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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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Why I Don’t Want to Treat My Kids Fairly

By Jesse Jost

I recently took two of my sons and my youngest brother, Judah, into town to see a movie and do some shopping. While we were in Princess Auto, my astute 10 year-old John-Michael noticed there were complimentary doughnuts by the front door. He and Judah, who have working pancreases, blissfully devoured the treats without an issue. My 5 year-old son, Elijah, whose immune system destroyed his pancreas, and is now a Type 1 diabetic, also wanted a doughnut. His last shot of insulin wasn’t enough to match his breakfast carbs, and his blood sugar was already way too high, so I had to say no. My poor little boy started sobbing on the spot, “I wish I didn’t have diabetes.” Oh, that hurt to hear those words.

We are so grateful Elijah is alive after we almost lost him this summer to complications from his undiagnosed diabetes, but there are times it is hard to watch our sweet boy have to deal with all the insulin shots, finger pokes, and food restrictions.

I told Elijah to go get a doughnut and wrap it up in a napkin and that he could have part of it for dessert after lunch when I could give him extra insulin for it. He cheered up at this prospect and the solution worked fine.

All the unique challenges we face with Elijah have made me think a lot about fairness. It doesn’t seem fair that Elijah has to be so carb conscious at this age, or have to deal with 6 or 7 injections a day just to stay alive. As a parent, self-pity is tempting when I can’t sleep because I am concerned Elijah’s blood sugar will drop and he will slip into a fatal low.

It used to be nice to just pack up and leave the house without having the stress of making sure we have his blood sugar monitoring equipment, insulin, glucagon kit, juice and granola bars for lows, plus making sure it’s all in a well-insulated container so it’s not ruined by too much heat or cold.

It was so easy before to put out a bedtime snack and not worry about the carb count, or let the kids at the cold cereal in the morning, without having to read labels or weigh and measure everything. It’s easy to be just a little jealous of the uncomplicated eating habits of non-T1D families. Continue reading…

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When The Body Attacks Itself

We have a picture of Elijah that is too painful to share. It’s him in his underwear, skin and bones, barely able to stand the morning I took him into Emergency. We had no idea what was wrong with him. Was it some form of cancer? Worms? Metabolic disorder? Why was he losing so much weight and deathly ill? It happened so fast we barely noticed the warning signs until it was almost too late. It turned out the culprit was his own body. He was dying from an auto immune disease that caused Type 1 Diabetes.

Before our son Elijah’s diagnoses of Type 1 diabetes, I had only a vague notion of what an autoimmune disease was. In Elijah’s case, his autoimmune disease meant that his body’s immune system flagged part of his pancreas as the enemy, and turned his own defense system on a healthy part of the body, destroying it for life. This mistake would have proved fatal if not for the discovery of insulin and his daily injections that replace what his own body destroyed.

As I was grieving the loss of Elijah’s beta cells, it struck me what a potent warning analogy an autoimmune disease is for the body of Christ. It is so easy to “flag” or mark other Christians as “the enemy”, and set the immune systems of gossip and condemnation upon that person.

With a sense of our holy mission to protect the body, we break fellowship or shun and encourage others to do the same. In so doing, we can unwittingly destroy a genuine and vital part of the body of Christ. We walk away congratulating ourselves on our “discernment,” and have no idea the fatal blow we may have dealt to Christ’s local body. Christ alone knows the function he had designed that person to perform in his body, the church, and how the body will suffer because it is missing that key component.

Don’t get me wrong: there is cancer and genuine disease that the body needs to be protected from. There is a place for warning against wolves and false teaching. But the immune system is explosive and powerful. We need to be so merciful and cautious in our attacks.

Continue reading…

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Righteous Anger: Can You Handle It?

By Jesse Jost

If you open your web browser these days, you’ll find plenty to get angry about: Planned Parenthood ripping up babies, ISIS mutilating Christians, politicians using corruption for selfish gains. Getting angry can feel good, maybe because our rage reassures us that we are in the righteous group of people who are above doing such filthy things, and that we still know how to acknowledge evil.

But is anger a healthy state for a Christian? How much of our anger is righteous and pleasing to God?

Righteous Wrath

Modern man is offended by the idea of a wrathful God. It seems a barbaric holdover from a more primitive time. “I can’t believe in a God of wrath, only a God of love.” My response would be, “How loving can God really be if he doesn’t get angry at what destroys his children?” Could a truly loving God simply smile benignly at rape, genocide, and oppression?

If you pull the wings off a fly, I won’t care. But if you harm one of my kids, I’ll get angry. What makes the difference? I love my child far more than I love the fly. The greater the love, the greater the wrath toward what harms the loved one.

My love is weak and unsubstantial compared to the mighty hurricane of God’s love. If you truly believe in a God of love, then I don’t think you have a choice but to also believe that God’s love makes Him angry at all that lures us away from Him into self-destruction.

When God became a man, He certainly got angry about the cancers of greed and self-righteousness. In a fit of zeal Jesus overthrew the temple tables and drove out merchants who were using religion as a means of financial gain. Jesus vehemently condemned hypocrisy and the casting aside of the broken and needy.

So if God the Father gets angry, and his Son, the God-Man gets angry, then surely we have the right – maybe even the obligation – to get angry, right? Isn’t the fear of the Lord to hate evil (Prov. 8:13)? Aren’t we commanded to “be angry, but do not sin?” (Eph. 4:26) Well, don’t get all worked up just yet, because I think the issue is a little more complicated. Continue reading…

  • Jan Jones

    I appreciate your thoughts. I have heard our (late) pastor speak the same thoughts; how we cannot really have righteous anger when we don’t know all the facts. And I frequently hear people wanting to punish wrongdoers in a horrific way instead of focusing on dealing with helping the victims heal and recover. It is easier to get angry than to get involved. I have heard mixed reviews on the book you mentioned, but your recommendation makes me want to read it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. And thanks to your mom for sharing this link on Facebook.😊

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The Heart of the Worship Wars

By Jesse Jost

We just visited a church while on family vacation, and as I walked into the darkened auditorium, I felt tears welling up in a rush of strong emotion. Was this the presence of the Holy Spirit or a physical reaction to the pulsating music? The gathering was a campus church broadcasting a service in which a visiting worship band led music.

I grew up with the belief that drums and back beats were sensual or even demonic. While I now believe all musical styles can be redeemed and proclaim the glory of Christ, my staid and proper past sometimes colors my experience of worship music.

At first I settled in at the service, marvelling at the wonder of God, letting the music focus my mind on His glory. But soon, I found myself critiquing a style I am not used to. Thoughts cloaked in an air of righteousness intruded: Those pants are too tight. That dancing borders on sensual. Are they really worshipping God or simply performing? Do they have to jump around so much?

I stopped, forced to consider: Are these thoughts from God or some other place? What effect is my “discernment” having on me? Chastened, I closed my eyes and focused on God again.

My experience stirred up plenty of age-old questions. How should worship be done? What is true worship? Does God like the music loud or quiet? These questions split church after church, and bring division and tension into relationships as people contend for the righteousness of their view.

“We need to sing more hymns; these modern worship songs are bland, shallow and repetitive.” “These acapella hymns sound terrible and are putting our young people to sleep.” “We need excellence in our music, and a sound system that truly honours God.” “How can I be expected to worship when that song leader is dressed like THAT?!” Continue reading…

  • Ken Jost

    Jesse that was a beautiful revilation of worship as I have often criticized a rocking form of praise in my spirit. You nailed it.

  • Sonya Jost Shatto

    I liked your article very much Jesse. I’ve been thinking many of the same thoughts recently. I miss the hymns and the real piano so much but if we had to switch to only hymns, I’d miss some of the choruses now too. It would be nice to have more of a mix but we really do have much to be thankful for.

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