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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Let's stop, shall we?

I saw this little "hit like if you agree" post on Facebook the other day.  It wasn't credited to anyone, so I don't know who to give credit to, but here is what it said:
5 Things We All Need to Quit Right Now - 
1. Trying to please everyone
2. Fearing change
3. Living the past
4. Putting yourself down
5. Overthinking
Now, this isn't bad advice at all, but for most of those who read the list, we will willingly type "yes" or hit the "share" button, but really stopping those things once and for all in our lives is another matter!  To break this down a little, I would like to give us a scriptural perspective on each one of these - 

1. Trying to please everyone:  Do you think I care about the approval of men or about the approval of God? Do you think I am on a mission to please people? If I am still spinning my wheels trying to please men, then there is no way I can be a servant of the Anointed One, the Liberating King. (Galatians 1:10 VOICE)  We spend way too much time trying to please everyone and probably a whole lot less time trying to please God.  Somehow we have equated "being all things to all men" as though it meant we had to bend over backwards to accommodate their every whim, agree with all their plans, and allow all their nuances without any regard to how those things line up with what God desires for his servants!  The truth of the matter is that God asks us to allow the fruit of the Spirit to begin to transform our lives, allowing the production of unconditional love, joy, peace, patience, kindheartedness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control to permeate every relationship (Galatians 5:22-23).  It isn't that we "unconditionally" accept or agree with each other - it is that we allow unconditional love to be revealed in our actions toward those we disagree with!

2 & 3. Fearing change - Living the past:   Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete. (Romans 12:2 VOICE)  Change is just going to happen - fearing it will paralyze us and keep us fixed in the past.  We are "molded" by what we fix our attention or focus upon - be it something in front of us, or that which nips at our heals demanding our constant refocus on the past.  Change which is not "dreadful", but may be a little uncomfortable, is that which comes from the inside out.  Scripture doesn't promise change will be easy or even that it will always come out the way we want it - but it does promise that when we embrace the change God brings, we begin to discern God's will and the things he sees as good, pleasing, and which actually work toward something we all long for - to be "complete" in life.

4. Putting yourself down:  Because of the grace allotted to me, I can respectfully tell you not to think of yourselves as being more important than you are; devote your minds to sound judgment since God has assigned to each of us a measure of faith.  (Romans 12:3 VOICE) While scripture does tell us not to think of ourselves as being more important than we are, it might just do us well to realize just who it is we are.  As a child of God, adopted into his family, given his seal of adoption through his Spirit, we are his forever.  That makes us pretty special, but it doesn't mean we become puffed up and arrogant about it, either.  On the other hand, what allows this adoption isn't any action on our part - but rather that of grace being "allotted" to each of us.  Each of us is uniquely created by the hand of God, in the image of God.  I wouldn't put God down, so to put what he has created down is just to say to him that his creative ability is kind of flawed!

5. Overthinking:   Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One. (Philippians 4:6-7 VOICE)  When we overthink things, we usually get into that mode in life where we are so anxious about it that we don't take the steps we need to take.  Overthinking is really a sign of misplaced trust - either because we are trusting ourselves too much, or we have placed our trust in another flawed human being who cannot be any better at being faithful than we are!  When we struggle with overthinking, the best antidote is to stop, listen to our thoughts, then promptly turn those thoughts over to God. It isn't easy, because our brains want to re-churn that butter a million times.  Guess what? Butter doesn't become any more "butter" than when it was first churned!  We need someone to give us the right perspective - and that comes as we turn what we have churned over to God!  Just sayin!