7 Ways to Sleep Soundly each Night

If you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

Years ago when we were in business, Cheryl and I went through a difficult period in life. Dealing with employees, cash flow, banks and trying to increase sales made for many sleepless nights. It was distressing. I believe, unless there are health reasons why you cannot, that we should be able to rest at night. Over the years, I have learned a few secrets of sleeping better each night.

Here are 7 ways to sleep soundly each night:

Exercise during the day – Sometime during the day, make yourself physically tired. Exercise not only works the body, it frees the mind. It helps you prepare to relax. There’s a power in physical activity which cannot be ignored. I try to exercise at least 5 days per week.

Eat healthy foods in adequate quantities – I’ve learned that greasy foods don’t set as well on my stomach. You’ll have your own foods that don’t make you feel as well as you could. Also, if you eat too little you’ll wake up hungry. If you eat too much you won’t settle peacefully. Find the right quantity of food and discipline yourself to eat the right amount. That usually means eating until you are satisfied, but not stuffing your stomach.

Put your day to bed – For me, that means reviewing my day and preparing for tomorrow. I spend a few minutes reflecting on what took place, what I can change and what I can’t, and then looking over my calendar for the next day. It mentally says “This day is over. A new day is coming.”

Be consistent – Even on weekends or when I’m out of town I keep pretty much the same schedule. Occasionally I’ll need to “catch up” on some sleep, but most of the time I’m in bed and out of bed  (without ever using an alarm) at the same time each day. Once it becomes a habit it’s not that bad…even getting up early. Seriously.

Invest in good bedding – Don’t be cheap when it comes to your mattress or bedding. I’ve learned that you get what you pay for with this expense. Shop for quality, as well as price.

Write it down – Journaling can be a release from the day. Share your thoughts, concerns, fears and dreams. Get them off your chest then lay them to rest. (No rhyme intended.)

Pray – End with a release to God. Not trying to be cruel, but if worry is keeping you awake at night, you have a faith issue bigger than a sleep issue. Remember, He’s on His throne…even as you sleep. (If you fall asleep while praying…God won’t mind. Didn’t you enjoy watching your children fall asleep?)

Try some of these and let me know how they work for you. I’m praying you learn some secrets for better sleeping.

Do you ever have trouble sleeping? What tips do you have?

Scripture Memorization, Week 45

This week, let’s put a verse to memory, recite it over and over again, and in the process, let’s give God honor, glory and worship!

Here is this week’s memory verse:

Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty

Psalm 104:1

Question: Where or doing what do you usually worship best? 

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Facing Fear

I’ve watched fear keep many people from achieving all God would have them achieve. I’ve watched fear keep a guy from pursuing the girl of his dreams. I’ve watched fear drive people to the safe side, rather than to assume the risk required to pursue their dreams.

Fear is the enemy of progress. Fear is the antagonist of pursuit. Fear is the foe of fulfillment in life.

What can we do about fear? How can we overcome the dreaded fear?

I don’t know that we can completely…or that we even want to completely…but I think we need to learn to manage the fear in our life. Hopefully this post can help.

Next time you are faced with a seemingly uncontrollable fear…

Ask yourself these 7 questions:

Is it a God-given or a man-made fear? – Fear is an emotion and God can use fear to keep you from harm. Is what you would be doing against God’s will for you or others? If it’s wrong to do, no wonder you are afraid. God may be trying to protect you. If you are continually making bad decisions in your life, you’ll likely live in fear. You may not even be able to understand the emotion, but in my experience, it’s one way God draws His children to Himself. Failure to walk by faith, which is a sin by the way, can also bring upon the emotion of fear. If you’re fear is from God…obey God! That’s your answer every time.

Is it a rational or an irrational fear? – Consider whether you are basing your fears on fact or fiction. Are you making up the scenario of what could go wrong or is the fear based on real information you have? Be honest with yourself here. If you’ve been making up the excuses, dismiss them and proceed.

Is it probable or improbable? – The truth is that most of what we fear never comes true. Our mind is capable of all kinds of worst-case scenarios that keep us from moving forward. We shouldn’t allow fear in things that will probably never even happen stop the progress God may want to bring in our life. The fact is you may fail, but remember, failure is a part of building life experience. Unless you know you’re going to fail (which is highly unlikely) I suggest you move forward.

Can anything be done to diminish the risk? – We should attempt to diminish fear through planning and preparation as much as possible. There is nothing wrong and everything right about being prepared. I’m not motivated by fear, but I have an alarm system at my house. (And a shotgun! :) ) If your fear is based on a lack of preparation, get busy developing the systems and strategies to help you succeed.

Is what I’m fearing necessary or unnecessary? – Is this something you must address? If it’s a conflict you’ve been avoiding, for example, the fear will only get stronger the longer you wait. The earlier you face the fear the more likely you’ll get positive results. Sooner or later, the fear must be faced. What better time than now?

Is the fear personal or impersonal? – Are you afraid of your abilities or the reaction of others? Do you wonder if you have what it takes? It’s only natural that a challenge would create an amount of fear…even a captivation with fear. Every act of courage means you ignore an aspect of fear. Don’t let your insecurities keep you from achieving your dreams.

Are you satisfied with the status quo? – I know it’s a hard question, but if fear is keeping you from moving forward, and you’ve answered the other questions, this may be the one. You need to strongly consider the repercussions of giving into your fear. It may mean you stand still. It may mean you go backwards. It may mean you never realize the dreams you have for your life or the calling God has placed upon you. Are you willing to live with that?

Share your story. Have you allowed fear to keep you from realizing all God has for you? What would you add to my list? 

You Can’t Even Imagine

That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

1 Corinthians 2:9

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory He will reveal to us later.

Romans 8:18

When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.

John 14:3

Are you ready? 

God Uses Normal People

I love when a verse I’ve read many times jumps out at me like I’ve never read it before. It happened to me this morning. I’m reading through the book of Acts right now and came across these verses:

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.

Acts 4:13-14

It was a great reminder to me…God uses normal people!

Don’t feel you have what it takes…

Feel as though you don’t “measure up”…

Consider yourself a “common man” (or woman)…

You are a perfect candidate for God to use in a mighty way!

Consider this question:

Where are you lacking that God can use you for His glory?

That’s not to say we shouldn’t learn all we can, grow in our knowledge and understandings, but it is saying that where we start isn’t as much an issue. When we are called of God, we have everything we need to be successful in His strength!

Remembering Those Who Serve

Most of my readers know by now that I live in a military town. Our church is full of modern-day heros who have sacrificed to keep us free as a nation. I’ve written 10 Reasons I Love Our Military Families previously. Today is a day to remember all that took place, honor the fallen. Hundreds of fire, police and medical personnel, along with hundreds from our nation and others died on 9/11. I heard today that 90 countries were represented in the deaths on 9/11.

In a military community, the remembrance takes on a deeper meaning, because that day changed how many in our community have lived these last 10 years. In our church alone, we have several widows, several parents who have lost children, and hundreds of families who have spent more time separated more than together, because of the events of 9/11. There have been 603 lives lost this far into the war on terror from our community.

This week, as we remembered the events of 911, three of our brave soldiers were interviewed. Here’s is the short interview we shared today.

Please pray for our military and families and for our nation! Please continue to remember those who serve, our military, as well as our police, fire and emergency personnel. Thanks for all you do!

5 Reminders for Ridding Your Life of Fear

Most of us live our lives with some kind of fear. That’s probably uncontrollable to a great extent. We live in a very fearful world. The title of this post may be a bit misleading; fear may always be with us, but I think it should be a challenge to have less fear of this world in our life.

What would it be like to live your life apart from fear or with less fear?

Here are some points of understanding which can help us become less afraid of the unknown situations of life:

Life can be uncertain –

There are lots of unknowns in the world. That makes people afraid. Most people would prefer to know the outcome of a situation and yet many times, probably most of the time, we do not get that privilege. Most of the horrifying experiences of my life seem to come upon me suddenly. We tend to want the expected to occur, but we should always be prepared, at least emotionally, for the unexpected.

Fear is an emotion and not necessarily a reality –

Someone actually defined fear as a felt reaction to a perceived danger. We innately have the ability to respond quickly to danger. Sometimes we can feel that a situation is going to be scary before it actually is. Our reaction to that sense of fear often determines how well we handle the situation.

We must keep ourselves from allowing negative scenarios to build in our mind. People often take a fear and begin to build scenarios in their mind of what might, could, or is going to happen. Most often these scenarios are irrational. When the emotion of fear begins we must analyze its rationality and if it is based on an unknown occurrence we must dismiss it as strictly emotion and not reality.

Sometimes we must face our fears in order to receive victory over them –

We can’t allow fear to alter God’s plans for our life or steal our joy. We should not be too surprised if in our weakness and fear God encourages us to be strong. When Elijah was hiding out from Jezebel because he was terrified, God sent him back to face her again. (1 Kings 19) Elijah had to go back before he could go forward. God will often allow us to face our fears as well.

Ask yourself two questions:

  • What fear do you need to face before you can get on with your life?
  • Is fear holding you back from moving forward in some area of your life?

There are two consistent themes in the Bible. We are to walk by faith and we are not to be afraid. I think those two themes are related to each other. It takes doing the first to accomplish the second.

God has a plan even when our fear tells us that He doesn’t –

Since fears are an emotional response and emotions are not always reliable, fears will often cause people to lose their trust and dependence on God. At the same time, God will often use fear to draw people to Him. Most people grow best when they are being stretched by life. God often uses faith-stretching events; times when people are most afraid, to grow and mature His people. One time Jesus made His disciples get into the boat, even though He probably knew as the Creator that a storm was approaching. Faith tells us that God’s plan is secure, even when our fear says otherwise.

As we grow more in love with God, we fear less –

Perhaps the greatest secret to overcoming fear in the Bible is found in 1 John 4:18, which says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” Perfect love casts out fear. If ever a person could perfectly know the love of God he would never have to be afraid again. Whenever we run from the challenges of life, God has to wonder why. He must wonder “Am I not enough? Do you think this is too big for me?” As we grow in our love for and our trust in God we will be better able to live our lives in a confident assurance that God is in full control.

To continue to mature as believers we must be working to rid our life of the fear that keeps us from completely following and trusting in God.

What is your greatest fear you would like to overcome?

Scripture Memorization, Week 36

It’s been a long week. God was more real than ever before, but I was a true pastor this week. There were more needs than I had time or energy. On weeks like this, I need this type reminder.

Here is this week’s memory verse:

I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for You alone, Lord, make me live in safety. Psalm 4:8

God only knows what another week has for us.

Do you need this reminder?

We can only see what we can see…

I say this often…

We can only see what we can see…

I don’t know why…

I just find times that it seems to fit…

Sometimes the simplest statements have the largest meaning…

The fact is…

We can only see what we can see…

The rest requires faith…

In my experience, sometimes God lets you see miles down the road…

He told me once, for example, to plant a church…

17 months later we launched…

(That was after the 10 years I ignored what He was saying…but that’s another story…)

Sometimes God lets you see only a few steps…

It was that way when God called me into ministry…

I had no idea where I was headed next…

I could only see what I could see…

The rest required faith…

When you can’t see beyond the steps…and even when you can…

Remember “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7)

Because…

We can only see what we can see…

What about you?

Are you seeing the miles…or are you seeing the steps?