Focused on Whatever

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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 (NIV)

Early in my walk with Jesus, I realized that what I thought about and what I exposed myself to made a significant difference, both to my mood and to my continued walk with Christ.  There was certain music that I had loved for years, but in listening to it with my “new ears” I found that it put me in a foul mood and made me feel more aggressive every time I listened to it.  I found that foul language affected me differently than it had before I knew Jesus, and I no longer wanted to be exposed to it.  (I also no longer wanted to speak it, although that is a struggle that I haven’t yet fully mastered.)  I found that certain movies or movie scenes were not helpful to my walk, even though some of them were movies that I had watched often and previously enjoyed.

What was I to do about all of this?

For me, the decision was simple:  It had to go.  All of it.  I threw away hundreds of dollars’ worth of CDs and tapes and videos; they all ended up in the trash bin.  I quit seeing R rated movies as I found elements of them too disturbing to my inner peace.  I found myself more often listening to the Christian music stations than the secular ones.

My approach to this may not be for everyone; I just know that it worked for me.  I still listen to select secular music as well as Christian music.  I go to movies with family-friendly ratings.  I find that I haven’t missed anything of importance to me at all.  I have found that it’s easier to keep my thoughts fixed on Jesus and things of the Kingdom when I minimize the unhelpful influences.  My heart stays freer and happier when my thoughts are fixed on the important things.

What do you do to focus on the “whatever”?

 

 

God’s Opportunities

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I’m reading through Acts right now and this morning a verse leapt off the page at me.  Now, I’ve read Acts before – several times – and this particular verse was always very still; it stayed right there on the page.  Today, though, leaping.  I know to pay attention when verses start doing that, so I’ve been listening to hear what He would say to me about it. 

The verse in question was Acts 3:12:

Peter saw his opportunity and addressed the crowd.

Well, on the surface, that verse may not seem too impressive, but bear in mind…leaping. 

The first four words were what really captured my attention, and they ran through my mind all day long.  “Peter saw his opportunity…”

I thought back to a day a couple of weeks ago when I was having a casual conversation with a woman whom I barely knew.  The Lord gave me words to speak to her and a question to ask her, and I obeyed and said what He gave me to say.  Her reaction was stunning to me, and the very next day two of my friends and I were able to lead her to Christ!  It was a gorgeous opportunity.

Opportunity.  There’s that word again.

How many opportunities do I miss each day?  How many times am I so focused on myself or some trivial little matter that I don’t take time to listen for my Father’s voice, giving me words to say and people to speak with?  How many times do I miss beauty in other people because I’m not paying attention to them?  How many times do I miss His whispers to my heart because of preoccupation with some grossly lesser matter?   

Well, back in the book of Acts, Peter saw his opportunity…and he took it.  He addressed the crowd.  What happened then?  He shared the Gospel with them, and the number of believers increased to around 5,000 men, not including the women and children.  Not bad!

I want to be someone who sees the opportunities that God gives me.  Opportunities to encourage someone, to speak words of hope and peace to someone, to go out of my comfort zone and really love someone.  Once I see them, I want to be like Peter and take action.  I wonder what He wants to do in and through me?  🙂 

Sands of Love

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Recently I had the privilege of going to Myrtle Beach, SC with our church’s youth ministry, Fused.  One of the highlights of the week for me was getting to have quiet time with Jesus on the beach every morning.  Nature provides my best connection to Jesus, and the beach is the ultimate connection place for me, so I found that very fueling.

One morning in particular, our prayer guide for our quiet time directed us to Psalm 139:17-18:

How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.  They cannot be numbered!

I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand!

The guide then invited us to pick up a small handful of sand and try to drop one grain at a time, thinking of something good about ourselves with each grain.

I got to about seven.

I stared and stared at that handful of sand, amazed that He had that many good thoughts about me.  That’s when Jesus — if He weren’t so full of grace — would have done a facepalm.  He said, “Liz, look up!  Look around you!  How many grains of sand are in the stretch of beach that you see?  How many are in the stretches that you can’t see from here?  How many are on all the beaches of the world?”

I was totally undone.

That kind of love is a love worth diving into and exploring as much as I’m able.  Don’t you want to come, too?