Archives For July 2012

app icon english 200x200 Why I Love this Bible App (and you should too)

Bible App from www.youversion.com

This weekend at New Life I mentioned my favorite Bible reading website.

YouVersion.com , and their phenomenal Bible app, has been a regular part of my day for  years now.

Here are the top 3 reasons I love this resource:

  1. The App makes God’s Word available. Millions of people have downloaded the Bible app to iPhones, iPods, Droids… I even read it on my antiquated Blackberry. It makes God’s Word accessible. I get to carry dozens of translations right in my pocket, read when I’m on the go, or even listen to God’s Word while I’m driving.
  2. The Reading Plans are incredibly helpful for keeping me on track. I have to confess, I love checklists. Starting a reading plan means I don’t have to guess what to read each day. I simply take the next step, and allow God’s Word to speak.
  3. It’s free. (to us) YouVersion is a ministry of the amazing people of LifeChurch.TV. They have made it their mission to show our generation “how God’s Word relates to everyone, no matter where they are in life.” Learn more here.

So what’s stopping you? Sign up, download the app, and start reading. You’ll be glad you did.

“Anxiety weighs down the heart,
but a kind word cheers it up.” (Proverbs 12:25)

Has your heart ever been weighed down? Mine has.

Stress and worry have a way of piling up quickly.

That’s one of the reasons I surround myself with positive people. I need encouragement on a regular basis. The most genuinely positive people I know are Christians. Why? It’s because their hope comes from an eternal perspective.
Christians are great encouragers because their hope is not placed in a cause, a set of circumstances, or everything working out smoothly. Their hope is placed solely in the God who loves them, cares for them, and even died for them.

Knowing that our Father in Heaven is in control of every ultimate outcome gives us peace and confidence. Knowing He loves and cares for us gives us joy. That joy can then overflow from our heart, through our mouths, and into the lives of those who are weighed down with anxiety.

So today, set your sights on your Father in Heaven. Draw strength and joy from your relationship with Him. You never know who He’ll put in your path. It may be your turn to offer a kind word and cheer up someone with a heavy heart.

 Relationship Rescue: 10 Steps to Put Out the Fire

Wildfire spreads fast.

Relationships can go up in flames in a heartbeat.

Ever get burned by relational conflict? It spreads like wildfire. The longer it goes unchecked, the more difficult it is to stop. Use these 10 steps to douse the flames, and you’ll save numerous relationships throughout your lifetime.

1)  Stop it before it starts. Sometimes all it takes is a spark to ignite a raging fire. Put the matches away.

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam; so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.”(Proverbs 17:14 NIV)

See also:  (Proverbs 20:3 NIV) (2 Timothy 2:22-25 NIV)

2)  Mind your own business. Seriously, if the conversation isn’t directed to you, butt out of it.

“Interfering in someone else’s argument is as foolish as yanking a dog’s ears.” (Proverbs 26:17 NLT)

This used to be common sense. With the advent of facebook, it’s gone right out the window. If you like getting bit, then by all means, yank on that dog’s ears. But if you’re tired of bleeding, leave that dog alone.

3) Don’t make a bad situation worse.

“In your anger do not sin” Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold..” (Ephesians 4:26, 27 NIV)

Being angry isn’t necessarily a sin. Sometimes anger is appropriate, even good. But when you do something stupid and hurtful because you’re angry, you’ve just thrown gasoline on the fire. Get ready for a flare-up. Try taking a step back before something stupid and explosive comes out of your mouth.

4) Deal with the source of the problem.

“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God.” (James 4:1-2 NIV)

At root, our relational problems are spiritual problems. The heart is where things get goofed up. Knowing that empowers us to do something about it. Now you can go to God, ask Him to change your heart, and start covering some ground. If you don’t like what’s in your heart, ask Him to begin the process of transforming you.

5) Root out the Resentment. Unless you like being bitter, this is a necessary step.

“Resentment kills a fool, and envy slays the simple.” (Job 5:2 NIV)

Resentment is focused, sustained anger. It’s acidic, and left unchecked, will corrode away and hollow out a heart. This is the perfect example of something we need supernatural help to change. God can change our perspective, help us gain resolution, and even forgive those who have hurt us. Ask Him to root out the resentment. You’ll breathe easier soon.

6) Lose the Pride. The world does not revolve around you. (Shocking, right?)

“Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” (Proverbs 13:10 NIV) See also:  (Proverbs 16:18 NIV) (James 4:6 ESV)

Humility, the opposite of pride, is not thinking less of yourself. It’s thinking of yourself less. Give it a try.

7) Stop caring about what others think.

“The fear of human opinion disables; trusting in God protects you from that.” (Proverbs 29:25 The Message)

I’m not saying to ignore all others. Just don’t build your life around others’ opinions of you. Care more about what God thinks. Otherwise, you’ll never be satisfied.

8) Prioritize others. It may seem risky, but isn’t this just how Jesus acted?

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4 NKJV)

9) Learn how to get along.

“Now I appeal to Euodia and Syntyche. Please, because you belong to the Lord, settle your disagreement.” (Philippians 4:2 NLT)

Not every relationship you have is going to be pleasant, easy and natural. Some people’s personalities grate against your every nerve. Don’t worry. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re not everybody’s cup of tea either. No one is. Not everyone has to be your best friend, but you do have to learn how to play nice. Welcome to adulthood. Figure it out.

10) Reverse the flow. Change today will reap benefits tomorrow.

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:7-8 NIV)

The sooner you change the content of what you’re building into your relationships, the sooner you’ll enjoy the increased peace that results. Keep yourself in check, and go back to step 1 whenever you’re tempted to ignite another fire.

BONUS:  Overwhelmed? Count on God’s help when you take steps to heal and preserve relationships.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus.”

(Romans 15:5 NIV)

Some more thoughts on relationships:

(10 Ways to Keep a Conflict Going)

(Pull the Plug: When You Should Kill a Relationship)

(Relationships Require Risk)

 10 Ways to Keep a Conflict Going

10 Ways to Keep a Conflict Going

Let me guess. Recently, somebody you know said something stupid to you. Or hurtful. Or untrue. And you’re ticked. Your feelings are hurt. You feel let down or betrayed. It happens.

We all know how a conflict starts. But only those of us who have plenty of practice know these tried and true ways to keep a disagreement or argument going.

CAUTION: Disregarding these instructions may lead to forgiveness, reconciliation and even peace.

That said, here’s 10 Ways to Keep a Conflict Going:

  1. Make sure you get “the last word”, preferably by texting. Face-to-face communication is too risky.
  2. Make it your mission to hurt them worse than they hurt you. That always works.
  3. Run your mouth to your “friends” on facebook. Puking your problems all over the internet is a fool-proof way to keep the pain flowing. Plus, it’s entertaining for those of us with too much sense to do so.
  4. Replay the hurt over and over in your head. It will never fail to anger you again… and again… adding constant fuel to the fire. If you don’t do this, you risk forgetting about it altogether.
  5. Make a mental list of all the injustices you’ve suffered. Better yet, write them down. No offense is to small. Commit them to memory so you can cherish them forever.
  6. Convince yourself that you deserve to be miserable. “I worked hard for this bad mood! Think I’m letting it go? Heck no!”
  7. Rationalize your way out of responsibility for any part of the conflict. “Of course I’m completely, 100% innocent! Pshh!”
  8. Minimize the hurtful things you’ve done. You walk on water, don’t you?
  9. Do NOT ask for forgiveness in any way, shape or form for your own bad behavior. It’s a sign of weakness. Hold out for an unconditional surrender form them. That way you can gloat later.
  10. Do NOT pray for God’s help in patching up your differences. There’s too high of a chance He’ll point out the “plank in your own eye” before you remove the “splinter” from their eye.

Proverbs 26:20 says, “Without wood a fire goes out; without a gossip a quarrel dies down.”

Keep working this list, and you’ll never run the risk of that conflict dying down. You can thank me later.

Got your own suggestion to add to the list? Add it in the comments!

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 How to Get Help: Quitting Porn for Good

Getting Help: Quitting Porn for Good

This series began with a post called, “Porn by the Numbers“, in which I shared just a few stats that shed light about the role of pornography in America today. Long story short, pornography, which cheapens and deadens the God-given design for pure sex between a husband and a wife, is being consumed by the boatload.

If you’ve ever tried to move away from a bad habit and toward a new normal, you know you’re going to meet resistance. When you step out of the darkness and into the light, you can experience great freedom. However, you may also step into what I call ” the heavy gravity zone”. There are many reasons it’s difficult.

  1. First of all, if you’ve been consuming porn, do not be surprised when you find it difficult to stop, even if you know you’re doing the right thing. That’s normal. If quitting a bad habit was easy, no one would smoke, drink too much, or overeat.
  2. There are physiological reasons that it’s difficult to stop. Your body will physically crave the endorphin dump that occurs while being stimulated by pornographic images.
  3. Then there is the less-obvious but still powerful force of habit. If viewing porn is what you’ve always done when you’re all alone, then you’re going to have to find something else to do.
  4. Finally, there are spiritual reasons it’s difficult to stop a sinful activity (yes, that’s an old word, but it includes all behavior that’s contrary to God’s plan).

You’ll need a strong dose of encouragement, a support system, and most of all, God’s power to help make the change last.

If you’d like to move away from porn and into a life of purity, this post is for you. Here’s how:

  • Encouragement for the Quitter

You’re not the first person to get wrapped up in something you wish you didn’t. And you won’t be the last. The good news is that you don’t have to stay where you’re at. Today could be the first day on your road to purity. Take the next steps, and you’ll be well on the way.

  • Make the big change. Take action.
Good intentions are not enough. So stop telling yourself “I can do this” and delaying your recovery. You can’t without taking these steps. What kind of concrete actions do you need to take in order to change your behavior? Do you need to fast from your the internet altogether? Is it time to install accountability software on your PC?
  • Get Your Support System in Place

You cannot do this alone. No one can. If you could have, you would have already. You need the support of a few people who will love you unconditionally, support you relentlessly, and speak plain truth into your life when you need it. Your spouse, trusted friend or your pastor can help you. Is it time to (gulp) have that first difficult conversation where you ask someone for help, prayer and accountability?

  • Get God’s Help

You need all the help you can get. The good news is that God is willing and able to give you exactly what you need. No matter what you’ve done, what you’ve seen, or where you’ve been, God offers forgiveness through Jesus Christ.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

What’s even better than forgiveness? The power to lead a different life than you did yesterday. Paul, a man who experienced tremendous change in his life, tells us what’s available for the believer:

“…his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead…” (Ephesians 1:19-20)

So there it is.

Simple, difficult steps.

Take one, then the other. Believe that God has made a life of purity available for you, and step in his direction. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Read the Whole Series:

  1. Porn by the Numbers
  2. Why Porn is Killing You
  3. Telling God about your Porn Habit
  4. Telling your Spouse about your Porn Habit
  5. Telling your Trusted Friend about your Porn Habit
  6. How to Get Help: Quitting Porn for Good