Psalm 143:8

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143:8

Monday, July 15, 2013

Take Every Thought Captive Challenge - Week 2

I have to admit, that I haven't focused on this as much as I like this past week.  I've been a little bit of a "short-timer" knowing that I have a week of vacation at the beach coming up...anticipation of getting out of town! 

That being said....I'd like to propose something rather practical here....sometimes that anticipation, distraction, future-focused thinking needs to be reigned in a bit.  Sometimes...wouldn't you say?...those thoughts need to be taken captive, too.  (Stay with me here...this is all tumbling around and hopefully, it will make some sense by the end of this post.)

"Yes," you may be thinking, "but those are thoughts about fun things, relaxing things, much-needed-vacation things!"  And they are.  But what are those thoughts displacing right now?  Are they getting in the way of your work-time thoughts?  Are they getting in the way of your parental duties?  Are they getting in the way of things you need to be getting done on a deadline?  Are you procrastinating getting things done because you are anticipating relaxing?  The relaxing will come....the time you lose being focused on it before it's time for it...will never come back. 

I'm not saying you can't be spending time thinking about your to-pack and to-do lists, and preparing for that fun event...but you should be controlling those thoughts so that you can be focused on the right-now aspects of your life, too. (One thing I find helpful, is to write those lists and then set them aside until the proper time.  Done.  Draw back your focus on now...)

For instance, I have a talk that needed to be written before my vacation.  It got down to the last morning at home and write-up.  I've been more focused on what I will wear at the beach or how much money to take with me or how many more times I need to go to the store before we leave.  I've allowed my thoughts to become distracted from things I should be focused on.  I've allowed myself to set aside work that needs to be done in order to anticipate the fun that's coming. 

Funny how the theme for the week at the beach (it's a trip for the high school kids at our church) is Colossians 3:23...or maybe not so funny, after all.  Maybe God had a hand in all think? 

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord

God provided me with the job I have, that I need to focus on when I am at work.  God provided me with the children I have, that I need to focus on when I am with them.  God provided me with the house I live in, that I need to focus on when it's time to do that, too.  God gave me the opportunity to speak, even though the thought of it makes my knees knock together, and I need to focus on my responsibility there, tooGod gave me the vacation to take a rest, too....and when the time is right, I will focus on that as well.  

In the meantime, I have things to work on, as working for the Lord.  And I need to focus my thoughts...take every thought captive...

It's not always easy, but it is necessary to form this new habit: 

  "...and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."     
 2 Corinthians 10:5

Hebrews 12:1-2
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

Our own thoughts can hinder us.  Our own thoughts can keep us from doing the things we must do.  Our own thoughts can get in the way of plans God has for us.  Take every thought captive.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Thanks for Grace-gifts

Giving thanks to my Father for the daily grace-gifts:

  • central air that cools my home on triple-digit days
  • moments of silence
  • the opportunity to serve...just by listening
  • anticipation of vacation time at the beach
  • small breaks to share "Mental Medicine" with a friend  :)
  • people in my life who could have left our relationships, but stayed and bless me over and over
  • the assurance of eternal life in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ
  • second chances
  • God's daily provision
  • the people I work with
  • my Compassion children - Grelty, Godless, Vishal, Carlos - how I love them

Living in gratitude, every moment, every day = joy unlimited!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Take Every Thought Captive Challenge - Week 1

So, it's been a week since I started this personal growth challenge.  Not a very successful week, I might add.  I learned that it's very hard to grab those thoughts and keep them from bursting forth.  I learned that as much as I wanted to stop them, sometimes I didn't really try all that hard.  I learned that it takes some serious, heavy-duty self-control and discipline to take every thought captive..  It's not something that happens in a week...

I found that I could identify with the Apostle Paul quite often this past week.  I know what I wanted to do.  I know the right thing to do.  And yet....I do exactly what I don't want to do...allow those thoughts space in my head or voice from my mouth.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul writes:

Romans 7:15-20

15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

 I feel his frustration, don't you?  After all, the law tells us what is right, what is good, what is wrong, what is bad.  And once we know the law, once we know what God expects of us...we know what is sin.  And we have to come face to face with the fact that sin is living in us...and that when we allow it to have control, we do the things we know we should not, the things we do not want to do.  

So, I'm standing in the checkout line at the store.  First, I grumble in my head about how long all the lines slow they seem to be much my feet the person in front of me must have about 9 billion items...and oh my goodness, how much longer can it possibly take?  I heave a big sigh, thinking surely no one is as tortured as I.  Then I hear that quiet voice...."Take. Every. Thought. Captive."  And suddenly, I realize that I am giving rental space in my head to whiny, impatient thoughts.  As I direct ungracious thoughts toward the checker, who in my opinion, is not moving fast enough...I realize that it's time to discipline my thoughts.

I think instead of how thankful I am that I have the funds to grocery shop.  I think that though I am tired and my feet ache as I stand in line, I have a job that allows me to do more than stand in one place for hours on end.  I think how maybe the checker could use a smile, a kind word, a little light-hearted chatter...rather than a grumpy customer with a short temper and no patience.  I think how I could use my idle waiting time for prayer instead of for complaints.  So I take those negative thoughts captive...stop them in their tracks...and turn them into something much more useful, kind, and considerate of others around me.  

Easy? Not always, but I will continue to practice.  Because I do not want to be like the wicked man in Psalm 10:4
 4 In his pride the wicked man does not seek him;
    in all his thoughts there is no room for God.
No room for God?  Let it not be so.  Let us not be like the wicked man...instead, let us seek Him, let us give Him all the room in our minds.  Let us take every thought captive, and make room for God in every moment, every thought.


Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Tunes on Tuesday - Chris Tomlin

LOVE this song:

Need some strength today?   Before you, beside you, behind you...God and His angel army.  You are never alone!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Take Every Thought Captive - A Challenge

As I go about my day, many thoughts run through my head.  Happy thoughts, grumpy thoughts, critical thoughts, little prayers, judgmental thoughts, joyful thoughts, complaints, whines, groans, sad and depressed thoughts, impatient thoughts...hmmm, and some days a lot more negatively focused thoughts than anything else.  You know how it is, right?  We all think, all day.  So many different thoughts can run through the space in our heads in even just one minute. 

I've heard God speaking to me lately...this phrase over and over...."Take every thought captive..." 

What?  Brushing it aside, I continue on..."I'm busy, Lord.  Got things to do.  People to deal with.  Stuff on my mind." 

Whine, groan, complain.  Slam on my brakes as yet another person cuts so closely in front of me it's a wonder I don't have a dent in my car.  Think nasty thoughts about said driver....moving on...   "Take every thought captive....."  "Okay, Lord, I'm sorry I thought nasty things about that person.  I'm sure they are in just as much hurry as I am or having a bad day." 

And as the day goes just never ends. Those negative thoughts...ripping away at the edges of my attitude. 'Til at some point, one of my kids will say something about how grumpy I am.  Oh.  I sure am. 

2 Corinthians 10:5 says:  "...and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."

What might my day, my attitude, my outlook be like if I did that very thing that God seems to be calling me to do lately?  Take every thought captive.  Take every complaint, every whine, every ungrateful, spiteful, cranky, judgmental thought and stop it in its tracks.  What if I examined my attitudes towards other people and ran them through a filter of love and hospitality?  What if I took my complaints and turned them around from what I'm lacking to what I HAVE already?  What if I looked at others through Jesus' eyes?  What if I found a reason to be joyful in trials instead of whining about my misfortune? 

Starting today, I am taking up the challenge that God is asking of take every thought captive.  To stop each thought in its tracks.  To examine it.  To measure it up against obedience to Christ.  To turn it around into something positive...or, if I can't, to let it go.  I am going to put a filter on my lips so that nothing negative can escape.  And I am going to study the Word to see what it has to tell me about what it means to keep my thought-life obedient to Christ. 

Will you join me on this journey?  Will you take up the challenge to take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ?  I know it won't necessarily be easy.  I know there will be times we stumble.  I know there will be times that our human nature will just take over and words will tumble from our lips that we wish we could unsay.  But, I think that as we focus on this new habit, we will find it gets easier to  make even our thoughts obedient to Christ's call.  I think we will find that we have a much more positive attitude towards a lot of situations and a lot of people in our lives that we might lack patience for right now.  I think we will find that it makes us more loving and kind...that we will walk more in the truth and light...that we will more closely resemble Jesus and the person He wants us to be.

I will journal this journey here.  Please, leave comments with your insights or lessons learned as you take this challenge with me.  Ready....set....go! 

2 Corinthians 10:5   "...and we take every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ."