“Mom, you’re different.” Kayla sat on the edge of her bed carefully arranging her stuffed animals as she prepared to snuggle into her blankets for the night.
Smiling, I reached out and tucked a strand of her hair behind her ear, “Sweetie, what do you mean I’m different, different how?”
She paused thoughtfully and then surprised me by throwing her arms around my neck and whispered in her 8-year-old voice, “Mom, you’re still the same Mom I’ve always had … you’re just different. But, it’s okay; you’re still the best Mom ever.” Kissing my cheek as she released my neck, sinking into her pillows she motioned for me to finish tucking her in.
As I turned out her light, her words echoed in my mind. I knew I was different, definitely. God had been working on my heart for a long time. I liked who I was becoming with my new outlook and felt excited about where God was leading. Walking through the rest of the house locking doors and closing blinds, I reflected on how God was moving in me. New truths about my values, and my passion had pointed me to a new way of being that ushered in a fresh feeling of freedom and contentment.
What are your values?
God created each of us with our own God-given design. These values are the foundation upon which we build our lives. Things like, living with integrity, honesty, respect, and loyalty are the basis of a value system that serves to empower us to steward our lives well. Recognizing the values He instills within us allows us to live with clarity and purpose. Knowing our values gives us the ability to partner with the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV),
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
By trusting in this promise and standing firmly upon our values, we can release ourselves from the world’s expectations of being someone we are not and instead believe the truth of who we are in Christ.
What is your passion?
Discovering our passion begins with God and it’s through this relationship that we can become a person of influence. Operating in our passion makes everything bright, meaningful, and filled with purpose. Passion is what gives us the energy to dream the impossible, believing it is possible. My passion is to encourage others to be who God intended, helping others to fulfill their potential for greatness. This passion was placed in my heart by God, just like your passion is waiting to be unlocked. Ask yourself, “Who is God calling me to serve?” And then ask God to break through the lie that says you can’t do it and instead embrace the truth of Philippians 4:13 that states so clearly that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.
A new way of being…
It takes courage to admit when we aren’t content and it feels risky to appeal to God for a new way of being. At the beginning of my own transformation, I was anything but happy and desperately wanted change. I was counseled, coached, mentored, and studied the word searching for the truth of who I was and who God intended me to be. I discovered that Christ calls each of us to seek Him because He wants to be our new way of being. Scripture says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT),
“Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun.”
Now, the words “You’re different Mom,” are words that fill me with the affirming truth of being in a transformational relationship with Jesus. The old has gone, the new has come. Will you let Him transform you?
How Are Your Thoughts?
by Anna Kuta, crosswalk.com
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue, and if there is anything praiseworthy, meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
We’ve all heard the phrase “Garbage in, garbage out” – it’s a statement that originated in reference to computer input and output but is now often applied to other areas of life. I, for one, heard it countless times growing up when it came to healthy food versus junk food, and I’m sure you’ve heard it used to refer to something along similar lines.
And as I was reading today’s verse a few days ago, I realized Paul is using the same principle here in reference to our minds. In instructing the Philippians about how to live godly lives, he includes this verse about what they should be thinking about and focusing on. Whatever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, praiseworthy – this is what he tells them to meditate on. “The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you,” he goes on in verse 9.
As Christians, our aim is to live a life pleasing and obedient to God. Our Christian lives should show a pattern of growth and sanctification – becoming more like Jesus and less like the sinful people we were before. But before our actions can line up with Jesus, our minds and hearts have to. Do we expect to live lives reflecting of Him if our minds are focused elsewhere, on sinful things? No, our minds should focus on godly things – things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy. Godliness in, godliness out.
Obviously, there are many terrible things in the world that we cannot escape – and indeed we as Christians are called to be in the world but not of it – but that just means it’s especially crucial to keep our minds focused on things that mirror and reflect God’s nature and goodness. It actually goes further than just our thoughts – it means guarding our thoughts as well: being careful just what we willingly let in to our minds and hearts. As Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”
No, I may not have any control over things I see and hear in the world on a daily basis, but I can choose what I decide to fill my mind with on my own time. The music I listen to, the books I read, the conversations I take part in, the movies and TV shows I choose to watch – are they things that will help my thoughts have the characteristics Paul talks about in today’s verse? If not, I truly need to reevaluate what I am feeding my mind.
And, of course, when in doubt, we all should remember that there is no better true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous and praiseworthy thing to meditate on than the word of God itself.
“You have rejected us and disgraced us … You have made us like sheep for slaughter and have scattered us among the nations … You have made us … a laughingstock.” – Psalm 44:9-14 ESV
The psalmist could not understand why his people could not find solutions for their challenges. From his perspective, they had not abandoned their faith in God. As far as he could tell, they trusted Him and tried to obey His Word.
He would understand these results if they had forgotten God or served idols, but, in his mind, they had “not been false to [His] covenant” (v. 17). They had not departed from His ways and realized that God knew everything about them, even “the secrets of the heart” (v. 21).
Yet problems continued and nothing seemed to make a difference. They felt like God had forgotten them.
Even though puzzled, the psalmist refused to compromise or give up. Instead, he sought God with renewed urgency: “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love” (v. 26).
Many psalms deal with this theme. People experience problems. They act in ways that would seem to please God. Yet He doesn’t seem to answer their prayers.
The message? All of us face various types of challenges. But the Bible assures us that the presence of problems does not mean that God has forgotten or abandoned us. Instead, we are to seek Him with renewed intensity. Continue obeying His Word. Confirm our trust in Him. Be confident that ultimately He will rescue us and reward us if we stay faithful.
In all our attempts to know God, we must face the fact that ultimately He is beyond our understanding. From our perspective, His attributes may seem at odds with each other. For instance, He is a God of vengeance (Psalm 94:1) who will judge the earth (Psalm 98:9), but He is also described as compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth (Ex. 34:6). God in His utter perfection is all of these things—without any contradiction at all.
The Lord will judge unrepentant sinners, yet He is gracious to all who trust in His Son for forgiveness and salvation. Grace is His goodness and kindness lavished upon everyone who receives it. It’s totally undeserved because there is nothing we can do to make ourselves acceptable to Him. And on the other hand, we can do nothing to separate ourselves from His grace. This is God’s gift to believers in Christ, and it can never be taken away from us.
We were saved by grace, are sustained by it every day of our Christian life, and will be recipients of the surpassing riches of divine grace for all eternity. What an amazing gift from our Father!