Tag Archive | thoughts

Weeds, Philippians 4:8

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Picture of a swamp near a boardwalk in Renton, Washington. A picture of my beloved Silky terrier, Buddy, is much more pleasant to look at, isn’t it?

Weeds seem to sprout so quickly and without requiring any attention. It’s those happy, positive and uplifting thoughts that seem to take so much effort to bring to mind. Slowly, since becoming a Christian, God has been revealing my weedy thoughts that need to be cast out. My mind requires daily, careful pruning. As the Good Shepherd leads me in the paths of righteousness (Psalm 23:3), I’m discovering more and more weeds that need to be yanked out. It’s like, after pulling out the big messy plants, I’m discovering the ones with tough roots that have been lurking in the shadows or just beneath the surface. Slowly, I’m learning to plant lilies instead of swamp grass, lavender instead of moss, attracting butterflies instead of mosquitoes.

I frequently have to pray:

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, [may I] dwell on these things.”–Philippians 4:8 (I leave out the extra whatevers, praying just the first one.)

But the key is the word “dwell”. I cannot keep the weeds from drifting downstream into the lake of my mind from the world, the flesh and the enemy of our souls, but I can keep from dwelling upon those thoughts. I can reject them and choose to replace them with better thoughts.

I believe it’s a lifelong learning process. Be kind to yourself by not condemning yourself. Start where you are and move forward. Kicking yourself doesn’t do anything other than give you a sore butt.

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Now isn’t this a much better picture to dwell upon? I love this little guy!

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Looking Behind: Philippians 3:13

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Buddy is distracted by something behind him, so he stopped during our walk, planted his feet and didn’t move forward.

Over the past few years I’ve heard several women in church claim that they cannot, or are having difficulty, forgiving someone. These women I’ve met rarely, if ever smile, and appear to be unhappy most of the time. One woman even hindered her husband’s ministry.

I have a saying: When you keep looking behind you, you’ll trip over your future. It’s difficult to walk forward successfully when you’re looking behind all the time.

I’m not writing this to condemn anyone. I certainly know how difficult it is to forgive; there’s not anyone I know of, including myself, who hasn’t been harmed by someone in life to one degree or another.

What I want to share is how I have been able, with the help of the power of Jesus Christ, to forgive those who’ve done me harm. Memorizing these verses below has been very helpful to me. (I’d also like to state that I’m not a trained psychologist or therapist. This works for me. I’m not advocating going off any medication a trained professional has prescribed for you.)

1. “Finally…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence or anything worthy of praise, DWELL on these things.”–Philippians 4:8

We cannot control what thoughts pop into our heads. But we can control what we choose to dwell on. Reject movies replaying the past. You’re only allowing the other person to continue to harm you by replaying those hurtful images. If an angry, vengeful, distressing, or hateful thought pops into your head, you have the choice to dwell on it or cut it short. Ask the Lord to help you identify wrong thoughts and assist you in redirecting your mind toward healthier thoughts and images. This is a process. Don’t become discouraged when you find you’ve been dwelling on something for several minutes or more. A lifetime of bad habits isn’t broken quickly. It may take months or years to learn to break bad thoughts and redirect your thinking. After years of practice, I still find myself sometimes running too long with negative thoughts. When you’ve discovered you’ve dwelt on something too long, the enemy will say, “See, it doesn’t work after all” or “You’re a failure. You cannot do this.” No, you cannot on your own but

“I can do all things through Him (Christ) Who strengthens me.”–Philippians 4:13

Ask Jesus to assist you. Remember that “nature abhors a vacuum”. You have to replace those thoughts with something else.

2. “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,”–Philippians 3:13

Apostle Paul could never have been an effective minister of the Gospel if he’d been dwelling on his past history of persecuting Christians, hunting them down and handing them over to be jailed and/or killed before his conversion. He refused to dwell on his past and focused on his mission of bringing the news of salvation and building up the church. For me, dwelling on the past only makes me feel angry or hurt or discouraged. When in these emotional states, I cannot feel happy and energized and creative. I’m only permitting myself to be victimized again. And I refuse to allow that person to continue to hurt me while they’re likely enjoying life and not even giving me a second thought. It’s illogical.

“Do not call to mind the former things, Or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new,”–Isaiah 43:18

Whatever God commands us to do is for our good. Please ask him for the faith to trust Him with your future.

3.  “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered nor come to mind.”–Isaiah 65:17

This verse was my breakthrough verse for me. If you’ve ever seen a version of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, then you’re familiar with Marley’s ghost. As a ghost, he dragged his sins behind him as locks and heavy chests linked to ponderous chains wound about his body. I picture the hurtful events in my life like those heavy chests. When I dwell on the past, I’m chained to the past, dragging a big heavy weight through life.

Or, I often picture the past hurts like heavy suitcases I’m holding onto and carrying around in each hand, weighing me down and making it difficult to walk forward. If I truly believe I have a future in Heaven and eternal life with Jesus Christ, by faith I can drop those suitcases or cut that heavy chain, because, if I’m not going to remember this life in the future, why drag it around with me now? Why allow myself to be weighed down by the past when it’s only temporary anyway?

That’s not logical.

I know emotions aren’t logical. But often, if I’m feeling despair or self-pity, what am I dwelling? My emotions are reacting to what I’m thinking about.

4. “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”–Jesus, Matthew 5:44

I’ve found this very helpful. I cannot hate someone if I’m praying for their soul or asking God to help them make better choices. It’s NOT helpful if you’re asking God to smite them or harm them in some fashion. I love what one of my non-believing friends said, “It takes too much energy to hate my ex-boyfriend.”

Again, note the verse above is a command by Christ and not a suggestion. Please think about that.

“Love never fails,”–Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 13:8

I’m not saying it’s easy to forget the past. But don’t be Marley’s ghost. Ask God for the faith to walk forward, “forgetting what lies behind.”

And please be patient with yourself. The freedom you’ll discover is worth it.

*All Scripture verses are from the NASB version.

 

Wayward Thoughts: Philippians 4:8

I KNOW I’m supposed to trust God and guard my thoughts. But Buddy had run off the night before and was still missing. I went to work to try to keep busy, to avoid fretting at home and thinking too much. I’d spent hours the night before and an hour before work looking for Buddy. My family was looking for him that morning and I’d put in word at the local QFC, coffee shop, gas station and Starbucks about Buddy. Neighbors were looking for Buddy. I’d posted on Facebook and had put together a game plan on calling all the local vets and the dog chip registry. I activated my prayer network. Even my pastor was praying.

I’d done all I could. So what was I doing?

Fretting!

I foolishly CHOSE to focus my thoughts on my friend who lived in an area similar to mine, suburban yet adjacent to a heavily wooded area. One morning he had opened the backdoor to let his cats into his home and found one hiding under a bush and another being munched on in the jaws of a coyote.

Buddy is only 20 pounds. There’s no way he could defend himself against a coyote, possum or raccoon. Maybe not even an angry rooster! And he was car stupid. I’ve seen squirrels in our neighborhood looking both ways before crossing the street. Not Buddy.

So, although I sensed the Holy Spirit within me was trying to calm me down and reassure me that all was OK, I insisted on picturing Buddy being munched on by a coyote.

Really being positive, wasn’t I?

We’re admonished in God’s Word: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.”(NASB)

My thoughts already flunked the first command: I didn’t know the truth about Buddy’s status. And whether I was thinking positive thoughts, “Buddy was rescued and I’ll be reunited with him soon,” or “Buddy is terrified and being munched on,” it wouldn’t change the outcome.

Only whether I had a stomach ache and stressed out or not.

And, more later, Buddy is back with me, snuggled at the end of my bed at night where he belongs.

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