What do you do when you hit a wall emotionally or spiritually? Most of us try to find another way around that wall. In other words we choose another path with less resistance instead of trying to break through that wall. The funny thing is God usually brings us back to same place again and again until we break through. Many times we can get lost trying to find another way instead of working on a way to break through that wall. On the other side of that wall is new freedom and emotional health. This process builds our character and increases our faith if we are persistent.
To break through those tough walls in our lives, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 to recognize lies that are holding us back and replace those lies with God’s truth. The way in which we think directs our behavior and that thinking often times keeps us behind walls and stagnate in our spiritual growth.
When our thinking changes and lines up with the way God thinks, we can break through those obstacles. Our thoughts have power. To win over them, we must submit to Christ and control what we allow our mind to dwell on. The more we dwell on God’s truth the more we can recognize the lies that are holding us back from the freedom God wants us to have.
Whatever walls we face, to keep growing spiritually and emotionally we must face those walls head on and keep pushing to get to the other side and freedom. God has promised to always be with us, and if we lean on Him for strength we can break through any obstacles on our spiritual journey.
Are you self-medicating? When we experience physical pain or illness we seek medicines from the doctor to cure the ailment or end the pain. However when we hurt emotionally or spiritually, we usually end up medicating ourselves in ways that numb the pain but rarely cure the hurt.
We self-medicate in many ways, but the goal is always to mask the pain of whatever we have experience or are experiencing. We look for things that make us feel good for a short period of time. It can range from actual drugs like tobacco, alcohol, marijuana, painkillers or sleeping pills to things like caffeine, food in general, chocolate or ice cream. Other times it can be things like pornography, affairs, spending money, gossiping, or over-working.
All of these things ignore the real issues in our life and keep us from experiencing real freedom and relational health. The best way to medicate ourselves is to turn to God. He tells us to cast all our worries and problems on Him, because He can handle it all. God invites us to give our anxiety, depression, anger, frustration, greed, jealousy, fears and worries to Him and let Him deal with it.
That sounds simple, but it can be hard to do. Why? because we like to take those things back after we give them to God. We like to go back to what is familiar and comfortable. So, when you catch yourself self-medicating after you have been hurt, pause and invite God in to help you deal with the real hurt you experienced. When you open your heart and pour it out to God He fills it back up with healing, comfort and peace.
I am so excited about the new series NewPointe Community Church is starting called “The Me I Want To Be”. Most of us know that the person we are right now is not the best version, the version God designed us to be. At times we get glimpses of that best version, but those times can be few and far between. One of the things that I have discovered is that to achieve true long lasting change I need to change my life style, not just a few behaviors.
About three years ago my wife and I made the decision to get healthy. We got involved in a wellness program that helped us to lose weight. We both dropped weight over the three months we were on the program. What usually happens after we lose weight is that we slowly gain it all back, because we are not on the “program or diet” anymore. This time it was different for Vikki and I. We made the decision to make this a lifestyle change. We decided to keep doing the things that gave us the great results. We continued to eat the right kinds of food in the right portions. We continued to exercise, actually we both increased our exercise over the past three years.
Guess what happened, we started to think differently about food and exercise. We started to think in a healthy way about what we ate and how we exercised. The results have been great for us both. Between the two of us we have lost over 60 pounds and kept it off. We lowered our cholesterol, mine dropped over 100 points, and lowered our body fat.
I am now running in 5k’s and hope to run my first half marathon this spring. I have been in an extreme exercise program for 7 weeks and have improved my conditioning, strength and flexibility dramatically. I guess you could say we have made significant lifestyle changes physically.
I have started making some of the same changes spiritually and emotionally as well. I am working on my spiritual growth the same way I worked on my physical growth. I have developed a growth plan for my spiritual life, my relational life, my financial life and my physical life. I now have a road map that I refer to to keep me on track.
In any area of our lives positive growth doesn’t just happen. When we are not focused on growing and being healthy spiritually, emotionally and physically we get out of shape. To get back into good shape, it takes hard work and long lasting changes.
For me to grow spiritually I need to spend time with God, in ways that work for me. Each of us do that in different ways. What works for me may not work for others.
One of the things NewPointe has done to help people grow spiritually is a new website called The Change Inside. You can go there every day for a Scripture to read and a short devotional to read. I encourage everyone to go there over the next couple months. Start to make changes in how you think about spiritual growth. Look for ways you can connect with God and draw closer to Him. You can also get a NewPointe devotional at our bookstore or at the info desk at the Millersburg & Louisville campuses.
Don’t wait to make a lifestyle change, start today by making the decision that a year from now you will be closer to the person you want to be.
I have a snow path that leads to our neighbors barn. Each day either my wife or I walk that path to give our goat fresh water and hay. With the snow so high, it is not good to get off this path. You need to try to step in the footprints that have packed down the snow. Tonight I made a couple of missteps and sunk into the deep snow. I got snow down my boots and nearly got stuck.
That made me think about what path I am on in life. I believe that God has a path for each one of us. He has packed down the snow for us and cleared the path. The problem is many times I do not pay attention to where I am walking and make some missteps. When I do I can sink, get stuck or even fall down. That snow path to the barn is pretty narrow and God’s path is pretty narrow as well. It also can go in unexpected directions.
So how do we stay on the path?
What path are you on, yours or God’s? Where is your path leading you?
I recently wrote a blog about Decide, Commit, Succeed. I thought I would zero in and drill down a little more on the idea of commitment.
We are all committed to something or someone. In marriage two people make a lifelong commitment to each other. Olympic athletes make a commitment to become world-class athletes in their sport. Many people are committed to their families and to their career’s. Some people are also committed to their faith.
All of us are at different levels and degrees of commitment in each of these areas.
Here are some examples of people that were committed to something:
People that make a difference are committed for the long haul. Even when obstacles get in the way they persevere and keep putting in the work needed to reach their goal.
So, what are you committed to? Here are some closing thoughts on commitment:
If you are committed to the right things, it leads to health in all areas of your life.
I was talking with a friend and mentor of mine the other day after a funeral that we were both involved in. I asked Jim what he wanted people to say at his funeral. He is 88 years old. He paused and thought for a moment and then said “I want them to say that I was a decent man, that’s it.” Then he thought some more and said, “Chad, I want to finish well, not many people in the Bible finished well so I want to be one of the few that does.”
That made me really think about my own life and the legacy that I want to leave behind. It also made me think about what it means to finish well. I think for my friend Jim, he wants to finish with his focus on God and family. He doesn’t want to let his family down by making bad decisions or saying things to hurt people. He wants to remain humble, helpful and serve the people around him as best he can. I think he wants to pass on what God has given him to his family and friends.
I am 40 years old and want to finish well. None of us know how long we have to finish well. I may get another 48 years and get to the age Jim is at. I may only get a few more years. What I need to remember is that every day matters and every decision matters.
Finishing well doesn’t mean you have to live a perfect life, just a surrendered life. Finishing well is all about having the right perspective about your life, your purpose for being here and your relationship with God. Finishing well for me means building strong healthy relationships, growing in character, learning from mistakes and pouring what you have into the people around you.
My prayer for you today is to finish well, no matter what you did in the past you can make the choice to finish well from this point on.
On January 4th I started an exercise program that is pretty intense called P90X (Power 90days Extreme). The tag line for this program is Decide, Commit, Succeed. I like that a lot. If you want to transform your body, you need to first decide you want to do it. Then you need to commit to making it happen. If you make the decision and the commitment you set yourself up to succeed. Your decision needs to be more than just a desire to get in shape. You need a vision for your health and a goal to get there.
I just finished week 5 and have another 7 weeks to go. I already am seeing some great results. I am stronger, and more flexible. I can almost keep up with most of the exercises and I am less sore after workouts. I can do more reps and use higher weights. The hard work and dedication are paying off with more energy, strength, focus, and just feeling better.
So what do you want to change in your life? Maybe it’s your marriage or your workplace. It could be your physical health or maybe your financial health. Maybe you want to deepen your relationship with God. Whatever it is that you want to change or transform, it starts with a decision.
My decision to change physically came several years ago when I got a bad check up. My wife and I decided to change how we eat and how we exercise. We committed to eat healthier and get more exercise. We have been successful so far because of that decision and commitment. We both have lowered our cholesterol, our weight, our blood pressure and many other measurable things.
When you make the decision and make the commitment you then need to take action and actually do it. You need a plan or a guide to help get you there. For us we started with a program called Thin & Healthy, which taught us to eat the right portions and the right types of foods. It taught us to be more knowledgeable about what we are eating.
Next we started to exercise and be more active. I now am following another program that is helping me stay on track and get more fit. If I can stay committed to the program I will get results.
Spiritually it is the same way. When you decide you want to grow spiritually and make a commitment to God that you will do it, you need a plan on how to get there. One such program is Monvee. It is a spiritual formation tool that can help guide you on your spiritual journey. NewPointe Church is a test church for Monvee. You often need multiple ways to help you grow and change. For me physically it has been Thin & Healthy, Our Wellness program at work, my wife’s knowledge & skill at cooking, playing basketball, running 5k’s and now P90X.
Monvee could be one of your tools to keep you on track spiritually. The main thing is to decide, commit and succeed. Check it out and let me know if you are interested in joining Monvee NewPointe and discover your road map to a more intimate relationship with God.