For the past four weeks I have been participating in an online bible study through Proverbs 31 Ministries (proverbs31.org). The study was based on Max Lucado’s book titled Anxious for Nothing and Philippians 4:4-9. It has been a wonderful study and book. Which leads me to my thoughts for today that I hope will encourage and inspire you.
Often, as women we have a hard time controlling our thoughts. They are all connected and one thought leads to another, which leads to another and so on. We can spiral downhill so fast with our “what if’s” and “how will I handle that” questions. Our thoughts often turn to “what can I do to stop it”. We are basically asking, “how can I control my life”, so that none of these what if’s happen! This is not how God wants us to live our lives; without peace, hope or security. We all know this, but how do we stop it? How do we stop the thoughts from spiraling out of control so fast we don’t even know how we ended up in a pile of tears on the bedroom floor?
Okay, maybe you don’t end up that way, but I am going to be honest, I often do. My personality is one that tends towards negative thought patterns, which leads me to the “what if’s” of life and “what am I going to do”, and “how do I control this problem?” Basically the problem can control me to the point that I am on the bedroom floor crying my eyes out not knowing how I am going to fix it.
Do you see the problem here? How am I going to fix? Stop right there! I have forgotten something. I am not in this life alone! God is with me and I don’t have to fix it, but there is something I have to do. I have to learn how to let go of my negative thought patterns and make them obedient to Christ. In 2 Corinthians 10:5 God calls us to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” But HOW? This is the question I have always asked myself, God, friends and mentors. How? How do I do this? I would try all sorts of things and none of them worked.
But this week in my study of Max Lucado’s book Anxious for Nothing, he explains that using Philippians 4:8 as a pattern to change our thinking is the perfect way to actually start taking our thoughts captive. This verse says “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is TRUE, whatever is NOBLE, whatever is RIGHT (emphasis mine), whatever is PURE, whatever is LOVELY, whatever is ADMIRABLE – if anything is EXCELLENT or PRAISEWORTHY – think about such things” Lucado challenges his readers to start putting this into practice by taking whatever storm, challenge or anxious thought that is coming your way and look for the things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable within it, instead of the negative, what if’s that our minds normally come up with.
Since I read about this principal I have been trying to put it into practice in my journal and it has helped me to actually start to leave my worries at the feet of Jesus instead of trying to control them myself, by looking for the positive in the situation.
What this looks like for me is each of these positive words True, Noble, Right and so on is noted in my journal with a different blessing written next to each for whatever it is in my life that is causing me to be anxious and have negative thoughts. By practicing this everyday, I think you will see your thought patterns begin to change and take on a new point of view. I pray that you will allow God to take control instead of trying to keep it for yourself and you will start seeing the blessings in the storms. It will be hard at first, but God promises in Romans 8:28 “God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” He IS using everything in your life for HIS GOOD and HIS PURPOSE, even though you may not be able to see it right now.
As a way of helping you put this into practice I have created two journal pages for you as a free download. One page is for your prayer & thanksgiving and the other is for practicing taking your thoughts captive. Download it, print as many as you need and start putting into practice what God calls us to. (DOWNLOAD HERE)
I pray this has encouraged you! Feel free to leave any comments or thoughts!
Its the first day of December and I am sure many of us already have our trees up, our stockings hung, lights glowing and Christmas music playing! Our homes are festive and ready for the holiday season, but what about when you are out shopping, riding in the car or standing in line? Are you taking the holiday spirit with you outside of your home?
It’s really easy to be cheerful and loving when you are at home bundled up by the fire next to your beautifully lit Christmas tree. It’s a different story when you get out in the crowds, the traffic, the lines and all the other cranky customers!
There are probably lots of ways to make sure you take some joy out with you into the holiday hustle and bustle, but as I was thinking about this concept, one idea that stuck out in my mind was my cell phone. No, I am not suggesting you download an annoying chipmunk Christmas carol to use as your ring ton. Since you take your cell phone everywhere, right? I am suggesting a much more subtle way of reminding yourself to spread joy to those around you.
How many times a day do you look at your cell phone? Check the time on it? See if you have any important text messages? Look for e-mails or just make time go by faster by playing a game? What if your lock screen and your home screen reminded you what this season was all about?
Did you know its super simple to do? And I am making it even easier with two free holiday downloads for you to use on your cell phone. Just download to your phone and set as your home screen or lock screen so that you can remind yourself to spread some joy this holiday season. The downloads are in two formats that I hope will resize correctly to your cell phone. One is for iPhones and the other for Androids.
For more digital phone art, visit my Etsy store at www.bethannerickson.etsy.com. These downloads are very affordable at only .99 cents each!
I hope you will join me this holiday season by taking some festive holiday spirit with you as a reminder to be full of joy, patient, compassionate and understanding to those you meet as you run your holiday errands, Christmas shop, see movies and spend time with family and friends.