Recommendation

To my network of pastors/churches, if you are looking for a Spirit filled psychologist and conference speaker, please consider Dr. Wayne Evans (http://www.askdrwaynenow.com/). He is my mentor and personal friend and he comes highly recommended. His website provides a list of topics and seminars. You can contact me for further references.


Contact Information

Dr. Wayne Evans

Wayne E. Evans, Ph.D.
Practical Alternatives, LLC
2275 Research Blvd.
Suite 500
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 509-7211
Email: info@askdrwaynenow.com
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Are You a Thermometer or Thermostat?

For the past two weeks, our family has been feeling the temperature rise as the hot summer months approach the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. The truth is, the more I focus on the temperature, the more heat I feel, particularly when I am checking the thermometer. This exercise got me thinking about this quote: “Are you a thermostat or a thermometer? Do you merely reflect the environment, or do you change it? Author Unknown. The difference between the two is that thermometers tell the temperature, whereas thermostats regulate it.

As most of you know, I am a retired police officer. One of the most valuable lessons I learned as a police officer was keeping myself centered and present when coping with every situation. Many lives, including my own, depended on my ability to gauge and regulate my inner world and outer surroundings. Honestly, this is not an emotionally controlled ability but an incredible act of the will. When I perceived danger of any kind, my emotions exploded with 4th of July fireworks due to an adrenalin rush to my brain. In these situations, I had to reach deep within myself to remain self controlled, thus de-escalating an already unstable and highly volatile climate. Essentially, I had to choose between being a thermostat or thermometer.

As a thermostat, I can be the change in a dangerous climate by using different strategies or resources that could neutralize an explosive situation. These strategies and resources included separating domestic partners, listening to an outraged citizen, making an arrest, or taking control of an out-of-control person through the appropriate use of force. These strategies were behaviors taught to me by seasoned police officers. On the contrary, as a thermometer, I could also be changed by the climate by overreacting emotionally or escalating force to an already blazing incident. In these instances, officers have the potential of doing more harm than good. I learned very quickly that how I engaged a crisis was always up to me, I always knew in the back of my mind that my actions would later be measured by a higher standard than the average citizen. In other words, I had no excuse because I was expected to perform above standard even under the most extreme circumstances.

You might be asking, “Stephen, how did you manage under such extreme conditions?” Simply put, God’s grace made the difference in my life and career as a police officer. You might say, “How does God’s grace relate to the notion of changing from a thermometer (externally driven) to a thermostat (internally driven)?” Grace is God’s own self-imposed bias, persuaded by His love for you, that downloads into your being unlimited celestial energy that you don’t inherently possess or deserve. Grace empowers you, transforms you, and makes an eternal difference. Grace installs special software into your being that enables you to become an agent of change, just like Jesus. My testimony through life and death is simply Jesus.

Grace is universally available to whoever is willing to receive it from Jesus Christ. Hebrews 13:25 says, “May God’s grace be with you all.” To everybody! It is available for you right now. You might be living like a thermometer because that’s all you know but more is available to you even if you’re living the darkest night of your soul. Grace shines the brightest in the dark. Jesus stands ready to download celestial energy into your very being that will transform you into a thermostat, if you just ask and believe Him for it. Remember, if you’re in Christ, the will of God will never take you where the grace of God cannot sustain you.

So, again, a “thermostat” changes the climate by regulating it, whereas “thermostats” are changed by the climate. How is grace helping you build your internal thermostat? Do YOU know that you can change your beliefs, thoughts, and attitudes by rewiring your mind with the Word of God? God’s Word is grace fuel that powers your thermostat, which in turn regulates your thoughts, speech and behavior. The difference will always be your choice: Will you be a catalyst or an inhibitor?

Ultimately, you and I make the difference! Grace can empower you to become the change (thermostat) you want to see in your world or you can choose to be changed (thermometer) by every external circumstance that comes your way. It will always be your choice. It will never really matter what the ‘temperature’ is—you might be surrounded by blazing flames of trial and hardships—but you’re internal thermostat can remain 70 degrees and sunny because of God’s grace. Remember, it may feel good at the moment to become a thermometer (externally driven) by ratcheting up your crazy to match another’s crazy—you may even get your way by doing so—in the end you have given your power away to another.

How can I change?

  1. Know the difference: Thermometers tell the temperature whereas thermostats regulate it. You can adjust to your climate or regulate it.
  2. Pray to God & believe the Promises of God over the areas of your life that require change.
  3. Pay attention to your self-talk and increase your self-awareness. When you hear yourself saying, “I have no choice,” step back and remind yourself that you always have a choice even if it’s just your attitude. Remember No choice is still a choice!
  4.  Look for an accountability partner.
  5. Create SMART goals:
  • Specific: Who is involved? What to accomplish? Reasons, purpose, benefits.
  • Measurable: Establish concrete criteria to measure your progress
  • Attainable: It must be important. You can attain anything you set your heart.
  • Realistic: You must be willing and able to do it.
  • Timely: Time frame. T can also stand for tangible—A goal is tangible when you can experience it with one of your senses, that is taste, touch, smell, sight or hearing.

Who Are You Wearing?

CLICK ON Art by Rose Borisow

The police uniform reveals identification, authority, professionalism and unity. A police officer in full dress uniform is known as one of the sharpest-looking people around. While I was in the police academy, I learned that it was my responsibility to maintain a clean and neat uniform that is in good repair and I learned to wear that uniform properly in order to convey the office of law enforcement. When police officers wear their uniform, they project command presence, respect, authority, and power. In fact, research suggests that clothing has a powerful impact on how people are perceived, and this goes for the police officer as well. The uniform of a police officer has been found to have a profound psychological impact on those who view it.

On the contrary, wearing an orange prison uniform conveys a complete different message. Orange jumpsuits are instantly recognizable for prisoners. It is a form of immediate identification with bondage, guilt, and incarceration. In exactly the same way, Paul makes the same contrast in Ephesians 4:22-24 we read…”You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires… and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Col 3:9-10, Eph 6:11). Paul encourages the Christian to ‘put on’ Jesus Christ and to ‘put off’ sinfulness, which leads to bondage. What we wear is an important relative to who we are. This is precisely Paul’s point in the spiritual sense; you need to dress yourself spiritually to meet your identity. From the spiritual standpoint, it kind of goes like this: when you are saved, you give your life to Jesus Christ, and He redeems you. Essentially, you give up the orange jump suit for a spotless police uniform: A complete transformation of identity! Your old man dies, and you are born again, a new man. The new man wears the police uniform and doesn’t want to wear the old jump suit on top of it because the two are incongruous. Paul says it this way, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (I Cor. 5:17, NIV) You may say, “But I’ve got a problem. My problem is that I may be a new man or woman in Christ but I got a lot of trouble because I keep messing up. Where is it coming from?” Basically it’s coming because your new man is still connected to your humanness. You have to make a distinction between your humanness and the new man. Your new man is like a new home that Jesus lives in. On the contrary, your humanness houses your old attitudes, thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The key is deciding daily which place becomes your hang out.

The internal conflict is like always running to the closet and dragging out the cruddy stained orange jump suit that says, “Put these on today.” That’s what your humanness is used to doing. It hangs on to the junk in our lives. It says, “Wear these. You’re the same “old man” you’re going to be forever. It is no wonder Paul says, “I’d really like to get out of this vile body.” No wonder he says, “I have to beat my body to bring it into subjection.” Paul knew this battle first hand and gave us a solution: “Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires” Rom 13:14 (NLT).

How do we clothe ourselves with Christ? Paul says in Romans 12 that you’re going to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. That’s how you will know what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. You’ve got to hang out with Jesus to have your mind transformed. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction, and righteousness that the man of God may be mature, or perfect, thoroughly furnished to all good works.” In other words, you reach maturity by the Word of God and the good works result. You say, “But how do I do that?” Well, from your standpoint it is this way. You have a little knowledge and you practice it. As you practice it, you make it a part of yourself and you grow. It’s like food. You take in the Word of God, and as you eat it and devour it, it’s transformed into energy that makes you grow. The more you grow the more you eat. As you take in the Word and pray, as you practice it, it turns into energy. It feeds your new man and you mature. 2 Peter 1:5-11 (Message) explains it like this: So don’t lose a minute in building on what you’ve been given, complementing your basic faith with good character, spiritual understanding, alert discipline, passionate patience, reverent wonder, warm friendliness, and generous love, each dimension fitting into and developing the others…So, friends, confirm God’s invitation to you, his choice of you. Don’t put it off; do it now.

Make a choice daily to hang out with Jesus in the new house while feasting on His Word. If you take this challenge for the next 20 days, your new uniform will be evident for everyone, including yourself, to see. It will display identification, command presence, authority, and power, which are necessary towards a life worth living in Jesus.

Attitude In Leadership

The Bible uses symbolism to reflect attributes of God. In particular, God is compared to a lion (Hosea 13:7-8).  What is interesting about the Lion is that it’s not the biggest, strongest, or smartest in the animal kingdom. So what attribute does the lion have that grants it the leadership of the animal kingdom? ATTITUDE!! An attribute that sets the lion apart from other animals.

What is attitude?

Attitude is defined as an enduring system of belief that can be examined on three different levels:

  • Cognitive 
(how 
we 
think
 or 
reason
 through 
an 
attitude)
  • Emotional
 (how
 we 
feel
 regarding
 an 
attitude)
  • Behavioral 
(how 
we 
act 
on 
an 
attitude)

Research has indicated four ways we acquire attitudes:

  • The earliest agents are our parents or guardians,  friends, culture, & media
  • Classical conditioning: associating behaviors and attitudes as “good” or “bad” (i.e. it’s good to tell the truth, it’s bad to steal).
  • Operant conditioning: being rewarded or punished for behaviors or attitudes
  • Observational learning: modeling attitudes that are seen in others and the culture.

Getting back to the analogy of the lion, the elephant is regarded as the biggest animal; the tortoise is the wisest; the cheetah (or antelope) is the fastest; the snake family is the deadliest, the hyenas are quite cunning, the peacock is quite beautiful, etc. But none of them is ruling the kingdom. Being a leader wherever you find yourself is not about being the biggest, wisest, fastest, beautiful, or best but about having the right attitude. The lion’s attitude is what gives it the edge.

The attitude you take when you venture into anything is vital to success. When the lion sees an elephant, it thinks of it as food and that is the attitude it takes to put fear in the elephant. The way we perceive challenges is what distinguishes us from our peers. Consider King David’s attitude when he faced Goliath as a boy. While everyone was running away from Goliath, David was seeing Goliath differently. He saw Goliath defeated way before he cast the first stone. Even though David was just a boy, he acted like the king of Israel way before he was officially ordained . How we feel and interpret a challenge is the edge not the requisite of a particular skill.

What is Leadership? The capacity to influence others through inspiration that is generated by passion, motivated by a vision, conceived by a conviction, which is produced by purpose (Myles Munroe).

READ: Matthew 9: 35-38. As Jesus analyzed the human condition, He was moved to compassion because he felt the pressure of their condition: Sheep without a Shepherd. The condition of woundedness in a people is directly connected to the lack of leadership in their lives.

The condition in your home, community, and church is directly linked to the quality of your leadership.  The Lion leads because he thinks differently than sheep. Jesus focused not on methods, techniques, or skill acquisition but attitude. All leaders think differently from followers. Leaders are solution focused and not problem oriented.

Attitude is a byproduct of belief, NO ONE CAN LIVE BEYOND THE LIMIT OF THEIR BELIEFS. Your life is what you think it will be.

PHILOSOPHY: PHILO: To love + Sophia: To think & know. To love knowledge and apply its truth to your life is the answer to changing your self defeating beliefs.

Philosophy progresses with a concept—theory—belief—thought—attitude—action. This is how we develop a thinking system.

Principle: Trapped in every follower is a natural born leader that is untapped.

The goal of leadership is to release the leader in the follower and not to maintain followers. True leaders do not measure their success by followers but producing leaders…working themselves out of a job.

When you inspire people they rearrange their priorities to follow you. Followers look for leaders. Followers are attracted by passion. Leadership is not just a set of skills but discovering something more passionate than life.

Leadership is not measured in your presence but in your absence. Jesus measured his leadership by saying: It is better that I go away because you will not be able to do greater things your leader does (John 14:12).

The capacity to lead abides in every human being like a tree trapped in a seed. If you believe this, every human life is important…untapped potential for greatness.  It was the reason why Jesus went looking for Peter after he denied him. Jesus saw the great man in Peter, before Peter believed that of himself.

Leadership requires the right environment. It requires the right opportunity. A seed has more than you see with your eyes. A seed has a forest trapped within it. However, if you store the seed on the window sill of your bathroom for 50 years, it will remain a seed. The forest is trapped in a seed and requires the right environment.

You are the seed, in you is trapped a forest that requires the right fertilization. Consider improper fertilization that does not cultivate the seed: excessive media, gossip, bitterness, etc.  As a man thinks in his heart, so is he. Instead, read your Bible, books, listen to seminars.

Everyone is born to lead with inherent potential for greatness. However, the environment is up to you. How are you using your time?

You were born to lead but you must become a leader. Become infers process, every seed planted becomes a forest. Every boy is a man but he becomes a man; likewise, every girl is a woman but becomes a woman. A becoming is necessary!  People never become who they are because their environment is not right. That is why the Jesus Leadership Institute took his followers away from home.

They left family, friends, and towns to stay isolated with Jesus. Jesus had to change their environment to tap into the world changing power in each of them.

What are your environmental factors? What is inhibiting your release? Imagine, Jesus took villagers to world changers. They confronted entire governments, kings, and people groups. Mentality is transferred by environment.

You were born to be a leader but not over people but yourself. SAY WITH ME: TRUE LEADERS DO NOT SEEK FOLLOWERS, TRUE LEADERS DO NOT SEEK FOLLOWERS, TRUE LEADERS DO NOT SEEK FOLLOWERS, TRUE LEADERS DO NOT SEEK FOLLOWERS, TRUE LEADERS DO NOT SEEK FOLLOWERS.

Because followers seek true leaders, what attracts followers is their independence from them. I say true leaders to make a distinction from false leaders. False leaders attach themselves to people to build their ego through manipulation, mind control, and fear.

When you journey into the world of self discovery, self awareness, your identity in Christ, then you become someone enlightened by the Word of God and empowered by His Spirit, where change is evident in your life. Become the change you want to see in your life.

Who Are You?

My neighbor recently built a brick fence around his property, I watched as the carpenter constructed each wall, brick by brick, with mortar in between each one. I saw how he meticulously ran a leveling line to assure the blocks were leveled. This provoked a thought about identity.

Who am I? What is identity? How is it constructed and formed? These simple questions have confounded humanity for centuries, but how you answer these questions impact your everyday life. For instance, if you replied by saying, “I’m a teacher or student,” “I’m a mother or father,” or “I’m a football player” or “cheerleader,” then you have defined yourself by what you do. What happens when you quit doing those things? Basing your identity on performance, looks, skills, talents, or pedigree sets you up for an identity crisis because all these factors are subject to change, like your age, health, skill level, and external circumstances.

To begin, I am a self who has an identity. Once I articulate myself—37 year old, male, Latino, professional counselor, Christian, American, married, father of two daughters, named Stephen Galloza—an identity is owned, like a finger print. Some of these characteristics I mentioned are fixed, like my age, race, and kinship, where others can change, like my name, religion, and work. So, identity is both given and fixed but also acquired and always changing. The self is embedded in the flow of life and circumstances can change your “state of being”—now friendly, now angry; but even more than that a person can claim multiple identities. For example, my education is important to qualify me as a professional therapist but it’s not important to my identity as a Christian, even though I am both at the same time. It’s like the wall that I watched being built; I observed each brick stacked on each other that eventually made up the whole wall. Similarly, identity is made up of the different parts of the self that are constructed into a whole, which makes us who we are. We are made up of the sum of our parts. We don’t normally think this way because we are accustomed to seeing the whole before we see individual parts, like a painting, building, or a piece of art.

Why is this so important? Identity just doesn’t happen to us, it comes from us: We are our own “architect,” “construction worker,” and “engineer” in forming our individual identity. Even though we are not always aware that we choose our own identity, it remains that identity is built brick by brick out of the raw materials of the fixed and acquired bricks of who we are, to include our key relationships, life experiences, and personal choices. The mortar in this construction is a mixture of our perceptions, our interpretations, our personal narratives (the way we tell the “story” to ourselves), our worldviews, and our life philosophy.

Another key factor in this construction site is the influence of others, which are your social authorities: parents, school, mentors, peers, religion, science, and psychology. These factors act like levelers to the way you are “supposed” to build and manage your construction project. All together, your conscious and subconscious choices, spiritual and social influences, plus the mortar of the way you see the world become powerful shaping influences that make up “who you are.” We cannot forget the influence of our hardwired sin nature. Our building projects will always be perfectly imperfect because of the pervasive influence of sin, however, there is hope! We were also created in the image of God so our building can always reflect His blueprints.

So far, we have discussed that identity is very personal, relational, and contextual. This forming never takes place in isolation, some parts of us are biogenetically hard-wired, like temperament and personality, and other parts are shaped by relationships that impart morals, values, and views about the world. Another way to view this synergy is the way children develop language. Their brains and tongues are pre-designed to speak, but this inherent ability to talk is formed by family, peers, and culture.

Psychologists recognize that identity is as much a construction project as it is an expression of our essence. The “engine” that drives identity is personal values, beliefs, and religious commitments. The main issue, for anyone, and particularly for Christians, is what you set your affections and desires upon, as they will determine your attitudes and behavior.

In Jesus Christ, we can re-construct our identity, based upon the redemptive work of Calvary and the power of the Holy Spirit. The Scriptures declare, “But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12, NLT). In Christ, a new you is born! The Apostle Paul explains it this way: “What this means is that those who become Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the old life is gone. A new life has begun!” (2 Cor 5:17, NLT). Yet, this truth must be appropriated by faith and obedience to God’s Word. This truth transcends behavior, it’s a new identity. We become sons and daughters of God. Your construction site now becomes holy ground because Jesus is now resident within the bricks and mortar of your life: Transformation!

Why do some people take terrible experiences and make it work for them, while others take any experience and make it work against them? Christian author, Graham Cooke , says “Knowing who you want to be is an identity issue. Knowing what you want to do is concerned with destiny. Both are two sides of the same coin. They cannot be separated. Both require choices to be made that are premeditated and predetermined. Choices are the root of power and that level of ascendancy is never, ever spontaneous. You cannot drift to the top of a mountain. Pipe dreams are not for players but for the spectators in life. Real dreaming produces purposeful living in the present and takes hold of the future in the form of choices.”

Never forget that real sustainable change for the Christian is a grace infused process called sanctification: a lifelong commitment to obey Christ through a very narrow and often complicated path, which is lived in the company of the family of God and the rich fertile soil of the body of Christ. The cross of Jesus signifies the end of the “old self,” a radical and progressive re-ordering and re-orientation of our identity. But sin is like a stubborn mule, especially at the very core of our being, and the “old” self dies a slow death, “such were some of you…But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified…(I Cor 6:11, NLT). This promise is your in Christ for the taking, a finished work!

If you are “stuck” in your identity construction project, do not become discouraged by your present situation. “It does not matter where you start but where you finish” (Bishop T.D. Jakes). Identities that originate in Christ are made by Him, and for Him, be “confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it onto completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6, NLT). Remember where sin abounds, grace abounds even more. Be humble and authentic about examining your heart and repenting of the distorted and dwindling effects of sin in your life. Grace is your portion, such is our hope!

Embarking On A New Journey

Today, I embark on a new journey by launching faithhopeandpsychology.com: A website dedicated to the hard work of biblical and psychological integration for practical living. This dream has been hidden in my heart for as long as I can remember.

I want to first give my Lord Jesus Christ the first fruit of my thanksgiving. It was Christ that changed me into a new creation. It was His Spirit that cleansed me and made me a whole person. It was Christ that led me into the police force where I learned some of life’s greatest lessons. It was Christ that guided me through the long difficult years of studying theology & psychology (two very intense and distinct fields). It was Christ that showed me how to live a practical Christian life and avoid the slippery slope of a religious life. It was also Christ that gave me my beautiful wife, Annie. It was because of her encouragement and support that I was able to finish school while working a full-time job. It was also Annie that nudged me into blogging (I think she was tired of hearing my verbal dissertations).

In just a few weeks my blog site exploded with viewers from around the world. I was so blown away that people found my ideas worth reading. I want to thank each and every one of you that have given me feedback and constructive criticisms. I listened and upgraded to a website that includes my professional services with a blog format.

Today, Sunday, March 18, 2012, on the Lord’s Day, I launch into the deep trusting in my Savior to lead me and guide me. Please help me pray that this website would help wounded people heal so they too can find their life calling.

Spiritual Alchemy


What is your life’s mission? We all want to know our life’s purpose. A research study conducted by psychologists Ellen Langer& Judy Rodin in the 1970’s showed that people who believed their life hadpurpose and meaning were happier, more resilient, and lived longer than thosewho did not.

 Dr.Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and holocaust survivor, said “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life;everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. There in he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task isunique as his specific opportunity to implement it.
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown us that when we perceive that our lives have purpose we gain strength from even the most difficult situationsin life because everything happens for a purpose and therefore has meaning. Those people whohave chosen to live with a sense of purpose are easy to spot: they emitpositive energy and maintain hope through trying times.

My precious daughters Gabbie & Stephie love watching Anime. I am amazed at the life lessons that are communicated in these animations. In particular, my eldest,Gabbie, is captivated by Fullmetal Achemist, a Japanese Anime that seeks torestore what is lost through alchemy: A magical power that transmutes an ordinary substance, usually of little value, into an exceptional substance of greater value. The main characters must forge ahead if despair is to be transmuted into peace. In a land marred by war and persecution, where truth comes only with tragedy, the main characters undertake their desperate search for the philosopher’s stone. Every step closer brings them deeper into the darkest shadows of reality. Sinful abominations, both supernatural and human, try tokeep the characters from redemption. Each episode begins with music and this quote:“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return…”

This quote always resonates deep within me and reminds me of a biblical passage “to give them beauty for ashes” (Is.61:3). So many people are looking for this spiritualalchemy, a sustainable transformation that leads to a life worth living. The truth is that we cannot gain anything from God without first giving Him ourashes. Your ashes might be a major life trauma, emotional and/or physical pain,mental illness, addictive behaviors, depression, or maybe a wounded heart. If you are a Christian, your ashes might be a lack of self-understanding and direction. You may have the means to live, but no meaning to live for. This spiritual desert itself can convert into a pervasive health problem, this crisis can lead to all sorts of dis-ease and emotional distress, including depression, anxiety, and fatigue. Our biography becomes our biology. Yes, our life stories, thoughts, attitudes and beliefs convert into our biology.
Whatever your ashes might represent to you, God, through His process, can transform your woundedness into something beautiful, a life worth living. The late theologian Howard Thurman often said, “There are two questions we must ask ourselves. The first is ‘Where am I going?’ and the second is ‘Who will go with me?’ If you get these questions in the wrong order, you are in trouble.” Take some time to think about this question.
Personally, I have found this “life worth living” in a nonreligious relationship with Jesus Christ. He has taken my ashes and converted them into a beautiful life. In Christ, every event and each person in my life embodies a sacred purpose, even my enemies and my sufferings. I have learned that my responsibility is to recognize and integrate all of them into myawareness so that I can discern the greater pattern for my life mission. Anthony Robbins says “the difference between those who succeed and those who fail isn’twhat they have—it’s what they choose to see and do with their resources and theirexperience of life.   
We are all being transformed, the question is into what? We become what we behold. What are you beholding? The Apostle Paul said “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit ofthe Lord(I Cor 3:18). When Jesus presented the heart ofHis mission, He said: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). The “new” and “abundant life” is found in a relationship with Jesus. You and I are called to a fullness of life that far exceeds just an earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of Christ.
In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says: You were made by God and for God-and until you understand that, life will never make sense. It is only in God that we discover our origin, our identity, our meaning, our purpose, our significance, and our destiny. Every other path leadsto a dead end. God created you and accepts you-no matter what you have everdone or failed to do.

Pssst!! Hey, did you hear…?

From family reunions to church activities, the water cooler to professional conventions, studies reveal that 70% of conversation indulges in the guilty pleasure of GOSSIP. This indictment on humanity might immediately provoke your defense mechanisms as no one wants to admit to this. Yet, scientists say that gossipis “like breathing…it’s so much a part of our day that we don’t even realizewe’re doing it” (Foster, 1997).

In Old English, gossip or god-sibb — originally meant a person related to one in God, like a ‘godparent’ or ‘god sisters.’ The word later evolved to mean aclose female friend or companion, and then the kind of talk characteristic of intimate friends, i.e. sharing of secrets, chatty talk, or intimate talk about personal issues. Today, gossip has pejorative connotations, it is defined as 1) trivial writing or talk of an intimate nature about someone else; 2) a person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors orfacts.

Why do peoplegossip?
If we know that gossip is wrong why do people spend so much time doing it? What motivates people to engage in malicious talk? Studies have shown that gossip benefits from its end results, such as looking better in front of a boss or rubbing shoulders with people that have influence. But the true culprit is a sin nature and a deep rooted feeling of inferiority. Gossip gives a cheap thrill of superiority from spreading information that others don’t have, and we all know that knowledge is power. Essentially, by gossiping, the gossiper feels as if he/she is a much better person than the subject of the gossip.

Stretching the truth, exaggeration, or embellishing a story is a LIE! It makes a story “juicier,” which increases the impact of the story when disclosed. This kind of “story telling” creates a psychological rush in the gossiper, an internal power surge. This is what makes gossip so evil! It becomes a social surgical tool that disembowels a person’scharacter and reputation for a cheap personal thrill. Ultimately, the goal of gossip is defamation, slander, and vilification. I read somewhere “Believe none of what you hear and half ofwhat you see, because your perception is limited without all of the facts.”

The story is told of ayoung man during the Middle Ages who went to a monk to ask what he should do to repent of his sin of slander. The monk instructed the young man to put a feather on every doorstep in town. When the young man returned, the monk instructed him to go back and pick up all the feathers. “But that’simpossible,” cried the man, “By now the wind will have blown them all overtown!” “So has your slanderous word become impossible to retrieve,” replied the monk, “though you are forgiven, you can never retrieve the damage you havedone.”
What does theBible say?The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels…” Prov. 26:22

Gossip is as old as sin. The word “gossip” is not found in most translations of the Bible. However, the Apostle Paul deals aggressively with the topic in his epistles. He defines it as idle talk or rumor, especially about the personal or private affairs of others. The closest thing to a biblical definition of gossip would be found in 1 Timothy 5:13 “And withal they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying good conversation, but the Bible warns that excessive talk is often accompanied by sin. “Where words are many, sin is not absent…” (Prov. 10:19, NIV)

The Greek words associated with gossip are “diabolos” (accusing), “blasphemeo” (defaming), and“katalalia” (speaking against). The Bible makes it excessively clear that all gossip is wrong, whether the gossip is false (Mt. 5:11), true (Prov. 17:9), malicious (Ps. 31:13), or merely foolish (Prov. 10:18). We are warned to avoid bearing and listening to gossip (Tit. 2:3; 1 Tim. 3:11).

I believe one of the most malicious and deadliest forms of gossip are from the pulpits. Unfortunately, pastors can be one of the greatest violators of God’s command concerning gossip. Pastors often think they are immune from this rule and are allowed to openly gossip about parishioners or another pastor or ministry, right from the pulpit. It is illegal, unethical, unbiblical, and one of the worst violations of confidence when a pastor uses the pulpit to air out a parishioner’s personal life or counseling experience. The Bible declares “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantageIn the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodlydesires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow merenatural instincts and do not have the Spirit (Jude 1:16-19, NIV).

Have you ever been the object of a gossip or slander? I have and chances are you have too! Most of us have felt the sting that comes when we find out that “friends” are talking behind our backs. The book of Proverbs says gossip aggressively assaults others like a club, sword, or sharp arrow (Prov. 25:18). It stirs up dissention (Prov.10:12) and kindles strife (Prov. 26:21). It destroys reputations (Prov. 25:10) and worst of all, it separates close friends and fractures relationships (Prov.17:9). That’s probably why of all sin, gossip is amongst the most appallingin God’s eyes (Prov. 6:19).

If we’re honest, I think most of us would admit that we enjoy hearing the latest juicy story or“prayer request” about an acquaintance or friend. However the Bible says that the words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels, and that listening to tales is like savoring a rare delicacy (Prov18:8). To “savor” means to pause and enjoy. The problem with listening to gossip is that we take it in. It does not simply pass by. Instead,we spend time considering it. And whether we like it or not, it taints our spirits, thoughts, and attitudes. Perhaps suspicion and caution arise where previously there were none. Perhaps we begin to see the person spoken of in a slightly  different light. Or perhaps we begin to see faults that we never saw before. As the ancient philosopher Horace said, “Once a word has been allowed to escape,it cannot be recalled.”

The Lord wants us toavoid the sin of gossip. His Word says, “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life; he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin” (Prov 13:3).

I set a challenge to you this week – every time you have a conversation ask yourself whether your conversation is honoring to God and toother people. Remember, Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is notself-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love doesnot delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, alwaystrusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails (1 Cor. 13: 4-8).

 

Emler,N. (1992). The Truth about Gossip. Social Psychology Section Newsletter27:23-37.
Emler, N. (1994). Gossip, reputation andSocial Adaption. In Good Gossip, R. Goodman and A. Ben-Ze’ev, eds. Pp. 119-140.Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.
Foster (1997). Review of General Psychology (Vol. 8, No. 2, pages 78-99).

80 % of Thoughts Are Negative…95 % are repetitive

In 1985, medical research conducted at the University of Maryland School of Medicine showedhow internal and external dialogue significantly affects our blood pressure, hearts, and alter the biochemistry of individual tissues at the farthest extremities of our bodies.

In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article regarding research about human thoughts per day. The average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80%  are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before and about 80% are negative.

These studies reveal that the quality of our existence rests on the quality of our internal and external communication. It also reveals how our bodies respond to the way we think, feel and act. This is often called the“mind-body-spirit connection.” When we feel guilt and shame or stress and anxiety our bodies cry out to tell us that something isn’t right. For example, high blood pressure or a stomach ulcer might develop after a particularly stressful event. 

If 80% of our thoughts are negative and 95% of them are repetitive, then we have a built in spiritual problem! We must realize that we are spiritual beings living in a human body. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a French philosopher and jesuit priest, said it best, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” From this perspective, we must identify this spiritual problem as a pervasive problem that infects our mind, will, emotions, physical body. It’s like a negative default programming that is hard wired into our entire being. It is not just a tendency to be negative or do a bad thing once in a while, it is a sinful nature that we are born with, a nature that is totally at odds with God. And it is our sin that separates us from arelationship with God.

God has a solution! A new nature or a “new birth.” Jesus said “Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to—to God’s kingdom” (John 3:3). This new birth is not a religion but a transformation from a sinful nature to a new nature with a new heart, newdesires, and a new mind, and a new direction.

How do we attain this new nature?  The Bible says Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites (Acts 2:38, Message).  

It does not end there! God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating,going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the in side out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity inyou” (Rom 12:1,2, Message).

This Scripture gives us a holistic perspective with very practical advice! Going to God first renews our spirit. By fixing our attention on God and learning His Word we create new blueprints for our minds. If we do not captivate our thinking process, then the old blueprints become our default programming and we are back to the same old destructive patterns of the past. Our thoughts have a profound affect on our emotions, and by learning how to thinkin our own best interest, we improve our emotional condition.

How do I changemy thinking?

Dr. William Backus, Christian psychologist and ordained minister, states that science has amply demonstrated what Scripture well attests: that there is power in learning to influence behavior. In his book, Misbelief Therapy, he recommends a three step process:
1)Locate your misbeliefs

2) Remove them, and

3) Replace your misbeliefs with God’s thoughts about you.

For example: Jerry ended his marriage after 15 years because his wife no longer wanted to stay in the marriage. After his divorce, he experienced loneliness and self medicated using alcohol. He became depressed and decided to see a therapist. Once in therapy, he gradually began to see that this life didn’thave to be over. He started to see God again as the Giver of good, despite his unhappy circumstances. He explained it this way: One day while I sat groveling in my sorrows, I listened to the words I had been telling myself, things like Oh, what’s the use? I’m all alone. Nobody loves me or cares about me. Nobody wants to be with me. I’m rejected and useless… Suddenly I was shocked. I thought, what am I telling myself anyway?
Jerry’s Misbeliefs Jerry’s Truths
Instead of saying,
“I’m a failure and I’m no good,”
He said: “The marriage failed. But I am deeply loved by God. Therefore I am important.”
Instead of saying, “I’m so lonely and miserable,” He said: “I’m alone but I am not lonely.”
Instead of saying, “I’m separated from my family and there’s no joy anymore for me,” He said: “I’m separated from my family and that hurts. I can function even though I hurt.

STOP IT!!!

STOP IT!!
“Whether you prevail or fail, endure or die, depends more on what you do to yourself than on what the world does to you.” (Jim Collins)

In this comical clip a woman complains of her many phobias. What is the therapist’s advice? He simply tells her to “Stop it!” On one level, this advice seems to make sense, yet we know it can’t work otherwise we could all solve our problems by just stopping. 
A Jewish proverb says “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 3:27). The wisdom in this text reveals that everything you think in your heart, you become and can achieve. All you have to do is look around to witness that everything you see with your eyes started with a thought in someone else’s mind. It was an internally seeded idea. 
As circumstances around your life change, you can either attribute achievement or disappointment to things you have control over, or to forces outside your influence. Whichever orientation you choose has serious consequences on your life.

A Jewish proverb says “as a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 3:27). The wisdom in this text reveals that everything you think in your heart, you become and can achieve. All you have to do is look around to witness that everything you see with your eyes started with a thought in someone else’s mind. It was an internally seeded idea.

In the 1960’s, Dr. Julian Rotter coined this orientation as “locus of control.” His studies revealed that our behaviors and attitudes affect the outcome of our lives. 

Essentially, how you think about yourself will determine whether you’re a victim or a victor. If you begin to believe the negative judgments of others by being externally controlled by them, then it won’t be long before you become a victim of circumstances. However, if you believe you can achieve, then you become responsible for your own success despite the opinions of other and external circumstances that are out of your control. 

In the Christian faith we are taught that God is sovereign but it also teaches God wants us to obey His commands. From this perspective, both forces are at work in our lives. Internally and externally God is at work conforming us to Christ, yet through human volition we can behave as internal people because our choices can change the course of our lives. In this matter, we are neither internal nor external but eternal.
How Can We STOP IT?!

We are not alone, the Holy Spirit through the act of sanctification, works His good in us. Through our will and choices we can cooperate with God to bring change to areas of our lives that are “stuck.” Remember that anything good that happens in our life is due to the work and blessing of God. Ask God to help you identify areas of your life that need change. 

You can also pay attention to yourself-talk. This will increase your self-awareness. When you hear yourself saying things like, “I have no choice” or “There’s nothing I can do”, step back and remind yourself that you do, in fact, have some degree of control. It’s your choice whether you exercise it or not. Remember you can do all things through Christ that strengthens you! 

When it comes to the unwarranted negative criticisms of others, recognize you always have a choice. Remember that no choice is a choice! You do not have to allow people to pull your strings. A practical step for moving towards an inward locus of control is goal setting. Establish a goal and find ways to measure your progress. This will help you see that you are controlling what happens in your daily life. This life tip will help you build self-confidence.