Find the David within You…

Goliath shutterstock_125301275There are days in which the very fiber that you are made of seems stretched beyond any reasonable ability to hold it together. Sometimes those days turn into weeks, months and even years. Such were the days for me when I trudged through severe depression. I look back at that experience now and I have no idea how I made it through. The truth is that “I” didn’t make it through – “We” did. God took me by the hand and we made it through my depression together. I would have never guessed, at the time, that there would ever come a day that I would feel that the pain and suffering was worth it. Yet, here I am and it was. I won’t take the time to go into detail but there is a level of understanding, compassion and passion that I never could have obtained without that experience. When you are having those experiences in your life – don’t try to go it alone. God is there to help you. And know that, in the end, you will find the David within you and you will be better for it.

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You Have the Power to Change Your Life in Positive Ways!

A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying Mother Teresa

I am proof that anyone can turn their life around: How to battle your demons

AFTER battles with anxiety, alcoholism and homelessness BETH BURGESS, 32, explains how she won the fight with her demons.

I have a vivid memory of myself at 20 years of age sitting in a stranger’s bath. I don’t know how I got to that house but could vaguely remember getting into a car with three men the night before.They’d promised me money and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s in return for a “party”.

I felt so down the next morning that I looked at a razor blade and seriously considered ending it all.

Instead I just lay there while the men I’d come home with were in the next room drinking and smoking drugs.

As a young girl growing up in the suburbs I could never have imagined sinking so low.

Even though my parents divorced when I was 10 we were a normal, loving family. After the split my dad went to live in Wales and I stayed with my mum and older sister in the south of England.

When I was about 14 I started smoking and drinking with friends. Sometimes I took amphetamines and LSD. It was stupid to get into drugs but I just saw it as normal teenage rebellion.

 NEW START: Beth at the peak of her addiction

I was seriously addicted to alcohol

However, at 16 I started to develop deep feelings of anxiety. Now I know they were part of a condition known as social phobia but I couldn’t cope as a teenager and I started self–harming.The pain helped distract me from my emotions. I couldn’t turn to my parents because I didn’t know what was wrong with me. I just felt ashamed and embarrassed.

By the time I got to sixth–form college at 17 I was smoking 20 cannabis joints a day. It helped to ease the anxiety, as did alcohol.

I can’t pinpoint the cause of my problems though the family break–up probably didn’t help as I always felt different from everyone else as a child.

I left home to go to University College London to study English literature and German when I was 18 and I dreamed of being a teacher or a writer.

By this time though I was seriously addicted to alcohol and would carry a bottle with me everywhere I went.

During the first year of university I got glandular fever and was too ill to carry on so I had to go back home and live with my mum.

I’d hide booze under the bed and got away with appearing sober.

In my second year I had to apply for house shares but kept turning up to interviews drunk.

After one disastrous meeting I picked up a man in a bar and he offered me a place to stay. With a fair amount of alcohol inside me, it fair amount of alcohol inside me, it seemed a reasonable thing to do and I lived with him for five months.

Over the next few years this became a habit. Men would give me money for the night or take me in.

I’d more or less given up with university as I was too ill. They eventually awarded me a degree on the basis that if I’d been well enough I would have passed.

I was desperate to find out why I was so unhappy and needed to drink. I tried everything from cognitive behavioural therapy to antidepressants but nothing worked. NHS alcohol services couldn’t see me because I always came in drunk.

Things eventually got too much and at 21 I attempted suicide by overdosing on paracetamol.

When I woke up in hospital the next day mum and dad were standing by the bed.

They had no idea how I’d been living. They told me that if I didn’t admit myself to a mental hospital they would have me sectioned.

they would have me sectioned. I had no choice and went to a place in London. I was put on an addiction programme but they threw me out after a month for smuggling in alcohol.

AT 23 I was drinking a litre–and–a–half of gin every day and my GP told me I had a year to live. At the time I didn’t care and would have been happy for my life to end.

Eventually mum told me about NLP, or neuro linguistic programming, which she had read could be good for treating anxiety and phobias.

I had no idea what it involved but was willing to try anything.

The 90–minute session consisted of visualisation techniques and tapping areas of the body to break the pattern of thoughts.

I learned that phobic responses are triggered by memories (usually stored as pictures, mental “movies'” and sensations). For me, if I thought about going outside I immediately saw a “movie” of the last time I did. I would feel the same terror it had caused, accompanied by a tight feeling in my chest and then panicky thoughts about going out again.

NLP interrupts that process by breaking the association between the memory and the phobic response. Practitioners calm the memory’s effects by changing it, such as interrupting the movie with tapping, or by changing the colours or sounds. This causes the body to respond more calmly.

I walked out of the practitioner’s feeling so much better. For some, NLP can take away anxiety instantly and for the first time in my life I wasn’t scared and felt hopeful. I almost skipped home.

However, although it can help elements of addiction (reducing cravings, for example) it can’t cure it and I was still drinking heavily.

Then my dad told me about another form of therapy, DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy). It teaches you to change negative into positive thinking.

Despite earlier relapses it was a combination of DBT and the support of Alcoholics Anonymous that enabled me to stop drinking for good in 2010.

Being sober has completely changed my life. I’m so much happier and healthier and it’s amazing to be able to think clearly and make commitments.

The best thing about the new me is that in 2010 I qualified as an NLP practitioner.

Since 2011 I’ve also qualified in life coaching, EFT (emotional freedom technique), hypnotherapy and mentoring.

I’m very lucky and things could have turned out so differently but I’ve written a book about my experiences and I am determined to give others hope.

The Happy Addict: How To Be Happy In Recovery From Alcoholism Or Drug Addiction, by Beth Burgess (Eightball Publishing, £9.99) is available on amazon.co.uk

Today’s story is shared from the following website: https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/health/417321/I-am-proof-that-anyone-can-turn-their-life-around-How-to-battle-your-demons

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Let Gratitude Enable Your Ability to Soar!

TriumphI am always saddened by others who habitually feel sorry for themselves…not because they usually don’t have good reasons for their “blues” but because my experience has taught me that their lives would significantly improve just by taking the time to recognize their blessings. No matter how difficult our lives are, I know that we each are blessed! I believe that searching for and recognizing our blessings enables us to feel the strength of God with us more abundantly… that in itself is a wonderful blessing!

I hope you will enjoy today’s inspiring story!:

The Peace of ‘Enough’ During the Holidays

During this season of bounty, how should we define “enough?” Is there such a thing as enough love? Enough laughter? Enough money? Enough calm?

At first glance, we might be tempted to say, no—those positive things can never be truly fulfilled or completed to the point where we would say, “enough.” But if we reflect more deeply, we can imagine important boundaries that each one of those calls for in a positive, meaningful life.

Believing we can be loved “enough” means trusting the love in our lives rather than always feeling the need to chase or question it.

Laughing with deep, authentic joy is neither possible nor helpful to attempt all the time. Without “enough” laughter, we’d crowd out our other emotions, including the smiles that come from quiet joy more than giggles or guffaws.

While we all strive to better ourselves financially, finding contentment in the resources we have is an important part of living positively. If you still question the idea of “enough” money, just ask lottery winners, whose windfalls are found in multiple scientific studies not to affect overall senses of wellbeing.

Cultivating calm is a lifelong pursuit, but if we never feel calm “enough,” we will never find the motivation to act, to move or to assert ourselves in ways that free us to explore new possibilities for our lives.

Today, the day after Thanksgiving, strikes me as the perfect opportunity to reflect on the balance between “bounty” and “enough,” both in the contexts of the delicious Thanksgiving foods that we look forward to all year long and the emotional surge many of us experience during the holiday season.

As we tuck into our leftovers today, let’s remember to be grateful for their delicious gifts, but also for the deep peace that comes from knowing how to experience the feeling of being satisfied—knowing how and when to say “enough.”

Today’s story was written by Holly Lebowitz Ross and is shared from the following website: https://www.guideposts.org/better-living/life-advice/the-peace-of-enough-during-the-holidays

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Are Your Limiting Beliefs Holding You Back?

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore William Faulkner5 False Beliefs that Are Holding You Back

Over the years you’ve created a set of beliefs in your mind that you hold to be true.  Some are indeed helpful and true, while others have completely fooled you.  It’s these latter, false beliefs that quietly hinder your potential and hold you back from the life you are capable of living.

Here are five such false beliefs to be aware of:

1.  Life owes me something.

Just because you’re alive doesn’t mean life is going to hand everything to you.

Life doesn’t just get better by itself.  It isn’t like flying in a plane through turbulence.  Life doesn’t just improve if you fasten your seat belt and wait.

Sadly, so many people expect that a great life is coming to them automatically.  They believe it’ll come next month or next year.  So they continue thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things, just waiting for that day when life will get better.

They come home from work, heat up a microwave dinner and sit on the couch for hours watching TV.  They get on the Internet and spend entire evenings getting nothing done.  They keeping hoping and praying for a change without ever taking action.

When you were younger, you got a trophy if you played sports.  It didn’t matter if you were the leading scorer or the leading benchwarmer.  Adulthood is a bit different.  You don’t get trophies anymore for just showing up.  You have to earn them.

If you keep believing life will somehow automatically improve on it’s own, then you’re going to waste many years of your life in a state of disappointment.

It’s up to you to decide how you want to be.  You are the one that determines the quality of your life.  It is not the people around you, your boss, the government, or anyone else.  If you are serious about being healthy, wealthy, successful, respected and loved, then you are going to have to do something about it.

No one is going to give you the life you dream about except YOU.

Let this be your wake-up call.  Take full control of your life, starting now!

2.  The universe is out to get me.

It seems like life has gone wrong for you in every imaginable way.  You can’t catch a break.  You don’t know why other people are successful and happy, but you’re not.  You believe the universe is somehow working against you.

The truth is the universe doesn’t care about you one bit.  That might sound harsh, but it’s true.  The universe isn’t out to get you.  You aren’t cursed.  You don’t have bad karma following you around.

Why would the universe choose you to be the unlucky one?  It wouldn’t and it hasn’t.  We are all born with a chance to live a full and happy life.  It’s up to you to use the resources the universe has given you – the ones you have right now within you.

If you have an unlucky streak, it’s because you are choosing your own reality with the thoughts in your head and the action you take or don’t take.  If the universe really picked sides, those who grew up poor would always remain poor while the rich would always remain rich.  Obviously this is not true.  There have been many rags to riches stories, and stories of those who have grown up rich and lost everything.

Understand the universe isn’t out to get you.  It wants you to be happy and succeed, but you’ve got to go out and create your own opportunities for happiness.

To start changing how you view the world, start a gratitude journal by writing down three things that you’re thankful for every day.  What this does is to get you in the habit of focusing on what you do have in life – the good, instead of what you do not – the bad.

3.  I am stuck in my current life situation.

Humans are the only creatures on this planet that can choose to change their life situation at any moment.  A shark can’t one day decide to be a chef.  An ant can’t decide it wants to be a dancer.  Their lives are built into their DNA.

You, on the other hand, can change if you want to.  Oftentimes the only problem is that the fear of change is holding you back.  Excuses keep piling up.  You only remember the times you failed, and this memory scares you off from trying again.  You feel hopelessly stuck in life.

What you need to realize is that life isn’t meant to be a straight line that goes from point A to point B.  Life is meant to be a series of zigs and zags.  It should look like a mess, but a beautiful mess.  It shows that you have changed throughout the course of your life.  You’ve had your ups and downs.  You went down one path, but decided to change course… perhaps on many occasions.

That’s how life should be.  Life is a continuous experience of independent present moments and choices.  So whatever situation you are in right now, just know that it can change if you want it to.

It’s up to you.  You just have to choose something new.

4.  It’s too late to start anything.

How old would you think you are if you didn’t know and couldn’t see yourself in the mirror?

Age is just a number.  What’s important is how you feel.

The only reason you think it’s too late to start is because that’s what you grew up believing.  You believe that you should have everything figured out in life before you reach 30, 40, 50, etc.  The older you get, the less opportunity you think you have to do something new.

You think that you have to cram everything in before the general retirement age of 65.  After that, it’s time to play golf, work on your garden, travel, and play with the grandkids.  This simply isn’t true.

If you’re determined to do something, it is never too late to start.  Here are some famous examples of people who started late.

  • Ray Croc was 59 years old when he bought out the McDonald’s brothers.  He turned it into an empire.
  • Stan Lee, creator of Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, and Iron Man was 40 when he began drawing these legendary superheroes.  He’s now 90 years old and makes a cameo in every movie based on his comic books.
  • Julia Child didn’t even learn to cook until she was almost 40 and didn’t launch her popular show until she was 50.
  • Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken was 66 when he began to promote his style of cooking and create an empire.

Can you imagine if anyone of them thought it was too late to start?  They wouldn’t have created their best life’s work.

Don’t let age stop you from going after your dreams.

5. Others will think what I’m doing is foolish.

You worry so much about other people’s opinion.  You’re afraid you will get laughed at.  You don’t want people to reject your ideas.  You don’t want to look like a fool.  What you need to realize now:  None of this matters.

At the end of your life when you look back, what you want to remember is a journey that makes you smile.  Regardless of what everyone else thinks of you, if you’ve followed your intuition and done your best, win or lose, you won’t regret a thing.

There have been so many crazy ideas that even the so-called experts thought was a bad idea.  That did not stop these people:

  • J.K. Rowling was penniless, recently divorced, and raising a child on her own.  She wrote the first Harry Potter book on an old manual typewriter.  Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript.  A year later she was given the green light by Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, who agreed to publish the book but insisted she get a day job cause there was no money in children’s books.  The series has sold 450 million copies and made J.K Rowling a billionaire.  So much for publishers who told her, “There’s no money in children’s books.”
  • Can you imagine a gentleman telling you he wants to build a massive theme park where families can spend time together in a hot Florida swamp?  You might not think it’s too crazy now.  However when Walt Disney wanted to build Disney World, he was rejected for financing over 300 times.
  • The Beatles were rejected by many record labels.  In a famously quoted rejection letter, a music label said, “Guitar groups are on the way out” and “the Beatles have no future in show business.”  Shortly thereafter the Beatles signed with EMI, brought Beatlemania to the United States, and became the most influential band in the history of rock and roll.

These are just three examples, but there are countless more.  Each person involved was ahead of his or her time, but they didn’t let other people’s opinions stop them.   There might be something you’ve always wanted to do, but haven’t because you’re worried about what others will think or of being rejected.  Let these stories inspire you to realize that good fortune favors the bold.

Final Thoughts

If you suffer from one or more of these false beliefs, it’s time to make a change.  When you were younger you didn’t believe these untruths, but as you’ve grown up they have been given more power simply because you have given them more attention.  By doing so, you have slowly become your own worst enemy.

Take back control of your life now.  You can do that by shattering these beliefs and choosing to take positive action today.

 

This article was written by Benny Hsu and is shared from the following website: http://www.marcandangel.com/2013/06/25/5-false-beliefs-that-are-holding-you-back/

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The D’s of Depression – Depend on God, Part 5

Be kind to you: Don’t bring up your past when you are here to  improve your Future

It may seem like the guidance that I have shared this week has nothing to do with depression…especially overcoming depression. However, depending on God and utilizing His guidance and instruction has everything to do with overcoming depression.

There is no better authority on you and no one who loves you as much as God does.

I don’t know that I know a single person who has suffered from depression who has not been guilty of running themselves too hard or who is not guilty of “beating themselves up”. Both scenarios are best handled through God’s guidance.

God can and will guide you if you need to be forgiven of some misdeed and He can help you learn to love yourself and take care of yourself.

If you are still looking for that magic pill that will make your depression go away without any soul-searching and work on your part – your search is going to be a long, long, long one.

As I began my own soul-searching and work to overcome my depression, it felt like God was taking a humble shack and trying to turn it into a skyscraper. At times, the process hurt and very often I did not like it. However, as always, God knew best. He helped me with the painful but necessary process a step at a time. He knew I couldn’t transform myself in one giant leap. He KNEW I could do it one step at a time. So can you!

It won’t always be pleasurable and it WILL be hard. And…it will be completely WORTH IT!

Our discussion on depression is not going away. We will talk more about it next week. Until then, I hope you will read more of the article I have been sharing this week by Rev. Mark D. Roberts. Have a wonderful weekend and be sure to share some compliments with yourself!:

Spiritual Guidance: For Whose Benefit?

In my last post in this series, I told the story of a woman named Eva who tested what she believed to be the Spirit’s guidance by stepping out in faith. Through doing this, she was able to bring God’s grace to a woman who was in a difficult place in her marriage.

Eva’s example illustrates another vital truth about spiritual guidance: it often comes, not for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others. Of course, as the Spirit enabled Eva to care profoundly for the woman on the phone, Eva herself felt gratitude well up in her heart. To be used by God is one of life’s greatest joys! But the guidance Eva received was not primarily for her own blessing. Rather, it was for the healing of another person who deeply needed to know God’s love in a time of personal crisis.

Without a doubt, the Holy Spirit guides us through the maze of our lives if we seek his direction. But sometimes we become so absorbed in seeking guidance for ourselves that we overlook one of the Spirit’s main reasons for speaking to us: so that we might minister to others. When we are prepared to hear God’s voice, we will often be led to care on a deep level for the people God places in our lives. Sometimes the Spirit will lead us by placing a burden on our hearts for a certain person or area of need. Sometimes we will receive even more specific guidance, as Eva did during her phone call. But no matter the precise quality of God’s direction, if we make ourselves available to him, he will lead us into his ministry and empower us for his purposes.

Notice that spiritual guidance both flourishes in the context of true fellowship among God’s people and also contributes to that fellowship. As you are led by the Spirit to care for others with compassion and insight, your relationships will become deeper and sweeter. The Lord will help you penetrate the guardedness that keeps us at a “safe” but superficial distance from each other.

Notice also something that has remained implicit throughout this conversation of spiritual guidance. Spiritual guidance comes, not only for our good and for the good of others, but ultimately for the good of God. The Spirit guides us so that we might “do the good things [God] planned for us long ago” (Eph 2:10), and these things are all part of his plan for the cosmos. As we walk in God’s will, we derive personal benefit. The people around us are blessed. But, even more significantly, God’s purposes are being fulfilled through us. As my friend Buddy says, “Guidance from God is also guidance for God.”

When you pray, “O Lord, please show me your will,” you are acknowledging that God has the right to direct your life. God is sovereign, not only over all creation, not only over all history, but over you. The King of kings and Lord of Lords has every right to govern you, and you ought to follow his guidance because of who he is.

But we seek and abide by God’s direction, not only because he is our Master and we are his servants, but also because God’s ways are the very best, both for him and for us. Even when God seems to guide us along treacherous paths, even when walking in his ways denies our thirst for instant gratification, even when obedience to his call requires sacrifice and suffering, we follow him because “we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them” (Rom 8:28). As we discover God’s purpose for our lives and as we walk in that purpose, he works in every part of our lives for our own good.

 

This truth about God reminds me of a wonderful scene from The Sound of Music. Maria had set her heart upon becoming a nun and was in the midst of her candidacy to join a religious order. But her ability to accept the disciplines of convent life was in question. So, the leader of the abbey, who exercised complete authority over Maria’s life, sent her away to serve as the governess for the incorrigible Von Trapp children. To Maria’s surprise and horror, she unintentionally fell in love with their father, Captain Von Trapp. Fleeing back to the safety of the abbey, Maria tried to bury her love for the captain, a love which would surely compromise her commitment to becoming a nun.

When the abbess finally gets Maria to talk about what happened at the Von Trapp home, the confused girl confesses her love for Captain Von Trapp. She begs the Reverend Mother for the opportunity to make her religious vows immediately, thereby removing forever the possibility of marrying the captain. But the abbess does a most surprising thing. Rather than accepting Maria into the holy order and protecting her from a marriage that would preclude her becoming a nun, the Reverend Mother orders Maria to return to the Von Trapp home. Disregarding Maria’s urgent pleas for admission to holy orders, she insists that Maria must test her love for the captain and thereby discover God’s will for her life.

Unhappily, Maria submits to the Reverend Mother’s command because she has no other choice. As a candidate for the abbey, Maria has submitted her life to the authority of the abbess. But we can see that this wise woman exercises her authority, not only for the good for her order, but for Maria’s good as well. Her guidance, however authoritative, is supremely wise and gracious, even though Maria cannot see it at the time.

So it with God’s guidance and our response. We obey God’s directions because we should. It’s the only right thing to do. But even when we can’t see how God’s ways are the best for us, they always are. Like the Reverend Mother, the Lord deserves our complete obedience. And, like the Reverend Mother, our gracious Heavenly Father guides us into the life of greatest fulfillment. When God directs us for his own purposes, we discover that his purposes include our blessing and joy.

This illustration from The Sound of Music helps us to see how obeying God can lead, not only to God’s good, but to our good as well. What it doesn’t capture is the miraculous and peculiar way God actually worked in the real life of the real Maria von Trapp.

Like the Reverend Mother who sent Maria back to the von Trapp family, God oftens “sends” us to places that don’t seem best to us. But, in fact, they are the best.

We can see this illustrated in the fictional version of the life of Maria von Trapp. But, in fact, her real life contained some striking examples of God’s unexpected guidance. Here’s an excerpt from the family history on the von Trapp website:

The movie strongly portrays Maria as the epitome of religious devotion in and out of convent life. Most people are unaware that she was raised as a socialist and atheist and became actively cynical towards all religions. Those beliefs quickly and dramatically changed by the chance meeting of a visiting Jesuit priest to Maria’s college.

Maria had entered a crowded church assuming she was about to enjoy a concert by Bach. Instead, a well known priest, Father Kronseder had just begun preaching. Caught in the middle of a standing-room-only crowd, Maria soon found herself caught up in the words of this preacher.

In Maria’s words, “Now I had heard from my uncle that all of these Bible stories were inventions and old legends, and that there wasn’t a word of truth in them. But the way this man talked just swept me off my feet. I was completely overwhelmed by it . . . .” When he finished his sermon and came down the pulpit stairs Maria grabbed his elbow and loudly asked, “Do you believe all this?”

A meeting between the priest and Maria changed her beliefs and the course of her life.

Though Maria was intensely devoted to her convent, she was taken away from the outdoor activities she once thrived on. Her doctor was concerned her health was failing due to a lack of fresh air and exercise. This was when the decision was made to send Maria to the home of retired naval captain Georg von Trapp. Her position was not governess to all the children, as the movie portrayed, but specifically to the captain’s daughter who was bedridden with rheumatic fever. The rest is truly history. Maria never returned to the convent and married the Captain on November 26, 1927. This is the story that has been made immortalized by The Sound of Music.

The von Trapp family began singing publicly, not because it was part of their escape from Austria to Switzerland, as in the movie, but as a result of what must have seemed like terrible misfortune to the von Trapps. When the family lost its wealth in the worldwide depression of the 1930s, they considered singing as a way of making money. At first the father was reticent, but according to one of his daughters, in the end he “accepted it as God’s will that they sing for others.” The family did indeed win first place at the Salzburg Music Festival in 1936, as depicted in the movie. And their singing was part of what helped them leave Austria, though without hiking over the mountains to Switzerland.

In the story of the real Maria von Trapp, we see how God uses circumstances, even apparently negative ones, to guide and bless and use his people. First, God led her to faith through her attendance at an evangelistic event that she mistakenly thought was going to be a concert. Second, her poor health in the convent was what led to her being assigned to the von Trapp family. And that which ended up bringing her family much acclaim, namely their professional singing, was something they did out of necessity when they lost their fortune.

Maria, by the way, remained a faithful Christian all of her life. In the 1950s she, along with her own children, Johannes and Rosmarie, and her stepdaughter Maria, went to New Guinea to do mission work there. Although Maria (senior) contracted malaria and didn’t remain in New Guinea for a long time, her children stayed on for several years, with Maria (junior) doing mission work in New Guinea for thirty years.

So the story of the real Maria von Trapp reminds us that God’s ways are not our ways, and that God’s guidance often comes packaged in unexpected forms. Yet he can use even the unexpected and the apparently negative both for our good and for his purposes.

How Does God Guide Us? Some Final Thoughts

In this series I’ve tried to show some of the ways that God guides us. I’ve explained that God guides us through:

• Circumstances
• Scripture
• Community
• Reason
• Dreams and Visions
• Divine Whispering
• Spiritual Direction

I suggested that we can confirm God’s guidance in various ways, especially through taking the risk of stepping out in faith. In my last posts, I showed that God’s guidance is not only for our benefit, but also for the sake of others, and especially for the sake of God’s own kingdom and glory.

I’ll finish up this series by responding to a couple of very practical questions that often hear as a pastor:

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?
My life is so busy, how can I find time to quiet my heart enough to hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper?

How can I learn to be guided by the Holy Spirit?

I have found that many people simply need to be aware of the different ways that the Holy Spirit can guide them. Some who have studied the Bible for years to gain theological knowledge never expected the Spirit to speak to them personally through the Scripture. Once they have this expectation, they realize that the Spirit had been whispering in their ears in the past, but they had dismissed this internal voice as nothing of significance. Now they are ready to be guided by the Spirit in a more personal way.

Let me emphasize again that spiritual guidance must be evaluated for its consistency with Scripture. Moreover, we all need to be in close fellowship with other Christians who can help us to discern God’s directions for our lives. If you want to be guided by the Spirit and not simply to claim divine status for your own inclinations, commit yourself to Bible study and to active involvement in Christian community.

Remember that spiritual guidance often comes, not primarily for our sake, but for the sake of others. As you seek God’s will, ask him to show you how to serve those around you. Make yourself available to do God’s will, to participate in his work in the world. Submission to the Lord is a crucial ingredient of your readiness to hear his voice.

Finally, the practice of spiritual disciplines helps to tune our ears to the voice of the Spirit. As you spend time reading and meditating upon the Scripture, praying, journaling, taking time to be alone with God, being silent for extended times, worshiping publicly and privately, and fasting, your heart will be prepared for hearing God’s voice. If these disciplines — or even the word “discipline” — are unfamiliar to you, let me recommend a couple of marvelous books: The Spirit of the Disciplines, by Dallas Willard (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1988) and A Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth, 3rd edition (San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1998).

Today’s inspiring article was written by Rev. Mark D. Roberts and is shared from the following website: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markdroberts/series/how-does-god-guide-us/

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