David recollected that as a young lad, with long unruly hair and a ruddy complexion, sleeping out in an open pasture under a starry sky after watching his father’s sheep all day long; how he would take his little harp and sing to the God above all gods. Looking up, he saw the sky as a huge tent with the sparkling stars as lights that lit up the night. He may have even tried to count them once or twice. But what really impressed him was that each night every star was in exactly the same place, not one of them was missing. He was so overcome with awe that he penned a hymn to the creator of that starry universe.

O my LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius, as You display Your grandeur all over the heavens for all the world to see. For through these small and tiny dots of light You communicate as a way of countering those who don’t take You seriously; yes, You do this to silence the doubter and unbeliever. When I look up into the sky and see the galaxies Your hands created, the stars and the moon You put into orbit I ask, “What role do humans play in this vast universe; why do You care and fuss over them?” Then I realized, You created them a little short of being angels; endowing them with attributes of honor and dignity; making them the smartest and most influential creatures on earth; putting them in charge to being stewards of Your handiwork, even taking care of the animals, both domestic and wild, including the birds that fill the sky and the fish that fill the sea. O LORD Eternal and heavenly Master, Your awe-inspiring works mark You as a genius for all the world to see.” Psalm 8:1-9

Reflection: Back in the days of the hippy movement I sat in a coffee house in Stuttgart, Germany talking with a long-haired flower-child about God. The young man was respectful but adamant about his doubts concerning God’s existence because he couldn’t see Him or talk to Him. At that moment the Holy Spirit gave me an inspiration, so I pointed to a picture hanging on the wall beside our table and asked the young man if he believed that picture came into being due to an accidental collision of paint and paper. He laughed and said, “That’s ridiculous; that picture was painted by an artist.” I responded that I wasn’t convinced because I couldn’t see the artist in the picture; how did I know that maybe one day it just appeared on the wall by accident. The young fellow looked at me for a moment and then admitted that even though I couldn’t see the artist in the painting, I had to accept the fact that an artist painted the picture because it just makes sense. I told him that in the same way, one must exercise faith to believe an unseen talented artist created such a beautiful portrait, we can also believe an unseen God created the beauty of the universe. The magnificence of God’s creation shows His responsibility for man’s existence, and man’s responsibility to acknowledge God’s handiwork. The young man smiled somewhat embarrassingly as he bowed his head and said, “Okay, you got me on that one.” I asked him if we could have prayer for him to have faith, but he wasn’t sure. As he went away I asked the Holy Spirit to go with him and open his eyes to the truth.

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Christian writer Kimberly Taylor share this incident with us about a conversation she had with her husband Mike in which she used a phrase she bets we’ve all used at one time or another. She was grumbling to Mike about a particular business situation, but said she was “dealing with it.” Mike said, “Why do people say, ‘I’m dealing with it?’ Doesn’t a ‘deal’ mean that both people are getting something out of it?”

Well, she had never thought about that! So, she decided to look up the word ‘deal.’ The meaning is “an agreement entered into by two or more parties for their mutual benefit.” She then looked at other words that are complimentary of the word “deal:”






Unfortunately, while some things we are dealing with are good, other deals are those made with the devil. A prime example are those dealing with bad habits. But how do you make a deal with something that is harming you? Well, we know what the enemy gets out of the deal according to Jesus in John 10:10: “The thief only comes to steal, and to kill, and to destroy.” So, when the devil gets us spending our time and money on excessive and expensive habits he fulfills his mission statement. But what do we get out of the deal?

It is a hard question. As God’s people, we need to question the things we are “dealing with” and if it is not a mutually beneficial situation, we need to refuse that deal! When it comes to sin, we ought never “deal with” that. According to God’s word, here is the proper response to sin: Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7).”

On the other hand, consider some of the great “deals” the Lord offers His people: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16).” “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. (Isaiah 26:3).” “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9).”  “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5).” In these scriptures, you see rewards are everlasting life, peace, reward, and wisdom. What a deal!

But to obtain these blessings, conditions must be met:

Believe in Jesus

Keep mind stayed on the Lord

Continue to do good

Ask God for help

God wants His people to redeem the deals found in His word. In Psalm 35:27, the Lord says, “Let them shout for joy and be glad, who favor my righteous cause; And let them say continually, “May those who delight in my vindication shout for joy and gladness; may they always say, ‘The Lord be exalted, who delights in the well-being of his servant.’” Wise peoples search out God’s promises in His Word like gold and silver because promises like these represent the true riches in life.

So today, consider the words coming out of your mouth. What you are dealing with? If you’ve been making deals where you shouldn’t, then take authority over those situations, asking God specifically for a plan for your circumstances. Each day, pray for strength to walk out that plan and receive it by faith. The best deal of all is the abundant life that Jesus promised in John 10:10. It’s all about getting to know God through a deeper way! Before you know it, you will see bigger and better deals coming your way – and will prosper from them.

As our pastor, Rick Warren, often tells us, if you keep being drawn to dabble in activities that are bad for your spiritual life, don’t hide them or put them out of reach, get rid of them. At one time I was wondering why it was so hard for me to lose weight. My sweet wife made meals that were healthy, nutritious, delicious, and the right thing for a person on a diet. I found out the meals were fine, but my snacking was what was doing me in. I tried to make a deal by snacking only in small portions, but that didn’t work either. Finally, I simply said goodbye to mixed nuts, tortilla chips, Babybel cheese, Turon (fried wrapped plantains with brown sugar), Pringles potato chips in of all flavors, Flavored Filipino Nagaraya cracker nuts, etc. etc. As long as they were around, in the fridge, desk drawer, pantry, they drew me like a magnet. The same goes for TV, movies, books, magazines, places of entertainment, social gatherings. You can’t make a deal with them. You will be the loser every time. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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I remember reading the word “visionary” to describe an early church saint. But it also came to identify someone with farsightedness and innovation as a visionary. Or as Dr. Martin Luther King stated, “I have a dream.” For instance, for more than 20 years, neuropsychologist Antonio Puente Ph.D has been working to ensure psychology’s seat at the health-care table. Puente, never envisioned himself as an advocate for psychology. But in 1989, as president of the North Carolina Psychological Association and a neuropsychologist with a private practice, he decided to push for better reimbursement for neuropsychological services. Thus, he became a visionary.

Then, Dr. Art Markman tells us that in 2008, one of the big factors that helped to sweep Obama into office was that he was seen as an inspiring and visionary leader.  The country was mired in two wars, and an economic crisis threatened to plunge the US into a depression. In that context, Obama’s campaign speeches about hope and change resonated with the voters.

Then in 2016 real estate Entrepreneur Donald Trump was elected President with the vision to “Make America Great Again.” He found the Army depleted of weapons, the Air Force having to salvage spare parts from other airplanes, and the Navy far behind other nations in warships. It wasn’t that he wanted to go to war, but to prevent war through strength. Therefore, he was a visionary for peace.

Psychologist Eric Haseltine says there are several ways to become a visionary. One of those is to reject willful blindness. That means, looking for alternate or extraordinary ways of solving problems. The answers are not always out in the open, you have to search for them. Another thing is that in order to become a visionary you must see what others don’t see in relationship to potential. As the old saying, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.” Another thing is to treat the “unexpected” as possibilities. So, instead of not paying attention to such improbable events, pay special attention to them. Then look for opportunities that might develop if they came into being. When it happens, then you will be thought of as a visionary.

Then, Justine Musk, the first wife of multi-billionaire Elon Musk gives some insights:

Coming out of the shadows in our lives.” Live and learn to hear the words, “I didn’t think you had it in you!”

How crisis forces complacency to be thrown out the window.” How many people have reported that during a crisis they were able to do things they never thought possible under normal circumstances?

Learning to read your life like a mystery novel and searching for clues.” It is what solves mysteries about our behavior, attitude, and response to any given circumstance.

Finding the things in our lives that lead to creative renewal.” When the old way doesn’t work anymore, look for something new.

Learning to use our creativity to show the world who we are.” Some people are afraid to try new ways of dealing with something that needs fixing because they are afraid of failure. But, that in itself is a failure.

Developing an unwavering conviction and commitment.” How many times have you seen a jigsaw puzzle laying on a table unfinished, or a crossword puzzle only half completed, or a car up on blocks in a person’s garage with parts all over the floor that have been there for years?

Learning to steer yourself in the direction of your strengths.” Too often we concentrate on our weaknesses as a reason not to try while our strengths go unused and miss opportunity after opportunity.

Becoming motivated by process instead of product.” A good product only comes after a successful process. Ask any innovator how many prototypes they made before coming up with the finished product, or ask a best-selling writer how many drafts they went through before publishing the final story?

Having faith in your own uniqueness as a person.” Just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike, not even twins. How many different types of Oyster Stew are there; how many different recipes are there for Black Forest Cake; why do we have such a variety of automobiles, computers, etc. Yours does not need to be like everyone else’s. Make it your own.

The role adversity plays in reaching extreme success.”  Don’t look at setbacks, failures, hardships, or misfortune scare you away. The way a cowboy wins a riding championship is by grabbing the rope on a rearing bull or a saddle horn on a bucking bronco and holding on the clock says he won.

The Bible is not quiet about the need for visionaries. King Solomon said, “If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves; But when they attend to what He reveals, they are most blessed.”[1] And the prophet Joel shares what God had to say, “After I have poured out my rains again, I will pour out my Spirit upon all of you! Your sons and daughters will prophesy; your old men will dream dreams, and your young men see visions.”[2]

And, this was God’s message to Habakkuk, “Write my answer plainly on tablets, so that a runner can carry the correct message to others. This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

So, how do we get a vision? How can we become a visionary? King David said it best, “Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”[3] Why would you want anything other than what the Lord wants you to have? The Apostle James tells one important step to take: “If you want to know what God wants you to do, ask Him, and He will gladly tell you, for He is always ready to give a bountiful supply of wisdom to all who ask Him; He will not resent it.”[4]

“So,” says the Apostle Paul, “here’s what I want you to do, 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 inside 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 in you.”[5] – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Proverbs 29:18

[2] Joel 2:28

[3] Psalm 37:4

[4] James 1:5

[5] Romans 12:1-2 [The Message]

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I’m sure you know people who are always thinking negative thoughts even when they hear good news. In fact, one of them might be you. Not only does this affect your way of life, but it leads to feeling tired, anxious, discouraged, depressed, fearful, frustrated, and low self-image.

Here’s a story I read and want to share with you. The writer says, I know the feeling. For many years, I was in bondage to negative thinking. How can this be? Aren’t God’s people supposed to live victoriously because Jesus has overcome the world? Although I knew that mentally, somehow that message didn’t reach my heart. Then, one day it hit me: The thoughts you dwell on determine the world you live in. Wouldn’t it be nice if your old ways of thinking were wiped out when you accepted Jesus as your Savior? But that doesn’t happen.

You may still have mental strongholds of critical voices from the past, anxiety about your present circumstances, and/or fear of what is yet to come. This explains how it is possible for God’s people to be in just as much bondage as people of the world. The negative thoughts you keep stored up in your memory will affect each day you live.

As a child of God, you were not meant to live under mental oppression. 2 Corinthians 10:5 gives you guidance for overcoming this issue: “We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” This means negative self-talk is not meant to roam freely in your mind where it can wreck your life; you are called to actively take those thoughts as prisoners by the power of God’s word.

But that takes work, patience and yes, it takes time. But the effort is worth it because…The thoughts you dwell on determine the world you live in. Just imagine if all Christians would take this one instruction to heart and put it into practice. We would bear Spiritual fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

The world would see something different about us and want to know our secret. That would open the door for us to tell them about Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith! God delivered me. And He can deliver you too. This challenge is about seeking the Lord for a heart/mind change. I suggest that you start keeping a journal to document what the Lord is teaching you in this process.

Remember again: The thoughts you dwell on determine the world you live in. Ensure that the world you are living in is consistent with the abundant life that Jesus has for you! Be blessed with health, healing, and wholeness – by Kimberly Taylor

I agree with Kimberly that whatever we fill our minds with will color our thinking all day long. While being born again does not wipe our memory clean of all negative thoughts, they can be removed by replacing them with positive thoughts. It seems that the believers in Philippi were having the same problem, so the Apostle Paul told them: “Dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9).

So, instead of starting each day with social media, Facebook, Google News, CNN, MSNBC, or FOX News begin with God’s Word. Rather than turning on the radio for latest pop music, listen to Christian Radio. Also, what magazines or newspapers do you read each morning before reading you Daily Devotion? Whatever you fill you mind with through your eyes and ears, it will echo in your cranium all day.

There’s an old saying that goes: “You are what you eat.” The same is true of information. “You are what You read or automatically accept what you hear as true.” King Solomon tells us there are people who pick out an item on the menu based on price, not on taste or nutritional value. (Proverbs 23:7). God won’t change this for you, but He will give you the power you need to change it yourself. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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There are few things that bring a smile to our faces than when someone is thankful and shows their gratitude for what they received. But that smile can be quickly erased by another who is unthankful and exhibits a sense of ingratitude no matter how good the gift may have been. Since it seems hard to distinguish any difference between the two, psychologists tell us that thankfulness is a social norm applicable in general situations while gratitude is the special manifestation of spirituality, love, and affection.

Being thankful reveals one’s attitude. Psychologist Suzanne Kane explains that saying thankyou and showing your appreciation does more good than you may think. This benefit grows both to the giver and recipient. Indeed, these types of expressions and acts are powerful forms of gratitude. Yet, while it may seem normal to be verbally appreciative at certain times and with specific people, there’s much more that you can get out of thankfulness at other times.

Susan Krause Ph.D., notes that we all like being thanked. It’s a great feeling to have someone, especially someone who doesn’t stand to gain, tell us that we made a difference in their lives. In the past few weeks, I’ve had the good fortune of receiving some heartfelt thank you notes from students, pausing as they got ready to leave campus for the summer, or perhaps for good, to take a moment and let me know that something I said or did proved helpful to them. I’ve also had the good fortune of having favors done for me by people who went out of their way to help me solve a problem, fix something, or in fortunately only one case- return a lost cellphone. Being thanked and having reason to thank others are two sides of the same gratefulness coin. Both exemplify the positive in human behavior and provide us with a positive charge that boosts our emotional balance.

Dr. Krause goes on to say that if you’re at the receiving end of a thank-you, you may feel unsure about how to reciprocate. Does a thank-you present require a thankyou note? What about thanking someone who’s helped you? Do you reward a person who returns a lost item with cash or just allow your relieved face to serve as its own reward? Then there’s the guilt factor: What if you let a few weeks slip by without sending a thank-you note for a birthday gift? Does it look worse to send a belated thank-you note or just to forget the whole thing and hope the gift-giver won’t notice?

And science writer Seth Borenstein says that while it seems pretty obvious that thankfulness is a positive attitude, psychologists for decades rarely delved into the science of giving thanks. But in the last several years they have, learning in many experiments that it is one of humanity’s most powerful outlooks on life. It makes you happier and can change your attitude about life, like an emotional reset button.

Psychologist Taylor Bennett lists six benefits of being thankful: First, being thankful improves your physical heath. Second, it advances your psychological health as well. Third, it can help you sleep better. By being thankful you feel less tired at the end of the day. Fourth, it helps foster new relationships. Fifth, it enhances empathy and lessens aggression. Sixth, it can improve your self-esteem. And Melissa Dahl, senior editor for a New York magazine adds two more. Seventh, you will appreciate those closest to you and make them feel wanted. Eighth, your fellow employees will work with you even harder to get things done.

These scientifically-proven benefits of showing thankfulness, says Bennett, permits us to be thankful for all of your treasures and blessings, not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Not only will you show your loved ones how much they really mean to you, but you’ll also do some good for your own overall wellbeing.

Yet, what does the Bible say about thankfulness? The Psalmists are not quiet about this. In fact, they were jubilant at the idea of being thankful. They write: “Oh give thanks to the Lord, call on His name!”[1] And in one Psalm following another, “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!”[2] There’s no better way to begin a day than in giving thanks to the One who makes living possible.

The Apostle Paul says, “Whatever happens, always be thankful. This is how God wants you to live in the Anointed One, Jesus.”[3] And again, “Always give thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One.”[4] He also tells believers, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks for what you have.”[5] And to those in Greece he writes, “Thanks be to God for His gifts that are too wonderful to describe.”[6]

Then Paul composes it into a blessing and benediction: “Let the peace that the Anointed One gives control your thinking. It is for peace that you were chosen to be together in one body. And always be thankful. Let the teaching of the Anointed One live inside you richly. Use all wisdom to teach and counsel each other. Sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Everything you say and everything you do should be done for Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus.[7]

As the great evangelist Dwight L. Moody once said, “If we make a full surrender, God will give us something better than we have ever known before.  We will get a new vision of Jesus the Anointed One, and will thank God not only in this life but in the life to come.” So, how can you ever hope to thank Him when you meet Him face to face in the sky, if you don’t thank Him now? And how can you stand beside your loved one who just passed away and thank them for all the good things they did for you when they can’t hear it? Or, what good does it do to thank someone late or without really showing any gratitude? Keep all these things in mind and be thankful for being reminded now, instead after it is too late. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Psalm 105:1

[2] Ibid. 106:1; 107:1

[3] 1 Thessalonians 5:18

[4] Ephesians 5:20

[5] Philippians 4:6

[6] 2 Corinthians 9:15

[7] Colossians 3:15-17

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A lady worshipper shares her story of several years ago when thieves smashed the windows of eight cars in the church parking lot during the Sunday morning worship service. It was devastating. When those members came out to their cars after the service was over, they discovered shattered glass on the ground and in the car, and found valuable property stolen. How could such a thing happen on church grounds – on God’s property? But it happens all the time, she says. I’m not talking about just the natural but in the supernatural.

So, she explains. She had been meditating on John 10:10 lately in which Jesus called Satan a “thief:” The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I, said Jesus, have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. In the natural, you would take safety precautions if you knew you lived among thieves, wouldn’t you? At our church, we normally have security guards patrolling the parking lot during our Sunday services. But we found out later that no one was on guard that particular Sunday. It turned out to be a costly oversight.

Let’s look at this from a life perspective. Has the enemy destroyed or stolen something from you? think of several things he is robbing Christians of right now:



            Children’s futures


            Peace of mind


Are we doing everything we can to protect our territory which the Lord has given us?

The enemy loves to use our emotions against us. Scripture gives us another warning about the protection issue: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8). We cannot allow ourselves to get “drunk” off food (gluttony/bingeing) or anything else in the natural that keeps us bound.

So, while we are mentally impaired, the enemy is robbing us blind! Isn’t it time that we sober up and start standing guard over our territory? The Lord is ready to help. The following are two ways we can start protecting yourself better when it comes to your health:

1. Internal Protection. To me, this is the area where Christians fail to protect ourselves most. We allow the enemy to sow lying thoughts into our minds and let them grow. I define a lying thought as any pattern of thinking that contradicts God’s word. When we don’t take the time to find out what God’s word says and implement it, then all we have is what the devil says. That is the default programming of this world. Many Christians are walking with the enemy in their daily lives without even knowing it. And of course, the devil is happy that they keep him close so that he can keep on stealing!

A good question to ask yourself in your thought life is: “Where are these thoughts taking me?” Some thoughts lead you where you don’t want to go! The enemy can deceive you into by clouding your mind with false evidence.

2 Corinthians 10:5 gives us this guidance: “Tear down every proud idea that raises itself against the knowledge of God. Capture every thought and make it give up and obey the Anointed One.” Also, Romans 12:2 says, “Don’t change yourselves to be like the people of this world, but let God change you inside with a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to understand and accept what God wants for you. You will be able to know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”

So, this is the main work that you must do if you want to take back what the devil is stealing from you. If you are in bondage to negative thinking and mental strongholds, then clean your mind by using Biblical wisdom.

2. External protection. Assess your environment to see what your daily intake is from Television, Newspapers, Magazines, Social Media, Facebook, etc. Here’s a simple guideline: Keep close those things that help you to do good; keep away those things that lead you into doing bad. Here’s an example from some years ago: A lady wrote about her weakness for binge TV series viewing. She stated that she kept the TV on all the time so she wouldn’t miss anything.

She didn’t know why the Lord didn’t remove the temptation from her. Here’s a question for all of us: Let’s say we knew there was a habitual thief who lived in our neighborhood. Would we leave the door to our house wide open for them to come in and steal what they wanted? Of course not. Would you expect the Lord to come down from heaven and shut the door for you? If so, you’ll have to wait a long, long time for that to happen. You see, the Lord gives us wisdom on what to do. Our responsibility is to do what the Lord says.

I am sure that the Lord told this lady she needed to get turn off her TV addiction because it had become a snare to her. But here’s an uncomfortable truth; sometimes people want to have an affair with the enemy while being married to Jesus! They want to leave the door open just a crack so that the enemy can sneak in for what they think will be a short, midnight visit. But the enemy does not work like that. If we give him an inch of territory, he will eventually take it all!

It is wise to keep anything that can overcome our weaknesses far from us. – at home, work, whatever territory you occupy. Good planning beats great intentions every time! If you are not willing to do this, then you need to confront the fear behind it. Ask yourself: “What do I fear will happen if I don’t keep my TV, Notepad, or I-Phone close to me?” If you are not sure what specific internal and external protections you need to put in place, then seek the Lord in prayer about it. Ask Him for wisdom. Seek Him with all your heart. Your heart is the “Holy of Holies” in your temple.

The Lord is your best defense because He is committed to seeing you finish well. He wants you to walk in freedom in Him, not in bondage to anything. God will do His part in securing your protection. Are you ready to do yours? Be blessed in health, healing and wholeness. (by Therapist Kimberly Taylor, Senior Vice President in the Judicial Arbitration and Mediation Services, Inc., Career Group in San Francisco.)

The wise King Solomon in his proverbs tells us, “Don’t take the path of mischievous people; don’t follow those who do wrong. Stay away from that path; don’t even go near it. Turn around and go another way.” (Proverbs 4:14-15). The Apostle James puts it this way: “You are tempted by the evil things you want. Your own desire leads you away and traps you.” (James 1:14).

The Apostle Paul adds this: “The only temptations that you have are the same temptations that all people have. But you can trust God. He will not let you be tempted more than you can bear. But when you are tempted, God will also give you a way to escape that temptation. Then you will be able to endure it.” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  It’s just like eating. Do you eat things to satisfy your hunger or do you eat them because they look tempting? Are you eating to keep yourself healthy, or are you willing to take chances that high cholesterol, blocked arteries, and becoming obese will not happened to you?

Moses and Jesus said it all: “God humbled you and let you be hungry. Then He fed you with manna – something you did not know about before. It was something your ancestors never saw. Why did the Lord do this? Because He wanted you to know that it is not just bread that keeps people alive. People’s lives depend on what the Lord says.” (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). – Dr. Robert R Seyda

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Our pastor, Rick Warren, wrote a beneficial and successful book titled, “The Purpose Driven Life.” But it is hard to get his real message if we don’t understand what purpose means. It begins by realizing how important your life’s purpose is. It’s more than a dream or a fantasy. It involves exploring the possibilities in life.

Dr. Phillip and Jane Mountrose, founding directors of Awakenings Institute, tells us that life doesn’t have to be stressful, meaningless, and uninspiring. We discovered that a sense of purpose provides direction, confidence, and significance. With purpose, each day can become a joyful and meaningful expression of your true identity. There’s nothing like it, they say! You weren’t born just to survive or to settle for a life that doesn’t mean anything to you. More is possible, so much more. You have far more power and potential than you might imagine.

Phillip and Jane list, what they call, treasures awaiting you as you open up to your life’s purpose. They are as follows:

Your life will become a joyful expression of your unique brilliance.

You will be able to focus more, knowing where you are heading.

You will be able to prioritize what is important.

You will manage your time and money better with an understanding of who you are and why you are here.

You will deepen important relationships and find new relationships that support everyone concerned in wonderful ways.

You will be more resilient, knowing setbacks are learning opportunities not failures.

You will find meaningful work that becomes a calling for something greater, including a greater you.

We all have no doubt heard the saying, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But a team of British researchers recently turned this idea on its head. University College London’s Andrew Steptoe and Daisy Fancourt (2019) examined a wide range of possible influences on well-being; they independently examined the roles of such factors like health, income, cultural involvement, and social relationships over a four-year period on a large sample of adults 50 and older living in the U.K. Happiness, as it turns out, may not be linked simply to health, wisdom, or income, but to the belief that your life has a purpose.

Modern scientific research on where does human purpose have its origins, begins of all places, in a Holocaust survivor’s experiences in a series of Nazi concentration camps. While a prisoner at Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and two satellite camps of Dachau (where I was once stationed in the US Army), Viennese psychologist Victor Frankl noticed that fellow prisoners who had a sense of purpose showed greater resilience to the torture, slave labor, and starvation rations to which they were subjected. Writing of his experience later, he found a partial explanation in a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche, “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear almost any ‘how.’” Frankl’s 1959 book Man’s Search for Meaning, a book which proved to be seminal in the field, crystallized his convictions about the crucial role of meaning and purpose. A decade later, Frankl would assist in the development of the first and most widely used standardized survey of purpose, the 21-item “Purpose in Life” test.[1]

Lydia Denworth, writing in Psychology Today, says that the feeling that one’s life has meaning can come from any number of things – from work (paid or unpaid) that feels worthwhile, from cherished relationships, from religious faith, or even from regularly appreciating the sunset. While it does not much matter what gives you purpose, it does matter that you find it somewhere. A growing body of research has found that the feeling that one’s life has meaning is associated with a host of positive health outcomes. And now, a new study of older adults published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences goes even further by revealing that the sense that one is living a purposeful life appears to be positively linked to just about every aspect of our lives, not just health. The new study also followed people over time and found that the more purposeful they found their lives to be, the more positive changes they experienced.

But before all of this research, answers why it is so important to live a purposeful life are addressed in God’s Word. The Hebrew noun Mahasabha is translated into English as “thought,” “plan,” “device,” and “purpose” For instance, the Psalmist cried out, “Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things [purpose] you planned for us.”[2] And again, “How great are your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts [purposes]!”[3]

And King Solomon declared, “Plans [purposes] fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed.” And the prophet Jeremiah received this message from the LORD, “For I know the plans [purposes] I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans [purposes] to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”[4]

Also, when Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw the effects of God’s grace and was glad, so, “He exhorted them all, that with a purpose [Greek prothesis] of heart to hold onto the Lord.”[5] And one of the most famous sayings of Paul is this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”[6] And when talking about Jacob and Esau, Paul said, “Before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand.”[7] And to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of how God does things, “according to His eternal purpose that He accomplished in Jesus, the Anointed One, our Lord.”[8]

So, you see, you don’t need for God to give you a purposeful life; He already has established the purpose for which you were born. And you do not need to go looking for some purpose in life or make one up from your imagination. Ask Him, and He will reveal it to you. And don’t be afraid of what you might be told. Remember Paul’s words, all things work together for good when you know and follow according to God’s purpose for your life. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] You can find it on, RISE purpose in life test.pdf

[2] Psalm 40:5 – NIV

[3] Psalm 92:5

[4] Jeremiah 29:11

[5] Acts of the Apostles 11:23

[6] Romans 8:28

[7] Ibid. 9:11

[8] Ephesians 3:11

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In the last few weeks, I’ve heard the phrase “Gaslighting” on the news, especially about the current political situation. I always try to keep up with the latest terms so I can understand what people are saying. But I must admit, gaslighting had escaped my attention until now.

Mary Ellen Mann, a licensed clinical social worker in private practice in Denver, gives us a definition: “Gaslighting occurs in a relationship when one person tricks the other individual into doubting their experiences.” When this happens, you hear such comments as these:

“You’re crazy – that never happened.”

“Are you sure? You tend to have a bad memory.”

“It’s all in your head.”

If your friends, family, colleagues, bosses, professors, roommates, partners respond in any manner that leads you to believe that you should question your judgement, perception of reality, even your own sanity, that person may be using what mental health professionals call, “gaslighting.”

This term comes from the 1938 stage play, Gas Light, in which a husband attempts to drive his wife crazy by dimming the lights (which were powered by gas) in their home, and then he denies that the light changed when his wife points it out. It is an extremely effective form of emotional abuse that causes the victim to question his/her own feelings, instincts, and sanity. Once an abusive person has broken down the victim’s ability to trust his/her own perceptions, the victim is more likely to stay in the abusive relationship.

There are a variety of gaslighting techniques that an abusive person may use, says Mann:

Withholding: “I don’t want to hear this again.” “You’re trying to confuse me.”

Countering: “You’re wrong. You never remember things correctly.”

Blocking/Diverting: “Is that another crazy idea you get from a [friend/family member]?” “You’re imagining things.”

Trivializing: “You’re going to get angry over a little thing like that?” “You’re too sensitive.”

Forgetting/Denial: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “You’re just making stuff up again.”

How do Christians tend to gaslight?

Withholding: “You are being faithless and ungrateful when you bring up things from the past.” “Your need to resolve this problem is another indicator of your empty soul.”

Countering: “If you were able to see things with spiritual eyes, you would know that your memory does not serve you well.” “When are you going to learn to forgive?”

Blocking/Diverting: “If you trusted God, you wouldn’t hold onto these sorts of issues.” “You have an issue with forgiveness.” “Your lack of humility and self-righteousness constantly interrupt our relationship.”

Trivializing: “The way you make everything such a big deal shows your total lack of faith to trust that God is in charge.” “When you finally learn to let go and let God, you’ll see why you’re blowing all of this out of proportion.” “A sin is a sin and there is nothing worse about my sins than yours. No one has the right to judge here.”

Forgetting/Denial: “I choose to trust God with those details and if you were a person of faith you would, too.” “If it really happened, God would have spoken to my heart about that, but he didn’t. So until then, I don’t have to respond to your issues.”

When you doubt your instincts within the context of any relationship – with friends, family, colleagues, bosses, professors, roommates, partners, the biggest healing maneuver is to set firm limits. We only have our experiences, which – when broke down – result in two things: what we feel and what we think.

If someone does not allow those two things to matter, we are no longer with a person who will accept our personhood. Period. I strenuously urge you to discontinue or avoid that relationship if you have tried more than three times to get that person to accept your experience of any event.

But does God’s Word address this form of mental abuse? You won’t find the word “gaslighting” in Strong’s Greek Concordance or Lexicon. But that doesn’t mean it was not happening. Some might say that in the Apostle Paul’s confrontation with the Apostle Peter in Antioch was a form of gaslighting.

I like how Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians addresses this from a positive point of view. In other words, we may not be able to stop it but we can sure resist being a victim. Here’s how Paul prayed:

I pray that the great God and Father of our Lord Jesus the Anointed One may give you the wisdom of His Spirit.” Paul shared this with the Roman believers: The Spirit himself speaks to God for us. He begs God for us, speaking to him with feelings too deep for words. (Romans 8:26)

Paul continues: “Then you will be able to understand the secrets about Him as you know Him better.” Most of us have a general concept of God and His divine abilities, but it is not until we study His Word that we learn secrets about how He helps us deal with negative and toxic relationships. King David says to those who were telling him to get out of town, I trust in the Lord, so why did you tell me to run and hide? Why did you say, “Fly like a bird to your mountain?” (Psalm 11:1). In other words, don’t be intimidated by their gaslighting attempts.

The Apostle concludes: “I pray that your hearts will be able to understand. I pray that you will know about the hope given by God’s call. I pray that you will see how great the things are that He has promised to those who belong to Him. I pray that you will know how great His power is for those who have put their trust in Him.” (Ephesians 1:17-19)

Always keep this treasured verse by the Apostle John in mind: The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world. (1 John 4:4) – Dr. Robert R. Seyda

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The famous Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everyone will respect you.”[1] What this wise man was talking about was integrity.

Psychologist Seth Meyers tells us that integrity is a word you hear almost every day, but it’s not a word that people spend a lot of time thinking about. If you try to define it, what would you say? According to the dictionary, integrity is “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.” Put another way, the root of integrity is about doing the right thing even when it’s not acknowledged by others, or convenient for you. An individual with integrity is the antidote to self-interest. There are countless examples of integrity in everyday life—and yet we seldom see some them acted out in our daily lives:

Dr. Meyers suggest the following examples of integrity:

            When parents apologize to their children for wrongly punishing or unnecessarily yelling at them.

            Bosses highlighting their staffs’ accomplishments and downplaying their own.

            Couples who refuse to call each other derogatory names and treating them with disrespect.

            Drivers who refuse to give in to road-rage no matter how discourteous the other driver may have been.

            Refuse to keep other people waiting because of personal business or lack of good time-management.

            Giving another person the benefit of the doubt when the circumstances are unclear.

            Doing things voluntarily instead of always wanting to be rewarded.

Dr. Meyers goes on to say the good news about integrity is that we’re not born with it—or without it—which means that it’s a behavior-based virtue we can cultivate over time. We can set a goal to show more integrity in everyday life and we can reach that goal by practicing the behaviors above, as well as countless others which too often go unnoticed.

Psychologist Leon F. Seltzer tells us that perhaps the most important thing you possess is your integrity. It’s your word of honor—what makes you honorable. Yet at one time or another, you’ve certainly violated this trustworthy, most “sacred” part of yourself. Why? Whether to yourself or others, what is it that, from deep within, compels you to go back on your word?

Other psychologists tell us that integrity is a personality trait and comprises the personal inner sense of “wholeness” deriving from honesty and consistent uprightness of character. The etymology of the word relates it to the Latin adjective integer (whole, complete). Evaluators, of course, usually assess integrity from some point of view, such as that of a given ethical tradition or in the context of an ethical relationship.

Not only that, but integrity is consistency of actions, values, methods, measures, principles, expectations and outcome. As a big picture concept, it judges the quality of a system in terms of its ability to achieve its own goals. We must employ the thinking process of reducing the information contained in a concept in order to retain only facts. Then we can see what evidence is relevant in understanding a particular purpose for someone’s actions. That allows us to see how it applies to any interaction between people that reveals significant factors in identifying integrity due to a person’s appropriate or inappropriate behavior. A value system may evolve over time while retaining integrity if those who advocate that values account for and help resolve inconsistencies.

But what does the Holy Book have to say about integrity? King Solomon is a gold mine of thoughts and concepts about integrity. For instance, he says, “People with integrity are sure-footed, but those who follow crooked paths will slip and fall.[2] Then Solomon states, “The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their dishonesty.”[3] The King goes on to record, “It is better to be poor and have integrity than to be dishonest and a fool.”[4] But wise Solomon is not finished, he tells us that “The godly walk with integrity;blessed are their children who imitate them.”[5] And then he repeats what he said before in different words, “It is better to be poor with integrity than to be dishonest and rich.”[6]

We can also find examples of integrity when we look at Samuel’s life and conduct.[7] And King David tells us that God can be trusted because He is trustworthy. That’s the point: It always comes down to the issue of character, not just words. Biblical integrity is not just doing the right thing; it’s a matter of having the right heart and allowing the person you are on the inside to match the person you are on the outside. This is how God is. This is how His people should be. And the writer of Hebrews defines what integrity means: “Jesus the Anointed One is the same yesterday, today and forever.”[8]

So, the question that remains is do we resemble any on these examples of integrity?  If the answer is “some” or “none” we can use them as tools in teaching us the value of integrity. Remember, you may be less than totally honest with yourself or others, but it is fatal to be dishonest with God. – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] From Tao Te Ching (The way of integrity)

[2] Proverbs 10:9

[3] Ibid. 11:3

[4] Ibid. 19:1

[5] Ibid. 20:7

[6] Ibid. 28:6

[7] 1 Samuel 12:1-4

[8] Hebrews 13:8

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This story is written by a lady named Kimberly. It is something she went through after doing something she knew was wrong and didn’t know if God would ever forgive her. So, she wanted to share her victory with others going through the same dark valley. She begins by asking, “Have you ever felt as if something is broken in your life – either something within you or something in your circumstances?” If so, perhaps you did what I did, run to destructive habits, like emotional eating, as a reaction to brokenness.

I thought I could get over it, that my negative habits of self-pity could soothe my hurt feelings. It did for a little while. Even made me put my brokenness out of my mind. But it wasn’t long before something happened to cause the jagged pieces of hurt feelings and despair cut into me again.

Before I knew it, I got caught up in a destructive cycle; trying to escape that pain of brokenness to that something I hoped would make me feel whole again. But I remembered what King David prayed that described these same feelings: I am weak and broken. I cry because of the pain in my heart.” (Psalm 38:8).

Let me tell you what I discovered so that if you are dealing with something broken in your life that keeps driving you back into unhealthy behavior, here are two Scriptures that helped me and I know they will help you. First, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart. And He saves those who are broken in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18). And there is: “The high and honored One Who lives forever, Whose name is Holy, says, ‘I live in the high and holy place. And I also live with those who are sorry for their sins and have turned from them and are not proud. I give new strength to the spirit of those without pride, and also to those whose hearts are sorry for their sins.’” (Isaiah 57:15)

I learned that to receive the Lord’s help for my despair, was to first recognize that I could not repair myself. I knew several people who were enslaved to destructive habits because they refuse to admit they needed help. Their pride prevented them from doing so. I didn’t want to end up like they did.

To me, it looked like they had this “golden image,” of self-sufficiency and looking strong before others while inside they are falling apart. Underneath it all, they live under the fear of being “found out.”

It dawned on me, that freedom and healing would only come when I too stopped worshipping that golden image and get real.

I agreed with the spirit within me to let God remove those destructive habits and submit my heart to Him for healing so that I could be truly whole once more. So, here’s what I prayed:

            “Gracious Heavenly Father, in the compassionate name of Jesus, I am so grateful to you that You saved me from my sins! You said that sin would not have dominion over me, for I am not under law but under grace.”

            “How I need your grace now so that I can walk in freedom every day. You welcome those who have a broken spirit and a broken and a contrite heart. Welcome me into your presence Lord, for I am weak and broken in my flesh. I recognize You as the One who heals the brokenhearted and binds up our wounds. I honor You as the Repairer of the Breach. Make me whole in You. Fill me with your comfort and your peace.”

            “I am Your child, Your handiwork. I renounce the broken cisterns I’ve run to in my life, those worthless things that can hold no water. Instead, I turn to You in my brokenness, the Fountain of Living Waters. You promised that those who come to You will have an everlasting spring – waters that will never fail. These waters will revive me and refresh others. I believe Your word. Each day, perfect me in Your love.”

            “I know it is only Your perfect love that will cast out fear. As You heal me, make me a channel of blessing so that I may share with others the healing that You have worked out in me. Thank You for saving me, Lord. Thank You for giving a new vision of my life past my pain, but a new life that is complete – one that is healthy, healed, and whole in You! In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

I knew then I needed to make a drastic change in order to live in health, healing, and wholeness, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. The Bible gives us a prescription for change in Romans 12:2: “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

It would be nice if our mind was renewed automatically when we accept Jesus as our Savior. But it is not. We must take the initiative to cast out old, self-defeating thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are consistent with God’s word. Only then can we experience new life in Christ.

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I remember my first class in “Ethics” at the University of North Dakota. The professor wanted to introduce us to the subject. His definition was short and sweet. He said, “Ethics is determining what is right and what is wrong.”

To put it simply, ethics represents the moral code that guides a person’s choices and behaviors throughout their life. The idea of a moral code extends beyond the individual to include what is determined to be right, and wrong, for a community or society at large.

Ethics is concerned with rights, responsibilities, use of language, what it means to live an ethical life, and how people make moral decisions. We may think of moralizing as an intellectual exercise, but more frequently it’s an attempt to make sense of our gut instincts and reactions. It’s a subjective concept, and many people have strong and stubborn beliefs about what’s right and wrong that can place them in direct contrast to the moral beliefs of others. Yet even though morals may vary from person to person, religion to religion, and culture to culture, many have been found to be universal, stemming from basic human emotions.

According to Dr. Stephen Behnke American Psychological Association Ethics Director, “Ethics” and “ethical” are words that people use in different ways. For some, to say that a psychologist has behaved “unethically” means that the psychologist has violated a rule of conduct, perhaps a licensing board regulation or a standard in the APA Ethics Code. This way of thinking about ethics focuses on the unethical, the absence of what is ethical, a breach in the minimum standards of our profession’s behavior. The “Code of Conduct” aspect of the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct sets forth 89 such standards, a violation of which constitutes “unethical” behavior.[1]

Deborah Smith, a Monitor staff member shares some interesting points on how to keep from being called unethical. One of them is, “Understanding what constitutes a multiple relationship.” For instance, if you are a real estate agent, is it ethical to volunteer at one of you children’s functions if you know there may be buyers there? Or, can you buy a car from one dealer and not others because he is one of you clients? Can you tell an employee to drive you to the airport? The question is, whose needs are you most interested in, yours or the other person?

Another point is, can you be trusted to protect confidentiality? When you are asked to provide information on people you know personally to employers, spouses, school administrators, insurance companies and others do you comply without asking their permission? While such requests may be well-intentioned, you need to carefully balance the disclosure with your ethical obligations to protect their confidentiality. In addition, if someone asks you about an individual, they want to harm who harmed you, do you give them the information?

Then we have, respecting people’s autonomy. For instance, if you never tell your child, or a friend, or a neighbor that you just planted flower bulbs in your back yard that are covered with dirt, is it ethical to confront them and accuse them of damaging your flowers when you never told them about the bulbs to begin with? Or, you don’t want anyone coming into the house through the front door, but you did not put up a sign that says, “Please do not enter here. Use the back door.” Should these violators of your unwritten law be punished or told they are not welcome?

Then the next one is, know your responsibilities before telling someone else they are failing in carrying out theirs. Any area or responsibility assigned to you makes you a supervisor. That means you should continually assess the competence of those you are in charge of to make sure they are doing their job appropriately. Such supervision should cover everything the person was told to do, how to do it, and report any problems that come up keeping them from finishing their task. Sometimes parents stop raising their children when they hit their teens, and there are others still trying to raise them long after they are married and gone.

Then there is this: Write it down, keep track, know what the timeline is. Many relationships have been fractured when someone says, “You didn’t tell me that.” Or “You just told me today, not last week like you’re saying.” Sometimes I wish I had a “bodycam” like the police do so I could rewind and prove my assertion. But they are not to be used for that purpose. But you can keep a daily journal and write down when you make certain statements or give particular instructions.

Another is “Practice only where you have expertise.” The problem is that, many times, we are not aware that there’s something we don’t know? If you don’t know where the boundaries are on your area of responsibility or breadth of your knowledge, you must know there are certain guidelines to keep you in bounds. You may be well-intentioned, but not realize you’re going beyond the boundaries of your competence.

And finally, stick to the evidence. When you give your expert opinion or conduct an assessment or offer advice, base your evaluation only on the facts available. For example, don’t take sides in believing one person over the other just because they are part of your extended family. We must be always mindful about what we know, what we don’t know, and what our sources of information are or have been.[2]

But what does God’s Word have to say? King David told the Lord, “Let what is good and what is right keep me safe, because I wait for You.” (Psalm 25:21). King Solomon states that “The Lord detests the use of dishonest scales, but he delights in accurate weights.” (Proverbs 11:1). In other words, always remain fair and balanced. He also states, “Don’t be happy when someone you don’t like has troubles. Don’t be glad when they fall.” (Proverbs 24:17).

The Apostle Peter says that all of us “Should live together in peace. Try to understand each other. Love each other like brothers and sisters. Be kind and tolerant.” (1 Peter 3:8) And the Apostle Paul tell us to “Watch what we say. Don’t let biased words come from our mouth. Say what is good for all concerned. Our words should help others grow as Christians.” (Ephesians 4:29). And the Apostle told the Philippians, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” (Philippians 2:4).

To sum it all up, we can agree that ethics is doing what’s right even if we are in the wrong. There could have been other people besides you that the Holy Spirit called to the altar before Jesus to receive forgiveness and eternal life. But He chose you. Not because you were better than anyone else, but because His love has no bias or discrimination.[3] Since He treated us that way, what excuse do we have for not treating others the same? – Dr. Robert R Seyda

[1] Ethics Rounds, July/August 2005, Vol 36, No. 7

[2] Monitor, January 2003, Vol. 34, No. 1

[3] Romans 5:8

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