Perfecting Your Practice

“O For a Faith That Will Not Shrink.” Faith Practices in Perfection.  Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 10.23.2018” on Spreaker.

“David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Samuel 17:37).

Getting Ready

You have heard it said that practice makes perfect, but I say to you that perfect practice makes perfect.

Many rehearse music in order to become the best that they can be. They put their all into it. Just imagine if you were rehearsing for a piano recital and the musical piece was selected for you? You go to the music store to purchase the score and go to rehearse. Weeks have passed and the time has come to perform. You sit and prepare yourself, and suddenly you realize that the music you had been rehearsing was all wrong. You heard wrong and now you are completely unprepared. Now what do you do?

David was a little shepherd boy. One day he left his sheep behind to check on his older brothers. At once, he discovered that a giant Philistine stood in the valley blaspheming God near to where his brothers were. The giant openly defied God and the armies of Israel. David was filled with righteous indignation.

“And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?” I Samuel 17:26.

David proposed that in the name of the Lord, he should fight the Philistine; everyone that stood by discouraged Him. Eventually, He had audience with King Saul and told him the same.

Dress Rehearsal

“And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth. And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God.

David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee” (1 Samuel 17:33-37).

Glorious, Godly History

There are many incredible details left in the story, but the short version is that David, armed with the might and determination of the Holy Ghost, defeated and removed Goliath’s head using the Philistine’s own weapon. In the end, the Lord was glorified, the Philistines had respect toward God, Israel realized their faithlessness, and young David saw his faith confirmed.

It is incredible to see the point of reference David used as assurance that he could defeat Goliath. He recalled the times that God had given him opportunity to exercise, or practice his faith. When he encountered other predators, he defeated them. With each victory, his resolve was strengthened. This is indeed a case of perfect practice makes perfect. Many put their trust in self, others, and worldly strength. They experience what appears like victories, but when the crises come, they realize that their practice was not complete. They rehearsed the wrong sheet music, so to speak, and now they are at a loss as to what should be done.

When You Meet Your Test

As the Lord gives us opportunity to exercise faith, it is well that we do so. When the Goliaths of circumstance arise, we will be prepared and with God’s power, we will be the victors. Remember; perfect practice makes perfect.

 




10 Ways to Overcome Bullying in your Mind

As a kid, I hated walking down one hallway at school because I feared two mischievous seventh-grade boys. These boys had me so convinced their words were true. When a guidance counsellor attempted to console me – she told me I was “pretty” – I didn’t believe her.  I distinctly remember laughing as if she had made a joke.

Even as a young adult professional in the workplace, I battled depression and anxiety. This caused me to be hugely resistant to correction. As I wallowed in numerous insecurities, I came to believe that that no one liked me. I thought that I was nowhere near good enough.

Ten Rounds with a Powerful Bully

Though, I was no longer a bullying victim, technically,  a bully remained in my mind and  I constantly found myself going up against her. I went into the ring every time I ran into a “bossy” co-worker, or a friend who poked “harmless” fun at my expense. Or every time I was discriminated against, or crudely dismissed for a job or ignored by a not-so hot crush.

Bullying is not just something that plays out in one scene of our (childhood) and disappears the rest. Research (2013) has shown that being bullied as a child or adolescent leaves you at a higher risk of developing psychological disorders as an adult, such as depression and anxiety. While it may not be possible to completely undo the damage of the past, here are some ways you can counteract against the psychological effects bullying may have on you now as an adult.

Standing Up to Yourself

Confront your Past 

The taunts you endured in high school, could be affecting you still. Leanne Prendergast, founder and president of an anti-bullying organization called Love Our Lives, says that one of the biggest ways the trauma from bullying manifests itself later on in life, is through our language.

Frozen in time: Childhood taunts still ringing in your ears? It is time that you rewrite the script.

“There’s a script in our minds that we’ve allowed to rule our thoughts. But the moment we start to rewrite that is when we’ve taken our first step to restore ourselves. Then, we begin the process of letting go of the negativity that we’ve been carrying for so long.”

Don’t Play the Victim

We play the victim every time we blame whatever problems we are dealing with, on someone or something else. No matter what challenges may arise, we’re good at shifting blame away from ourselves, at all cost. While there is no denying the severe impact, you may have experienced as a result of distressing past events, at some point we have to look within to find what part we had to play in our own messes. Though, please don’t use this as an opportunity to fall into the trap of guilt and self-deprecation. You’ve taken a hard beating, so go easy on yourself. Use this time instead to learn from your mistakes and grow into a better version of yourself.

Recognize the Triggers 

Maybe you find yourself getting worked up when someone challenges your authority. Or, perhaps you begin to feel insecure around narcissistic personalities. Their persistent need for control may remind you of those bullies from your past. Whatever the situation, try honing in on it. You can’t resolve a problem if you don’t know it’s there.

Seek Support 

Research released from The Center for The Developing Child at Harvard University, reveals that supportive, solid relationships with adults and caregivers from early on can actually reverse some of the damaging effects of toxic stress. Though, you are no longer a child, the benefits that come from having a strong support system still apply. Shelly Wiggins, a licensed professional counselor with Driftwood Counseling, says that recognizing the value that comes from a therapeutic relationship process, is highly important. Whether this be a “mentor, coach, or therapist,” there’s something incredibly rewarding about having “someone that can walk alongside you through a process; it doesn’t have to take years.”  So, as you seek to access healing in your life, be open to having someone support you in this new pursuit.

Take your Time

When you’re dealing with deep-rooted issues, you will need to set a grace period for yourself as this will no doubt take a lot out of you. Sometimes people have this story of bullying that’s so far back in their memory that they may not want to talk about it or they think its so insignificant that it doesn’t matter,” says Wiggins. “It takes some time to work with a person to unravel the story.”

Believe you Can Overcome 

Despite the fact that studies show that being bullied can lead to significant mental health problems such as depression later in life, there is still hope. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that the detrimental effects of bullying decreased over time, which the authors say indicates the potential for resilience in children exposed to bullying. This is good news, because it shows people can do better, no matter what they might have experienced in the past. It starts by letting go of the pain from previous years and then choosing to cherish a resilient spirit. No matter what you’ve had to endure, believe that restoration is possible.

Speak Up About What Happened 

Confront the bullies now: Speak, write and keep a journal about the abuses you suffered. You may empower someone else.

Ignoring traumatic events does not support us in our journey to recovery. After you have acknowledged what has happened to you, the next step is to free yourself from the fear that is paralyzing you and speak up about it. Depending on where you are in your passage to healing, this could look like sharing in a private manner, with a trusted friend or family member. Or, it could mean choosing to become a public advocate at the appointed time, in order to help others come to terms with their own hurtful experiences.

Take Up Journaling

A study in 2002 found it to be a useful practice for those undergoing trauma or stress, which may be why so many therapists recommend it for their clients.

Wiggins explains this point further. ”Just the process of writing out your story can be therapeutic in of itself,” she says. “The purpose of doing this is to get the story out of you that might be stuck inside. It also helps to validate your own feelings and dispose of the negative emotions that might be hanging on, so that it doesn’t inhibit your daily functioning and current relationships.”

As an additional measure to encourage the release of painful thoughts and emotions that may be blocking you from accessing true healing, Wiggins recommends writing a letter to the person who bullied you in one of your private sessions. Though, she does not encourage seeking the person out with the intent of sending the letter, neither should it be posted on a public platform.

Head Outdoors  

A breath of fresh air can do wonders. Remember that the next time you find yourself in a toxic situation or lagging under the weight of heavy emotions. Some possible ways you can use your time outdoors well, can be a brisk walk, a cardio workout session, or a cool, refreshing swim. If you’re looking for an even quieter option, you might even choose to settle down under the shade of a nice tree with a book. “I have found significant value in taking people out to be in nature,” says Wiggins. “It gives [them] a place to be able to express [their] emotions in a complete safe environment which is different from traditional talk therapy.”

Forgive  

As the popular saying goes, Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” When you choose not to forgive, you unconsciously feed into a never-ending cycle of bitterness and resentment, which does more harm than good.

Yet, according to the John Hopkins School of Medicine, the biblical principle of forgiveness has substantial health benefits too. Not only does it lower the risk of heart attack, improve cholesterol levels, and reduce pain and blood pressure, it can also decrease levels of depression, anxiety and stress.

“Nine times out of ten when people walk into my office, I am going to have to deal with one of two things, one of which has to do with forgiveness,” Wiggins says. “We can all benefit from learning what true forgiveness is.” If you’re seeking to recover from inner wounds previously inflicted by the bullies of your past, then maybe it’s time you tried forgiving them. Believe me, you’ll be better for it.




One Thing You Don’t Have To Worry About

Message Magazine’s Online Devotional for Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Listen to “Thoughts in Worship 12.6.2016” on Spreaker.

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:6).

Do you trust God? Do you trust Him to provide food, clothing, and shelter? Do you trust Him to provide the daily building blocks of a sound mind? Do you trust Him to show you how to forge quality partnerships and lasting relationships? Do you trust Him? Do you trust Him to direct your paths in every aspect of life? Do you trust Him?

This is a question with which we all must contend because if we do not trust God, it means we are relying on self, and if we live long enough, we will soon recognize that is not a viable option. If we are prone to let ourselves down, we need not even discuss the obvious fact that others will also let us down.

One area of trust that should be a foregone conclusion in the lives of anyone professing to love God is that of salvation and eternal life. Sure, we all know the verses regarding God’s love for us and the surety of His forgiveness. Yes, we all know that if we read our Bibles and pray every day we will continue to grow (in Him). Yes, we know that Jesus is coming soon and that we need to be ready to meet Him in peace. But, how much of this “knowledge” is a mere assent to the truth? How much of it is head knowledge? How much of it is enduring faith in the living God who is able to do exceeding, abundantly, and infinitely above all we could ever ask or think?

Do you trust God to keep you from falling back into your liquor drinking habit? Do you trust God to keep you from falling back into your spousal abuse habit? Do you trust God to keep you from falling back into your pride habit? Do you trust God to keep you from falling back into your worry habit? Do you trust God to keep you from falling back into your lying, stealing, smoking, cursing, gossiping, and fornicating habits? Are you getting my point?

The question of trusting God is really about “right now” trust. It’s about committing ourselves to Him right now, and at any time in the future that at that moment would be right now again, will we continue to trust Him? Do you trust Him? I hope you do because He’s trustworthy.