The SCOTUS, Jesus, and Marriage.

How should a Christian respond?

On Thursday of last week the SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) ruled 5-4 that same-sex marriage is a new civil right for the entire country.  It was a huge victory for the LGBT community who for 46 years have been pursuing equality in marriage.  For many who hold tight to traditional marriage values it was a seismic blow.  How should a Christian respond?

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Do you care about the ruling the SCOTUS has brought down?  How has it made you feel?  If one takes a peak at Facebook you would no doubt get differing opinions from everyone.  Perhaps you have ran across an old high school friend who you thought had a different view from the one they had when they were in high school and now their profile picture is covered by a rainbow.  Maybe you are just seething by the ruling and thinking about moving to another country, or maybe go underground and live out your days in isolation protecting your family from the big bad evil progressive culture, or simply go mainstream with a “if you can’t beat ’em join ’em attitude”.  Maybe you are elated about the ruling and finally feel the country is headed in the right direction, finally a #lovewins time.  Or maybe you just don’t care at all.  What should a Christian’s response be to the SCOTUS ruling on same sex marriage?

I was talking to my son and said, “The SCOTUS 5-4 ruling will surely make being Christian uncool which is not necessarily a negative thing at all.”  I asked him if he agreed with the ruling?  He said, “Honestly Dad I don’t care about the ruling either way.  I don’t agree with it but I really don’t care.”  He said, “Segregation used to be the law but it didn’t make it right.”

Here are some of my thoughts on the matter.  I am of the opinion that there is a lot of good that can come of this.  I look forward to having great conversations with people.  I think this has caused a door to open for honest and profound spiritual discussions.  We are living in electric times.  God is not sitting in a rocking chair biting his finger nails, wringing His hands and worried over what is happening in the US.  God is still in control and has a story to share.  He wants Christians to share that story of a Creator’s love and live it out daily.  I also believe that Jesus’ example of sacrificial love is a good example to follow.  He would never bash an LGBT person because of their beliefs and desires.  He would want to be around them.  He would love to dialogue with them.  Here is God’s story of how a loving Creator has made a way for all people to have a relationship with Him:

  1. God is a loving creator who at the pinnacle of His creation, created man in His image and for a personal relationship based on free will.
  2. All people have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 2:10-20; 3:23).  Instead of choosing to have a relationship with God, we scorned his pursuit.
  3. Separation from God is the consequence of sin, the Bible calls death separation (Isaiah 59:2, Romans 6:23).
  4. Even though His love was scorned by people, at the point of scorn and when we were turning our backs on Him, he was making the choice of becoming sin for us by sacrificing Himself on the cross (Romans 5:8).
  5. His perfect life and sacrificial death is the solution for our sin problem.  Sin is anything we think, say, or do that doesn’t honor or please God.
  6. We can know God if we, by faith, choose to accept the gift of God which is his gift of eternal life and knowing God personally (Romans 10:9-10).  Faith is a choice anyone can make.  It is not the amount of faith a person has that is important but the object of that faith.

The reason there is so much passion behind this particular ruling is due to what many see as a clear standard for marriage coming from Jesus himself.  It matters greatly what Jesus thinks about marriage.  He thinks that the design of marriage is as old as creation itself in Mark 10:6-9:

But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

A man and a woman coming together in marital emotional, relational, physical, and spiritual union is the design of God.  This was His plan; not same-sex connections.  Piper wrote, “For those who have forsaken God’s path of sexual fulfillment, and walked into homosexual intercourse or heterosexual extramarital fornication or adultery, Jesus offers astonishing mercy in 1 Corinthians 6:11:

Such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

I’m not making this stuff up.  God’s design has become outdated to our current culture’s sexual ethic. In fact, if one believes the Bible, they will be labeled a bigot and a social pariah.  So what is a Christian to do?  My prediction is that being a Christian will begin to be a little tougher.  I think the Church in America will begin to get purified and claiming allegiance to Christ will have a cost related to it.  In Texas, where I live, Christianity can sometimes be a fashion statement.  I don’t think that bedazzled crosses on hats and shirts will stop selling but as the culture continues to move away from biblical standards Christians will be forced to make a stance and that stance might cost them relationships, business ties, and possible litigation.  I have thought for about 4 years now that those who oppose Church and conservative values have been trying to take away the 501(c)(3) status.  That may happen and if it does one will have to figure out why they are giving to a Church or faith based ministry in the first place.  There will be a cost to following Christ.  I think that is a good thing.

One last thing about parenting and family.  If your family holds to a biblical sexual ethic then it is important to communicate to your kids what the Bible says and why your family believes it.  Ultimately, each child will have to make up their own minds.  A liberal, progressive, sexual ethic is going to be around for a long time.  But there has never been a time in any culture where it has been easy to stand for Christ now is not the time to stick your head in the sand.  It is the time to enter into dialogue with all kinds of people, share your story and God’s story and educate your kids to why you believe what you believe.

The Controlling Leader Shall Inhibit the Earth

Thoughts from Hans Finzel Chapel Message 5 Years ago

John 13:1-3 is the Foundation for servant leadership.  What He knew is the key to this Foundation.  He knew He was God.  He could have been waited on hand and foot.  He was always in control!  He was the only one who had the right to be a dictator.  Yet he was willing to give up his control.  He laid his control aside and picked up a towel and washed feet.  That is servant leadership.

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John 13:4-11 The Demonstration

Foot washing was as common as taking someone’s coat at the door of a house in homes that have butlers or maids.  The servant of the home washed the dirty feet of guests (servants were not admired in those days).  Jesus’ disciples did not understand servant-hood at all.  These men just argued amongst themselves on who they thought the greatest was among them.  This is not something that could continue if the Kingdom of God was going to be established through these men.  Apparently there was no servant present to wash feet and so the feet were unwashed.  Jesus seized the moment and made a lasting impression for all time of one of the most powerful pictures of servant leadership.  He got down on his knees and washed the disciples feet.  If you have ever had your feet washed by someone great it is an extremely humbling experience.  What makes this demonstration so ridiculous is the fact that Jesus knew God was giving all things into His hands and that he had come from God and was going back to God (13:3).  He only has a few hours left and he washes feet. 

John 13:12-17 The Explanation

Jesus asks if they understand why He did this.  Was he trying to get them to make foot washing a standard of ministry often?  Was he trying to make foot washing a great idea sometimes but live a life of servant hood often?  Was he only saying that servant hood attitude is paramount to being a part of God’s Kingdom?  Some people connect foot washing with communion.  However, foot washing never comes back up.  I tend to think Jesus is giving us an example to serve all people, even those we think are below us.  Do you want to make an impact with those around you?  Be like Jesus and serve them.

Bringing it to the Marketplace

There are some great applications for life in this story.  How would a boss or an employee of a company practice servant leadership?  Here are some Characteristics of Servant Leadership that can be applied today at your place of work.

Listening.  Servant-leaders seek to identify and clarify the will of the group and/or the individual.  Not only must you hear what is being said, you have to notice what’s not being said.  Prideful leaders don’t want to listen at all.

Awareness. You must be aware of the people, situations, feelings, strengths, and weaknesses of those around you.  You must be aware of all of those things about yourself.  Being aware of people is a difficult task for leaders who are driven by thinking and strategy.  A servant leader is able to take a step back and be aware of those around them.

Persuasion.  This offers the clearest distinction between an authoritarian, fear-based leader and that of servant-leader. Persuasion is typically seen as a bad word, but not from the mouth of a humble person.  Servant-leaders seek to convince others and build the team.   Consider persuasion as the ability to open another person’s eyes to possibilities they had not considered.  Be careful of running over people in your attempts to persuade.

Stewardship.  Stewardship is the art of taking care of stuff.  This could be stewarding the team as well caring for the equipment and related finances.  For finances and equipment care don’t forget what your Dad used to say, “Take care of your stuff son!”  Taking care of yours and others stuff is a humbling job.  But never forget it is all God’s anyways.

Commitment to the Growth of People.  Growth is not just technical in nature.  Consider their personal growth and spiritual growth as well.  A servant leader will consider the life work balance of all on their team.  You need to decide how you can do that best for each person on your team.  Servant leaders greatly hunger to see people around them growing.

Building Community.  It takes a servant leader to model and persuade a team of people to be together.  A community of people working together to accomplish a goal is inspiring and motivating to everyone.

Sunday Morning Reflections

Sunday Morning June 28, 2015

Seismic shifts in our country have taken place based on the Supreme Court’s rulings recently.  I will be putting out a blog post with my thoughts in a few days (You can subscribe to my blog by adding your email address to the Subscribe tab just on the right of this page, when I post you will get that post in your email inbox).  I am not the guy that responds immediately.  I am learning new things every new day and my hope in the Church building the Kingdom of God is growing each day since the SCOTUS ruling.  I do see change ahead for the Church in the US.  About 5 years ago, I began sensing that the Church’s influence, or the way we were doing Church, was not having the same effect as years before.  I had the sense then that the progressive cultural heroes wanted to go after the Church’s 501 (c)(3) status for charitable giving (that is those who give to church’s could take a tax deduction from it).  Church plants would uniquely be positioned to survive if this was reality.  Let’s pray that God continues to use 290 Community Church to be ones who focus on building God’s Kingdom in God’s way.

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One of the ways I am getting excited about the building of God’s Kingdom is through the Equipping Series.  I am writing blog posts concerning the different messages we have had so far in this series (How Does the Kingdom of God Grow?  How do we Enter Empty Fields? How do we Talk about Jesus?).  You can also check out iTunes and subscribe to the 290 Community Church Podcast feed by searching through the iTunes Podcast Store under 290 Community Church in order to hear messages on these topics.

Have you LIKED our Facebook page?  You can go and LIKE it here. You can also encourage your friends to LIKE the page also.  Please consider rating 290 Community Church also on that page.

I don’t know what it was about Brad Greenstreet and Don Miller’s testimony last night but it really got me excited.  Would it not be great to have a weekly quick story of how 290 CC folks entering the Fields of their neighborhoods, workplaces, establishments, etc.  I appreciated their humility and dependence on Jesus.  It really inspired me to seek to build God’s Kingdom as well as a sower who sows seed.

Last night we talked about God’s Story the Gospel.  This is the best news ever.  I was so excited about the illustrations about Justification, do you remember the Rolls Royce one?

Dr. Roy Gustafson has the finest illustration of justification I have ever heard. It seems that there was a man in England who put his Rolls-Royce on a boat and went across to the continent to go on a holiday. While he was driving around Europe, something happened to the motor of his car. He cabled the Rolls-Royce people back in England and asked, “I’m having trouble with my car; what do you suggest I do?” Well, the Rolls-Royce people flew a mechanic over! The mechanic repaired the car and flew back to England and left the man to continue his holiday. As you can imagine, the fellow was wondering, “How much is this going to cost me?” So when he got back to England, he wrote the people a letter and asked how much he owed them. He received a letter from the office that read:  Dear Sir: There is no record anywhere in our files that anything ever went wrong with a Rolls-Royce.” That is justification.

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For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

We were all honored with two missionary families in attendance, the Browns from Tunisia and the Eberles from Niger.  The night was electric as Bethany Squared (Bethany Lehman and Bethany Eggelston hosted us).

 

Highlights from 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership

Quotes that got Highlighted

7 Deadly Sins of Leadership has been a rather good read.  Very simple in its approach.  Here are some quotes that have stood out.

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Introduction of the Book-

Ignorance is a death sentence for any leader as it eliminates the option to take action effectively (on Kindle- Location 77).

The Chapter on Gluttony-

The leader finds excessive complexity more useful and satisfying than effective simplicity (p. 3 Location 154).

N0 Delegation- under Gluttony-

Great leaders use delegation as a time management tool for themselves and as a development tool for their team (p. 5 Location 154).

Remember we are looking for flexible ways to maintain control.  One of those is to set deadlines for our team well before the actual deadline which allows us time to review work and determine if anything needs to be reworked, adjusted or added. (p. 14 location 267).

The Chapter on Pride-

A humble leader does not necessarily think less of themselves, but they think of themselves less (p. 33 location 498).

Never Listens – under Pride-

Listening is like oxygen for a leader.  Without it, their team cannot survive and thrive (p. 37 location 538).

Poor Hiring and Promoting- under Pride-

A great leader strives to make themselves obsolete by grooming the next leader from within the team (p. 61 location 912).

Which Workout Program Do You Prefer? POLL

Physical Training is of Some Value...(1 Timothy 4:8) Take the Poll Below

I have really enjoyed trying to get in and stay in shape.  I have always been an over achiever as it relates to athletics and working out.  I ran 2 marathons in 2010 and cut 26 minutes off of the second one from the first.  However, I am getting older.  My boys remind me of that often.  I do not want to fade off into the sunset years all flabby and out of shape.  I find that working out actually does a ton of good for me (and it would do these same for you):

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  • It provides energy.
  • It gives me a sense of accomplishment.
  • It gives me a goal to shoot for.
  • I can attempt to keep up with my boys in their activities.
  • I can walk several miles a day in NYC and not get tired.
  • It stimulates brain waves.
  • It allows me to sleep great.
  • It makes me happy.
  • It makes my wife happy.

Do you work out?  Have you tried different work out regimens?  Which one do you like best?  Please choose below on this poll with your vote and leave a comment.

 

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The 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership: And How to Overcome Them in Yourself and Others (2014)

Every leader will encounter the good, bad, and ugly aspects of human nature and behavior. Both in themselves and others that they rub shoulders. In the 7 Deadly Sins of Leadership, Morrissey sets out to give insight and provide a plan for dealing with each of the “sins”. He does it in three ways; each chapter has a self-assessment (ignorance is a death sentence for any leader as it eliminates the option to take action effectively), an understanding the behavior section (each leadership sin manifests itself in certain behaviors, each chapter deals with these separately), and a taking action section (once we have laid the groundwork for understanding ourselves and our behavior, we can take steps to becoming a more effective leader).  Finally, he offers the “grey area.”  Use with caution as the suggestion may be a bit risky.   Morrissey is quick to say that some of the book may or may not relate to each person but he leaves a caveat, if you don’t relate now, beware you may in the future. This is a resource that can be revisited throughout one’s career.  The chapter titles are:

  1. Gluttony– No Delegation.  Micromanagement. Refusal to Simplify.
  2. Pride– Never Listens. Lacks Trust.  Poor Hiring & Promoting.
  3. Greed– Money Focus, Indecisive with No Priorities, Lack of Communication.
  4. Lust– Lack of Follow Through, Short-Term Focus, Constant Reorganization.
  5. Sloth– Lies, Focus on Little Things, No Passion, No Creativity,
  6. Envy– Perfectionist, Irrational Comparison.
  7. Wrath– Anger, Prohibit Mistakes & Foster Blame, Focus on Negative.

As I work through this book, I will be providing updates.  So far it is a great read, very simple.  There is a list in Proverbs 6:16-19 that captures the essence of these sins, the closest New Testament parallel is found in Galatians 5:19-20.  The 7 Deadly Sins came from Pope Gregory in the 6th Century.  These became cemented into Catholic Church doctrine ever since.   So far the origins of the 7 Deadly sins have not been brought up in this book.  This is a management/leadership book from a secular perspective using these 7 Deadly Sins terminology.

How Should a Christian Respond to Racism?

What is the core of Racism?

Here are 7 Bible verses that deal directly or indirectly with Racism.  Anyone can read these verses and make some initial conclusions about race and showing partiality.  It seems like every day we are met with a fresh round of news based on a racially motivated action.  The latest shooting in Charleston, SC has truly sickened me.  After you read these verses below, you can bet that it makes God sick also.

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Proverbs 22:2The rich and the poor have a common bond, The LORD is the maker of them all.
Proverbs 24:2- These also are sayings of the wise: To show partiality in judgment is not good.
Acts 10:28- And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.
Acts 10:34-35Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.
Romans 10:12-13- For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call on Him; for “WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.”
James 2:9- But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors.
1 John 2:11- But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
It is absolutely clear that racism is not at all in the mind,  heart, or will of God.  He sees and loves all people equally.  Every race matters to God.  As Christians, we should love and see all people as equal.  The billionaire who lives on their own island is not more accepted in God’s eyes than the poor mooch on the street corner in New York City.  Money does not make us more acceptable to God.  Our skin color does not make us more acceptable to God either.  In fact, all of history will culminate in an amazing worship service of multi-culturalism.  The book of Revelation paints the picture vividly:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev 7:9-10)!
Yet we still have racism.  It abounds.  It is a label and a platform.  Where does racism come from?
Racism was first uttered as a word actually in 1902 according to the Oxford English Dictionary by Richard Henry Pratt in a NPR article.  Pratt said, “Segregating any class or race of people apart from the rest of the people kills the progress of the segregated people or makes their growth very slow. Association of races and classes is necessary to destroy racism and classism.”  Unfortunately Pratt was known more for this vastly different phrase about destroying the American Indian, “Kill the Indian…save the man!”  What he meant by the idea of Killing the Indian was Kill the Indian in a person and the person would be saved.  He believed the only good Indian is a dead Indian.  Racism has been alive for thousands of years.  Isaac and Ishmael were sons of Abraham, one from Sarah and one from Hagar, two races were formed.  Moses led a race of people out of Egypt after 400 years of slavery.  Can you imagine the challenge a Jewish man had in believing that God was the creator and was powerful to save?  Imagine the fear that must have been in the heart of Ishmael or the people of God.  Or recently among the Indians, the African American slaves, and the Jews. 

Acts 17:26 is clear, God made all races and determined where they should live but why?  Check out a broader context:

 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place,  that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.
 Yes God is close to each one of us.  Pray that many will seek God and find their way back to God.
Racism comes from fear of people who are different.  Although Evolutionists want to push the correlation of racism and evolutionary thought aside, the truth is it may have its roots here.  The subtitle of Darwin’s Origin of Species reads, “The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.” Whether Darwin was meaning human race or different animal species means little when the disciples of Darwin espoused his thinking.  One of Darwin’s bulldogs, Thomas Huxley wrote:
No rational man, cognizant of the facts, believes that the average negro is the equal, still less the superior, of the white man. And if this be true, it is simply incredible that, when all his disabilities are removed, and our prognathous relative has a fair field and no favour, as well as no oppressor, he will be able to compete successfully with his bigger-brained and smaller-jawed rival, in a contest which is to be carried out by thoughts and not by bites.
How should a Christian respond?
  1. Understand that fear lives in the heart of all people.  Pray for love to cast that fear out.
  2. Understand that God does not love you more than those who are different than you.
  3. Repent of your own racism in your heart.
  4. Pray that God receives the greatest glory due to Him by receiving worship from every race of people.
  5. Intentionally seek out friendships with folks that don’t look like you.
  6. Understand that when we all put down our cultural similarities and worship God as one it shows that God is the most amazing object of all.

290 CC Encouragement of NYFLO Team

In all my years of ministry and after leading dozens of trips, I have never recalled ever getting a video to encourage a team on mission.  But that is exactly what was done to the New York FLO team this past week.  So thankful for a church that cares for those who go out.  Encouragement is the oxygen of the soul and empowers folks on mission.

Our vision is to Drink deep of Christ, Flow to others from neighborhoods to nations.

We are seeking to be focused deeply and consistently at becoming a ministry of discipleship of neighborhoods and nations.

Here is that wonderful video- it gave me goose bumps the first time I watched it.

Sunday Morning Reflections 6.21.2015

Happy Fathers and Fathered Day Edition

Awesome night of sharing last night.  I think it will be loaded onto the website and iTunes soon.  I did like the new set up and we will do it again next week to see if it works for a Gathering that has a preaching time in it.

Happy Father’s Day…it is not happy for everyone due to having a bad dad growing up.  You may not have known your dad much or about his background. Most dads want to do their best but they lacked the resources given to them.  Other dads are so nervous about not getting it wrong they simply are paralyzed. If you have a chance may I suggest you ask your dad these simple questions:

1.  Tell me a little bit about your dad? Was he a good man? Did you guys get along? Same questions for his mom?
2. Did you know that your parents loved one another?
3.  Did your parents easily verbalize their love for you?  Did you remember many hugs and kisses or was it more of a physical commitment, not talking abuse here at all, but the emotional connection was lacking however their was a strong commitment to you nonetheless.

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Here’s a picture of my Dad…I love this guy.

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I love it when he grandFather’s my boys.

As children we are created to be cared for and hugged and love.  Where that is lacking it can be replaced by God’s love but the Father hole will always be there.

It will never be too late to seek connection with your daddy.  I’m thankful for my Dad in so many ways. As I write this I remember having that talk with him as a young 22 or year old.  The answers revealed so much.  My love and respect for him sky rocketed.  There’s nothing like a connection with your Dad.  I guess that is why I grieve when I know it is lacking in some men.  But if it lacks we have a Father in heaven that loves us deeply.  1 John 3:1 says, “behold what love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called sons of God.”  SO HAPPY FATHERED DAY!

I am very excited about the Equipped series.  If you missed any in the series please go listen to them at our iTunes account. Just go to the iTunes Store and search under Podcasts 290 Community Church.

I think I’ll be watching golf today.

Please host a Rock the Block ministry in your neighborhood.  It is a great way to minister to kids and their families.  There will be a June 27 training just before The Gathering.

 

The Dreaded PMS- Post Ministry/Mission Syndrome

How to survive "the blues" after an intense ministry time.

Stress!

We often think of stress as all bad.  When one says, “I’m stressed” it normally points to a looming exam, job conflict, or time crunch.  That kind of stress is the bad kind of stress.  But there is a stress that comes from good and exciting and fruitful times, like a wonderful mission trip.  Bad stress is called distress and good stress is called eustress, another name for good stress is adrenaline.  I have written a short review on a book that changed the way I think about adrenaline and stress here.  Some people live on adrenaline.  They thrive on it and it is really good and keeps us productive for a time.  That is why after an intense time at work it is good to take a break.  After a long time of ministry it is good to just stop and relax and reflect.  Many people talk about having the blues after a long trip such as a mission trip where one is thrust out of comfort zones, living in close quarters, seeking God with intensity.  The blues are a gift of God.

The truth is our bodies don’t really know the difference between good stress and bad stress.  If not dealt with properly, over a long period of time, good or bad stress may lead to lack of focus, lower immunity for blocking simple sicknesses, aches and pains and more stress.  There are ways to cope:

  • Eat a good diet
  • Exercise frequently
  • Back off from the stressor (know your stress triggers)
  • Do something absolutely different for a break
  • Take a nap or simply try and relax
  • Don’t self-medicate
  • Pursue God through prayer, reading the Bible, and journaling.  Other great stress reducers are silence, solitude and prayer walking.

New Yorkers instinctively know that being with people, around people, all the noises and commotion and confusion will eventually lead to stress.  That is why they love Central Park.

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