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Don’t Listen

Don’t you hate it when your feelings boss you and they are so convincing that you are sucked into every word they shout at you. Before you know it you’ve travelled down a road that you would never intentionally put one of your freshly pedicured and painted toes in! I hate it when I open the Pandora’s box of unsubstantiated, yet seemingly believable truth. My new favorite quote is “Don’t let your feelings boss you.” from Ruth Chou Simons. But somehow, while I like the truth in those six words, I don’t always hold fast to this mantra.

Even after I lay awake last night, listening to the thoughts in my head, slowly being sucked into the pit of melancholy that loomed before me, I struggled to get free from the cloud that hung over me. Why was I here, yet again. I’ve learned in the past that I cannot believe the truths I formulate because I let hurt feelings, or negative thoughts about myself grow bigger and bigger in my mind, and yet here I was again.

Before you judge me, or roll your eyes at my being a bit dramatic, let me ask you this question: Have you ever felt that twinge in your stomach, or constricting in your throat over someone’s words, or possibly a Facebook or Instagram post? Maybe you are struggling with the place you are in your life right now. Perhaps, you have a dream unrealized. Any of these things can cause you to have thoughts that cause you emotional pain. And then you find yourself listening to the lies of the enemy take advantage of your vulnerability.

Then I did what I usually do….I cry out….loudly….to Jesus. Asking Him to stop the noise in my thoughts and lead me to the real truth. And He did.

For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit. For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:5-6

I could go on and on about the piercing truth in these words. It powerfully points out the very thing that clouds our minds and causes us to not see clearly, to not hear His voice, to get so wrapped up in our own heads that we cannot experience His presence or His truth! Even when we think we are not living according to the flesh, we are. When we wrap our hands tightly around our phones and fill our eyes, our minds, our flesh with videos, pictures, memes, posts as we scroll for hours. Or maybe we take those words we heard in a conversation, or manipulate situations in our lives, or allow our thoughts about ourselves to go south because the world tells us there is no good thing about who we are. All of these are part of this world trying to shape our outlook. But if we……if I am who I say I am….when this path unfolds before me as I lie in bed replaying thoughts over and over, I need to STOP, remember who I am, remember who saved me, remember who has been faithful to me everyday since I surrendered to His calling me, and mostly remember who is shaping my outlook. Because I am a child of God, I have His Spirit living inside me, which means I have the power to step away from these thoughts and allow His Spirit to shape my outlook, not this world. The outlook of the Spirit is life and it is peace. And that is what I want….peace. That is what I want more than anything, that even at this time of my life, I am still being shaped by the Spirit of God.

So sweet friends, if you have stuck with me this far, take a deep breath and face those hurt feelings, those negative thoughts, those flesh shaped outlooks and let God shape your outlook and fill you with life and peace.

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Out of the Heart – Continued Encouragement

Today I was reading through a study I have been doing for some time in Ephesians, when I read something that I know I have read plenty of times, but it echoed over and over in my mind.  The text referred back to verse in Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”  Or basically the mouth speaks what the heart is full of…..I sat back against the couch and chewed on this thought.  A verse came to mind in Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can understand it?”    Our hearts are the epicenter of who we are.  We can change our looks, our location, and our language, but at some point the truth of who we are, which lies within our hearts will flow out of our mouths.  The truth will be known.

During this time in the world we live in, when we are quarantined, isolated, uncertain, the truth of who we are will be revealed in what flows out of our mouths.   Sometimes anxiousness will cause us to allow frustrations to escape through our words.  Sometimes we speak without thinking.  But it is then that the truth of what lies deep in our hearts will cause us to stop, ponder our words and realize we have spoken with harshness or anger.  It is then we step forward and apologize, ask forgiveness, and then ask God to forgive us and help us to think before we speak!  But I believe, also, that those that know of God, but don’t have a true relationship with Him, will be revealed by what proceeds from their mouths.  

It has taken me 59 years, but I am finally learning to “not” say what first comes to mind.  I haven’t perfected this skill yet, but I find myself thinking about what I am about to say, and deciding to just say nothing.   You may have already conquered this skill, but I have struggled with it my entire adult life.  I sometimes over share, I sometimes speak what comes to mind, and I sometimes say what truth is about a particular situation whether it is necessary or not.  And I confess I haven’t always asked God if I should say something before it is released from my mouth.  I have prayed and asked God to help me in this area and I realized a few months ago that I was thinking before I allowed something I was thinking to escape my lips.  I wanted to say “Hey, I was about to say something, but God said no and I didn’t!!!” But decided to keep it to myself! I want to walk in a way that honors God.  Whether in the middle of a pandemic or living in what used to be normal life.   I remember hearing a former music pastor tell the choir I was a part of, to ponder in our hearts our questions, as he was giving us instructions.  So I am trying to ponder my thoughts before I release them!  But I digress from the verse that I first shared.

During this time, when we have so much time, ponder what is in your heart.  Think about the words that flow from your mouth.  Do they honor God?  Are they uplifting?  Are they encouraging?  Are they loving?  Are they beneficial?  I want to encourage you to examine your heart. Determine whether He is the Lord of your heart, your thoughts, your life.  I am taking time to do the same.  We are spending time with family and possibly friends 24/7, which could be a stressful time, maybe we need to isolate to a quiet place (even if that means hiding in your closet) and allow Jesus to minister to our hearts and minds, and reveal what is in our hearts.

Love y’all.

 

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Day 14 – Pandemic Encouragement

Isaiah 26:3-4 “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you,  because he trusts in you.  Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.”

I don’t know about you, but I feel the need to escape the constant onslaught of COVID19 information.  I’m over this being the topic of conversation and media 24/7.  I want to sit with friends and drink coffee (or tea) and talk about something else….anything else!  I want to drive to the beach and enjoy the waves crashing on the beach.  I want to go to church!!!!

With the constant broadcasting of information and conflict over COVID19 social or physical distancing, statistics of state by state cases and deaths, and whether to have partial or complete quarantining, I have to wonder if there is anything else going on in the world!!!  Or is there something going on that we don’t know about.

At any rate, this morning I ran to scripture for encouragement and truth.  And there it was, the best wisdom possible….God’s Word telling me to let my mind stay on Him.  He is my everlasting rock.  He is trustworthy.  So simple, but so true.

I am choosing to take a step away from the constant blasting of pandemic information and to focus back on regular life. (Whatever that is right now).  I will let my mind be on His Word and His character.   I will let other things occupy my thoughts other than the uncertainty that is shaking our country.

Wherever you are right now, whatever you are doing, take a deep breath.  Read these words in Isaiah written way before 2020, but so applicable for us to cling to right now.  Allow His perfect peace to wash over you and spread through your spirit like a warm blanket.  Snuggle up in it and enjoy some time with Him.

Love y’all!

 

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I can run, but I can’t hide!

Today as I drove to work lost in my thoughts, only half listening to the Christian music station playing in the background, some of the words interrupted my thoughts, “You are not alone….”.  I immediately thought of the scripture I had read on Saturday as I prepared my lesson for my Bible Study class I teach on Sunday morning.  “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. You both precede and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to know! I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.  I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are both alike to you.” Psalm 139:1-12.  I am blown away by these verses!  Aren’t you?  Just think about this revelation for a moment.  The God of the universe, the creator of EVERYTHING, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God is attentive to you…to me!  There is no place we can go, that He is not there with us!  Even into that pit you take yourself, where you think you are destined to live out your life…NOPE!….He’s there.  When I’m walking through life, and everything seems chaotic, NOPE!…He’s there!  When I’m laying in my bed at night, darkness surrounding me, only the sound of my husband’s breathing can be heard and I replay the day, trying to figure out how to make ends meet….NOPE!  He’s there too!  When I am alone and disappointed over something or someone….NOPE!  He’s right there too!  Recently I listened as someone prayed in church service asking God to reveal His presence….I was thinking, “Silly man, He’s already here!”  The truth is this….we don’t acknowledge the truth that He is ALWAYS with us!  We ignore His presence, run from His presence, look somewhere else for His presence, but according to these verses, His presence is already with us!   We want fireworks, rushing wind or a pillar of smoke…not just His presence.  He will not slap us in the back of the head and say “I’m right here stupid!”  He waits for us to acknowledge He is there….I truly believe that.  It’s in those moments that we stop, breathe in the truth that He is right there with us, that we “feel” His blanket-like presence wrap around us.  I love that He is not chasing us around like a little kid trying to get their parent’s attention, but He’s there, always there.  He knows us better than we know ourselves.  He’s looking ahead, checking out our path that He has prepared for us, He knows the words that are about to come from our mouths – even when they may not be pleasing to Him or glorify Him – He still knows.  The idea that He would still place His hand upon our heads in blessing is just too big to comprehend!  That is unconditional love, people!  He knows my thoughts.  That is just frightening!   I know what goes on inside my head, no one would want to be there!  But He knows…  He is there to lift my head when I am weary, He is there to comfort me when I am heartbroken, He is there to hold me when I am afraid, He is there to push me forward when I need encouragement to go on, there is absolutely no place I can hide from or be lost from Him.  We just have to acknowledge He is there to benefit from being in His presence… So, today, sitting there looking at this computer screen, reading my silly blog (which I appreciate, by the way!), close your eyes for a moment, and just breathe.  Acknowledge that He is with you!  Allow His presence to fill you and wrap around you like a warm blanket.  I promise, you will feel it and you will be overwhelmed by Him.