When the troubles of life come our way, our temptation is often to self-medicate—to participate in uncontrollable addictions that lead us further into the brokenness of the world. But in Christ, there is a way to find freedom from addiction, overcome hurt and trauma, and channel our energies wisely even when we only have a little energy to give.
Hey friends, This episode is a difficult one, mostly because this particular time of my life—unexpectedly living in the middle of a global crisis—has left me feeling incredibly lonely myself. It's hard having everything you've come to know as 'normal' just crumble in front of your eyes. I'm having to learn how to step back and remind myself that there is no way to categorize where I was, where I am, and where I'm going as any kind of 'normal.' My past wasn't necessarily a better place to be than my present, in terms of what the world calls good and right and normal. My future is the same way. Jesus' entire mission was to show us that there is something greater than this world and this temporary life. He reminds us that in this life we will have trouble, but we can take heart because he has overcome the world. Our 'normal' may be gone. But maybe normal was never really there. God wants us to rest in His goodness, His faithfulness. He's the one who leads us and feeds us and cares for us. He doesn't always take us out of the valley of the shadow of death, but He walks beside us through it. I hope this episode can give you some peace and rest this week, friends. Whether you're walking through loneliness or you're struggling because you're surrounded by people and can't find space to be alone, the Stanfords have words of comfort for you that come straight from Scripture. Loneliness and depression don't have to be the end of the road for you. Like any chronic hurt, these things don't have to define you and they don't have to be a death sentence for your soul and your joy. In fact, as the apostle Paul reminds us, God's power is made perfect in our weakness, and His grace is sufficient for us. We'd love to hear from you. Send me an email at email@example.com. We want to answer your questions, get your feedback, and hear your prayer requests. You can also visit youmatterministry.com to view all our resources and get in touch with us. God bless, Jonathan Gibson
As much as I hate to admit it, I very easily lose focus on Jesus and shift my eyes to idols in my life. The obvious ones are there—work, relationships, money—but the ones that really take my mind and heart away from Jesus are the more subtle idols: things like doing good things for people but having the wrong motives; or even just my deep-seated desire to know more and be correct at the expense of my relationships with people. I raise those things up on pedestals and it always ends in a broken mess. I'm nearsighted, which means my glasses help me see what's far away, but I don't really need them to see things that are about a foot away from my face. As soon as I take those glasses off, I am practically useless and blind. I can read a book comfortably, but that's about it. Our relationship with Jesus and the way we talk to him—by reading Scripture, praying, and being in community—is like a set of glasses. We are all spiritually nearsighted. We can see what's right in front of us with shockingly good clarity most of the time. But without that spiritual lens, we simply cannot focus on what's ahead: the life God has planned for us and the race he has called us to run. We try to run blind and we are shocked when we trip and stumble on something! Isn't that crazy? Idols in our lives try to take the place of our spiritual glasses, but really they're more like a sleep mask. Not only do they not help us see what's ahead, but they also can blind us to what's right in front of us. So friends, this week I encourage you to meditate on the words of Jesus and the passages of Scripture that Drs. Shane and Pokey talk about in this episode. I truly believe that it will change your life. We'd love to hear from you, friends! You can send Pastor Shane an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're interested in sponsoring the program or if you have any technical questions, you can email me at email@example.com. Of course, we want to encourage you to explore all our resources at youmatterministry.com. We've got books, podcasts, and encouraging words for you to look through. And if you're looking for a new start and want to know what it means to follow Jesus, we've got information on our Home page that will walk you through that. God bless, Jonathan Gibson Executive Producer
Have you ever taken a step back to look at some mess you've made in your life and wondered, "How in the world did things get this messed up?" It's so easy to find ourselves putting our priorities on everything other than Jesus. Like we learned last week, the mental garbage in our lives stacks us and blinds us to what God is trying to lead us into. Jesus says in John 10:10 that he came to the world "that [you] may have life, and have it to the full." Life to the full. Not just to the top of the glass. Overflowing the rim and spilling onto the table, no room for even one more drop. That's the kind of life Jesus came to give us! Friends, what does a full life look like to you? Do you have anything close to that right now? All throughout the gospels, Jesus shows us that kind of life. He shows us what we could have if we would just surrender our desires, our fears, our worries, and our priorities to him. We were never meant to have a life that's strangled and suffocated by the misguided priorities of this world. When our hearts and minds are in Jesus' hands, he gives us a purpose and meaning that can't be broken or stolen or destroyed by this world. I hope you enjoy this week's episode. I would love to hear from you, friends. You can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you're interested in some of our other resources, I'd love for you to visit youmatterministry.com. All my books and past sermons and podcast episodes are there for you to explore. And, of course, the most important thing you can ever do in this life is decide to follow Jesus. I don't ever want to end an episode or a sermon or even a conversation without pointing you to the giver of life and savior of the world. Friends, if you want to learn more about what it means to follow Jesus and live in relationship with him, visit youmatterministry.com. There's a place on our homepage called "A New Start in Life." You can find information about counseling, addiction help, grief care, and most importantly, spiritual guidance to help you start your walk with Jesus. Go into the world and be salt and light, friends. You matter. God bless you. — Pastor Shane