The Balancing Act of Self-Care

Today’s post was written by a worship leader at the Church I serve, Hannah Newkirk. She also works as a school administrator, small group leader, and conference speaker along with being a wife and mother of three girls.

Raise your hand if you have heard the word “self-care.” (Well, you don’t have to raise your hand physically. This is a blog post after all, so depending on where you are reading right now, that might make things a little awkward.)

I typed “self-care” into my Google search bar, and there were over 3-BILLION results in .75 seconds. Self-care is a hot topic right now around the world.

A definition of Self-Care that I found over on Psych Central’s website is this:
Self-care is any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.

Now…do any of those things sound BAD?

Is it a bad thing to take care of our mental state? No.
Is it a bad thing to take care of our emotional state? No.
Is it a bad thing to take care of our physical state? No.

But I would argue that there’s an essential piece missing from this definition: Spiritual Health.

You see, when we leave a relationship with Jesus out of the equation, self-care can quickly become self-centeredness. When we leave fellowship with other believers out of the equation, self-care can quickly become isolation.

So what can we do to make sure we are caring for ourselves in a way that will keep us healthy enough in all aspects to pour into others?

Stop comparing yourself to others.

Images of other people’s families are available to us at all hours of the day and night. Just open your phone or web browser, and you can get a glimpse into the lives of your friends and family. Please remember, this is a highlight reel. Most people are choosing the high points of their day to feature on their social media pages.

What elements are often missing from these posts? Big piles of laundry on the couch, dishes filling the sink, piles of shoes by the front door, sibling arguments, and difficult parenting moments.

In the book Love Your Life, Not Theirs, Rachel Cruze says, “There is no room for discontentment in a heart filled with gratitude,” which leads us into our next idea.

Be grateful.

In his book The Mood Elevator, Larry Senn says that “we all ride the mood elevator up and down every day. How well we do it impacts our relationships…and our experience of life.” Senn completed a research study and ranked the wide range of emotions and feelings, according to the effect they would have on a person’s mood.

At the bottom of the “mood elevator” would be the emotions or feelings that put us in the worst mood. The lowest three are depression, anger, and stress.

At the top of the “mood elevator” would be the emotions or feelings that put us in the best mood. When I first read this study, I really thought “joy” or “happiness” would be at the top of the elevator. However, sitting at the very tip-top of the mood elevator is gratitude.

A few months ago, Brother Matthew (the author of this blog), said, “We need to anchor our lives in a position of gratitude.”

When we are counting our blessings, it is often hard to find something to complain or worry about. Taking time to identify what we have to be thankful for every single day is a critical piece of self-care.

Be present.

Put the phone down. Turn the TV off. Make time for one-on-one time with your husband or wife. Enjoy silly little moments with your family. Eat supper at the table. Sit on the front porch and just breathe in the air around you. Look people in the eye. Have a conversation. Be vulnerable.

Finally, Serve others well.

I think this is where the balancing piece comes in. Society has led us to believe that self-care involves pulling away from others to “take care of yourself,” but the Bible teaches us about all kinds of people who served well.

To serve well, we have to be intentional in what we are choosing to be involved in. Serving well doesn’t mean we have to be all things to all people. When you are serving well, you’ll be energized and not exhausted. So choose wisely. Sometimes this means saying “no” to things that don’t line up with your gifts, your schedule, or your passions. And that’s okay.

Yes, let’s take care of ourselves…mentally, emotionally, and physically. But let’s not forget that the real source of joy & peace is Jesus.

As we go into a new year, let’s also make sure that our self-care program keeps HIM at the center.

How to live a blessed life in 2020

Here is a post from Jaron Scott. He is a former children’s minister at the Church I lead and is now an outstanding preacher in the city of Joplin. These are his thoughts for today.


I read an article recently titled, “Disney ruined a generation’s ability to be realistic about love.” The article was directed towards my generation, the millennials. The author argued that the movies we watched growing up convinced us that real love looks like a supermodel who can cook and catch butterflies on her forearm instantaneously falling in love with a model of a man who’s come to save her from all of her issues. The article says that those movies gave us unrealistic expectations that ruin relationships. Some of you know the disappointment that comes with being in your first few months of marriage and your spouse doesn’t do all the things you expect them to do which are things they never agreed to do and honestly things they could never do. Unrealistic expectations ruin relationships. Relationships with God aren’t spoiled by unrealistic expectations; they’re spoiled by unbiblical expectations. Our relationship with God isn’t spoiled by unrealistic expectations, because He can do anything you think He can do. Our relationship with God is spoiled by unbiblical expectations because He never promised to do everything you want Him to do. Whether it be a chapter from a book, a sermon from a preacher, or idea from the American dream, we’ve gotten the idea that God blessing me means He’ll give me good health with no sickness, a lot of wealth with no hard work, a happy family with no drama, a church that does all the things you’d like with no contribution on your part, and a peaceful death in the rolling hills of Kentucky. Countless people are disappointed and distant from God because He didn’t make our unbiblical dreams a reality. If we hold onto fairytale expectations of what we think it means for God to bless us, that don’t match the ways God said He’ll bless us, we’ll miss God’s blessing and miss the opportunity to live in God’s blessing. In 2020, make it your practice to expect biblical blessings. Search the scriptures for blessings that God promised to give Christians and expect Him to make good on those promises. Because I like you so much, I want to provide you with a few blessings to expect in 2020, and these are found in Numbers 6:24-27

  1. Expect God to keep you: This means God will see you through any situation that you find yourself in, and make sure you come out more Christlike.
  2. Expect God to be gracious to you: This means God will be good to you, not because you do good, but because He is good.
  3. Expect God to give you peace: This means God will provide you with wholeness, starting with wholeness in your relationship with Him and others.

Regardless of what’s behind you, you can go forward, living the blessed life by expecting God to make good on the promises that He’s made, not the ones that you’ve made up for Him. Live a blessed life in 2020.

Joys of this season

Over the next couple of weeks, I have asked some of the people in our Church to write some articles for me.

Todays is written by one of my elders, Don Arndt.

This time of the year we start singing songs about joy, hearing sermon’s dealing with joy, and sharing with our families the joy of simply being together and celebrating Jesus. Being an Elder for many years, I have been blessed with Christian joy so much and all through the year, not just during this time where we are focused on the birth of our savior. Being an Elder has always been a very humbling experience but brought with it countless times of great happiness and fulfillment.
I think my very favorite times is when someone asks me either to pray for them or with them. Many times, it is written how much God wants us to pray and the joy He feels when we pray and recognize His Glory, His Power, and His love for us. In Revelation 5:8, we read where the 24 Elders are holding bowls of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. So, when we pray now, I think that God enjoys the sweet smell of our prayers.
Of course, there is great joy in simply being a Christian, but I find my joy in meeting with the other Elders and Pastor for a time of prayer together. I find great pleasure in seeing the kids in our Church attending our wonderful youth and children’s programs and knowing they are learning the good news.
I do have disappointments and sorry times being an Elder. Mostly that is when someone leaves the Church, or worse, leaves the faith. I always wonder if I did something to cause them to leave or if I didn’t do something I should have that caused them to leave. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often.
Joy? Sure, there is much joy this time of year, but for me, there is joy every day also.

Merry Christmas and have a Joyful new year

Three Most Valuable Gifts You Can Give

We are only a handful of days from Christmas, and you might be like me and still thinking about the perfect gift. Through the years, I have discovered repeatedly that the best things in life cannot be bought but are given from the soul. Here are the three most valuable things you can give this season.

  1. Your Time. The most expensive thing in the world is time. The gift of time may be a few minutes of sitting quietly beside someone you love. It may be having an adventure with your kids instead of giving more toys. Put aside all distractions and focusing your attention on someone is a beautiful gift.
  2. A Listening Ear. Many people feel so alone this time of year. They look on social media and see all the things to which they were not invited. If you take the time (see above) to sit down and share a drink while listening to them, you are giving a special gift. Slowly I am learning; it doesn’t even have to be in person. You can listen through a telephone, share an email or text with reckless abandon. The gift of sitting and listening without judgment, advice or self-absorbed stories is something everyone wants.
  3. The Hope You Possess. For those of us who take our faith seriously, Christmas is a meaningful time because it connects people to Jesus. I am not saying you beat people over the head with the Bible, and most believers know that (unfortunately not all). I am saying, shine the light of God’s grace through your life. Speak with grace and kindness. See the good in people. Give without expecting anything in return. Be different in how you handle the holidays. Allow your life to be unique, and when someone asks about it, share with them the hope you have in Jesus. I firmly believe this is what everyone needs the most, and yet it is what we talk about the least.

I think these are the three most significant gifts you can give to anyone. Often, we label these as “love.” I am afraid love can become kind of a blanket we throw over everything that really means nothing. Love requires actions. The acts of being present, listening, and sharing your faith are gifts no one can give but you. May you share them abundantly this holiday season.

The Power of Presence

It is one of the most well-known passages of Christmas. You have heard it so many times you may not give it much thought anymore. Matthew 1:23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

The child born on Christmas day will be named Jesus, but those who encounter him will call him Immanuel. The name means “God with us.” Jesus is the very presence of God right among us. His words are the words of God. His actions are the thing that God desires. He brought God to man in a real and practical way.

One of the greatest gifts of the Christian faith is that we have a God who comes to be present with us. This is a simple concept to understand, but also an easy one to forget.

When my family and I lived in Alaska, we were four thousand miles away from anyone we knew. We left behind our families and our friends from ministries in the Midwest. The one positive we had going for us was that we lived in ALASKA. We told everyone we knew that they could come to visit us anytime, and we would take care of everything but travel expenses. There was a hope that people would buy a plane ticket and we would give them a place to stay, food and fun during their time with us.

During our time there we were disappointed only to have two families visited us. One was my wife’s mother, and the other was my parents. No one else came to be with us. My dad, who refused to fly, for unknown reasons, decided to drive up to visit two times in the five years we lived there. It was a four-thousand-mile journey times two for him and mom when you count the trip back home. They did whatever it took to come and be with us.

The story of Christmas is one of a God who came from heaven to earth to be with us. He overcame every obstacle in order to spend time on earth in our presence. For God so loved the world that he sent his one and only son to be with us.

I hope this Christmas you remember that you serve a God who came to be with you. He is called Immanuel.

The Value of Art and You

Through the years, all our sons have surprised us as parents in one way or another with their artistic ability. They have been able to draw and create things we never imagined. One of my son’s pieces is currently on display, and he had the opportunity to sell it for a charity fundraising project. This new idea has me thinking about the value of art.

Art is inexpensive for one of two reasons. First, it is made by someone who lacks skills, and so the piece has little value. Second, the piece is mass-produced. A great artist made something, and then it was reproduced over and over until the value was gone. The original may still have great worth, but the copies do not. Great artwork with a high value is that which is made by skilled hands and is one of a kind.

By that definition, your life has infinite value. First, you are made by the hands of a skilled creator. He has immense knowledge and the ability to do precise and extraordinary work. Second, you are an original. You were knit together in your mother’s womb. You were given unique DNA, eyes, fingerprints, and even one of a kind ears. You are an original work made by a master artist.

The next time you stand in front of a cheap piece of art at the store. Remind yourself that it is not a mirror. Your life has all the features of something of enormous value.

Like a Thief in the Night

Recently our little town has had a substantial crime wave. Vehicles were stolen, property was broken into, and items of all shapes and sizes lost to these criminals. There have also been four Churches broken into and had things taken, and another one appears to have experienced an attempted break-in.

All this activity has sent our community into full alert. As the only Church that has not experienced any theft, we are on full surveillance. I am triple checking the doors, turning on extra lights, and making sure all security is in order. We are doing everything we can to avoid being hit. The town has formed a community watch group, and people are vigilantly trying to keep their eyes and ears open for suspicious activity. Meetings are being held, police are helping coordinate, and everyone is spreading the word about these terrible actions.

This experience has reminded me of an image used in the New Testament about the return of the Lord. The expression is that the Lord will return like a thief in the night. I could find at least five times this imagery is used to describe the return of Jesus. He will come at a day and time no one expected, so we had better be ready for him at any time.

Thieves are unpredictable. The moment you let your guard down is the moment they will strike. When the months of surveillance have amounted to nothing and life goes back to normal, then we are the most vulnerable to an attack. Similarly, there have been seasons when it sure seemed like this was the time Jesus would return, and he did not. He will not come when expected.

This whole experience has amazed me as I have watched people working together, trying to protect one another, and doing everything possible to secure our community. If only we truly believed that Jesus was coming. Maybe then we would reach out to our community with the gospel, we would do everything in our power to help others, and people would be as precious as our possessions.

Here is the reality, one day, Jesus will return, and I hope you are prepared. But even if he does not come back in your lifetime, at some point, you will go to him. At some point, a different kind of thief will arrive and take away your life. One day all of us will stop breathing, and we will go to meet our maker. In one way or another, the thief comes to end our life on earth; are we living fully prepared lives. The thief is coming in one way or another, are you ready and making sure others are too?

Experiencing God in Nature

Recently I was a part of a survey that asked a single question, “When do you feel closest to God?” I understand it is a subjective question. Whenever you ask about people’s feelings, that doesn’t mean you are going to find the truth, but you will gain insight into what is going on inside of people. This time the number one response was overwhelming, “When I am in nature.” People clearly felt they connected to God more when they were outside in his creation.

As an avid outdoorsman, I understand what people are saying, but I also wondered why this phenomenon occurs. I want to suggest a few reasons this type of thinking exists, some are positive, and some are negative.

  1. Creation is the handiwork of God. Popular teaching may suggest that the world is the result of random chance, but in our hearts, we find that hard to believe. There is too much beauty and wonder in the world. The heavens declare the work of God’s hands.
  2. It is easier to see the hand of God away from man-made things. It is hard to see God inside of buildings, even the most majestic. No artist can truly capture the colors and beauty of a sunrise, no matter how skilled. When we move away from these lesser creations, God’s presence is clearly seen.
  3. Many people feel trapped. There is a sense of freedom that comes from wide-open spaces. Many people, like myself, work in an office, inside of a building. Our lives are surrounded by brick and mortar. We need the freedom of fresh air and the absence of human activity.
  4. People are complicated and confusing. Frequently our most meaningful outdoor experiences are with only a couple of people we enjoy or totally alone. When we go to a Church setting to encounter God, there are people. People bring with them their sins, flaws, and issues. Often it feels better to be away from others to see the purity of faith.
  5. It is a passive way to see God. Seeing God in nature requires that I do nothing besides be outside. I do not have to read and think. I do not have to sing and pay attention. I do not have to work through my emotional issues with others. All I have to do is be. In a world that is rushing everywhere, and our overloaded schedules, we enjoy anything that doesn’t require effort on our part.
  6. We can use it to justify recreation. Our culture puts a high value on enjoyment. We live for the weekend, and when we can connect God to something we want to do, then all the better. Here is usually how it goes; someone tells me that they love going to the lake on the weekend because they feel close to God there. My question is, “Did you go to experience God, or did you go to spend time with the family in the boat, and God was an added bonus?”

I believe the way our society is progressing there is going to be more and more talk about God in nature. Here are a few of the reasons I think this movement is happening. I would love to hear your thoughts. Just don’t forget that God is not limited by our feelings. The instruction of scripture is that God reveals himself in his world, his worship, and his people. We must not neglect other areas of experiencing his presence and focus on nature alone.

There is No Perfect Church

One of the pleas of our group of Churches from the beginning is to restore the Church to its original form. While I like the idea, because there were many wonderful things about the Church as it is revealed in the New Testament, it also had problems. It may be hard to believe, but the group of believers who immediately formed after Jesus left and who were led by the apostles, had issues. The list of their struggles in faith is detailed in almost every book of the New Testament.

-Some of them did not believe Jesus rose from the dead.
-A couple of people lied about their offering and died in Church.
-A group of believers was neglected in the Church giving, and they complained about another group.
-It was tough to allow the Gentiles into Church, and many would not believe it.
-There were doctrinal struggles about how to handle the Old Testament.
-Church leaders had disagreements.
-Faith as the means of salvation was a difficult concept for some to accept.
-One Church had a guy who left his wife and moved in with his stepmom in a sexual relationship.
-The Church in Corinth had a division between the rich and poor at communion.
-Some leaders believed they were superior to Paul, and he was not worth listening too.
-Ladies were fighting in their meetings.
-Another Church seemed to have people who did all kinds of crazy things in worship.

The list could go on and on. The book of Acts details problem after problem with the Church on every page. Each one of the letters was written to address at least one issue and sometimes multiple difficulties. The book of Revelation has letters written to the believers in seven Churches, and most of them are not doing well.

What fascinates me about this, through all their problems, the Church continued to grow and spread. People were willing to suffer for their faith and even die. There are only a handful of accounts of people leaving the community of faith, even with all its problems. They saw the positive in what they were trying to accomplish despite all the issues. Those believers trusted God and knew they needed to work through their differences for the good of the Kingdom of God.

I tell you this because I see so many people today leaving the Church. They tell me it has too many problems. Many of them can detail one bad experience or one lousy leader. Things get a little messy, and they leave. I am here today to tell you that the Church has never been perfect. It was not without problems in 65 AD, and it still has some of the same struggles today.

And believe it or not, that is okay. The Church is a group of people who are working out their faith together. Even with all its warts, ugliness, and issues the Church at its heart is full of people who love Jesus and are trying to follow him. There is no place like it on earth. NO PLACE. So, hold tight, don’t give up, keep improving, and who knows what God will do both in us and through us in the name of Jesus.