Posts tagged Anxiety


What Not To Say When…

What Not To Say When…

Life is full of difficult situations where our  words just fail us and our effort to say something, say anything falls way short of our intention.  Here are some suggestions from a variety of writers in sensitively handling difficult situations.



According to this article” 7 Things Not To Say To Someone With Anxiety” 40 million Americans suffer from this debilitating issue and things like, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” will not help the situation.


It affects us all and it will be the fight of our generation and generations to come.  CANCER!!

I was 22 years old when my mom died of cancer she was only 54.   My dad died of a brain tumor a couple of years ago at age 69.  They both died too early and I miss them greatly.

What do you say to someone who has cancer?  Even as a minister the words do not come easy.  We all want to say something comforting and encouraging but often we struggle to find the right words.

Tracey Solomon  is a blogger who says phrases like “You’ve got to stay positive.” won’t cut it.  What Not To Say When Someone Has Cancer


Do you know a couple who are trying to have children but are having trouble?  Have you ever said, “Just adopt and you’ll get pregnant”?   While I have seen that happen many times this is one of 5 statements Matt Appling  says never to say to a childless couple.  Are you guilty of any of the other 4?

5 Things Not To Say To Your Childless Friends


If you have stocks in anti-depression drugs then you are laughing all the way to the bank.  Like anxiety and cancer it either affects us or someone we know.   The response of Christians to depression ranges from great care to “Where’s the joy of the Lord in your life?”  Want to help and not hinder someone suffering from depression?  C. S. Heinz has some great suggestions from personal experience.

How To Show Love To Someone With Depression


One of the toughest situations you can face is a stillbirth.  Questions like “Why would God let us come this far and then not allow our baby to live?”  When parents are looking for words of comfort how do you respond?  Mark Chanski has advice on what to say and what not to say How To Comfort Parents After A Stillbirth

As ministers, family or friends trying to minister and help in any of these situations is never easy.  The situations are so varied and the personalities so different that there will never be just one approach.   In times when you walk away feeling less an adequate in your desire to help remember that sometimes showing up is half the battle as Michael Kelly says.

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Burn Out Should Never Be An Option

Burn Out Should Never Be An Option

It was one of those situations where what you already know finally hits home.  A couple of weeks ago I was given the gift of a  Spiritual Retreat.  During my 2 days away I watched a number of sessions from the Willow Creek Summit 20th Anniversary DVD.  One of the sessions was by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro from Hawaii.  His topic was burnout and he told a story about the day he hit the wall.  He was out jogging and broke down in tears on the side of the road.  The session detailed his road back to balance in ministry and life.


Cordeiro used the example of a tank to bring his point home.

We all understand that life is a balance between intake and outflow.  When life is working well our intake and outflow are somewhat even and we can maintain our activity level, quality of life and relationships without much difficultly.


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Burnout sneaks up on us when we hit an extended period of little intake and great output.  It happens to us all, for students exam time is an example, all new parents face this with the sleepless nights caring for an infant, a family or work crisis can present real challenges.  The first warning sign is often anxiety, Pains that start coming out of nowhere and for no reason.

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If we ignore the anxiety symptoms we are headed for more trouble.  Physical and emotional breakdown come when we turn off the intake valve. With the valve off disaster is guaranteed to be just around the corner.  We had a speaker last year whose body and emotions said “no” to his demanding speaking schedule of over 280 times a year.  He had to take an extended time off and even now that he is easing himself back into the speaking life again he needs to be seated during his presentation because of anxiety issues.

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The simplest solutions are often the most difficult to put into practice, have more intake then outflow.  Another way to say this is, “Minister out of your overflow not reservoir.” It’s much easier said than done isn’t it?


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As a minister I have a fluid schedule but at the same time there is much I have no control over much of my life, like the fact there is a Sunday in every week that needs a sermon to help make it complete:)   Assessment of a problem or challenge should always be the first step. Take a few moments and consider what fills your tank and what drains it.


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As I considered what fills my tank the following came to mind.

  • Time with my family and friends.
  • Nature – walking – hiking, etc.
  • Reading
  • Learning whether formal or books, seminars or conferences.

Some of the things that drain my tank?

  • Stupid people how should know better.
  • Late nights and early mornings.
  • Financial worries.

In order to do more than just survive you have to make a concerted effort to regularly fill your tank.  To be honest, I feel a bit selfish taking the time to fill my tank when I could be out “ministering” to someone but when you consider this was a practice of Jesus I don’t feel so bad.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)

How about you?

How full is your tank?

Is your intake and outflow fairly even or are you headed for anxiety, physical and emotional breakdown?

What fills your tank?

What drains your tank?

What steps can you take this week to increase your intake and decrease your outflow?  Rome wasn’t built-in a day and to correct a long existing problem will not happen overnight but what stopping you from taking the first step right now?


“As ministry becomes more complicated the drain will increase and what filled the tank will not keep up with the drain.” Cordeiro


Related Articles:

The Gift of Quiet

How To Make Vision Stick


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A Great Question I Was Asked That You Should Ask Too



Have you ever seen the writing on the wall and realized it was about you?

Over a few years, we had been watching the income of our church decline.   It came to the point where the percentage of income given to staffing was too high.  I knew the conversation had to be coming and I think it was actually harder on my Lead Pastor then me:)

You often hear horror stories of the way staff members are treated when they have to be let go but this was certainly not the case with me.  They gave me a very generous amount of time to seek another position and for that I was very grateful.

Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” (Luke 12:24)


And so it began:)

“Transition – the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.”



The emails were sent to our District Leaders and other pastors asking for prayer as we started the transition journey.

After the emails came the coffee times of the same purpose.

I was sitting in Starbucks with a Bible College friend and we were talking over the whole situation and he asked me a question that threw me a bit, “How’s your soul?”

In all my conversations up until that point I had never been asked that question and to be fair if the roles had been reversed I probably would not have thought to ask, “How’s your soul?”  The answer was, “My soul is doing fine?”

Was I unsettled about the future?  Sure, how could I not be but my soul was fine.

Asking, “How’s your soul?” is really a question of where’s your trust, where’s your dependence?

Are you the one who is going to make this work?

Or are you looking to Him for provision?

Is your trust only during sunny days or  can you trust Him in uncertainty?

So let me ask you, with the biggest challenge you are facing today?

“How’s your soul?”

Are you good, bitter, confused, mad or sick of it all?

Joshua Reich has some good advice for when your soul is tired and weary.

Next time you are sitting for coffee with someone who is going through a tough time make sure and take time to ask, “How’s your soul?”

I’m sure they will appreciate it as much as I did at that Starbucks last year.

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.


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Mental Health

Over the years the church has been great at digging a hole and burying our heads in the sand on many issues.  This summer in our church we have determined to reverse that trend and tackle issues that the church often ignores or shy’s away from.  One of those issues is Mental Health.


As I was working on this message here are  7 articles  I found helpful.  As a disclaimer, I may not agree with everything written here but it helped in my education and thoughts on the subject.

The Christian Struggle with Mental Illness

Mental Illness and the Christian: Scripture and Science

Stop Telling People Who Are Hurting to Pray Harder

Evangelicals, You’re Wrong about Mental Illness

3 Christian Responses to Mental Illness; Which One Is Most Biblical?

Where Is God in Mental Illness?

What the Bible says about psychology, psychiatry, madness, and insanity

“Until the day Jesus returns, I will live in a body which does not function as God originally intended. My brain, which is a key, central, integral part of my body, will not function correctly. Chemicals will become imbalanced. Serotonin will not be properly absorbed. Norepinephrine will be unevenly distributed. Synapses won’t fire correctly. My brain, just like every other part of my body, is prone to illness.”
(Stephen Altrogge)

Related Posts:

Advice For When You Preach A Hot Topic

18 Do’s and Don’ts For Family And Friends of A Depressed Person

His Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward



Here’s How To Use Your Suffering

Here’s How To Use Your Suffering

On Twitter one Pastor wrote: “Two Sunday’s ago I preached on sickness.  Since then half my church has fallen ill.  Sunday I preach about sadness.  Consider yourself warned.”

I replied: “I preached on suffering and my car broke down and my wife was in emerg twice. I’m gonna preach on money.”


Suffering is a part of life, a part of life that I do not enjoy.  I like the nice weather of life and I am not too interested in the storms that continue to blow my way.  However, the reality is that our world is broken and hard times come whether we want them to or not.

One thing I like about the Bible is that it’s a book written by real people, serving a real God and they have real problems.  I think every one of us can relate to these words from Psalm 22:1

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning?”

“Here I am living my life for Jesus trying to love Him with all my heart, soul and mind yet all this stuff keeps happening to me.  What’s up with that?  This is not fair at all!!!”

Scripture gives us many reasons for suffering let’s consider  3 of them.


1) Here’s How To Use Your Suffering  – Use It To Grow

I have searched from Genesis to Revelation and what I see sometimes I don’t like:)  I see people’s faith in God really growing as they went through tough times.  I wish the examples were different but they are not.  In the consideration of trials that come our way Peter said:

“These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.” (1 Peter 1:7)

We grow in strength by working and testing our bodies.

We grow in school by working and testing our brains.

We grow in God when our faith is worked and tested.

I don’t know about you but I often forget that the faith I have inside is actually worth more than gold?  Our faith is valuable and it becomes more valuable as it gets tested. Don’t Waste Your Suffering – Use It



2) Here’s How To Use Your Suffering – Use It To Comfort Others

A friend of mine recently went through a divorce and was having great difficulty working things through with his ex.  I did my best to help but when he finally met a guy who just a couple of years ago went through the same thing it made a huge different.  “Finally someone who understands me!!”

“He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” (1 Corinthians 1:4)

We can receive the comfort of God in many ways:

  • The Word
  • Prayer
  • A unique work of the Holy Spirit
  • A Scripture or encouragement from another person.

When God comforts us it’s not meant to be the end it’s just the beginning.  God expects us to be looking for opportunities to give  comfort to others. Don’t Waste Your Suffering – Use It

“God’s comfort is not given it’s loaned and we are expected to pass it on to others.”


3) Here’s How To Use Your Suffering – Let Your Light Shine

There is nothing scarier for a sports fan than it see the team’s Star Player on the sideline.

  • How long will they be gone?
  • Can the team hold it together”
  • Whose going to step up?
  • How will the coach change things up?

In the second half of the Book of Acts, the Apostle Paul was the Franchise Player.  He cast a huge shadow, in his 3 Missionary Journeys he traveled nearly 8,000 miles telling people about Jesus and now he is in jail.

  • How long will he be there?
  • Will the church survive without his input?
  • Who is going to step up?
  • What is God going to do now with Paul sidelined?

In writing to the Philippians, Paul gives us another look at our suffering.

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News. For everyone here, including the whole palace guard, knows that I am in chains because of Christ.  And because of my imprisonment, most of the believers here have gained confidence and boldly speak God’s message without fear.” (Philippians 4:12-14)

Suffering can be an opportunity for advancing the Kingdom, for sharing the Good News about Jesus.  If people know you are a Jesus follower they watch you closely.  But what they really want to know is if Jesus works when times get tough.  When the summer weather is over and you are in the midst of a cold, dark winter.

Is Jesus worth in when the walls fall in?

Paul used his imprisonment to witness for Jesus and there were two results.

  1. The news about Jesus spread throughout the whole Palace Guard
  2. Believers who watched Paul were strengthened to speak about God without fear.

It’s very easy for all of us to get wrapped up in our own despair and miss the opportunity that God has given us.  We will all go through the valley and if you have to make the journey why not use it as an opportunity to grow, comfort and shine?  Don’t Waste Your Suffering – Use It

Related Posts:

What Not To Say When…

His Lovely Wife In The Psych Ward


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