Archive for April, 2014

S-T-R-E-S-S

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014 | Uncategorized

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I suppose I have more than the average amount of causes for stress. Sometimes there are financial challenges. Other times there are people challenges. And then there are challenges that give evidence of spiritual warfare. So, what do I seek to do when I am under stress?

1. Recognize the signs of stress taking its toll.

Most often the signs are obvious and directly related to the cause. But at other times the toll can be having trouble sleeping, being distracted, or responding in a way that is out of character. If I toss and turn and can’t get back to sleep in the middle of the night, it often means something is distracting and troubling me.

Your symptoms may be different, but I suggest you become sensitive to noticing when they occur.

2. Cast your care on the Lord.

Fist Peter 5:7 says, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (Interestingly, the word translated anxiety is merimna in Greek and has the connotation of distracting care.)

This verse offers one of my favorite promises in Scripture. I can cast my anxieties on the Lord because He loves me and wants to help through troubling times. So, the first thing I do, once I recognize that I am stressed, is to cast my cares on God: “God, I can’t handle this, but you can. Please help me cope with the distracting care.”

Normally that helps immediately. But sometimes I get overly concerned again. What do I do then? Cast that same care on the Lord again. If it comes back again, I do the same thing. Before too long the “care” seems to stick with the Lord, for which I am very grateful.

3. Ask for wisdom concerning the real problem.

Most of the time my concern isn’t imaginary; it is about a real problem. And, just because God has given me peace doesn’t mean the problem is solved. If the problem had been easy to solve, I and others would have probably just solved it. So, where abiding stress is present, probably supernatural wisdom is needed to figure out what to do.

And how do we appropriate supernatural wisdom? According to James1:5, “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” That is another scriptural promise I claim often.

Recently, I was having trouble determining what to share in an upcoming talk I was to give. As the date for the talk approached, and I still had no ideas, I became a bit stressed. So, I asked God for some breakthrough ideas. He gave them to me so quickly, I wondered why I hadn’t claimed James 1:5 sooner.

4. Walk with God continuously.

No doubts you have heard me share this thought before. But it is so important that I don’t hesitate to repeat it. We need to communicate with God constantly throughout the day.

There are many benefits to that, but one of them is that God then fills our hearts with His abundant peace. That is what Paul tells us in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I hope my many experiences in dealing with stress will be helpful to you. On the one hand, all of us are way over our heads to be able to deal with life as it comes at us. On the other hand, it is well within God’s power to give peace and solutions.

Where My Heart Is

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 | Uncategorized

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Often, Judy and I host events in our home for different groups of our staff members. There is usually a time for questions, and frequently Judy and I are asked about our experience in walking with God. So I thought it would be good to write about some attitudes and practices I have found helpful in my relationship with God.

Let me first say that I have a long way to go in my walk, and I am not holding myself up as a perfect example. But, the following do help me stay close to God and His plan for my life.

Gratitude

I make entries in my journal every day, and the first category is thanksgiving. I find a thankful spirit is a huge contributor to my overall willingness to trust and be close to God.

When “good things” happen, that is easy. When our daughter, Debbie, gave birth to our first granddaughter, Grace, on December 23, it was easy to be grateful for a beautiful, healthy child.
But when “bad things” happen, it is harder to be grateful. When Josh’s beloved grandfather, Marty, died rather suddenly, it was devastating to Josh. One of Judy’s primary ministries to Josh at that time was to help him say “Thank you, God” by faith.

Job says in Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.”

Engagement

I have found that the intensity of my walk with God is directly proportional to how constantly I am engaged with Him during the day. I try to have a running commentary with God concerning what is happening, what I see and how I feel.

In some ways it is similar to how Judy and I often maintain our relationship by debriefing about the day over dinner, or by texting or calling during the day.

Intentionality

God loves for us to do what He asks us to do. He also is pleased when we make the most of the opportunities He puts before us. And if we learn anything from the master’s reaction to the one-talent servant in the Parable of the Talents, God is quite displeased when we aren’t proactive in making use of what He gives us.

All of that has caused me to conclude that walking with God involves intentional action on our part – action to accomplish what He calls us to do. The Scriptures are loaded with examples of people who acted on God’s call:

1. To leave home for a distant land (Abram).
2. To defeat a Philistine giant (David).
3. To leave everything and follow Jesus (Peter).

Flexibility

Yet, while we need to focus on certain priorities, we also need to be flexible to redeem the unplanned opportunities God sends our way. Just a few days ago, I was at a restaurant putting the finishing touches on my preparation for a wedding ceremony I was to conduct in just a few hours. I wasn’t really looking to minister to anyone.

However, an older woman was looking for a place to put her tray down and eat. The only available spot was the table next to me, designed for two people. I encouraged her to sit at the table when she asked if sitting there would bother me. What I didn’t know was that there were two more people with her. When they all sat down, one of them was right across from me at my table.

Within a few minutes, I realized I needed to set aside what I was working on and talk to them. All three were strong Christians, but had some questions. I had a chance to share some thoughts and give them each a book, which I thought would help them. I had packed the books in my briefcase “just in case” someone might cross my path who could use them. I find that God often presents unexpected opportunities, and I have learned to be flexible in my walk.

I hope these thoughts and examples will be an encouragement to you as you walk with God.

Worldwide Day of Prayer

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 | Uncategorized

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Greetings,

Our next Worldwide Day of Prayer (WDP) will be Tuesday, April 22. Some of us will come together in small groups to pray. Others will gather in much larger groups. Whatever your context, it is a great privilege to be part of a global movement that commits itself to prayer. Prayer is a central part of who we are.

The biblical theme of our day comes from Hebrews 12:2: “Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus.”

The recent Winter Olympic Games featured many different events. But no matter which event, all of the athletes were disciplined and persistent toward their focus. In our pursuit to see spiritual movements everywhere, we must be diligent to maintain our focus on Christ.

It is not difficult to slip into a pattern where the time demands of ministry compete with our ability to put God first. The self-effort of athletes reaps rewards. But fruitfulness in ministry comes as we remain dependent upon God and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. When we pray with our whole heart, that happens.

Join me in setting aside the fourth Tuesday in April to re-focus our hearts and minds on Him. And over these next few weeks, I invite you to take a fresh, thoughtful look at Hebrews 12:1-3.

Running this race together,

Steve Douglass
President, Campus Crusade for Christ/Cru

Submit prayer requests to: global.prayer@ccci.org