life.”

PSS: Preview my new book With All Your Heart

Learn to Rest in the Shelter of the Most High

 

Where do you run for safety?  I am not talking about physical harm, but when you feel that the world is coming down on top of your head and the pressure of life’s issues are working to keep you down, down in anger, depression, or anxiety.  Where do you run?  God reminds us that we can run into the Shelter of the Most High God.  And this brings us to our Verse of the Day:

 

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

my God, in whom I trust.”

Psalms 91:1-2 (NIV)

 

Relief is what we are looking for when we find ourselves overwhelmed in suffering.  God is wanting to be our refuge and our fortress, but do we run to Him. 

Let’s look at the analogy given to us here in the Scripture.  He is our refuge and fortress.  These are places where we run in retreat.  We run away from the trouble.  I have to be careful because the Lord doesn’t want us to run from our problems.  On the contrary, He wants us to relieve ourselves of the burden of stress, confusion, and fear by placing the problem in His hands.  

Imagine you are on the old frontier and a bear is chasing you down.  You can stand and fight the bear or you can run into a shelter for protection, but you can’t do both.  Too often, though we know God wants to be our shelter and refuge, we keep fighting the bear.  The battle continues in our mind as we stress and fear.  It continues in our mouth as we let words come out of our mouth to fight back the pressure.  We don’t use our words to exalt the Lord as our shelter.  We instead use our words to attack the people who are at work against us.  Or we use our words to gripe and complain.  Or we use our words to tread in our own fear.  

If a bear is chasing you and you run into the shelter, you no longer have to fight with the bear.  The bear has to fight with the shelter.  The good news is that there is no evil able to break down the walls of our Refuge that is our God.  

When the attacks come, run into the Shelter of the Most High God by giving Him praise for being Your Shelter.  Run into the Shelter by praying and asking Him to rescue you.  Run into the shelter by forgiving those who are coming after you.  Run into the Shelter by giving thanks for the attack to remind you of your frailty and God’s omnipotence.

Are you experiencing attacks today?  Are there bears chasing you down?  If so, run into the Shelter of the Most High God.  Pray.  Praise.  Forgive.  Rest.  You can fight the bears and run into the Shelter.  Choose wisely.  Run into the Shelter.  God is bigger than your bear.

Leave me a comment.  How well do you run into the Shelter of the Most High God in times of trouble?

 

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

 

 

PS: Be sure to subscribe and I will send you “10 Principles for Living in God’s Abundant Plan for Your Life.”

PSS: 8 Principles to Make You a Stronger Christian

 

The Key to Releasing Anxiety

The Key To Releasing Anxiety

Preachers aren’t perfect, you know.  We have struggles like everyone else.  Being a pastor is a position of leadership in the church but not an exemption from the issues of life.  I struggle with anxiety often and feelings of insecurity often as well. I worry that I have not done enough or done things well enough.  I have a fear of failing even though I have failed a lot of my life. You might think it wouldn’t bother me by now, but it still does. All of this creates worry and anxiety.

At our church in San Antonio, we have a huge Fall Fest every year.  Every year, we have well over a thousand people show up and we always run out of room for parking.  It is a very effective and successful event. I remember the very first year we did it and how even up until 30 minutes before I was filled with this thought, “What if no one shows up?”  And to this day, up until that time, that fearful thought tries to worm its way into my mind.  

What do you do when you are overwhelmed with fear and anxiety?  Well, that brings us to our Verse of the Day:

 

1 Peter 5:7

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

 

So simple to say, yet the process of releasing our anxiety can be excruciating and often, unsuccessful.  Peter is trying to help us.

Peter’s discourse is actually helping us to understand the significance of worry.  He writes about it in the context of our need to humble ourselves. Worry and anxiety then is a form of pride.  Worry and anxiety is our posture of owning the responsibilities for our problems as if we do not have a God who is personally involved in our life, ready and wanting to help us.  He is our ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). Anxiety is the strong effort of our sinful nature to dismiss God as our help while exalting us to the place of caretaker of our own life.  I don’t know about you, but my life is too complicated and bewildering for me to even think I can care for myself. I need His help.

Knowing I need His help and casting my anxiety on Him can be worlds apart.  Casting our anxiety is not asking for solutions, miracles, or the moving of mountains.  Casting our anxiety on Him is simply to acknowledge to Him that we are afraid and nervous about what is going on while reminding ourself that He is our Caretaker and He will certainly take care of us.  Still, hard to do in the moment. But Peter helps us with this last phrase:

 

“Because He cares for you.”

 

The word ‘care’ here means to concern oneself.  God has actively put His heart upon us and concerned Himself with our plight.  This is our motivation. Our ability to cast our cares upon the Lord comes from the faith that He cares for you.  He does not simply want us to succeed and overcome, but He is fully aware our of ineptness to succeed. He knows we need help and He loves us like a father loves his little boy or a mother loves her little girl.  He truly cares for us. We can trust Him. Cast your anxiety upon Him and let Him help you.

 

Psalms 40:17

As for me, I am poor and needy,

but the Lord takes thought for me.

You are my help and my deliverer;

do not delay, O my God!

 

What are you worried about right now?  Leave a comment and let me pray for you.  And don’t forget if you have questions, please join my private Facebook Group and ask your questions.  If you want it to be anonymous, you can reply to this email or message me on Facebook.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Shadows

Shadows of Anxiety

David talks about walking through the valley of the shadow of death.  Death does cast a shadow. Death is everything that is not the life we have in God.  All that God is and gives brings life to our soul and rejuvenates our body and spirit.  Death casts a shadow over these things making them hard to see. Shadows of trouble, heartache, despair, and isolation make it hard to see the assurance, security, support the Lord gives.  These shadows create fear and anxiety for what will be. These shadows have great power. Here is our Verse of the Day:

 

Proverbs 12:25

25 Anxiety weighs down the heart,

but a kind word cheers it up.

(NIV)

 

Our anxiety is born in the blindness of Death’s shadow. 

Things feel dark and ominous. There is no light, no hope, no help it seems.  Jesus understands this very well. The Bible says that He was fully aware the time had come for Him to be arrested, scourged, and crucified.  Many would die from the scourging.  Scripture says Jesus was no longer recognizable as human after the scourging.  The instrument used was designed to rip the flesh. Then, He would be crucified.  In the process, the cross would be on the ground and Jesus would have lay down upon it.  There they would nail his hands and feet into the wood. Then the cross would be lifted. The bottom of the cross would have lay over a deep hole so as they lifted the cross, the bottom would have fell into the hole jarring the body on the nails.  But it was not the nails that would kill the person. Here is an excerpt from the International Bible Encyclopedia that describes the pain. Eventual death came from the lungs filling with blood, a drowning while hanging by nails.

 

The suffering of death by crucifixion was intense, esp. in hot climates. Severe local inflammation, coupled with an insignificant bleeding of the jagged wounds, produced traumatic fever, which was aggravated by the exposure to the heat of the sun, the strained position of the body and insufferable thirst. The wounds swelled about the rough nails and torn and lacerated tendons and nerves caused excruciating agony. The arteries of the head and stomach were surcharged with blood and a terrific throbbing headache ensued. The mind was confused and filled with anxiety and dread foreboding. The victim of crucifixion literally died a thousand deaths. Tetanus not rarely supervened and the rigors of the attending convulsions would tear at the wounds and add to the burden of pain, till at last the bodily forces were exhausted and the victim sank to unconsciousness and death

 

In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus knew exactly what was to come and He suffered with anxiety.  The Bible says that He asked God if there was any other way to accomplish the will of the Father, but then said those glorious words, “Not my will, but thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  Jesus told His disciples that He was overwhelmed and sorrowful unto death (Mark 14:34). The pressure within Him was so great that His capillaries burst causing blood to pour out of the sweat glands.  This was extreme anxiety and sorrow He was experiencing not to mention the spiritual torture of demons that no one could see. The sky turned dark in the middle of the day.  

 

Jesus fully understands our struggle with anxiety…

I say this only to remind you that we have a God who fully understands anxiety, fear, and being overwhelmed.  He experienced it to a greater degree than any human being ever could. He understands what it feels like to be alone in the darkness.

The most important part of this is why was this the way the Father chose to die for humanity.  He was the lamb of God as John the Baptist called Him, but the lambs of the Old Testament did not suffer like this.  They were slaughtered and died instantly. Why the great suffering?

First, He chose to suffer to this extreme so that we would be comforted as we pray that God knows how heavy our hearts become with fear and anxiety.  We can have confidence that He does not scoff at our prayers, but He responds with great understanding.  

Secondly, He was to put upon Himself the fullest measure of punishment for sin.  He had to experience to the absolute extreme all of the consequences of sin and death.  The Bible says the sting of death is sin (1 Corinthians 15:56). Death is a resolute separation from the presence of God.  Without God, we are helpless to defend ourselves against the powers of darkness that fill us with passions of the flesh, the expectation of darkness, and fear of heartache.  Jesus had to suffer it all at full strength. This is why we hear the strangest words coming from His mouth, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me” (Matthew 27:46). He was quoting David in a time of trouble, but it reveals the loneliness He felt, even separation from God, the Father.

 

 

He took upon Himself all that sin and death had to offer on our behalf. 

We have sinned and deserve what He got, but He never sinned so that He could take upon Himself the sorrow and anxiety that should have been ours.  

Faith in Christ means total forgiveness of sin and complete freedom from the effects of sin.  This is why God describes the devil’s work as shadows. Shadows make everything look darker, but for the believer absolved of all consequences of sin, the most the devil can do is create shadows.  And shadows have no substance.

On his own, the devil can only create shadows that produce shadows around us and anxiety within us.  But we have the truth that says no matter how things look, God is going to use it for our good. We do not have to worry about the future when we are living in Christ.  Even the worst things that happen to us, God will use for good. I talk about this in more depth in my first book Prepare for Greater Things.  Even when Abraham lied, God used it to add blessings.  This is our hope. God never leaves us in the shadows. We may go through them, but He always brings us back to the Light.

 

If you are filled with anxiety and sorrow, turn your eyes toward the promises of God. 

He is making all things new (Isaiah 43:18-19). Don’t let fear win. It has no power over you because Jesus defeated it on the cross.  It only has power if you give it power. Focus your eyes on the God who turns all the devil’s work against us into blessings for our future.   

Whatever shadows you face, remember Christ died so that you will only face shadows.  The devil will create circumstances and issues that cause everything to look so dark, but He has been defeated.  He can’t accomplish what He desires.  His weapons will never accomplish their goal in your heart (Isaiah 54:17).  If you are suffering, it is for a time to prepare your heart for greater things.  Hold on to the promise.  Wait upon the Lord.  You will be delivered.

I pray for all of you that God would help you turn your eyes to His promise and His plan that you might be filled with hope again.  And I hope you will share this with anyone you know walking through the shadows.  Leave me a comment and let me know how God has pulled you through the shadows of darkness.  Or if you are in the shadows, leave me a prayer request in the comment area.  I would love to pray specifically for you.

Live Blessed and Be a Blessing!

Pastor Lee.net

PS: I would love to help you if you need personal Biblical guidance and if you haven’t already, sign up to receive these devotions to your inbox daily.  If you missed yesterday’s devotion, you can read it now.


Pastor Lee and AmyPastor Lee is a pastor and Biblical life coach.  He has been helping people through counseling, pastoring, teaching, and preaching for 20+ years.  His ministry focuses on helping people overcome the strongholds of the past and press on into God’s plan for an abundant life.  He has been married to his wife, Amy for 28 years.  He has three sons and one daughter-in-love.  For more about Pastor Lee or to get some Biblical advice, go to the About page.