Five Steps to Navigating Loss

Life is full of losses. It’s sobering to remember that nothing around us is permanent. Pastor, everyone in our congregations will go through seasons of loss where they lose their finances, jobs, health, marriage, or loved ones. And we need to help them through these periods.

Here are five steps we can share with our members to help them navigate seasons of loss:

Help them release their grief.

Tragedy always produces strong emotions—loss, anger, fear, depression, worry, and sometimes guilt. Some people never deal with these feelings. They simply push them down and pretend they’re not there. Then they’re still struggling with their unresolved emotions 30 years later.

A myth exists that God wants us to walk around with a smile on our faces no matter what we’re dealing with on the inside. Jesus taught the exact opposite. He said in Matthew 4:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (NIV). When a loved one dies, it’s only natural that we will miss the person.

It’s important that instead of rehearsing these feelings in our…

Continue Reading

By Sabrena

I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ who struggles with codependency, food issues, and other addictive/compulsive behaviors to seek escape. My name is Sabrena.

My childhood was filled with chaos I could not control and feelings too overwhelming for a child to handle: loneliness, abandonment, fear, anger, resentment, and sadness­– to name a few. My father was an alcoholic, and my mother codependent. They loved my sister and me, but fell very short of supplying the love, attention, care, and direction we needed. As a result, I turned to coping mechanisms that helped me survive in the moment. Ultimately, this caused cycles of greater damage, more negative emotions, and escalation of addictive, compulsive behaviors.

At a very young age, food became my comfort– my first drug of choice. As I ate, I didn’t have to deal with my feelings; I could block out how bad my life was. It helped me when I was sad, lonely, depressed, angry, and confused. As I began to gain weight, other kids called me names and made fun of me, which only added to my home life’s pain. This hurt caused me to turn to food…

Continue Reading

By Sabrena Stolze, National State Rep Trainer

Shame is a terrible motivator. I have struggled in all areas of self-discipline for most of my life and have unwittingly tried to use shame to motivate myself to change. After 13 years of working the Principles and Steps in Celebrate Recovery, I thought I had let go of my shame, allowing God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness to become my motivators to change, with the Holy Spirit providing the power to do so.

However, the last year of COVID restrictions, resulting in working from home and increased isolation, has challenged me greatly in the area of self-discipline, and I realized there is still work to be done. While I have stepped into God’s grace to a much greater degree than years past, I still judge myself harshly for “what I do not do” rather than rejoicing in who I am in Christ and the accomplishments He gives me each day. Sometimes it’s an accomplishment just getting out of bed or not acting out in addictive, compulsive ways for one more day.

God’s word tells us in Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those…

Continue Reading

No Condemnation

By Rick Warren

“There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8:1 (NLT)

Conviction comes from God, and condemnation comes from the devil. The purpose of conviction is to correct something that’s wrong in your life. The purpose of condemnation is to put you down, to make you feel guilty and ashamed.

God’s motivation for convicting you is that he loves you and wants to help you mature. Satan’s motivation for condemning you is that he hates you and wants to make you miserable.

When God speaks to you about an area in your life that needs changing, the conviction is very specific. He will tell you what is wrong, and then he’ll give you the solution. When you confess the issue to God, the sense of conviction goes away instantly.

When Satan condemns you, it comes as a general sense of disapproval and guilt about nothing in particular. It can leave you with a sense of hopelessness—that there’s nothing you can do to get out from under the endless condemnation.

Many Christians live under condemnation and guilt, thinking it’s the voice of God. But it’s…

Continue Reading

Three Ways to Recharge During Your Sabbath

I know many pastors who have been exhausted over the last year. Pastoring during a pandemic has brought unique challenges and new routines for all of us. And some of us are still struggling to keep up with all the changes we’ve had to navigate. 

If this is you, God has more to say about what you’re feeling right now than you might realize. In fact, God has more to say about your need for rest than he does about murder or adultery. God’s commandment to observe the Sabbath is the longest of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:8-9 says: “Remember to keep the Sabbath holy. Work and get everything done during six days each week, but the seventh day is a day of rest to honor the Lord your God. On that day no one may do any work: not you, your son or daughter, your male or female slaves, your animals, or the foreigners living in your cities. The reason is that…

Continue Reading

6 Actions Every Christian Should Take in Light of Jesus’ Return

The last year has been tough—no doubt about it. Many people have asked me how I’ve stayed so positive during such a difficult time.

Here’s my answer: I’ve read the end of the story. I know we win. I don’t know when Jesus will return (no one does), but I know we’re closer than we’ve ever been in the history of the world. 

Many Christians know that Jesus is coming back someday, but it doesn’t affect their lives. They don’t understand how the truth of Jesus’ return connects to the problems they’re facing. But James 2:12 says, “Speak and act like people who will be judged by the law that sets us free” (CEV). Jesus wants his followers to be ready for his return.  

So as we lead our churches through this tough season, one of our responsibilities is to help people get ready for the second coming of Jesus.

How should we live in light of Jesus’ return? Here are six actions to take from the book of James: 

Clean up…

Continue Reading

Managing Your Mind for More Effective Ministry

Your mental health is a critical part of your effectiveness in ministry. But it’s easy to think that your problems have more to do with your circumstances—a lack of resources, spiritual apathy in your church and community, or a personal struggle you’re facing—and less to do with how you think.

But the truth is, God is far more interested in changing your mind than your circumstances. We want God to change our circumstances and take away the pain and sorrow around us. Those issues are important, but God wants to first deal with what’s going on in you.

Paul tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Nothing will change in your life or your ministry unless you change how you think. 

Why is mental health so important?

How to De-escalate Conflict in Your Ministry and Family

Many church leaders assume conflict is simply built into their ministries. In fact, it has become such a regular part of pastoral work, that people frequently joke about its pervasiveness in ministry. The good news is, conflict doesn’t need to overwhelm your life.

There is hope.

God has a lot to say about quarrelling in the church and in our families. In his Word we find six principles that will help you de-escalate conflict wherever you find it.

Understand how destructive conflict is.

“The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left” (Proverbs 11:29 NLT).

There is a real cost to conflict. Quarreling is a big deal to God. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible mentions the topic more than 75 times. At least six times, God says not to quarrel. He knows that it will destroy everything we hold dear if we don’t get a handle on it.

It shouldn’t surprise…

Continue Reading

hand in grass, free

By Roger

I’m a faithful believer in Christ overcoming a Sexual Addiction to pornography and a lust for fantasy, and my name is Roger.

I was born into a family that stayed heavily involved in church my entire childhood. Growing up, our family certainly had its ups and downs, but I never questioned whether I was fully loved. Having no brothers, my childhood choices were to play with dolls or ride my bike, so I did both. I was the lead Barbie car driver and took great pride in chauffeuring my sisters’ dolls to the appointed location as reckless as I would imagine Bo and Luke Duke would. But riding my bike with my dog, Gummer, by my side was where I spent most of my childhood. I would imagine I was on a motorcycle as I rode by myself. It was like the noise of the wind would drown out all the real parts of life that I didn’t want to experience. Looking back, I am now able to see this season as the start of the longing for fantasy in my world.

As the teenage years commenced, the draw…

Continue Reading

Man Walking

By Roger Stanton, Nation Assimilation Coach

A year ago, my wife and I were faced with an incredible opportunity to move our family from the Pacific Northwest to Hawaii. We were met with a decision that pitted the life we loved against what may be an even better life for our family. In the end, we decided against the move, but we have spent the last year in quarantine, wondering what life would have been like if we did go.

Abram, along with his wife and nephew, faced a similar situation at the end of Genesis 11. While he and his family had set out for the Promised Land of Canaan, the Bible says they settled in Harran. And then Genesis 12:1 happened:

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed…

Continue Reading

Trust God to Provide

By Rick Warren

Man's Hand Releasing Sand

 

“Since he did not spare even his own Son for us but gave him up for us all, won’t he also surely give us everything else?”

Romans 8:32 (TLB)

The major cause of stress in your life is worry. You worry because you wonder if you will have what you need when you need it.

If you want a cure for stress, you need to learn to turn to God to meet your needs.

Some people find their security in their job. But when they lose their job, they lose their peace of mind. Others put their security in their marriage. But when their spouse dies or they go through a divorce, they ask, “Who am I? What is my identity?” Or maybe they put their security in their money. But when the money’s gone, they lose their sense of self-worth.

Why would you put your security in anything that can be taken from you? You can lose your job, your health, your reputation, your spouse, and even your mind. But you cannot lose your relationship with Christ.

When you put your security…

Continue Reading

Developing a Hopeful Faith During Trials

Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to resign as the pastor of Saddleback Church?

Just about every Monday morning.

Ministry is hard work. I’m guessing you’ve had times when you wanted to throw in the towel, too. Maybe it was after a rough sermon. Or maybe you received some unfair criticism you wanted to escape. 

Maybe it’s even deeper.

James also struggled in ministry. But he and the people he wrote to didn’t just face criticism or stress over budgetary concerns. They faced outright persecution.

James knew that in the middle of tough times, similar to the ones his readers were facing, hope was essential. Throughout the book of James, God gives us a roadmap for how to embrace a hopeful faith. I don’t know what you’re facing today, but you can still lean into these seven truths during difficult seasons.

Our difficulties won’t last.

In light of eternity, our problems are short in duration. The Bible reminds us in James 5:10: “My friends, remember the prophets who…

Continue Reading