A Truth-Filled Heart

On Monday, I talked about living in victory. On Tuesday, I spent the day swimming in uncertainty. Perhaps God wanted to cushion today’s post with compassion. Emotions and our thought processes are very closely tied and although we are commanded to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, it’s not always easy.

I’ve struggled with wayward thoughts my entire life. Discouragement, fear, frustration…numerous other emotions, all begin in my head. And once I let that first thought take hold, I feed it, and work it, strengthening it with one negative thought after another until it balloons. I think this is a constant battle. Truth tells us God is in control. Truth tells us God’s ways are always best even when we don’t understand. Truth tells us this life on earth is fleeting and our true home lies in heaven. Truth tells us we belong to Christ and have been purchased at a high price.

Quite honestly, I am struggling today. A friend is sick, and it has reminded me how incredibly fleeting life is. The Bible tells us tomorrow is promised to no one, yet how rarely does that truth sink in. And yet, when the reality of mortality hits, so many things become inconsequential.

Today I am focusing on Philipians 4:6-8 as I diligently put into practice 2 Corinthians 10:5 which tells me to demolish every argument that sets itself up against the knowledge of God and to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. 

Philipians 4:6-8

6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, 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.

 I will pray with thanksgiving, reminding myself of all the times and ways God has shown up in the past. I will focus on who He is–Creator, Redemer, Sustainer, Comforter, Prince of Peace, Almighty Father. When I remember what He has done in the past and meditate on His incomprehensible love and power, anxious thoughts diminish. My concerns are placed in a “bigger picture” perspective. Then, I will lay my concerns in His hands, knowing that He is sovereign,  loving and all-knowing.

The final verse is one I like to repeat outloud when I pray, (4:8) especially when my thoughts attempt to run amuck.

“Lord, You are lovely. You are pure. You are honorable and worthy of respect.”

In Tony Evans, Free at Last, he gives an illustration of a driver stuck in traffic attempting to find his way out by craning his neck to see around the long line of cars. As I read, I was reminded of the years we spent in Souther California. If you’ve ever lived in the Los Angeles area, you know how frustrating rush hour traffic can be. You’ll do anything to avoid it, even if that means hanging out down town until eight or nine, when the bumper to bumper crawl finally ends.

Amidst the chaos, how many of us would turn to a fellow driver, moving beside us at a five mile an hour crawl, to ask for guidance? Their vision is equally blocked. All they can see is the mass of cars all around them. And it wouldn’t do any good to look behind us, either. Instead, we turn on the radio in search of the helicopter update–news from one who is above it all and can clearly see.

God is our helicopter view. Most of the time our view will be distorted by the massive traffic jam all around us. And this is why we walk by faith, not by sight, trusting in the unwavering, unfailing love of God.

And before I leave, I ask that you pray for my friend and her family, for peace, an overwhelming sense of God’s love, strength and healing. I spoke with her on Monday night and rejoiced in the extreme peace God had given her. God is holding her tightly and pouring His love through her. His love is never-ending, never-failing.

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A Glimpse of Beauty by Sheila Hollinghead

Sometimes I spend so much time focused on the day-to-day, I lose sight of those tender little “kisses from God” He sprinkles throughout my day. Which is what I would call Sheila’s deer sighting. You might not like my term, but the Bible tells us that creation reveals God’s divine nature. God speaks to us day in and day out, in a gentle breeze that tickles our cheek, reminding us to pause to pray. In a night sky filled with twinkling stars that remind us of His infinite wisdom and power. In a tender fawn, prancing through the meadow, reminding us of God’s tender heart. God is there, all around us, always with us. The question is, will we draw near the Creator or remain content to admire His creation? Perhaps this week you can find time to admire a night sky or watch the sun explode across the horizon. As you do, stop and think of the Creator, and turn that admiration into an opportunity for praise. May every sunrise and sunset, every flake of snow, every blade of grass, draw your heart to the Creator in a fresh, authentic way.

The following article was first posted on Sheila Hollinghead’s blog, Clearing Skies, on November 10th, 2010. (The post she has up today is also worth reading.)

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We drove the busy highway by our home on Sunday and twin fawns lay by the side of the road, eyes intent on the passing traffic. In fear for their safety, Carl turned the car around and we drove closer to them, hoping we would scare them away from the highway. They stood on wobbly, long legs and moved a few feet away. But they did so with an awkward grace, not in fear.

Eyes wide, large ears erect, fur still dotted with white spots, they stared at us as we stared at them. No camera in the car to capture their beauty—a beauty to be short-lived if they remained by the highway. Carl drove by them one more time and they moved a short way into the woods, their mother nowhere to be seen.

Had she already crossed the highway and her fawns were too afraid to follow her? Was she still hiding somewhere in the woods? Had some hunter left the fawns motherless? Carl believed the mother crossed the highway and waited out of sight. With our good intentions, did we make it more difficult for the family to reunite? Or had we saved the fawns from death?

We will never know. I do know we glimpsed the beauty of God’s creation, as we do every day when we open our eyes.  We live on a farm with a pond about a hundred feet away from our front door and are surrounded by the artistry of God, but, like a museum guard at the Louvre, are desensitized to it all. Unless we make a conscious effort to actually see.

And some days I do. I open my eyes to the beauty of hay bales scattered across our field and to the beauty of a hawk circling above and to the beauty of the crescent remnant of the harvest moon in the blue sky, hung above the trees that line the hayfield.

Hay bales, dead grass rolled up to provide sustenance to livestock; the hawk, a presager of death; the crescent, the disappearing moon, and yet, in all, a beauty.

The browning grass will green next year. The hawk will soar ever higher. The waning moon will vanish but to reappear.

By our faith we know these things will come to pass if God so wills. Our faith gives us a glimpse of beauty even in death.

And for that I am thankful.

Psalm 19:1-4 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.

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Sheila has a B.S. in biology from Alabama’s Troy University and did post-graduate work at Auburn University and Columbus College. At Southern Junior High in Columbus, Georgia, she taught middle-school science for five years. After moving to Opp, Alabama, she continued teaching science and math for fourteen more years at Fleeta Junior High. In 1995 she retired and has since devoted much of her time to the study of the Bible and to her writing. Her blog is the inspirational Clearing Skies.

I am going to close with one final thought. God reveals Himself through creation and His Word, the Bible. He does this so that men would seek Him, and He has promised that if we seek Him, if we truly want to know Him, He will come to us. His greatest longing is to be our dearest friend. Creation is a beautiful gift intended to draw our heart to the ultimate gift giver. If you do not know Jesus Christ as your Redeemer, if you have never experienced the freedom of authentic love that penetrates to your very core, turn to Him today.

Responding to God

You can also listen to a great radio drama about a man named Nicodemus who met the Savior face to face. (Click on “Series One” then the orange sound symbol at the end of “Nicodemus–The man who came at night.”

As always, feel free to shoot me an email with any questions. I’d love to talk and pray with you, anytime. jenniferaslattery@gmail.com

And remember, if you like this post and think it should make it in the top three of 2010, leave a comment, fb share it, “like” it, or tweet it and at the end of the month, I’ll tally all tweets, shares, likes and comments and will reveal the top three. (My comments and author responses do not count.)