Great Night

Tonight at C.R. I facilitated a group with my friend Nettie and all of the women had a chance to share. I put a little something about myself in the mix to help them open up. They all did and between tears and laughter the night went well as what they were carrying that hurt was getting out and the feeling of peace filled the room. God was there again tonight and I am grateful to be a little part of this wonderful CR a Christ based Center.

Later,

Pat,

Child of God

A lifelong love YouVersion Devotional

“God as Father-in-Law”
It came almost as a warning, and frankly, I needed one at the time. I was a young husband, and during an intense time of prayer, I sensed God telling me very directly that Lisa wasn’t just my wife, but she was also His daughter and I was to treat her accordingly.

This was a moment of revelation for me, and the force of this insight grew once I had kids of my own. If you want to get on my good side, just be good to one of my kids.

Conversely, if you really want to make me angry, pick on my kids. Be mean to them. My blood pressure will go up if your name is even mentioned because I’d much rather you mess with me than with one of my kids.

So when I realized I was married to God’s daughter—and that you, women, were married to God’s sons—everything about how I viewed marriage changed. God feels about my wife—His daughter—in an even holier and more passionate way than I feel about my own daughters. Suddenly, my marriage was no longer about just me and one other person; it was very much a relationship with a passionately interested third partner. I realized one of my primary forms of worship throughout the rest of my life would be honoring God by taking care of a woman who would always be, in His divine mind, “His little girl.”

We often hear pastors contemplate the fatherhood of God, a wonderful and true doctrine. But if you want to change your marriage, extend this analogy and spend some time meditating about God as Father-in-Law. Because when you marry a believer, He is!

* Have you ever thought of your spouse as the son/daughter of God? How does this change your relationship (both actions and attitudes) with him/her?

Finding freedom from stress YouVersion Devotional

Shift your focus.

Stress doesn’t have to define your story. We’ve learned stress is a natural part of life, but Jesus can help us completely overcome it through His eternal peace. So, how can we surrender stress and keep moving forward with our lives? 

We’ve got to shift our focus off our stress and onto our God. But where do we even begin? First of all, know that God cares about all your stress. Whether you’re freaking out about your midterm or having a mental breakdown about what to do with the rest of your life, our God cares about it and will give you peace. His peace may not always be what you expect, but it will always be what you need. 

So, take a look at how we can shift the focus off our stress. 

Worship before you’re ready. Paul teaches us what to do when we’re dealing with stress in Philippians 4, and he opens by telling us to always rejoice in the Lord. Always. As in, we worship God when we feel like it and when we don’t because even though our mood changes, God never does. He is always worthy of our worship, even when our circumstances are rough. When we worship God, we remember who He is and what He’s brought us through. And God is bigger than our stress and our worries. 
Surrender your stress. Our next step is to pray and release control. We’ve got to completely let go of our situation and trust that God will take care of us. In the message version of Philippians 4, it says to “shape your worries into prayers … it’s wonderful what can happen when Christ displaces worry in your life.” Releasing stress means just that—fully surrendering and not looking back. 
Redirect your thoughts. It’s not enough to just try to stop stressing. We’ve got to change what we think about. Paul writes that we should focus on what is pure, right, and lovely. Focus your mind on those things, not on what you’re stressed about. Remember to be grateful for what you have, what God has brought you through, and the amazing people in your life. Allow that gratefulness to flood your mind and your heart. Finally, take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ. Replace “I’m stressed,” with “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Shatter the lies of stress with the powerful truth of God’s Word. 
When you build a habit of doing those three things, you can experience God’s peace in every situation. So recognize your stress, take action to replace it with truth, and present it to your heavenly Father who cares about you. You can experience peace every day, so seek it out and leave your stress behind. 

Talk It Over

Which of these three ideas do you need to focus on more often? 
What are some lies stress commonly tells you? What can you replace those lies with? 
Decide how you’ll react the next time you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed. 

Finding freedom from stress YouVersion Devotional

Stop giving stress power.

“I’m stressed” seems to be a pretty standard greeting these days, much like, “I’m busy.” And if we’re honest, we can often use our stress as a source of pride. Saying we’re stressed can make us feel important because even though we may not like the feeling stress gives us, we like the status boost it brings. 

In our fast-paced culture, stress is seen as the norm. It’s losing its negative connotations and has instead become associated with hard work, ambition, and success. We assume successful people are stressed people, so we strive harder. And a lack of stress can make us feel lazy or unmotivated. 

The result? We’re constantly trying to do more and be more, which brings—you guessed it—more stress. We’re overcommitted because we can’t say no; we’re settling for superficial connections online instead of carving time for meaningful conversation; and we’re building stress into our identities.  

But stressed-out, maxed-out lives are not what God had in mind for us. Jesus said that our enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That seems extreme, but stress can steal from us. It steals sleep. It steals happiness. It steals our mental capacity. And all the busyness that fuels our stress could leave us so distracted by the small stuff in life that we miss out on the big plans God has for us. 

In contrast, Jesus said He came to bring us life and life to the full. Jesus came bringing peace and abundance, which is the opposite of a stressed (or drawn tight) kind of life. 

So it’s time to reevaluate our stress. Let’s stop giving stress power. Let’s stop using it as a bragging right. Instead, let’s use a lack of stress as an opportunity to stand out, to be different, and to share our faith. 

When the world around us is drowning in stress, we will choose to stay calm, be still, and remember that God is God. When others constantly compete and compare with one another, we’re going to celebrate and cheer for one another. When other people are overwhelmed and hopeless, we will be people who carry such hope that unbelievers look on and ask us why we have the hope that we have. 

We can find freedom from our stress when we stop giving it power and start turning toward the source of all power—our God. So let’s stop living in stress and instead take Jesus at His Word and live full lives.

Talk It Over

What would you say are some of the root causes behind your stress? 
What do you think your life would look like if you eliminated your stress? 
How can you stop giving stress power over your life?