Monthly Archives: June 2016

A Dollar for a Penny

ball n chainAre you willing to trade your dollar in exchange for a penny? Then why would you exchange a beautiful relationship for quick cheap pleasures?

Addiction doesn’t just destroy your relationship with the God Almighty. It destroys every other beautiful relationship you have on earth as well: your significant other, children, parents, coworkers, and other members of the community. Perhaps you have been the victim of addiction, having witnessed a parent come home drunk and fly into a drunken rage. Or you have witnessed sexual addiction tear your parents’ marriage apart by way of pornography or adultery.

  • About 43% of adults in the United States – 76 million Americans – have been exposed to alcoholism in the family. They grew up with or are married to an alcoholic, or they have a blood relative who is an alcoholic. (Alcoholism Statistics, 2013)
  • Children of alcoholics are 8 times more likely to develop an addiction (Merikangas, Stolar, Stevens, Goulet et al., 1998)
  • In a sample of 6,268 adults, adult offspring of parents with addiction were 50% more likely to develop depression than their peers (Fuller-Thomson, Katz, Phan, Liddycoat & Brennenstuhl, 2013)

What does addiction destroy?

– Intimacy
– Self-worth
-Brain cells
-Your soul
-Relationship with God
-Significant relationships in your life

Overcoming addiction often requires more than just a little help from friends and family. In order to achieve the satisfaction you want in life, you have to reach out and ask for help.

Jesus came to Earth so you could have life to the full (John 10:10).  Addiction holds you back from having that full life that God wants for you.  Sometimes addiction is a disease handed down through genetics; other times it’s induced by trauma, peer pressure or just personal choice.  If there’s anything in your life that is spinning out of control, or if close friends and family have expressed their concerns to you about certain habits or lifestyle choices you’ve made, it is time to consider: Would you rather have a dollar or a penny?

#Lifetothefull  #Addiction #Musings4Life #addictionholdsyouback

References

Merikangas, K. R., Stolar, M., Stevens, D. E., Goulet, J., et al., Familial transmission of substance use disorders. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 1998.55(11): p. 973-9.

Esme Fuller-Thomson, Robyn B. Katz, Vi T. Phan, Jessica P.M. Liddycoat, Sarah Brennenstuhl. The long arm of parental addictions: The association with adult children’s depression in a population-based studyPsychiatry Research, 2013; DOI:10.1016/j.psychres.2013.02.024

 

 

Believing Is Good for Your Brain

There’s a lot of talk about brain chemistry and how drug abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fatherlessness, childhood abuse and other factors contribute to the change of the brain’s structure for the worse.  Although you may feel like you were set up for failure from the outset (i.e., being born into a family you didn’t ask for, experiencing unfortunate events that were out of your control, feeling like a victim of your circumstances, etc.), the good news is you can still turn things around.  It may be more difficult to change your habits and thinking now that you’re an adult, but it’s not too late to make the effort to reverse some of the effects on your brain’s structure and consequently brighten your future.  There is scientific evidence that believing in God effects positive changes on your brain:

braintorm

braintorm

  • Meditation and prayer thicken parts of your brain cortex, which protects against depression (Miller et al., 2013)
  • Faith in God has significant positive impact on individuals suffering from psychiatric illnesses (Rosmarin, Bigda-Peyton, Kertz, Smith, Rauch & Björgvinsson, 2013)
  • Thinking about God reduces stress. When you are thinking about God, brain activity decreases in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) region of your brain (Inzlicht & Tullett., 2010)

Believing is more than a simple agreement that something is true.  It also entails action behind the thoughts.  For example, if you truly believed that the chair you’re sitting on has a time bomb taped underneath your seat, would you still be sitting there or would you get up and run as fast as you can?  Words are powerful – yes – but if you observe someone’s words versus his actions, you will see that his actions tell you far more about his beliefs than his claims.

Do you believe that you are more than a conqueror because God is on your side, or do you simply accept that God exists?  What does the outcome of your life say about your beliefs?

#YourBrainOnFaith  #Believe  #Faith  #Musings4Life

Journal Reference:

  1. Lisa Miller, Ravi Bansal, Priya Wickramaratne, Xuejun Hao, Craig E. Tenke, Myrna M. Weissman, Bradley S. Peterson.Neuroanatomical Correlates of Religiosity and SpiritualityJAMA Psychiatry, 2013; 1 DOI: 1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.3067
  1. David H. Rosmarin, Joseph S. Bigda-Peyton, Sarah J. Kertz, Nasya Smith, Scott L. Rauch, Thröstur Björgvinsson.A test of faith in God and treatment: The relationship of belief in God to psychiatric treatment outcomesJournal of Affective Disorders, 2013; 146 (3): 441 DOI:1016/j.jad.2012.08.030
  1. Michael Inzlicht, Alexa M. Tullett.Reflecting on God: Religious Primes Can Reduce Neurophysiological Response to ErrorsPsychological Science, 2010; DOI: 1177/0956797610375451

Father to the Fatherless

fatherStatistics that show the future outcome of children who grew up with no fathers are not encouraging:

  • Children in father-absent homes are almost four times more likely to be poor. In 2011, 12 percent of children in married-couple families were living in poverty, compared to 44 percent of children in mother-only families.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Children’s Living Arrangements and Characteristics: March 2011, Table C8. Washington D.C.: 2011.

  • Children living in female headed families with no spouse present had a poverty rate of 47.6 percent, over 4 times the rate in married-couple families.

Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; ASEP Issue Brief: Information on Poverty and Income Statistics. September 12, 2012 http://aspe.hhs.gov/hsp/12/PovertyAndIncomeEst/ib.shtml

When a child grows up without a father, or with a father who is less than exemplary, this actually changes the child’s brain structure, and fatherlessness impacts daughters more than sons, according to research.  They grow up to be angrier, more aggressive, and more prone to substance abuse.  Unfortunately, researchers project that figures are rising by 20,000 a year, which isn’t getting any better at all.

You Can Reverse the Effects of Fatherlessness

If you put your trust in God, the one who created you and your biological father, the future holds hope for you.

“Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.”  Job 8:7

Who is God?  He is….
A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.
God sets the lonely in families,[c]
he leads out the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land

35 You, God, are awesome in your sanctuary;
the God of Israel gives power and strength to his people.

— Psalm 68 (emphasis added)

Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.

He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
    the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.

The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

Psalm 146 (emphasis added)

Even if you do have a father, it does not mean he will be a good influence in your life.  A closer examination of the scriptures will reveal that Jonathan had an interesting relationship with his father.  King David was his BFF, but Jonathan’s dad was against that.  His father said some very harsh words to Jonathan and even threatened to revoke his son’s right to be the next king (1 Samuel 20:30-31).  David had done nothing wrong to deserve this kind of treatment from Saul, yet Saul was determined to kill him out of jealousy.  Anyone who stood in the way – including his own flesh and blood – was treated with contempt and humiliation.

The scriptures also reveal that David was the youngest son of Jesse of Bethlehem.  He had a father, but who eventually saved David from Saul’s death grip?  God!  Also, David came from a poor family yet eventually God exalted him to royalty.  David’s courage and heart for God set him apart from other people, so much so that he has become one of the major heroes of our faith.

Your future belongs to God.  It is He alone who judges; only God can bring one person down and exalt another (Psalm 75:7; 1 Samuel 2:7).  You can reverse the effects of fatherlessness if you humble yourself before God and realize that He is all you need and everything you desire. 

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”  James 4:10

“Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”   Psalm 73:25

#KnowGod #HumbleYourself #Musings4Life #FathertotheFatherless #ChooseGod #TrustGod

Are You Missing Out?

next exit“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“The thief’s purpose is to steal, kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life,” Jesus said in John 10:10.

Have you ever felt like something is amiss with your life? People around you are moving forward and you seem to be…stuck. Yet the bible promises “life to the full” and “a future and a hope.” What’s gone wrong here?

Satan’s Role & Your Role

There are two possible explanations for why one’s life may be stuck in “neutral gear.” In the above-mentioned scripture, John 10:10, the thief is Satan, whose sole purpose is to steal from you and destroy your life as much as possible. Things happen beyond your control and you have no idea how they happened. These misfortunes have the potential to crush your spirit and break your heart, but you can choose to respond by praying and casting your anxieties upon God who cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

“A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the Lord.” Proverbs 19:3

The other factor is the role you play. There are tons of scriptures about obedience if you want to look them up. The point I’m trying to make here is the need to own up to your behavior and folly (a.k.a. sins) and taking the steps to make amends with God and with others. Confess, repent, and move forward. Don’t blame everything on Satan. If you are not aware of the wrongs you commit (which can happen sometimes — there are even scriptures about unintentional sin), pray, pray, pray! God will surely reveal it to you and He will bless your repentance as well.

In essence, trust God with misfortunes out of your control, and love God by living a life worthy of the gospel.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” Psalm 84:11

#DontMissOut #GodsPlansForYou #NeverGiveUp #Musings4Life

Good Enough

good enoughThe next time you’re not feeling good enough for any reason, think about and meditate on what the scriptures say about you:

“The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.” Psalm 138:8

“Do not be afraid, for you are highly esteemed,” he said. “Peace! Be strong now; be strong.” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Speak, my Lord, since you have given me strength.” Daniel 10:19

“Since you are precious and honored in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.” Isaiah 43:4

In humanistic terms, the value of an object is determined by the price someone is willing to pay for it.  Justin Gignac, cofounder of Working Not Working, demonstrates this idea in his business experiment.  Take a “worthless” piece of crap, for instance, and raise the value of it by setting an expensive price tag on it and see how many people will buy it.  “This is, in essence, what luxury brands do, because it works,” said Gignac.  Human value, of course, is not determined by another human being but it’s determined by the Creator who made us.  In spiritual terms, when God created you, you were already valuable from the moment you were conceived.  In fact, He thought of you long before anyone did:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Psalm 139 (emphasis added)

After the Fall in the Garden of Eden, God had to do something to save His people from eternal damnation.  Your soul is so valuable that God was willing to sacrifice his own Son to pay a price that nobody could pay.  Jesus’s blood that was shed on the Cross says more about your worth as a human than anything, and all God wants is a relationship with you that will last unto all eternity.  Don’t believe the naysayers, and don’t believe the biggest naysayer of all, which is inside of you.  It’s true that we are our own worst critics; it doesn’t help when we entertain the negative things that others say to us or about us.  Banish all doubts, self-criticism, and criticism from your life and let God’s Word infuse your spirit.

#goodenough #dailyscripture #Musings4Life #knowGod

Man’s Failing Love vs. God’s Unfailing Love

pro 20“Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” Proverbs 20:6

“Yet hope returns when I remember this one thing: The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise. The Lord is all I have, so in him I have put my hope.” Lamentations 3:21-24 (GNT)

How do insecure attachment issues affect one’s relationship with God?

Understanding your own early attachment bonds may give you insight into why certain important relationships are not working. If you come from a family that was emotionally absent at best and abusive at worst, you will have trouble connecting with the relationships that you value the most, whether they be romantic, platonic, parental, filial or divine. In my own observations, I have seen people come from situations with neither parent being a solid pillar in their lives, but they cling to God so fervently, making Him their “Safe or Calm Place” that they managed not just to survive but actually thrive in life.  No matter who you are or what kind of background you have, God is with you and promises to never leave you.

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” John 14:1

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

“For the king trusts in the Lord; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.”  Psalm 21:7

Next to our relationships with our parents, our relationship with our life partner is the most significant one on earth. If we did not get the right foundation in the beginning, it would be really unfair to expect a partner to fill a void that our parents were supposed to fill. Even good parents are not perfect, as you probably know a handful of people who came from seemingly good homes but still are “not really making it” in life.

The only real relationship that will last from earth to eternity is our relationship with God. God promises all throughout the Old and New Testaments that He will be with you, He will never leave you, and His unfailing love can be trusted. The evidence of God’s existence and love abounds, but we have to be willing to open our hearts, seek and see.

“The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us.” (Acts 17:24-27)

God has determined the places where you’d be and the situations you’d be in, all for the purpose of hoping that you’d reach out for Him, though He is not far from you. You see, even God hopes that you will decide to choose Him too, because you have free will to believe what you want.

Many of us have experienced major disappointments, betrayals, broken hearts, and tragedies. Almost all of us want someone who will love us unconditionally with an undying, unwavering, unfailing love “till death do we part.” But when disappointments come, some react in ways that destroy the relationship permanently and we either are not aware of it or we don’t understand how we, or they, would behave that way.

In her book Getting Past Your Past, Dr. Francine Shapiro, a renown researcher and original developer of EMDR therapy, wrote:

If you were able to identify a Safe or Calm Place, then you already have a very useful technique to help get rid of a disturbance if it arises. It’s important to use it daily when you aren’t upset in order to make sure it stays powerful enough to work. (Shapiro, 2012, p. 106, emphasis added).

As Dr. Francine Shapiro said in her book, you have to find a Safe Place where you find strength and “use it daily” to reinforce your inner strength.  For me, it’s God and His Word. What will be your Safe Place?

#Godslove #unfailinglove #Godsword #dailyscripture #Musings4Life #emdr

References

Shapiro, F. (2012). Getting Past Your Past: Take Control of Your Life with Self-Help Techniques from EMDR Therapy. New York, NY: Rodale Books.

People Person or People-Pleaser?

self respectBeing a people person is a wonderful trait. You like people and they like you. You are pleasant to be around and you seem to get along with everyone for the most part. However, for some, beneath that mask of “wonderful-ness” is someone who does not have a healthy self-image or esteem. What others say goes, and it’s their way all the time. When you eventually muster the courage to speak up, they ignore you or dismiss your opinion as though your voice doesn’t matter, so you sulk and shrink back in a corner.  Ask yourself: Are you afraid to speak up for fear of losing a friend or significant other?

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

People-Pleasing Is a Trap!

In relationships, low self-esteem can be a real stumbling block because you throw yourself under the bus rather than having a healthy level of self-respect and respect for others. When others ask you for a favor, you readily comply, but then you’re too afraid to speak up to have your own needs met. Does this sound familiar at all to you?

“Every word of God is flawless; He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.” Proverbs 30:5

Our emotions can vacillate according to how we feel we’re treated and how we feel about ourselves. Let’s say a friend recently had a difficult conversation with you. Their words have the potential of an anchor dragging your heart to the bottom of the ocean, but if you trust in God and what the Word says about you, you can evaluate the conversation more logically and have a level-headed approach. It’s not easy if the person is your significant other or a BFF, but taking refuge in God’s unfailing love gives you buoyancy to rest afloat an ocean of emotions. God’s Word gives you inner peace and stability as you work out the kinks of your relationships with others.

“For they loved praise from men more than praise from God.” John 12:43

Insecurity stems from wanting validation from people rather than God. When you care more about what people think of you, you speak and behave to make everyone happy instead of paying attention to your own worth or what God thinks about you. In situations that call for ethical decision-making, this fear of man plays a big role. Will you do the right thing and risk making some important people unhappy (e.g., your boss), or will you compromise righteousness for the sake of fitting in?

Being a people person means having a healthy level of self-respect and compassion for others. Being a people-pleaser will eventually burn you out and make you miserable and bitter. If you do finally stand up for yourself and they ignore you, belittle you, or dismiss your opinion, there is no point in fighting for a relationship or friendship that is not a two-way street. Learn when to keep and when to let go.

#GodsOpinionMatters #HealthySelfRespect #RespectOthers #Musings4Life #ThursdayThoughts #TrustGod