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Stress: There is a Positive Pathway

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For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. Romans 8:14

Hey friends! Happy Friday to you. I am glad you stopped by today. Like many of you, I have returned to working from home. While doing an online trauma course, the Holy Spirit prompted me to reflect on how to positively respond to stress.

Our world has been crazy, unfamiliar, irritating, heartbreaking, and downright frustrating on so many levels. 2020 has presented challenges far from our imagination. So, let’s talk about it.

There is no doubt about the anxiety produced by the pandemic and worldly behaviors throughout this unforgettable year. However, our response generates a pathway to either a healthy or unhealthy recovery. It is important for us to analyze how to overcome everything we have experienced, are experiencing, and will continue to experience in the next few months.

First, I care about you. You are important and highly valued. So, just stop and take a deep breath. Go grab yourself some water and find a quiet spot to soak in what I have to share with you today. Get comfortable. If need be, come back and read this once you can mentally focus. Oh yeah, by the way exhale!

How to have a positive response to stress

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2

We all know pain, distress, disturbances, upsets, suffering, and strain in life can cause major alterations to the body. Remember the physical ordeal you encountered the last time you received shocking news? The outside pressure and tension often affect how the body functions. But what about the brain?

Let me share one point made in the training I attended today. It is a scientific research fact that the brain renovates itself throughout a lifespan based on what we encounter and how we respond. The associated term for the brain’s ability to transform and adapt is known as neuroplasticity. Upon hearing this, I immediately reflected upon my life and thought about the effects toxic stress had on my own brain.

I must say it has been my experience that trauma and stress can have a long-term impact on the body as well as the brain. However, I feel we have some control over its effect to damage or to build resilience. It is all in how we choose to heal.

Regardless, we are ALL going to encounter stress, disappointments, and shock during our lifetime. These incidents and responses are what shapes our lives. Over a lifespan it can give us an appearance of wisdom (and maybe a few gray hairs!). Later in life, we become wise to what worked and what failed when we dealt with bumps in the road of life.

It all comes down to this. How do you want your brain to change? Our brain is going to rewire itself whether we want it to or not just like our body is going to transform as we grow older. The circumstances in our lives impact our thinking. We have a choice to embrace our mental maturity under the influence of God or apart from Him.

Where do you run when all of your “normals” are stripped away and you feel powerless? How do you respond when anger, irritation, and/or anxiety visit your mind? What steps do you have in place to have a healthy positive response to stress?    

The key to having a constructive response to trauma and stress was shared in the online training-having one healthy & protective relationship in your life. Yes, I know they were speaking more in terms of an earthly human who is a dynamic encourager, but I am going to take it to the HNL (hole nother level).

GOD! Our healing begins with Him. He is the ultimate source to deliver true security, shelter, and value. If there is one protective relationship we can rely upon, it is God Himself. He is our comfort and helpmate. In His arms is where we can run and find the safety we desire. When we are facing distress, it is our relationship with Him that allows us to return to calmness more efficiently. His great love assists us in facing trauma and stress. As our bond grows, so does the confidence we have in God to be a barrier for future disappointments and encounters.

The quantity and quality of time spent with God is controlled by each individual. We have the power to allow God to make a huge, long term impact on our lives. It all comes back to the major decision of how we want our brains to change. Do we want a worldly mindset or a promising eternal mindset?

In a deep relationship with the Lord we are assured warmth, compassion, and love. These things have the power to miraculously change our thinking and how we respond to life. Through Him and in Him we can find our need for acceptance and belonging regardless of what we face in our daily lives.

So, my friend, how can you better handle stress? Embrace sanctification. By definition this means “the state of proper functioning”. God tells us that He wants us set apart in order to be used as He envisioned. We must realize God planned for us to be on earth during this particular time (Yes, even during 2020). The Father wants to work in us and through us for the purpose He intended.

It is our choice is to live according to God’s plans and purpose. We must decide if submitting to His authority and building a relationship with Him daily is going to be our pathway to resilience. The brain and body will change and adapt, but what influences and changes our trajectory of life is up to us.

Living out life requires intentionality. Who do you want to walk alongside during your lifetime? What will you allow to change your thinking and alter your mind? Is it the way of the world or God?

Sweet friend, let Him transform your thinking. Change your response to stress by seeing your circumstances through God’s eyes. Come adopt the support of the One and Only Protective Relationship you need. God will ensure you a positive pathway and healing. I am praying for you and your daily encounters in 2020.  

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

How to Respond to 2020

Let all that you do be done in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14 (ESV)

Good morning friends! Have you ever scrolled through social media and been blessed by the words of a brother or sister in Christ? Yesterday, I had the privilege to read a post crafted by Pam Brown, worship pastor for Amarillo Fellowship. Her openness and direct message are sound advice for each of us as we continue to find ways to respond to 2020.

I love how her writing reflects the foundational concepts Refining promotes: really getting to know God and spending time in His Word. Pulling away from the world and just listening to His voice is such a key element that we often place on the back burner. Yet, each day we are given the freedom to decide how we will follow His overall purpose for each of us: LOVE

Thank you, Pam for being our guest writer today. Your words are too precious not to share. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

I choose Jesus!! I will choose Jesus every time!! My heart is to stand for what God stands for— not my own agenda! My heart is to get close to God’s heart and know Him in such a way that His desires become mine!! His heart for the world becomes mine!

There is so much “noise” happening sometimes it can be hard to distinguish His voice, but getting alone — spending time in his word— cancelling the world’s voice (which is screaming pretty loud right now) — is the only way!!

HERE IS WHAT I KNOW

-God is Good!

-God is faithful- even when we are not!

-God is Love – it’s not just a part of who He is but it is Who He is!

-God is just!

-God loves and cares deeply for the poor and helpless in our world and wants no one to suffer from the evil in the world!

-God loves everyone, but He has a special love for Israel and those who pray for Israel and support her God blesses!

-God does not see people the way we do— He sees us in our humanity, but He doesn’t judge us by that. He speaks life over us and calls out the destiny that He created and designed us to be!

-God hates division but loves unity!

I’ve meditated and prayed about speaking out and my voice being heard and all I keep hearing God say is — respond like I would — what does that even mean?

There were times Jesus became angry-so yes-I’ve had righteous anger when I see innocent lives of babies being aborted or lives of any color being discriminated against! Or young children being sold into a life of sex trafficking!! It sickens me to the core!! That’s not Ok!!

It can all feel so overwhelming-I’m just one person, but we can all do something!

I believe it all begins with Love!! Not to sound sappy because what I know about love is it’s HARD!! It’s not for the wimpy— to love means to give when you’ve got nothing left to give — to love means there is long suffering involved!! To love means you don’t give up when the going gets tough! But you stand! You pray!! You fast!! You persevere!! You never give up!! And that’s when you see the fruit of your labor come to life!!

So, in this crazy season— what can we do??  LOVE!! Love like your life depends on it because it does!! I really hope and pray this brings hope to someone today!

Love- Pam

Pam’s Bio: I’m married and 49 years old- mother of two incredible sons, I have 2 beautiful daughters in law, 1 precious granddaughter, (who lights up our life) another granddaughter on the way! In January I’ll be celebrating 30 years of marriage to the love of my life! I’ve been in full time ministry for 30 years- and for the past 19 years I have served alongside my husband as the worship pastor as he is the lead pastor at Amarillo Fellowship. My heart is to love people and encourage them to know how much the Father loves them and has a great destiny for their lives!

Will you pray with me?

For whatever God says to us is full of living power: it is sharper than the sharpest dagger, cutting swift and deep into our innermost thoughts and desires with all their parts, exposing us for what we really are. Hebrews 4:12 (TLB)

In our instantaneous world, embracing anything for a lifetime may seem far fetched and impossible. But to achieve an enriched existence withstanding the test of time, our interaction with God and His Word requires day to day intentionality.

God placed a book on my heart as a doorway for readers to examine personal reliance on biblical truth and a tool to infuse Scripture in life with an eternal mindset. It is designed to take us beyond a surface level walk with the Lord to a pathway of intimacy with God and His Word.

Let me give you a sneak peak…

God has an individual vision just for you. He dreams of you resting assured in His Word—feasting on Scripture as a sole substance. The almighty Father longs to extend strength, hope, love, and wisdom—mighty and brave warrior skills for life and all its strife which comes at you from all sides. So, is this your aspiration as well? Do you have an incessant hunger pang for God and His truth? Are you seeking pure happiness and delight like the prophet Jeremiah experienced?

Jeremiah identified God’s Word as his primary resource (Jeremiah 15:16). He valued the benefits of pursuing spiritual nourishment and assigning it top priority daily. Jeremiah knew to find the worth in God’s Word; he had to intentionally seek it and carry out his calling (Jeremiah 1:5). Much like discovering his missing sandal from a long journey the previous day, Jeremiah knew the Lord’s wisdom and discernment would not magically appear without some action on his part (Side note: He was not married.).

In his discovery, Jeremiah describes the intake as a personal digestion method, a process where he internalized God’s Word (Jeremiah 17:7). Through it, he found substance for living. He treasured God as his life-coach and held tightly to the promises of God (Jeremiah 29:11). Without a doubt, Jeremiah expresses the great wisdom he uncovered—daily existence hinges upon the pursuit of God and His promises despite the world’s rejection. He embraced his calling as a prophet despite the mindboggling persecution he described in chapter 38.

In agreement with the Lord, I want to see you exhibit all His wisdom and riches through the daily application of Scripture. I care about your spiritual progression, and I never want life to find you deficient in the power of biblical authority. My wish for you is you drench yourself so much in Scripture it causes the enemy to scurry in fear from God’s goodness pooling around you. I pray this journey will illuminate the Lord’s voice on a more personal horizon and ignite a burning desire to genuinely know God on a new level. I yearn to see your affection for God’s Word increase in miraculous ways.

As the book unfolds, how many of you would be willing to commit to a week of prayer for God’s direction and discernment? I would love to have several prayer partners come alongside me this week and pray for the protection of the message God has within this writing. May His name be glorified and lives changed forever through His work. My heart is filled with passion to ensure others authentically live through God’s very words.

Will you pray with me this week?

How’s Your Heart?

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27

Are you troubled? Has anything recently stirred fear in your life? Does the unknown future often ignite anxious feelings? What about the presidential election? How are you handling the wait?

Life has been a little “out-of-control” for me lately. 2020 has continued to deliver chaos and the unexpected. The year has been filled with all types of emotions, experiences, and newness. Yet I have noticed a peace and flexibility which I can only account as God.

PEACE-what a beautiful word. Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14. Imagine our nation today if we each choose to have peace within our hearts? 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. Philippians 4:6-7. Oh, to have a heart filled with peace and an obedient spirit to bring everything to the throne room of God.

So, let me throw you a curveball today…How’s your heart? Do you have peace within? Could there be anything in life worth disturbing this? What about the sins of our nation?

God captured my attention this week as I began studying Micah chapter one. Micah is known as a minor prophet who was used by God to warn Israel and Judah (both the northern and southern Jewish nations) of the coming judgment of God. In this chapter, Micah’s heart is revealed. He is troubled immensely by the sins of his neighbors and mourns for their judgment and unremorseful spirits.

BAM! This pierced my soul. Why? Because how often am I concerned about the sins of my neighbors? My own wavering mess is usually all I can focus upon. But Micah loved his neighbor deeply. His heart broke for their choices to follow a sinful pathway and was bold enough to allow God to expand his heart beyond his own life.

I had to ask myself, “How’s your heart?” Unfortunately, I found it self-centered and limited to the box I put it in. I had to ask, “Why doesn’t my heart break for the choices of our nation? How deep is God’s love within me? Have I allowed Him to penetrate my love for others the way Micah displayed in Scripture?”

Father God, we are a nation desperate for You. Thank you, Lord for opening my eyes. It is devastating the unrest and sin plaguing our country. Help us be more concerned for those in our world. Let us be bold in Your love and reach out to those around us. Use us, Oh God, to be Your light in the darkness. May we be concerned about the peace within every heart.    

How’s your heart?

They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. 1 Peter 3:11

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