May 31, 2021

Ep.1180: Am I My Own Worst Enemy?

Unlocking the solutions to seven truth-distorting reactions

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:42]
How do I keep from making bad things even worse?


[00:31:09]
How do we manage self-defeating thoughts when it comes to comparing ourselves to others?


[00:46:32]
How do we stop blaming others for what goes on in our life?


Theme Scripture: Romans 7:15

Life can be difficult. We are surrounded with issues, events, opinions, politics and posts that continuously bring us stress and strain. As if this isn’t enough, we add to the frenzy by putting up self-designed roadblocks to block our own way! Why would we do that? Why would we make things harder for ourselves? Turns out that this is a common thing.  The imperfect human mind can create all kinds of coping mechanisms that keep us from dealing with perceived trouble. While this sounds good, the problem is that our avoidance of perceived trouble often leads us directly into the path of real trouble. Essentially, we can at times become our own worst enemy. The bad news is we easily and often sabotage ourselves. The good news is, because we do this to ourselves we can also learn how to change that behavior.

Continue Reading

Automatic Thoughts and Distortions

In a book entitled The Self-Esteem Workbook, by Glen R. Schiraldi, PhD, we found the self-damaging thought processes we often cling to are called “Automatic Thoughts and Distortions.” “Making Feelings Facts," “Rejecting the Positive” and “Catastrophizing” are examples of the several thoughts and distortions we can face each day without even realizing it. Why are these things so insidious? First, it is because they are thoughts. Our everactive minds produce thoughts at an unfathomable rate. We are in a constant state of determining which of these numerous thoughts are worthy of our attention. Automatic thoughts – those that occur without conscious effort - usually are most powerful.

Being continually influenced by automatic thoughts is one thing, but when you add distortion to those thoughts the frustration party begins. How can we expect to cope with the hard realities of life when our mind is automatically feeding us seriously distorted interpretations of the truth? What’s worse is these automated distortions come in all shapes and sizes!

The answers!

Fortunately, answers are available if we look for them. To help us understand how “Rejecting the Positive” works, we look at the Apostle Peter in his dramatic experience with Jesus and walking on the water. The moment he took his eyes off of Jesus, off of the source of his stability, he began to sink. What Peter focused on determined what his outcome would be! There is much we can learn here, not only form Peter’s fears but also from the stability of Jesus as well. The bottom line is that most of us have choices regarding the automatic thoughts we struggle with. We end up being our own worst enemy.

Check out our May 31, 2021 podcast, “Am I My Own Worst Enemy?” for more. We address seven of these automatic thoughts and distortions one at a time with Bible in hand. As each of these distorted views of our lives has its own unique challenge, so each answer has its own unique suggestion. This conversation can be a real eye-opener. It can help us to see what is driving our reactions and responses and compare that answer with the facts of our Christian walk. Please join us on the pathway to more clearly understanding our personal thoughts.

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May 24, 2021

Ep.1179: Can Humility Keep Me From Success?

Jesus uses competing for status to teach us about true success

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CHAPTERS

[00:14:21]
What does the Parable of the Feast teach us?


[00:29:59]
What if we aren't getting the recognition we deserve?


[00:45:08]
How can we be successful in the working world but maintain our Christian principles?


Theme Scripture: Luke 14:11

It is a competitive world out there! I need to focus and to stop at nothing to make my mark. I will apply myself to get the job I want, the life I desire and the status I deserve, while engaging in the leisure and entertainment I crave. Wow! While this description can be of someone who is truly success-motivated and has specific goals, it can also be a warning for us. As Christians, we should applaud motivation. But at the same time, we are alert to fend off the destructive poisons of pride and ego. How do we do both and still have a chance at succeeding in this world? Is it our Christian destiny to be continuously overlooked for that promotion, that opportunity or that position? As usual, applying the Christian principle of humility in this world is bewildering and can be discouraging as well. However, once we get our arms around how Jesus handled this, the whole confusing matter becomes clear!

Continue Reading

Where did the sick guy come from? Hmmm.....

We know Jesus was a humble man. We also know he was bold. How do those two characteristics work together?  The context of Jesus’ parable about the guests at a wedding was a good example. Jesus was invited to the home of a very influential Pharisee for a Sabbath dinner. While this was an elegant occasion, Luke tells us the Pharisees in attendance “watched Jesus closely.” This meant they were planning on testing him. Jesus handled this test by healing a sick man who “just happened to be there” on the Sabbath while simultaneously silencing his Pharisee observers. Jesus showed them humility by doing what God wanted him to. He showed them boldness by confronting their challenge.

Larger lessons

These actions were the beginning of larger lessons on success through humility. As Jesus observed the Pharisees jockeying for the seats of highest honor at this meal, he unfolded the parable. His lesson was simple. Stop presenting yourselves to your peers with a self-proclaimed splendor and instead take a seat of humility. Allow your value to be recognized by others on its own merit. In the end, it will be God who exalts those who are humble - and that is the most important thing.

What can this simple parable of Jesus teach us today about success and humility? If we are willing to look, there are many profoundly practical lessons we can learn. First and foremost is the simple lesson of self-awareness. Know and focus on who we are, and not on what we would like others to think we are. While the concept is simple, executing it in a world full of peer pressure and instant communication is another story.

Check out our May 24, 2021 podcast, “Can Humility Keep Me From Success?” for more. We build on the practicality of knowing who we are and examine current day examples of how to apply it. We explore several other aspects of biblical humility from Jesus’ parable and find surprising practicality for today. Join us to see how success and humility can lead us to living a fulfilled Christian life.

 

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The answer partially depends on how you define “success. ”Watch this short vlog then listen to the full podcast of the same name for more details.

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Ep.1178: Is There a Difference Between Exaggerating and Lying?

Calling out the damage of misrepresentation and exaggeration

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:09:30]
What kind of exaggeration is breaking the Commandment to not bear false witness?


[00:25:34]
How can minimization be a form of exaggeration?


[00:45:23]
What process can we use to stop unhealthy exaggeration?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 20:16

Truth matters. This is something I imagine we would all agree upon and yet we seem to rarely get to the truth. Why?  Because we bicker with and debate those who see things differently based on our different versions of the truth. Enter exaggeration. It is a tool of language to make a point, sway an opinion, build up our ego and embarrass others. Exaggeration by definition has within it seeds of truth, but they are suffocated by the fabrications built upon and around them. The ninth of the Ten Commandments is focused on not lying about others. It is about the necessity for truth on all of our interactions. When God said, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” did He also mean, “You shall not exaggerate about anything your neighbor has said or done”? Do we need to be on our guard when it comes to exaggeration?

Continue Reading

At first glance, this ninth Commandment sounds like its primary application is in a legal sense. Don’t lie about your neighbor when they could suffer unrighteous punishment because of it. While this is a necessary application of “you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor,” it only scratches the surface. This Commandment is, in actuality, a sweeping statement about our standards of behavior in everyday life.

Slander is a part of this

As God’s Law to Israel is further explained in Leviticus, we see that slander was absolutely included as a forbidden action in this ninth Commandment. We can easily think that we are safe here. As Christians, we would never slander anyone, no matter how much we may dislike them. But let’s think further. When you slander, you speak an untruth about another person or group. Is there a difference between this and when we exaggerate as we talk about someone?

Exaggeration can be good or bad

Let’s be clear, all exaggeration is not bad. We can exaggerate as we embellish a story for the purpose of making someone laugh. Laughter is good, and as long as we are not misrepresenting someone in our humor, bring it on. We can exaggerate when we tell our spouse our love for them is as "deep as the ocean" or as "bright as the sun in the sky." Such poetic proclamations can be powerful bonding expressions, so long as we are genuine about our affection. It is when we exaggerate about someone and it misguides other’s impressions and conclusions about them that gets us into trouble. It is here that exaggerated responses can degrade into bearing false witness.

Check out our May 17, 2021 podcast, “Is There a Difference Between Exaggerating and Lying” for more. The subtleties of lying and exaggeration are examined so we can better put our speech in order based on scriptural principles. We discover a biblical account that shows how “bearing false witness” can even be insidiously accomplished without words. We discuss how minimizing can be a tool of exaggeration and bearing false witness. To exaggerate can be fun and upbuilding or it can be utterly destructive to our Christianity and to others. Join us and learn the difference!

Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.

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May 10, 2021

Ep.1177: Is It Still Stealing if I Deserve It?

Understanding the practical application of "You shall not steal."

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View Series

CHAPTERS

[00:10:41]
How is this Commandment the most far-reaching of them all?


[00:29:01]
What's wrong with taking little things no one will miss or notice?


[00:44:14]
What if you have no choice but to steal or die? Then what?


Theme Scripture: Exodus 20:15

Have you noticed how blurred the world has become? It has become increasingly more difficult to locate and abide by any life guidelines that represent clear boundaries and a clear direction forward. The eighth Commandment was simple: “You shall not steal.”  This was a clear directive to not take what is not yours. Fast forward society several thousand years and we have quotes that call that simple statement into question, like this one: “It’s not stealing if you don’t get caught.” Then there is the more philosophic approach like this one from Mohsin Hamid: “You see, it is my passionately held belief that the right to possess property is at best a contingent one. When disparities become too great, a superior right, that to life, outweighs the right to property. Ergo, the very poor have the right to steal from the very rich.” What exactly is our Christian responsibility regarding stealing? How definitive are the guidelines, and are there any grey areas?

Continue Reading

Steal = Kidnap

The first thing we notice about this “You shall not steal” Commandment is how broadly it applies. In Exodus 21 - the very next chapter after the 10 Commandments were given - we see the same word for "steal" in the 8th Commandment translated as “kidnap.” Exodus 21:16 tells us the penalty for kidnapping, for stealing any person, is death. What a serious consequence! Other aspects of stealing outlined by God’s Law given to Moses had to do with the general business of life and with buying, selling and trading. The penalties in these cases were still serious, as stealing from your neighbor was also stealing from God.  When someone stole the ability to feed your family (such as the taking of an ox that plows the fields or sheep that supply wool) the penalty was much more serious. Stealing from your neighbor on any level led to major consequences.

And in the New Testament?

Let's look at the New Testament and the teachings of Jesus. Here stealing was still a serious crime against your neighbor. Interestingly, Jesus focused us on the “why” of thievery and not the “what.” He plainly said it is driven by a corrupted and sinful heart. And he didn’t reserve this association just for the most serious thefts. Ouch! This should make us look inwardly. Do we in any way have some level of corruption in our hearts?

Then there is the age-old question about stealing: Is stealing still wrong if I have no choice?  Check out our May 10, 2021 podcast, “Is It Still Stealing if I Deserve It?” for more.  We deal with this question in a way that may be surprising. We also wade through the many other issues that tend to complicate the simple right and wrong nature of stealing. The bottom line here is simple yet challenging: being a Christian requires a high integrity approach to even the small things in life. This needs to take place in a world that really doesn’t care. Join us as we gather the principles and inspiration to stand for things that matter!  Study the rest of the Commandments with us to see how they are still valid for Christians today.

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VIDEO: Why Should We Honor Our Fathers?

Dads are pretty wise. We may not recognize it when we are young, but fathers know a lot of things. Parents and Bible class teachers, watch this short, animated video to learn more about honoring our heavenly Father and our earthly fathers. Subscribe to our channel at ChristianQuestions.com/YouTube and never miss a new video!

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May 03, 2021

Ep.1176: Does God REALLY Want Me to Suffer?

Putting our personal sufferings into context with God’s plan

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CHAPTERS

[00:13:48]
Does believing in Jesus change our suffering?


[00:31:50]
Are dedicated Christians promised a different kind of relief through their sufferings?


[00:44:50]
Why would Christians suffer if we are supposed to be so blessed?


Theme Scripture: Matthew 11:28

Let’s set the record straight right from the start. As Christians, God does NOT want us to suffer! Having said that, we know He does want us to learn and grow and mature. This means he will permit us to suffer and will use it as a tool to serve our eternal welfare. Now, what about the rest of the suffering experienced by everyone else? The answer is essentially the same – it is part of the permission of evil, which will be an eternal lesson for all. While these are good lessons, how do we cope with our individual suffering here and now? There are two groups of people who are suffering that we want to talk to today. There are those who may know of and appreciate Jesus and there are those who have dedicated themselves to follow him as his disciples.

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In Matthew 11:28 Jesus famously invites all who are "weary and heavy-laden" to come to him so he can give them rest. While this invitation is comforting and encouraging, understanding it requires a deeper look. The first thing we notice is that it is an open invitation. Jesus had just finished talking about how those with power and influence tended to reject his teaching and miracles. He thanked God that the beauty of the salvation he was bringing was so readily received by the everyday people.

I am exhausted!

To be weary and heavy-laden means you are exhausted and overburdened. This simple description fits so many of us here and now. Even though our world is amazingly advanced, stress and suffering are rampant.

We are:

-challenged with physical things like illness and aging

-burdened with financial stresses like job loss and too much month at the end of our money

-pressured with social conformity and political unrest

We face emotional traumas like broken families, severed relationships, and loneliness.  Our struggles include psychological things like depression, anxiety, phobias and mental illness.

Because we know that our time in Christianity is not a time of healing, how can Jesus give us rest? What can he possibly do for us with physical healing off the table? Check out our May 3rd 2021 podcast, “Does God Really Want Me to Suffer?” for more. We look carefully into what Jesus can do for whom. The bottom line here is that there are two different answers as to what Jesus will do for us, depending on our relationship with him. In both cases, there is really good news.

So, does God REALLY want us to suffer? The answer is no! That being said, the next logical question is then why doesn't He take our suffering away?  The responses here are bigger than a one or two-line explanation. More than that, they are very encouraging and uplifting as well. If you are suffering in any way and are looking to God and Jesus for relief, please join us for this important conversation. Seeing our suffering with biblical understanding can absolutely help us to cope!

 

 

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