A Season of Silence: Experiencing God’s Peace

“Silence is the perfectest herald of joy: I were but little happy, if I could say how much.” -William Shakespeare Much Ado About Nothing

Words have been hard for me lately. Silence is easier. I wasn’t so full of joy I could not share like Claudio in the above quote. The big emotions – all of them – silenced me.

Joy in family and work (I now have a full-time job) and church.

Grief as I let go of things I love and trips I planned to take for my foot health.

Excitement as I try new things.

Inadequacy as everything is different in this season.

Frustration over many customer service issues that were poorly handled.

Mixed-up crazy of parenting three wonderfully human kids.

And there in the midst of my van being in the shop for three weeks, a boot on my foot for over four months, kids being kids, and the learning curve of my new job staring me in the face…there – in the beautiful mixed-up crazy, joyful, grieving, loving, bickering, imperfect of it all – was my Savior, Jesus. And He always brings peace, the kind that passes understanding.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 ESV

And His peace kept me quiet. His peace filtered through my big emotions – the joy and love, sorrow and grief. His peace softened my heart to enjoy the love and revel in the joy God gave. His peace silenced the storms of anger and heartbreak. The anger and heartbreak did not go anywhere. He just silenced the damage that the anger and heartbreak can wreak. His peace protected my heart from the lies of inadequacy. I still do not know all I need to know, but I am learning, getting better, growing.

So silence resounded in my heart and mind; silence that marked crazy emotional lows buffered by the peace of Jesus and silence that marked the joy and love enlivened by the peace of my Savior.

And while silence was appropriate for my most recent season, today I put on matching shoes (the first time in over four months). It is time for a new season. A season where Christ’s peace still protects and nurtures me, but one no longer marked by silence.

So here I am trying to blog again…Trying to share what God is teaching me. Trying to rethink my thinking in light of God’s Word so I can live transformed.

Care to join me?

Angela

What to Think: How to Boss Around Your Mind

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 ESV

God cares about what we think. In fact, He gives us a list of the types of things He wants us to think about. So, it makes sense that we can use this list as a filter for what we are thinking.

  1. True: God wants to make sure what we think about is true. So we must test our “truths” against God’s Word. We are told to “follow your heart,” but God wants us to follow Him. “Believe in yourself,” but God wants us to believe in Him.
  2. Honorable: If we cannot say it out loud in the middle of a church about a pastor’s wife, we should not dwell on it. Instead we need to focus on the things that bring glory and honor to God.
  3. Just: Are our thought fair? Or are we blowing a circumstance out of proportion because we are hurt? Or are we skewing the situation to make ourselves look good? We must ask God to help us think justly.
  4. Pure: Is there even a hint of nasty in our thoughts. Are we entertaining impure sexual fantasies? Are we focusing on gossip or slander?
  5. Lovely: Do my thoughts lighten the heart, encourage me to do kind things for others? Do my thoughts make it easier for me to rely on the Holy Spirit so I can please God?
  6. Commendable: Do my thoughts encourage me to help others? Do they increase my desire to draw closer to Jesus and please Him more?
  7. Excellent: Are my thoughts valuable to myself and others? Do they challenge me to live a holy life through the power of the Holy Spirit?
  8. Worthy of Praise: Would God, knowing our thoughts, say, “well done. I not only approve what you are thinking, but I applaud it?” If not, then we need to refocus our thoughts.

Sometimes our minds will run a bit wild, but we can be the boss of our thoughts. The key is to filter our thought focus through this verse.

May our thoughts bring glory and honor to God. May they encourage us to love God and others well. All for God’s glory and honor!

Angela

Mind Your Mind: Joining the Battle for Joy

This past weekend I had the privilege of leading two break-out sessions at Arkansas Baptist Women’s Inspire Conference. What a blessing it was to see about 900 women from all over Arkansas gather together to receive encouragement, correction, refreshment, and learn to fall more in love with Jesus.

The session I led was called Changing Your Mind: How to Radiate Joy. By God’s grace and a few women willing to sit on the floor, I spoke to about 275 women total. We discussed what joy really is and how our thought life can either cloud the joy we have in God our help us keep our eyes focused on God.

Today I want to share a bit more about the battle we enter with God when we choose to wrestle our thoughts into obedience with God.

The following verse was written by Paul to the Corinthian church. He knows about some poor behavior in the church and he doesn’t want to have to confront it in person. He begins by reminding the church that though we walk in the flesh we wage war with weapons of divine power. Then he says:

 “We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…” 2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV

These are fighting words. It takes work to destroy arguments and opinions. And to take something captive so it will obey Christ? That is some serious wrestling. The problem is that we rarely pay attention to what we are thinking. There is a tape running in our heads. One that is fed by what we look at, what we read, what we listen to, what we watch. And this tape of thought is often filled with lies and half-truths. Good-sounding wisdom from the world like “follow your heart” or “believe in yourself.” When God wants us to follow His voice and believe in Him! Our thoughts tell us that if only we had the right job, relationship, car, purse, house, whatever that we would have joy. But David wrote in the Psalms:

You [LORD] make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV

So we must do battle to bring our thoughts captive to Christ’s obedience; to remember that our fullest joy comes in God’s presence. Since His Spirit dwells in us, we should have no problem being in God’s presence!

So how do we do this battle?

We pray God helps us pay attention to our wandering mind.

We tell our thoughts the truth.

We remind ourselves that even when we cannot feel it God’s presence brings joy. We tell ourselves joy from anything else will not last.

We ask God to help us experience the joy of His presence.

By His power we can break away from the strongholds in our minds that keep us far from God and the joy of His presence.

So today take some time to evaluate you thoughts. Sift them through the truth of God’s Word, keep what is pure and holy, throw out what is rubbish, and begin to battle for the joy of the LORD!

Angela

The Hope that Does Not Disappoint

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV

Hope. We long for it and fear it. We excitedly soar on the wings of possibility only to crash to the ground when what we expected or hoped did not happen.

But God promises a hope that will not end in a spectacular crash, a hope that will does not put us to shame.

This hope is not some pie in the sky, dream. It is hard won on the battlefield of suffering, endurance, and proven character. It is hope that God is near, in us, with us, working around us. The God who created the stars in the sky and holds the universe together in all its intricacies, He is near enough to work things out according to His perfect plan and purpose.

His nearness changes everything. It provides light in darkness, direction in confusion, and possibility in seemingly impossible situations. In those dark places He whispers encouragement and correction, we only need to listen. This hope comes as our character is forged in the fires of suffering. It is a hope stronger than steel, purer than silver, and certain because we know the God who promised is faithful.

So when darkness covers all we can see, we get to decide. Will we keep searching for the light, knowing God’s light is coming? Will we cling to the hope that God’s ways are best, He has plans for our good and His glory? Or will we place our hope in things that disappoint? Will we boss around our emotions and our minds? Or will we let our fear and worry steal our joy and hope?

Our God is able, He is strong, He owns everything so He can do anything. And when He choses not to do something, we have to trust His ways are best when our hope is in Him.

Father God, help us to choose to hope in You. Help us to see how you are working and trust that Your ways are best even when we do not understand. May we remember Your promises and Your plans so we remember our hope will never put us to shame. In Jesus’ Name we pray. Amen.

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Angela