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Until YOU are My One Desire!

“Until you are my one desire!”   Lord, I seek YOU more than pleasure.

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In Light of What Happened in Connecticut

Reblogged with permission from: http://www.chspurgeonquotes.com

The Hour Is Coming

 John 5:25

I have, in my imagination, looked on all whom I know on the earth, and I have said, they are dying creatures. This is always true, but we often forget it. Yet when a precious one is taken, we begin to realize this truth. Thinking about this, I seem to see a passing procession. I remember many who have passed—a long array of my Master‘s servants—some carrying His banner high, others marching with swords drawn, and some weak and feeble being helped by sturdy champions. They are gone, and I will never see them here again. Some of you are also passing away. More are coming, but they are also going.

I said that I was looking at this procession. But that is incorrect, for I am in the procession. I am passing with the rest. What shadows we are! What fleeting things! What mists! What paintings on a cloud! We can scarcely say that we live; for the moment we begin to live, we begin to die. This earth is not the land of the living. This is a dying world. The living world is beyond death‘s cold river. Here graves are innumerable, and death rules all.

No! That is not true. For there is One who rules death. Death has no power over the living God. Death is His servant. It is through death that we pass into life. By the death of our redeeming Lord, we have been rescued from destruction. From everything that wears the aspect of death, we can turn to Him, Jesus Christ, who is the same, yesterday, today, and forever (Heb.13:8).

C.H. Spurgeon

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We visited Staten Island yesterday to help with the relief efforts.  Our trip was coordinated by Trinity Church of Greenwich and was in partnership with Movement SI Disaster Relief (see first photo).  Please continue to keep those impacted by the storm in your prayers.  God bless!

More pictures are available on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/NYMensministry

Movement Staten Island Disaster ReliefYou can take our home but you can't take our heartStaten Island Boat in parking lottotaled car in Staten IslandStaten Island damage from Sandy - respirator Staten Island damage from SandyStaten Island damage from SandyStaten Island damage from SandyStaten Island damage from Sandy

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Reducing Anxiety – Practically Depending on God

    “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. – Jesus to the apostles in John 16:33

Jesus warned the apostles and He warns us today that we will have trouble, but in the end God wins!!  I called this blog entry ‘Reducing Anxiety’ because I have found that these tools help but they don’t eliminate anxiety.  These tools should be available to all, especially Christians, as we deal with the trials of life.

Diaphragmatic Breathing

When we get anxious, we start to breath quickly and shallowly.   Obviously you get less oxygen and it can be harder to think clearly.  I’m not an expert on this but here are the steps I follow for this technique, along with some additional resources:

  1. Although you can lie down, I typically do this exercise while sitting up tall in a chair.  Back straight, head looking straight ahead, comfortable and relaxed.  Place one hand on your stomach and one on your chest.
  2. Breathe in slowly through your nose so that your stomach moves out against your hand. The hand on your chest should remain as still as possible.
  3. Optional: after your stomach is filled, then you can fill your upper chest (see diagram to right).  If you do this optional step, then first exhale from the chest before…
  4. Contract your stomach muscles bringing your belly button towards your spine. Exhale through pursed lips (like you are blowing up a balloon)
  5. Repeat, inhale to a count of 8 (but don’t strain yourself) and exhale to a count of 4 (again, don’t strain)

Additional resources on Diaphragmatic Breathing:

Cognitive Restructuring

Cognitive restructuring is much like journaling but with a focused template and the goal of understanding and practically addressing anxiety.

  1. Find a quiet place where you can think and write.  Briefly describe (in your journal) the situation (provide context, date, etc.).
  2. List all the thoughts you are having about this situation.  Don’t filter yourself – this is important.  These are your automatic thoughts.
  3. How does this make you feel? (anxious/nervous, angry, frustrated, sad, irritated, embarrassed, ashamed, hateful, confused, etc.)
  4. List the thinking errors in your automatic thoughts.  Here is a list of possible errors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_distortion
  5. Challenge your thoughts.   Here are some sample questions that could help:
    1. Do I know for certain that___________?
    2. What evidence do I have that ________?
    3. What is the worst that could happen?  How bad is that?
    4. Do I have a crystal ball?
    5. Is there another point of view?
  6. Rational Response is a summary of the challenges into a rational statement to use to combat your automatic thoughts.
  7. Achievable Behavioral Goal – what is one thing that is do-able that you can do right now to help reduce the anxiety?

Afterwards, you can further ask more questions like: Did you achieve your goal?  Did the rational response help?  What did you learn?  This is from a book called Managing Social Anxiety: A Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Approach Client Workbook (Treatments That Work).  You can find the complete two page worksheet to use as a guide below.

Cognitive Restructuring ExerciseCognitive Restructuring Worksheet

I find that after doing this exercise for a while, the anxiety creating thoughts immediately bring the rational response to mind which acts like a cure.  Here’s a very short example:

  1. Situation: Getting over a cold that has kept me from working for two full days
  2. Automatic Thoughts:
    1. I’ve got a lot to get done but I’m still fatigued from my cold.  I’m falling behind!
    2. I also would like to post a new blog entry but I want to do it well and not rush it.   -> Honor God
    3. Job search is stalling with no word from multiple opportunities while I was sick.
    4. Worried about upcoming storm – the tree near our garage could fall on our house.
  3. Feeling: Anxious, tired
  4. Thinking Errors: Disqualifying the positive, Fortune telling
  5. Challenge:  I’ve been sick and despite that I spoke at a conference and have had somewhat productive days.
  6. Rational Response: Give yourself a break;  Trust God for the outcome; Make a list
  7. Achievable Goal: Make a list of the follow-up items and actions I need to respond to first.

I sincerely hope this post gives you some tools that help you reduce your anxiety.  Please let us know your thoughts.  Do you have other techniques that have worked for you?   Have you tried these before and had success?  or not?

God Bless!

Creative Commons License
Reducing Anxiety – Practically Depending on God by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://nymensministry.com/2012/11/01/reducing-anxiety/.

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These Inward Trials, by John Newton

trials suffering lead to reliance on God One of my favorite poems/hymns. It has been a comfort for me during many dark times.

If there is no God there is no reason for your suffering.  It is only God that we can have hope that our suffering has a purpose.  God even redeems our suffering.

Amen Lord.  My trust is in you!

Russell and Duenes

I first encountered this hymn when reading J.I. Packer’s Knowing God. Then about two years ago I decided to memorize it. I commend it to you for memorization. It’s a classic, and one to come back to again and again. I’ve found it to be true in my Christian life.

I asked the Lord, that I might grow
In faith, and love, and every grace;
Might more of His salvation know,
And seek more earnestly His face.

T’was He who taught me thus to pray
and He I trust has answered prayer,
but it has been in such a way
it almost drove me to despair.

I hoped that in some favored hour
At once He’d answer my request,
and by His love’s constraining power
Subdue my sins, and give me rest.

Instead of this, He made me feel
the hidden evils of my heart;
And let the angry…

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Christian Suffering … Hope!

Great post for 9/11 by Doug Plank at Crossway Life

Crossway Life

In the middle of one of the most incredible chapters in all the Bible sits a very unsettling verse. Romans 8 comes at us with a torrent of promises and reveals to us the heights of Christ’s love and the depths of God’s immovable purposes. The Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of God the Spirit pens this treasure of a chapter. At the end of the chapter we read the following:

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? (8:35)

Beautiful. I’m with you, Paul. This is a great hypothetical question that obviously is answered by a resounding “no!”

Then comes verse 36:

As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”

Many times when I’ve read this chapter and get…

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Fourth Man in the Furnace

From ‘The Voice of the Martyrs'”  http://www.persecution.com/

Twenty-seven-year-old evangelist “Sajid Masih” climbed aboard the bus that would take him to his next mission.  He was heading into hostile territory, a region of Pakistan dominated by Islamic extremists.

As the bus carried him toward a dangerous and uncertain future, Sajid reflected on a dream he had experienced before completing Bible school.  In the dream, he saw one of Pakistans prominent cities in the future, with a large, open door at the city entrance.  Sajid said he believed the dream was God’s way of telling him He would take him in a new direction and open doors for sharing the gospel in Pakistani cities.

In the decade following that dream, Sajid led many Pakistani’s to Christ.  Most that he met were open to the gospel, and some experienced miraculous healings.

Now, as he headed toward a new adventure, Sajid struck up a conversation with several passengers seated nearby and began to tell them about Jesus.  They were interested to hear more, but a bearded man sitting behind Sajid was incensed by what he heard and began to argue with him.

“You Christians do not consider anything about our prophet, so why should we listen to you talk about your Bible?” the man demanded.

Calmly and respectfully, Sajid replied, “Our Bible has no reference about your prophet.”

“The prophet was written in your Bible,” the man continued, “but you people would not accept it so you changed the words to your own.”  Sajid did not respond.  He knew he could not reason with someone so angry.

The long bus ride came to and end shortly after sunset.  After Sajid got off the bus, a dozen men gathered around him.  They quickly overpowered Sajid, placed a blindfold over his eyes and shoved him into the back seat of a car.  Twenty-five minutes later, they arrived at a compound and took him into a room for questioning.

“Who are you?” they demanded.  “Are you a preacher? Are you converting Muslims? Which organization do you belong to?”

Sajid fell silent with fear, but his persecutors threatened to kill him if he didn’t respond to their questions.  “I am telling you the truth,” Sajid explained, “I am God’s preacher.”

“If you want to spare your life, you must deny your faith and become a Muslim,” his captors warned.  “If you don’t do as we say, we will torture you and within 30 minutes your passion for Christianity will disappear.”

“I am ready for whatever you choose to do to me,” Sajid replied. “I am prepared to die for Jesus, and I will not lose my passion for him no matter what you do to me.

voice of the martyrs, pakistan

Sajid’s kidnappers took him outside, tied his hands behind his back and forced him to stand on a block of ice with his back against a tree.  They tied a rope around his chest and legs securing him to the tree.  After four hours on the block of ice, Sajid’s feet began to suffer from frostbite.  He could endure the ice no longer and cried out to Jesus for help.  “Suddenly, I saw a vision of a radiant angel appearing in front of me,” Sajid said.

Sajid’s pain eased and he regained his strength. He was inspired to sing several worship songs, despite the possible consequences of annoying his persecutors.  Then he fell unconscious.  When he awoke at 3 am, he realized he had been dumped in a drainage ditch at the side of the road.  His wallet and a Hebrew language book he had been carrying were lying beside him.

A passerby took Sajid to a local hotel where he recovered for three days. He contacted his brother who brought him home for more rest and medical treatment.

He says although his trial was difficult, he felt Jesus was very close to him.  “When we suffer and face trouble, Jesus comes very close to us”, he said. Just as a “fourth man” appeared with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace, Jesus was present with Sajid in the midst of his suffering.

When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were delivered from the fiery furnace, King Nebuchadnezzar proclaimed: “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who sent His Angel and delivered His servants who trusted in Him, and they have frustrated the king’s word, and yielded their bodies, that they should not serve nor worship any god except their own God” (Daniel 3:28)

Like the men in Daniel, Sajid yielded his body to torture in order to worship no god except their own God.  His witness and courageous faith inspire us.  We thank God for his deliverance from Pakistan’s fiery furnace and pray that the Lord will continue to use him mightily.

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Christian Olympians

Since our last post was so successful, it inspired this one.  I thought I would list a few Olympians who have shared their Christian faith.  This is not intended to be a full list so please feel free to add a comment, if you know others.  Thanks!

Gabby Douglas  Gabby Douglas, 2 Gold Medals, Gymnast

“I meditate on scripture” said Gabby Douglas to the reporter when asked about how she deals with the pressure and the nerves of being a gymnast on the biggest stage in the world

“I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.”

Allyson Felix Christian

 Allyson Felix, 3 Gold Medals, Track and Field (100 and 200 meters)

“It’s official…I’m going to London!! All glory to God! I’m so thankful for the love, support & encouragement,”

“My faith inspires me so much. It is the very reason that I run. I feel that my running is completely a gift from God and it is my responsibility to use it to glorify him. My faith also helps me not be consumed with winning, but to see the big picture and what life is really all about.”

David Boudia Christian

David Boudia, Gold Medal, Diving

“It’s all about glorifying God. I approach the practices and the competitions the same. I’m at peace when I’m doing those things and it’s for God and His glory.”

“Whatever happens at the end of this Olympic Games is completely out of my control, God is totally sovereign over everything.”  (This realization also helped him overcome depression)

 

 

 

William Reid Priddy Christian

 William Reid Priddy, Gold medal, Men’s Volleyball

“I believe that God is most glorified when I use the gifts He has given me to the best of my ability, whether I am on international TV or just training,”

Christians should be “to pursue greatness (no matter what you are doing) in the name of God and clinging to the strength He provides. Not with the end goal of winning – though it can be a goal and is part of the process – but rather to become more like God and glorify Him.”

Lauren Cheney Christian

Lauren Cheney, Gold Medal, Women’s Soccer

“We weren’t given these talents to be mediocre. Our God is great – He deserves greatness.”

(After losing the 2011 World Cup) “It was a rollercoaster ride, but it was neat to just see (God’s) hand on that (situation),” Heath said. “It’s more than just winning or losing. There are so many relationships that go deeper than that. He has a plan in it all. You have to trust that. Even though it’s not the ideal outcome—I mean, everybody wants to be winners—you have to trust that God has a greater plan for this even when you can’t see it.”

Jacob Wukie Christian

 Jacob Wukie, Silver medal, Archery

“I will be living my life for Christ, seeking to know Him more, and seeking to be used by Him to influence the lives of those around me so that they might know Him as well.”

 

 

Lolo Jones Lori (Lolo) Jones, 4th, Track and Field (100 meters)

“It’s just a gift (virginity) I want to give my husband. But please understand this journey has been hard. There are virgins out there and I want to let them know that it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.”

“As I arrive in London for the Olympics, I’m overwhelmed with emotions. Thank you Lord for another chance and for holding me as I waited.”

 

Ryan hall Christian Ryan Hall, DNF – injury, Track and Field (Marathon)

God as his coach.

“I like to start off every morning by asking God how He sees me,”

 

 

 

 

 

James Nieto Christian

Jamie Nieto, 6th place, Track & Field (Men’s High Jump)

“Your only limitations are what you believe them to be, and as long as you put God first, you can achieve   all things through Him,”

“I need God in every aspect to help me move forward in my career and being here at the Olympics is a testament.”

 

And a few others:

Brady Ellison, Archer – “Here we go four years of sweat and blood and hard work to prepare for today. Thank you Lord for lettin me [be] here this week. Lets do it.”

Jesse Williams, track and Field (High jump) – “Praise the Lord Jesus Christ he is good!”

Marquise Goodwin, track and Field (Long jump) – “All this wouldn’t be possible without you! #God.”

Bryan Clay, track and Field (Decathalon) – “God first. Family second. Track third.”

Creative Commons License
Christian Olympians by Westchester Men’s Ministry is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at https://nymensministry.com/2012/08/13/christian-olympians/ .

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Olympians and Christians

Olympics Medal London 2012    I was watching the Olympics and it wasn’t long before I heard one of the personal stories that the games have become known for over the years.  A story of sacrifice and suffering characterizes the very different life of an Olympian.

I then saw a commercial in which various different athletes declared small sacrifices they have made: “I haven’t watched TV since last summer,” ” I haven’t had dessert in a year,” “I missed my school prom,”  etc.

As I thought about these sacrifices, I reflected on the Christian life and how, in many ways, the life of an aspiring Olympian is similar.   Christian men sacrifice daily for their wives, family and for God.  They don’t do what they want to do.  They stand out.  They are different from everyone else and that is difficult.   It takes strength, courage, and most of all, faith!

Purity ring men

I was told recently about a young relative who wears a purity ring.  The ring reminds him that he is saving himself for marriage.  So, when he is tempted, when he has desires, he can stop and realize that there is something better in store for him.  I’m sure this faith in God’s promises strengthens him.  In many ways this ring is a reminder of the medal (or the crown as the Bible calls it) that we ought to strive for in the race of our lives.

“I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 3:14 (NIV)

“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ. ” –  Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If we do anything to further the kingdom of God, we may expect to find what Christ found on that road – abuse, indifference, injustice, misunderstanding, trouble of some kind. Take it. Why not? To that you were called. In Latin America someone who feels sorry for himself is said to look like a donkey in a downpour. If we think of the glorious fact that we are on the same path with Jesus, we might see a rainbow. ” – Elisabeth Elliot

“To take up the cross of Christ is no great action done once for all; it consists in the continual practice of small duties which are distasteful to us.” – John Henry Newman

“You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” – 1 Corinthians 6:20

“If the ultimate, the hardest, cannot be asked of me; if my fellows hesitate to ask it and turn to someone else, then I know nothing of Calvary love. ” – Amy Carmichael

You see our sacrifices are nothing, as Paul said so well in Philippians 3:8: “What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.”

May we gain the prize, Christ!!

Amen!

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Trust God and Be at Peace

Trust God - peace

     May today there be peace within

   May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.

    May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.

    May you use those gifts that you have received and pass on the love that has

    been given to you.

    May you be content knowing you are a child of God.

    Let his presence settle in to your bones and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love.

                            It is there for every one of us.

                                                                 ― St. Thérèse de Lisieux