Often life is hard, but God is always good

Posts tagged ‘Philippians’

I Think I’m Hearing Voices

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

Photo Credit: Moyan Brenn

“Finally, brothers and sisters, 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

I believe in a loving God, and on the flip side, I also think there is a devil who definitely does not have my best interest at heart. How Jesus talks about Satan is recorded in the eighth chapter of the gospel of John: “He (the devil) was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:45)

So, in a very creepy sort of way, Satan will lie to us. Uh oh – that means that some of my thoughts might be influenced by an evil whisper with a whiff of sulphur.

I think I experienced a Satanic lie entering my thoughts just this week: “You are too late to do the great things you were meant to do. You have wasted time and your life’s work is not worth much.”

That’s a very dark thought, right?

Recognizing it as a thought to reject is the first step; as Jesus tells us, we must not listen to the “stranger’s voice”: “When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.  But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10: 4, 5)

However, the most crucial step is to replace the lying voice with the truth – In my case, I chose to listen to this: “I have made sacrifices in my fifty years to stay at home with my kids and then to educate those same children at home and that means my “professional” credentials are not very robust. But it was all worth it – I have been following the very specific call of God on my very individual life and the rewards will look different than others’ who have followed their life callings.”

Since I am a counselor’s wife, I would like to present the psychological spin on this subject: Cognitive theory claims that ANTs: (Automatic negative thoughts) or what we think about things are important in determining how we feel. The Happiness Institute has a good handout about common ANTs; the one that fits my story best is “emotional reasoning: mistaking feelings for facts. Negative things you feel about yourself are held to be true because they feel true.”www.thehappinessinstitute.com

Paul’s command in Philippians chapter 4 is not just a list of what to think about, it is also a direct order to think – don’t be a victim who helplessly allows all thoughts to enter indiscriminately and swish around for any length of time and then allow them to have the power to influence our lives.

We must THINK on the truths and reject the lies – hear the good Shepherd’s loving voice, not the stranger’s lies.

What are the voices in your head saying today?

All Experience Required

Photo Credit: Kelvin Trautman

Photo Credit: Kelvin Trautman

“In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1: 4-6 (NIV)

I find myself looking back in my life a lot more since hitting fifty. I am over that hill they talk about and the view from the other side ain’t so bad. An urgency to get things done, to pursue dreams, and to not waste time has set in and I am more brave than ever.

But the experiences of my life (and yours) are profoundly important, not because I succeeded in every endeavor or test, but more because God uses them to mold me and help others.

My adventure this summer (besides welcoming my first grandchild) was to accompany the youth group to Mexico as an adult helper – an interpreter and “mom” figure. The youth pastor told us all that we were to say “yes” to whatever ministry work we were asked to do, and so, when I was approached to preach a thirty-minute sermon in Spanish the next day (no preparation time allotted), I answered, “Sure!”

I rode back to the hotel in the van full of chatting and laughing students, scared silent and staring out of the window with a mind full of “Oh Lord, Help!” thoughts. We were driving through narrow streets with brightly painted adobe walls on either side that were used as the Mexican version of billboards. One advertisement I passed said (translated from Spanish) “More than 35 years of experience!”

My conversion to Christianity, accepting Jesus as Lord in my heart and life, happened 35 and a half years ago! Needless to say, I was greatly encouraged to hear from the Lord that my experience of knowing Him was the requirement, not experience in preaching. I rocked that sermon, by the way!

Some of my past I would like to excise from my history, but long ago the Lord reminded me that He could (and would) transform each part and work it into the whole of my life experience. Healing from wounds has come in the form of time, counseling, encounters with the Holy Spirit, and the love of friends. I didn’t transform all my life events into something good by my own efforts, though I was a willing partner in the process.

All of our experience is required, not just for our personal growth into God’s design for our life, but for the sake of others. Amazingly, as a middle-aged (or “over the hill”) youth helper in Mexico, I was very relatable. One girl said, “It’s like you’re a teenager!” and I replied, “My 18-year-old is still inside me!”

So is the stuttering elementary school girl, the nervous college freshmen, the new bride, and the first time mom. All the pain, the failure, the victory, and the surrender to God mix together into a life that God uses. When we are in the midst of the pain of a life experience let’s hold onto this hope.

 

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