Yesterday, I listened to one of my kids rant about their school, the wicked teachers, awful students & deplorable work. I don’t mind listening and sometimes I’m good at listening, which is good because my kid needed a listening ear. After about 30-45min of this content, I felt it was time for some objectivity so we had an interesting chat. I applauded their willingness to acknowledge a few of their shortfalls, but I also pointed out that from this child’s perspective, the lion’s share of the problems belonged to everyone else. This kind of thinking was allowing my kid to frame themselves as the victim & that’s no bueno. Being a victim often leaves us powerless & inert, wallowing in self pity. Seems to me that this kind of thinking runs contrary to how God has designed us, back in the Garden of Eden with power & dominion.
At the minimum, we have authority & power over our attitude & the choices we make about our perspective. Let’s be careful about how we think because our thoughts affect our words, attitudes & actions!
It’s important to consider / take an inventory of the thoughts that we allow to run around in our minds. Such thoughts can have a significant impact on our decisions & behaviors. For example, there have been many occassions where I’ve been in situations that were way beyond my skill set & I was in way over my head (sometimes in various leadership roles, sometimes in athletic competitions & often in my role as a mom). There have also been situations where I’ve felt entirely confident, secure & proficient, to the point of being over-confident, cocky & even arrogant.
What we think in our minds is extremely important & I was reminded of this lesson from reading about the woman with the issue of blood in Matthew 9:21. In this verse it says, “. . . . ‘she said in herself, if I can touch the hem of His garment, I will be healed.'” The outcome of the story is that she was healed, but her mindset was an important ingredient for her healing. Some take aways from her internal conversation:
keep your eyes on Jesus more than fear, inabilty or even talent
In the last several days, there’s been a massive uproar about the recent racial slurs from the owner of the NBA Clippers, Donald Sterling . There is national outrage at Mr Sterling’s comments & he has been banned for life from the NBA. What Mr Sterling said was totally unacceptable, despite his comments being made in a private setting.
The idea of a private setting is very relevant for those of us who follow Jesus, based on what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Our external actions and words reflect what’s happening in our thoughts & heart. What we allow our mind to think about & our emotions to dwell on is very important – these are the parts that Jesus totally attacked the religious leaders of His day. What Mr Sterling said was totally wrong, but let’s be careful about the thoughts & emotions that we allow in our daily living. Let’s keep our hearts full of Jesus’ love so there’s no place for unforgiveness, bigotry, apathy nor passive hatred. As a follower of Jesus, our defining characteristic from John 13:35 is our love for one another, so please don’t forget to pray for Mr Sterling 🙂
In less than a week, I’m going back to Angola w www.savingmoses.org & I have some mixed thoughts about this visit. Of course, I love the people with whom we work & I have nothing but massive respect for the daily work they do. I’m also eager to see some old friends since this will be my 4th visit & I’m getting to make some nice friendships. These are nice things but there are some not very nice things that I experience on these trips. It’s not pleasant to hold a baby who is malnourished & is struggling to survive. It’s difficult to see frenzied moms who are doing everything in their power to keep their baby alive. It’s hard for me sometimes to try & explain the needs I see to an audience that can occasionally be apathetic & cold. But when everything is said & done, despite the tremendous privation I see & the gut wrenching feelings that I experience, on these trips I sense Jesus is very real ways that I’m often unable to explain & because of Jesus’ presence, the disconcerting thoughts are not as severe. Traveling with Jesus helps me to have peace in my mind & heart
I’ve had some interesting interactions with people of late. Some of these interactions were in the intimidating & bully category. Being on the receiving end of the intimidation efforts, I can’t say that it was a pleasurable experience. And there have been more than a few occasions where I wanted to return some of that bullying.
Nevertheless, I decided with God’s help to look in my mind for some better thoughts & here are a few ideas for better thoughts:
*if God is for me, then who can be against me?
*I am more than a conqueror because of Jesus’ resurrection
*love never fails
*in God’s hands, a temporary affliction can turned into some heavy duty glory
*all things work to my benefit as I
Continue to stay in love with Jesus & true to His purposes in my life 🙂
Make the decision with me to choose better thoughts 🙂
Several years ago, I took a lesson in mountain biking and I learned REALLY quickly that where you focus is where you go. I watched this happen with 2 of my mtn biking classmates who had major crashes because their focus became gridlocked on a hairpin turn. When I came to the same hairpin turn, my instructor kept yelling at me to look past the curve. My brain started to argue, but I decided to obey my instructor & I turned my head to see where the trail was going after the curve – when I turned my head to look at the trail after the curve, my bike naturally followed my focus and I never crashed in the hairpin curve. This lesson about focus has helped me in all kinds of ways because it’s a continual reminder that I need to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus and not to get gridlocked on difficulties, impossibilities, etc – look past the curve. Further to this point, I’ve been thinking about a really great verse in Ps 25:15, “My eyes are continually on You and you will pluck my feet from the net.”
With this in mind, here are a few things that help me to keep my eyes / focus on Jesus:
good praise & worship tunes,
Do you have things that help you to keep your focus on Jesus? Please share! 🙂
We all have times when our thoughts can be very dark & depressing – those times when we are not at our best. When I was a kid & would be in a discouraged mindset, my dad would always say, “Sarah, you know in your better moments that these thoughts aren’t true.” My dad would encourage me to make healthy choices with my thinking & not to dwell on negativity or doubt – to be better at believing than doubting. He would remind me of my “better moments” as a path for my thoughts to start moving in a different direction rather than being stuck in the discouragement quagmire. So my friend, lets not ignore reality, but lets also with God’s help, let our thoughts reside in these “better moments”, filled with faith, hope & love 🙂
I’ve been thinking some more about the topic of decision making & the results of my decisions. Sometimes the quality of my decisions gets compromised because my thoughts & feelings are in a bad place. When I allow insecurity, fear, hopelessness, discouragement and other dark things settle into my thoughts & feelings I inevitably make mediocre to low quality decisions. Perhaps this is why Paul in the Bible said that we should take captive every thought that exalts itself against the knowledge of Jesus. Decisions are often the results of thoughts & feelings, so it’s important to be dialed into that on which we allow our mind & feelings dwell.
This is one reason why Saving Moses is so important – it gives loving hope for a better future to babies & their moms who are in hopeless & even dying situations.
When I was growing up, we had a trampoline in our backyard & I super enjoyed getting to jump, do tricks, play games & even lay on it to watch the clouds. Our tramp was LOTS of fun!! On the hurtful side, I learned very quickly about the painful effects of falling into the springs or landing on the steel frame or the mis-execution of a new trick – all very helpful lessons ,)
With this idea, I’d like to encourage you to consider that many of our actions are a result of our thoughts. With God’s help, if we consider what we think about (be that healthy or destructive thoughts), we can realistically look adjusting our actions, behaviors & attitudes to have more godly outcomes or effects in our lives. Take an inventory of what you let yourself think about & be careful that you cultivate the thoughts that are in agreement with God’s Word 🙂
I had a movie moment from “The Help” yesterday when I took the trash out. We recently had to replace a few toilets in our house for various reasons & I hauled the broken ones to the curb, along with our other trash, hopeful that the trash guys would pitch the “thrones” into a place of higher glory ,) Thankfully, we kept the old toilets in the boxes that the new toilets came in, hoping to avoid offending the sensitivities of more delicate people.
With all that being said, I thought about how our really nice trash guys come by once a week & haul away the collection of trash that the five of us have accumulated over the course of a week. Maybe I take this trash maintainence for granted because it’s just part of life’s routines – which has started me to thinking. I think that from time to time, we need to clean out the trash in our thoughts & stuff that corrupts our hearts / minds by allowing the Holy Spirit to shine truth into our lives & de-clutter the accumulation of dribble, froth, deception, dysfunction & general refuse that we can accumulate in our hearts & minds. Paul says that whatever is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely & a good report that we are to think on these things – the rest can get thrown into the trash & washed away by Jesus’ blood 🙂