CHANGE THE CHANNEL

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CHANNEL MIND
Casting
down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:5 KJV

Hello My Dear Friends!  Forgive me for being so long away from my post.  (Pun definitely intended!)  I have no real excuse.  At times I can be a master of procrastination and sometimes for prolonged periods of time.  It’s kind of like the beautiful fruit tree blooming in my front yard.  I looked out the other day and it was covered with butterflies!  But when I got close to them to take a picture, they all flitted away.   Similarly all of these lovely thoughts bloom in my mind just longing to be immortalized on the written page.  But like the elusive butterflies, when I get close to accomplishing my goal, the discipline to carry it out seems to flit away as the menial tasks of the day take over.  But not today!  Today I want to capture the thoughts and just like those butterflies, milk the nectar from each bloom and share it with you.

I have Sirius Radio in my car and I love it!  It is commercial free and I can listen to my preference in music 24/7 if I like.  I choose to listen to the Escape channel, which is easy listening music, mostly instrumental.  I find it to be so soothing after a long day at work. But I have discovered that not everyone agrees with my choice.  As soon as my daughter gets in the car her first priority is to change the channel.  Okay, I get it!  She is from a totally different generation.  Then the other day a friend drove my car and upon returning the keys said, “I changed your radio station.  You’ll have to change it back.”  My thoughts were, “How could anyone not like that type of music!  What is wrong with these people!”  But you know what…I had absolutely no problem changing the station back to the music I enjoy.  It is my prerogative.

I liken this illustration to the channels of thought we allow to play in our mind.  The human brain produces approximately 70,000 thoughts in an average day. There are 86,400 seconds in a 24 hour day. That means we have a different thought every 1.2 seconds.  Wow!  That’s incredible, but believable!  Sometimes I think my brain is working triple-time.  When I speak, my speech is halting because I have so many thoughts in my head I can’t decide which one to say first!  I have to discipline myself to stop, regroup, then proceed.

But we don’t always think about things that are mentally, emotionally or spiritually healthy.  And often we don’t think about what we’re thinking about.  We just let our mind tune in to whatever station happens to be on and accept whatever thoughts play in our brain.  We daydream about what might have been or should have been.  We ruminate about mistakes long past and irreversible.  We feel guilty and  beat ourselves up all over again.  Whoa!  Enough of the funeral dirge!  We need to change the channel!!!

In other words, the channel we are tuned to is bringing us down.  Have you every heard anyone refer to “a chain of thought” or “a train of thought”?  That’s because like the links on a chain or the cars on a train, one thought leads to another.  The thought you started out with is followed by many others that may or may not be related.  A train of positive thought can digress to the point of pulling a load of  worry, regret, despair, and defeat.

We have to make ourselves constantly aware of what we’re thinking about in order to do a turn-about.  In other words, when you realize what is happening, change the channel!!!  Reprogram your playlist!  Uncouple those cars to release the negative thoughts and hook up to some positive ones.  Unchain your soul!

Focus on things that will build you up rather tear you down.  Renew your mind with the promises in God’s Word. Philippians 4:8 says, “And now one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.  Think about things that are admirable and worthy of praise.”  The implied subject in this verse is…YOU!  You fix your thoughts.  You think about what is admirable and praiseworthy.  It’s up to you!  If you want to allow those old “somebody done somebody wrong songs” to permeate your mind, be my guest.  But as for me…I’m changing the channel!!!

When depression is trying to overtake you, change the channel to praise!  When lack is trying to fill you with worry, change the channel to replay the times the Lord has graciously supplied your needs.  When someone has treated you badly, change the channel to recall all the wonderful family and friends who support you.  I think you get the picture.  Changing the channel can change your attitude and your life!  Think about what your thinking about and change the channel now!

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, And Happy New Year!

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christmas-tree

There is a season (a time appointed) for everything
and a time for every delight and event or purpose under heaven—
Ecclesiastes 3:1 AMP

This is the season of falling leaves and bare trees…when most things green lose their vibrant colors and morph into dismal browns and grays. Perhaps that’s the reason that the celebration of Halloween is scheduled for this time of year. Halloween with its ghosts, goblins, witches, jack-o-lanterns and all things that pertain to the macabre, is not unlike the dead leaves that cover the ground leaving the trees resembling naked skeletons.

Most Christians don’t celebrate Halloween as such, but have Fall Festivals and Trunk or Treat. The attendees are encouraged to dress as characters that don’t necessarily celebrate the dark side as they go from car to car in the church parking lot receiving candy from the trunks. There are often rides and games and face painting…fun times in a safe atmosphere!

The objects associated with Halloween, however, conjure feelings of fear, darkness and demon spirits. Things of which, we as Christians don’t want to be a part. Therefore we have reinvented its meaning to our children and allow them to participate according to our definition. But as I was thinking about all of this, I had an interesting idea come to mind regarding the connotation of Halloween and its placement in the holiday season.

Following closely behind Halloween on our yearly holiday docket is a lovely event called Thanksgiving! Simply enunciating the word “Thanksgiving”, diametrically opposed to Halloween, evokes feelings of warmth and contentment. My first thoughts are of extended family, turkey and dressing, pumpkin pie and lots and lots of chatter and laughter as everyone catches up on a year’s worth of events in a single day! What a contrast to Halloween and its dismal mental pictures of death and destruction. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to have its story rewritten to allow children to participate. On the contrary, it is an uplifting story of adventure, hardship overcome, cooperation, goodwill and overwhelming thankfulness for overflowing blessings from God. How fitting that it should follow behind Halloween and not precede it!

And next on our list, always anticipated immediately after Thanksgiving is the unprecedented holiday that we wait for all year…Christmas! Christmas…the season of brotherly love, giving, jingling bells, carols and intense shopping. But most importantly, it is the celebration of the ultimate gift to mankind…Jesus Christ the Son of God, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace! All things good are encapsulated in this glorious time of year. Its contagion spreads to those who believe and those who do not. Only those who are absolute in their refusal are not affected by this magical time of year. And for Christians, it brings joy unspeakable, as we remember the origin of our faith and the birth of our Savior as we sing with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men!”

We barely and grudgingly let go of Christmas when another holiday sticks its head around the corner and bids us a “Happy New Year”! We look forward to new, bold beginnings as we jot down or make mental notes of our new year’s resolutions. And although many of us don’t keep all of them in the long run, still hope is instilled as we meditate on the possibilities of changed attitudes, changed body shapes, changed monetary situations and a bright future ahead.

So in summary, you might say that “Halloween”, the Holiday of The Macabre, gives way to “Thanksgiving”, The Holiday of Thankfulness that makes way for “Christmas”, The Holiday of Love that ushers in “New Year’s Eve”, The Holiday of Hope. And as the cycle begins again…we hope on and dream on and live on for another year of celebrations!

WATCH OUT FOR THE SPEED BUMPS

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speed-bump
The temptations in your life are no different
from what others experience.
And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation
to be more
than you can stand. When you are tempted,
He will show you a way out so that you can endure.”
I Corinthians 10:13 NLT)

Life is not a bed of roses…and even if it was, you would still have the thorns! There is light at the end of the tunnel…but still you have to go through the tunnel! Every cloud has a silver lining…but a storm usually precedes its splendor!

I could go on and on with the sayings we’ve heard regarding the difficulties of life. But by this time, you’re probably saying, “Stop! Enough of this twisted optimism.” Indeed it is twisted. Since the time Adam sold his birthright to Satan for the knowledge of good and evil, man has been engaged in the same conflict…physical against spiritual. And unless you have the champion of our faith, Jesus Christ on your side, there is no contest! You lose!

Now when I’m speaking of spiritual, I’m speaking of both good and evil…for both exist in the spiritual realm. Some people aren’t aware of that and believe that spirituality only alludes to good and positive things. Not so! Satan himself is a spirit being and represents the most evil of intentions and inventions. It’s important to know that when bad things happen, he was ultimately the instigator. Never allow yourself to think that God brings bad things into your life. On that subject the Bible says, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God” [for temptation does not originate from God, but from our own flaws]; for God cannot be tempted by [what is] evil, and He Himself tempts no one. (James 1:13 AMP)

For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize and understand our weaknesses and temptations, but One who has been tempted [knowing exactly how it feels to be human] in every respect as we are, yet without [committing any] sin.” (Hebrews 4:15 AMP) “So submit to [the authority of] God. Resist the devil [stand firm against him] and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 AMP)

When we think of temptation, we usually think of the enticement to sin. But you can also be tempted by the adversities of life…tempted to be negative…tempted to give up! “So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials [temptations] for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine.”
(I Peter 1:6-7a NLT)

I was talking with a friend the other day, and something she said gave me a perfect illustration of the unavoidable trials and temptations we face in life. Have you ever been traveling on an unfamiliar street and all of a sudden without any warning, there is a huge speed bump ahead? Before you can brake the car enough to make much of a difference, you are suddenly air-born! Your head hits the top of the car, the kids are squealing, the dog is barking and it takes you a moment to recover!

The speed bumps of life (trials and temptations) can also cause us untold and unexpected trauma. But just as you don’t park the car and say, “I’m never driving again!!!” You don’t stop believing and trusting and running the race. You continue to persevere, holding fast to your faith and confidence that the Lord will bring you through to the light at the end of the tunnel and to the silver lining on the other side of the cloud!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope
without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23 NKJV)

The Only Person Who Likes Change Is A Wet Baby!

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cute-baby
God is our Refuge and Strength
[mighty and impenetrable to temptation],
a very present and well-proved help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change
and though the mountains be shaken
into the midst of the seas.
Psalm 46:1-2 AMP

Okay, My Friends, the seemingly long awaited fall weather is gradually creeping upon us as the summer stealthily steals away behind the falling autumn leaves. Then following close on its heels, impatient to showcase his “Currier and Ives” splendor, Old Man Winter is waiting in the wings. The only way I can face the prospect of his icy blasts is to fast forward to the inevitable return of spring melting him into cascading waterfalls. And so the cycle of change begins and ends and begins all over again.

You surely must know that this poetic expose is leading to a point…the point being, “Change is inevitable.” The only thing that you can be sure will remain unchanged is the process of change itself. (Don’t analyze that too much, it will give you a brain freeze!) I heard someone say, “The only person who likes change is a wet baby!”

But why are we so opposed to change? What’s the big deal? One reason we are so opposed to change is fear of the unknown. We become comfortable with familiar surroundings, sometimes even if they’re unfavorable, and it is very unsettling to step out into the uncertainty of a new environment. Sometimes we effect our own change and sometimes its chosen for us. For instance in job situations or in an unwelcome divorce or when children grow up and leave the nest. These things bring thoughts of instability which produces fear. But God’s Word tells us, For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” (I Timothy 1:7 AMP) When this fear tries to hold us captive, we have to break the chains by standing on God’s Word and trusting that He will help us make the right decisions.

Secondly, there’s what I call the “what if” factor. Oh my, if I had a dollar for all of the “what ifs” I have uttered in my lifetime, I would have quite a sum! What if…this doesn’t work out? Well, what if it does? Would it really be life-changing to the extent of being irreversible if it didn’t work out as you had expected? Isn’t it worth taking a chance when there is a possibility that it may enhance your life and circumstances? Most of the time we obsess over things, becoming stressed and frustrated to the degree that it keeps us from making the best decisions. Just chill, ask the Lord for wisdom and stop trying to figure it all out in your own strength! Enter into His rest and wait for the answer. But just let me clue you in, He’s usually not early in bringing it, but He’s never too late!

Thirdly, there is the “if only” syndrome. If only I hadn’t made that move. If only I hadn’t said that! If only I had done it this way! If only…if only…if only! If onlys can put you in an unrivaled state of depression. Absolutely nothing can be changed by “if onlys”…that is, nothing but your peaceful state of mind. Once you make a decision to change, don’t turn back. Don’t doubt yourself. Don’t start the “if onlys”. If you made a decision to change and it didn’t turn out right, make the decision to change again…and do it with a positive attitude. Remember, just like the weather, change is inevitable whether we like it or not. We can choose to embrace it or resist it, but we definitely can’t ignore it!

MAKE SOME LEMONADE

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LEMONADE
A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.
Proverbs 15:15 MSG

When life gives you lemons…make lemonade!” How many times have you heard that saying? I have heard it most of my life and I’m not really fond of it. Over my lifetime I have made lemonade many times and drank it too…sometimes without sufficient sugar! Yes, life can get tedious at times and even have a sour taste to it. That is when we have to become resourceful…thus, the lemonade! The degree of sweetness depends on our attitude. If our attitude is sour too, there is no hope for lemonade, only juice that is almost impossible to drink!

When you’re squeezing lemons, do you squeeze out only half the juice and throw the rest away? No, of course not! You squeeze and squeeze until you’ve gotten the last drop of mouth-puckering nectar and when you add the sugar, it’s a refreshing concoction that can hardly be rivaled!

And so it is with life. When we’re young and full of life, hopes and dreams and aspirations, lemonade is not even on the menu! We don’t have to squeeze out the good times, they just happen naturally. We just show up and the party begins! As the old (very old!) song goes… “Those were the days, My Friend! We thought they’d never end …” It’s when the years slip by like a sleuth in the shadows that we start to realize that there is only so much juice left in this fruit of life. Oh my!!! What happened?! Where did the years go? I feel like Rip Van Winkle! Did I sleep through most of them? Somebody pinch me! I must be dreaming! Is that ME in the mirror?! No, It can’t be!

At this point we can do one of two things: We can sit down in a rocking chair on the front porch and watch the rest of life pass us by or we can pick up that blooming lemon and squeeze out every last drop of juice! Now I realize that some folks have physical problems and can’t do that, but as long as my gracious Heavenly Father gives me health and strength, that’s exactly what I’m going to do! And I’ll give Him all the glory!2

Perhaps you can’t do that. Maybe you are confined for one reason or another. Can you move your lips? Then you can pray. Pray with all your might…for our government, for the sick, for the oppressed…I could go on and on. When it is your time to stand before the Heavenly Father, don’t let it be said that you gave up. Let it be known that you squeezed that lemon until there was nothing left but a shriveled rind! Do what you can do. Make the difference you can make in the years you have left. Don’t spend them in anxiety or worry about things that have happened, should happen or could happen! Spend them making things happen. Spend them making good things happen for you and for others!

And if you’re still young, don’t say, “Well, this doesn’t apply to me.” Yes, it does! Learn to be wise sooner than I was. Learn to face life without limiting yourself by small thinking. Have faith in God! Know that He made you unique and wonderful! And most of all, know that it’s never too soon OR too late to pursue the dream that God has put in your heart!

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster,
to give you a future and a hope.
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

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SUN . RAIN 2
For he looks throughout the whole earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
He decides how hard the winds should blow
and how much rain should fall.
He made the laws for the rain
and laid out a path for the lightning.
Job 28:24-16

All good things must come to an end…” How many times have we heard that statement. And usually, whether we verbalize it or not, our next thought is, but bad things last forever!  And I must admit, sometimes it seems that way!

The saying, though true in its concept, is not a truth, but a half-truth. All good things must surely come to an end, but so must all bad things. Nothing lasts forever and there is definitely comfort in that fact. Sometimes there are things that we can do to effect the process and sometimes there is not. The only thing we can control in either situation is our attitude.

When the sun is shining on your face and life is good, bask in its rays…exult in its warm embrace. Throw off your cloak of worries, fears and inhibitions and walk barefoot through the lush green meadows of contentment with a song of thanksgiving in your heart!

But what about the times when the dark clouds gather, thunder is heard in the distance and only lightening illuminates your pathway? Those are the times, My Friend, when you put all of your trust in the Lord. In the midst of the storm, you confidently take His strong hand and learn to dance in the rain! Look up to the heavens and whirl and twirl between droplets and be refreshed by those that hit their mark, knowing that it is the rain that makes the flowers grow. And know above all, that the sun is still behind the clouds and will emerge again in all its splendor…if not today, then perhaps tomorrow. But it will surely return with a rainbow announcing its presence!

You must fight the good fight of faith each day no matter what the climate…stay the course and never, never give up! Set your face like a flint in the face of the storm and push through the wind gusts one step at a time…three steps forward, two steps back. It doesn’t matter, you are making progress and that’s what counts. And when the wind subsides and you only feel soft raindrops on your face, begin your dance once again… a dance of joy at God’s faithfulness!

And make a conscious choice to believe another familiar saying… “This too shall pass.” I love this verse from the Bible in Isaiah 43:2-3 NLT. “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.
Psalm 30:5 NLT

IS YOUR “HOPER” BROKEN?

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HOPE REBUILDS

Such things were written in the Scriptures long ago
to teach us.
And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement
as we wait patiently
for God’s promises to be fulfilled.
Romans 15:4 NLT

You may be wondering why I am continuing to write on the subject of Hope after covering it from so many angles. Personally, I feel it’s a subject that cannot be overemphasized. After all, it is the precursor to faith, which is the capstone of those things for which we are hoping. Even the secular world believes in Hope. What is the phrase that we hear most often from people of all cultures, religions and walks of life? “Don’t lose Hope!”

Now if you already have what you’ve been hoping for, you don’t need to hope any longer.  The Bible puts it this way…“We were given this hope when we were saved. (If we already have something, we don’t need to hope for it. But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.)” (Romans 8:25) This particular scripture is referring to the Hope of Jesus second coming. We, as Christians, are still hoping for it because it has not yet manifest. We are waiting patiently and confidently and we must do the same for the other things for which we are hoping.

You may be thinking, “Well, I don’t have what I’ve been hoping for and I’ve been hoping for so long that my “Hoper” is broken! I no longer have any hope.” I once heard a minister say, “If you’ve lost your hope, go to God’s Word and get you some hope!” The grammar is not exactly proper, but the point is well taken. The best place to get Hope is in the infallible Word of God. Look at what the Bible says about God keeping His Word. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:19)   And…I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name.(Psalm 138:2) I know those from the older generation remember being taught that “your word is your bond.” Well, without a doubt, God’s Word is His bond! The Bible tells us that He exalts His Word above His name. (Psalm 138:2)

When depression tries to raise its ugly head in my life and scare Hope into reclusion, I have one recourse and only one. I start to quote God’s promises. And as I do, my fainting Hope is revived and breathes deeply once again!

One of the verses that I have memorized and personalized is Isaiah 41:10. It is usually the first promise that comes out of my mouth when my Hope is compromised. As a matter of fact, I have put it to music and sing it as a chorus. I state it this way…I will not be afraid…You are my God. I will not be dismayed…You are with me. You will strengthen me! You will help me! You will uphold me with the Right Hand of Your Righteousness!”

This is what the Psalmist David said in Psalm 43:11 (The Message Bible). “Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!”

Don’t sit around without any Hope! Proclaim these verses or find others to which you can relate. And now, My Friend, I leave you with this prayer…I pray that God, the source of Hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in Him. Then you will overflow with confident Hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13)