4 Things To Remember When You Feel Discouraged And Defeated

~ Marc and Angel

This morning I didn’t feel like doing anything.  It’s a combination of exhaustion from a few days of hard work and preparation for our upcoming Think Better, Live Better 2018 conference, and a lack of sleep with a sick 3-year-old in the house.

I couldn’t motivate myself to do anything important, which is a rare occurrence for me.  I just felt completely discouraged and defeated.  I started overthinking things and doubting myself, and wondering whether anything I do is worthwhile.

I sat there in this funk for nearly an hour and wondered how to get out of it.  Should I just forget about today?  Should I just give up on this project, because I’m not as good at it as I thought I was?

That’s what I was considering, at least for a little while.  But the better part of me knew this mild state of depression was temporary, and so I dug into my own intellectual toolbox for solutions – little tricks of the mind that can have a real effect on reality.

Here’s what works for me – four things to keep in mind (and do) when you feel discouraged and defeated:

1.  You are not the center of the universe (stop making it all about YOU). – I think we all have the tendency to put ourselves at the center of the universe, and see everything from the viewpoint of how it affects us.  But this can have all kinds of adverse effects, from feeling sorry for ourselves when things aren’t going exactly as planned, to doubting ourselves when we aren’t perfect.  So this morning, instead of worrying so much about myself, I thought about other people I might help.  Finding little ways to help others gets me out of my self-centered thinking, and then I’m not wallowing in self-pity anymore – I’m starting to think about what others need.  I’m not doubting myself, because the question of whether I’m good enough or not is no longer the central question.  The central question now is about what others need.  Thus, thinking about others instead of myself helps me move forward.  (as discussed in the “Inspiration” chapter of our book)

2.  You are more than one thing (loosen up and stretch your identity). – We all have this picture in our minds of ourselves – this idea of what kind of person we are.  When this idea gets threatened, we react defensively.  People may question whether we did a good job, and this threatens our idea of being a competent person, so we become angry or hurt by the criticism.  Someone falsely accuses us of something and this threatens our idea that we’re a good person, and so we get angry and argumentative.  My identity of myself as someone who’s motivated and productive and has great ideas… this was getting in the way this morning.  When I wasn’t productive, it made me feel defeated because I began subconsciously worrying that I wasn’t who I thought I was.  My solution was to realize that I’m not just one thing.  I’m not always productive – sometimes I am, but sometimes I’m unproductive too.  I’m not always motivated — sometimes I am, but other times I’m feeling lazy.  And obviously I don’t always have great ideas either – because that’s impossible.  The truth is, I can be many things, and remembering this helps me stretch my identity so it isn’t so fragile.  Then it doesn’t matter if someone thinks I didn’t do a good job – because I don’t always do a good job.  I make mistakes.  I am less than perfect.  And that’s perfectly OK.  (as discussed in the “Self-Love” chapter of our book)

3. Today is still a priceless gift (make the best of it). – I only have so many days left on Earth.  I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number.  I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing… a miracle.  And that squandering this miracle is a crime – a horrible lack of appreciation for what I’ve been given.  And so, I reminded myself this morning that this day counts and that I still need to make the best of it.  That doesn’t mean I need to be hyper-productive or work myself into the ground, but that I should do something worthwhile.  Sometimes taking a break to nourish yourself is a worthwhile activity, because doing so allows you to regroup and do other worthwhile things.  But just sitting around in self-pity isn’t helpful.  So I got up and took my son for a long walk that we both enjoyed, and I came back feeling better.

4.  Even the tiniest possible step is progress. (take that tiny step). – It can be hard to get moving when you are seriously stuck.  This is how I felt a decade ago when I was stuck in a rut after simultaneously losing my breadwinning job and two loved ones to illness.  It was really hard to motivate myself when I didn’t think I had the strength to push forward – when I felt insanely horrible and sorry for myself.  But I took one tiny step every day, and it felt good, and I got stronger.  That’s what I did this morning too – I took the tiniest possible step.  Just turning on my computer, opening up a document, and writing a single sentence.  Such an action is so small as to seem insignificant, and yet so easy as to be possible when I was feeling defeated.  And it showed me the next step was possible, and the next.  And the end result is this email you’re reading now.  (as taught in the “Healing Your Depressed Mood” lesson of our course)

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Colossians 2:8 Does Not Condemn Philosophy

Some well-meaning but very misinformed Christians discourage the study of philosophy on the basis of a verse in Colossians chapter 2. In Colossians 2:8, the apostle Paul wrote: “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits[a] of the world, and not according to Christ.” This verse has become the chief proof-text for anti-philosophy Christians. In fact, even the famous reformed preacher John MacArthur argued against philosophy using this text. In The MacArthur Study Bible, he wrote “You know what philosophers are? They’re doodlers with words instead of pencils. They just make a whole lot of verbal squiggles. Colossians 2:8 says this: ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy.’” Unfortunately, this verse has been majorly misinterpreted.

KEEP THE TEXT IN ITS CONTEXT

Read more: http://cerebralfaith.blogspot.com/2018/10/colossians-28-does-not-condemn.html

5 Differences Between Law And Gospel Everyone Should Memorize

https://corechristianity.com/resource-library/articles/5-differences-between-law-and-gospel-everyone-should-memorize

Scripture Gives Us Many Reasons to Be Happy

BY RANDY ALCORN

When someone says, as many have, “Happiness isn’t in the Bible,” it’s not even slightly true. Even in versions that don’t frequently use the words happy and happiness, the concept is conspicuously present, not only in its many synonyms (see here and here), but in words such as contentmentpeacedelight, and dozens of others in every translation.

Consider this verse: “Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love” (Micah 7:18). Such a passage may not seem to be about happiness, yet if we understand its meaning, won’t we be flooded with happiness?

“Oh sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The Lord has made known his salvation” (Psalm 98:1-2). There are no joy-related words in this verse, yet doesn’t it make you joyful?

Consider the lame man who leaped and praised God (see Acts 3:1-10).His story won’t appear in a study of words related to happiness, but he was obviously overwhelmed with happiness.

“We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 2:1). No word for happiness is mentioned here, but how does it make you feel to know that Jesus is your advocate, your defense attorney? Can you imagine Jesus standing between you and your accuser, Satan (see Revelation 12:10)? The thought makes me smile, rejoice, and praise God.

Every passage that mentions our redemption; our new nature in Christ; and God’s love, grace, and mercy also makes a profound statement about our grounds for happiness.

The Covenant

A Broadcast with R.C. Sproul

Paul’s letter to the Galatians was strict and severe. But we benefit from his rebuke. From his expositional series in the book of Galatians, R.C. Sproul explains how this letter is helpful for us.

5 examples of what to say or pray in worship

Have you ever struggled with what to say in between songs as a worship leader?

I do not think worship leaders need to say much, but sharing brief thoughts in between songs can significantly help your congregation connect the dots in worship and encourage them to engage.

I usually have one or two places in the worship song setlist where I will share a thought or lead the congregation in prayer. Here are five types of things you can share with your congregation. I included some scripts of things I’ve said in the past to give you some concrete examples.

1 – Call to Worship

One of our responsibilities as worship leaders is to give our congregation a compelling reason for why they should engage. People are coming into worship distracted by life situations, the 24/7 stream of media they have in their pocket, or what they are going to eat for lunch, and we need to help them focus on God. I’ll say something like,

This morning I want to invite you to engage in our time of worship by singing and focusing all of your attention on God. The next hour is not a time to be a spectator, but a time to remind ourselves of the truth of the Gospel and give God the thanks he deserves. Allow God to work in your life this morning by being present and active in this time of worship.

Another thing you can share for a Call to Worship is a passage of scripture from the book of Psalms. One of my favorites is Psalm 100. “Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.” There’s nothing quite as powerful as scripture itself to inspire your congregation to worship. Make sure you read with enthusiasm!

2 – Song explanation

Some of the best things to say in a worship service come from explaining songs. Remarkable songs are being written today, but for your congregation member who is hearing a song for the first time, it can be difficult to process the lyrics while learning how to sing it. In 10-20 seconds, you can shed light on song meaning for your congregation.

For example, a few weeks ago we played the song, “Touch the Sky” by Hillsong United. I think this is a well-written worship song. I also believe that this song needs a little bit of context for people to understand what it is about.

It is a song inspired by the Sermon on the Mount and the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom. If you want to be first, be last. If you want to be great, be the least. If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to the other. Love your enemies. If you want to find your life, lose it. The lyrics of Touch the Sky brilliantly express this theme from the Sermon on the Mount, but that is not immediately apparent if you are never given the context. Before singing this song, I would say,

We are going to sing a song that reminds us of the upside-down nature of God’s Kingdom. The world tells us that if we are to advance or make progress in life, we need to acquire more, become greater, and more independent. The way of God’s Kingdom is much different. If you want to ascend in status, you must descend. If you want to be great, humble yourself. If you want to find life, be willing to give it up. It’s a tough message, but it’s how God does incredible work in our life. Let’s sing this together.

3 – Personal Story

Sharing personal stories are a great way to allow your congregation to get to know you so that they trust you and want to follow you. I like sharing personal experiences that are super brief, and I can leverage them to make a teaching point about worship. For example, one time I shared something like this,

Friday evening my wife and I went to a Rockies game at Coors Field. Honestly, I’m not that into baseball, and I find it quite boring. But I love when it gets to the seventh inning stretch. Although it is so routine, there is something powerful about all thousands of strangers standing and singing “take me out to the ball came” together. I transformed from a passive spectator to being a passionate bandwagon fan for all of two minutes singing that song. Singing is powerful, and that’s why we do it together at church. But we have a much greater reason and purpose other than sports tradition. We get to unify our voices together to praise God.

4 – Prayer of invocation

Prayer of invocation is a fancy way of referring to a prayer that asks God to be present with us in worship and transform us. That’s the essence and goal of Sunday worship. We want God to transform us whether it’s through the preached Word, communion, or singing songs. All of it is worship, and all of it has tremendous power when God is present and working through it.

Sometimes in between songs, I pray,

God, we ask for your presence to move powerfully this morning. We need it badly. We are broken people. We need to be made new. Speak your truth to us through your Word. Remind us of your love for us through Jesus. Shape our hearts, so we love you more and love our neighbors more. We know that you are living, and active. You have the power to change anything.

5 – Prayer of confession and assurance

One thing the contemporary church in America lacks on Sunday morning is a good dose of honesty concerning the human condition. I have seen God do the most work in my life when I confess my sins.

As worship leaders, we want to help our congregation get in the habit of confessing their sins. To clarify, I think there are two forms of confession. First, you confess your sins in a personal setting to a trusted friend or mentor. Everyone must have this as a part of their private life. The second type of confession is corporate. Corporate confession is when we as a church body acknowledge together how we have wronged God and our neighbor. That’s the kind of confession which I am advocating we lead our congregation.

I think we need to help them learn the language of confession and help them practice admitting their sinfulness by doing it corporately as a body. Then that will translate into a greater willingness to do it in their personal lives. Sometimes this may be a prayer I lead them in.

God, as we worship you this morning, we are in awe of your greatness and holiness. But, we look at ourselves and realize how far we have fallen short. We have wronged you, and we have wrong our neighbors. We ask for your forgiveness, and we ask that by the power of your Holy Spirit we will walk in your ways and live life as you intended.

Sometimes I use a traditional prayer of confession reading like the one in the Book of Common Prayer. It’s always important to follow up a prayer of confession with an assurance of forgiveness. Maybe read a Bible verse about forgiveness through Jesus or sing a song after that emphasizes forgiveness. We never want the congregation to be stuck navel-gazing in their sinfulness but be inspired and moved by the hope of the Gospel!

Whatever you say in between songs, I encourage you to keep it brief and put some thought into preparing what you will say. It’s a crucial step in the worship planning process that I think is often overlooked.

Correspond with Jake at: hello@churchfront.com

Your One Best Answer to People Who Say Jesus Never Existed (And Other Skeptical Claims)

https://stream.org/best-answer-people-who-say-jesus-never-existed/

 

Then read:

Hostile Ancient Non-Biblical Testimony Related To Jesus Confirms The Gospel Accounts

https://www.thepoachedegg.net/2018/10/hostile-ancient-non-biblical-testimony-related-to-jesus-confirms-the-gospel-accounts-2.html