Overwhelmed: How to Deal with How you Feel #3

Acceptance

Acceptance covers such a large range of feelings for everyone. From the time we enter our first day of school as a child until we take our last breath, our life is filled with the question of acceptance. I can remember my first day of school; I was left by my dad in this big room with about thirty kids and a woman I didn’t know. The feelings I felt in that room didn’t last long, but I would face my own insecurities and the need for approval again many times in later years.  Throughout life we are required to interact with other humans in many different kinds of settings and for many of us the need for approval becomes overwhelming at times – especially if we have a difficult time accepting ourselves.

The fact is, I am not perfect. I began my journey in this life with imperfections. It seems like life has made it an aim to point out all of my imperfections and to make sure that I know how imperfect I am. The only comfort is the fact that no one is born perfect nor lives a perfect life. The Apostle Paul said it this way, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

What I need is unconditional acceptance. You don’t find that very often, if not ever, during this journey of life. That is why the best and really only starting point for acceptance is knowing and understanding that we are accepted by our Creator. “We can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place” (Hebrews 10:19-20 NLT).

In the Old Testament the Most Holy Place was where God’s presence was and only the High Priest could go in. “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him” (v.21).

Nothing that you have ever done or that’s ever happened to you could ever cause you not to be accepted by God. Why? Because of the blood of Jesus Christ you are accepted by God and accepted in God’s family.

One of the tags the world tries to put on the church is that we are judgmental and not accepting of broken people. That is so untrue. God’s house is a place for  everybody and anybody. We have always said that the church is a “hospital where sick people are being healed.” It is a “body and fender shop where a bunch of wrecks are being worked on.”  The church is a place for me, for you, and for all of us. Here are a few things the Hebrews writer gives us:

1. You are Welcome in God’s house.

Hebrews 10:21 says, “And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him.”  We are welcome in God’s house. That’s where, Jesus says, we are brothers and sisters. Have you ever heard the phrase: “He ain’t heavy. He’s my brother?” To brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, you ain’t heavy.  You have a need?  Hey, we can help.  Hebrews 10:22 says, “For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.”

Someone else may look at you or me and see only our flaws. But when God sees us he sees us  through the blood of Jesus. God told the Prophet Samuel “God does not look on the outward appearance. He looks on the heart.”  (1 Samuel 16:7) You are accepted by God no matter what.

2. Become an Encourager to others.

The Hebrews writer continues with, “Discover creative ways to encourage others and to motivate them toward acts of compassion, doing beautiful works as expressions of love” (10:24).  Create new ways?  In other words, I can’t stay in the place of feeling unaccepted, alone and isolated.  If I am willing to move out of my place of anxiety, depression or hurt and find  creative ways to encourage someone else.  How will that help me? Oh! You will be surprised how encouraging someone will awaken new life  within you.

3. Spread a little Love around.

A country  songwriter said it like this,
Sometimes this crazy world can make us all feel bad
I sit and watch the news and just get mad
We need to stop and smell the roses in the ground
So get out today, you spread a little love around

Talk to a neighbor, volunteer a favor
Help out a stranger when his car’s broke down
Give your wife a kissin’,  when your kids talk, listen
It makes a lovely sound, spread a little love around

4. Just start by Getting Together with someone.

“This is not the time to pull away and neglect meeting together, as some have formed the habit of doing, because we need each other! In fact, we should come together even more frequently, eager to encourage and urge each other onward . . .”  (v25).  So,  “don’t pull away.”  Please, do not neglect meeting together.  Get with someone today. See what God will do for you in return.

Listen to the audio messages, Overwhelmed here. 

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Larry Neville

Overwhelmed: How to Deal with How you Feel #2


The Troubled Heart

This past week Janet and I went to see the movie, “Unbroken: Path to Redemption.”  This move begins where the fist Unbroken movie ends, sharing the next amazing chapter of Olympian and World War II hero Louis Zamperini’s true story. During WWII his plane was shot down in the Pacific, Louis and Russell Phillips, the pilot, miraculously survived 47 days in a raft only to be captured by the Japanese. The ultimate story is that he was tortured by a Japanese officer they nicknamed: “The Bird”.  The first movie ends with Louie returning to a hero’s welcome home at the end of WWII.  I had already read his life story in the book, “Unbroken” by Laura Hillenbrand, so I knew that was only half of his troubling story. 

This second movie picked up where the other one left off and shows how he was tormented by nightmares and mental problems after the war. The only help Louis found was in alcohol. The only way he could sleep was when he was drunk. His life was falling apart, and his marriage was almost over when his wife Cynthia was invited to the 1949 Billy Graham meeting in Los Angles. After she had been a few times, she finally convinced Louis to attend with her. The first time Louis went, he ran out of the service at the altar call. She convinced him to attend again and he finally surrendered his life to Jesus. The movie shows him going home that night and pouring all the alcohol he had into the kitchen sink. Later he went to a Japanese military prison and forgave his captors who were facing trial for war crimes.  At the end of the movie they had the real Louis who was in his 90s at the time testify and he said that he never took another drink of alcohol after that night and never had another nightmare. He spent the rest of his life traveling and sharing his testimony about Jesus.

As I was preparing to share a message this past Sunday on, “Overwhelmed: How to Deal with How You Feel.” I had worked all week and had my notes ready when I went to bed Saturday night. After a few hours I could not sleep. That is unusual for me as I normally don’t have any problem sleeping except when I have jet-lag from a long trip. So, when I can’t sleep It is usually the Holy Spirit wanting to talk to me. It’s like I feel the Holy Spirit saying, come-on get up I want some time with you. So about three AM I got up and as soon as I began to pray, I felt the Holy Spirit say these words to me:

 “Tell the people about Jesus. The only true source of peace is Jesus.”

Then the Holy Spirit gently brought this scripture to my mind, first John chapter fourteen and verse one, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.”  I just sat there in the quite of the early morning and I felt like Jesus was there just as he was when he shared these words with his disciples the night he was betrayed.

Please take a moment right now and say this, “Don’t let  your heart be troubled.” My dear friend, that is the Holy Spirit speaking to you right now.

These words impressed me so deeply, “The troubled heart”

Jesus had just told them he was going to be betrayed, suffer, and go away. He’s washed their feet and shared the Passover Last Supper with them. I’m sure they felt, overwhelmed. Then he says those precious words to them, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled.” Don’t let what I have told you or what is about to happen trouble you. Then he said, “Trust in God, and trust also in me.”

There it is — trust also in me.  

That is what Louis Zamperini experienced at the Billy Graham meeting.  He was Italian Catholic, he believed in God. His wife believed in God. But, they did not know Jesus. If you believe in God without a personal relationship with Jesus,  all you really have is dead religion. The disciples believed in God before they met Jesus but all they had was religion. Jesus tells his own disciples, “you believe in God, believe also in me.”  Even though you may be entering into some very troubling experiences, your heart does not have to be troubled.

Jesus ties the troubled heart to a promise.

”There are many dwelling places in my Father’s house. Otherwise, I would have told you, because I am going away to make ready a place for you.  And if I go and make ready a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me, so that where I am you may be too” (John 14:2-3 NET).

In this is the promise of eternal life, the coming return of Jesus Christ and a place in heaven prepared for all believers.  Also, in this promise Jesus is sharing with his disciples who, I think are feeling overwhelmed, about the dwelling place of God among us. He is saying that,  by going to the cross and returning back through the resurrection I am preparing a house where there is room for for each of you, people from every nation and ethnicity with room to spare in  my church that will be the body of Christ, the house of God. Every believer will be one of the many dwelling places that make up My Father’s house. A little while later Jesus says,  “If anyone loves me, he will obey my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and take up residence with him” (John 14:23 NET).

 The disciple Thomas is not getting it, so says to Jesus: “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Then Jesus make this wonderful declaration, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (v6).

Trouble and suffering come to upset your mind.

John Chapter 16, verse 33,  in this same discussion Jesus is said, “In the world you have trouble and suffering.” But, he prefaced this statement with, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.” Did you catch it? “In me you may have peace.” There it is!  Here’s the promise. We’re talking about a peace that is in Jesus Christ. A peace like the world doesn’t understand, they can’t comprehend and can’t teach. The peace that is in me will be in you. Then the he says,“take courage—I have conquered the world.”

It doesn’t get any better than that. Amen!

You can respond to this blog right here  with your story. If you would like me to join you in prayer you can email me at Larry@praisechapel.com.

You can listen to the entire message  click HERE.
We will continue with: Overwhelmed: How to Deal with How you Feel, next week.

Larry Neville

OVERWHELMED – How to Deal with How You Feel

Recent Headlines where I live and serve:

 4 Rancho Cucamonga, CA, Teens have committed suicide since school started.
Pastor of Mega Church takes his own life. 

The first week school opened this year in the town our church is in, Rancho Cucamonga, four young people committed suicide. Then two weeks later, pastor Andrew Stoeckiein the leader of a very successful church in our area took his own life.  Apparently, he had been suffering from severe depression and anxiety and had taken the summer off to try and deal with it. When he returned home after two weeks he ended his life. Within a week a fifteen-year-old student in another high school near us tried to hang himself and at the time of this writing is in critical condition.

The reason that I refer to these heartbreaking stories is because they are examples of a society that is filled with people who are feeling overwhelmed and do not know how to deal with how they feel. People suffering from mental illness come from all types of families, all backgrounds, economic, ethnic, and religions.

Rick and Kay Warren, pastors of Saddleback church in our area lost their son to suicide. Rick wrote, “It was my role as a father that I heard the call to be an advocate for people living with mental illness. Our youngest son, Matthew, struggled terribly with mental illness almost his entire life. His suffering was immense, and in 2013 and impulsive moment of despair, he took his own life. As a family we were crushed and devastated.”

I think that there are more people in our culture, including pastors and church leaders, along with faithful believers, who are feeling overwhelmed and do not know how to deal with these feelings. This includes depression, anxiety, fear, grief, thoughts of suicide and so much more. The depth of what people are feeling overwhelmed with today seems to be getting deeper and darker. This past year I have sat for hours in the office of a psychiatrist with a pastor who is suffering from the darkest depression I have ever seen. Visit after visit end  in frustration, as we have seen no progress in this brother, the psychiatrist  has said that the there is so much that science does not understand about the mind.

Of course, humans have always had to deal with extreme feelings of being overwhelmed. Human history is filled with times of such misery that we can only imagine how they felt. But, today in our Western culture especially, with all the prosperity, creature comforts, increase of knowledge, technology and so forth, everyone should be living the dream of peace, prosperity and the pursuit of happiness. In reality, many of those who appear to “have it all” from the most famous celebrities and business tycoons to the pastor in our area and these teens in the middle-class communities around us who recently took their own lives are feeling overwhelmed and do not know how to deal with how they feel.

How do you feel?

Perhaps you are not feeling like you think that you should feel. One or more of a million things could have happened in your life that is affecting how you feel right now. You may not even have any idea what the source(s) of how you feel may be. Trying to understand, you can dig into your past or evaluate the events that have happened to you recently.

Sometimes the more that you search the darker and deeper the feelings become.

The pastor in our area who recently took his own life had taken time off for the entire summer to try and deal with how he was feeling. He did not hide his struggle; he and his wife were transparent about his personal struggle with depression and anxiety.  When they returned he preached two Sundays at the church and  then took his own life. I’m not saying any of this to fault him in any way, there is no doubt that he was a gifted teacher, loved God, and was a faithful man of character.  I’m saying that the solutions to what so many are feeling will not be found in a few church services, some counseling secessions.

We are talking about serious business here.

I’m not going to load you down with statists about depression, anxiety or suicides in America. You can do your own Google search and find all of that. I don’t dare to write a blog and think that between these paragraphs you are going to discover the answers. Our modern world is filled with way too many wished-for simple solutions just skimming over the Word of God to find a few positive points to solve our problems.  I want to take a journey with you, prayerfully and delicately into the Word of God. Let’s discover what God says about, how to deal with how you feel. . . we will move further on our journey in my next blog.

Check out the audio story of the Lopez family and how they are walking through depression with one of their children as a family.  Download the audio here.

My preaching team is speaking on this each week in September at Praise Chapel in Rancho Cucamonga. Be watching for my next blog on, OVERWHELMED: How to Deal with How you Feel.

Larry Neville
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