For most people worry is something that comes naturally. We worry about deadlines, how to pay the bills, what other people think about us, our job security, our marriage, our children and their future. Sometimes we worry about little things and sometimes we worry about big things, but the point is we all tend to worry. A good definition of worry is negative focused thinking. When we worry we are thinking in a negative way. We go into the worse case scenario and often begin to spiral downward in our thinking. The result of negative focused thinking is that our emotional and physical state is impacted in a negative way as well.
Jesus actually cautioned us against worrying about anything – even the food we eat or the clothes we wear. In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus gives us six reasons for trusting in God rather than worrying.
- God Created Us – The same God who gives us the gift of life and created us as a unique human being will certainly supply the lesser things in life like food and clothing.
- God Cares For Us – If God cares for the birds and provides for their needs, why wouldn’t He care for and meet our needs as well. God loves us more than we love our own children or grandchildren. He loves us more than we love our parents or siblings. He loves us more than we love our spouse or boyfriend or girlfriend. Because of that deep love for us He cares about every detail of our lives.
- Worry Doesn’t Change Anything – Worry expends energy pointlessly. It doesn’t change the reality of the situation one bit. Worry tends to make the situation worse because it robs us of our peace. It causes us to lose sleep and brings up negative damaging emotions like fear, bitterness, anxiety and depression.
- Worry Ignores God’s Faithfulness in Our Lives – God faithfully provides for all the things He has created. He pays attention to even the flowers in a field, why wouldn’t He pay even closer attention to us, His masterpiece. When we worry we quickly forget all the times God has provided in the past. We forget the way He has moved in previous situations and helped us through difficulties before.
- We Are God’s Children – God will never treat us as orphans who need to fend for ourselves. He treats us as His very own children. His desire is to give us good gifts and to bless us. Many times we stray away from Him and walk down the worry path instead of the trust path. When we do that, God patiently waits for us to return to Him. When we see God as a loving ever present Father instead of a distant or absent father, we don’t have to worry.
- When We Worry About Tomorrow We Miss Out On Today – Any problem we face can be handled, with God’s help, one day at a time. When we rely on God for help, He freely gives us what we need. When we rely on ourselves and our own strength we will fall short. When we worry we miss the blessings that God has for us today. We miss the things that are right in front of us and we don’t see clearly. When we worry, we tend to make decisions that often make things worse.
The next time that worry starts to creep into your life or you feel the pressure of life, pray for the grace you need to depend on God. He is faithful and trustworthy and will provide what is needed to endure and overcome whatever comes your way. Psalm 118:6, 8-9 says “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?… It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.”
This is only possible if you have a personal relationship with God. It is your decision whether you have that relationship or not. In order to be a child of God you need to accept the free gift God gives to you through His son Jesus Christ. By asking Jesus to forgive your sins and be the leader of your life you instantly become a child of God and can have the close personal relationship I described above. Once that decision is made, you begin the journey with God in becoming the person He originally designed you to be. God begins to chip away the rough edges and begins to shape you and mold you, so that you can fulfill the calling He has for your life. He begins to heal the hurts and hang ups from your past that keep you from living life to the fullest.
God wants to carry our burdens for us, but we need to hand them over and not take them back. So take some advice from Jesus and stop worrying.
Recently NewPointe Community Church started a campaign called 2 coats. This idea came from one of our creative staff members in our children’s department. We partnered with Big Brothers and Big Sisters on the goal of coming up with 300 coats. That was the beginning of some amazing stories. Let me share two stories that have challenged me and encouraged me. I want to introduce you to two young boys; Alex who is 7 years old and Dominick who is 6 years old.
Alex made the decision to start saving money earlier this year to donate to the church to help buy a playland at the Canton Campus. He diligently saved all the money that came his way and had built up a nice stash of $101.01. While talking with his parents about the money, he thought that maybe instead of saving for the playland, he could use the money to buy coats for the 2 coats campaign His parents thought that was a great idea, so they went to Old Navy to buy some coats. After he purchased the coats someone else from the church found out what he did and called Old Navy to let them know about Alex and NewPointe Community Churches 2 coats campaign. Old Navy loved the story and agreed to give a 30% discount on other coats our church would purchase the following week. They called the discount the Alex Discount. They also talked about making a donation to 2 Coats as well. The same person that called Old Navy also called Fox 8 in Cleveland and they loved the story as well and are coming down this week to interview Alex and Old Navy. Amazing how one child can make such a big difference.
Dominick also has a great story. He is turning 7 on November 27th. While his parents were planning his birthday party, he told them that instead of presents from his friends he wanted to make a donation to a local good cause. They started looking for some place to make a donation and they had several options, but then the church announced the 2 coats campaign. Dominick immediately thought it would be great if his friends would bring coats instead of presents and he would donate them all to the program at church. They mailed out invitations announcing the coats donations and had a chance to share with several parents that Dominick had thought of this himself and about NewPointe and the vision to help people in need.
These two boys are great examples to us all about being generous and showing compassion to other people in need. I am sure there will be more to each of these stories and there are many others brewing as a result of one idea that inspired many others to be generous. We collected money to buy more coats at Old Navy over the weekend, and will be announcing that total this coming weekend along with the update on how many coats we have been able to give to Big Brothers & Big Sisters. The campaign runs until November 27th, so their is still time to join in. To contact NewPointe click Here
This past weekend we had a conference called Canvas for our volunteers at the Campus I am leading at NewPointe Community Church. Our team put together a great conference that included interviews with three local restaurant manager’s. We had the manager from Starbucks talk about building culture and how to leave a lasting impression. She also talked about how they treat their employees or partners and how they emphasize relationships company wide. The manager from Chipotle talked about teamwork and the importance of preparation and excellence. The final interview was with the owner/manager of Chick-fil-a and he talked about how to engage people and provide superior customer experience. After each speaker we had our volunteers meet with their teams and brainstorm ideas on how we can work on the things we just heard. Each team got a canvas to write down ideas. It was an amazing day and we are hoping to do it again at other campuses. This was a day of casting vision on how we can improve and get better at connecting with and reaching the people that come to NewPointe.
I did the opening welcome and shared part of my story about how I stopped going to church in the mid 90’s because I was frustrated with the leadership of my church and was not growing spiritually. We simply stopped going to church for about a year. That experience of leaving church and then God working through a variety of people to get my wife and I back into church has helped me to identify with people that are going through similar struggles today. I understand that people need time to get reconnected and re-engaged in the church. They need time to determine if this church is any different or just the same old church in a new color. I understand that many people have given up on the church but not on God.
As I shared that story I also shared why I love NewPointe, and why I believe NewPointe is a different kind of church.
I love that NewPointe Community Church:
- Is a safe place to hear a life changing message
- Is willing to talk about the important and difficult issues of life like sex, money, marriage, parenting
- Helps me apply the Bible to my everyday life
- Is outward focused rather than inward focused – meaning we are more concerned with reaching people than keeping people
- Is willing to take risks
- Embraces change
- Pursues Excellence, but not perfection
- Values being healthy emotionally
- Is big on relationships
- Is a place that I can serve
- Wants to partner with parents to impact children for eternity
- Equips people to become better leader’s
- Is a creative fun place
- Is willing to take anyone, no matter what your background, family history or how you look
- Mentors individuals and couples that are struggling with life
- Empowers people to lead and serve
- Keeps things simple
- Has a vision to Change the World!
This conference was a great place to express to our volunteers how important they are because every person that walks through our doors has a story and we get to contribute to the story God is writing in their lives. As a church we can also learn from other organizations on how to serve the people around us and to build a team to make a difference in our community and around the world.
Most of life is about relationships, and the health of those relationships determines the success and happiness we experience. Our lives are either up or down based on the health of the relationships around us. Whether it is the relationship with a spouse, a child, a parent, a brother or sister, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a boss or a co-worker, a friend or even God; when things are going well we tend to feel good and when they are going bad we feel down.
God made us to be relational by nature. His design for us was to not lone, but in community or relationship with others. The health of all of our relationships depends a lot on our own emotional health. We cannot control what other people do, think or say, but we can control what we do, think or say. Most of the problems in our marriages and other vital relationships stem from being unhealthy in our own emotions.
We all have emotional baggage that we carry with us. Wounds from previous relationships tend to stay with us and affect how we interact with the people around us. The scars from those wounds can actually cause us to think and act in unhealthy ways, because we are trying to protect ourselves from getting wounded again. Many people have also observed or lived around unhealthy relationships that have influenced how they now handle conflict or deal with difficult situations. All of this stuff from our past causes us to have deep rooted fears that keep us from living life the way God intended.
So here is the question; How do we overcome these fears and live life to the fullest?
There is no easy way in which to do this. However, a great first step is to go back in order to go forward. By going back, I do not mean to dwell on your past, what I mean is to deal with your past. One of the best ways I have found to do this is through a process called “Steps to Freedom in Christ” by Neil Anderson. I have taken many people through this process and have seen amazing results. I highly recommend using the booklet to walk through these steps and to do it with a spiritual mentor. Here are the Seven steps:
- Counterfeit vs. Real – This first step is all about renouncing the things from our past that we may have dabbled in that are not of God, and that may have contributed to believing lies about ourselves, God and other people.
- Deception vs. Truth – The second step is a process of identifying lies that we may believed or have believed in the past and replacing them with the truth. There is a set of truth statements that I use often for myself and the people I mentor to read through and focus on.
- Bitterness vs. Forgiveness – The third step is often one of the biggest and most freeing step as we work through the process of forgiveness. This exercise is one of the most powerful exercises I have done personally or with someone else.
- Rebellion vs. Submission – Step four is about admitting our tendency to rebel and to ask for God’s help in submitting in a healthy way.
- Pride vs. Humility – Step five is often hard, but vital in gaining emotional and spiritual freedom. Admitting to areas of pride and seeking humility leads to incredible strength and freedom.
- Bondage vs. Freedom – The sixth step is about admitting all the sins that we have struggled with in our life and asking God for forgiveness. There are specific prayers to pray based on what types of sins may be keeping us in bondage.
- Curses vs. Blessing – This last step has to do with the sins of our family. Every family has generational sins that have been passed down from generation to generation. This can stop with you.
There are prayers included at the end that are helpful in maintaining freedom and keeping God central in our lives.
Once a year we should all do a spiritual and emotional check up and this is one way to do that. This is all about allowing God to heal the wounds and eliminate the scars from our past, so that we can live in freedom and have healthy relationships moving forward.