Whatever Should We Think About?

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8

The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Two… My reminders and my takeaways for today include:

Oh, yes! I agree with you, Sandra Stanley! Sandra starts off Day Two by saying she’d like to anchor this verse deeply in her heart. Wouldn’t that change so many things if this were an anchor in our hearts?

Maybe.
Maybe, yes.
Maybe, no.
We’re human, you know.
The object on the opposite end of an anchor can break loose and be lost on the water, or it can be held firm and in place by an unmovable and unshakeable strength.

I don’t want to be lost on the water, and I do want to be anchored in the Word.

Sandra goes on to say that “what we allow to linger in our minds will influence our words and actions. This is true for the good stuff and for the bad stuff.”  

Yes, I agree with her. I need to be conscientious of where I’m lingering.

My choices,
words,
actions,
deeds and
thoughts…

They influence me and will determine what I choose to do with the free will I’ve been given. I’ve written about this before.

When I compare my circumstances and my life to others, I do find discontentment. I find it in myself, and I find it in the others around me. And, yes, the discontentment that is tossed on the waters of life will leak out to others, and it will also leak into the ship of Self. I’m responsible for that ship.

I can choose what I think about, and I can choose to think about the excellent and praiseworthy things in my life. They are there. All the time. No matter how rough the waters get, things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable exist all around me and within me. And those same things exist all around you and within you, too.

So whatever should we think about? We should think on these things.


 

 

 

 

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Monday’s Musings–Fallen Leaves

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It’s a breezy day today where I live. As I’m working at my desk, leaves are fluttering in the air and blowing across the yard and the meadows. It’s nice to not have to rake those leaves into neat piles or gather them to dispose of them elsewhere.

I often wish the challenges of life could just blow away like the leaves, but instead, they usually have to be dealt with directly. The leaves are dead, but challenges can bring us a life-giving perspective when we learn from them and see the possibilities about how they can be worked for our good.

If a challenge has been permitted in my life, I know—in faith—that He intends to use it for my good and for His good. I also know—in faith—that blessings will be found.

Something to ponder on a blustery, fall day…

Monday’s Musings — At a Loss for Words

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, and I know it has also happened to you:

Someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them. So, you don’t really say much of anything.

When we’re at a loss for words because of the hurt another is experiencing and we choose to say nothing, we fall short of providing hope to them. The simplicity of a few words to tell your friend or acquaintance they are being thought of can lift them up. Saying nothing does nothing.

After going through my own devastating hurts in the last few years, I’ve experienced this from the other side, also. There were many times I’d run into someone who knew bits of what I was going through, but they’d skirt the topic, avoid me completely, or just stand there acting like nothing ever happened. I’m sure most never meant to be hurtful in their avoidance, but doing so did not help me at all. The people who offered me a kind word or thought were the ones who impacted me. They were the ones who offered me a piece of hope.

Yes, there are times when words are not necessary. You’ll know what that looks like with your closest friends. But, truly, how many times have you walked away from a co-worker, an acquaintance, a family member or a friend in pain and not said anything? I’m guessing when you did, your next few moments were thinking about YOURSELF and how YOU didn’t know what to say.

“Why didn’t I say something?”

“What should I have said?”

“Wow, I fumbled through that conversation.”

“I am so glad that isn’t me.”

“I am so glad my life isn’t that messed up.”

In these circumstances, why do we often think first of ourselves instead of thinking about the person who needs a glimmer of hope in their life? We, instead, have the choice and the chance to genuinely think about them and find a way to help them through their trial.

So back up.

Back up to the approach where someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them.

This time, here’s what to say:

“I’m thinking of you.”

“I’m praying for you.”

“You have been in my thoughts.”

“I will continue to hold you in prayer.”

“I can’t begin to understand all you are going through, but, please know, I will pray for you.”

Do you see the hope? Do you see how you are still using the word “I,” but the focus has become about them and what YOU can do FOR them. Prayer does this.

When we lift others up in prayer, their trials begin to have hope. The amazing thing about this, too, is that when we have a chance to offer hope to others, we, in turn, feel more hopeful.

Finding Hope in Honor

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He’s given us free will. Volition. Life’s choices are up to us.

Why do we struggle with them so much? Why do the choices seem so hard?

The world often comes at us with a set of choices different from where He might lead us in His Word. In reading His Word, we can be assured that it has always been this way. Despite our desire to imagine that life was easier in the “good old days,” those days — even back to Biblical civilizations — were full of struggles with life’s choices.

A few decades ago, the “What Would Jesus Do?” movement began. Bracelets and messages imprinted with “WWJD?” were everywhere and gave some of us pause before proceeding in our free will.

So how do we, as Believers, walk through our days today making the “right” choices? Everyone has a method. I’m not an expert on this subject, as I still struggle with it myself (what Believer doesn’t?), but I have my own WWJD method.

The last few years of my life have been rough ones. I’ve faced adversity, circumstances and choices I never could have imagined I’d have to face. My challenges are probably different from yours, but they are no more or less difficult in my life’s context as your challenges are in your life’s context. My journey of surrendering my hopes to the Lord has brought some of you into my life — some of you struggling with divorce, abuse, infertility, cancer, the death of a child or spouse, infidelity, depression, traumatic brain injury, miscarriage, rape, loss of purpose, bankruptcy, military injury and so much more.

Your struggle is valid. My struggle is valid. It is in our struggles that we can be defined, or we can be refined.

Psalm 66:10 says, “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.”

I am one who believes that the possibility of refinement exists in the trials and tests we are allowed to experience. The positive or negative outcome from these tests is often determined by our perspective.

I don’t ask “WWJD?,” but I do challenge myself and hold myself to a standard that I try to meet in my free-will choices.

As I walk through my days, my struggles, my hopes, my sadness and my joys, I strive to be God-honoring in my choices, words, actions, and deeds. These four words…

      • choices
      • words
      • actions
      • deeds

…have been an instrumental part of the hope which has gotten me through the thousands of decisions I’ve had to wade through over my struggles of the last few years.

A few months ago, a mentor of mine challenged me to take it one more step. He suggested that I add “thoughts.”

Profound.

Very profound.

I added it.

So today, my list, my method, my goal, my lifestyle attempt is:

To prayerfully be God-honoring in my choices, words, actions, deeds and thoughts.

Oh, what a blessing has been produced by being refined on His terms and in His timing!