Monday, April 26, 2010

In the Mind

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~~ Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

Have you ever noticed that the worst thoughts come when least expected? Maybe I'm the only one like that.

My mind tends to lean toward worrying about situations I have absolutely no control over. I confess--I have worried about decisions my husband will make. I worry about my adult son. I worry about my children's future. I worry about my friend who is battling cancer. None of my anxiety can solve any of those problems.

Therefore, I decided I had to be more intentional with my thoughts. Like pulling the weeds that pop up in the garden, I must remove the ungodly thoughts from my mind. But as in the garden, it's not enough just to remove the weeds. Something else must be planted in its place or the weeds will come right back. Thoughts that are removed from the mind will come right back if not replaced with other thoughts.

To go to work in the garden of my mind, I decided to take God's word and speak it out loud to myself when unacceptable thoughts come my way. I started with the key scripture above. I broke it down into the phrases separated by commas.

"Do not be anxious about anything." Okay, I'm not to be anxious about this situation (with my husband or my children). So now what?

"But in everything." Everything? That means all things or situations.

"By prayer and petition." I will tell the Lord everything on my heart and mind. He knows it anyway, so I might as well just say it all to Him.

"With thanksgiving." I have to stop and count my blessings. I have so much to be thankful for starting with Salvation through Jesus, forgiveness of my sins, my family, our health, our provisions and so much more.

"Present your requests to God." I ask Him for what I want to happen and then trust Him to give the answer He desires. I must realize I can make my requests, but need to trust He will answer in a manner that is best. I have to accept it may not be the way I want it.

After I went through this step by step process this past week, I experienced the peace of God in my mind. Have the circumstances around me changed? No. But my mind is protected by the word of God. His peace guards me.

I will continue to allow God's peace to protect my heart and mind this week by applying His word to my life. What's in your mind?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Volcanic Eruption

Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper— it only leads to harm. ~~Psalm 37:8 NLT

The Iceland volcano is spitting out ash 30,000 feet into the air. It has diverted lots of European travel plans. All travelers face the same predicament whether the travel is for business or pleasure. Millions of people lives have been affected by the eruption.

Sometimes I feel like my emotions stir around on the inside of me. Then when the right catalyst comes along, they spew out. It could be tears, anger, joy or even something I can't identify. But when the emotion of anger is there, it is like the volcano ready to explode.

But what comes out of me can be like the ash cloud over Europe. My emotional display impacts those who are in my life. It covers them up with a dark cloud and hinders their lives.

Ephesians 4:26 states, “don’t sin by letting anger control you" (NLT). We can fall into sin with anger. I have certainly been there. I have said hurtful words that I cant take back. I have made wrong decisions out of anger.

The key scripture this morning states that losing our temper leads to harm. Acting out in anger hurts others in our lives. Once it's out there, it cannot be taken back.

Just as there is not anyway to collect the debris from the volcano so people's lives can return to normal, once a hurtful action has been displayed, it cannot be taken back. Forgiven, yes. Undone, no.

Jesus felt every emotion we have. He's mastered his emotions instead of allowing his emotions to master him. Unlike the earth's eruptions, we can keep our emotions from exploding. We can exercise self-control.

Some self-control techniques I've learned to use are not responding to a situation until the emotions have had time to subside. This gives me time to think more clearly and rationally. Not having an immediate response also gives me more time to pray about the situation. Of course, not all circumstances allow for time. If possible, seeking godly counsel helps too.

We can control anger and not explode like a volcano. Or else we'll impact people's lives in a way that can lead to harm.

Monday, April 12, 2010

In This World

I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. ~~ John 17:14-15 (NIV)

Moving to the city has its advantages and disadvantages. Even my twelve-year-old son recognized differences from the small town environment and the city. The other day he said, "There is a lot more to do in the city and a lot more choices, but it takes a lot longer to get there."

The other day I headed to the Lifeway Christian Book store. I came up to a corner where panhandlers normally work. At the stop light I saw a gentleman simply handing out postcards with information on it. As he approached my vehicle, I lowered the window just a bit. He slid the card through the window and I was appalled to see a perfectly airbrushed woman on the high-gloss card.

I raised my voice, "I don’t want that!"

He asked, "You don’t?"

"No, I don’t. Take it and go on."

Stunned. I couldn’t believe what just happened.

Throughout the city, gentleman's clubs dot most of the major the streets. The card the man wanted to hand me advertised the club just down the street from the Christian book store. Definitely something we did not see in a small town.

I asked the Lord, "How do I deal with this difference?" Immediately the thought of Daniel popped into my mind. Daniel, a young man in his youth when Jerusalem was taken captive by Babylon. He learned to live in a pagan culture without conforming to it.

We must be able to live where the Lord placed us without conforming to the world. It doesn’t take a seminary degree to see the sinful nature around in our communities. But Jesus has us here to be a light to the world living in darkness.

It is comforting to know that Jesus prayed for us. He knew that the world would hate us. But he didn’t pray that we be taken out of this world as soon as we accept Him as Savior. No, he prayed that we be protected from the evil one.

We're here in this world for the time God appointed for us. We do not have to conform to the world; we're to be a light while we are in this world.

Monday, April 5, 2010

My Redeemer Lives

I'm at a loss for words this day. Today I share this song that ministers.

May we know that our Redeemer lives and works in our lives today!

Friday, April 2, 2010

What We Don't See

What do you see around you?

At times we all experience problems. Problems help us grow as James wrote in his epistle, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything " (James 1:2-4, NIV).

What we don’t see is how God develops our character through the trials and problems we face.

As we celebrate the resurrection this weekend, let's remember that the disciples faced trials of their faith as Jesus faced His execution. Peter denied Jesus three times. The others ran and hid.

What the disciples saw was not what they expected. They expected an earthly king to overthrow the Roman empire. But the hope they held onto, they saw crucified on the cross on that Passover evening. They knew the promise, but it was not fulfilled as they expected.

I confess, I have received promises from the Lord and set up expectations in my mind about how those promises would be fulfilled. Then only to feel disappointed about what I saw, just as the disciples felt grief the day their Lord and Savior was brutally crucified on Calgary.

After the crucifixion, the disciples did not know what to do. So they did nothing, but then the good news came three days later. Jesus is alive and conquered death and the grave!

What we see is not always the ultimate outcome just as the death of Jesus was not final. In the times that I felt crushed because of what I saw, if I just sat in prayer and waited on the Lord, the promised result came. But 98 percent of the time, it never came the way I imagined like the King of kings did not come the way the disciples imagined.

Through Jesus we have life because He conquered death. What we see around us is temporary, but we will live in an eternal state after death. Do we live by what we see? Or do we walk by faith in what we don’t see?

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. ~~ Hebrews 11:1