Personal Development

Over the last month or so, I have been gradually reading through the book of Psalms in The Message Bible translation. It's a wonderful collection of songs and poetry, expressing the full range of human emotion: disappointment, frustration, anger and hope, as well as praise, worship and joy. One of the most well known Psalms is Psalm 100 - which is a call to worship. It begins by declaring, "Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!" The next line is "Serve (or worship) the Lord with gladness (or joy)." Every day, as we go about our life, we are serving someone - at home, through volunteering, or at our workplace. Those of us who are people of... Read more →


Hope for the Future The amazing thing about Elijah is that, despite his incredible bout of depression, he continued to minister. God helped him to honour his physical body, he learnt to observe his thinking then renew his mind, God provoked him to action, and then God moved him back into relationship. Elijah lived on. In fact, what is quite humorous is that the biblical record tells us Elijah never died, even though he experienced a suicidal episode. How good is that! Apparently, he went straight up to heaven. When you feel depressed, it can seem as if you will be stuck in that dark tunnel forever. There are not always quick and easy answers, but you are not helpless... Read more →


Establish Supportive Relationships The final lesson we learn from the story of Elijah is to establish supportive relationships. You will notice that Elijah had left his servant just prior to this episode of depression and during this entire incident, he was alone. Look at the story again. Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, Lord,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.” (1 Kings 19:3-4) Notice... Read more →


Provoke Yourself to Action To break free from depression we first honour our body and then we observe our thinking. The next step is to provoke ourselves to action. Here is what God said next to Elijah. Then the Lord told (Elijah), “Go back the same way you came, and travel to the wilderness of Damascus. When you arrive there, anoint Hazael to be king of Aram. Then anoint Jehu son of Nimshi to be king of Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from the town of Abel-meholah to replace you as my prophet. Anyone who escapes from Hazael will be killed by Jehu, and those who escape Jehu will be killed by Elisha! Yet I will preserve 7,000... Read more →


Observe Your Thinking The next step in dealing with depression is to observe your thinking. Let’s keep reading the story. There (Elijah) came to a cave, where he spent the night. But the Lord said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (1 Kings 19:9) After the angel attended to Elijah’s physical well-being, God met personally with Elijah. In the course of conversation, God asked Elijah a question – “What are you doing here?” We need to understand that when God asks a question, it is not because he lacks information. In the garden, when God said, “Adam, where are you?,” it was not because God could not find where Adam had gone. God is a gifted counsellor. He... Read more →


Let us look a bit more in depth at one person in Bible times that went through an incredible battle with depression. His name is Elijah. Yes, the great prophet Elijah. Elijah was a prophet in Israel during the time of King Ahab. Ahab was far from God and most of the nation was worshipping a foreign god by the name of Baal. Elijah preached during this time and there had been no rain for three years because of God’s judgment on the people’s rebellion. Elijah then called for a confrontation. He told the people that they had to make a decision. They could not continually go back and forth. They had to either serve God or serve Baal. He... Read more →


Biblical Examples of Depression God is very interested in the practical areas of our life, including emotions such as depression. If you look up at the word ‘depression’ in a concordance, you will not find many verses in the Bible on depression, but the concept of discouragement, despair, low mood, and depression are mentioned frequently throughout. In fact, some of the heroes of the faith experienced depression. Consider the man Job and listen to what he had to say: "Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant my desire. I wish he would crush me. I wish he would reach out his hand and kill me." Job 6:8-9. NLT "I hate my life and don’t want to... Read more →


Symptoms of Depression Depression is a complex subject, as it can take on many different forms and it has a variety of causes, as well as symptoms. Unlike a physical injury or illness, depression is hard to ‘see’, but it is no less painful or difficult to work through. Depression affects people in a wide variety of different ways. Symptoms of depression may include a negative change in thought, in mood, or in behaviour. Depression can happen to everyone in varying degrees or levels - from mild (feeling ‘down’) to very serious (even becoming suicidal). When it comes to a person’s thinking, depression causes people to be far more negative and pessimistic. Small obstacles can become almost insurmountable. It can... Read more →


Back in 2002, I went through what could be called an emotional valley. It took everything within me to get through the day. Each appointment, meeting, task or project seemed like an insurmountable mountain that I had to somehow climb. I was relieved when something was over and I did not experience much joy or pleasure during any of these activities. It was like a cloud had settled in over my heart and mind. Everything was bleak, like someone had closed the window shutters. In the natural, nothing was going wrong. My family life was good, as was work and church life. There had been no tragedies or disasters in my life at that time. So, I was confused. I... Read more →


The BLOG posts from the last few days about worry are a summary of a chapter entitled "Freedom from Worry" in the best-selling book Prison Break: Finding Personal Freedom. The rest of the book contains similar practical teaching about: Freedom from Fear Freedom from Anger Freedom from Depression Freedom from Rejection Freedom from Addictions Freedom from Spiritual Bondages You can purchase a paperback version of this book from WORD Australia OR a digital eBook version from Amazon. The eBook version can be read on the Kindle APP which is available for FREE for all devices (phones, tablets, etc) and operation systems (Windows, OS, etc). I hope you find this teaching helpful and beneficial to your life. Please feel free to... Read more →


Conclusion As you can see from our recent conversation about worry, there are two things not worth worrying about: Those you can do something about. Those you can't do something about. Simply take action on the former and trust God and pray about the latter. In other words, don't worry about anything! WHY break free from worry? First of all, it doesn't help us at all, unless it leads us to action. Secondly, it takes away our joy. You can't worry and be joyful at the same time! And finally, worry causes us to be consumed and preoccupied with our own needs. Jesus did actually give us a strategy for conquering worry. He said, instead of worrying, "Seek first the... Read more →


Place Your Trust in God Now let's be honest, there are some things on our list of worries that we can't take action on. They are truly beyond our control. Yes, we can pray about them but we can't do anything about them. What do we do about that? This is where we can make a choice to place our trust in God. The wisdom of Proverbs puts it this way (Proverbs 3:5-6): "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take." NLT Just like the birds of the air and the lilies of the field in Jesus'... Read more →


Offer a Prayer to God In addition to taking action on our worries, we can also pray and talk to God about our concerns. The apostle Paul wrote this in a letter to some people living in the city of Philippi the first century (Philippians 4:6-7): "Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus." NLT Sounds like Paul must have heard Jesus' teaching on worry which he gave years earlier. Word of mouth travels fast. I love how Eugene Peterson translates... Read more →


Okay, what next? Take action on your worries As you look over your list of worries (you did this yesterday, didn't you?), ask yourself, "Can I do anything about this?" Turn your worries into actions. Re-define them as problems and come up with solutions for each one of them. Then crowd out your worries by actually working on them. After all, worry can be useful ... IF it gets your attention and motivates you to action. If the fuel light on your car dashboard is flashing red, don't worry about running out of petrol (or 'gas', for my American friends) or stress about the possibility of having to walk home. Simply turn your worry into an action. Turn into the... Read more →


Yesterday, we noted that Jesus tells us to STOP worrying. He doesn't tell us HOW to do so, so obviously he wants us to use our common sense and life experience to figure it out. Here are some practical ways I have found that we can actually do that on a day to day basis, using the acronym STOP. Specify your worries. Ask yourself, "What am I worried about?" Often, worry becomes this dark cloud of vague concern that hovers over our mind, ruining our day. That's why it pays to define your worries. Make a list. Get them all out on paper so you can have a good look at them. Research indicates that: 40% of our worries will... Read more →


One of the great Australian greetings is, "No worries!" The truth is, we do worry a lot. And let's face it, there is a lot to worry about. We can worry about our health, about our family, our relationships, our money, the weather, our career or job, whether our football team is going to make the finals, and about the future. Then, of course, there are all the global concerns - the economy, the environment, global warming, politics, and the growing threat of terrorism. That's a lot of worry fodder! I have found that the more we worry, the worse we feel, then the worse we feel, the more we tend to worry. One worry feeds another. Out goes our... Read more →


I'm not a doctor nor am I an expert on weight loss, by any means. However, I do know what it is to be skinny and I do know what it is to be overweight. I definitely prefer the former to the latter. I'll never forget one day when I was carrying in a bag of oranges from the car after a grocery shop with my wife, Nicole. She noted that that one bag of oranges weighed 3 kilograms. Being overweight just 3 kgs is like carrying that bag of oranges around ... all the time. It saps your energy and makes you feel more tired. Of course, if you are overweight by 6 kgs or 9 kgs, well that's... Read more →


As a teenager, I was as skinny as a rake. Even my bones stuck out of my shoulders. This often led to questions or laughs from both friends and strangers anytime I took my shirt off, like when swimming. I could also eat like a horse. My dad used to jokingly say that if you were looking for the 'bottomless pit', I was it. I remember never being full. I could eat and eat endlessly. And did I mention that I was skinny? We lived in Portland, Oregon at the time and there was this restaurant called Farrell's Ice Cream Parlor that everyone loved to go to. The biggest item on the menu was 'The Pig Trough'. It was a... Read more →


The third ingredient contributing to our everyday happiness (read part 1) is financial control. Money isn't everything but having enough to meet our own needs as well as to give away to others can create a sense of happiness and freedom in our lives. This has nothing to do with our 'net worth' or waiting until we get that next raise or bonus. It's about how we are managing the resources we currently have. Money is a terrific servant but it can be a cruel taskmaster if we allow it control us. Thankfully, we don't have to wait until we have more money. We can start having a sense of financial control ... beginning today. It's about having a common-sense... Read more →


The second factor that contributes to our happiness (read Part 1) is Strong Personal Relationships. Each of us is born into a family and a desire for a sense of belonging is a part of what it means to be human. Although the introverts among us tend to be energized by solitude and alone time, most people enjoy meaningful conversation and are enriched by good friendships. In many ways, relationships are spatial. Most people have lots of acquaintances, many 'friends' or people they know more about or do life together with, but usually only a few close or best friends. Like circles of friendship, the former are further away emotionally while the latter are in close proximity. The key is... Read more →


Are you happy? What does happiness really look like? Australia's longest running and most comprehensive survey on happiness is conducted by the Australian Unity Wellbeing Index. After 15 years of detailed research, the author of the survey, Deakin University Emeritus Professor Bob Cummins, says he's finally cracked the code to wellbeing, which he has dubbed the ‘golden triangle of happiness': A sense of purpose. Strong personal relationships. Financial control. Let's take a look at each of these: A Sense of Purpose Deep inside of each one of us is a need for a sense of purpose and meaning. What are we living for? What is life all about? Why should we even get out of bed in the morning? Good... Read more →


I love the idea of life being like a story. History itself is a narrative of the story of the human race of which we are all a part. Within that grander story, every one of us has a story to tell. Your life is your story. Your story is your life. Like a story, your life has a beginning, a middle, and an ending. There is a theme, characters, subplots (work, family, health, happiness, friendship), trajectory, and tone. What kind of story is your life? A comedy? A drama? A thriller (horror) movie? A romance or a love story? An action movie? A fairy tale? In reality, each of our life stories is an EPIC. It’s a long journey... Read more →


Have you been worrying lately? Worry is a common thing. How do you deal with your worry? Well, firstly you need to ask yourself, “What am I worrying about?” A study was done recently about the things that people worry about. Here are the results: 40% of the worries were about things that never happened or would never happen. 30% of the worries were things in the past for which they could do nothing about. 12% were worries about health and worry actually worsens your health. 10% were about petty or minor worries. Only 8% of the worries were about anything substantial or legitimate and of that 8%, half, or 4%, of them were out of the person’s control. That... Read more →


Well known psychologist, Daniel Goleman has done a lot research on the components of success, especially in the work place. His conclusion is that Technical Skill and Intellectual Intelligence (or IQ) are very important, but that the quality of Emotional Intelligence (or EQ), is the most essential. In fact, it’s twice as important as the other two attributes. ‘Emotional intelligence’ is: knowing how to relate well to a wide variety of people. How do we do that? Well, Jesus gives us some great advice in Matthew 7:12 when he says, “Do for others what you would like them to do for you.” Some people call this the “Golden Rule”. Jesus is basically saying to think about how you like to... Read more →


Confession time - I love books! There is a certain joy in buying a new book and putting it on your shelf ... even if you haven't yet read the last 10 books you have bought. Book addicts understand this. Other people just don't get it. As a kid, if my parents visited friends and there were no kids to play with, after dinner, I'd sit by their bookshelf and browse through their books. If they had an encylopedia set, I was elated. I loved reading and learning new things. I guess, at heart I I'm a bit of a a maven. So I have a lot of books. Books given to me from family and friends. Books handed down... Read more →


John 15:1-6. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain... Read more →


Nicole and I have recently returned from a few weeks overseas - for a conference and some holidays, as we celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary. I love to travel. The very atmosphere of airports and airplanes energises me. I love visiting new places and meeting new people. However, my wife doesn’t get quite as excited. In fact, she starts packing a few weeks ahead of time, just to make sure she’s got everything she needs. I tend to pack in the last minute. You know, as we travel through our journey of life we all tend to carry various sorts of baggage with us. Some types of personal baggage from our past can become pretty tiring to carry after a... Read more →


It may take time … but having and working a financial plan is the path to financial freedom and God’s blessing whatever your situation. Notice the plan is not the 80-10-10 plan. The order is important. Put God first in your finances. Then change ratios over time as you’re able - 15-15-70, etc. This is pretty simple: a 10-year old can do it. Every person’s financial situation is unique. What is right for you may not be relevant for someone else, but these principles can work for just about everyone. My motive in sharing this message is to help you personally – because a lot of people live under tremendous financial pressure and all of us need to learn principles... Read more →


Establish and Live by a Budget If you don't take control of your money it will take control of you and your life. Money is a great servant but is a cruel taskmaster. A budget is the most important and effective tool for getting your finances under control. A budget is simply a plan for earning and spending money. It provides limits and boundaries, which give security. There are many Scriptures on planning (Proverbs 15:22; 20:18; 21:5; 27:23-24. Jerermiah 29:11. Luke 14:28-30). INCOME - How to Acquire Money Human labour is the means by which we earn money. It is the key to the earning side of the financial equation. God is a worker. He worked for six days (on... Read more →


Jesus and Money In Luke 16:1-13, we have an example of Jesus’ teaching about money. There’s a difference of opinion as to what exactly Jesus is commending about the manager in the story but the application of the parable is very clear: (1) all of us will be called to give an account of how we have served him and what we have done with our resources; (2) preparation for that day of account should involve wise use of our resources, especially in the area of finances; and (3) wise use of resources, demonstrating a life of true discipleship, will be rewarded with eternal life and joy. Jesus then added a few other lessons after he finished the story: (1)... Read more →


Prayer and Praise When our kids were little, we used to drive the whole family north from Melbourne up to Queensland in the summer holidays to visit their grandparents. It was a multiple day trip and one of the things I hated to do was stop for petrol. After all, all those trucks, caravans and slow pokes I had been passing throughout the day, would now be passing me. My wife, Nicole always fills up for petrol with about 1/4 tank remaining. I tend to see how far I can go on a tank of petrol. I’ll never forget one night, as it was getting dark, looking at the red ‘empty’ fuel night wondering if we would make it to... Read more →