“I Think, Therefore I Am” – René Descartes


i think....

I ran across this profound quote by René Descartes a few days ago. It made me stop and wonder about the various subjects I think about.  I began to reflect on the times I’ve been reactionary, or not thought good things. There we also times I remembered thinking about positive outcomes. We are all products of our thought life. So it stands to reason that what we think will become who we are. Frank Outlaw put it this way,

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I love how the King James Version puts it, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” Proverbs 23:7a.

I made mental notes about what I have been thinking about and compared those notes with what I want to be thinking about. I know who I want to become, so I must watch my thoughts. They will eventually become my destiny.

Philippians 4:8 helps us understand the right way think,Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”  There is so much beauty in this world; there is no reason to dwell on negative things.

Romans 12:2 also guides us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” I’m making up my mind to change my thought life and get it more in tune with what God wants me to think about. Those thoughts will guide my future.

What are you thinking about today?

 

Scripture: openbible.info

Images: Google images

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The Idols of Me, Myself, and I


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Romans 12:3

“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Recently, God has been talking to me about the idols in my life (see previous posts). A few days ago I was convicted again. A Christian radio program[i] discussed how we often put too much emphasis on ourselves – with ourselves becoming an idol in our own life. (I don’t remember the exact words, I was driving.) I felt an immediate conviction.  My life has often been about my three best friends: me, myself, and I.

Exodus 20:3

“You shall have no other gods before (or besides) me.”

It seems like a simple, straight forward command. Why then is it so difficult to put God first and love God purely? I think the answer comes down to pride. Pride is the first sin – Lucifer fell due to his pride (Isaiah 14:13).

Pride is subtle and it permeates so many areas of our lives. Pride means we are focused on ourselves. This can take on many forms. Pride can be arrogance, and thinking too highly of yourself or that you are better than others. It’s easy to recognize that attitude as pride. There are many other areas in which we a prideful but we may not be aware of those prideful thoughts. Self-pity for example; we are still focused on ourselves and not God. How about not being thankful, or forgiving? What about always needing to be the center of attention? What about being unwilling to learn (because you think you know it all)? Refusing to admit when you are wrong? Being disrespectful, or even sarcastic? Being impatient? What about jealousy? Seems to me that I am prideful in many areas of my life.

Proverbs 16:5

The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

So how do we get past pride?

The first step many view God as God. We are not God. We know that intellectually, but we must not know it in our heart because we act in prideful ways. Remember that God’s ways are higher than our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). He is the creator (Job 38:4). He’s done so much that we cannot do.

The second step may be to remember that God is the provider of everything we have. We would not have what we have if God did not create us with our unique talents and personality (Psalm 139:13).

1 Corinthians 4:7

For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

Being thankful, truly thankful for everything you have (1 Thessalonians 5:18) might be the third step. Next, admit to God how prideful we are. In prayer, ask The Lord to humble our spirit. God cannot use us if we are prideful, but a God can use a humble person.

Matthew 23:11

The greatest among you will be your servant.

I am praying also for a servant’s heart, and to accept the correction and discipline of God. I’m praying for God to lead me to humility.

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid.

I’m praying for God to help me conquer the pride in my life.

 

Blessings on your day.

 

Scripture: Biblegateway.com

Image: Google Images

 

[i] Charles Stanley, InTouch

The Idols in Our Lives


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The women in my Bible Study recently had a discussion on the Biblical discipline of fasting. Through that conversation I became aware, convicted in fact, that food is an idol in my life. It has been for a long time.

Let me explain. We’re programmed to eat at various times, whether or not we are actually hungry. While food is necessary to sustain life, we think about food a great deal. In the morning the question is, “what do we have for breakfast?” (And don’t even get me started on coffee.) But that’s not enough. We often make dinner plans before we even have breakfast. At work, we look at our clocks wondering what we will have for lunch, and whom we will share the meal with. And there are so many snacks to choose from. We rush home, possibly making a stop at the grocery store first, where we usually buy more things than were on our list. We then rush to prepare a meal. But we have options. We could go out to eat, spending four to ten times the amount that it would cost to cook our own meal. A few hours later we follow that with dessert.

Food is big business.

Our minds revolve around food in some way: when to eat, what to eat, how to pay for what we eat, how good a certain restaurant is, and getting a copy of that really great recipe. Our minds seem to be consumed with food.

Realizing that food was taking up so much brain power, I began to consider the other things that have become idols in my life. I thought I was a good Christian. And I don’t worship idols, or so I thought. So I looked up the definition of an idol.

A simple google search explains that an idol is an image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. The Bible is clear on this particular subject. In Exodus 20:3 God tells us, “You shall have no other gods before me” (English Standard Version). There is a footnote in my Bible that adds clarity to this verse. It reads, “You shall have no other gods besides me.” So God wants to be our only god.

We can consider ourselves safe on this matter because we don’t worship images. We don’t put anyone or anything above, or even equal to God.

Or do we?

What about our families, homes, cars, and jobs?

The next definition goes on to explain that an idol is, “a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.”

Quite possibly I have many idols in my life.

I thought about that for a while and decided we can recognize an idol by looking at our calendars and bank statements. I pondered this for a while and came up with what I think are the top ten idols in our lives and culture, in no particular order.

1. Food
2. Money/status/possessions
3. Work/profession
4. Relationships – family and friends
5. Technology, including computers, internet, phones, and social media
6. Materialism and comfort
7. Self – meaning our ego, image, status, pride, and beauty
8. Entertainment/Escapism
9. Sports
10. Celebrities

Several others could have made the list, but I limited it to what I consider our top idols.

Ezekiel 14 is a passage in which God condemns those who have taken idols in their hearts. Verses 4 and 5 states (The Message Version):

“Therefore tell them, ‘The Message of GOD, the Master: All in Israel who install idols in their hearts and embrace the wickedness that will ruin them and still have the gall to come to a prophet, be on notice: I, GOD, will step in and personally answer them as they come dragging along their mob of idols. I am ready to go to work on the hearts of the house of Israel, all of whom have left me for their idols.’ Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘GOD, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities.”

Wow.

So the question now becomes, “How do I remove idols from my life?” Reviewing my top ten idols list, there are things on there that we need in order to live. We have to work to get enough money to buy food, shelter, clothing, and medicine. Technology is not necessarily a bad thing, neither is entertainment. And our relationships are very important. These things become idols when we love them more than God.

So that seems to be the answer to the dilemma of idols in my life – to love God even more. Be satisfied with God first, then enjoy the blessings He sends my way.

Consider Philippians 3:8. “Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.”

It’s up to me to seek God first; to pursue a more intimate relationship with him. To put Him first. Above all else. As I get closer to God, I pray to lose interest in the things I have held in high regard.

Blessings on your day.

 

“Good is the enemy of “Great”


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“Good is the enemy of great. And that is one of the key reasons why we have so little that becomes great. We don’t have great schools, principally because we have good schools. We don’t have great government, principally because we have good government. Few people attain great lives, in large part because it is just so easy to settle for a good life.” – Jim C. Collins

I was reminded of Jim Collins’ quote this week, “Good is the enemy of great.” I was reading the story of Mary and Martha, and was convicted.

Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was busy. What she was doing was good. But Mary took advantage of the great thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus while he taught.  There are a lot of good things we need to do, our jobs, household chores, etc. But when we get “busy” and focus on these “good” things, sometimes the more important things suffer, like family time or our spiritual lives. The laundry can wait. People are more important.

I’m guilty of this. I’ve been very busy lately and have neglected family time and intense Bible study. My devotional time has been superficial, because I was distracted with all I was responsible for.

How can we prevent “good” from hindering the “great” in our daily lives? “What is important is seldom urgent,” Dwight D. Eisenhower often said, “and what is urgent is seldom important. The Eisenhower Matrix is one tool we can use to determine what is truly important, and what needs to be delegated or eliminated from our lives. The matrix is a business management tool, but can be used in all areas of our lives. Take a look at the matrix:

matrix

The Matrix is divided into four quadrants to help you determine what is truly important, what can wait, what can be delegated or what or not at all important or useful.

Quadrant 1: Put tasks that are both important and urgent in this box. I include family time and my spiritual growth here.

Quadrant 2: Put important tasks in this box that can wait a while, but don’t put them off too long.

Quadrant 3: Determine what is not important, but urgent, and put those tasks in this box. Often these tasks can be handled by others.

Quadrant 4: Determine what is not important, and not urgent, and put those activities in this box. Perhaps some of these things can be eliminated from your life giving you room for the more important things in your life.

If you are also convicted that what is “great” has been usurped by what is “good” in your life, consider looking at this time management tool.

May your life be filled with what is truly important!

Sources used:

https://www.developgoodhabits.com/eisenhower-matrix/

https://www.biblegateway.com (English Standard Version)

https://images.google.com/

An Ash Wednesday Prayer


Ash Wednesday

Dear Heavenly Father,

Today we begin a season of self-examination and inner reflection. Open our hearts to see the truth of our words and our actions so that we see our lives through your eyes. We open our souls to your presence and ask you to change what needs to be changed. Lord, grant us the grace to emerge from the season of Lent with a more profound understanding of Your mercy and grace. Let your love wash over us, and seep deep into the broken places, healing and restoring our souls. Prepare our hearts for the joyous celebration of Easter.

Amen

Developing Patience


Augustine-Quote-Patience1

 Psalm 37:7-9

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

“Patience may be the trait we are most lacking.” Pastor David Alexander, First United Methodist Church, Mansfield, Texas

The other day I was listening to a previously recorded sermon as part of my quiet time. The above quote convicted me to the point I knew it was time to do something about my lack of patience because I don’t always display this beautiful trait. In fact, I think I usually fail in the patience category. Frequently, I’ve been short with my husband and kids. I’ve been impatient in traffic and people standing before me in line. I’ve been impatient waiting at the doctor’s office. The list goes on, and on…

Although we live in an instant gratification culture it doesn’t mean we have to live like everyone else. I decided it was time to develop this very necessary skill. What is patience and how can I develop it? Dictionary.com tells us patience is “an ability or willingness to suppress restlessness or annoyance when confronted with delay and the ability to bear provocation, annoyance, misfortune, or pain without complaint, loss of temper, irritation or the like.” The word willingness is key. It means I have control. I also noticed where the word patience is in the Love Chapter. Notice 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Patience is an act of love.

Cute-patience-quote-new-2015

Now the question becomes, “How can I develop patience?” There are probably dozens of suggestions, but these are the ones I came up with:

  • Recognize that there are some things you simply cannot control.
  • Recognize the things that make you act on impulse, and either avoid them or think about the reasons for your reactions
  • Look at the other person’s point of view
  • Slow down and practice delaying gratification.
  • Think before you speak. It may be as simple as counting to 10 before your respond.
  • Ask yourself, why are you in such a hurry? Will hurrying change anything?
  • Identify triggers that make you feel impatient and plan to avoid them.
  • Remind yourself that things do take time.
  • Remember that for every minute you are angry, you lose a minute of joy and peace.
  • Create space or margin in your life knowing that you will need the extra time to deal with the inevitable.

How about you?  Do you have any suggestions for developing patience? I would love to hear from you.

 Blessings on your day.

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Scripture: www.openbible.info

Image: Google Images

Shalom


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John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

The Hebrew word shalom is often used as a greeting, and the word means peace. That’s a nice sentiment. But, there is always something that causes us to fret, to lose our peace. This week it’s been the stock market, but it can be weather, illness, broken relationships, and job loss – to name just a few. How can we embrace the peace Jesus gave us in John 14:27? Perhaps one reason is that we don’t fully understand the peace of God.

For my quiet time this year I’m using the One Year Devotions for Women, by Ann Spangler. The theme of the devotional is God’s Peace. Below is a quote from the January 7th entry:

“But what exactly is peace? When most of us think of peace, we think of an absence of conflict or the sense of tranquility we sometimes feel after a walk in the park or a day the beach. But the Hebrew word shalom is far brawnier than the English word for peace, encompassing these ideas and more.  Shalom contains the idea of completeness. It is the sum of all the blessings God can bestow – healing, prosperity, soundness, well-being, good relationships, perfection. It is what happens when God shines his face on you, when he turns toward you in all his greatness and brings you good.”[i] (Emphasis mine).

To be sure of the accuracy of the author’s claim I verified her definition with the Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance. The word shalom is so much more than a greeting. The word shalom is a powerful blessing!

We all struggle to remember to embrace the peace Jesus gave us. Try to remember the full meaning of the gift of shalom, so you truly feel the peace of Christ.

Numbers 6:23-26

“The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

‘The Lord bless you and keep you;the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.'”

  Shalom.

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Scripture: http://www.biblegateway.com

Image: google images

[i] Devotions for Women, Ann Spangler, Tyndale, 2012, Day 7.