Performing Under Pressure

Performing Under PressurePerforming Under Pressure: The science of doing your best when it matters most challenges the myth that certain people perform well under pressure.  The truth is pressure degrades our judgment, decision making ability, attention,  and dexterity.

The authors provide practical advice how you can depressurize the situation to enhance your performance.  The essence of the book is summed up in the following sentence, “Since it is impossible to live a life without pressure, the key is to negotiate your reactions to it – to gain insight into how pressure affects you and puts you to risk, and then to learn techniques of pressure management” (p. 29).

The book is divided into three sections.  Part 1 examines the nature and science of pressure. The authors differentiate between pressure and stress.  This section also discusses the anatomy of “choking” investigating its causes and effects.

Part 2 in my opinion is worth the price of the book.  The authors present twenty-two helpful solutions on how to handle pressure situations.   This section is filled with practical advice and reminders how you can gain perspective when dealing with pressure.

The heart of the book is Part 3 as the authors present their model of how to perform well under pressure.  They advocate putting on your COTE of armor which is an acrostic for Confidence, Optimism, Tenacity, and Enthusiasm.  Each section provides scientific research, practical illustrations, and exercises to you develop these characteristics in your life.

Many of their recommendations have research supporting their claims; however, some of the recommendations are the author’s opinions.  For example, they make the following claim, “Accept and embrace the notion that, all in all, the world is fair” (p. 220).  The problem is some of their examples specifically refute this assertion.   A few pages later as they present an example of unfairness they conclude, “They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time” (p. 234).  If you expect the world to be fair and it’s not then you become disappointed, but if you realize that life is difficult then you’re better able to cope with life’s unfairness.

Anyone facing pressure situations will find many practical tips for performing well under pressure.  The Apostle James gives us practical advice when facing difficult situations,

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.  (James 1:12)

(I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Getting Rid of ANTs

negative-thinkingHave you ever had an encounter with fire ants?  I was mowing the yard in my first summer in Columbia, S.C. when suddenly I felt a burning sensation in my leg.  I looked down and my sneaker and sock were covered with fire ants.  I ran to the faucet and washed them off and my leg was covered with red bumps.  Fire ants are an invasive species that sting their pray from the abdomen and inject a toxic alkaloid venom called Solenopsin,  that creates a sensation similar to what one feels when burned by fire, thus the name fire ants.

An even greater threat that we face is what Daniel Amen refers to as  Automatic Negative Thoughts, or ANTs.  ANTs are cynical, destructive, and discouraging thoughts that we experience.  Here is brief look at some of the common ANTs  that you may have encountered:

Fortune telling –  Fortune telling means that you predict the worst possible outcome to a situation even without a rational explanation.

Mind reading – You believe you know what another person is thinking  even though they have not told you.  This can be especially problematic because you attribute motives to the other person’s actions.

Generalization –  In this scenario you are coming to a general conclusion based on a single event.  Such thoughts often include the words “always” and “never”.

Selective abstraction –  This occurs when your thoughts only see the bad in a situation and you ignore any of the good aspects that might happen.

Personalization –  Personalization occurs when innocuous events are taken to have personal meaning, often with a deleterious connotation.

Shame – Brene Brown differentiates between shame and guilt as she writes, “I believe that there is a profound difference between shame and guilt. I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it’s holding something we’ve done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort.  I define shame as the intensely painful feeling or experience of believing that we are flawed and therefore unworthy of love and belonging – something we’ve experienced, done, or failed to do makes us unworthy of connection.”

Blame –  When you blame something or someone else for the problems in your life, you become a victim of circumstances.  This is a major cause of relational problems since people blame the other person and take little personal responsibility.

All or nothing –  This type of thinking tends to take extremes with no middle ground.   This type of  dichotomous reasoning  causes you to view situations as black or white.

Catastrophising – This type of thinking overestimates the chances of disaster and results in an expectation of something unbearable or intolerable that will happen.

Which ANTs do you find are most troublesome in your life?  The Apostle Paul gives us helpful advice is dealing with ANTs,

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,  (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Where do the speculations come from?  There are three primary sources:  the world, our own sinful fleshly thoughts, and the devil.  When you understand where the negative thoughts come from then you can defend against them.

Our minds are bombarded every day by the values of the world.  The world system however, is antithetical to the values of God,

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world.  (1 John 2:15-16)

That is why we must fill our minds with God’s truth so we will not be conformed to the world,

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.  (Romans 12:2)

We also must deal with the weaknesses of our flesh.  Paul gives us helpful advice again,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.  (Galatians 5:16)

What a great promise!  As you walk by the Spirit, He will counteract the downward pull of your fleshly desires.  Finally, you must be aware of the attacks of the devil.

so that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes.  (2 Corinthians 2:11)

You are to be armed with the full armor of God so that you may with stand against the attacks of the devil (see Ephesians 6:10-18).

ANTs are pervasive and you will encounter them, but you do not need to allow them to rob you of your joy.  As you become aware of the ANTs in your life, the following strategy may help you gain  victory in your thought life,

1.  You must become aware of your thoughts and learn to recognize the ANTs in your life.  Your feelings are often a result of your thoughts.   You must realize that if what you’re thinking is not true, then what you’re feeling is not accurate.

2.  How does your current thinking compare with Scriptural truth?

3.  Respond by putting off the old way of thinking and choose to believe the truth of God’s word.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.  (Philippians 4:8)

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Running the Race

Hebrews 12Have you ever participated in a race?  If so how was that experience for you?   Your hope is to run the race well and the question we want to address is, “How can I run the race well?”

The writer of Hebrews gives us sage advice for running well in the race of life,

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

The great cloud of witnesses refers the heroes of faith described in Hebrews chapter 11.  The writer is emphasizing that since those in Hebrews 11 demonstrated great faith that you will be able to endure as well.   To run well you must first lay aside every encumbrance.  For those of you who run, you know that you don’t want any extra encumbrances, even in the winter you wear the minimal amount of clothing so that although you start off cold when you get warmed up you won’t have anything extra to weigh you down.

The writer also refers to “the sin which so easily entangles us”.  The author uses the definite article,  which as you consider the context of faith described in chapter 11, most likely refers to the sin of unbelief.  What areas of your life do you experience unbelief and find it difficult to believe God’s promises?   Could it be fear of the unknown, fear of failure, or a sense of  inadequacy that keeps you from stepping out in faith?  Those encumbrances and entanglements keep you from running well in the race of life.

We are told to “run with endurance” the race that is before us.  The word “endurance” is a compound word that literally means to “remain under”.  This word conveys the idea of steadfast perseverance, especially in the face of adversity.  There are moments in a race where I want to slow down; however, I know if I am to achieve a certain time then I must keep a faster pace – that is an example of running with endurance.

The word used for race in the Greek New Testament is the  word ἀγών (agōn) and often refers to a contest or a struggle.  We derive our English word agony from this word.

The author gives us another principle that helps us to run well in our race,

fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  (Hebrews 12:2)

You are to keep your eyes on Jesus.  When you focus on your problems you can become overwhelmed, but when you focus on the God who can solve your problems you can run with endurance.  The hardest part of a race for me is usually the middle of the race.  At the start there is a fair amount of excitement and at the end of the race when you see the finish line you can push yourself.  The lonely miles in the middle can be difficult because  you can’t see the finish line.  You start thinking that when you signed up for this marathon six months ago it seemed like a good idea but now you’re wondering if you can finish.  As you go through the race of life, you must keep your eyes on Jesus – He has called you and He is with you,

for He [God] Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless nor forsake nor let [you] down (relax My hold on you)! [Assuredly not!]  (Hebrews 13:5b Amplified)

How’s that for inspiration!  Jesus has endured the cross so that you might live a life of victory,

 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.  (John 10:10)

Jesus’ plan for your life is that you may have an abundant life – even in the midst of adversity.  As you run the race of life there will be times when you will grow weary and may lose heart.  Remember the example of Jesus,

 For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.  (Hebrews 12:3)

What’s causing you to lose heart?  Remember that He is with you, He can keep you from despair and losing heart,

Yet those who wait for 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.  (Isaiah 40:31)

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

That’s a Great Question

drive15This past week about thirty of us from LifePark journeyed to Atlanta to attend the Drive Conference at Northpoint Church.  We attended a number of excellent sessions and one of my favorite sessions was entitled “That’s a Great Question” presented by Andy Stanley.

I’ve noticed that great leaders ask great questions.   The advantage of asking questions is that we’re able to learn from others.  The  questions we ask will  not only reveal our values but they reinforce our values to others.  Andy routinely asks himself, “What am I doing personally to help us improve organizationally?”

A key component of self-leadership is to ask oneself great questions.   Andy has studied the importance of asking good questions and has written The Best Question Ever and the revised version entitled, Ask It: The Question That Will Revolutionize How You Make Decisions Andy related a story as he was meeting with Bill Hybels and asked Bill about his process of decision making.  He said Bill gave him one of the best self-leadership questions he ever heard, “What would a great leader do?”  There are several benefits to this question:

1. This question raises the standard of your leadership above the circumstances of your leadership.

2. This question unveils the motives of your heart.

3. This question reveals your weaknesses.

4. This question inspires you to reach beyond the limits of your personality and style.

This question is also applicable to other areas of your life.  Andy gave the example of a husband who came out to the kitchen with a dirty plate and as he went to put it in the dishwasher he noticed that the dishwasher was clean.  What would a great husband do?   A great husband would not simply leave the plate but he would empty the dishwasher for his wife.  This question is applicable to everyone:  husbands, wives, children, etc.   What would a great wife do?   I’ll leave this answer to your imagination:)

As you go through life you can continue to respond as you have in the past or you take a moment and ask yourself, What would a great leader do?  You will discover that as you ask that question you will leave your comfort zone and respond in ways that you did not think were possible.

Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.  (Mark 11:24)

 RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

So Send I You

Missio DeiWhat does it mean to be sent?  It usually connotes the participation in a mission that we’ve been assigned.  When you’re on a mission you’re laser focused and you have a single-minded purpose.  Jesus prayed that His disciples would continue the mission that He came to fulfill.

As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.”   (John 17:18)

Jesus came with a mission from His heavenly Father and He consistently kept God’s purpose before Him.   Early in His ministry He healed many and cast out demons and people were looking to Him to meet their needs, but Jesus was following the assignment His Father had given to Him,

He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”  (Mark 1:38)

Even when He knew that He would face adversity, Jesus kept His eyes on goal and did not waver from His mission,

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day.  (Matthew 16:21)

What is God’s mission for your life?  The first step is hearing from God.  Jesus invested time with God and had clarity about God’s assignment for His life.  Too many people are climbing the ladder of success only to discover that it’s leaning against the wrong wall.   Life is too short to be spending your time doing that which does not last for eternity.  When you get to the end of your life what  will be your legacy?  Jesus reminded His disciples,

For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?”  (Mark 8:36)

You must realize that when you’re on mission for God that you will encounter opposition.   The Apostle Paul warned young Timothy,

Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.  (2 Timothy 3:12)

If you’re not clear about God’s mission for your life then you may give up when circumstances become difficult.  How do you respond to the challenges in your life?  Perseverance is a common theme in the New Testament,

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.  (Galatians 6:9)

The most important task in your life is discovering God’s assignment for you.  Go in confidence knowing that Jesus has sent you,

So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be  with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”  (John 20:31)

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Satisfied in Jesus

SatisfySeveral people told me they appreciated the song that was played during our response time this past Sunday.  Our worship team did a great job and the song brought encouragement to many.   Music has a way of speaking to the heart and enabling us to experience God in the totality of our being.

The song we played was Satisified and it was written by Clara T. Williams in 1875.   In her early days she ministered as a circuit-riding preacher, visiting small and remote communities.  She married a Reverend Williams in 1895 and continued to work as an evangelist and a co-pastor with her husband until 1920.

The hymn Satisfied  was written in 1875 as Clara was helping in evangelistic meetings and the song leader asked her to compose a hymn.  That evening she penned the words to the hymn below:

All my life long I had panted for a drink from some cool spring
That I hoped would quench the burning of the thirst I felt within
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

 

Feeding on the filth around me, ‘till my strength was almost gone
Longed my soul for something better, only still to hunger on
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Poor I was and sought for riches, something that would satisfy
But the dust I gathered ‘round me only mocked my soul’s sad cry
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Well of water ever springing, Bread of Life so rich and free
Untold wealth that never faileth, my Redeemer is to me
Hallelujah! He has found me, the One my soul so long has craved!
Jesus satisfies all my longings, through his blood I now am saved

Words: Clara T. Williams, 1875
Music: Karl Digerness, 1997
©1997 Karl Digerness Music

This song is filled with a number of Scriptural allusions and reveals the joy we experience when the longing of our souls is filled with Jesus.  Have your deepest longings been satisfied in Jesus? 

Don’t settle for less than God’s best.  The Rolling Stones couldn’t get find satisfaction but you can through Jesus,

“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’”  (John 7:38)

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

The Church as the Hope of the World

PrayingWe were honored to have Bill Hybels speak at the five year anniversary at The Church at LifePark.   (Hybels is the founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, one of the most attended churches in North America.  He is the founder of the Willow Creek Association and the Global Leadership Summit.  Hybels is also the author of a number of  books, especially on the subject of Christian leadership.)

Bill shared his vision for the local church and for the first 18 years of his life, the one word he used to describe the church was “hopeless.”  One of his college professors, however gave him a vision of what the church could be as he painted a picture of an Acts 2 church and his perspective changed from “hopeless” to “hopeful.”  His professor challenged them, “why can’t someone in this classroom lay aside their life plan and give their life to building a local church like this?”

Bill was seized by a vision of what the church could be.  He moved to Chicago to help a friend build a youth group and started to create an Acts 2 community as depicted in Acts 2:42-47.  As he saw God at work he moved from “hopeful” to the conviction that “the local church is the hope of the world.”   What are some of the characteristics of an effective church?   One factor is the devotion of the people as depicted in Acts 2:42,

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

The Greek word translated “continually devoting” is προσκαρτερέω (proskartereō) and it literally means “to be strong towards” (pros, “towards” and kartereo, “to be strong”).  It is often translated to endure in, or persevere in, to be continually steadfast, or to be devoted to a person or a practice.

Although this word only occurs ten times in the New Testament it is commonly used to refer to prayer:

These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.  (Acts 1:14)

“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”  (Acts 6:4)

rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, (Romans 12:12)

Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; (Colossians 4:2)

 What are you strongly devoted to?  The hope of the world is not government, academia, business, but the church because it is to the church that God has entrusted the message of salvation, which truly changes people’s lives and hearts.

Bill gave up his Friday evening to fly down to Mt. Pleasant because he has a passion to see every church reach its full redemptive potential.   What gives us confidence that the church will endure to the end of history?  Many empires and massive companies that seemed durable have evaporated.  Why will it be different for the church?  The reason is because Jesus is building the church,

I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.  (Matthew 16:18)

What is the vital role Jesus has for you as in building His church in this world?  He’s been preparing you all of your whole life for this mission.  How do you say no to an offer like that from God?

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Take Courage!

John 16.33What are your thoughts when you face adversity?  Are you surprised or is it a “why me” response?   Admittedly, none of  us like to face difficulties but they are a fact of life.  How does Jesus advise us to respond?

In the upper-room, Jesus’ disciples were apprehensive because He told them that they would be scattered (John 16:32).   Perhaps you’re in the midst of a difficult situation.  You can take courage by following the advice Jesus gave to His disciples,

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.  (John 16:33)

Notice that Jesus provides consolation, He says that in Jesus you can have peace.  There are situations you face that can cause you to lose your peace.

I had a challenging situation that caused me to momentarily lose my peace.  I was attempting to make some airline reservations and my computer kept shutting down before I could complete the transaction. Computers can be a great test of our saynctification.  I finally entered the data and hit enter before my computer shut down.  Have you ever hit the enter key and realized you’ve made an error?  I hit the enter key and suddenly realized the arrival time was 11:00 p.m. rather than a.m.!  It was so frustrating!  I called the booking agency and begged for mercy and they took pity on me and cancelled the reservation.

Where do people often look for peace?  Many look for peace in financial security until their investment portfolio plummets.  People are looking in many places except the true source of peace which is Jesus.  In John 14:27 Jesus says,

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Where are you looking for peace?  Are you looking to Jesus or to the world?   Jesus encourages us to come to Him,

Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

Realize that Jesus offers you consolation but the world brings you tribulation.  The reality is that life is difficult.  We must realize that life doesn’t always go as planned.  Several years ago I was flying back from India.  I started in Chennai then went to Mumbai then Frankfurt, cleared customs in Newark, then flew to Charlotte,  I had been flying for two days and had one flight left before I returned home but the I didn’t see my flight listed.  The ticket agent said they cancelled that flight two weeks ago.  I was tired and ready to get home but I had to wait.

What is your response to tribulation?  The Apostle Paul gives us a healthy perspective when facing problems,

And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Following the teaching of Jesus provides you inspiration.  The word “take courage” occurs seven times in the New Testament.  It is  always used in the imperative mood and it is a command that inspires confidence.  Jesus has overcome the world and if you are in Him you too shall overcome!

Are you experiencing peace in your current situation?  Long ago a man sought the perfect picture of peace. He announced a contest to produce this masterpiece. The challenge stirred the imagination of artists everywhere, and paintings arrived from far and wide. Finally the great day of revelation arrived. The judges uncovered one peaceful scene after another, while the viewers clapped and cheered. The tension grew. Only two pictures remained veiled. As a judge pulled the cover from one, a hush fell over the crowd. A mirror-smooth lake reflected lacy, green birches under the soft blush of the evening sky. Along the grassy shore, a flock of sheep grazed undisturbed. Surely this was the winner.

The man who offered the contest unveiled then unveiled the winner and the crowd gasped in surprise. Could this be peace? A tumultuous waterfall cascaded down a rocky precipice; the crowd could almost feel its cold, penetrating spray. Stormy-gray clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind and rain. In the midst of the thundering noises and bitter chill, a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. One of its branches reached out in front of the torrential waters as if foolishly seeking to experience its full power. A little bird had built a nest in the elbow of that branch. Content and undisturbed in her stormy surroundings, she rested on her eggs. With her eyes closed and her wings ready to cover her little ones, she manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

Are you taking courage?  You can have peace in the midst of tribulation. When the devil comes knocking send Jesus to answer the door. You can take courage because Jesus has overcome the world.

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Beyond Willpower

Beyond WillpowerBeyond Willpower by Alex Loyd challenges the standard success blueprint that focuses on these three principles:

1. Focus on what you want
2. Figure out a plan to get there
3. Put the plan into action

On the surface that sounds like a helpful strategy; however, he cites that approach has a 97% failure rate (p. 3).   The reason for the high failure rate is that type of approach depends upon your willpower which is a finite resource and is difficult to maintain for an extended period of time.

Rather than relying upon sheer willpower, he advocates what he refers to as “the Greatest Principle”.  He describes it as follows, “Virtually every problem or lack of happiness and success comes from an internal state of fear in some form – even physical problems.  And every internal state of fear results from a deficit of love in relation to that particular issue” (p. 9).

He points out the underlying motive for our failure, “The presence of our pain/pleasure programming not only explains why willpower is so ineffective, but it also explains why pursuing an external circumstance should never be our primary goal if we’re seeking success in our lives (p. 43).

Loyd’s approach is syncretistic in nature combining various counseling methodologies.  He reveals his antipathy toward religion, “I run from religion.  In fact, it took me decades to recover from my religious upbringing.”  He adds, “However, I try very hard to be a spiritual person, prioritizing live, joy, peace, forgiveness, kindness, and belief” (p. 17).

His eclectic approach merges different philosophies, new age practices, cognitive restructuring, and counseling philosophies such as Larry Crabb’s teaching on significance and security.  His approach may be summarized as he advocates three tools to deprogram and reprogram an individual for success, “. . . the Energy Medicine tool (for the physical), the Reprogramming Statements tool (for the mental), and the Heart Screen tool (for the spiritual) (p. 101).

Throughout the book there are a number of references to the importance of the spiritual dimension.  The following citation for example, emphasizes the importance of prayer, “In their book How God Changes Your Brain, neuroscientist Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman share extensive scientific evidence that the number one factor that improves brain function and health – even more than exercise – is prayer and a corresponding belief in God or spiritual source” (p. 89).   Loyd advocates prayer, however he maintains the source of your prayer is at your discretion, “I believe that the most important thing is to plug into God/source/love, every hour of every day . . .” (p. 166).

This book is not written from a Christian perspective; however there are a number of Christian truths throughout the book.  The author emphasizes the importance of agape love, “Agape is the spontaneous and unconditional love whose source is the divine” (p. 15).  He quotes Proverbs 4:23, “Above all, guard your heart, for from it flows all the issues of life” (p. 74) as well as a number of other Bible verses.  The chart on reprogramming on page 117 is essentially a listing of the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23.

The author observes, “. . . the problem isn’t that we don’t know what to do.  The problem is that over 99 percent of people cannot do it, based on the typical success blueprint we’ve all heard, namely (1) focus on the end result you want; (2) create a plan to get that end result; (3) use your willpower and personal effort to work that plan until you receive what you want” (p. 189).  Charles Duhigg points out in The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business the limitations of our willpower.

This book provides an alternative to reliance on willpower to make long-lasting changes in your life.  By putting off harmful ways of thinking (deprogramming) and adopting new habits (reprogramming) the author asserts you can move from stress to success.  (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

Believing is Seeing

open the eyesIf the Apostle Paul were to pray for you, what do you think he would pray?  He reveals the answer in the book of Ephesians.   He prays that you will see with spiritual eyes,

 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,  far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.  (Ephesians 1:18-21)

Do you know  the hope of His calling?  But what if you do not feel the hope of His calling?  Think of some of the people that God has called:  Gideon responded that his family was the least in Manasseh and he was the youngest.  David who was one of the greatest kings of Israel,  was not even considered when Samuel came to anoint him.  Perhaps you may wonder how God could use you.  God delights in lifting up the unlikely to show His transforming power.

Next, Paul prays that you would know the riches of the glory of His inheritance.  Far too many Christians are living in spiritual poverty when God has promised his children an amazing inheritance.  As Paul addressed the Ephesians elders, he reminded them,

And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.  (Acts 20:32)

You have an incredible spiritual inheritance in Christ and when it comes to an inheritance my motto is where there’s a will, I want to be in one!

Finally, he prays that you realize the surpassing greatness of His power in your life.  He is referring to the resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead.  That same resurrection power is available to you if you realize your weaknesses and yield to His power,

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.  (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God wants you to see with spiritual eyes.  The Old Testament records a story of the king of Israel  who was informed by a prophet of the plans of the king of Aram’s plans to harm him.  The king of Aram was enraged and demanded to know who was the informant.   One of his servants said to him that it was the prophet  Elisha.  So the king of Aram sent horses and chariots and a great army to capture Elisha and they came and surrounded the city.

When Elisha’s attendant went out of the house he was fearful as he saw a great army with horses and chariots circling the city.   Elisha  answered,

“Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”  Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” And the Lord opened the servant’s eyes and he saw; and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.  (2 Kings 6:16-17)

As you face the difficult circumstances in your life may you see with spiritual eyes!

 

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

Follow me on twitter:  rickhiggins5

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