By His Design Blog

“Avoiding Holiday Anxiety and Depression…”

Parts 1. Avoiding…from Philippians 2. List of tips for choices and alternatives 3. Philippians (cont.) chapters 3 & 4
-How do you get ready for giving thanks (a look back, refocusing on blessing) and celebrating the birth of Christ (a look forward to a new future with hope)?

-Assess: What are your habits and past traditions?
-Are they still relevant and serving your spirit and walk of faith?
-What are your desires around these holidays?
-What are your expectations? (and what is their source?)

Highlights for Hope from Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

-Background—Paul is writing from prison, but the tone of this letter is radiant amid life’s reversals. It’s his most personal of all his letters and conveys his hopeful mindset and excitement at what God is doing despite his situation.

-I repeat, there is joy despite outward reality. His inner reality is stronger and more meaningful.
Assess: Where is your prison? How long have you been there? Are you dragging yourself around dreading the coming days ahead, the “holiday season” with all its implications?
For this time together we’re gong to let the Lord unlock and open the door. It will be up to you to walk out with Him—as you lay your burdens down and go over the threshold. What we’re looking for is “What is God doing?” May you have “eyes to see, and ears to hear…” now and in the days ahead.

Parts 1. Avoiding…from Philippians 2.

Chapters 1 & 2
A. Bondservants: Paul refers to himself and Timothy from this lowly position. 1:1 “bondservants of Christ” Later, he tell of Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking on the form of a bondservant” 2:5-11 Read this in context to see the rationale and how it applies to any believer.

B. An offer of “grace and peace:” 1:2 from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (administered by the Holy Spirit residing within us).

C. “Grateful:” Paul declares this from the start. 1:3-5, 7-8 (focus: the fellowship of other believers, and those he loves from his pastor’s heart) Assess: What can you say you’re grateful for?

D. Our guarantee, a promise of completeness 1:6 “He who began a ‘good work’ in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (when either He returns or you go to be with Him).

-Assess: Does He have your life? Has He begun the work? 1:7-11)

E. “More reasons for thankfulness:” He sees some benefit from his current suffering 1:12-18 (Christ’s gospel is still going forth, there and elsewhere) He is trusting God with the results, though the methods seem inconsistent. Assess: Where can you keep trusting God when things initially don’t seem to add up?

F. “Rejoice:” This is the first of several times Paul will say this word. He sincerely is rejoicing, apart from his control of the current situation he’s experiencing. 1:18-20 He won’t be “put to shame in anything…but instead, have boldness.

Assess: Can you remember a time when you felt joy, even in the worst of times?

G. “To live is Christ and to die is gain:” 1:21-25 (It doesn’t really matter; he sees gain either way.) There’s freedom in this realization. (He also expects deliverance through the Holy Spirit’s provision and their prayers.) He was demonstrating this deliverance even then by his life in prison. Supernatural power is real.

H. “Strength of the Body of Christ:” of which we’re a part. 1:27-2:4 Unity—one spirit, one mind, striving together…

I. “Don’t misunderstand God’s Purposes:” (Don’t be alarmed at your opponents, or the times of suffering for Christ’s sake.) 1:28-30

J. “Work out your own salvation…in the midst of a crooked, perverse generation” 2:12-16 (Hold fast—tightly—to the “word of life.) This is the “why and how” of our walk of faith.

Assess: Are you connected to Christ’s body, the church, and has this helped by being part of this living expression of Christ in others? -H. thru J.

K. “Kindred Spirits:” 2:19-21 (–Timothy and Epaphroditus) 2:25-28, 30 Notice how they shared difficulties and cared for one another. Assess: Do you have some kindred spirits? These are gifts from God; receive them.

List of tips for choices and alternatives

Part 2. Holiday List of Tips for Choices and Alternatives

o Acknowledge that the holidays may be difficult and emotional. Acknowledgment helps.

o If you had long-standing traditions, you have the right to keep them or not. It’s up to you.

o The holidays are now all about your choices. You’re in control. This isn’t selfish; it’s about protecting your heart.

o You, your family members, and friends are all different. Each one can choose what’s meaningful, even if it isn’t what the others want.

o Volunteer for a worthy cause? It’s a great way to have your mind occupied in a different way and help others.

o Journal? It can tell you what you’re thinking and feeling. You may be surprised what shows up. Get to know yourself.

o Don’t feel guilty about what appeals to you this year. Make your choices for new memories and fun experiences.

o You may have to ignore people who are telling you what you should do.

o Eating sometimes becomes an escape. Don’t over indulge.

o Watch the booze. It’s easy to overdo.

o Focus on what you can control. What’s necessary and do-able right now.

o Have healthy boundaries. (Think of a football player giving a straight arm.) Keep at arms’ length with people who don’t feel safe.

o Read a good book. A book read to you by “Alexia,” or audio books can be soothing. Your library’s collection may be extensive.

o Go to a holiday movie with someone else, or just take yourself. Another option is to stay at home with Netflix, or your own collection, and have friends in who bring snacks.

o Allow yourself to feel emotions each day that show up. Sadness, anger, joy, longing, fear, and others. Healing involves recognizing what’s impacting you, then letting God in to help.

o People who love and support you are there. Surround yourself with others who care.

o Remember to enjoy the holidays: take a walk in nature or window shop in a festive setting. Enjoy the fragrances, sights, and sounds that are only with us for a short time.

o Or, skip the holidays all together! Take a trip somewhere you’ve always wanted to go. (You’re not a bad person if you do this.) You’re adventurous!

o Don’t over commit. You’ll pay for it with fatigue, saturation with people, agitation, and other negative effects. Be realistic with the things you say “yes” to.

o What’s something you can do for others to show kindness? Others may need encouragement at this time, too. Send a note, shovel a walk, bring a plant, make a holiday treat, or give the gift of time to someone who’s lonely. Think outside the box.

o Ask for help when you need it. We all need to learn to ask.

o Exercise in creative and fun ways. Workouts encourage restful sleep and help process our feelings. Being tired at the end of the day is a good thing.

o Remember, your loss or trauma is fertile ground for spiritual growth. Meditate on the Scriptures most days and get perspective on what troubles you.

o Give the first part of day to God. Prayer at the beginning of the day can settle our minds by unloading burdens that accumulate. Take your time and be honest. He can hear things no one else can.

o Stir a passion. What have you done that you want to try again or, perhaps, learn how to do? Are you artistic, a teacher or coach, a closet chef, a gardener, good at building things, or something not everyone can do?

o Recognize when you’re doing life in your own strength. This will be exhausting. Do you have a church body that you can share life with?

3. Philippians (cont.) chapters 3 & 4

Chapter 3

L. “The Surpassing Value:” Paul’s old life of accomplishments (in men’s eyes) seems devalued in comparison with his new life in Christ. 3:7-8, 10-11 Rather, he values “knowing Christ, even when it means suffering loss, but gaining Christ. In this new relationship he knows he will have “the power of His resurrection” in this life, as well as the next.
M. “Pressing On:”In this regard, Paul says, “I press on…in order to “lay hold of what I was laid hold of by Christ, “the upward call.” 3:12- 14 He also proclaims, “One thing I do: forgetting what lies behind…reaching forward to what lies ahead.” Assess: Have you had a radical shift in values like this since knowing Christ? Why/ why not?
N. “Let God reveal your attitude:” 3:15-17 It helps to keep before us “God’s pattern” of new birth and standards. Paul warns of others who have forsaken the cross and “set their mind on earthly things.”
O. “Our true citizenship:” Believers “wait eagerly” for their Savior to return and the promised “transformation” into a glorious state. By Christ’s authority this will happen one day. 3:20-21 Assess: How long has it been since you’ve had this reminder?
Chapter 4
P. “Stand firm in the Lord:” –and help others in the body who struggle. 4:1-3
Q. “Rejoice, and again I say rejoice:” This chapter is Paul’s great thesis of rejoicing—and benefits and reasons why. 4:4-7 These commands come with promises and blessings only known to believers.
R. “Where your mind dwells:” This list is uplifting for anyone. Paul says again how God’s peace accompanies these practices. 4:8-9 Assess: How are you doing in this area? Can you tell a difference when you “let” yourself attend to these admonitions?
S. “Be content:” Paul is not asking anything he hasn’t learned to do. He’s speaking from experience and knows it’s possible. 4:11-13 Boldly he asserts, “I can do all things…” not because he’s Paul, but “through Him who strengthens me.”
T. “And, my God shall supply…according to His riches…” Assess: Is this your God, too? 4:19
U. “Grace:” Used again like a bookend (1:2), Paul wants most of all for the brethren to have God’s grace continuing in their spirits. 4:23 There isn’t any substitute to living in this grace. Assess: How are you seeing His grace active when you face every day challenges, not to mention the holidays?

Copyright: by His design (always give credit when you borrow these ideas. Not for reprint.)

By : Beth Weikel /November 18, 2018 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on “Avoiding Holiday Anxiety and Depression…” Read More

“More Than 100 Reasons to Trust God in Turbulent Times”

He is: always good, Almighty, “Abba Father,” Author & Finisher of my faith, my Anchor/Rock, Beloved, boundless, the Amen, my adequacy, Alpha & Omega, my advocate, Creator, Counselor, Conqueror, compassionate, Comforter, Deliverer, Defender, my desire, everlasting, Emmanuel, Encourager, enthroned, exalted, Friend, forgiving, faithful, forsaken, fairest…, my foundation, great, gracious, Gift & Giver, Guardian, humble servant, Head, Helper, Healer, hiding place, incomparable, infinite, infallible, indwelling, Intercessor, Judge/just, Joy, King, Kinsman, kind, Keeper, Light, Life, Love, Listener, Maker, Most High, meek, merciful, …Morning Star, near, Nurturer, Overcomer, Omni (all)- knowing… present… powerful, patient, Peace, Physician, Prophet, Priest, Protector, Provider, precious Lamb…, priceless, persistent, Pearl of Great Price, Potter, pure, Quickener, Quietness, Refiner, Resurrection, Refuge, radiant, Ransom, Refresher, Rewarder, Restorer, Rod, Rest, Sacrifice, Shepherd, Spirit, Satisfier, my strength & shield, steadfast, Supreme, my song, Sovereign, slow to anger, Sower, transcendent, Teacher, true, tender, transforms, unchangeable, understanding, unhurried, unfailing, unwearied, Uniter, Uplifter, unhindered, my vision, Vindicator, Vine, Way, Wisdom, worthy, Watcher, wounded for me, yearned for, yoked, zealous!

When times are hard, people are mean, and resources are scarce, review what you know, what you are sure of, not what your fears and hurts are telling you. Retrieving life from loss is about –finding God’s purpose in the past, His meaning in the present, and His hope for the future. Make your own 100 list starting today; it will do your heart and mind good.

By : Beth Weikel /January 11, 2018 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on “More Than 100 Reasons to Trust God in Turbulent Times” Read More

Sayings and Epithets

What do you make of this saying: “Hope is the dream of a soul awake”? Worth pondering, I think. Is there more than one possible meaning? What does a “soul awake” look like, and why is it a dream? Let me take a run at it.

Hope for most of us is our dream. It’s what keeps us going toward our goals and desires. It’s why we don’t give up and settle for nothing much. And, what might short-circuit our hope is a soul asleep…or lifeless…or ruined.

We’ve been told as young people as early as grade school to develop dreams for our lives and pursue those. Dreams are as personal as fingerprints. What have you done about yours?

Some of mine have exceeded expectation, while others never got off the ground. I suspect it’s because, as I’ve gained experience, my dreams changed. I learned more about how life really works. But I don’t believe there’s ever a reason to give up hope, unless it’s based on the wrong things.

Hope doesn’t originate with us. It’s a gift from our Maker and Sustainer. The Bible talks a lot about hope, especially when life hurts. “My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken…Pour out your heart before Him, God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:5, 8).

David, the speaker of that Psalm, after much trouble and hardship, had his dreams realized. His Lord kept his hope alive in a soul that was awake. David’s passion was to know this God and serve Him. His legacy testifies to someone who didn’t accept less than intimacy with the One who awakened him to dreams he couldn’t have imagined.

As the Lord of hope and fulfilled dreams beckons, He will awaken our sleeping desires. His power and loyal love are the catalyst and final result. As the angel Gabriel declared to young Mary of Nazareth, “For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:37).

By : Beth Weikel /November 14, 2017 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on Sayings and Epithets Read More

Zombie Cult

While getting my hair cut on Friday the 13th, I heard about a wedding planned for that same evening at our local cemetery. Really? Didn’t hear what the bridal party was wearing, but one of those invited wasn’t going to attend because she was superstitious and didn’t want to be there after dark.

Death continues to be shrouded in ignorance. Notice the popularity of zombie entertainment of late. The vampire cult has dwindled, possibly, but the half-dead still captures our attention. We want to be lured in by a strange combination of romance and fear. Is this a way to keep our fears at bay about the finality of death, or is it a form of “whistling in the cemetery?”

We also laugh at death. Popular movies have been made to illustrate this: Arsenic and Old Lace, Ghostbusters, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Beetlejuice, Death Becomes Her, and others. Some of our coping mechanisms surrounding death include humor. In autumn and winter we’re clearly reminded of the cycle of life. Things come to life, flourish for a time, then wane, and die. While trying to minimize death’s impact, we have found ways to celebrate cultural holidays: Day of the Dead, Halloween, or All Saint’s Day.

Growing up in the Midwest, our family used visit an apple farm to see Mr. Pumpkin. In the crisp air of Indian Summer, my parents waited in line for us to sit on his lap and get our picture taken. I don’t remember talking with him, like Santa Claus, but he was impressive with his orange suit topped by his jack-o-lantern head.

Seems harmless, like helping kids dress up and sending them out to collect candy from the neighbors. But there are darker versions and practices afoot. A house on my street is one example. The garage door is guarded by a huge pair of grim reapers, and the yard has corpses swinging from the tree waiting to be interred in nearby caskets. What is the message here, do you suppose?

The pagans also have rituals associated with this time of year, where the dark arts are practiced. You wouldn’t want to mistakenly happen upon this kind of celebration uninvited. Those groups prefer secretive meetings.

The Bible also discloses the nature of death, an afterlife, and the outcome of evil. These are serious matters with far-reaching results. God’s Son came to earth to free mankind from the curse of sin and death. Jesus’ substitutionary death on a cross of shame accomplished God’s merciful plan. Anyone can avail themselves of this promise.
New life, resurrected life after death, is the answer to one of our greatest fears.

We aren’t meant to be zombies, vampires, or something to laugh at. Others have convinced themselves that nothing exists after this life. Nothingness is their hope. This belief attempts to deny a just, holy, and compassionate God by avoiding the question of our origin. Did we really come from nothing in particular, only to return to that state?

Death and dying is scary until one is able to hear what God says about it. I Corinthians 15 is a treatise to examine in this context. A long passage, it confirms all that God did when raising His Son to new life, not a half-life or nothingness. It doesn’t traffic in secret ceremonies or trivial distractions.

“If there’s no resurrection, there’s no living Christ….If corpses can’t be raised, then Christ wasn’t…then all you are doing is wandering about in the dark, as lost as ever…But the truth is that Christ has been raised up, the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries…Death swallowed by triumphant life…Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?” (I Corinthians 15: 13, 16, 18, 20, 54 The Message)

Death, in truth, is meant to lead us to something glorious. After this life, with its joys and trials, we will be given a much better existence in God’s presence. His Word is full of this promise. It’s out in the open for anyone to discover. Life and death aren’t meant to be dealt with in ignorance.

By : Beth Weikel /November 14, 2017 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on Zombie Cult Read More

Resolved

My New Year’s resolution is the same one I have every year. No, not to lose those last stubborn pounds, but so much more meaningful. It comes from Paul’s admonition to “go in grace” and the implication is to keep growing in grace, as well.

Grace is one of those abstract concepts that can be witnessed more easily than explained. It’s when we take the more difficult path in a power that doesn’t come from ourselves, such as forgiving something unforgivable. Grace means we live in unconditional love for others, especially those close to us. (more…)

By : Beth Weikel /January 29, 2017 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on Resolved Read More

By Faith, Not By Sight

“By faith we see the hand of God…A place where peace and justice reign.

We will stand as children of the promise;

We will fix our eyes on Him, our soul’s reward.

Till the race is finished and the work is done,

We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.”

“Comfort, comfort My people, says your God…A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:1,3).

As we evaluate where we are at the beginning of a new year, attitude adjustments and course corrections may be necessary. I’ve become aware that waiting is personally wearing me down. Seeking the Lord for things according to His own desires are still awaiting fulfillment. Others are involved, and I have no power over them.

What seems urgent to me requires patient, persistent trust. Sustained belief in One greater than myself can feel like work. To not demand, but ask for grace, is a delicate balance. It’s a growing discipline of knowing where to look and what to receive. My expectations aren’t the point. (more…)

By : Beth Weikel /January 25, 2017 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on By Faith, Not By Sight Read More

New Year’s Plans?

After the shouts of “Happy New Year!” many begin January anticipating a new year of opportunity and blessing. While only natural, some still bear the weight of last year’s burdens. Just because the calendar flipped a page doesn’t mean all our problems and concerns vanish.

When daily routines are overshadowed by tragic or traumatic events, where can we expect optimism, caring, and attention for our needs? And, how do we make room for others’ feelings when we are struggling ourselves?

 Finally, is it possible to prepare for life’s most daunting circumstances before they occur? Because some parts of life are inevitable no matter how we may try to deny it, there must be ways of restoring our sense of stability and well-being. Merely waiting for joy to return is unrealistic. (more…)

By : Beth Weikel /January 23, 2017 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on New Year’s Plans? Read More

From Pastors Interviewed:

When people experience tragedy in their lives, how do they typically respond?

  1. Many who experience loss in life find themselves desperate for answers… Any answers.
  2. People who’ve had more than one loss in quick succession begin doubting if there’s a God who cares.
  3. People dealing with the loss of a home are confused and
  4. don’t know where to turn. If it’s due to a disaster, many times they’ve lost everything they own.
  5. Desperate…disoriented…depressed
  6. People who are suffering often get angry, so they lash out at God and others.
  7. They stop going to church, even though the church is available for help.
  8. When living with a tragedy, family life disintegrates.
  9. People feel guilty and helpless.
  10. Secondary losses can be a significant part of the impact of the initial loss.
  11. Sleep after loss is a challenge. They can’t get adequate rest.
  12. People don’t prepare for loss. It usually takes them by surprise.
  13. People walk around for years with deep pain, not knowing what to do to recover. Quality of life suffers.
  14. When dreams are dashed, hope becomes illusive.
  15. Many walk away from the church and God. It’s been reported that ninety percent will not return to the Lord in any significant way.

(more…)

By : Dave Weikel /February 17, 2016 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on From Pastors Interviewed: Read More

A Lasting Embrace

For I am convinced that neither death nor life…the present nor the future, nor any powers…nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God…” (Romans 8:38-39)

“Day is done, gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills,
from the sky,
All is well, safely rest;
God is nigh.”

Memorial Day is not a time for picnics and the singing of patriotic songs in our house anymore. As a Gold Star Mom, I’m reminded more acutely of our separation that weekend. Death is separation, but it doesn’t claim the final victory.

God’s truth and abiding presence are what matters when life events take a dark turn. Not until His very words become personal, at gut level, will we know they’re real. God uses circumstances to make us aware of our need of Him. It’s then we have a choice to fall into His embrace or cry bitter tears and pull away. That decision will have ever-expanding ripples.

What do we choose to believe when disturbing realities intrude into familiar routines of daily life? How are we preparing for those times our faith in a living God will be tested?

Were it not for God’s Spirit bringing assurance of His constant love expressed on the deepest level, and Scripture integrating head and heart, I’m sure I would have been lost in grief. Now, my calling is to honor this God with all my being, and yes, that daily decision is drawing others into His lasting embrace.

“Thanks and praise, for our days,
Neath the sun, neath the stars, neath the sky;
As we go, this we know, God is nigh.”
— Taps

By : Beth Weikel /June 04, 2015 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on A Lasting Embrace Read More

Ambition Transformed

 For those in political life, Washington D.C. represents the apex of power. Some come to it with a well-planned strategy, connections, and all too often, ruthlessness. Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship, was one such individual. However, God had His own plan. A redemptive one.

Like Saul, Colson’s cause was misguided and served his own ends. Watergate changed all that, and he entered prison a different man. God’s reach wasn’t obstructed by prison bars, either. He sent others inside the walls to reclaim an unworthy candidate to serve another cause, one he could personally relate to.

 In the intervening years Prison Fellowship, with its vital army of volunteers, has become an international force to turn “hearts of stone into hearts of flesh.” Offenders and their forgotten families have been given another chance at a different ending to their stories. When we lay down our plans and accept His, transformation happens.

 What if Ananias had refused? He knew the chance he was taking, and why should he? Saul was a murderous zealot! But in the end, God’s plans became Ananias’ plans, and Saul’s eyes were opened.

   

Today’s Scripture: Acts 9 1-18 

 “Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord– Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here– has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 

 Acts 9:17 

Application for Life:  God’s sovereign plans come with preparation and power.

By : Beth Weikel /December 23, 2014 /By His Design Blog /Comments Off on Ambition Transformed Read More
  • About By His Design

    Dave and Beth Weikel have worked in full-time ministry, business, and public education for over 30 years. God is using their season of loss to provide hope and healing for others.
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