Monday, January 26, 2009

If anything is excellent or praiseworthy...

The final two words describing things we should fix our minds on (Phil. 4:8) are "excellent" and "praiseworthy." These underscore other words on the list - excellent is defined as "extremely good, outstanding" and praiseworthy as "deserving approval or admiration." Taken as a whole, these words paint a picture of a mind focused in such a positive direction - true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy.

I have contemplated these things and studied these words and still find the natural leaning of my mind to be nowhere near this ideal. I'm more inclined (still) to worry, to stew, to think negative thoughts (mostly about myself, which makes me just as self-absorbed as a conceited person).

But in the learning, in the meditation, I can see some progress - a growing awareness of the need to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corintians 2:5). When the worry crops up, if nothing else I can repeat Phil. 4:6-7, present my requests to God - with thanksgiving - and expect His peace, which is beyond my understanding. When a negative thought comes up, I can remind myself to think instead about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

Ultimately, success in this area has less to do with my "ability" to focus my mind and everything to do with the worthiness of the One on whom my mind is fixed.

"You will guard him and keep him
in perfect and constant peace
whose mind is stayed on You,
because he commits himself to You,
leans on You, and hopes confidently in You."
Isaiah 26:3 (Amplified Bible)

Think about such things...

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's tough being a woman...

We interrupt this exhaustive look at Philippians 4:8 to bring you an important message:

Esther: It's Tough Being a Woman
the new Bible study by Beth Moore
will begin this Monday, 6:30 p.m.,
at FBC Wisner in the choir room.

Any and all women are invited, but only if you sometimes have a hard time coping with life, if you're interested in learning your destiny, if you need to know God is there when He's not obvious, if you feel overwhelmed, underprepared, overworked, underappreciated...well, you get the drift. It's for YOU!

Those blog visitors who can't participate in the study can still help out. I'm conducting an informal survey in conjunction with the study and I'm DYING for your input. If you would (and please do), click the comment button below then click on the box below "leave your comment" and jot down three reasons why it's tough being a woman. If you want to remain anonymous, feel free. I plan to share some responses during the course of our study. So come on, express yourself! Get it off your chest! (And please refrain from man-bashing!)

You'll be glad to learn you're not alone!
I love being a woman (tough as it is) and I love YOU!

Whatever is admirable...

Thinking about whatever is admirable..."arousing or deserving respect or approval." Basically, it means thinking about things that are worth thinking about. Synonyms: commendable, praiseworthy, laudable, estimable, exemplary, honorable, worthy, deserving, respectable, worthwhile, good, fine, great...
Many of the things we're admonished by Paul to "think about" have overlapping meanings. The recurrence of the word "good" in either the definition or synonyms of the words reminded me of something Jesse told me when we were dating. I, of course, was a journalism major and word fanatic. Jesse told me farmers had two adjectives: "good" and "very good." We've laughed about that through the years, but really, the more I think about it, good is, well, good. Simple, but profound.
Think about such things...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Whatever is lovely...

In the continuing saga of filling my mind with all things of a Philippians 4:8 nature, I looked up definitions/synonyms of the word lovely...
Lovely: exquisitely beautiful; (informal) pleasant or enjoyable, delightful.
Synonyms include beautiful, attractive, appealing, adorable, exquisite, sweet, charming, enchanting, engaging.
As I contemplated "thinking about such things," it made me wonder. Why is it so easy to replay scenes in our minds that are embarrassing, sad, anger-inducing or mortifying? I know I've relived some of my klutziest moments hundreds of times, along with those (too frequent) instances when I've stuck my entire foot inside my big mouth. Why not work to replay the pleasant memories, the exquisitely beautiful moments we all experience?
Think about such things...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Whatever is pure...

More thoughts on our thought life (Phil. 4:8)
The definition of pure includes the following: not mixed with any other substance or material; without extraneous and unnecessary elements; free of any contamination; wholesome, untainted by immorality; perfectly in tune and with a clear tone.
Synonyms include: uncontaminated, undiluted, unalloyed, sterling, solid, refined, clarified, clear, flawless, perfect, genuine, clean, sparkling, wholesome, natural, healthy, uninfected, virtuous, moral, ethical, good, righteous, honorable, reputable, exemplary, irreproachable, chaste, decent, worthy, noble, blameless, guiltless, guileless, spotless, uncorrupted, undefiled.
For some reason, "guileless" caught my attention. "Guile" is sly or cunning intelligence and it makes me uncomfortable to think about the times I've used God-given intelligence in a sly or deceitful way - to get out of something, to make myself look better than I really am. Yuck. I am sick of that game. I'm trying to keep my feet firmly planted on a path to a completely authentic life - and that has everything to do with the things I fill my mind with. I want my mind to be pure - perfectly in tune, clean, genuine and good.
Think about such things...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Whatever is right...

More thoughts from Philippians 4:8...
Right: morally good, justified, acceptable; true or correct as fact; according to what is correct for a particular situation or thing ("the right way home"); the best or most suitable of a number of possible choices (hmmm).
Also, denoting the side of a person's body which is toward the east when they are facing north. (I'm sorry, this made me laugh out loud! As a directionally-challenged person who often confuses left and right, much less north and south, this cracked me up! I get that this is the most accurate description of "right" vs. "left," but it's just easier for me to check to see what hand my wedding ring is on!)
Correctly, morally just, honorable; goodness, righteousness, virtue; integrity, morality, truth, honesty; honor, justice, fairness.
In the verb tense: to remedy, repair, rectify or mend.
And synonyms: just, fair, proper, good, upright, righteous, virtuous, moral, ethical, honorable, honest, lawful, legal, correct, accurate, exact, precise, proper, valid, suitable, appropriate, fitting, balanced, healthy...
Think about such things...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Whatever is noble...

Continuing on the Philippians 4:8 theme, here are a few definitions and synonyms for noble:
Having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals; imposing or magnificent size or appearance; of excellent or superior quality; a person of noble rank or birth.
Synonyms include aristocratic, high-born, virtuous, good, honorable, upright, decent, worthy, moral, ethical, reputable, magnanimous, unselfish, generous, magnificent, spendid, grand, stately, imposing, dignified, proud, striking, impressive, majestic, awesome, glorious, monumental, statuesque.
I thought it was interesting that a lot of these words suggest something high and lofty. Applied to our thought life, it seems to be an exhortation to take the high road; to avoid descending into negative, base and ugly thoughts. After all, by virtue of our spiritual adoption into God's family, we are of noble rank -- daughters of the King! Our minds should be dedicated to the highest principles and ideals, to all things good!
Think about such things...

Monday, January 19, 2009

Whatever is true...

I've been meditating on Philippians 4:8 quite a bit, and studying specific words within the verse for additional insight and inspiration. In considering the meaning of "...whatever is true..." I've run across some interesting (and convicting!) definitions and synonyms.
For example, definitions include: genuine, real, accurate, exact, exactly in tune, measured relative to true north (hmmmm), correctly positioned, balanced or aligned, level, upright, loyal, faithful, accurately conforming to a standard or expectation, faithful, honest. I want my mind to be correctly positioned, balanced and aligned. I'd like my thought life to be in tune, measured relative to my True North.

Among the synonyms: verifiable, unelaborated, unvarnished. Whoa. I started thinking about how often my mind churns over situations, conversations or relationships that bear no resemblance to the truth by the time I finish stewing over them. Anybody but me?
Other synonyms: genuine, authentic, real, sincere, unfeigned, from the heart, honest, constant, devoted, staunch, unswerving, unwavering, trustworthy.
Think about such things...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Filling our minds with all things good...

Hey y'all! Time for a new Scripture! Okay, well, technically, you have until the 15th of the month to begin, but I'm headed out of town early in the morning and I'm not sure if I'll have computer access for a few days, and I didn't want us to fall behind!!! I'm staying in Philippians 4, just moving to the next verse. It's another one I've been "familiar" with for years, but I'm ready to commit it to memory and looking forward to some meaningful word studies - this is GOOD STUFF! I'd love to hear what you're working on, and if you have any words of encouragement or inspiration about the way God used your first memory project, let me know!
(And if you're interested in an inspirational "tutorial" check out Beth's blog - it takes several minutes to watch, but she's got some really good insight. Just click on the link to her blog at right and scroll down to the "mini tutorial.")

New folks, it's not too late to start - just jump on in, the water is fine! (See Ephesians 5:25-27)
So, here's my scripture for the next two weeks:
Philippians 4:8
"Finally, brothers, 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."

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It will not return empty...

"As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower
and bread for the eater,

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11
I'm finding this to be true of our Scripture memory project. God has already used the Words He planted in my heart to accomplish some much-needed change. When anxiety rises up (and lately it seems to constantly bubble just beneath the surface of my life!), I repeat my passage (usually with hand gestures!) and it brings peace.
I've also pondered definitions of key words in the passage and gained needed insight. I highly recommend it! For example, gentleness is a particular theme that has intrigued me. Not only does it mean kind, mild, tender in temperament or behavior, but the verb means to calm or pacify, to make docile by gentle handling. Hmmm.
Also, guard (as in the peace of God will "guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus") not only means to watch over to keep safe, but to watch over to control entry and exit. I don't know about you, but I'd like for the peace of God to determine what enters and exits my heart and mind!
I hope you're reaping the benefits of hiding God's Word in your heart!