Friday, December 15, 2017

The Angel on Your Shoulder!

Monday, November 17, 2008, 13:00
This news item was posted in Teen Talk category.
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by Dr. Chuck Baynard

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The Bible recognizes the power of the world we live in to lead us into situations that will tempt us. God gives us the promise in the Scriptures that we will never face a temptation that does not also include a way out or to avoid it.

It doesn’t matter what our temptation or weakness is the first step is to recognize where we are weak and need to exert an effort of control to our lives. The second is to admit we are human and need the help of our creator.

Recognizing our weaknesses: For a moment play a mental game with me. In this scene I want you to imagine that you have an angel on one shoulder. The other shoulder has a devil sitting on it trying to talk you into doing something. What is the devil trying to get you to do? What wrong thing would it be easiest for him to talk you into doing? What can the angel say that will help you resist the temptation? What can the devil say that will cause you to be more likely to follow his advice?

In this mental exercise you name your personal temptations or weaknesses. You also identify thought patterns that will help you resist the temptation. The words of the angel and the devil will be the same words spoken by your friends. Seek out friends who reinforce the words that help you resist the temptation. This is why your parents keep telling you how important the choice of friends is. Friends who put pressure on you to do the wrong things are not friends.

Once we know which temptations we own, the first step is to avoid situations that allow those temptations to come up. Take responsibility for your life. For example, no one can control you. External circumstances, or people can control neither your mind nor emotions. No one can make you angry! You, give them permission to make you angry. The decision is ours!

A powerful tool of the therapist is to teach you to mentally dispute your own thoughts. As an example, you might think everyone is doing it. Stop and dispute this thought. Ask yourself, everyone? Name them!

Often we do wrong things that make us feel better because we feel depressed, hurt, or a dozen other negative emotions. If we will stop and look at the reason we are experiencing this emotion, we most often find that an illogical assumption lies at its foundation. Illogical assumptions cause self-destructive behavior, and we do things we really don’t want to do. Having done these things, we feel bad, guilty, angry, or depressed. Under these circumstances we find ourselves on a down escalator with no apparent bottom. Disputing the assumptions that lie beneath the emotional response is where we begin to use the mind God gave us to control our own lives. For example, you feel bad because you made a C in math. You may feel you have let your parents down or feel guilty because you think “I could have done better.” Stop, ask “could I have done better?” “Do my parents think I have let them down?”

We are going to give into temptations sometimes. We can minimize or eliminate the ability for outside forces to tempt us by not placing ourselves in the path of these temptations. We can further take control by learning to think before we act and learning to ask questions of ourselves. Why am I doing this? Why do I feel guilty? Why am I depressed? We can take control of our own lives. This too, is a promise from God. Scripture boldly declares that, “our God isn’t the God of confusion, but of a sound mind.” We can mentally control our own emotions much better than allowing outside circumstances to create moments of false control. Argue with yourself! You will be surprised at how often the angel on your shoulder wins when you give him time to speak before you act.

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Dr. Baynard is an Associate Editor of the Christian Observer and Senior Pastor at Clover Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Clover, South Carolina

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