FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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The WhatIfs

Shel Silverstein, long one of my favorite poets, penned a poem entitled WhatIf.  It begins, “Last night, while I lay thinking here,
some Whatifs crawled inside my ear and pranced and partied all night long and sang their same old Whatif song:  Whatif I’m dumb in school?  Whatif they’ve closed the swimming pool?  Whatif I get beat up?  Whatif there’s poison in my cup?  Whatif I start to cry?  Whatif I get sick and die?”

Instead of breaking up the late night party, we join in, serve refreshment, turn the music up and add our own lyrics!

Our grownup version tends to go more like this:  Whatif I can’t pay my rent?  Whatif all my money’s spent?  What if my spouse decides to leave?  What if my children begin to deceive?  What if the doctor gives me a cancer scare?  What if I lose all my hair?  What if my house is taken away?  What if I die and this is my last day…?  What if my child is born with defect?  What if my teenagers are in a wreck?  And so on…you know how it goes.

I challenge you to change the tune completely and consider these lyrics:  What if God is, as His Word says, in control?  What if God is omniscient?  What if God is omnipresent and is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9)?  What if God has a plan for your welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and hope (Jeremiah 29:11)?  What if with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26)?  What if God’s Word does not return empty but, rather, accomplishes His purpose and succeeds in the thing for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:8-11)?  What if in His hand is the life of everything (Job 12:10)?  What if God is faithful and will provide (1 Corinthians 10:13)?  What if nothing is too hard for Him (Jeremiah 32:27) and what if you can do all things through Him (Philippians 4:13)?  What if God will strengthen, help and uphold you (Isaiah 41:10)?  What if all that seems to be meant evil towards you God means it for good (Genesis 50:20)?

What if you stopped worrying and started trusting?

Silverstein ends his poem, “Everything seems well, and then the nighttime Whatifs strike again!”

When the Whatifs strike you, strike back with the Word of your Lord!  Stop worrying.  Start trusting.

THIS WEEK take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5) including your whatifs!  Replace each with a promise from God.

The Whatifs:  A Silverstein Poem   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plxOibb0L0s

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Hold the Ketchup, Please

I should have known that it was coming.

Life has been good. Real good! I retired – for the second time. I spent the summer resting. It was wonderful. I read. I cooked. I napped. I rediscovered trash TV. (Thankfully I am over that now!) But even better – I prayed. I journaled. I began this blog. Did I say I napped? Yes, it was all good!

Then my phone rang. It was a job offer. It seemed good, so I said, “Why not?”

Then an email came. The very next day. It was a job offer. It was something I thought I’d enjoy, so I said, “Sure.”

I’d forgotten that I had registered for three seminary classes, but still I wasn’t worried. I was confident that I could balance it all. And so, after about 60 days of sweet, blissful rest, I returned to the world of work and homework. My days (and nights) are busy, but they are enjoyable. The pace and culture are very different from my last season of work. I soon got caught up in setting my new calendars, meeting new people, rethinking my days and even shopping for a few new outfits because the hose and heels weren’t necessary every day. I got caught up in this new life which was such a change and such a relief from the past that I forgot.

I forgot the warnings of 1 Peter 5:8-9. I forgot to be self-controlled and alert because my enemy, the devil, prowls around seeking to devour.

But he didn’t forget, and this week he came. The prowling enemy. The devil. He sought to devour. He sought to steal my joy, to make me doubt, to make me second guess myself and my work, to thwart the success I was experiencing, to scatter obstacles in my path, to confuse my mind and to trouble my spirit.

He caught me off guard because I was having such a good time in life. He opened wide his jaws to devour me. And at the first snap of his teeth, I gave up. But thank God I quickly regained my senses and my footing. I realized that the devil may come, actually the devil will come to devour, BUT I don’t have to spread the ketchup on myself making me all the more tasty for him.

Isn’t that what we do sometimes? At the first nip we give up and give in. We surrender to him our thoughts, our sleep, our peace and our joy. Rather, we should fight against him. Take captive every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5), refuse to lose sleep understanding that our Lord never slumbers or sleeps (Psalm 121:4), hold fast to the peace that our Lord has given us (John 14:27) and guard our joy realizing that it is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10).

Too often we have given the devil far more credit than he is due. He is NOT an all-powerful being who is the evil equivalent of God. He and God are NOT two equal forces in opposition to each other – one good and one evil, one light and one dark. Jesus Christ defeated Satan on the cross of Calvary. He us under the foot of Christ and, therefore, under out foot.  As we submit to God and intentionally resist the devil, we can enforce the victory Jesus won thereby forcing Satan to flee from us.

Hold the ketchup. Please!


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Surviving (Part 2)

Children’s author, Judith Viorst, spins the tale of a day that many of us have had in her book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.  Nothing goes right for Alexander.  From the time he opens his eyes to face the day until he crawls back into bed and closes them that night, it’s all terrible, horrible, no good, very bad.  Page after page we read about Alexander, waking with gum stuck in his hair, tripping over a skateboard, getting smushed in the middle seat of the car and facing a dessertless lunch sack among other letdowns and annoyances. At one point in the story, Alexander thinks that change is needed, and he resolves to move to Australia!  (Hmm, no dessert?  I’d be thinking about moving, too!)

Well, I don’t know if Australia is necessarily the answer, but to survive times of crises change is often just what we need – and just what we fear the most.  What is the change that YOU need to make?  In our last blog post we offered some possibilities – job, friends, behavior, thinking.  You might think of others, but I’ll suggest you begin with the last two in this list – your thinking and then your behavior.

God’s best for our lives begins with right thoughts, His thoughts.  But Isaiah 55:8-9 (ASV) clearly tells us that our thoughts are not the Lord’s and neither are our ways; both His thoughts and ways are higher than ours.  So how do we change our thinking?  Look to the Scriptures for guidance:

  • “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5(b)(NIV)
  • “…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)

It is possible to change and to control our thoughts.  As soon as a negative thought – one that does not align with God – comes into mind we must intentionally and purposefully “capture” it and replace it with “God-thinking.”  It is not enough to just tell our negative thoughts to “Stop!”  We have to replace them with right thoughts, God thoughts.  Consider these examples:

 

Our Thinking

“God-Thinking”

I can’t do it.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

It’s impossible.

“…Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19: 26 NASB)

I can’t go on.

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”  (II Corinthians 12:9(a)  NASB)

I don’t know which way to go.

“Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. In all your ways know, recognize, and acknowledge Him, and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6 AMP)

I’m afraid.

God did not give us a spirit that makes us afraid but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7  NCV)

I’m not smart enough.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5 NASB)

I’m so alone.

“After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you.” (Hebrews 13:5(b)  CEB)

 

These are but examples. ANY negative thought that you have can be exchanged for “God-thinking” if you are intentional and purposeful in doing so.  Negative thoughts breed negative attitudes which breed negative behaviors.  And so a cycle begins and continues.  Break the cycle by taking captive your negative thoughts.

Next blog entry – changing your behavior!