Overcoming Discouragement

I’ve learned from a very dear friend, (you know who you are DC) that often “borrowed wisdom” is the most profound. Therefore, it is with great joy that I share a bit of Rick Warren’s wisdom with you today. I hope you enjoy!

“Then the people of Judah said, ‘The work crews are worn out, and there is too much rubble. We can’t continue to rebuild the wall.’” (Nehemiah 4:10 GWT)

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued. You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you’re discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated. Nehemiah says there was rubble all around, so much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

Third, you think you’ve failed. Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned and, as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, “We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall.”

But you know what I do when I don’t reach a goal on time? I just set a new goal. I don’t give up. Everybody fails. Everybody does foolish things. So the issue is not that you failed; it’s how you respond to your failure.

Do you give in to self-pity? Do you start blaming other people? Do you start complaining that it’s impossible? Or, do you refocus on God’s intentions and start moving again?

Finally, when you give in to fear, you get discouraged. Nehemiah 4 suggests the people most affected by fear are those who hang around negative people. If you’re going to control the negative thoughts in your life, you’ve got to get away from negative people as much as you can.

Maybe you’re discouraged because of fear. You’re dealing with fears like, “I can’t handle this. It’s too much responsibility.” Maybe it’s the fear that you don’t deserve it or the fear of criticism. Fear will destroy your life if you let it. But you can choose to resist the discouragement. Say, “God, help me get my eyes off the problem and the circumstance and keep my eyes on you.”

Talk It Over

  • Rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God has called you to do. What is the rubble in your life?
  • How can you reduce negativity in your life that is keeping you discouraged?
  • On what abandoned goal do you need to refocus so that you can accomplish something God has called you to do?

Borrowed Wisdom from Rick Warren

“Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” (Numbers 14:3 NLT)

In 1979 I was finishing up seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and I felt like God was calling me to Southern California to start Saddleback Church. So I phoned a guy that I respected a lot and told him what I thought God wanted me to do.

You know what he told me? “Rick, that’s the dumbest idea I ever heard. You go out to California, and you’ll never be heard from again. It’s not going to happen.” He poured cold water all over my dream!

Any time you get serious about using your life the way God wants you to use it, there are going to be people who oppose it. You’re going to have friends and maybe even family members who oppose you, because Satan is going to throw everything he can at you to keep you from fulfilling your calling. One reason why so few people actually fulfill God’s calling is because they are unwilling to go against popular opinion.

If you want to follow God’s calling on your life, you must be willing to reject negative advice, no matter who it comes from.

The Bible says in Numbers 14:2-3, “Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. ‘If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!’ they complained. ‘Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?’” (NLT) When faced with difficult circumstances, the Israelites decided they actually preferred slavery to freedom because it was safe. Rather than following God and doing what he had called them to do, they wanted to go back to their old way of life.

But one of their leaders, Caleb, had uncommon courage. He decided he was going to face the challenges with God’s help, even if he was scared. He was ready to reject negative advice in order to follow God’s calling.

In fact, Caleb didn’t just receive negative advice. Numbers 14:10 says, “The whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the LORD appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle.”

I love the fact that God’s presence saved Caleb and Joshua. That will happen in your life, too. Pioneers always get the arrow in the back. You’ve got to determine now to reject negative advice if you’re going to go after God’s calling in your life.

Talk It Over

  • What slavery are you willing to go back to rather than move forward and take a risk?
  • When you evaluate the advice you’ve received lately from people you love and trust, how much of it helps you move in the direction of your calling? How much of it is negative advice?
  • Why is it so difficult sometimes to go against popular opinion or the advice of our friends?

I’ve just returned from traveling and I’m doing my best to get my feet under me again. Pardon the “cheat” as I borrow some wisdom from an excellent preacher. I hope you enjoy this devotional by Rick Warren.

Walking, Hearing Voices

I’ve set my ONE WORD this year as: Walk, and we’ll talk about that much in the coming weeks. It might even be the seed of a new book germinating (very deeply and slowly) in my heart.

At the end of 2013, God brought several new voices into my life. I’d heard the echoes of two of them many times, but only began to recognize their wisdom recently. The other one I’m sharing with you today is a new friend, and in coming weeks you’ll get to “sit” down with Brenna Kate Simonds and get to know her personally.

But, these are the voices of a couple of people I plan to walk with this year.

C.S. Lewis: “You do not have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.”

Rick Warren: “For change to happen in any area of your life, whether it’s financial, vocational, educational, mental, or relational, you have to begin with the physical.

Why? Because your body affects your behavior. Your muscles affect your moods and your motivation. Your physiology can actually affect your psychology.”

Brenna Kate Simonds: Wherever you go, there you are.

Have you ever thought about what this really means? We get so focused on changing our external circumstances that we forget this simple truth: Most external issues flow out of internal issues. So no matter where you go or how much weight you lose, inside you are still you. If we don’t allow God to change the internal, changing the externals will not have the hoped-for result. We will experience the same trials, the same struggles, the same unhelpful thought patterns. We will do the same thing again and again and expect different results.

Obviously, these voices span the ages, but there is wisdom in each. Throughout this year, as you “walk” with me, I will introduce you to many other voices that will influence us to walk in the freedom that Christ purchased for us.

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light.” Eph. 5:8

Excerpt from “Almost Nothing” (recent addition) :)

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says, “The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness (and I might add, your health). It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions.”

I have discovered, in my own walk toward complete freedom from anorexia, that true recovery wasn’t so much about me, my issues, my family, my illness, my health, my fitness, my bone density, my depression, my happiness, my weight or even my future, but true freedom was found only by looking away from myself, upward to my Savior and outward toward those He has called me to love. 

“I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” Ps. 121:1-2

Purpose Driven Life