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You FEEL you’re right, but are you? The Liabilities of the Emotional Mind

By Jesse Jost

I’m studying emotional intelligence, and am fascinated by how our rational mind (the frontal lobe) and emotional mind (the amygdala) work.

The data from our senses passes through the emotional part of our brain before it hits the rational part. Consequently, we have feelings about things even before we have thoughts about things.

The lightning-fast emotional response enables us to recognize danger and react by reflex when needed. If you see a rope being thrown at you, the data gathered by your senses will trigger fear because your amygdala senses that the object could be a snake, and will cause you to react by jumping out of the way before you have time to decide if it’s a rope or a snake. The emotional response needs to be fast, because if the object is a snake, time wasted evaluating the object may be fatal.

Our instantaneous emotional response to life can be life-saving; it can also be a liability. The “eyes” of our emotional brain see life in a simplified way, devoid of the complexity and nuance afforded by the more careful deliberation of our rational mind. This simplicity allows the emotional mind to make quick judgments and produce instant emotions.

Emotions are a gift that make the experience of life so rich, as well as a source of wisdom that can help our rational mind make wise decisions informed by empathy and awareness of emotional consequences.

However, the way emotions are formed by snap judgments can make strong emotions a liability if they are not questioned by our rational mind.

Continue reading…
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Wake up! A Covid Call To Action.

By Jesse Jost

The feedback from my latest forays into social media seems to imply that what some people have been hearing in my posts is this: don’t worry about the encroaching threats to our freedom. Don’t fight for our freedoms. The corruption in government and big pharma is all just conspiracy theory. We can safely ignore it and just spread positivity.

That is not what I am saying at all! My passion is two-fold:

  1. What can I do practically to make a difference in staving off the very real threats to our medical and religious freedoms?

We’ve heard it many times: all it takes for evil to flourish is for good men to do nothing. That thought chills me and motivates me to action. But I want to do something that is making a real difference.

Social media provides a paradox: it’s easy to share and raise awareness, but it can also lessen the steps people take in the real world to make a difference.  I’m using social media right now to participate in a conversation, but I must fight the temptation to think that because I wrote that post or shared the article, my work is done. That’s my first concern.

  • Is what I’m advocating truly biblical? Is it in line with God’s word?

I am always asking:  What does God’s word say about this? It’s easy to adopt ideas and trends that make sense to us or sound good, but they can directly contradict God’s instructions to New Testament Christ-followers.

In light of these two concerns, let’s look at just of the few possibilities that believers are sounding the alarm bell about and how we should respond.

“Government is inflating covid deaths to make the threat more scary and control us.”

Continue reading…
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Practical Tips for Meditating on Scripture

By Jesse Jost

Imagine if…every time after you ate, your food just went right through you? Suppose it never lingered in your stomach acid to get broken down, and the nutrients never got absorbed in your intestines? What would happen to your body? You would quickly grow weak and malnourished and you would not live long. It wouldn’t matter how regularly you ate, or what you ate, because without the process of digestion, you would die.

In a similar way, it is not enough to just “eat” God’s word by reading and memorizing it. For our souls to grow spiritually, we also need a process of digestion where we break down and absorb nutrients, applying them to our lives.

Scripture calls this digestion process “meditating.” Psalm 1 says that the righteous man’s “delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

Here are some ideas that have enriched my meditation process. The Holy Spirit ultimately takes the text and uses it to bring us light, convict us, and comfort us, so none of these ideas should replace a prayerful dependence on Him.

Continue reading…
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Why Churches Struggle with Relationships (and How They Can Thrive)

By Jesse Jost

Before Jesus died, He prayed that His followers would have unity and be marked by love. Today, churches are often seen as places of petty division. Church splits are common, and the number of denominations rises yearly. It’s a sorry cliché that “churches are the only army that shoots its wounded,” as almost everyone has been hurt by other Christians.

Why do Christians, who have been showered with undeserved grace and forgiven so much, struggle greatly with relationships with each other?

I am not offering definitive answers here to this troubling question, but rather exploring possible reasons so that solutions can be found.

What is the Church?

The church can be two very different things: First, it can be a place where people who are supernaturally regenerated and indwelt with the Holy Spirit exhibit the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When this is the case, there is warmth and grace.

Second, the church can also be a place of religious effort where members attempt to earn heaven by good works. This spirit of religiosity may seem very similar to true Christianity but the fruits of this kind of religion are very different: guilt, fear, and pride.

Yet even genuine believers who are saved by faith and filled with the Holy Spirit still struggle with a sinful nature that hijacks good impulses and wreaks all kinds of relational havoc. This combination is why I believe churches struggle so much with relationships. Continue reading…

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5 Truths to Help You Rejoice in The Lord Always

by Jesse Jost

Repeatedly we are commanded to “Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS.” Christians often treat happiness in two ways: The first is to try to look and be happy regardless of what you are going through or feeling on the inside. This can result in hypocrisy, suppressed emotions, and fake smiles. In reaction, other Christians focus more on being honest and transparent, and when they don’t feel like much is going right in their life, they feel no reason to fake happiness, but they also end up not feeling much happiness.

In the midst of these extremes we have God’s clear command to rejoice in Christ – Always. I don’t think it should take too much convincing that neither artificial smiles nor perpetual “honest” gloom take this command seriously.

What does it mean to “rejoice” in something?

I believe our emotions are an automatic response to the slice of reality that we have in our conscious awareness. Whatever we are focusing on will dictate our emotional response. I’ve let insignificant things make me depressed, like when my team coughs up a three-run lead after an error or blown call. I’m a healthy man, with an attractive wife, smart kids, no debt, cozy house in a free country, and I’m in a funk because an ump called a strike a ball before the three-run homer. I know it’s stupid, but I can’t shake the feeling because I’m obsessed with that tiny, maddening slice of life.

Continue reading…

  • Dale Jost

    Practical insights toward rejoicing in the LORD

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A More Painless Way to Memorize Scripture

student with books and the computer

By Jesse Jost

A red neck hillbilly went to the hardware store frustrated with how dull his handsaw was getting. The store clerk convinced him to try the brand new Husqvarna chain saw, saying it would revolutionize his ability to cut wood. The hillbilly brought it back a few days later and complained, “This thing can’t even cut what my old rusty hand saw could handle.”

The hardware clerk looked over the chain saw, primed it and pulled the starter cord. The engine roared to life. The hillbilly jumped back, startled, and shouted, “What’s that noise!?”

A chainsaw is a powerful tool when you know how to use it. Trying to use it like a handsaw with the engine off and cutting wood will be a terribly painful exercise in futility.

Our brain is a powerful memorizing tool that has incredible potential, but use the memorizing feature incorrectly and memorizing will be more painful than a trip to the dentist.

When the printing press first came out, philosophers worried that our memories would deteriorate now that external memories, books, were more readily available.

Before the printing press, a simple book cost one year’s wages because that is how long it would take for a scribe to write it out by hand. Scrolls were bulky and cumbersome, making it difficult to find certain sections.

With books so scarce and hard to access, people were forced to develop their memories. They knew how to harness the brain’s natural ability to memorize so that they could commit whole books to memory.

Today with smart phones in our pocket and Google, there is practically no need to memorize anything. People no longer even need to remember phone numbers or multiplication tables because it’s quicker to whip out the phone. Because of this, we have almost completely lost the art of how to memorize.

There is much information that is better stored in an accessible external memory, but I believe the case is different with the words of God. It is great that we can load up the YouVersion app and access any passage of scripture with a couple of clicks. But keeping scripture external to our minds and hearts changes our experience of the Word. It keeps it distant and minimizes its transforming effects on our hearts and minds.

Man Shall Not Live on Bread Alone

God designed His words to be digested and mediated on throughout the day. Jesus declared to Satan that God’s word is more important to us than even food itself, that we live by God’s every word. Today with supermarkets and new ways to keep food fresh, all varieties of meats, fruits, and vegetables are more accessible than ever before. But that doesn’t change the fact that you still need to eat and digest the food if you want to benefit from it. You must make the food a literal part of you if you want to grow from it. Continue reading…

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9 Causes of Depression

By Jesse Jost

Johann Hari is someone who has struggled with extreme depression and was on antidepressants for 12 years. In his insightful book “Lost Connections,” he questions the common story peddled by many in the drug industry. For years he believed that depression was caused by a broken brain – a chemical imbalance – and the way to fix it was through pills that altered the brain chemistry. After years of pills that only caused a temporary upswing in mood, followed by years of nasty physical side effects, Johann wanted to take a closer look at the causes and remedies for depression. He found that depression has many causes other than simply biology. There are psychological and sociological causes as well. Rather than a mere imbalance in the brain, depression is mental and emotional pain that is a natural response to a broken world.

Here is my summary of the 9 causes of depression that Johann discovered.

  1. Disconnection from meaningful work

Some depression can be caused by work that makes people feel they have no control over their roles or position and that their opinions don’t matter. Other job factors that lead to depression include a perpetual sense that you are falling behind and the work keeps piling up no matter how hard you try. Also jobs that have a low reward to effort ratio make a person feel trapped, i.e. hard work that is unnoticed and under appreciated.

      2.Disconnection from other people

Loneliness, a sense that you are alone, that you are not part of a group that protects and values you, can play a large role in depression. The scary thing is that loneliness snowballs, and causes people to “shut down socially and be more suspicious…You become hypervigilant. You start to take offense where none was intended, and be afraid of strangers. You start to be afraid of the very thing you need most.” We all need to feel like we belong, that we have people who will listen and accept us, and that we play a valuable role in their lives as well.

  1. Disconnection from meaningful values

We are motivated by two categories of motivations. One is “extrinsic” motivation. We will do something we’d rather not do, so that we will get something that we do want. For example, we will take a job we hate so we have money to pay the bills, do a painful workout so we can have a better body, etc. The other type of motivation is “intrinsic” motivation. We do something just for the sheer pleasure of it, or the action matches our convictions so we want to do it regardless of attention or reward. Johann argues that the more your day is filled with time spent doing only the things that are extrinsically motivated, the more likely you’ll spiral into depression. Johann also believes that our culture places too much significance on wealth, status, and material goods, so that people feel the acquisition of these things is what will make them happy. But people end up living years of drudgery, doing the things they hate, trying to chase the hollow dream. Continue reading…

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Notes from Crucial Conversations

By Jesse Jost

I just finished reading “Crucial Conversations: Tools for talking when the stakes are high” By Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillian, and Al Switzer. The book was a wise and practical read on learning how to have conversations that reflect the love-fuelled dialogue the apostle Paul pleads with the church to have.

I was so impacted, convicted, and inspired by the book, that I unrealistically want everyone to read it. Of course hardly anybody has the time to read or follow up on book suggestions, so I took the time to distil the principles in the book into an article format.

I hope this short piece inspires you to buy the book for yourself, but more importantly, helps transforms your ability to speak the truth in love, with wisdom and compassion. 

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A crucial conversation = when emotions become involved and the outcome of the conversation will have an impact on direction or quality of life. Your ability or inability to handle these types of conversations will have a tremendous effect on the quality of your relationships and success at work or in your organization.

When emotions run high, blood is directed away from our higher brain functions and toward our fight or flight system. As emotions rise, we tend to fall back on to habits of silence or violence, becoming less mentally equipped to handle the complex issues before us.

The goal of healthy dialogue is the free exchange of information, opinions and feelings. This is only achievable when trust is earned through creating a safe environment. Feeling safe is absolutely critical.

Here are 7 conversation skills you can develop to navigate crucial conversations effectively. Continue reading…

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Do You Live to Love or Live to Please?

By Jesse Jost

I love to please other people. I thrive on affirmation and will bend over backward to gain approval. And I wrestle with whether this is a positive or negative trait. Wanting to please other people is a sign of love, is it not? But when I honestly look deeper into my motives, the picture is more murky.

Why do I want to please people? Am I really just putting their desires ahead of my own? Or are there more sinister psychological forces motivating me? Am I trying to find my worth in other people’s approval? Do I have a self-centered need to be admired? Am I looking for acceptance into a group to validate my identity? Maybe my driving force in wanting to please others is not love, but pride and insecurity.

The different motivations of love or desire to please may not change my outward actions, but will have a huge effect on my soul and emotional well-being.

An unhealthy dependence on the approval or acceptance of others can become an idol that drags us around, filling our days with activities we are not called to or created for.

I think we were made with a desire to find our identity in something larger than our self. God wants us to find our sense of worth and purpose in Him and in His body, the church, doing the good works that He created for us to walk in. (Eph 2:10) If our identity is not in Christ and fulfilling our calling from Him, we will seek to find this identity and purpose in man-made social groups or organizations.

I was homeschooled growing up and felt like an outsider of the larger local community, even overhearing other kids being mocked for wanting to play with my siblings and me. Now, as an adult, I hunger for community acceptance, wanting to meet the community’s expectations for what is required to be a recognized insider – whether it be involvement in sports, or putting our kids in the school system. Continue reading…

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My Ten Favourite Reads of 2017

 

By Jesse Jost

I didn’t quite reach my goal of reading 75 books, but I did finish 62 and read large portions of several others. From that list of books, here are my top ten books that I read this year. Ratings include enjoyment factor, life impact, and mental stimulation.

I also list the 10 books that didn’t quite make the top 10 but also receive my hearty recommendation. At the end you’ll find my complete list of books finished in 2017.

It should go without saying, but I don’t endorse everything in these books, and many of these books contain rough language and descriptions of human misery that should upset most readers.

# 10 The Obesity Code: Unlocking the Secrets of Weight Loss

by Jason Fung

So I gained a bunch of weight the first year of our marriage and it stuck regardless of what I ate or how I exercised. The number on the scale didn’t move much but my gut circumference, um, expanded. My heartburn was getting way out of hand and keeping me awake at night. Turning 35 made me realize that I really needed to start taking my health more seriously before it is too late. I read several books on diet this year, and have made some serious changes, mainly cutting out refined carbs as much as possible, eating higher fat and low carb, and doing intermittent fasting. I’m finally seeing results, I’ve lost 13 pounds, several inches, and have far less heart burn. It’s a good start and I’m excited. Of all the books I read, I think this one would be the one-stop resource that I would recommend. Continue reading…

  • Amanda Tschetter

    Hi Jesse! I recently read a book by Dean Taylor, titled, “A Change of Allegiance.” I would strongly recommend that you read it. It is a powerful book and is a journey into the historical and biblical teachings of war and peace. Very interesting and life changing! I do pray that you would read it and be challenged by it.
    Keep on striving to become more like Christ!
    -Amanda Tschetter

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