When Your Problem is Overwhelming

138173-424x283-TroubledTeenShe sat in my office staring at the floor.  I’ve seen that look so many times on the faces of men and women who have experienced hurt.

Sometimes, life is really hard.

You may feel hurt, disappointed, and empty.

You may feel numb.

Whatever the reason, there comes a point when you need to hear once again a word of hope.

I love Psalm 73.  In fact, it may be one of my favorite Psalms.  The Psalm speaks of a person who says that his “feet had almost slipped.”  He became so discouraged after seeing the unfairness and pain that exists in the world.  He saw the “prosperity of the wicked” (73:3).  It seemed as if they had no struggles, burdens or the common human ills (73:4-5). They were a prideful and arrogant people (73:6-8).  The world was not working right and it was very discouraging to this writer.  He felt as if his faith was all for nothing (73:13)

However all of this changed later and he came away from the sanctuary very encouraged.

Five People I Need Around Me

Quote-of-the-Week-EncouragementWho in your life makes you a better person?

I just had lunch with a friend who is such a person.  He is older, wiser, and helped me think through a life issue and a church issue as well.

I am better off for having spent time with this friend.  He is the kind of person who makes me want to be a better man and leader.  I enjoy being with him.

Now I realize that not everyone is like my friend.  Some people complain constantly. Some people enjoy arguing. Some are pessimistic and cynical.  Others are manipulative. Many of us deal with all kinds of people every day.

I have learned that I am better equipped to deal with these kinds of people if I am deliberate about surrounding myself with five different kinds of people.

1.  A joyful person.  I am grateful to know some joyful people.  These are people who may have challenges but their attitude is joyful.

2.  A person who is a learner.  I love being with people who are always learning and growing.  I find that so stimulating.

3.  A person who will help me.  I am thinking of a couple of people who will ask me a question or two and then have the patience to listen.  Through their genuine interest in my life, I feel valued and appreciated.

4.  A person whom I can help.  I get energized by being with a person who genuinely wants my help and will even follow through regarding what we discuss.

5.  A person who believes in me.  I am fortunate enough to have been given this gift through my wife, Charlotte.  I find her confidence in me to be energizing and helpful.

Are all five kinds of people in my life all the time?  Not necessarily.  I do tend to gravitate toward these people. They have a way of adding value to my life and I am better for having known them.


What kinds of people add energy and value to your life?  What would you add to the above list?

Ten Ways to Enjoy Life and Be Effective (Part 1)

ten_2.jpgYou know that feeling don’t you?

You work through the morning and now it is time for lunch.  You look back at the last few hours and really don’t feel very good about it.  Why?  You wasted too much time on things that just don’t matter.  Maybe you spent too much time in useless pursuit of something on the Internet.  Perhaps you spent too much time reading the sports.  Too much time in a conversation that probably should have ended thirty minutes earlier.  I’ve certainly done some of these and do not like the feeling afterward. 

Yet, I think there is a way to spend each day enjoying life and being effective.  I have listed a few practices that have been very important to me.

Here are a few:

1.  Take time each day to nurture your center.  For a Christian this means taking the time each day to read Scripture, pray, and think about the day and its meaning.  Doing this is a reminder that a day is not just about getting things done, running errands, or moving through a to do list.  Spending time each day nurturing your center can help put the day in a God-centered perspective.

Most mornings I wake up early enough to spend some time reading my Bible.  Right now I am reading Genesis.  I will typically read a couple of chapters with a yellow marker in my hand.  In each chapter, paragraph, and verse, I am looking for what God is doing or saying.  I will underline the phrases, lines, or words that are particularly meaningful to me.

There are other resources that I find helpful, including prayer books, books by particular authors, and the journals of others.  (Right now I am looking at John Newton’s journal on my bookshelf.)  I am also helped by writing in my journal about twice a week.   I find myself writing things I did not know I was thinking.

2.  Surround yourself with encouragersI have always appreciated and been motivated by the  encouragement of others.  Life is hard.  My work is sometimes difficult and even discouraging.  Life is far too short for me to surround myself with discouragers, negative people, and those who drain the life out of me.  Yes, I realize these people need love and ministry; however, I have to be careful.  If I surround myself with too many of these people, my joy and passion can just go down the drain.

I have learned to really value the people in my life who encourage me.  I can see the faces of some of them even now as I write these words.  They are old and young.  Some of them have been in the churches where I’ve served.  A few of them are family.  Some are longtime friends.  Others are people I have never met but whose words through writing and speaking have encouraged me in some way.  Still others have long since died and gone to be with the Lord but their encouraging words are alive in my heart and memory.

What about you?  Can you name five or ten people who have been or who are your encouragers?  They may encourage you through their words, their presence, or their example.  Choose to spend time with these people.

3.  Choose your attitude.  This is probably one of the most important choices a human being can make.  Does it ever make a difference!

I realize there are many things that happen in this life that you and I have no control over.  Sickness.  The economy.  The behavior of other people.  Through the power of God’s Spirit, however, I can choose my attitude.

For example, "What kind of attitude do I bring to the office each day?"  I know that if I come to the office each day and gripe, complain, and constantly point out the negative, that this behavior impacts my co-workers.  My attitude can dampen morale.  On the other hand, I can choose to look for what is good, focus on what is right and encouraging, and be a pleasant person to be with.  It is all about the attitude I choose.

I have found my attitude to be so important as I relate to my wife, Charlotte, to Christine and Jamie (my daughters), and my son-in-law, Phillip.  My attitude powerfully impacts the atmosphere of our home.  

More later.  Right now I would enjoy knowing what you might add to this list.  What has been important to you as you think about enjoying life, being effective, and moving on?


Today is the last day to register to win an autographed copy of L. L. Barkat’s Stones Crossing: Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places.  To register add your name to the comments at the end of the post that is located here.

A Note From “Tech Support”

pray.jpgLast week, I wrote on this blog about a conversation with "tech support," a person whom I talked with on Monday evening.  (The post is entitled: "I Prayed For You.") She asked me to pray for her.  After posting this story, many of you indicated your willingness to pray for her.  She sent the following note as a comment yesterday.  I am including this comment in today’s post because of the nature of this note.  I also thought that some of you might like to write to her via e-mail, as she includes her address here.


yesterday was my 29th bday, nobody remembered it but i know God does, i
wasn’t able to go to church yesterday because i have to go to work, i
prayed & thanked him before i slept last night, i thanked him for
the opportunity that i meet Jim that day because he guided me back to
God’s path…it was almost 7 months ago when i last prayed to God, i
started back the day i ended the call with Jim, it’s very hard to face
& bear all the problems i have alone, i have no one to talk to about
it, im an only child & a loner, i tried suicide last year to escape
it all & i hated God when he let me live, but after reading all the
post on this blog, i asked God’s forgiveness…I thank you Jim &
everybody who prayed for me for opening my eyes & letting me
realize that God loves me still & i am also his child…thank you all
very much….my email is kiarra_louise@yahoo.com  i
would like to hear from you, i want to know more about God’s words… i
maybe good in computers & networking devices but i only know John
3:16 as a verse in the bible ( is it from the old or new testament?)…