God is Good

I finally allowed Christ to have his rightful place on the throne of my life 39 years ago. However, it was not until thirteen years ago that I gave my first tithe. Throughout those first 26 years, the Holy Spirit consistently placed on my heart the verse from Matthew 6:21: “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.”

My conscience was bothered by this verse because I struggled to trust God with my finances. I would make excuses and ignore it because in all honesty, I couldn’t let go of the false sense of security I associated with “my” money. The consequence? I was missing out on the full life that God had for me.

Then one day, my husband announced we were going bankrupt. We had two mortgages and $126,000 in credit card debt. Now THAT was a wakeup call. It was frightening and overwhelming, but with the help of the Holy Spirit, I gained knowledge, wisdom, and discipline and lost my stony, stubborn heart as it pertained to finances.

As a result, we decided to tithe while still deep in debt. The Lord chose the day after we wrote our first tithe check to have the owners of a company my husband no longer worked for turn up to give him a $10,000 bonus check they had wrongfully withheld from him in 2002. We wept, we laughed, and then we tithed 10% of that bonus check before putting the rest toward our now shrinking debt. Faith really does mean letting go of self and giving ourselves over to God’s care.

More important than the windfall of money (because we do not give as a means to get) was how we continuously experienced, every day, and in every situation, that this one small step of obedience had unfettered our hearts and brought us into a closer, deeper relationship with God through prayer and Bible study.

Now, thirteen years later, joy and spiritual growth continue in my life.  God is good. You can’t out-give God, but you can grow that “tender responsive heart” we receive at the moment of salvation by thanking him for all his blessings and by using your finances to serve him.

Questions:
What does the Bible say about the blessings that come from obedience?

Has fear ever kept you from giving generously of your finances?

Next Steps:
Check out these verses and commentary by Bob Lotich, founder of SeedTime.com.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/bob-lotich/5-encouraging-bible-verse_b_4804405.html

Pray that God will help you see your habits and sins honestly and show you the way to obedience and provision.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for loving me so much that you sent your only begotten Son to save me from condemnation and to open the way for me to love and serve you. I pray you will fill me to overflowing with a generous heart as we, your church, strive to help others and introduce them to you. I pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.


This post was written by Martha Preckler and the LIO team. Martha loves Jesus and growing closer to him every day. She loves serving on the Sparkle Team and Greeter Team, as a Landing Leader, GrowthTrack hostess, and fill-in writer for LIO. Martha is the grateful mother of two grown sons and one daughter-in-law. Both sons are good writers, but one is a published urban fantasy writer and self-proclaimed grammar dictator, which he swears he picked up from his mother. She has been a Toledo Business Journal contributor, speech writer, as well as creator of dozens of promotional pieces for seniors’ events and programming offer by the YMCA and JCC of Greater Toledo.


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Spread the News: You Matter!

You matter. At CedarCreek Church, you matter to us because you matter to God. In this world of social media—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram—often we only portray the good parts of our lives. We hide behind our screens and show all the happy and wonderful moments but don’t show the rest of ourselves. God sees through our screens to our hearts. And he loves us anyway. The Bible says that God knows us so intimately that he knows how many hairs are on our head (Matthew 10:30). Jesus doesn’t care about your past; he cares about your heart.

Throughout the Bible, we see time and time again that Jesus cares about people. He spent his entire ministry reaching out to every person. Jesus and his disciples would walk for days at a time, through the hot desert, to spread the message of hope and salvation to people in different cities. Jesus was known to associate with the outcasts, the poor, and the sick. Jesus spent time with children. Everyone was important to Jesus.  Everyone IS important to Jesus.

One of Jesus’ most famous teachings is known as The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). Before his final ascension to the right hand of God the Father, Jesus gave these important instructions to his followers:

 

Matthew 28:19

Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

 

Jesus wanted to make sure that everyone on Earth heard the message that “You Matter.” Jesus told his followers to ignore religious divides, ignore cultural divides, ignore social divides. We are told to go to “all the nations.” If you have surrendered your life to Christ, you already have a heart of generosity living within you. Now take the next step. Tell someone that they matter to you, and they matter to God.

 

Questions:
Why is it so hard for us to believe that “You Matter”?

Do you care about the things that Jesus cares about?

Next Steps:
Find someone who needs to hear that they matter to God and invite them to CedarCreek Church as we continue the series W/ Heart.  Pray for this person by name daily.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for loving me as I am. I know I’m not perfect. I know I’ve made mistakes, and I will make more mistakes in the future. Yet, you still love me. Help me to show your love to someone else this week. Amen.


This post was written by Kaye Althaus. Kaye is honored to be a member of the LivingItOut writing team. In her spare time, she loves to read and do crafts with friends. She and her husband live in the quiet country and raise chickens.


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A New Heart

“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster,” so says Charles Dickens about one of the most notorious characters in literature. Mr. Scrooge lived a miserly life, always seeking his own self-interest, never stopping to help those who could not help themselves. It is safe to say that he had a hard heart that had no room nor desire for softening. Yet by the end of this novella, it was said of him, “He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew.”

When we give our lives to Christ, we also experience a drastic heart change. We may not go around “bah humbugging” everyone we meet, but sometimes our heart is just as corrupt. According to Jeremiah 17:9 (NIV), “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Yet, when we come to Christ, we are given a new heart!

Ezekiel 36:26-27
26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

We have the promise that God will replace our stony heart and give us a tender, responsive heart. A heart that is free from fear. Fear can manifest itself in many ways in our daily lives: hovering over our loved ones and trying to control every outcome; being close-fisted before God when it comes to our time, finances, or resources; desperately trying to please and impress others so we are not left alone with our thoughts. But this is our old heart. When we embrace the new heart God has promised us, we are no longer selfish, afraid, or defensive. We can live a life that is generous, trusting, and inspiring. We have been promised eternal life ultimately, and nothing can compare to that.

 

Questions:
How has your heart changed since becoming a Christ follower? Are you living open-handed before God or close-fisted with your time, resources, and finances?

What area of your life do you need to allow God to transform? Is your life ruled by fear, selfishness, or defensiveness?

Next Steps:  
Think about the state of your heart before Christ. List the ways you have changed to become more like him. List the places where you still need to allow him access.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for changing my heart when I accepted your gift of salvation. Thank you for promising to create a new and clean heart in me when I come to you. I ask you now to remove from my heart anything that keeps me from living the life you have called me to. Convict me of the sins I hold in the depths of my heart and give me the strength to let them go so that I may live a life wholly devoted to you. Amen.


This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.


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What is the Condition of Your Heart?

We guard our houses and cars by locking the doors. We guard other expensive possessions, like jewelry, by keeping them in a safe. We guard our money in our accounts with pin numbers. We guard our health by exercising and eating right. We guard our families from danger online by strict privacy settings. So, why are we not guarding our hearts?

Proverbs 4:23
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

In today’s times, the heart is known to be an organ in the circulatory system. The heart pumps blood, supplying oxygen and nutrients to the body. If your heart has a functional problem, it can affect other parts of your body. If your heart has a relational problem, it can adversely affect your body as well. But, if you are a Christ follower, your heart is more than just an organ. In biblical times, the heart was not only thought of as a physical organ but was also considered to be the hub of our deepest moral and spiritual convictions, like we would ascribe to the mind. God has commanded us to guard our hearts above all else. Jesus tells us that the heart is a repository of good and evil, and what comes out of the mouth begins in the heart.

Proverbs 27:19    
As a face is reflected in water, so the heart reflects the real person.

Have you ever looked at your reflection in a body of water? Just as we see our reflection, our behavior will mirror our hearts. Our behavior right now is a result of what was previously happening in our hearts. If you keep opening your heart to the wrong things, you will eventually get the wrong results. You will become hard-hearted, and you will have a hard life. Christ spells out the characteristics of this spiritual heart condition as an inability to see, understand, hear, and remember what God has done for us. Pride, setbacks, and disappointments can also cause a hard heart. However, sin is the ultimate cause of hard-heartedness because you trust yourself above God. If we guard our hearts, then our hearts will produce the right things. A strong heart will lead to a strong life. The spiritual condition of our heart will determine the course of our life.

Proverbs 28:14    
Blessed are those who fear to do wrong, but the stubborn are headed for serious trouble.

Jeremiah 17:10    
But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.

Ben also mentioned other conditions of the heart that we should be aware of: half-hearted which will produce half a life; full heart which will produce a full life; bitter heart which will produce a bitter life; divided heart which will produce a divided life; and cold heart which will produce a cold life. Jesus cares about the condition of our heart, and so should we.

Questions:
How do you know what’s in your heart?

Have you been making the condition of your heart of more concern than anything else you guard?

What are steps you can take to keep your heart guarded?

Next Steps:
Examine your heart to see what condition it’s in. If you are hard-hearted, recognize the spiritual effect this condition has on your life. If you do not know what condition your heart is in, ask God for guidance. Read Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.”

Prayer:
Dear Abba Father, keep me attentive to my heart’s condition. Give me strength to keep my heart pure so I do not go astray. Allow me to surround myself with other Christians that will keep me spiritually strong. Keep my heart full of love for Jesus so I may be of service to you. In your Son’s name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Jennifer Macke. Jenn has a son, daughter, granddaughter, and grandson, and she thanks God every day for them. She is enjoying retirement and feels blessed to be writing for LivingItOut. She was raised in an Evangelical Church, but her spiritual life awakened when she started attending CedarCreek.


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With Heart

Twenty-three years ago, a group of people had a dream in their hearts to start a church in Northwest Ohio where people could come and hear the life changing message of Jesus. They dreamt of a church where people would be welcome no matter what socioeconomic status, life issue, or background they brought with them. They dreamt that through this new church, lives would be transformed by God allowing them to experience finally the full life he had planned for them.

Out of that dream, came CedarCreek Church. A place where people are able to come and hear how they can have a personal relationship with God, find freedom from areas of struggle, and discover how their unique passions, personality, and gifts can make an eternal difference to others.

The reason that CedarCreek moved from a dream in people’s hearts to a reality was because God made it happen, and along the way he used a group of people whose hearts were in the right condition.

2 Chronicles 16:9 says,
“The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.”

Today, God is still searching for people he can strengthen and transform so that they can make a difference. I don’t know about you, but I want to be strengthened by God. I want to be transformed and used to make an eternal difference. When God searches the Earth, I want his eyes to land on me. In order for that to happen though, my heart needs to be in the right condition. So, what does that look like?

This past weekend, Ben shared a story from the Bible that helped define what it looks like when our hearts are in the right condition.

Matthew 22:35-39
One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

When a lawyer asked Jesus what the most important commandment in Jewish scriptures was, he answered that it is to love God with all of our heart. We learn from Jesus’ answer that it is when we are loving that our hearts are in the right condition.

As we continue this series, With Heart, our hope is that you will grow in the area of trusting God. When you love God with all that you are and you trust God with who you are, he will strengthen you and transform your life. Trusting him with who you are allows you to stop trying so hard to fix the condition of your heart. Instead you can trust that God has already given you a new heart. A heart that has eternal life, is free, understands purpose, and is generous.

Over the next few days, we are going to ask you to take time to answer this question, “What is the condition of my heart?” The answer to that question is so important, because the state of your heart sets the direction of your life.

Questions:
What is the dream that God has placed on your heart?

When God’s eyes search for people that are fully committed to him, do they rest on you?

Are you trusting God with the condition of your heart or are you working to solve your heart’s issues on your own?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the emotions your heart has been feeling this past week. Identify those emotions that are positive and those that are troubled or negative. Ask God to help you transform your heart into the right condition.

 

Prayer:
Dear Lord, please open my heart to loving and trusting you with all that I am. Please help me to love others as much as I love you therefore transforming and strengthening my heart so that it is in the right condition for you to use me to transform the lives of others. Amen.


This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as the Director of the LivingItOut Bible Study.


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Mental Reboot

My undergraduate training was in Systems Analysis (IT). Back then, the computer that I worked with filled the basement of a university building. Now the same computing power can be found in our laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Back then, if the computer didn’t work, first you exhausted all the tricks you knew to fix it, then tried reading the manual, and lastly you called the help desk. Often the only thing that fixed it was turning it off and back on again. Come to think of it, this is exactly what I did last week to fix our “smart” TV! Sometimes, you just gotta reboot!

Think of your mind as the supercomputer that it is. Sometimes, the weight of the world weighs heavy on us. We worry. We worry about our health, our jobs, our spouses, our kids and grandkids, our parents, and our volunteer responsibilities. It just becomes too much to handle. Sometimes, we need to hit the “pause button.” Even though we don’t like to admit it, we just need a mental reboot. We can’t continually do the same things over and over again and expect different results.

Nowadays, our time is often consumed by media, sometimes to the point where personal relationships and our relationship with God suffer. If you think you are there, talk to a trusted friend about it. Maybe you need to hit the “pause button” and take a mental reboot! Maybe you need to replace your thoughts.

After pausing, evaluating and challenging our beliefs, there was one final step that Dr. Jason Brouwer gave us. The final step is to replace our incorrect beliefs.

Romans 12:2
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.

Philippians 4:8   
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.

As you go through your weekend, keep these verses in mind and replace your false beliefs by allowing God to change the way you think. Focus on the true and excellent things that God has given you.


Questions:
Do you have problems with impure thoughts? Is the weight of the world worrying you? Do you need a mental reboot?

 

Next Steps:
Examine what you are putting into your mind through television, books, conversations, movies, print, and the internet. Replace harmful material with helpful material. Most importantly, read the Word and pray.

Take some time to write out a list of things that are true, honorable, right pure, lovely and admirable.

Spend time listening to worship music this weekend.


Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for helping me see your vision. Giving you control is hard, but filling our minds with thoughts that are true, noble, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy is the right thing to do. Thank you for guiding me and helping me help others. Amen!


This post was written by Pam Haynam. Pam is a writer for the LivingItOut Bible Study, a Lead Mentor Mom for Momentum, and a cook for the weekend worship band. She has a passion for education having served her community on a district school board and is currently serving on a board that sponsors charter schools across the state. She and her husband have three grown children, a daughter-in-law, a son-in-law and three grandsons.


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You Can Do It!

First, a ceiling light in the kitchen went out. Then, the dishwasher quit working. Finally, I noticed rotting wood on the outside of my house. Luckily, these three events did not occur all at the same time, but they were part of my journey over the last few years. This was my activating event—the breakdown of stuff around the house. Now, my belief about this event was that I was incapable of fixing anything and, therefore, helpless in this situation. I felt overwhelmed and discouraged.

This week, we are learning how to best take care of our mental health. There are four steps: Pause — Evaluate — Challenge — Replace. We already read about the first two earlier this week. Today, we will talk about how we need to challenge our errant thoughts and beliefs about an activating event.

As I paused to evaluate my beliefs about myself and my ability to handle home repairs, I realized I needed to challenge some very wrong beliefs that I had been carrying for far too long.

You see, my ex-husband was extremely good at fixing things. He has a background in electrical engineering and is a software developer. Unfortunately, as he worked on projects, he did not explain to me what he was doing and why. He said he didn’t have the patience and that I was too stupid to understand.

At first, I was taken aback—I have always been scientifically and technologically inclined! When I was growing up in Germany, one of my most favorite places to visit with my father was the Deutsche Museum in München (Munich), which is a huge museum for science, technology, and engineering. I loved learning how things worked!

Nevertheless, I allowed his words to take root in my heart, and even with a Ph.D. in neuroscience, I felt too stupid to know how to fix the light, evaluate the status of the dishwasher, or replace the rotten wood on the outside of my house. So, being suddenly a single mother with two young kids and a house where appliances and fixtures were developing issues, I needed to challenge these errant beliefs about myself and the situation.

2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

Challenging our beliefs about a situation takes effort. As Paul says in the verse above, we have to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. I had to remember back to my childhood and think about how I loved figuring out how things worked. I also thought about some of the other negative dynamics at work when my ex-husband would say such demeaning things to me. Tomorrow in LivingItOut, we will talk about how to replace our thoughts. For today, know that it is possible to challenge the story running through your head. And, I can proudly say that I figured out how to fix the light, researched the best dishwasher to replace my old one, and found the best solution for the rotten wood. You should have seen my victory dances each time! (Well, maybe on second thought, it’s best no one saw them!) Each successfully conquered challenge made me realize how erroneous my old beliefs had been.

Questions:
Is there an area in your life where you may be holding on to erroneous beliefs or feelings? How did those thoughts and feelings come about?

Next Steps:
Make a list of the negative thoughts and beliefs you are holding on to about yourself. Think back to your past, perhaps going all the way back to your childhood, or think about other areas of your life where you might be excelling at the same thing in a different context. List the things that you could use to challenge those negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, please give me the strength to challenge the negative thoughts and feelings that I may have about myself or a given situation. With your help, I can identify and challenge the erroneous story I have been telling myself or that others have been telling me. Please help me to build a new picture of myself and my abilities, to see the potential you see in me, and then to fulfill your vision for my life. Amen.


This post was written by Cordula Mora. Cordula is a neuroscientist who currently works in the Provost office at Bowling Green State University. She was born and raised in Germany, then spent many years living in New Zealand before settling in the US almost 16 years ago. She was raised in a German Lutheran church but feels blessed to have been spiritually awakened when she was introduced to CedarCreek Church. She thanks God every day for all the blessings in her life, including two amazing daughters and a wonderful man who loves the Lord.


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How Long is Your Fuse?

Luke 5:16
But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.

Do you ever wonder why Jesus had to go off to talk to God? I mean, he WAS God, right? Yes, but he was also human. That means that he got just as frustrated with people and felt just as used, misunderstood, and taken advantage of as we do at times. In fact, the author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus was tempted in all the ways that we are but did not sin (Hebrews 4:16). That includes being tempted to be unkind, impatient, harsh, and just plain fed-up! I think part of the reason he didn’t sin is because he went off by himself to talk to his Father. I also think he needed to be by himself to catch his breath, get a grip, and gain some perspective to better love the people surrounding him.

I tend to have a short fuse when I am frustrated by other people’s inability to understand a concept that I think should be common sense, whatever that might be these days! This can be the activating event. It takes me a little while to get around to the idea that this is not a personal response to me. In fact, it seldom is about me at all. I just think it is because (I hate to admit it, but it’s true) I am, after all, the center of my world! Unless I give myself a time-out, where I can create some space and figure out where my negative emotions are coming from, I do not respond well. I don’t want to eliminate my emotion—that’s not healthy. But I do need to evaluate it to determine if it’s valid. That’s what I need to do so that I can give the response that will honor God.

It is OK to be sad or anxious during times that are sad or foreboding. However, is there a false recurring belief that keeps coming up? If so, it is usually not the situation that is driving the emotion. It is a belief.

If that is true, then the activating event isn’t the cause of the emotion. The false interpretation of it, or the false belief, is.

A major indicator of false beliefs is when we generalize. An activating event occurs (facts), and we find ourselves saying things like “always” or “never.” We generalize: “No one ever likes me. My ideas are never good enough. He always ignores my contributions.”

It is important to evaluate our beliefs and ask God to help us in the process.

Often when we evaluate our emotions, we want to validate them. For this reason, it may be a good idea to have conversations with authentic friends who may not be as emotionally invested in the situation. They can help you see something that you are missing and help you process things a little differently.


Questions:
What do you do when you find yourself ramping up to an emotional response to an activating event?

Do you have someone you trust to talk you down off the ledge?

Next Steps:
Develop a strategy for the next time you respond emotionally to an activating event. Pray. Count backward from 10, or 100. Call a friend. Take several deep breaths. Walk away. Have a plan that you create ahead of time, so you can implement it when the time comes.

Prayer:
My Lord Jesus, your loving response to the difficult people in your life inspires me to want to be better at this. Please give me a heart of compassion and a desire to understand the reasons other people behave as they do. Help me to be curious about others’ points of view and to take the focus off of myself and onto them, and you. Amen.


This post was written by Lauri White. Lauri is one of the 25 people who God used to start CedarCreek 21 years ago, and was on staff until 2013. She and her husband Mike love to travel the country in their motor home with their kitties Jane & Mary. Lauri is passionate about prayer, and about helping women discover who they are in Christ. She doesn’t tweet but you can follow her and Mike’s adventures on Facebook.


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Respond Versus React

I manage a very diverse group of people at my job. There are many personalities and backgrounds, some older folks, and lately a lot of millennials. Managing all of these personalities can get tricky sometimes, especially when there is conflict. I, like many people I suppose, do not like conflict. I think that most of us feel like if we just leave it alone, it’ll go away. This is not a healthy solution because inevitably it doesn’t go away; it festers and becomes an even bigger issue.

Sometimes these personalities get very confrontational, and that can be even worse. People say things they don’t mean out of anger or frustration, and then, neither side is open to hearing the other and resolving the issue. Instead they are only concerned with holding their own position. Furthermore, when someone feels that they are being attacked, they go into fight or flight mode. We have all heard of this before. It is the “knee-jerk” reaction that comes from a very small part in the center of our brain—the amygdala. The key word here is reaction. This is why we need to practice to remain calm, take a pause, and allow ourselves (and the other person for that matter) time to process the situation. By doing that, we allow our frontal cortex to catch up. This is the part of the brain that has sense and reason. We need to be able to have reasonable thoughts about the situation so that we can respond rather than react. When we pause, it gives us room to assess and, if necessary, change our interpretation of events.

James 1:19
Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.

When these situations occur at work, I tell the people involved to take a few minutes to cool off before we reconvene to talk things over. Sometimes, we have to do this a couple of times before they get to a place where they can communicate without being combative. It’s hard to be calm when you believe you are being wronged! That is why it is so important to take a little time to really figure out what is going on inside yourself. Take a pause to listen; then you can respond rather than react.

Questions:
When you are in conflict take a pause to ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I feeling?
  • Why am I feeling this way?
  • What is the role of the person that I’m in conflict with (what did they do or say?)
  • Why would a reasonable person do or say this?
  • What is my role in the problem?

Next Steps:
This is not an easy thing to do. It takes practice and intentionality. Write down these questions somewhere easily accessible, and intentionally pause to ask them the next time you have a conflict.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me such an amazing brain and complex emotions. Thank you for giving me guidance on how to use them in a healthy way. Help me to remain calm in volatile situations so I can listen well and respond rather than react to any situation. Amen.


This post was written by Kelda Strasbourg. Kelda is a grateful member of the LivingItOut writing team. She has a love for Jesus and desire to help others find that same love.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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Let’s Talk About Mental Health

CedarCreek’s motto is “You Matter.” What does this mean? I believe it means God loves you, and you are important to him. God cares about your physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental well-being. Many people find it difficult to talk about their mental health issues with others. We will discuss family problems, physical illnesses, financial problems, and other personal matters, but for some reason, mental illness is taboo. We don’t like to admit we struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, addictions, or any other problems.

Mental illness is something that impacts everyone, and 50 percent of us will be diagnosed with some sort of mental illness at some point in our life. One in five people suffer from mental illnesses each year. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses in adults 18 and older in the U.S., affecting 18.1 percent of the population each year. The leading cause of disability in the U.S. from the ages of 15 to 44 is depression. There are more than 200 types of mental illness diagnoses. If you are presently not suffering with some type of mental illness, you probably know someone who is.

Mental health was one of the top issues people identified as a struggle in life through CedarCreek’s online survey. This past weekend, Ben Snyder interviewed Dr. Jason Brouwer, a clinical psychologist, about this issue in our lives.

In the interview, Dr. Brouwer shared with us that an indicator or red flag we can look for in regards to mental health is when our reaction doesn’t quite match the situation at hand. Another indicator that something is not quite right with our mental health is if we find ourselves in a season of life that is uncomfortable for an extended period of time or we feel that our discomfort is to a degree that is a little excessive. These indicators are signs that we may need to process why we are experiencing these feelings.

This weekend, Dr. Brouwer shared with us the ABC Chart—a tool to help us process our emotions during difficult situations.

As you go throughout your day, identify the activating events in your life. In other words, when something happens that causes you distress, it’s important to  recognize the facts that occurred in that event.

Secondly, pay attention to the story you are telling yourself about those events. Keep in mind, your beliefs may not be based on fact at all.

Finally, identify the emotions that result from the story you are telling yourself about that activating event. These are the consequences to your belief(s).

By going through this exercise, you will be able to process your emotions and those red flags in the area of mental health. The more you do the ABC exercise, the more natural it will become.

Over the next few days of the LivingItOut, we will continue to look at some very practical steps that will help you process emotions and live emotionally healthy.

As you go through this week, if you find yourself in a struggle, it is important to know that we don’t have to struggle alone.

Isaiah 41:10

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God, I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

 

I can’t wait to see how God uses this service and this week’s LivingItOut to help all of us. Hopefully, we will feel free to share our struggles with others, feeling God’s love and acceptance though out.


Questions

Are you struggling with some mental health issue? Who can you talk to if you have a mental health issue?

Next Steps   
Talk to someone. Attend Celebrate Recovery. Pray for guidance.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, please help me to lean on the people you have placed in my life to help me work through my mental health struggles. I know it will not be easy to open up, but I realize that it is very important to talk about it with someone I trust and know has my best interest at heart. Please let me be also there for others in my life who struggle with mental health issues. Please give us all the strength to work through any mental health issues that we may have. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

Click Here


More Resources

Memory Verses
Weekly Discussion
RightNow Media