RUN TO THE WORD FOR COMFORT, COUNSEL, & GUIDANCE!

A note from Pastor Ron McLain, Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

This week I came across an article from Stacey Salsbery that seemed appropriate for all of us at CCC since we have been going through Psalm 119 in our personal devotions. Here is a summary that she put together of 20 benefits of spending time in God’s Word, according to Psalm 119. Enjoy!

20 BENEFITS OF BEING IN GOD’S
WORD ACCORDING TO PSALM 119

Stacey Salsbery | Bible Reading & Memorization

The Word of God is my anchor. It tethers my mind to the truth when the lies of the enemy are readily available. It wraps me with security when my future is uncertain. It pulls me back into the presence of God when I’ve sought the company of lesser pursuits.

I’ll be honest, I don’t know who I’d be apart from the LORD and His Word. Probably riding the raging rapids of doubt, despair, and discouragement, unable to lift myself from the frenzy of darkness. But with God there is hope. And in His Word, I find encouragement, peace, and satisfaction. I find solid ground to stand on.

If only the world could grasp the benefits available to the soul who seeks God through His Word—willing to see it as truth, clinging to it at every turn. For the Word of God is life-changing and life-sustaining and life-giving. And it’s so much more, as the author of Psalm 119 testifies. The psalmist offers us numerous reasons to run to the comfort of Scripture and never turn away from it.

Twenty Benefits of Being in God’s Word

1. It leads to joy.

Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart. (v. 2)

The NLT translates the word blessed as joyful. The word can also be translated happy. Knowing and seeking God through His Word is a joy-filling activity, and who among us doesn’t need some joy?

2. It can keep us from sinning.

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. (v. 9)

God’s Word is like a trained guard put in place to keep the peace. When we use it accordingly, it can keep us from straying, but when we ignore it we have little hope of not wandering.

3. It offers free counseling.

Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors. (v. 24)

How many times have I needed advice? Lots. How many times have I needed perspective? Too many to count. God’s Word is the best kind of counselor.

4. It guards against the trap of self-seeking.

Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain! (v. 36)

Why is this so important? Because self-seeking is a trap. It does not lead to the fulfillment it promises, but to a pervasive emptiness. Yet to pursue God above our own interests is to find the gratification we’re really looking for.

5. It gives us hope.

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth, for my hope is in your rules. (v. 43)

We have hope in God’s rules not because they are restrictive, but because they are redemptive. Where God commands He also promises. Where God gives little room for wavering He makes great space for blessing.

6. It grants us freedom.

And I shall walk in a wide place, for I have sought your precepts. (v. 45)

True freedom is not found in living however I want. True freedom is found through living in right relation to God. God’s commandments provide the boundaries for doing so.

7. It brings comfort in affliction.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that your promise gives me life. (v. 50)

No matter the circumstances the Word of God offers relief when nothing else can. His promises are true and stand firm through every situation.

8. It gives us something to sing about.

Your statutes have been my songs in the house of my sojourning. (v. 54)

When is it that we tend to sing? When we’re happy, right? As we make our way through life, the assurance of God’s Word and His faithfulness to it fills us with joy. This gives us much cause to sing.

9. It’s an anchor of truth amid a sea of lies.

The insolent smear me with lies, but with my whole heart I keep your precepts. (v. 69)

The psalmist goes on to say, “The sum of your word is truth” (v. 160). No matter what, God’s Word is always true and able to keep us from falling for the vast and persuasive lies of the devil.

10. It allows us to be an example to others.

Let those who fear you turn to me, that they may know your testimonies. (v. 79)

How many of us feel confident in our ability to lead others? Maybe some. When we live according to God’s Word we can be sure of our ability to lead rightly—especially when teaching our children.

11. It offers us hope while we wait.

My soul longs for your salvation; I hope in your word. (v. 81)

Waiting is equal partners with faith and an inevitable part of life. But while we wait, it’s God’s Word that offers us hope.

12. It sustains us during hard seasons.

If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. (v. 92)

Have you ever felt so down and out you didn’t think you could go on? So did the psalmist, yet the Word of God sustained him, even in the hardest of moments.

13. It is life-giving.

I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life. (v. 93)

I once was lost, but now I’m found. I once was dead, but now I’m alive. How? The Word of God and the Spirit of God working powerfully in me.

14. It gives wisdom and understanding.

I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. (v. 99)

There is no wisdom apart from God. In Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). To know the Word is to know Christ, and to know Christ is to know God, and to know God is to know wisdom.

15. It lights the path we should take.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (v. 105)

Are you unsure about which way to go? The Word is a light to the right path. This path will always lead to God and not away; it will lead toward righteousness and not toward sin.

16. It keeps us from falling into the enemy’s traps.

The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. (v. 110)

Navigating difficult people can be well, difficult. But God’s Word lends us the proper course to keep us upright.

17. It acts as a shield around us.

You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. (v. 114)

God’s Word is our defense, for it will never fail us. God’s Word is a refuge, for it will never leave us. There is one place we can always hide when the enemy comes calling: God’s faithfulness to His Word.

18. It helps us know the character of God.

Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules. (v. 137)

The Word reveals who God is and what He has done. Apart from the Word we’d never know Him and His righteousness.

19. It’s how we experience the faithfulness of God.

Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it. (v. 140)

If we don’t know what God says, how will we know that He’s faithful? And if we don’t trust Him to fulfill His Word, how will we ever notice His providence? Knowing and trusting in God’s Word is experiencing His peace-filled, steadfast, constant deliverance.

20. It gives us peace.

Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble. (v. 165)

God made our souls to live in accordance with Him and His Word. So when we don’t, something feels off. But when we make God’s Word our priority, we find a refuge of peace.

Precious friend, we have no reason not to sink ourselves deep into the Word of God and every reason to do it right now. Don’t wait. Let the Word of God be the daily mediation of your heart, so that you too can know the life-giving, life-sustaining, joy-filling, peace-providing abundance of God’s Word.

Worship Him for His powerful Word!!!

Amy Grant - Thy Word (Live)
https://youtu.be/9OTVuGaiTsE

THIS WORLD IS NOT OUR HOME, WE’RE JUST PASSING THROUGH!

A note from Pastor Ron McLain, Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

Every once in a while Facebook has meaningful and helpful posts that give us perspective. It’s easy to let the constant bombardment of negative and fearful social media and other media posts and broadcasts lead us down the path of anxiety. Well . . . there is hope and even joy as we remember that we are sojourners here on this earth, preparing for a glorious eternity with the Lord. Amen?
The following Facebook post by Pastor Don Green from Truth Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, gives us excellent perspective about who we are, remembering the story of those who have gone before us, and where we are headed! Thanks to Pastor Green for his insight and timely perspective!!

Pastor Don Green

Facebook post from June 27 at 7:12 AM

As unruly, disruptive, and uncertain as 2020 has already been, my friends, it will probably get worse from a human perspective. It is, after all, a U. S. presidential election year. All sorts of articulate Christian and secular observers will flood us with analysis and projections of the consequences of this or that outcome for the future.

Well, let me speak into the wind again with an observation for which not many will want to take time. My Christian friends, we really need to develop a more biblical and mature perspective on the outworking of the purposes of God.

For one, He has predestined all things that will occur (Ephesians 1:11). History unfolds according to His purpose and calendar. What looks chaotic to us is in perfect order in the mind of God.

Secondly, we may not at all understand what He is doing. Like Habakkuk, it may all seem violence and injustice to us. God’s ways are not our ways (Habakkuk 1:2-5; Isaiah 55:8-9).

Further, our Sovereign King has seen fit to let His people suffer oppression, suffering, or obscurity for lengthy periods of time. He doesn’t resolve things immediately or according to the current news cycle.

Think about these examples, which are not at all exhaustive.
His people suffered slavery in Egypt for 400 years between the time of Joseph and Moses. A generation wandered and died in the wilderness under Moses for 40 years.
Later on, they spent 70 years in exile in Babylon.
At the conclusion of the Old Testament, God’s people endured 400 years of prophetic silence.
Christ Himself spent 30 years in obscurity before His public ministry began.
According to church tradition, eleven of the twelve apostles were martyred and the other spent his latter years in exile.
You really don’t need me to multiply other examples, do you? (See Fox’s Book of Martyrs if you think I’m overselling my point.)

Look. We Christians live as transient pilgrims here. This world is not our home. Maybe things will get better over the next few months for our world. Like you, I hope so. All this bad news and turmoil is getting old. But maybe they’ll get worse. We don’t know. My concern for us in this already-too-lengthy post is this. We can’t tie our hope or our view of God to the events through which we now live. God reigns in unhindered majesty. We worship and trust Him in light of that, come what may. He knows what He is doing. He loves us. He won’t lose track of us along the way.

Christian brethren, look to His sovereign wisdom and love for His people and find your peace there. In this world you will have tribulation. And that tribulation may last a very long time. But take heart. Christ has overcome the world.

But we have to wrestle through this fundamental question in our hearts to have peace. What are you living for?

"Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also”
(Matthew 6:19-21).

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).

Worship Him in Song

In Christ Alone (Virtual Choir #3 / A Cappella) by David Wesley Virtual Choir

This virtual choir a cappella performance features the voices of 48 singers from 14 countries. It was a labor of love lasting 5 months, and many dozens of work hours. We pray that you are blessed by the music and the message of this modern hymn.

https://youtu.be/RY4CW5pte98

"My Life is in Your Hands" sung by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir

https://youtu.be/AS6tQYJVO80

 A note from Pastor Ron, Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries 
The following article is written by Pastor Lynn Kauffman, a compassionate man who I have known for several years. I thought it would be good to share this information because of the anxiety that exists in our culture right now.Christians are not immune to anxiety and this article gives some goodScriptural input and advice for those of us who struggle with the uncertainties of life during these days. Let me know your thoughts, by emailing me atron@cloviscc.com

DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT COVID-19!

Reflections on peace from Philippians 4:6-7

By Lynn Kauffman, (reprinted with permission of author from Christian Leader, the magazine of the U.S. Mennonite Brethren, March 26, 2020)

Lynn Kauffman lives in Sanger, California. He works as apart-time chaplain at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. Kauffman and his wife, Mary, served as missionaries in Spain for 20 years with MB Missions and have pastored several USMB congregations in the Fresno area.

Be anxious for nothing including COVID-19, but with every news report and update by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds inChrist Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NASB adapted).

Recently our local Walmart was out of milk. Mary, my wife, asked me later if I had taken a look at the aisle where the toilet paper is. I hadn’t. But if I had, I am sure I would have found more empty shelves. Lastweek while having a McDonald’s coffee with a friend—the restaurant is now closed to in-dining—I noticed the parking lot of an adjoining supermarket was the fullest I had ever seen it.

Many of us are anxious and fearful people because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. We are like the church in Philippi to whom Paul says,“Stop perpetually worrying about even one thing” (Wuest translation). Good words for worrying people.

I must confess my own anxiety at times. The other day as I watched a televised presidential update, I frequently glanced at the live DowJones index at the bottom right of the screen. When the index went up, I was delighted. When it went down, which was pretty much the trend that day, my heart kicked into anxiety mode.

Last week California’s governor Gavin Newsom announced that about 56 percent of the state’s population—25.5 million people—could be infected with the novel coronavirus within the next eight weeks if precautions were not taken. I live in California! I don’t like this kind of news. Really, who does?

Experiencing emotional peace

In the midst of all the unknowns surrounding us now, emotional peace can be found. Let me state that again: real inner peace can be our lot.From a state of anxiety, we can move toward peace in the here and now and for tomorrow.

Paul said it. I believe it. And this because our HeavenlyFather’s signature at the end of the Philippians text promises it. As one NewTestament commentator so aptly says, “God’s peace, like a sentinel, mounts guard and patrols before the heart’s door, keeping worry out.”

To make this peace a blessed reality we only need to present our requests to God by prayer. Asking by prayer is the key. Both petition and prayer are needed. With our Bibles before us let’s look more closely at what asking by prayer really involves.

Petition and “gone fishin”

The verb “to ask” (aitéō) means to request, petition, beg, solicit, etc. According to Vine’s Dictionary of New TestamentWords, it is the petition “of one who is lesser in position than he to whom the petition is made” (i.e. a child to a parent, a slave to his master, a human to God).

I believe the modus operandi of many Christians today is to askGod to do something and then move on to another activity. They feel their responsibility is over because they asked: “God will take it from here.” And they call this prayer.

This type of religious activity, as noble as it is, is not prayer, at least biblically speaking. Perhaps this is why many Christians don’t find that much-desired consolation in these troubling times. They have petitioned God, but they have not prayed to God. They have asked, but not by prayer.

Petition and listen

The second element needed to experience God’s antidote to anxiety and fear is prayer. To pray (proséuchomai) means to wish for, to vow or to desire something before somebody. That somebody is God.

The difference between asking and praying is this: When we askGod for something we are initiating an action called asking. We control the action when asking. When praying, God is in control. We only take part in his plans. We participate in an action that he has already initiated. Koine Greek grammar teaches us this; we act “with a view to participation in the outcome.”It’s not just stating a petition and moving on.

Eugene Peterson says it well. “We welcome God’s will in our lives, and we participate in what he is doing in the world. God involves us in his plans… I will to participate in what is willed.” Perhaps for this reason, prayer is sometimes translated to vow.

Knowing how to participate requires hearing God’s voice. And for us to hear his voice, especially when seeking to leave behind worry and move into the arena of emotional peace, we need solace and solitude.

Interestingly in Jesus’ teaching on prayer in Matthew 6:5-13, where the verb “to pray” (proséuchomai) appears six times, Jesus talks about this place of solace. With our door closed we can present these and similar petitions to him and then learn how to walk alongside him. These seven petitions serve as a model for when we pray. With each petition, he will reveal how and when we are to participate. Again, we only listen and obey.

Perhaps the last two petitions in verse 13 best relate to how to petition and listen when facing anxiety and fear. An adapted reading of this verse might look like this: “And don’t let us yield to the temptation to be anxious and fearful during the COVID-19 pandemic but rescue us from the evil one” (NLT).

I believe we can experience true emotional peace as we petitionGod, listen to him and obey him. He will define how to proceed.

Perhaps, the primary life-experience God is inviting us into in the midst of our present crisis is to trust him. Knowing each of us is unique and that each is facing this crisis with different concerns and realities, God has a perfect plan appropriate for each disciple.

·      “Trust me and live in my peace if you have already contractedCOVID-19. I will show you the way.”

·      “Trust me and live in my peace if you are in an age group with a higher health risk factor. I will show you the way.”

·      “Trust me and live in my peace if you are facing employment concerns and wondering about next week’s meals and rent. I will show you the way.”

·      “Trust me and live in my peace if you are concerned about your investments. I will show you the way.”

·      “Trust me and live in my peace if you are concerned about your parents, children or grandchildren. I will show you the way.”

God was already aware of our present dilemma in eternity past.His solution also originates from then. But he is inviting us to participate in his perfect solution now. Perhaps instead of petitioning God we should beasking God how we could best plug into his perfect plan.

Our petition by prayer carries a sense of urgency, given that the word “supplication” in our Philippians 4 text denotes a cry for God’s help that exposes our inability to meet our own needs. We listen with urgency.

The same could be said about the word “thanksgiving,” also inverse 6. While Paul doesn’t mention those things for which we should be thankful, when we thank God for his wisdom, presence and willingness to include us in his plans in times of challenge, we are providing some likely reasons for which to be thankful.

Another helpful tool is to realize we sometimes don’t know how to pray. Paul confesses this when he writes in Romans 8:26 to a people who were facing even harder times than ours: “for we do not know how to pray as we should.” (The word “pray” is the same Greek word we find in Philippians 4:6.)God knows our hearts and needs even when we don’t.

God’s will and God’s peace

It is interesting to note in our reading of Philippians 4 thatGod doesn’t promise to fulfill our every wish and desire. Some of us may become infected and die. But even in light of this possible eventuality, “my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus”(Philippians 4:19).

He also promises peace. When petitioning by prayer we must always consider the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” Sometimes God challenges us to change our petitions as we listen to him in order to bring them more in line with his will. In the end he desires we experience emotional peace regardless of the outcome.

Recently, a Christian brother told me he is certain the coronavirus will not infect him or his family. “Just like the Spirit of theLord passed over the Israelite first-borns in the book of Exodus,” he stated,“so will my family be protected by the blood of Jesus.”

Such a certainty is possible, but only if the Father has clearly revealed that to him. If not, he may be setting himself up for failure and disappointment if infection and sickness and/or death should happen. Also, young believers and children around him may suffer a crisis of faith if such an infection should happen.

We should always keep before us 1 John 5:14 when stating any promise: “This is the confidence which we have before him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” There is no room for reckless thinking if we haven’t clearly heard from God.

But even if infection and sickness and/or death should occur we have the promise that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).I am confident that you, like me, have heard some exceptional stories about howGod is working our present world tragedy into something good. Perhaps the greatest example would be those Jesus disciples who are walking in peace during this time of social and emotional unrest.

Pondering, practicing continually

Paul writes in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, continually dwell on these things.The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, continually practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you” (adapted).

Recently I met a man with Christian leanings who was emotionally distraught, but not due to COVID-19. In my years of pastoring and chaplaincy work, I have never met a person so anxious and fearful and filled with hopelessness and negative thinking as this person. It was as though I was holding a gun to his head and he was desperately pleading for mercy. His tears were many. His pleading was constant. His very real despondency reminded me of where worry and fear can take us if we don’t act appropriately.

Amidst the sobs, we read these verses from Philippians 4. I spoke to him about his true identity in Christ and how valuable, precious and important he is to God and his Kingdom. “God indeed is fond of you right now” I said and encouraged him to consider these things. And over the last fifteen minutes of our visit, his demeanor slowly changed. It was remarkable. He was eventually dried eyed. Hope seemed to be breaking into his heart.

What I failed to do was remind him that Satan was not giving upon him and that he should do as Paul counsels in verses 8 and 9 and continue thinking and practicing these things. Hopefully, I will have the opportunity to say this to him in the future. It’s one thing to begin a race. It is quite another to finish this race. Much perseverance is required.

In the end, as we parted ways, he stood up and asked if he could hug me. Immediately I thought about social distancing! When I was about to recommend “an elbow-to-elbow bump” I found his arms tightly wrapped around me.I had no choice. As he was walking out the room he said, “I haven’t smiled like this for a long time!”

Such can be our song of salvation and emotional peace as we petition and listen, and then do what God tells us to do!

Spiritual Exercise:
Spend a few moments in prayer and praise, thanking God for His provision of His Holy Spirit who indwells us and can give us peace that passes understanding, even in the midst of an unpredictable storm!

Casting Crowns -Praise You In This Storm
https://youtu.be/0YUGwUgBvTU

Celtic Worship -In Christ Alone
https://youtu.be/8kvFtXphmMU

To Love and Cherish…

5/14/2020
Encouragement from Mike Alvord, OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leader
“For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” - Ephesians 5:29

Do you remember your wedding vows? I’m guessing that like ours they included something along the lines of a promise to "love and to cherish,” your spouse. In the years that followed our wedding, Vanessa and I strove to walk out the love part. When the struggles increased, we grit our teeth and held on. Blinded by daily challenges, we strained to treat each other lovingly and didn’t even think in terms of “cherishing” one another, probably because we didn’t know there was a difference. The Bible tells us that this is not the experience of marriage that God planned for us. Paul exhorts us to rise above our selfish impulses and learn how to cherish our spouse, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church,” (Ephesians 5:29).

As an earthly image of what our relationship with God is designed to be, we are designed to thrive as a couple through everyday actions that honor our spouse, cherishing them as Christ does. So, how do we rewind to our wedding vows and renew our marriage in actions that cherish? In a RightNow Media series called Cherish, bestselling author Gary Thomas addresses how to properly cherish our spouse and unlock the blessings God intended. We must act to cherish our spouse by protecting our relationship and empowering their unique God-given qualities. Then, and only then, may we be truly open to the blessing that God set before us. I encourage you to watch the Cherish study series as a couple and prioritize cherishing your spouse.

COUPLE ACTIVITY

Spend a few minutes discussing the Scripture listed in this article (Philippians 4:11) and pray together. Check out the six-part study series Cherish by Gary Thomas on RightNow Media:
https://www.rightnowmedia.org/Content/Series/402713
Have questions? You can connect with Pastor Ron at ron@cloviscc.com or our OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leaders via office@cloviscc.com

Click on and listen to the worship songs below:

More Like Jesus - Passion
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bKxYbVCXoQ

There Will Be A Day - Jeremy Camp
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Vj_o6GvTBs

6/04/2020
A note from Pastor Ron McLain,
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

How is it going in your household during these challenging times? It’s not unusual for people’s emotions to fluctuate up and down depending on what’s going on around them and what’s happening in our world. Anger is one of our most destructive emotions if it is not controlled. To take out our anger on our spouse or kids (or even ourselves), is not healthy and can lead to all kinds of behavior that doesn’t honor the Lord. The Bible is clear,
"Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil." (Ephesians 4:26)
The Mayo Clinic published a helpful article recently about how to tame your temper and I thought it might be helpful for us to have this information, understanding that these principles can be very helpful when empowered by the Holy Spirit Who gives us the ability to carry out healthy behaviors. Why not print these 10 tips out and share it with your entire family?

Anger management:
10 tips to tame your temper
?

Keeping your temper in check can be challenging. Use simple anger management tips — from taking a timeout to using "I" statements — to stay in control.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

Do you fume when someone cuts you off in traffic? Does your blood pressure rocket when your child refuses to cooperate? Anger is a normal and even healthy emotion — but it's important to deal with it in a positive way. Uncontrolled anger can take a toll on both your health and your relationships.

Ready to get your anger under control? Start by considering these 10 anger management tips.

1. Think before you speak

In the heat of the moment, it's easy to say something you'll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything — and allow others involved in the situation to do the same.

2. Once you're calm, express your anger

As soon as you're thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non-confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.

3. Get some exercise

Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk or run, or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.

4. Take a timeout

Timeouts aren't just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what's ahead without getting irritated or angry.

5. Identify possible solutions

Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child's messy room drive you crazy? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening — or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Remind yourself that anger won't fix anything and might only make it worse.

6. Stick with 'I' statements

To avoid criticizing or placing blame — which might only increase tension — use "I" statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, "I'm upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes" instead of "You never do any housework."

7. Don't hold a grudge

Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. But if you can forgive someone who angered you, you might both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.

8. Use humor to release tension

Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what's making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.

9. Practice relaxation skills

When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as "Take it easy." You might also listen to music, write in a journal or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.

10. Know when to seek help

Learning to control anger is a challenge for everyone at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.

Couple Activity:

Go over these 10 tips as a couple and share the ones that have been helpful for you when needing to calm down. Print it out and put it up on the refrigerator for the family to see to remind everyone of these healthy tips.

Pray and praise God together by listening to the following songs:

Matthew West - Forgiveness (Lyrics)

https://youtu.be/h1Lu5udXEZI

CeCe Winans - Holy Spirit, Come Fill This Place

https://youtu.be/-Tqf6V9Xfow

5/28/2020
Encouragement from Pastor Ron McLain,
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

This article is directed specifically to husbands. I am encouraging husbands to step up in their relationship with their wife. We are called to be lovers, leaders and servants to the one whom God entrusted to us. This article suggests that there are at least 5 things that our wives desire and deserve. I’d love your feedback and also encourage you to email or text me at:
ron@cloviscc.com to set up a 30 minute marriage checkup, all intended to encourage you to grow in positive ways in your marriage.

5 Things Every Wife Desires and Deserves

by Dave Willis, from the blog post of “Marriage Today,” a ministry that has been helping marriages thrive since 1994.

Husbands, let’s rise to these challenges and love our wives well! Your marriage not only impacts your wife, but your children and future generations. By how you love your wife, you are teaching your sons how to treat women and you are teaching your daughters what they should expect from men. Let’s commit to giving our wives and families our very best!

This is not a comprehensive list, but here are five things most women desire and deserve
from their husbands (in no particular order)…

1. Open, honest, consistent communication
Communication does for a marriage what breathing does for your lungs. Be willing to turn off ESPN and put your iPhone down and engage in meaningful conversation. Most women have a need for communication in marriage that is ever bit as strong as the typical man’s need for sex. Make communication a priority. Never hide anything from her! Build a foundation of trust, honesty and open communication. Every one of your words and every action is either building more of her trust or eroding her trust in you. Remove distractions and make communication a high priority. It will make her feel secure, connected, loved and respected.

#2 is something she might never ask for specifically, but she desires it daily…
2. Protection (Physical, emotional and financial protection)
You should be the one who wipes away your wife’s tears; not the one who causes them! Develop the discipline to work hard inside and outside the home to make your wife feel like the safest and most secure woman on earth. She should never feel safer than she feels when she is with you. Have the courage to fight for your family and the faith to recognize that you will often need a power greater than your own. The Bible challenges us by saying…“Don’t be afraid of the enemy! Remember the Lord, who is great and glorious, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes!” (Nehemiah 4:14)

#3 is one of the primary ways she’s likely to measure your commitment to her…
3. Your time (Both “quality time” and “quantity time”)
Time is the “currency” of relationships, so invest as much time as you can into your marriage. Never make her feel like you love your career or hobbies more than you love her. That other stuff can’t love you back! You need to make money, but don’t use your career as an excuse to be absent. When you are home, be present, not distracted or glued to a screen. Work hard, but also remember that your family can do with less of almost anything if it means having more of you.

#4 is something every wife needs, but most husbands aren’t giving…
4. Continuous pursuit
For most of us, we gave our wives the best we had in the very beginning, but just like a cable TV company that offers their best package, pricing and service at the beginning and then changes all the rules after the “promotional period” expires, many of us have stopped giving our wives the best of ourselves. We’ve allowed romance to fade. She needs to feel loved and adored by you and she’ll feel most loved when she feels most pursued. Our wives need and deserve our continued adoration, thoughtfulness and love. Give her your very best each and every day!

#5 might be the most important one on the list…
5. Put her first
NEVER make her feel like she has to compete with anything or anyone else for your love. Never make her feel like you have an exit strategy. Have eyes only for her. Treat her like a priority; not like an interruption. Give her your best; not your leftovers. She needs and deserves your very best. When you give her your best, it will bring out the best in your both and the best in your marriage!

Dave and Ashley Willis have built a strong following, reaching millions of married couples through their blogs, books, and videos. Their mission is to create resources focused on building Christ-centered marriages and families. They are the authors of the new book, “Naked Marriage”, that sheds light on the common marriage pitfalls couples experience and reveals the secrets to a thriving relationship.

Couple Activity:

This week will be a little different. Men, take some time and read and pray through these five things that your wife desires and deserves. Maybe for her it would look a little different. Ask her opinion about this article and learn how you can tailor make your focus on her to show your love and devotion for her.  Then, take a few moments and praise Him together in prayer and song. A couple of song suggestions are below.

To schedule a zoom or phone 30-minute “Marriage Check Up” coaching time with Pastor Ron, connect with him by emailing him at: ron@cloviscc.com or texting him at 559-313-4226.

Celine Dion & Josh Groban Live "The Prayer"
https://youtu.be/DbviXG_56ss

Casting Crowns – “Broken Together” - with Lyrics
https://youtu.be/8W7mFMlDFbI

ENCOURAGING THOUGHTS FROM THE YOUNG AND THE YOUNG AT HEART DURING COVID-19 . . . AND A HELPFUL WELLNESS TOOL FOR YOU!

5/21/2020
Encouragement from Pastor Ron McLain,
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

[To schedule a zoom or phone 30-minute “Marriage Check Up” coaching time with Pastor Ron, connect with him by emailing him at:
ron@cloviscc.com or texting him at 559-313-4226]

From a young lady who loves Jesus, Aliya Smithson:

Find Joy

I was seriously this excited to go to town to run errands with my dad today!

Funny how that works. I usually hate going to town. Making the trek from my home in the hills, having to deal with soooo many people, traffic, it's such a hassle for errand purposes!

But today, I was so excited to get out of the house for longer than 10 minutes.

I've been at home with my family for two months in self-isolation. While I am definitely blessed to be up in the hills, with my family and we are all safe and sound, the isolation was definitely getting to me. I know it's been getting to everyone else having to deal with it. And worse still for all of the brave first responders. So what can we do in this season of waiting? What HAVE we been doing in this season of waiting?

Trusting in God's plan.

Reaching out to our loved ones more.

Being creative.

Working to have a virtual way of earning income to sustain us.

Working on ourselves.

I struggle a lot with change, so not being able to move around go to church, be with my friends and family . . . it's been hard, to say the least. So I've been working on finding joy in every moment and trying to stay positive throughout the while situation.

My family is safe.

We are all together.

Because of technology we can still create functioning ways to earn an income.

I've learned a lot in this time and have been able to still grow spiritually, mentally, and physically. And so have many of the people I hold closest to me! For that, I am blessed and excited to see how else we will grow in the future!

So I'll keep looking up and looking forward to the exciting things that are coming our way! And when I get to go to town you can BET YOUR ICED TEA I'm going to be taking a goofy picture in front of Starbucks!

Let me be excited!!

Aliah Smithson

Aliah attended our youth group at CCC until Covid-19 hit. She will be 19 in a few weeks, and is enrolled and will be taking classes at Clovis Community in the fall to work on getting her Bachelor’s degree in Business Entrepreneurship. She took a gap year between high school and college so that she could figure out exactly what she wanted to major in. She went to public school and wrestled, played water polo, was involved in a minimum of 4 music groups and graduated valedictorian. Oh, and she loves the Lord!!!

From a seasoned missionary (the young at heart!)

Have Patience!

Someone recently said that among the most worthless gifts received for Christmas 2019 was a “2020 planner”. Maybe you relate to that as our world

reels from the impact of Covid 19. A struggle we all face at some level or

another is not being able to plan or to be in control of our lives. One of the questions asked in our ZOOM Connections class this week was “What has God been teaching you about yourself during this isolation time?”

A consensus in our breakout group was the need for patience. It kind of reminded me of the kids “Music Machine” song by Herbert the Snail “Have Patience, Have Patience, don’t be in such a hurry, when you get impatient, you only start to worry. Remember, remember that God is patient too, and think of all the times that others had to wait for you.”

I’ve often said that I don’t like praying for patience, because Rom. 5:5 reminds us that “Tribulation produces Patience” and I don’t want any more of that. The good news is that patience is a natural fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells in our lives, and as we remain connected to the vine, patience is a natural outgrowth. May God grant us all the refreshing fruit of His Holy Spirit during this time of isolation.

Wellness Tool

And now, here is a wellness TOOL for you, shared from a post by Kay Warren, the wife of Pastor Rick Warren, Lead Pastor at Saddleback Community Church in Southern California. It’s from her ministry, “2020 Hope For Mental Health”.

The Bible encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). It’s always good to meditate on His Word. The following Wellness Tool is something that you can click onto, print out, and put on your mirror or refrigerator and refer to daily!  It is broken down into:

1.    Affirmations and Promises from God’s Word.

2.    God’s Attributes

3.    Names of God

Here is the link for the Wellness TOOL:

https://bit.ly/3gbknXs

Couple Activity:

This week share the positives you are finding during Covid-19. What are you grateful for? What new things are you learning about life that can motivate you moving forward? Print out the Wellness Tool and read through it together, taking one or two Scriptures each day.  Then, take a few moments and praise Him together in song. A couple of suggestions are below.

To schedule a zoom or phone 30-minute “Marriage Check Up” coaching time with Pastor Ron, connect with him by emailing him at: ron@cloviscc.com or texting him at 559-313-4226.

Joy Of The Lord - Rend Collective

https://youtu.be/x3gLeCiMJqI

What A Beautiful Name - Hillsong Worship

https://youtu.be/nQWFzMvCfLE

Busters & Boosters
in Your Marriage Relationship

5/14/2020
Encouragement from Pastor Ron McLain,
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

[To schedule a zoom or phone 30-minute “Marriage Check Up” coaching time with Pastor Ron, connect with him by emailing him at:
ron@cloviscc.com or texting him at 559-313-4226]

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32) NASB

Jim and Amy (not their real names) recently shared with me how the Covid-19 crisis has affected their marriage relationship. And it isn’t good! If I could summarize our Zoom session, they were allowing three relationship “busters” to dominate their marriage.
Here they are:

BUSTERS (what they shared with me)

1.    Neither person was spending quality time with the Lord in devotions, prayer, study and praise. This resulted in a lack of humility, gentleness and patience with each other.

2.    They were focused mostly on all the negative aspects that Covid-19 was bringing into their home via the news, social media, etc.

3.    When they were talking with each other, they were often “short” and didn’t have much good to say to each other about the other person or the situation they were in and were bringing up past issues that hadn’t been resolved.

Add all three “busters” up and you have a recipe for a big blow up and that’s exactly what was happening on a regular basis in Jim and Amy’s relationship. Are any of these “busters” present in your marriage relationship?

Here are some “boosters” that I shared with them and they both agreed that they individually needed to heed this counsel and apply it in their relationship.

BOOSTERS (what I shared with them)

1.    The Apostle Paul instructed the Ephesians to,“walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love. . .” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Your walk with Jesus calls you to spend quality time with Him, to be transformed by His Spirit and to be filled and controlled by His Spirit. Only then can you walk in a manner worthy of your calling. Jim and Amy agreed to start having a quiet time daily with the Lord and add in a dose of praise music to turn their affections toward Him!

2.    They also agreed to “keep seeking the things above” and to “set their minds on things above, not on things on earth,” as prescribed by Paul in Colossians 3:1-2. Keeping your focus on Jesus certainly gives you a much healthier outlook on life, especially when almost everything around you is negative and sometimes painful.

3.    Good communication is essential in a healthy relationship. The first step to accomplish this is to “put away” the caustic aspects of how you relate to one another. It’s necessary to get rid of your bitterness and anger toward each other and anyone else that you might be holding a grudge against. To put away is one thing but the negative has to be replaced with the positive and that is to “be kind to one another, tender hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” We forgive because we have been forgiven. When you are angry with each other, you are actually giving the devil a foothold in your relationship (see. Ephesians 4:26-27) and that never ends well!

Our good friends at FIRST THINGS FIRST, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, have put together a Couple’s Guide for, “What to do when your spouse is getting on your nerves.” We are including the link below if you’d like to click on the link and read it (or even print it out). It has many practical suggestions on how to communicate in a healthy manner. You may want to review it together as a couple. Our thanks to Executive Director, Julie Baumgardner, for allowing us to share this guide.

WHAT TO DO WHEN YOUR SPOUSE IS GETTING ON YOUR NERVES

MYM_SG_WhatToDoWhenYourSpouseIsGettingOnYourNerves.pdf

Couple Activity: This week, review the “Busters” and “Boosters” in your relationship and agree together today to lean into the Lord’s grace and love for yourself and your spouse.  Click on and read through the Guide above from FIRST THINGS FIRST, “What to do when your spouse is getting on your nerves” and pick out two or three things you can apply in your marriage (and family). Then, take a few moments and praise Him together in song. A couple of suggestions are below.

To schedule a zoom or phone 30-minute “Marriage Check Up” coaching time with Pastor Ron, connect with him by emailing him at: ron@cloviscc.com or texting him at 559-313-4226.

Michael W. Smith - Waymaker ft. Vanessa Campagna & Madelyn Berry

https://youtu.be/SE_M9noEhNE

Michael W. Smith - Draw Me Close [with lyrics]

https://youtu.be/7d_oYr-P16M

“Parenting with perspective”

5/7/2020
Encouragement from Mike Alvord,
OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leader


“I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content” - Philippians 4:11, ESV

Marriage and parenting is so frequently a battle between what we “could” do and what “we have time” to do. I have often watched this battle play out in my own home as a plethora of activities and pursuits seek to drown us. Over the last few years, Vanessa and I have sought to wage war on the daily schedule as we mournfully watch others around us be consumed by the onslaught of “good things”. Then, a few weeks ago everything shifted dynamically when the world reacted to the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, many parents (including us) are at home fighting to keep their kids educated and occupied, while simultaneously working. With this new daily schedule comes added stress and uncertainty. Traditionally, Christian parenting resources have centered on the scriptural principles of love (1 John 4:19), respect (Philippians 2:3), forgiveness and grace (Matthew 6:14-15). So, where do we find help in managing daily schedules in both the pre- and post-COVID world?

Turning to Paul’s letter to Philippi, we see the apostle didn’t base happiness on his current circumstances. Rather, he found contentment by  trusting in Christ and the promised future. We can learn from Paul that perspective is key in parenting and navigating schedules that have been turned upside down. Case in point, I recently stumbled across a social media post that called readers to not lose perspective in the midst of COVID-19, and stay focused on shaping our kids for the things to come.

****** This is a reproduced version of the social media post ******

In 2030

College kid: “In history class, we learned that the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 was really bad. What was it like?”

Parent: “Well, everything was shut down in an attempt to stop the virus, but not everyone followed the order to quarantine for 15 days, so it lasted longer than anyone expected. Many people died who shouldn’t have. Grocery stores were out of everything, because people were hoarding as much as they could. We were scared of economic failure for our country and for ourselves as so many people including ourselves couldn’t go to work. Don’t you remember it? You were 8?”

College kid: “All I remember was the school closing and being homeschooled. I remember doing scavenger hunts in our yard. I remember eating meals as a family for a change. I remember getting great sleep, because I wasn’t up late with homework or getting up early for school. I remember playing board games as a family. I remember watching our pastor on the laptop. Honestly, it was the happiest time of my childhood.”

Don’t lose perspective.

***************************************************************************

From this short example, it is plainly clear that perspective can greatly influence how we walk through various seasons of life. Vanessa and I have sought to model Paul’s approach to contentment by finding satisfaction in whatever our daily schedule looks like. We have been more purposeful to change or deviate from a plan or schedule in order to seize opportunities when and where we are. In our home, we have set a daily schedule that begins with bible study and schoolwork. However, each day we leave ample time for projects and seek to adapt the schedule as momentary opportunities arise. For instance, while having my morning coffee and chatting with Nathan, our oldest, he mentioned that he didn’t like doing chores. I paused my studies to ask follow up questions and reveal his heart on the matter. Being purposeful in this moment uncovered his dislike for chores stemmed from doing them before lunch, when he was hungry. We agreed to try flipping chores and lunch that day. Flexing the order of our schedule brought a great deal more satisfaction and peace to us all. 

Over the past few weeks, we have started two gardens (one at home and one at church), and the kids have been encouraged to pursue games, swimming, exercise, nerf gun wars, etc! There is still structure to our day, but it is much more flexible than before and as a result our kids are thriving! Just like the social media post example, in a season when many adults are depressed by the chaos, we have a great chance to mold the perspectives held by our kids. As we submit to the power of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit can teach us to apply Paul’s words and be content right where we are. So in this time of broadcast news doom and gloom, what is driving your perspective? When “normal life” returns, how will you remain in Christ’s power to be satisfied in your daily life so your marriage, and your kids can flourish?

COUPLE ACTIVITY

Spend a few minutes discussing the Scripture listed in this article (Philippians 4:11) and pray together. What does being content look like in your family? How can flexibility be incorporated to build a life of contentment? Have questions? You can connect with Pastor Ron at ron@cloviscc.com or our OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leaders via office@cloviscc.com Click on and listen to the worship songs below:

It Is Well (Lyric Video) - Kristene DiMarco, Bethel Music

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Wb_WD1emFQ 

Satisfied by Chris Tomlin

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF7bb_gR8ZA 


STRESS, CABIN FEVER AND ZOOM MEETING MADNESS --
FINDING TIME TO DATE YOUR SPOUSE DURING COVID-19

4/30/2020
Encouragement from Mike Alvord,
OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leader

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.”
Ecclesiastes 4:9 ESV

Our daily lives prior to COVID-19 had all kinds of worries and stressors like work, bills, kids, and in-laws. For those of us who are married, these were often compounded by sharing in the worries of our spouse. During these abnormal times, all of our worries have been combined with the craziness of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout scripture, God calls us to leave anxiety and burden behind to lead a life of peace. How do we practically live out a life of peace when we are trapped at home going crazy staring at the walls, or are swamped working in a critical career field, or are stuck in a never-ending loop of Zoom meetings?

Over the last several weeks Pastor Ron has given us a number of tips for daily life to stay healthy in mind and spirit. In Matthew 11:28, Jesus Christ also instructs us on how to find peace, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus calls us to focus on Him, our Lord and Savior. When we focus on Christ and practice healthy self-care, we can find personal peace even as the world around us descends into chaos.

Achieving personal peace is only part of our call though. God also calls us to thrive in our marriages, even during challenging times. In fact, Ecclesiastes pulls back the curtain on God’s grand design when it says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

In God’s perfect wisdom, He created us to depend on one another. Each of our marriages have been uniquely purposed to find uncommon strength and peace, so that His glory may shine through the darkness of a world-closing pandemic! So, how do we tap into this power? Prioritize quality time. Make a special effort to spend time together and rest in the blessings of God’s design. At the marriage dinner in February, the OMEGA Marriage Ministry provided a list of 12 date night ideas. Things have changed since then, but Prepare-Enrich has posted a quarantine friendly version of six date night ideas to help you thrive:

● Create the ultimate movie/Netflix-binge experience. Well, let’s be real. We’ve probably all been doing our share of this lately. But think of how you could make it fun, special, or different. Maybe you make it a theme night, or randomly pick a movie and see who can write the funniest review to share after.
Give an in-depth lesson. Take turns teaching each other about one of your favorite subjects or hobbies. Keep in mind that the “learner’s” engagement is key to making this fun.
Have a picnic – whether it’s in your backyard or your bedroom. Cook or order in your favorite meal or build an appetizer tray from whatever is in your pantry. Make it feel special by dressing up a bit and playing some music for ambience.
Watch a sunrise or sunset. Grab some coffee or a treat and scope out a spot with a view (even if it’s just the bay window of your living room). Reflect on the day ahead or behind you after enjoying nature’s colorful show. Share three things you’re feeling thankful for.
Take a hike. In areas where outdoor activities are still encouraged while practicing social distancing, scout out a park or hiking/walking trails near you and throw on your comfy shoes. Enjoy the fresh air and each other’s company.
Exchange gifts. This probably sounds like an odd one, especially if you don’t have a gifting occasion coming up – although do you really need one? You’re probably not going to go out shopping for one either. Here’s where the fun comes in! Create a gift out of things you already have around the house, hiding in a closet, or a box of old memorabilia in the basement. The thought- and creativity- is what really counts here.You can check out the Prepare-Enrich blog post on quarantine dates here or the original 12 month date guide here.

COUPLE ACTIVITY
Spend a few minutes discussing the Scripture listed in this article (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12) and pray together, thanking God for His design in your marriage. Read the date ideas above, choose 1 idea for a date this month, then plan 1 for next month. Questions? You can connect with Pastor Ron at ron@cloviscc.com or our OMEGA Marriage Ministry Team Leaders via office@cloviscc.com Click on and listen to the worship songs below:

Lord, I Need You by Matt Maher
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuvfMDhTyMA

Nobody Loves Me Like You by Chris Tomlin
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SG_IXFEO8yE

CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETIES ON HIM – AND LET THE LORD LEAD YOU THROUGH THIS

Encouragement from Pastor Ron

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” I Peter 5:7 ESV

In these uncertain days, it seems that anxiety is an everyday part of our lives. We keep hearing from healthcare experts, “we’ve never lived through anything like this before!” It makes sense, then, that we are all just learning about how to deal with this new way of life and the challenges that come with it. And we all respond in different ways, don’t we?

I remember a time about 20 years ago when I had a panic attack. It was one of the worst experiences of my life. I was about to speak to a room full of people and I started to feel anxious, which wasn’t unusual for me, but the level of my anxiety was higher than normal. As I focused on my high anxiety I began to feel anxious about being anxious and . . . boom! My heart started racing and I just wanted to run out of that room. Thankfully, I had a short break and re-focused my thoughts on reality and I calmed down before I spoke.

I’d like to say that was the only time I’ve experienced panic and anxiety but it wasn’t. I eventually went to my doctor, who shared with me that I was experiencing anxiety. No kidding! What was hard for me was to admit it and work with my doctor on a treatment plan to overcome it.

Anxiety and its cousins—panic, worry, fear and dread— is complex. There are spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, genetic, and circumstantial factors that can cause us to fall into the grip of depression, pulling us away from those we love and interfering with our ability to deal with everyday life. I’ve talked with several people who are experiencing varying emotions of feeling out of control and even scared about what’s going on in this pandemic. You’re not alone!

Peter gives us an admonition to “unload” our anxiety and it’s found in I Peter 5:7.

1 Peter 5:7 invites you to, “cast your anxiety on Jesus, because he cares for you.” I love the mental picture of us throwing our anxiety onto Jesus -- offloading what's troubling us onto him.

I’m especially glad that the Lord doesn’t limit us to the number of times we can “offload” our anxieties during the day. He never gets tired of taking our burdens. He’s always right there, with arms open wide to you! Thank you, Lord!

In the original Greek language, the word used in this verse for anxiety means to divide, or to pull apart. That's what happens to our hearts when we are anxious about something. So what is the offer? We can transfer the worry that's pulling our heart in two to Jesus and find rest for our souls.

Perhaps you are struggling in your marriage right now. Again, you are not alone. Anxiety often leads to short tempers, pulling away from each other, blaming each other, and feeling hopeless. It’s like being totally alone with seemingly no help in sight. Similar, perhaps, to how David may have felt as he expressed himself in the beloved Psalm 23.

As David writes Psalm 23 he is facing life-threatening danger, but he is confident in his Shepherd. He describes it like this, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (v.4 ESV).

Two lines in this verse are calling out to you with hope.

1. For you are with me. No matter how deep the pit, nor how dark the night, you are not in this all by yourself. God Almighty is right there with you. I get that you may not be able to sense or see him. But no darkness can hide his presence from you. In another psalm David writes:

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7,11-12 NIV)

2. Even though I walk through the valley. God is not leading you TO the valley you’re in. He promises to lead you THROUGH it. This place of struggle will not be the end of you.

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26 NIV).

Amen!

Practical Tips for your Mental/Emotional Health During these Times (continued from last week)

From a psychologist in New York State:

After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all. I can't control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this.

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE (in last week’s newsletter, we covered 10 tips . . . here are the remainder of the psychologist’s tips for you)

11. Notice the good in the world, the helpers. There is a lot of scary, negative, and overwhelming information to take in regarding this pandemic. There are also a ton of stories of people sacrificing, donating, and supporting one another in miraculous ways. It is important to counter-balance the heavy information with the hopeful information.

12. Help others. Find ways, big and small, to give back to others. Support restaurants, offer to grocery shop, check in with elderly neighbors, write wellness tips for others—helping others gives us a sense of meaning when things seem out of control.

13. Find something you can control, and control the heck out of it. In moments of big uncertainty and overwhelm, control your little corner of the world. Organize your bookshelf, purge your closet, put together that furniture, group your toys. It helps to anchor and ground us when the bigger things are chaotic.

14. Find a long-term project to dive into. Now is the time to learn how to play the keyboard, put together a huge jigsaw puzzle, start a 15 hour game of Risk, paint a picture, read the Harry Potter series, binge watch an 8-season show, crochet a blanket, solve a Rubix cube, or develop a new town in Animal Crossing. Find something that will keep you busy, distracted, and engaged to take breaks from what is going on in the outside world.

15. Engage in repetitive movements and left-right movements. Research has shown that repetitive movement (knitting, coloring, painting, clay sculpting, jump roping etc) especially left-right movement (running, drumming, skating, hopping) can be effective at self-soothing and maintaining self-regulation in moments of distress.

16. Find an expressive art and go for it. Our emotional brain is very receptive to the creative arts, and it is a direct portal for release of feeling. Find something that is creative (sculpting, drawing, dancing, music, singing, playing) and give it your all. See how relieved you can feel. It is a very effective way of helping kids to emote and communicate as well!

17. Find lightness and humor in each day. There is a lot to be worried about, and with good reason. Counterbalance this heaviness with something funny each day: cat videos on YouTube, a stand-up show on Netflix, a funny movie—we all need a little comedic relief in our day, every day.

18. Reach out for help—your team is there for you. If you have a therapist or psychiatrist, they are available to you, even at a distance. Keep up your medications and your therapy sessions the best you can. If you are having difficulty coping, seek out help for the first time. There are mental health people on the ready to help you through this crisis. Your children’s teachers and related service providers will do anything within their power to help, especially for those parents tasked with the difficult task of being a whole treatment team to their child with special challenges. Seek support groups of fellow home-schoolers, parents, and neighbors to feel connected. There is help and support out there, any time of the day—although we are physically distant, we can always connect virtually.

19. “Chunk” your quarantine, take it moment by moment. We have no road map for this. We don’t know what this will look like in 1 day, 1 week, or 1 month from now. Often, when I work with patients who have anxiety around overwhelming issues, I suggest that they engage in a strategy called “chunking”—focusing on whatever bite-sized piece of a challenge that feels manageable. Whether that be 5 minutes, a day, or a week at a time—find what feels doable for you, and set a time stamp for how far ahead in the future you will let yourself worry. Take each chunk one at a time, and move through stress in pieces.

20. Remind yourself daily that this is temporary. It seems in the midst of this quarantine that it will never end. It is terrifying to think of the road stretching ahead of us. Please take time to remind yourself that although this is very scary and difficult, and will go on for an undetermined amount of time, it is a season of life and it will pass. We will return to feeing free, safe, busy, and connected in the days ahead.

21. Find the lesson. This whole crisis can seem sad, senseless, and at times, avoidable. When psychologists work with trauma, a key feature to helping someone work through said trauma is to help them find the potential positive outcomes they can effect, the meaning and construction that can come out of destruction. What can each of us learn here, in big and small ways, from this crisis? What needs to change in ourselves, our homes, our communities, our nation, and our world?

COUPLE ACTIVITY

Spend a few minutes discussing the Scriptures listed in this article and pray together, thanking Him for His constant presence with you and His invitation to take all of your anxiety and worries from you.  Read the tips above (take turns reading every other one), and discuss. Choose 3 of these tips that are especially helpful to you. Questions? To connect with Pastor Ron, email him at ron@cloviscc.com

Click on and listen to the worship songs below:

I Cast All My Cares Upon You
A song written by Kelly Willard, performed by Joy Mcilwrath and Andrew Fynn.
https://youtu.be/SYKi7LuxRTs

You Never Let Go (lyrics)
Matt Redman
https://youtu.be/qFIDj5QF1vI

April 17th, 2020

Ron McLain
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

SETTING YOUR MIND – Encouragement from Pastor Ron

In uncertain times like this, it’s not unusual to struggle with anxious thoughts and feelings about what is going on (or not going on) around us. When we focus on the fear of the unknown in our lives, it can lead to great stress and unrest in our marriage and family relationships. That can lead to arguing, unhealthy communication and sometimes even physical abuse.

The healthiest thing to do during these times is to embrace what you’re feeling (that means to admit your feelings) and then shift your thoughts (set your mind) to the positive Scriptures and steps you can take to get back on a good mental and emotional track.

Colossians 3:1-4 is an encouragement for Joan and me during these times. Paul admonishes the church at Colossae, “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Last Sunday we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus Christ. What a great message we received from Pastor Cameron along with the renewed hope we have in the fact that Jesus overcame death and is alive today, sitting at the right hand of God. We know from Scripture that we, too, have been crucified, buried and raised up and seated with Him in the heavenly places (Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:6). That’s where our security lies --- in Him! We are as secure as we can possibly be, seated with Him in heaven, far above all rule and authority. And, “nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (See Romans 8:31-39).

When we meditate on the truth of His Word, we can bask in His peace and the reality that our security is in Him! These are the kind of truths that we need to “set our minds” on and meditate on so that we can think correctly about what is real and lasting.

Every day we have a choice. We can either immediately start worrying about the uncertainty of what is going on around us or we can start by focusing on what is certain, by SETTING OUR MIND on things above, and by thanking God and worshiping the risen King. That focus can immediately set our mental and emotional baseline from which to live our daily lives.

The Scripture is clear, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).”

Yes! Set your mind on Jesus and His Word! “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).”

So, as an individual and as a couple . . . set your mind and let Him transform your thinking from stress to peace, from uncertainty to certainty, and from fear to security . . . in Him!

Below are ten practical tips and advice that can help you through these trying times. They were written anonymously from a psychologist who has recent experience dealing with people worried about COVID-19. I’m listing ten tips this week and will feature a few more in next week’s e-newsletter.

Practical Tips for your Mental/Emotional Health During these Times

From a psychologist in New York State:

After having thirty-one sessions this week with patients where the singular focus was COVID-19 and how to cope, I decided to consolidate my advice and make a list that I hope is helpful to all. I can't control a lot of what is going on right now, but I can contribute this.

MENTAL HEALTH WELLNESS TIPS FOR QUARANTINE

1. Stick to a routine. Go to sleep and wake up at a reasonable time, write a schedule that is varied and includes time for work as well as self-care.

2. Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Take the time to do a bath or a facial. Put on some bright colors. It is amazing how our dress can impact our mood.

3. Get out at least once a day, for at least thirty minutes. If you are concerned of contact, try first thing in the morning, or later in the evening, and try less traveled streets and avenues. If you are high risk or living with those who are high risk, open the windows and blast the fan. It is amazing how much fresh air can do for spirits.

4. Find some time to move each day, again daily for at least thirty minutes. If you don’t feel comfortable going outside, there are many YouTube videos that offer free movement classes, and if all else fails, turn on the music and have a dance party!

5. Reach out to others, you guessed it, at least once daily for thirty minutes. Try to do FaceTime, Skype, phone calls, texting—connect with other people to seek and provide support. Don’t forget to do this for your children as well. Set up virtual playdates with friends daily via FaceTime, Facebook Messenger Kids, Zoom, etc. — your kids miss their friends, too!

6. Stay hydrated and eat well. This one may seem obvious, but stress and eating often don’t mix well, and we find ourselves over-indulging, forgetting to eat, and avoiding food. Drink plenty of water, eat some good and nutritious foods, and challenge yourself to learn how to cook something new!

7. Spend extra time playing with children. Children will rarely communicate how they are feeling, but will often make a bid for attention and communication through play. Don’t be surprised to see therapeutic themes of illness, doctor visits, and isolation play through. Understand that play is cathartic and helpful for children—it is how they process their world and problem solve, and there’s a lot they are seeing and experiencing in the now.

8. Give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and a wide berth. A lot of cooped up time can bring out the worst in everyone. Each person will have moments when they will not be at their best. It is important to move with grace through blowups, to not show up to every argument you are invited to, and to not hold grudges and continue disagreements. Everyone is doing the best they can to make it through this.

9. Everyone find their own retreat space. Space is at a premium, particularly with city living. It is important that people think through their own separate space for work and for relaxation. For children, help them identify a place where they can go to retreat when stressed. You can make this place cozy by using blankets, pillows, cushions, scarves, beanbags, tents, and “forts”. It is good to know that even when we are on top of each other, we have our own special place to go to be alone.

10. Limit social media and COVID conversation, especially around children. One can find tons of information on COVID-19 to consume, and it changes minute to minute. The information is often sensationalized, negatively skewed, and alarmist. Find a few trusted sources that you can check in with consistently, limit it to a few times a day, and set a time limit for yourself on how much you consume (again 30 minutes tops, 2-3 times daily). Keep news and alarming conversations out of earshot from children—they see and hear everything, and can become very frightened by what they hear.

COUPLE ACTIVITY

Spend a few minutes discussing the Scriptures listed in this article and pray together, thanking Him for His salvation and security that you have in Him.  Read the 10 tips above (take turns reading every other one), and discuss. Choose 3 of these tips that are especially helpful to you.

Click on and listen to the worship songs below:

Peace Be Still (with Lyrics) by Lauren Daigle
https://youtu.be/VBzg4B3_yS8

Thy Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet (with Lyrics) by Amy Grant
https://youtu.be/a6LC8cu03Ig

April 9th, 2020

Ron McLain
Associate Pastor of Marriage Ministries

Who would have imagined that in these days we would find ourselves in a situation where . . .
* we would be sheltering in place in our homes for weeks?
* we would be watching more than 181 countries pretty much “shut down” from an  invisible virus?
* we would be prohibited from meeting in groups of more than 10 and prohibited from enjoying in-person church services?
* we would be living day after day 24/7 in close proximity with our spouse and kids?
* we would see people standing in line at stores hoping and praying for . . . toilet paper?

Combine these and other stresses along with dozens of unknown and unanswerable questions about the future and you have recipe for relationship chaos within our homes. And . . . it’s happening. Couples are reporting that tensions are up, arguments are the norm and it feels almost unbearable to think that this could go on for weeks or even months. Right?

The truth is . . . it is a very stressful time and there are a lot of questions we have that only lead to speculation and the rising anxiety inside of us. We just don’t know the future and what it holds.

But what we DO know is the One who holds the future, Jesus Christ.  He said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Rev. 22:13)  Nothing catches Him by surprise. And while we may not know everything that is going to happen, we can lay our anxiety and fears and tears at the foot of the Cross, knowing the One who holds the future in His hands. Amen?

This is holy week, with both Good Friday and Easter Sunday coming our way. In the midst of this worldwide pandemic, we can have both HOPE as we contemplate all that Jesus accomplished on the Cross, and JOY and POWER TO LIVE as we revel in His resurrection from the dead.

Let me just share a thought or two about these two special days. Good Friday represents the fact that Jesus suffered, shed His precious blood, and died on Calvary’s Cross. He took our sins and actually became sin so that we might be forgiven past, present and future for all of our sins. Amazing! His sacrifice allows us to become new creations in Christ, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (II Cor. 5:21)

His resurrection from the dead insures that we, too, will live with Him in glory for all eternity if we have repented of our sins and received Him as Savior and Lord. What a comfort that is! We can have this assurance because of what He has done. It’s all about Him and His mercy and grace! Thank you, Lord!

You might be thinking, “yes, Pastor Ron, this is all well and good, and I know that we will be with Jesus in heaven but what about the here and now? I mean, how does His resurrection apply to us now?” Great question!

Present Risenness!

A concept that author Brennan Manning brings up in one of his books to ponder and even meditate on is, “Present Risenness” and yes, it definitely applies to us in the here and now.

Here is an excerpt from Manning’s work from Reflections for Ragamuffins:

“The Present Power of His Resurrection.”

“Too often, we make the mistake of relegating the importance of the resurrection of Christ to the future. While it is true that we shall one day reign with him in glory, and that his resurrection will one day be our own, by focusing only on the future, the risen One is pushed safely out of the present. Limiting the resurrection either to the past or to the future makes the present risenness of Jesus largely irrelevant, safeguards us from interference with the ordinary rounds and daily routine of our lives, and preempts communion now with Jesus as a living person.”

“We need to experience the resurrection as “present risenness.” Jesus said, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) If we truly believe that, then we believe that he is actively present in our lives. If our faith is alive and luminous, we will be alert to moments, events, and occasions when the power of resurrection is brought to bear on our lives. Self-absorbed and inattentive, we fail to notice the subtle ways in which Jesus is snagging our attention.”

Isn’t that encouraging, to know that as a believer the resurrected Christ presently lives in you? The same power that raised Him from the dead currently lives in you! So while we may be suffering and/or feeling upset about what happened in the past and perhaps anxious about what tomorrow brings, I would encourage you to enjoy today.  Yes, today . . . the present risenness of Christ, to bring you joy, peace, and power to face whatever comes your way . . . today! Look to Him and His indwelling resources now as you face this day together individually and as a couple! He’s alive and He’s living in you! Rejoice!

Home Activity: As a couple, read this article together and talk about it and how it applies to you. Then, listen to the two worship songs noted below (just click on the link and the song will come up). One song is about the Cross (Good Friday) and the other one is about the resurrection (Easter Sunday!)  Pray together and thank God for His present risenness in your lives.  Watch this Sunday’s Easter service at 10 a.m. on the Clovis Christian Church website or CCC Facebook page. Enjoy and celebrate your Resurrection Marriage together!

If you have questions, or want to send me a confidential prayer request, my wife, Joan, and I will lift your requests up to the Lord. My email address is ron@cloviscc.com                                      

Let me know what you thought of this article and share any concerns you have that we can pray about.


Worship Songs:
(listen & watch on YouTube)

“At the Cross” – Chris Tomlin

https://youtu.be/SUvpBphq5og

“He’s Alive” – David Phelps & Gaither Vocal Band

https://youtu.be/0gGa1w_bnvM