A Personal Pep-Talk from the Pages of my Journal

I had to give myself a pep-talk yesterday. In a matter of days, I had gone from a moment of great victory to the depths of defeat — but only in my mind. I was certain that I had no one who cared for me and no purpose in my life in this country. Saying it now, it feels so silly.

Tears stung my eyes as I walked home from dropping my son off at pre-school. I already feel like the crazy foreigner when I’m not balling my eyes out while walking down the road, so I tried to keep my composure until I reached my gate.  I retreated to my room with my Bible, notebook, and pen. I picked up where I left off in Philippians, and I came to chapter 4. I’ve read it countless times, but I knew I needed its truth in a new way. I paraphrased it into a motivational speech for myself.

I imagine I’m not the only one who needs to hear it today, so I share it with you now — prayerfully, as it feels so raw and personal. I trust this vulnerability is not in vain, and this message will reach someone who will benefit from it today.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

First of all, God grabbed me with this — God is all about granting me His peace, but I have a part in maintaining it with prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving. I have to hold onto Him with all I’ve got when the darkness creeps in and the enemy claims territory in my mind. My focus must remain on Christ as I trust Him to transform my thinking.

I ask Him to change things according to His will, but first I ask Him to change me. In order to facilitate this change, I must order my thoughts according to the truths of Scripture. Guidance for this step of this transformative process comes in the next verse:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.


6 Things to Think about when I Need God’s Peace

When I need God’s peace, I think on things that are…
True

Think about God (duh!). Think on the precious truths of His Word which say you are loved and accepted in spite of you. Your God is good and loves you perfectly. Absolutely nothing changes that.

Honest

Think about the brevity of life in a way that frees you from bondage to the present. Live in light of eternity, saying “no” to the things that feed your flesh and “yes” to the things that build the kingdom of God.

Just

Think of your holy, perfect God and how He empowers you to be like Him on a small scale. Surely, this is an enormous gift. Steward it by striving to be like Him in every way you can.

Pure

Think of how you have been made pure, and live like the righteous being you have been made to be. Refuse to let the world mar our muddy your re-made reputation.

Lovely

Think always on Jesus and on His sacrifice at Calvary. Dwell on the precious gifts He gives each day.

Good Report

Think about what’s good about this day and this moment. Choose to see it in every situation and believe the best about others. 

Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.

Finally…

Do what you know to do and leave the rest in the capable hands of Christ. Let His peace rule in your heart and dictate your steps. Change your stinking thinking and be conformed to the image of Christ. It’s all good.


And that was it. Simple enough but stirring, too. It wasn’t an immediate fix but rather a goal for which I must keep striving. The tears continued to fall, and I cried out to the Lord who knows and understands my heart better than I do. I asked Him to change things, but even more, I asked Him to change me.

Today, I am running my thoughts through the Scriptural filter of Philippians 4 and recognizing these unwelcome words for what they are — lies. Today, I am certain I am cared for, and my purpose is renewed.

All thanks to a little pep-talk I didn’t want to hear but knew I needed. Sure beats a pity-party.

 

Emotional Highs and Lows of Church Planting

Sometimes it all feels like a little too much. One week, we are riding the high of a baptism and high attendance. The next week, not one of our faithfuls are there, and we are wondering what we did to scare them all off. To say church planting is an emotional roller coaster is an understatement. Unless, maybe, we’re comparing it to the recurring dream I have where I’m riding the Vortex at Kings Island Amusement Park, and my restraint won’t stay down leaving me tethered only by my frail arms to this life I’d like to keep living. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

I have written before about the burden church planters carry being a heavy one. Undoubtedly, the dream of a church planting family is to see souls saved, lives changed, and men and women called into the ministry. When I get a taste of this sweet success followed closely by bitter disappointment,  it’s tempting to stop trying all together. To say to my family, “Pack it up, guys, we’re going home!” Because it’s so stinking easy to jump right from a joyous peak to the depths of despair when I am looking only at the present situations at hand.

Philippians 4:6-7 provides some advice for handling these moments before I take that plunge…

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

 

It has been said by some that the Bible is just a collection of ‘Dos and Do Nots.’ In the case of this excerpt of scriptural wisdom, that is true. I, for one, am grateful for this guide printed in plain terms for me. Certainly, it’s for my benefit.

DO NOT be anxious.
DO be thankful for what He has done.
DO ask God for more.
DO trust Him to do the rest.

 

I wish the rest meant this whole country receiving the Gospel. However, the rest is a Christ-centered, God given perspective that mirrors more of His heart than my vain ambitions and gets me off this crazy train of emotions. To me, this seems potentially more challenging than evangelizing a nation because my emotions tend to run the show. The possibility passes my understanding, but it’s true that Christ wants to give me peace as I follow Him. Rather than being an unwilling passenger, I can be an active participant in the continual renewing of my mind that leads to that peaceful place where Jesus works, and I just stand in awe of Him. Everything beyond that is just bonus.

What kind of emotional ups and downs are you riding today?

Share with me in the comment section below how God is working in your life.

 

A “Thank You” That Means Something

Day 11, Five Minute Prompt: THANKS

The Didi at the coffee shop giggles and mocks me when I thank her for my caramel latte. The taxi driver shrugs his shoulders when I hop out of his taxi with a cheerful Dhanyavaad and the handful of bills he required. Even my neighbors visibly signal their dislike for my habit of voicing gratitude. After all, aren’t neighbors supposed to look after each other?

Saying “thank you” for every little tiny thing is largely an aspect of American culture. Many times A few times, I have laughed at myself for thanking the officer who so generously gave me a speeding ticket.

In my excessive expressing of gratitude, however, the phrase has lost its meaning. I thank my husband for passing the milk, but so rarely do I say “Thank you for paying the electricity bill” (which is no small feat here) or “Thank you for helping our daughter learn to read.”

Even less do I say, “Thank you for making time for our family, or “Thank you for your faithfulness to me.” Every day, meaningless thanks roll off my tongue but the taste of these words is new and strange.

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I think of the times I have felt overworked and under appreciated after a 12 hour shift with life-sucking toddlers. Arms around my waist and a “thank you” whispered in my ear turn me from stiff and sour to putty in his hands. I leave the work undone to melt into my husband’s side and wind down the day with too many words exchanged on a juice-splattered sofa.

Living the Golden Rule, I express gratitude for the sacrifices he makes. He is constantly balancing the pressures of work/ministry/family. I see his shoulders relax. As a man who relentlessly strives to excel in all areas, he needs reassurance that he’s the only one that thinks he’s dropping the ball.

Sure, he has responsibilities, and he is man enough to do them without a pat on the back. We are family, and appreciation goes without saying. But why should it?

Has “Thank You” lost its meaning in your marriage?
In what special way can you express gratitude to your spouse today?

Talk to me in the comment section!