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!
I like getting better, growing & improving. When I was growing up, we had a trampoline & for a season, I was thoroughly committed to getting really good on the trampoline, with various tricks & flips. The principle remains true for me to this day, with always trying to get better. But alas, the Holy Spirit spoke with me to pause on my improvement plan because of this principle: God’s ways & thoughts can’t be improved.
So we would be wise to chase God’s plans, ways & thoughts because they are the BEST!!! Isaiah 55:8-9 🙂
“I killed a lion & a bear, so this uncircumcised Philistine will be like them!” These were the words David to answer Saul’s uncertainty about David killing Goliath. While I appreciate that it’s very dangerous to live in a state of denial, it’s also essential to keep our focus on faith & not fear or doubt. We absolutely have challenges & struggles that have varying degrees of intensity & stress.
Let’s be careful, however, that we continue to reinforce the good things so we don’t get overwhelmed by giants, problems & pressure.
Here are some ideas that could help to reinforce the good:
Keep some encouraging Bible verses handy to review
Pay attention to negative stuff that could be tainting your thoughts (tv, social media, music, etc)
Encourage your friends & let them encourage you
Pray instead of complain
Feel free to share this with your friends / family!
What you focus on is where you go. I learned this with great intensity when I took a lesson for downhill mountain bike riding. In a particularly harrowing part of the trail, our instructor kept yelling, “LOOK PAST THE CURVE!!!” A few of my classmates didn’t listen to the instructor & they hardcore crashed, flipping over the handlebars. What the instructor was yelling didn’t make sense to me, but I decided to do what he said, nonetheless. When I followed the instructions, my bike followed my focus.
Lots of times, it’s easy to focus on emergencies, crises, worries, etc. When we obsess with struggles & uncertainties, it’s easy to crash in the curve because our focus gets off of Jesus. Let’s be sure that we keep our focus & thoughts on Jesus, the author & perfectos of our faith – Hebrews 12:2!
I’m flying back to the US today from Bangladesh, so it feels like the day that never ends. When I get toward the end of these long journeys, I get really punchy & goofy. But I also try to keep things as simple as possible because my mental ability to do anything complicated gets close to non-existent. So “simple” is my operative word.
I think keeping stuff simple is generally a good rule of thumb. I remind myself that simple is loving God, loving people & loving myself. With all of our technology, communication abilities, etc, let’s never get so sophisticated & savvy as to forego the core basics that Jesus taught: love is the defining characteristic of anyone who follows Jesus!
That’s a stupid question.
But actually, it’s a very important question because what seduces us can give us insight into weak spots & things that can possibly cause us to go off the rails.
For me, I’m a bit of an odd duck. What seduces me isn’t chocolate, wealth, image, clothes, etc. I’m more enamored with intellectual stuff, March Madness & the NCAA college basketball tournament, along with adventure & exhilaration.
Let’s be sure that we keep the stuff that interests us in proper alignment to our love for Jesus. If I let my interests in college basketball, intellectual pursuits or thrill seeking get more intense than my passion & love for Jesus, then I’ve become a victim to idolatry.
We don’t intentionally set out to be idolaters but that’s the problem with seduction. It’s subtle & creeps up on you often before you recognize it.
This is one of the reasons I so deeply love the Holy Spirit who keeps me away from deception & distortion while staying passionately in love with Jesus! Let’s pay attention to the things that seduce us!
Every year, I make the Christmas season super fun by posting pictures & writing blogs about finding Jesus. I do this because I think it’s far too easy to lose track of why we celebrate Christmas with all of the festivities, hustle & bustle of the season. So I’m continuing my tradition this year & hopefully, these blogs will help you look for Jesus in places & times you’d not normally think of.
Let’s be sure to find Jesus everyday of this Christmas season no matter how busy we get or the responsibilities that we carry! Looking for Jesus in quotidian living!
There’s a popular tv show out called “The Voice”. The general idea is related to finding vocally talented peeps & putting them on tv to compete for the top prize. There are loads of phenomenal individuals who have amazing voices, but there’s only one Voice that needs our steady attention & the is the voice of our Good Shepherd, from John 10.
When we think about all the voices in our lives (appetites, worries, relationships, things we need to do, etc), we can get overwhelmed with this barrage of input. But alas, there is one Voice who is worthy of our consistent attention. There is one Voice who invites us to experience genuine Love. There is one Voice who leads us along paths of peace & divine productivity & that is the Voice of our Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ.
Let’s be sure that the volume is appropriately adjusted for the various voices in our lives so that Jesus’ Voice gets our best attention & obedience!
This morning, I read a verse that hit me between the eyes – 2Kings 17:41, “So while these nations feared the Lord, they also served their idols; . . .” This verse really spoke to me about my passion to follow Jesus.
I think that we generally have respect for God, but all too often we serve idols. No one sets out, usually, to be an idolator but there are lots of subtle idols that can allure our attention. Greed seems to be the most obvious idol & it has certainly a firm foothold in our culture & values! Another subtle idol is image & vanity. Of course sports & fitness can be an distraction from serving Jesus & so can consumption & food. Comfort & convenience have also become significant values that often sway our priorities.
Let’s be sure that we respect & serve God with both feet!
Sometimes I think these terms get mixed up in our lives & we don’t realize it. Insulation is to keep out unwanted things, like cold weather or extreme heat. We can also insulate ourselves from painful experiences or uncomfortable feelings. But without being careful, insulation can become isolation when we chose to withdraw & not engage.
I could easily justify insulating myself from seeing & hearing someone’s pain or struggles that I find repugnant. But when I do this, I isolate myself & restrict the Holy Spirit from moving through me, to touch & heal the world around me. Let’s be careful not to insulate ourselves with our wealth & ability to chose our focus from the suffering around us. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t insulate Himself when He lives among us.
I used to have an insatiable appetite for good coffee, not so much bad coffee. Thankfully, I’ve had an intervention so I’m not quite the junkie I once was. But this journey has started me to think about some things in new ways. It seems like the human experience suggests that we can never get enough – not enough money, not enough time, not enough recognition, not enough care or attention, not enough . . . .
I think our perspective on the idea of “enough” gets warped because we focus on the provision more than the Provider.
Somehow we’ve swallowed the poison that provision can replace Provider & we chase the illusion of enough.
When I was a coffee junkie, I could never get enough. I believe that the enemy of our soul would endeavor to perpetuate this illusion through the continuous acquisition but never sustaining pursuit of provision rather than Provider.
Indeed, let us seek first the kingdom of God & everything falls into divine order.
I’m currently watching my friend’s daughter use a laser pointer for entertainment, with their cat chasing the laser. She shines the laser on the floor & the cat pounces on the red dot, only to find that the dot has leaped beyond his grasp to another spot on the floor. Looks like it could provide some amusement for at least several minutes.
Seems like the devil gets us in this game as well. He dangles something shiny in front of us, we pounce & find that the shiny bait evaporates to reappear somewhere else. We think that being pretty is the same thing as being significant. We think that being smart makes us valuable. We think that achievements or promotions make us important.
While our looks, intelligence & achievements are important, let’s remember that our value & significance is because Jesus loves us, full stop 🙂
This sounds like a Dr Seuss blog, but alas, the Taiwan typhoon was not fiction. In actual fact it was very real & one of the worst in recent history. I’m writing about this because I’m with Saving Moses in Cambodia presently & this typhoon created some travel challenges. I was super concerned because my team of 25peeps was flying through Taiwan in almost the same time as the typhoon was supposed to land – nail biting & heavy prayer ensued. Long story short, the team made it safely without incident. I on the other hand had a more circuitous experience. Instead of flying into Taiwan, I decided to fly avoid the typhoon & fly north through Korea & bypass the storm. Seems to me that life is often like this recent typhoon experience. We can see possible trouble brewing on the horizon & we do everything to avoid it. But sometimes God has us fly through a storm maybe so we can know that God is mighty enough to keep us through a storm.
My efforts to avoid the typhoon were extremely tiring & I spent lots of energy / time to stay away. Perhaps we should trust God more than what we see or know in our natural thinking. God can help us avoid storms & God can keep us as we go through storms. Seems to me that the best lesson is to keep our focus on & trust in God more than any storm 🙂
I’m continually amazed at the complexity God put into not only creation but more so in our human existence. For example, I’m learning just how amazing the balance system is for our bodies since mine has been messed up from a concussion a few months back. Sometimes our thinking can also get complicated because we can think about various decisions, about our emotions, about our values & heaps more. There are things which absolutely need to be complicated, but there are things that don’t need to be complicated. Let’s be careful to not make simple things too complicated:
Let’s keep our love for Jesus, others & ourselves simple & clean
Let’s keep our priorities simple, not trying to squeeze in too much
Lets keep our focus as simple as we can, particularly over this holiday weekend
Sometimes I think it’s difficult to say these words, “I don’t know.” The reason that I make this observation is because of the numerous times people deflect a question to which they don’t know the answer. For example, I’ll ask my kids if they have homework in a particular subject & they often proceed to tell me about what happened in class today. Rather than say, “I don’t know if I have homework”, they redirect my question to a similar topic without answering the direct question.
In our web savvy world, it seems to frequently be an implied supposition that we know more than we do.
There’s no shame in not knowing something & it’s always helpful to remember that God knows everything.
When Abraham was instructed to sacrifice Isaac in Genesis 22, Isaac asked his dad, “Where’s the sacrifice?” Abraham didn’t know where he would get a sacrifice but his reply helps us frame our perspective for all the stuff we don’t know, “God will supply for this need”.
We don’t have to know an answer to trust that God has solutions & provisions. Let’s keep our eyes on God!
Noah waited in the ark 150 days during the flood cataclysm. When I read that recently, it caught my attention & I began to imagine what that was like for him, surrounded with his family & the animal hordes traveling with him in the ark. I would suspect there was heaps of panic initially, probably fear, anxiety, uncertainty & likely some worry to boot. Being “trapped” in the ark while the earth was deluged from above & below, water thundering on the ark with animals & humans pitching back & forth – this doesn’t sound very appealing. But the other option, drowning in the deluge, wasn’t such a whippy alternative. So the people in the ark could chose, initially between living or dying. Clearly, they chose to stay alive. From that decision, then they needed to manage their fear, uncertainty & anxiety, pausing 150 days in the ark.
Sometimes we find ourselves in “pause” mode & maybe see / hear disasters happening all around us. In these situations, I find my salvation alone in keeping my focus on Jesus & my mind set on the Holy Spirit – Rom 8:5. Listening to & watching the circumstances around us can be debilitating. Make the long term decision to keep your thoughts & focus on Jesus, no matter what 🙂
One of my offspring, who will remain nameless, became distracted during their kitchen cleaning chores & flooded the kitchen sink, floor & down into our basement. I yelled & I’m still in the unhappy camper zone – it will take me some time to come off the ceiling & not be snarky (nicknames like Noah, Ahab from Moby Dick & swimming snipes are fully flourishing in my brain).
All of this started when someone didn’t pay attention to an important responsibility. And this is a problem any one of us can experience. I don’t even want to think about how many times I’ve had to compensate or fix something that’s been messed up for the simple reason that I was distracted.
Let’s keep our focus on the important stuff: do justice, love kindness & walk humbly with God, Micah 6:8 🙂
As I was making my way home from Singapore yesterday, I checked the news & saw there was some kind of uproar about Starbucks & Christmas. Since I’m a coffee fan, I decided to briefly look into the uproar only to be disappointed. I’m disappointed because there are many issues in our world today that are super important that need our prayers & attention. And today, Donald Trump jumped into the conversation, leaving me to speculate about not only cup decorations and caffeine, but now I get to add politics into this busy buzzy world.
All of which brings me back to thinking about what’s important & specifically what’s important about Christmas: God loves humanity & Jesus’ birth into human existence.
In the grand scheme of things, let’s keep the Main Thing, the Main Thing 🙂
This month, there’s a convergence of interesting phenomena in conjunction with many Jewish holidays and feasts. I have friends who think that this month is a very strategic month, maybe even the return of Jesus. I also have friends who think that the end of the world things in Sept is nothing more than history being repeated yet again.
Regardless of your opinion, if you think Jesus is returning this month or not, let’s keep some essential priorities in mind, based on Jesus’ teachings when He lived among us:
As a follower of Jesus, these two commandments need to shape my priorities and how I live everyday, so that whenever Jesus does return, He finds me doing His work 🙂
“You’re not bitter about that are you?” My husband can be very poignant when he senses an area where I might be a little shady. So his question last night, in the middle of our discussion about some of my high school experiences, was a “nice” depth charge, sort of. In my guts, I know he’s right & I appreciate his help because I know he loves me, even though I don’t always relish these chats.
Paul tells us in Philippians 3 that he forgets the past so he can press on toward the future. While I know that we can’t ignore or deny the past, there’s still heaps of wisdom & value in letting the past fade to grey & focus forward to God’s plans & purposes for our lives 🙂
Sometimes you just gotta forget about it & move on!