According to the American Institute of Stress, between 75 and 90 percent of all visits to primary-care physicians result from stress-related disorders.
I’ve been reading a great book, Deadly Emotions by Don Colbert, M.D. Much of what he is talking about has to do with understanding how the mind, body and spirit all are connected. When you are not healthy emotionally or spiritually, it is almost impossible to be healthy physically. I have always believed that our thoughts, emotions, body and spirit are all connected and affect each other.
Here are some statements from early in the book:
“The mind and body are linked. How you feel emotionally can determine how you feel physically.”
“Certain emotions release hormones into the physical body that, in turn, can trigger the development of a host of diseases.”
“Researchers have directly and scientifically linked emotions to hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and disease related to the immune system. Studies have also highly correlated emotions with infections, allergies and autoimmune diseases.”
He compares how you get rid of dandelions or crabgrass. If you just mow over them or snap off the top, it may look good for a short period of time, but soon it is back and stronger. His point is you have to get the root if you want to get rid of the weed.
We often try to do what we can to get rid of the immediate symptom and don’t go after the root. We take medication and the problem comes back, we take another round of treatment and the problem comes back, over and over again, often with out much success. Many times we only mask the real problems, by treating the visible symptoms.
The author talks at length about stress and how it affects the body. “The body doesn’t know or care what caused the stress. All the body knows is that it is experiencing stress.” He defines stress as mental or physical tension, strain, or pressure. This often occurs when our perception of events don’t meet our expectations and we do not manage our reaction well. For example when your spouse does not meet your expectations you get stressed out. You might expect your spouse to pay the bills, do the laundry, fix the car or change the diapers. When that does not happen it can cause tension, strain or pressure in the relationship if you don’t manage your response.
According to Dr. Colbert, An emotion like fear, triggers more than fourteen hundred known physical and chemical stress reactions and activates more than thirty different hormones and neurotransmitters. If that happens a lot, your body gets slammed with these hormones and can get out of whack over time.
Some emotions are much more damaging than others. Several that he lists are rage, unforgiveness, depression, anger, worry, frustration, fear, grief, and guilt. These emotions when experienced over long periods of time will most likely cause physical illness or disease.
Did you know that just thinking about a previous deep emotional hurt can cause the body to respond as if those hurts are occurring in that very moment? The longer you dwell on those old hurts and wounds the more you condition your body to respond to the stress more quickly. After awhile one small thought about a person or past situation can trigger a high level of stress within seconds.
Maybe you are feeling highly stressed right now. Maybe you are experiencing some of these damaging emotions on a daily basis. If that is the case, you are heading for some serious health problems or are having severe health problems. You need to get help in getting healthy emotionally. Maybe its seeing a counselor or pastor. Maybe it is meeting with a mentor. Here are a few areas to focus on:
Emotional health is so important to our overall health. I hope you will take this seriously and make it a high priority this next year to work on your emotional health. I will continue to share insights from this book and others on this topic as I read and process the information.
This time of the year we are reminded to be generous and give. We buy gifts for the people we care about and many people give to the needy or to charities that help the poor & needy. This generosity is nice, but it should be how we think and behave all year long.
In 2009 I saw a dramatic increase in the number of people looking for financial assistance. At NewPointe Community Church we have a Helps ministry that gives financial assistance to people in need and do home improvements & repairs. We have a good system in place to determine financial need and to help them work on improving their situation.
Everyone requesting help must fill out an application that includes their financial information. They are required to listen to a CD about money and return the notes filled in. They are also required to attend two services at NewPointe. They also are briefly interviewed to clear up any questions about their situation.
Once they have done those things we will give assistance at a limited amount. If someone needs additional help, they are required to meet with a mentor one-on-one to develop a plan of action and a budget. This system has worked very well.
Many of the organizations in Tuscarawas and Holmes County refer people to us for help. For NewPointe to continue this ministry to people in need, people need to be generous the entire year. We have become a beckon of light to people needing help. Many of these folks have met or are still meeting with a mentor and are now attending NewPointe.
The vision for the Helps ministry is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. This starts by meeting some basic needs, encouraging them and having them come to church. We want to help them take their next step, whatever that might be.
I am anticipating the needs to continue to rise in 2010 and would love to help more people take a step closer to Christ. Consider giving regularly, it is making a huge impact in many families. Here are some stats:
If you would like to help by giving financially to this ministry, you can write Helps Fund on your check when you give at NewPointe or you can come to a First Wednesday Service and put money in the Black collection Box. All funds collected at the First Wednesday services goes directly to help people in need.
If you would like to volunteer to help on home improvement projects you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you are considering your giving for 2010, please consider the Helps fund at NewPointe.
Yesterday I was outside doing some last minute yard work before the first snow storm. We have a fairly large backyard, and I noticed there were a lot of branches and sticks in the yard from our numerous trees. This is something I do often throughout the year. Usually after a windy day or a rainy day some branches are down.
As I began to pick up branches a thought came to mind – Picking up sticks in my backyard is a lot like life. Let me explain.
To pick up sticks I have to bend down and get close to the ground. After a while I have to go dump the sticks in my hands, so I can collect more sticks. Every so often I need to stop and look over the entire yard to see where I have missed some sticks.
In life we bend down to do things like items on our to-do lists. We get into the tasks of life, work and family. When we are down in it, close to the ground, we can’t see the entire yard. That is why it is so important to stand up, step back and look at the big picture as often as you can.
If you are always doing tasks and have your eyes focused on the little piece of ground you are working on, you can miss some pretty big stuff. You may not see a train wreck coming or maybe you miss some great opportunities. You can mess up your relationships and lose influence with the people around you.
Sometimes you also need to go and empty your arms of the sticks you have been picking up. This frees you to pick up even more sticks or bigger sticks.
So how do you step back and look at this big picture and unload your sticks in life?
First you need to take time to ask your self some important questions – I often do this in a day long retreat.
After asking yourself questions like that, you need to develop a plan and develop action steps. This is best done for me through setting goals. This time of year I am thinking big picture for 2010. I am reflecting on these and other questions. I am thinking about the next 90 days, 6 months and 18 months. I am setting some goals for my work, my faith, my health, my marriage, my relationships, my education and personal development and my finances.
I will compare this to the one I did last year and then put my strategic plan or life plan on paper, so that I can come back to it often to unload sticks and look at the entire yard. If you don’t have a plan, you can’t spend time working on it. Instead you will constantly be working in it, close to the ground getting tasks done, but possibly missing some things that God has for you.
Tasks are important and you need to get down there some to get things done, but make sure you stop, stand up, look around and develop a plan to cover the entire yard and not just a small part of it. If you need help in this area, I hope to post my system soon to give you an example to work from.
Now get out there and pick up some sticks.
One of the things that I enjoy is reading. After High School and College I took a short break from reading, but picked it back up soon. I find the more I read the more I learn and grow. Leaders read, and if I want to influence people I need to be learning, growing and changing. For me the most effective way I can do that is by reading. I thought I would share my list of books I finished this past year.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book knocked my socks off. The research was well done and very informative. If you want to learn about what the younger generation thinks about the church in general this is a must read. The chapter on homosexuality was very eye-opening and helpful. Not only did you get stats, but you got ideas on how to start changing those stats.
I will be listing some of the books on my to-read list soon. Right now I am reading Christian Reflections on The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes & Posner. I also am reading The Partner by John Grisham.
I am going to be starting the P90X fitness program with some people that I work with in January. This is a very challenging, extreme fitness program for 90 days. I am very excited about starting and have already watched some of the work-outs, bought some of the gear and even did two of the work-outs as a test.
One of the work-outs is Yoga X, which is an extreme version of Yoga. Yoga has become an extremely popular exercise routine for lots of people in the USA. I had never done Yoga before, but I was aware of it and have often cautioned people about some of the dangers of Yoga from a Christian perspective.
So last Friday I did the P90X Yoga work-out. I wanted to see what it was like, and how hard it would be. It was an hour and a half and was a good work-out. I even posted about it on Twitter and Facebook. I was a little uneasy while doing the work-out because he said several times to empty your mind. The names of some of the positions were also a little strange to me. It seemed pretty harmless, yet I felt uneasy and uncomfortable with some parts of the work-out.
This weekend I spoke with a friend about this and was reminded about the origins of Yoga. So I did a little more research and after doing that I have decided to not do Yoga anymore. Instead our workout group will be doing a one hour stretching routine.
As a Christian leader I thought it was important for me to speak to this and explain why I am not doing Yoga. Yoga started in India and comes from the Hindu religion. The word Yoga comes from a word which means yoke or union. Traditionally, yoga is a method joining the individual self with the Divine, Universal Spirit. Physical and mental exercises are designed to achieve this goal, also called enlightenment.
You can Google yoga and read about it for yourself, click here to learn more. A good place to read about the Christian perspective is Got Questions.org. From everything I have read and studied about yoga, it reminds me of New Age Spiritualism. Many of these teachings sound good, healthy and helpful. But none of it points you to a closer personal relationship with Jesus. None of it points you to the Word of God for wisdom and discernment. It talks a lot about looking within yourself and emptying yourself to become united to God.
There are great ways to exercise, stretch and meditate without doing yoga. If you are practicing in yoga, I just want you to be aware of what you are doing. Be very careful about emptying your mind, and looking within or connecting, yoking or uniting with “God”. Many of the positions are acts of worship to gods or spirits. We can connect with God very simply through prayer. Because of Jesus we can go directly to God with everything through prayer. When we meditate we should meditate on God’s word. We should fill our minds with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable – Philippians 4:8.
There are many people doing Christian versions of yoga. You need to decide for yourself what to do by praying about it, reading about it to educate yourself. For me, I have decided it is not what is best for my spiritual growth. If any of this offends you, it is not intended to offend. I am simply explaining why I made the decision to not do this and hope you will seek God on what is best for you as well.
We all know that listening is important but how well do we actually do at listening? The word listen means to make an effort to hear or pay attention, to give heed, or to take advice. The key is making an effort. How much of an effort do you make in your listening to your husband, wife, mom, dad, friends, children, employees, co-workers, customers?
A good listener will usually have these four character traits:
Sometimes we think that the people around us hear what we say, only to find out later they thought we meant something else. Listening is not enough, we must hear. Listening is not hearing until we fully understand what the other person is trying to communicate.
Most people hear the words that are being spoken and it goes through their filter and perceptions. Then they interpret what is being said, taking into account, all the non-verbals and the context of the communication. Everything we hear goes through a process of our past hurts, hang-ups and disappointments. We draw our conclusions accordingly. That is why people will take what we are saying and take it personally, or take it as an attack when it was not meant that way.
Proverbs 1:5 says “A wise man will hear and increase learning.” If we are going to be successful in our relationships, we must listen, hear and understand what people are saying. When we do that we are expressing that we value the person communicating.
A good way to make sure we understand someone is to simply ask this type of a question: “Is this what you are trying to tell me?” or “Is this what you mean?” This will help to bring clarity to your discussion and avoid a lot of unnecessary disagreements and conflict.
So here are some questions for you to ponder:
Proverbs says if you are wise, you will make every effort to hear and pay attention when people are communicating with you, so that you can increase your understanding, which leads to better relationships, (at least that is my translation).
What’s holding you back from living life to the fullest? What fears are causing problems in your relationships? Emotional fear has a way of making us do wacky, irrational things. Emotional fear causes us to do and say things that hurt and confuse those around us. Fear is an emotion of dread or alarm caused by a perceived danger.
Our fears usually come from bad experiences in our lives, when we felt like we were in danger. Things from our childhood, high school, college, bad relationships and abuse whether physical or emotional. When something reminds us of those bad feelings we go into our fear mode. It could be a fear of being rejected again, or maybe a fear of failing or being let down. It could be a fear of being abandoned, controlled, being abused, not being heard or looking stupid. There are many fears that keep us from living life to the fullest.
Dr. Gary Smalley calls this the fear dance in our relationships. Our fear button is pushed, We sense danger, we want it to stop or go away, so we do or say something to make that person stop, which often times pushes their fear button and the process is repeated by the other person.
A very common scenario in many marriage relationships, is one person feels the fear of being rejected or abandoned. This fear causes them to try to control the other person, because they fear losing them. By trying to control the person, it taps that persons fear of being controlled or told what to do. That person pulls further away, because they do not want to be controlled. And around we go, pushing buttons, stuck in the fear dance.
To overcome your fears you must understand them and face them. When you understand what your fear is, you can begin to realize why you do some of the weird stuff you do. So the next time you get into a fight with someone close to you, stop and ask yourself; Why did that make me mad? What am I afraid will happen if I don’t push back? Why does that bother me so much?
The Bible says that Perfect loves drives out fear. Jesus is perfect love, so that is were your focus needs to be in overcoming fear. When you focus on God’s immeasurable love for you, and then allow Him to love others through you, His love will quiet your fears and give you confidence to stop the fear dance.
If you want to learn more about the fear dance and how to learn new relationship dance moves I recommend you read the book – The DNA of Relationships by Dr. Gary Smalley. He even has a quiz in the back of the book to identify your fears. Click here to download the Fear Dance Worksheet.
I’ve been reading in the book of Proverbs lately. It’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. As I’ve been reading I have noticed a lot of descriptions about God. I thought I would share some of those:
Knowing that our response to God should be:
Start reading Proverbs today and see what God has for you.
My dad is turning 65 on Wednesday. Awhile back I started making a list of all the men that have been an influence in my life. I was able to fill an entire page with men that have influenced me in all areas of my life. Men that influenced me at work, in my faith, in my marriage, in community service, in my education, in my physical health and my personal growth.
At the top of that list is my dad. I am so thankful for the example he has been for me so far in my life. He has worked hard his entire life as a truck driver. His work ethic and loyalty to his employer have been passed on to me. His integrity, honesty and character are well known in his workplace, his church and his family.
His commitment to serve his church and help his church leaders has been amazing. Many people in his church look to him for wisdom and counsel. He is respected because of his steady, level headed approach to problems.
My dad also was a real father to me as well. Because of his love for his family I have a easier time understanding how much my Heavenly Father loves me. My dad made following God a priority in his life and that has been passed on to me. I remember doing family devotions and praying together as a family at a very young age.
I have a huge advantage in life because of my dad. Because of his commitment to his marriage, my marriage has had an advantage. Because of his work ethic and character, my career has had an advantage. Because of his commitment to God and his church, I have had the advantage of knowing God my entire life.
I am truly thankful for my dad and the way he has devoted himself to God, his family, his church and his work. I love you dad – Happy Birthday.