1. "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Amen. How many of you out there guessed I was going to mention that verse? Show of hands?... Yep, thought so. How could I not. (I decided I should just mention it right away so we can think about it more.) How do we think every day? Do you ever think about the way you think? What kind of question is that? A pretty good one. What do you think about every day, why do you think about it, and how often? What do you think about others? Do you tell yourself positive things or negative things? Do you tell yourself lies or half-truths? Do you think about God's promises instead of the world's worries and know-it-all widsom? How often do you think about what is true and honest? What is just and pure? What's lovely and of good report?
2. Our thoughts have so much power in our lives and we can easily forget that. Rick Warren wisely states in the Purpose-Driven Life that "the way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel influences the way you act." That means how we think can determine how we treat people, our attitudes, what we believe, what we eat, what we accomplish, what we attempt and everything else. Yowza. Can you say underestimated?
3. There is so much we could discuss in this area, and I could talk about it forever until I had a good-sized book. However, I don't want to spend too much time on this and risk losing your interest. I have committed both mistakes before--saying too much about something and not saying enough, and I want to find a good balance. If I so choose, I could expound on one or more topics another day but for now I just want to take a quick look at a few topics including right thoughts, focus, remembrance, and more.
4. Before I begin with the spiritual stuff, do you want to know an amazing weight loss secret? One that is almost always guaranteed to work and has benefited millions of people? Listen carefully and I'll tell you. The secret... is diet and exercise. Gasp! No! Not those two words! No no no! Anything but that! Yes, accept it. Scream all you want but it's the simple truth. Why do so many of us freak out from those words? We think of miserable work, loss of favorite foods, self-torture, and the awful C-word: commitment. Isn't diet just the word "die" with a T added to it? I'd rather be fat and tired, thank you. (Fat girls rule! lol running joke) This is not the right way to think about it.
5. Don't concentrate on the difficulty of the tasks, focus on the benefits and wonderful goals you want to reach; enjoying life more than you used to, and doing more activities. Getting started is the hardest part, I hear, and from there it can be much easier. Dieting doesn't mean you must say goodbye to everything you love to eat. Just take reasonable portions of foods, and consume enough fruits, vegetables, and grain for your needed vitamins, minerals, etc. If you drink plenty of water and give up sugary drinks you will be amazed at how much better you feel. And get enough sleep for goodness sake! (I'm talking to myself here) Why I am bothering to talk about health and nutrition? Because a healthy Christian is one who can do more for God's kingdom and probably live a longer life, and because our bodies belong to Him. Our health is part of our inheritance from God, and we should be careful not to waste it like the man in the parable of the talents. "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." I Corinthians 10:31
6. There's something I have to get off my chest. Do you know who are some of the most annoying people I know? Pessimists and cynics. Not the ones who are simply honest about life and it's miseries, but those who go overboard. Especially the ignorant ones who only understand part of a story and hold a biased view. I get so tired of them, though I do feel bad for them and want them to be happy. I guess that one could call me a hyprocrite for also being biased and somewhat ignorant but don't change the subject ;). (I'm working on that) You're just going to stress yourself out if you think like that. I know it's hard but our Father can help us to think differently and more like Him. Yes, life is very tough and unfair, but remember that Jesus gives our lives great meaning and we have a wonderful promise of a new home, new bodies, and eternal life some day soon. Don't forget to praise the Lord when you're down and He will lift you up.
7. When Jesus gave His life for us and handed it over to evil men for our salvation, He must have needed to have extreme control of Himself and total surrender of His power. How was Jesus able to go through with His horrible crucifixion? How did He stay on for so long when He could have jumped off any time He wanted? He didn't focus on the pain and embarrassment, he thought about us! And the great joy he would have after he had endured it. We all need to focus on the positive and tell ourselves the truth at all times. Lying to yourself can be almost as bad, if not worse, than lying to others. I still struggle with this often and will catch myself thinking negative thoughts and I'm working to change that with the Lord's help. A big thing we need to do, probably the biggest, is soak up the Word like a sponge. Read your Bible each day, underline passages that speak to you, read the passages again, think about them and what they mean to you, memorize them, believe them, and act on them.
8. Let us also remember what the good Lord has done for us in our lives, and in other's lives, and in the lives of His followers in the Bible. Remember His goodness. Remember His power. Remember His guidance. Remember His miralces in the past and present. Remember His wisdom. Remember His blessings and name them all. And remember that He always knows better than we do and how stupid we can be sometimes! Never look back to Egypt and think about returning there, because we often forget how terrible it was to be a slave to sin.
9. Last year I read a great book called Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyers and I have to say... wow. Conviction city. Not only does she mention the wrong ways of thinking but also lists a wandering, wondering mind in the same category. What? Just spacing off too much can be wrong? Oh my goodness. Are you kidding? It does make sense though. The phrase "idleness is the devil's workshop" can also apply to our minds. Not that we can't relax once in awhile but too much laziness and empty space in the attic will give the devil a chance to toss bad ideas into our heads. It seems to me that if we aren't moving forwards we're usually soon moving backwards, like a car stuck in neutral on a hill. Focus on Christ and you won't sink below the stormy waves.
10. So far, I bet that you've been nodding your head and agreeing with what most if not all of what I've said. However, my next topic may be more controversial to some of you. Question everything. If you just asked why, then congratulations! You're on the right path. Why should we, as Christians, have to questions everything when we know the Truth and have our sight restored so we can see the world so much more clearly than we used to? Good question. God will always lead us to the truth and give us wisdom for life when we ask. Nevertheless, there are nonbelievers in the world who are asking many hard questions about our faith and are we prepared to answer them? Like, how do we know that the Bible is accuracte? How do we know that God created the world and it didn't just evolve? How do we know that Jesus died and rose again? What about life after death? Purgatory? The Holy Spirit? The devil? Miracles? Jesus as the only way? Why there is a Hell? Why do we believe what we believe? It wouldn't hurt to learn some more about these questions. I highly recommend books on apologetics to check out, like books by Lee Strobel and "The Top 10 Common Objections to Christianity" by Alex Mcfarland as some excellent resources to check out.
11. Now I'm going to take this one step farther and risk hurting my reputation and sounding crazy. (Although if you've read some of my other work you may already think I'm a little crazy) What about UFOs? They're not real, we'd probably think, and they don't concern me. Now please stay with me for a second before you stop reading. :) ) What if they do? What if... UFOs are not actually aliens but are some kind of dark spiritual forces? And what about haunted houses where objects just fly around the room on their own and other shocking things occur? What if that is also spiritual activity? I bring this up not because I want people to believe everything I do (not concerning salvation), but because I want us to be cautious of what the devil is up to. Ephesians 2:2 calls the devil "the prince of the power of the air" and 2 Corinthians 11:14 says that Satan can transform himself into an angel of light. The devil wants to deceive the world (Revelation 20:10) and keep people from finding Christ, and I believe he tries to distract and entice us with the mysterious powers of things like magic, aliens, ghosts, etc, along with lies of evolution and twisted truths. Because if aliens exist then evolution sounds true and God is a liar or doesn't exist, and the other things can cause us to disbelieve the gospel or ignore it completely.
12. One of my family members, who is a believer and very intelligent and full of common sense, likes to research topics like aliens, nephilim (the giants before the Flood), and the end of the world from christian perspectives. What he learns is very creepy stuff, and I've read some of the same things and been shocked at the theories that sound very possible. There's just so many strange and suspicious events that the governments and media cover up, and very very strange records of events in the world.* Again, I don't want you or me to focus too much on these things and become paranoid, and I surely don't want to waste more time arguing about theories than spreading the Gospel. I only want for us to be aware of what the devil may try to do to deceive us in the last days. Matthew 24:24 says that false Christs and false prophets will perform jaw-dropping signs and wonders (like the antichrist in Revelation) and they could deceive some of us too!! What would it take to deceive God's children? Amazing stuff that's impossible for us to explain and could awe us like a sky full of fireworks.
13. If you watch enough TV you'll quickly see how the devil has deceived the world. Almost everyone is trying to tell us how to think and those who dare to question something are ignored, silenced, mocked, or worse. When I watch most news reports I feel like the journalists are trying to make some people look good and others look bad, and promote their own opinions and worldly agendas. They exchange the whole truth for half-truths and I fear that many of us can be too gullible sometimes and swallow the "information" without questioning it. "The media is SOOOOOOOOO slanted, if they were a mountain and someone tried to skii down it they would fall to their death!" The devil doesn't stop here, though, and continues to attack the world with various distractions (such as video games and celebrity gossip), and compromises with things like questionable entertainment. Have you ever seen shows like the Simpsons, Family Guy, or South Park? I admit that I've seen a few. We make an excuse that we just watch them because they're funny, and then we let our minds fill up with trash. The more we know God's Word the more we'll be aware of the devil's lies. Sorry I spent so much time on this one topic but I have a passion for truth and want everyone to find it.
14. I don't know if this fits with the rest of what I have been saying but I didn't want to wait for a better opportunity. Do you know one of the things that I love about the Gospel? That it's unthinkable. Think about it. Every other religion usually makes "sense" for the most part, but Christianity doesn't. Let's go over the main points that most of us should believe. God not only existed before time but also created time. (Scientists can complain that it isn't scientific but seem to forget that humans can never understand everything and ust because something doesn't sound scientific doesn't mean it's not) He created the entire universe by SPEAKING it into existence. God is three persons--Father, Son, and Holy Ghost--yet He's one at the same time. God created us because He LOVES us; He is a God of love and not indifference or hate. Since mankind rebelled against God, He gave His Son to become human LIKE US and DIE FOR US to RESCUE US. Then the Holy Spirit brought Him back to life, He preached to the souls in Hell, rose back into Heaven, and we believe that one day He will return. The world will some day be destroyed and then rebuilt to the way it should be. Many Christians consider Christianity to be not a religion but a relationship with God through His Son. Now who could think up stuff as crazy as that? Could anyone guess that God could love us that much to do the unthinkable and impossible? We could easily belive that we need to be perfect and without sin, but... for Him to do it for us? No way! Yes way. That's how God uses the foolish things on the world to confound the wise. It sounds ridiculous, impossible, unusual, unorthodox, and too good to be true... but it is. (And I have to laugh when I think about what terrorists hope to receive after they die. Young virgin women? How unoriginal and carnal-minded! What if someone heard wrong and they're actually old virgin women! Wouldn't that be an unpleasant surprise?)
15. Finally, there's a small fact we need to remember all the time, and I often forget this: we don't deserve God's love! We don't! Sometimes we may hear the story of Jesus' death and resurrection so many times that we forget that Jesus didn't have to come and die for us. He didn't come to save us because we deserved it, but because of amazing, unthinkable love. When mankind disobeyed God's plain and simple instructions because they thought He was holding back from them, He didn't say "Well, sorry, but I warned you. You're on your own now. Good luck." He ran to us, guided (and still guides) His people through history, and instructed them in the truth so many times you'd think they (and we) would remember. And we also don't deserve all of the wonderful blessings He gives either, like our family, friends, home, food, clothes, and more. This realization really makes me more humble and grateful for His mercy and love.
16. So let us work to think right by changing the way we think with God's help. Let us chase after wisdom like an attractive, fast-running man/woman (or speeding ice cream truck if you prefer). Let us learn more about as much as we can. Let us question everything, including everything we think we know for sure. Let us remember everything that God has done for us and promised to do, and who He is and who we are. Let us not be afraid to ask for advice, especially from our wise Father. A sharp, focused mind, a surrendered heart, and a trusting and obediant soul in the hands of God are very powerful things.
Think on these things.
*Here's a scary fact that I have to share with you. In some places of the world people have uncovered skeletons of humans up to 36 feet tall with skulls over 5 times the size of an average human!!! I don't know for sure if these are real or not (maybe the skeletons were constructed or the pictures were doctored) but if you go to youtube, search for nephilim, and see for yourself you might be dumbfounded like I was. Again, I don't want to spread paranoia and wild conspiracies but this is CRAZY stuff.
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