Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dealing with Depression

Symptoms of Depression

Depression is the most common mental disease facing people today – it is the common cold of mental illness.

Studies tell us that 25% of women will suffer from depression; 10% of men will suffer from depression.  For women the onset is usually between ages 15 and 19.  For men it is between 25 and 29. 

Depression Checklist:

Check all boxes that apply to you:
r I’m often restless and irritable.

r I don’t enjoy hobbies, leisure activities, or time with friends and family anymore.

r I’m having trouble managing my diabetes, hypertension, or other chronic illness.

r I have nagging aches and pains that don’t get better, no matter what I do.

ü My sleep patterns are irregular:

r I’m sleeping too much.

r I’m not sleeping enough.

ü I often have:

r Digestive problems

r Headaches or backaches

r Vague aches and pains (e.g., joint or muscle pains)

r Chest pains

r Dizziness

ü I often experience these indicators:

r I have trouble concentrating or making simple decisions.

r People have commented on my mood or attitude lately.

r My weight has changed considerably.

r I feel that my functioning in everyday life is suffering because of these problems.

r I’ve had several of the symptoms I checked above for more than two weeks.

r I have a family history of depression.

r I’ve thought about suicide.

Spiritual Symptoms of Depression:

ü Punitive image of God

ü Not able to feel close to God

ü No desire to read the Bible, pray, etc.

When does our depression become problematic?

It becomes a problem when it interferes with our daily activities over a long period of time.

Is Depression a Sin?

Depression itself is not a sin.  It is a feeling.  It becomes a sin when we decide we’re going to stay depressed, instead of taking steps out of it.  When we choose to listen to the negative messages and do nothing to change them or get rid of them.

Managing Depression:

Depression doesn’t automatically mean you’re going to be on medication.  It is always your choice unless you are dangerous to yourself or others.

Suggested Steps to Manage Depression:
  1. Pray
  2. Exercise – one of the most important ways to manage depression.  Exercise whether you feel like it or not.  Serotonin and endorphins are stimulated by exercise, and make you feel better.
  3. Healthy dieting and sleep patterns
  4. Small groups – support groups – but not a small group of gripers and complainers
  5. Counseling – Sometimes you need someone to walk alongside you – maybe someone who doesn’t know you as a friend, but can be objective. Counseling can help you un-learn wrong thinking. 
  6. Medication – takes 8 weeks to feel the effect.
You cannot stay stuck in the past or in blaming someone else.  Remember, how much God loves you and know that he is always available to listen to your heart’s cry and heal your hurts.

Psalm 34:15, 17-18:  The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

10 Biblical Stress Reducers

As always, the Bible is relevant to our lives today.  Here are biblical principles that are guaranteed to reduce your stress.

1. Sing a favorite song.      
Ephesians 5:19:  Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord. . .

Ps. 13:6:  I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.

2. Be still; slow down.    
Ps. 37:7:  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.

Ps. 46:10:  Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

3. Take quiet time for yourself with the Lord each day.
Isaiah 40:31:  Those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles.  They will run and not get tired.  They will walk and not become weary.

4. Laugh a lot.                
Prov. 17:22: A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

Rom 12:15: Rejoice with those who rejoice. . .

5. Simply your life; get rid of "stuff."                       
Matt. 6:19:  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.

Luke 12:15:  A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.

6. Remember the good things and good times.        
Ps. 77:11:  I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.

Phil 4:8:  Whatever is true, noble, right, pure lovely admirable – excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

7. Talk less.  Listen more.                                 
James 1:19:  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

8. Talk to yourself encouragingly.
Ps. 42:5, 11:  Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Repeatedly ask yourself:  What difference will this make in 24 hours?

9. Live in today.
Matt. 6:34:  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

10. Don't worry!                                                       
Matt. 6:27:  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

Phil. 4:6:  Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Prov. 12:25:  An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

10 Characteristics of Foolish Behavior

The Bible gives us a clear picture of foolish behavior and its consequences. It’s important for us to recognize these traits in others—and in ourselves. Dealing appropriately with people who behave foolishly requires prayer and wisdom. But remember, that foolish person is not in your life by accident, and you can by God’s grace respond to him or her in a Christ-like manner.

Characteristics of Foolish Behavior

1. Denying, disregarding, or rebelling against God
The fool says in his heart “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1).

2. Slandering, lying, deceiving
He who conceals his hatred has lying lips, and whoever spreads slander is a fool (Proverbs 10:18).

3. Quick-Tempered
A fool is quick-tempered, but a wise person stays calm when insulted (Proverbs 12:16).

4. Acts Impetuously and Without Regard for Consequences
Wise people think before they act; fools don’t and even brag about it! (Proverbs 13:16).
A wise man fears the Lord and shuns evil, but a fool is hotheaded and reckless (Proverbs 14:16).

5. Talks endlessly, brags, spouts off frequently
A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions (Proverbs 18:2).
Wise men store up knowledge, but the mouth of a fool invites ruin (Proverbs 10:14).
The mouths of fools are their ruin; their lips get them into trouble (Proverbs 18:7 NLT).

6.  Refuses Advice, Accountability and/or Discipline
A fool spurns his father’s discipline, but whoever heeds correction shows prudence (Proverbs 15:5).

A rebuke impresses a man of discernment more than a hundred lashes a fool (Proverbs 17:10).

7. Handles Money Recklessly
Of what use is money in the hand of a fool, since he has no desire to get wisdom? (Proverbs 17:16).
In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has (Proverbs 21:20).

8. Quarrels frequently, picks fights, is contentious
Fools get into constant quarrels; they are asking for a beating (Proverbs 18:6 NLT).

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control (Proverbs 29:11).

9. Lazy, Lacks Focus and Ambition
Foolish people refuse to work and almost starve (Ecclesiastes 4:5).

A wise person thinks much about death, while the fool thinks only about having a good time now (Ecclesiastes 7:4 NLT).

Fools are so exhausted by a little work that they have no strength for even the simplest tasks (Ecclesiastes 10:15 NLT).

10. Never Learns from Past Experience
As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool repeats his folly (Proverbs 26:11).

You cannot separate fools from their foolishness, even though you grind them like grain with mortar and pestle (Proverbs 27:22 NLT).

How are we to respond to foolish behavior?

1. First and most importantly, we pray for them.
2. Second, watch your attitude and motivation toward these foolish people

Principle #1 – Don’t be surprised if they refuse good advice.
Don’t waste your breath on fools, for they will despise the wisest advice (Proverbs 23:9 NLT).

Principle #2 – Don’t give them honor or luxury.
It is not fitting for a fool to live in luxury – how much worse for a slave to rule over princes! (Proverbs 19:10).

Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool (Proverbs 26:1).

Principle #3 – Don’t argue with foolish people.
Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful (2 Tim. 2:23-24).

Principle #4 – Protect yourself from the resentment and anger caused by foolish people.
A stone is heavy and sand is weighty, but the resentment caused by a fool is heavier than both (Proverbs 27:3 NLT).

Stay away from a foolish man, for you will not find knowledge on his lips (Proverbs 14:7).

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Breaking the Worry Habit

A.J. Cronin has written that our worries fall into these categories: 
Things that never happen – 40%
Things in the past that can’t be changed by all the worry in the world – 30%
Petty, miscellaneous worries – 19%
Health-related worries – 12%
Real, legitimate worries – 8%

Think of what you worried about this week.  What category did that worry fall into?  What was accomplished by your worrying?
 Jesus said “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Matt. 6:27)

Worry can be described as “interest paid in advance on a debt you may never owe.”

“Worry is like a rocking chair.  It will give you something to do, but won’t get you anywhere.”

Scriptural teaching about worry: 
Matt. 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

Matt. 6:34:  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Phil. 4:6:  “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

1 Peter 5:7:  “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

 A Plan to Break the Worry Habit
1. Make a list of all the things that worry you.  Write them down.  Pray about them everyday.
2. Replace wrong thoughts with right ones.
3. Increase your sense of humor and laugh more.
4. Stay positive.  Talk to yourself with slogans that help you remember.  Such as:
  • “Just let it go.  It’s not the end of the world.”             
  • “I don’t have to like everyone; just love them.”
  • “What difference will this make in 24 hours?”
  • “I don’t have to win, just finish the race.”
5. Enjoy the little things in life.
6. Focus on the needs of others; get out of yourself.
7. Pursue your passion.  Find out what “good works” God put you here to do, and go for it.  (Ephesians 2:10)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

How to Thrive -- Not Just Survive -- On Your Job

Here are some important principles to make you more than a survivor, regardless of how difficult your current work situation may be:

1.     Keep the right attitude
Your attitude is always your choice!  No matter what’s going on around you, you can keep a positive outlook if you choose to.  No one can force you to be negative!

Where would you rate your attitude for the past six months?

r  Mostly positive            
r  Half positive, half negative
r  Mostly negative

It helps to do an “attitude checkup” every week or so.

2.     Learn to "re-frame."
Re-framing is simply looking at difficult people or situations through a different lens!  Find some positive way to re-frame whatever is getting to you right now.  I had to learn to re-frame a boss many years ago, and discovered that I had focused so much on his negatives that I totally overlook his positive characteristics.  You’ll find something positive if you look long enough.

3.     Watch your self-talk!
What are your typical first words and/or thoughts each day?

r  Positive and affirming
r  Negative and complaining
r  “Prophesies of doom”

The words I say to myself about myself are usually:

r  Encouraging and uplifting
r  Critical and unkind
r  Harsh and unforgiving

Don’t bring yourself down with your own negative thoughts and words.

4.     Don't be intimidated by negative people!
Here are some ways to respond to negative people:
  • Tune out their negative talk.
  • Don't spend any more time with a really negative person than you have to.
  • Change the subject.
  • Ask for a solution.
  • Respond with positives.

5.     Remember what goes with your territory!
Every job has disagreeable aspects which are part of doing your job, such as complaining customers, computers that break down, software programs with glitches, etc.  Remember that you are paid to deal with these things, so think of them as job security!

6.     Count your blessings.
If you will make yourself stop in the middle of a bad day and start verbalizing all that you have to be thankful for, it will bring a dramatic change in your perspective.

7.     Remember that your day is won or lost in the morning hours!
Start your day on a positive note and it will make a difference all day long!

What could you do to have a better start to your day?

r  Get up earlier.
r  Have a more consistent morning time with the Lord.
r  Discipline myself to begin each day with a positive attitude.
r  Stop procrastinating – do the “stuff I don’t want to do” first and get it out of the way.
r  Leave home earlier to avoid the hectic commute.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Carefully Waiting for an Answer

Anyone who knows me knows that patience is not my long suit!  I don’t like to wait—for anything or anyone or any reason!  That tendency has often caused me to make hasty decisions and moves that were not the best.  The word that God gave me at the beginning of this year—the one word to focus on all year—was “careful.”  So, I’m continuing to learn to be careful, make slower decisions, be willing to wait until I know for sure that I’m following God’s leading.

Now, I’m learning that lesson anew as I have to wait for some medical reports that will tell me whether I have a significant medical issue or a short-term inconvenience.  As I was going through an MRI yesterday—where you have to lie perfectly still in this medical “tunnel” for 45 minutes—I prayed again that God would give me patience and courage as I face this unknown.

None of us make it through this sin-infected world without these kind of experiences of facing an unknown future.  I’m finding that my knowledge of the sovereignty of God is my anchor, my hope, my security.  Nothing that happens to me takes God by surprise, and I am hanging my hopes on that truth in a new way.

I have to tell you that the emotions are not cooperating.  I don’t like this and I’m not feeling victorious.  But my hope is not in my feelings, it is in my God, so I have to repeatedly refuse to allow the feelings of fear to take control of my thoughts. 

How thankful I am that for years I’ve grown in my knowledge of God’s love for me and his sovereignty in my life.  It is that knowledge of His truth that sets me free, in spite of my feelings.  We serve a great God, and as I’ve been reminding others lately, my identity is that “I am the one Jesus loves,” and he will never forsake me.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tips for Job Hunting

Here are some helpful tips when you’re in the job-hunting mode:

1.  Face this challenge with a positive attitude.
Claim the promise of Philippians 4:13: “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Start each day with this purpose and attitude: I have a job today, and that job is to do everything I can to find a job.

Don’t allow yourself to get into negative thought patterns. Make it a matter of daily prayer that God will guard your mind against negative thinking and empower you to keep those thoughts true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable, as Philippians 4:8 admonishes us to do.

2.  Remember that God is still sovereign, in the world and in your life.
He is not caught by surprise at what has happened to you, and he has a plan to turn this experience into good for you.

3.  Establish a daily routine and discipline.
  • Get up early
  • Spend an hour each morning in communion with the Lord
  • Exercise each day for at least half an hour
4.  Designate several hours a day for the job search job that you have! 
Plan each day with a schedule of what you will do that day to move this job search along. Proverbs 20:4 says, “A sluggard does not plow in season; so at harvest time he looks but finds nothing.” This job-hunting time is plowing season for you, and plowing is no fun. But you’ll reap a harvest if you do the plowing, so don’t get “weary in well doing, for at the proper time you will reap a harvest if you do not give up,” as Galatians 6:5 reminds us.

5.  Keep a record each day of what you plan to do and what you accomplish in this job search mode.

6.  Put together a good résumé and cover letter—one that can be customized for each potential employer.
  • After you write the first draft of the cover letter, write down the first word in every sentence and make sure there is a variety in your sentence structure. If you begin most of the sentences with “I,” it has the subtle effect of making you sound self-absorbed or egocentric.
  • Think through the biggest reservation that the company will have about hiring you. Go ahead and ask it as a direct question in the first line of your cover letter, something like this: “Why should ABC Company hire someone who. ..”  Fill in the blank. It might be “someone who doesn’t have any prior experience in this,” or “someone who is right out of college. . .” The next sentence should answer that question in a plausible, positive way.
  • The cover letter should not cover anything that is already on the résumé. For example, the job may not be in any way related to playing the piano, but if you are an accomplished pianist and make some passing comment about it, it shows another side to you as an applicant, which might connect on some other level with the reviewer.
  • Remember to spell the word “résumé” correctly, with the appropriate apostrophes over the e’s, which distinguishes it from the word resume. It shows your attention to detail, to doing things right, and that can be very important. Make sure there are no misspelled words or incorrect grammar in your cover letter or résumé. Don’t trust spell check; ask someone who is very good in these areas to proof it for you.
  • Do not say “References available upon request.” If the interviewer has to call you to get references, they probably won’t because they don’t want to get into a conversation with you until they have checked your references. And besides, putting in some references shows something about you. They should have diversity of gender, ethnicity and position/relationship. If you’re a woman and all your references are women, that could be a red flag—or vice versa for a man. Make sure all contact information is correct and up to date.
  • Your cover letter and résumé should be tuned to the audience or business or culture. A generic objective doesn’t work. Look at the position description. Locate the key words. Re-organize your experience and skills under key words in the position description. That directs the reader’s vision more quickly to what they want to see, and it shows that you want the job badly enough to do some customization of the résumé.
7.  Find or start a support group of people like you—Christians who are looking for a job, or perhaps some who have come through it recently.
The purpose is to encourage each other. You can network together, share your experiences and your knowledge, and most importantly, pray for each other.

8.  Improve your skills.
This is the perfect time to learn some new computer programs, take a course at a local community college, look for seminars in your area that relate to your field—whatever you can do to gain new knowledge and improve your skills.

9.  Find people in the kind of job you would like to have and ask them for an appointment to simply find out how they got their job.

10.  Prepare well for a job interview.
  • Learn as much as you can about this potential new employer and about the position that is open.
  • Think of what questions you might expect and prepare answers.
  • Practice your answers out loud. You don’t need to memorize your answers, but you certainly want to have answers ready as much as possible.
  • Speak with confidence, with a good solid voice, and without a lot of verbal crutches, like “you know” and “like” and “uh” – the more professional you sound, the better, and verbal crutches degrade your professionalism.
  • Get up early on the interview day, spend lots of time praying about it, asking for God’s peace to surround you, eat a good breakfast, and make sure you dress appropriately.
  • The rule of thumb is to dress for one job higher than you’re interviewing for. In other words, go the extra mile in choosing your clothes; be conservative, modest, and appropriate for that job. Darker colors are usually best.
  • Arrive at least 15 minutes early for the interview.
  • Put a smile on your face, stand up straight and maintain good posture, make sure you have a firm handshake, never chew gum, maintain good eye contact, sit still in your seat, avoid fidgeting and slouching, avoid negative comments about previous employers or managers, and above all, listen very carefully to each question and give succinct and direct answers.
  • Be sensitive to the interviewer’s time; don’t get into small talk unless he or she initiates it.
2 Corinthians 8:21: “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.” This is a time to take pains to do what is right.

Always thank the interviewer for his or her time and depart gracefully. Then establish a follow-up plan. Send a thank-you letter to the interviewer immediately. Keep it short but restate your interest in the position and your confidence in your ability to do the job.

More than anything else, as a Christian in the job-hunt mode, keep entrusting your future into God’s hands.

Here are words of comfort from God’s Word:

Isaiah 30:18: Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him.

Isaiah 40:28-31: Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

Remember that the joy of the Lord is your strength, so as Paul reminded us in Philippians 4:4: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” “Always” includes even those times when you are looking for a job. Offer sacrifices of praise, stay confident in the Lord and keep a positive frame of mind. This could turn out to be one of the most meaningful times in your life, because you will learn to trust God like never before.

Please download our Job Hunting Kit which is loaded with tons of helpful information from a career coach.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Steps to Constructive Confrontation

For most of us, confrontation is not our favorite thing to do. But often we avoid it to our harm and to the destruction of relationships.

How would you describe yourself when it comes to confrontation?
  • I rarely confront anyone about anything because it is very uncomfortable and I try to avoid anything unpleasant.
  • I fear the reaction from the person I need to confront and I don’t want to hurt his or her feelings, so I’m very reluctant to confront.
  • I feel so guilty about myself for so many reasons that I feel as though I don’t have a right to confront anybody about anything.
  • I only confront when I’m really angry, and then it comes out all wrong and causes greater problems.
  • I confront all the time, but I don’t stop to think about how I do it, so it often backfires on me.
Please note that we are talking about constructive confrontation, which obviously infers that not all confrontation is constructive. And it is true that much confrontation ends up making matters worse because it was not done for the right motivation and in the right way.

Have you ever confronted for one of these reasons?
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Selfishness
  • Watching out for “number one”
  • Lack of patience
Even if the confrontation was needed, the wrong motivation and approach would cause it to be a harmful confrontation rather than a constructive one.

Tips for Confronting
Once you’ve come to the conclusion that you truly need to confront a person about some situation, then you need to consider several important elements of a confrontation. Remember that confronting is by nature sensitive and delicate, and therefore needs to be thoughtfully approached. A reckless, speedy, unplanned confrontation can lead to disaster.

Choose the right time.
The timing of your confrontation is a critical point to consider. For example, none of these would be good times for confrontation:
  • You are upset and at the point of tears.
  • The “confrontee” is extremely busy this week.  
  • You spent a sleepless night worrying about it.
  • The “confrontee” just lost his/her job.
  • You are angry.
  • The “confrontee” has had a recent health problem.

Choose the right place.
Not only is the right time important, but the right place is as well. Which of these locations would seem conducive to a constructive confrontation?
  • The cafeteria at work
  • Your cubicle in the office
  • A conference room
  • A restaurant                                
  • In a meeting                                       
  • A private office
  • Over the phone      
  • The lobby at work or church                
  • In a home setting
Here are the basic things to remember in choosing the right place:
  • Choose a private place where you can have a one-on-one discussion without being overheard by others. In a work situation, you may want to consider the implication of calling someone into your office and shutting your door for a confrontation. That could be a signal to others that a confrontation is occurring, so even though it is in a private place, it may still need to be more discreet.
  • On the job, consider an off-site location. That is a good idea, especially in what you would consider “high profile” situations.
  • Consider confronting over a meal. It seems to break down some barriers when we share a meal with someone.
Avoid finger-pointing.
Avoid “finger-pointing” phrases, such as these:
  • You are never on time. . .                        
  • You’ve made the same mistake three times. . .
  • You don’t know how to do this. . .                       
  • You have difficulty getting along with your sister. . .
  • Your attitude is causing problems. . .       
  • You never listen to me. . .
  • You have had your way for too long. . .
Those are all finger-pointing phrases, and notice that they all begin with “You.”  Think of some words/phrases that don’t tend to have that “finger-pointing” flavor, such as:
  • "Perhaps there has been a misunderstanding. . ."
  • "I'm hoping you can help me understand. . ."
  • "If my information is correct. . .
Plan your words.
Proverbs 21:23 reminds us that: “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”

Guarding your words carefully is always important, but never more so than when you are confronting someone. How you say what you have to say will make a big difference in whether the confrontation is a success or a failure.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Finishing the Race

I write this on the day after the Chicago Marathon, where many of my friends and two of my close relatives ran the race and finished it!  I cheered them on and had the joy of sharing in their incredible accomplishment.  But I was on the sidelines watching instead of running in the race.

My best laid plans to run the marathon this year had to be forsaken when a stress fracture put me on the sidelines.  I had dreamed of crossing that finish line and knowing what must be that incredible sense of satisfaction to have finished those 26.2 miles.  But my dreams were dashed, and I find I’m a little sad this morning.  I didn’t finish the race.

It brings to mind the Apostle Paul’s words in 2 Timothy 4:7: I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  I didn’t finish this marathon, but the race I really want to finish—and finish well—is the good race of faith.  I don’t want any kind of “stress fracture” to sideline me from running the race that God has set before me.

Hebrews 12:1 reminds us that we each have an individual race: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us

I find I must be continually intentional about throwing off the “stuff” that hinders me.  “Stuff” like laziness and distractions and materialism and pride, to name a few.  They entangle me so easily.  But if I keep my eye on the finish line and think about the great joy of crossing that line and hearing Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” then throwing off some of the “stuff” is not so hard to do.  That’s one finish line I don’t want to miss!