This is a question people often ask when someone seems deep in thought or reflective. It’s a good question to ask when you’re getting to know someone or when a person seems unusually quiet. But it’s also a good question to ask ourselves from time to time, forcing us to take a thought inventory.
Taking an inventory of our thoughts is important because it lets us see places in our thinking where we can make some helpful adjustments. Indeed, consider some of the things Paul says about our thoughts:
2 Cor 10:5, “destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ”
Phil 4:8, “Finally, brethren, 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, think on these things.”
Rom 8:6, “For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace”
Let’s be attentive to our thoughts because they influence our lives in very powerful but subtle ways!
Have you been through difficult seasons when your thoughts turn dark? Lately, it seems like this has been my lot. It’s certainly not as bad as Job in the Bible, but it’s not a smoothy groovy season for me at this time. A few of the challenges that have popped up lately include: a car meltdown, lost my credit card, my husband had a stroke, one of my kids had a crisis at school, some friend challenges and discouraging news from work.
As I’ve been navigating these difficulties, the Holy Spirit spoke to me this morning about how my thoughts were getting dark. It’s like I’ve started to see things in a warped way and I find myself thinking negatively and with grim expectations. This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of Truth. In my prayer time today, the Holy Spirit reminded me about Phil 4:8 where Paul tells us to dwell on / think about what is: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute, excellent and worthy of praise.
So with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’m re-directing my thoughts away from the dark stuff & onto things that are THRPLGR: true, honorable, right, pure, lovely and good repute! Anyone care to join me???
This weekend, my husband had a medical emergency that was very disturbing. Long story short, he’s ok. When I get some distance from the experience, I’ll likely do a blog on this & give me more details.
In the meantime, here are some things I’ve learned from this emergency:
Do what’s immediately required – stay focused & don’t panic
Keep praying – this helped me keep my emotions from getting the best of me
Let people help – I’m likely the strange ranger on this one, but my hyper-independence was a liability more than an asset in this experience
Keep the Bible in your brain – this helped me keep my feet on the ground & not entirely lose it.
Thanks to the great friends around us for all their support, prayers & encouragement!
We have a joke in my family about my cooking: the more smoke alarms that go off, the better the meal. So a 3 alarm meal is likely to be super awesome!!
Alarms help us pay attention, particularly if something is bad. So maybe we should ask the Holy Spirit to be like an alarm in our thinking. For example, sometimes my mind & thoughts can get dark. I might find myself discouraged about something at work or maybe I received some bad news about one of my kids, or sometimes I might have a conflict with my husband. If I’m not careful, I can let some of those discouraging thoughts become all consuming & before I know it, I’m a victim to depression, discouragement & darkness. While I’m not saying that we should live in denial or dismiss bad news or negative thoughts. We absolutely need the Holy Spirit to alert & give us a wake up call when such thoughts go too far & begin controlling & even sabotaging our divine purpose & destiny. 2Cor 10:5 says,
Sometimes the alarm goes off on my car as well, so I have these “fun” reminders in my life to stay alert & perky 🙂
I had a BLAST!! I was recently on Joni Lamb’s tv interview program, Table Talk & had an awesome time with ladies who are every bit as wonderful on as well as off camera. I love these women & was totally honored to engage in this conversation – I know you’ll love it as well! 🙂
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 🙂
I had an interesting conversation with a friend this morning who expressed some observations about me that could be kind of scratchy. If you’re like me, sometimes when I hear things about me that I don’t like, I want to blow it off & pretend that these things aren’t true. But just because we may not like certain things that we hear or see about ourselves doesn’t mean that they’re not true – in fact, sometimes the truth hurts, even if a person is trying to be gentle, kind & gracious.
So just because something hurts, does that give us the permission to ignore or lash back? Nope.
When I step back & pause, what I really want in my life is for The Helper, aka Spirit of Truth, to be comfortable to speak with me and to engage in my daily living – even when it costs me some rough spots and scabs 🙂
So here’s to listening, growing & learning, with band-aids, neosporin & Help 😀
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
Yesterday, I had several very intense conversations on a variety of topics. Why they all compiled onto one day, I don’t know. But thankfully, they all turned out very constructively. Here are a few things I learned from these discussions:
be clear: about what the issues are: make sure that everyone involved knows what is being discussed
keep the main point, the main point: avoid rabbit trails – take each issue & work on it until its resolved as best as possible
avoid emotional escalation: it’s ok to feel strongly about something, but be careful that your emotions don’t become the central concern of the discussion
timing: rather than rush into a discussion, wait for the right timing – let God give you the green light for the conversation
listen carefully: to what the other person is saying, even repeating back in your own words what you think has been said; this lets the other person know that you’re paying attention & want to understand their point of view
focus: keep your eyes on God as your source of value, significance & direction
My conversations turned out super well – having these kinds of discussions are vital not only for their resolution, but more importantly, for our maturation. Grow well my friend 😀
We have had access to massive communication improvements over the past few decades. If you think about it, did you ever pull the phone cord out of the wall? In the ’80s, a tweet would have been “twit” mis-pronounced. And my idea of “wifi” in the ’70s was more like “hi-fi” in our house with speakers in every room so I could play records throughout the house at maximum volume. Communication has certainly improved, but we can all stand to make some improvements in our inter-personal communication, especially as it relates to conflict 🙂
Here are some tips that you might find useful in resolving conflict:
Understand the issue: get on the same page about what you’re discussing because often the center of the conflict comes from not discussing the same content
Separate what was said from what was heard (that’s not what I said, but that’s what was heard)
Consider the emotions & expectations associated w the conversation – these items can make communication hazy & ineffective if they’re not identified
Be patient & listen without asserting your opinion
Own your part of the communication challenge – blame sabotages communications & does nothing constructive
Be clear by removing subtleties, nuances & emotional telepathy; these efforts will only leave you frustrated