Taking Back Control


There’s so much that you need to do each day, so much that you want to do, and so much that others expect of you. You feel pulled in all directions. Pressure. Tension. Anxiety. Will it ever stop?

It won’t stop on its own, but you can break the cycle. You don’t have to remain entangled in the unending struggle to do more and have more. Life doesn’t have to be a daily crisis. You don’t have to be the prisoner of unrealistic expectations. Let Jesus help you regain control of your life.

The root of the problem is simple: You try to do too much, more than is humanly possible, and you put your mind, body, and spirit under pressure they were never meant to handle. It’s time to reassess. Determine what things mean the most to you–your primary long-term goals and responsibilities–and what other things are essential to achieve those things. Channel your energies into those things, and let go of the rest. Once you’ve done this, the pressures that once seemed unbearable will start to dissipate.

Do you want a new lease on life? You can have one, but you have to be willing to let go of the pressures that drive you now. It’s up to you.


Why Meditate?

mediWe inhabit physical bodies, but we are spiritual beings living spiritual lives. Meditation helps us to get in touch with the spiritual elements.

Whatever happens to occupy our thoughts or drive our actions at any given moment is not the all in all. Meditation reminds us that there’s more to life than what meets the eye.

Meditation helps us get our priorities right. Distancing ourselves from our day-to-day activities, even if only for a few minutes, gives us a fresh perspective on them.

Meditation has physical benefits, especially for the nervous system. Stress and tension negatively impact our health in various ways—raising blood pressure or accelerating the aging process, for example. It stands to reason, then, that relieving stress would pay off in better health, and it does.Resting the mind has a profound effect on brain activity, which results in a slower heart rate, lower blood pressure, and a reduction in stress hormones—and the nervous system gets temporary relief. If meditation is practiced regularly, these beneficial changes become relatively permanent.

Giving Jesus our focused, undivided attention strengthens our relationship with Him. Just as we each need some time alone with those dearest to us, He wants time alone with us.

When we draw closer to Jesus through meditation, He takes our minds off our problems and concerns for a time and empties us of our own thoughts about them. Later, when we must face those problems again, He is more easily able to give us His mind on the matter—solutions we hadn’t been able to find on our own.

Six Steps of Meditative Prayer

Step 1: Choose an appropriate location. Most people find that meditation is best in quiet, uncluttered surroundings, ideally away from where they work or spend most of their waking hours. A secluded spot outside can be especially conducive. Fresh air not only renews us physically, but it also illustrates God’s Spirit that is able to clear our minds and spirits.

Step 2: Take time to wind down. It’s impossible to immediately go from the affairs of a busy day into a state of deep meditative prayer. There needs to be a time of transition, a time of phasing out the material world. Sometimes it helps to spend a few minutes on a transitional activity, such as listening to soothing music, taking a short walk, or breathing deeply. As you try different things, you’ll find what works best for you.

Step 3: Leave your cares at the door. If problems are weighing you down, they’ll keep you from the peace you could receive from meditation. Take a minute or two (or as long as it takes) to give your present cares to Jesus in prayer. Be specific. Describe to Him what is troubling you, and ask Him to lift and bear it. Focus on God’s ability to bring solutions, rather than the problems themselves. “Be anxious for nothing, 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 minds through Christ Jesus” (1 Philippians 4:6-7).

Step 4: Get relaxed. Several minutes of gentle stretches and deep breathing, followed by a relaxation exercise (concentrate on relaxing your face and neck, then your entire body, part by part) can help. If you’re feeling especially tense, a shower or a bath or a short walk in nature might help you relax. Or if you’re very tired, a nap may be just the thing, because as long as you’re exhausted, you probably won’t get much out of your time of meditation.

Step 5: Select a comfortable position. In meditation, the position of your spirit matters much more than the position of your body. You don’t have to sit a certain way—or even sit, for that matter—except of course you should be comfortable, so that doesn’t become a distraction. Whatever position you choose, it should allow you to maintain good posture, because this facilitates deep breathing and good circulation of the blood.

Step 6: Meditate. You’ve found an appropriate spot and wound down physically. You’ve put your problems and cares into Jesus’ very capable hands. You’ve disconnected from the affairs of the day, and are relaxed and comfortable. Now you’re ready to begin a time of focused meditation.

You might choose to focus on Jesus Himself, thinking about one of His attributes, or on some special blessing He has brought into your life. A specific thought from God’s Word can also be a subject for meditation. Reading a passage from the Bible, one of the “From Jesus with Love” messages that are on this blog, or some other short devotional material may help get you started.

Let your mind rest. Don’t analyze. Just relax and concentrate on quieting your body, mind, and spirit. Think of this type of meditation as being like learning to float in water. It takes that amount of relaxation of both body and spirit for God’s Spirit to take over and give you the “buoyancy” you need. If you struggle or try to poke your head up to see what’s happening around you, the balance will be upset and you’ll break your connection with Him. Whereas if you will just lie back, stop struggling, focus on relaxing every muscle in your body, and shut out the noise of the world and every thought except the one you’re meditating on, God’s Spirit will hold you up perfectly. It’s a wonderful feeling!


When it seems there is much more to be done than there is time to do it, it’s easy to get under pressure. We think we’re not getting enough done or are not getting it done quickly enough, so we push ourselves harder. But the fact of the matter is that when we do that, we usually wind up being less effective and getting even less done.

Stress hinders us in a number of ways: It puts extra strain on our nervous system, which diminishes our mental capacities. It causes us to try to go too fast, so we’re not as careful and prayerful as we should be and are therefore more likely to make mistakes. It squelches inspiration. It makes us irritable and harder for others to work with. It can really take the joy out of life! Allowing ourselves to get under pressure is counterproductive in every way.

Pressure?-Or peace?

peaceLearning to recognize when we’re starting to get under pressure and then taking positive steps to counter that feeling is probably one of the most important work habits we could build and the very best way to do that is to ask the Lord for help.

First, we need to ask Jesus to help us see the early warning signs, and second, we need to learn to give our worries and cares to Him and trust Him to do the work through us, His way and in His time.

It is possible to be very busy and have a whole lot to do without feeling under pressure; the secret is to cast our cares on the Lord. “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

How is this done? The Bible explains: “Don’t worry about anything. Instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank Him for His answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 TLB).

First Things First


Pressure is the enemy! That’s especially true for Christians, because when we feel under pressure, the first thing to get crowded out of our schedule is often the very thing we need most–our time with the Lord.

You could be the most organized person in the world, but if you neglect your time with the Lord, your spirit will suffer. Personal happiness and fulfillment, successful relations with others, productivity, and everything else that really matters in life all depend on your keeping your connection with the Lord strong, getting spiritually nourished from His Word, being refreshed and refilled by His Spirit, and taking time to love and be loved by Him.

To get the Lord’s perfect peace, you have to take time with the Lord. To take time with Him, you have to trust that whatever urgent work you have is in His hands and under His control. To trust Him, you have to understand and embrace the wonderful truth that He loves you so much He wants to help you with every aspect of your life.

He is concerned about you and your happiness. He wants to be involved. He wants to help you with your workload, and He will help you as much as you let Him. He will lighten your load incredibly if you’ll just ask Him.

So when you begin to feel under pressure, the smartest thing you can do is stop and ask the Lord for help. He wants you to bring your problems to Him, and if you will, He will soothe your ruffled nerves, calm your mind, and show you what to do.

Taking that time to pray and commit your work to the Lord is the best way in the world to alleviate pressure. It’s like opening the pressure valve of your spirit. If you don’t take that time with Him, the pressure continues to mount.

Personally Speaking


Stress relief has become a multifaceted, multi-billion-dollar industry. Armies of experts have emerged, dispensing advice of every sort. Some say the key is better time management: Reduce stress by doing a better job of juggling everything we need to do. Others say the key is patience: Be ambitious, but focus on less daunting short- and mid-range goals. Others tell us to reexamine our priorities from the quality-of-life angle and major on the things that count most. Still others take a more spiritual approach: Relieve stress through yoga, meditation, or other disciplines. Who are we to believe?

It reminds me of the story of the five blind men who were asked to describe an elephant. They each felt a different part of the animal before giving their answer. One grabbed ahold of the tail. “An elephant is like a rope,” he said. The next grabbed a leg. “No,” he said, “an elephant is like a tree.” The third man felt the elephant’s side. “No, an elephant is like a wall.” The fourth felt the trunk and said, “No, an elephant is like a serpent.” The last man felt an ear and said, “No, an elephant is like a leaf.” They were all right, but none of them was completely right or the only one who was right.

When it comes to our lives, God alone has the whole picture. He knows exactly what each of us needs to lead a happy, well-balanced, stress-free life. And that’s not all. He also wants to be personally involved on a daily and even moment-by-moment basis to show us what we can do to make that happen, and He is ready, willing, and able to do for us what we can’t do for ourselves.

He will do that for you and heap His love on for good measure. All that He asks is that you turn to Him, tell Him what you need, and thank Him for His help. “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Keith Phillips
for Activated Magazine

Go Slow–You’ll Get There Quicker


“In quietness and confidence shall be your strength” (Isaiah 30:15). There is nothing in the Bible promoting hurry. The only verse I know that seems to advocate rushing is, “The king’s business required haste” (1 Samuel 21:8). But for that one Scripture, I think there must be a hundred that tell us to go slow, or words to that effect–even to take it easy!

Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30). When you get under too much pressure and too much tension, too heavy a burden and too hard a yoke, it’s not God’s fault. It’s somebody else’s fault, or your own.

Maybe that’s why God created donkeys–as an object lesson. They are plodders. They are very slow, but they have more endurance and can carry heavier loads than horses. They are the workhorses of the backwoods. They can negotiate trails that horses would kill themselves on, carrying loads for miles that a horse couldn’t–especially not a racehorse.

Racehorses can sprint for a few rounds around the track, and that’s it! They’re extremely high-strung, nervous, and are just not workhorses. They’re not plodders, and they’re not load carriers. But pack mules and donkeys are–and they’re as stubborn as they come! You cannot rush them. You have to do it slowly, in their time. They just plod along, but they do it and they get there. It’s like the old story of the tortoise and the hare: The tortoise was slow, but he got there.

You may choose intensity and speed; I’ll take the low road and the slow road. You can take the high road and get there first if you want to–if you get there at all–but I’m going to take the low road and the slow road, and I’m determined to get there in one piece, no matter how long it takes.

I can’t count the times I’ve told taxi drivers, “Go slow and you’ll live longer. Live fast and you’ll die quicker.” That certainly is true. Doctors and health experts have said that pressure and tension are killing people, and that many of today’s illnesses are from pressure and tension. Pressure and speed are killing people through heart trouble, nervous trouble, and high blood pressure.

Lord help us to go slow! We shouldn’t waste time, but we need to trust the Lord instead of being rushed and impatient. Patience indicates slowness, plodding along, doing our work persistently and not wasting time, but also not getting fretful and worried and all worked up about it. Impatience is marked by speed, hurry, rush, haste, push, pressure, tension! Patience shows faith. Impatience shows lack of faith. Impatience shows that we don’t think the job is going to get done unless we hurry and push it and rush it.

But if we’ve got faith that Jesus is going to help us take care of it somehow, we can afford to be patient and go slow and do it right.

By David Brandt Berg