“How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?” April 14

Aside

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way?

Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?

 

Luke 12.1-31:

How Our Thinking Controls Our Emotions

 

Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read a couple of months ago in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things often enough. Verses 29-31:

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What, generally, controls our emotions?

Philippians 4 says:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 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. 

Have you ever prayed and given some situation to God, only to find yourself worried about it a hour later? Why do we find it so hard to leave our troubles with God?

I believe the answer is in verse 8.

When it comes to worry and anxiety, it’s not enough to pray and then go back to thinking about it, trying to figure out how God’s going to solve the issue, or as we often do, fretting about what we should do to fix the problem. We need to change our thinking.

It’s no accident that verse 8 follows 6 and 7. “Finally …” after you’ve prayed about it, “meditate on these things”! Think about them deeply.

What is it we’re to think about deeply?

We’re to focus on what’s true, not the what if’s and maybe’s. We’re to think about the greater truths. It may be true that your husband has lost his job, but the greater truth is that God is your Provider (2 Cor. 9.8; Phil. 4.19).

We’re to think about what’s noble and lovely. Believe the best of others. Don’t see them in the worst possible light. See them as God sees them. And remember no one is too hard for God (Prov. 21.1).

Think of the good, those things for which you can be thankful. Think about how God has taken care of you in the past and how You have seen Him work in the Bible and in the lives of people you know.

2 Corinthians 10.4-5 says:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Notice the words “arguments”, “knowledge” and “thoughts.” These strongholds have to do with our thinking and patterns of thinking. We take our thoughts captive by replacing them with God-honoring, God-filtered ones.

When we’re tempted to worry and be anxious, we must remind ourselves that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We won’t lack anything we need. But, as I heard someone say, Psalm 23.1 may be the best known and least believed verse in the Bible.

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What's going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way? Even if you haven't followed along lately, I hope you'll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.When we start to wonder if our spouse will ever change, we must remind ourselves that our job is to first take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21) and that doing good to the other person will be the most likely way to bring conviction (Rom. 12.20).

When we start fretting about our children, we must remember that God only asks us to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2) to teach and train them using godly principles (Eph. 6.4), not to unnecessarily frustrate them (Col. 3.21) or provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4), and to leave the results in His hands (Prov. 22.6).

But in order to take our thoughts captive to these truths and others, we must first put God’s word in our hearts and minds. Romans 12.2 tells us:

“… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

And Psalm 119.9-11 (NASB) says:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

So when we’re feeling anxious or worried or a host of other negative emotions, let’s stop and take an inventory of our thoughts.

The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, other sinful thought patterns will take over.

 

How Journaling Can Help

 

When I’m counseling people struggling with emotional issues, I often ask them to keep a journal. It’s often very revealing for them to slow down and ask themselves a series of questions.  Continue reading

“Is the Bible enough in a complex world?” November 30

 

Is the Bible enough in today's complex world?

 

Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? Is it enough when we’re faced with difficult issues like abuse, neglect, addiction, and sickness? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient and what does it have to do with you and the problems you face?

Also read about how God spared His servants from a fiery furnace, how He caused a prideful man to live like a brute animal, how He removes power from kings and leaders and gives it to whomever He wills, and how a fool allows his emotions to rule him.

 

Today’s Readings:
Daniel 3 & 4
Psalm 136.1-9
Proverbs 29.11
2 Peter 1.1-21

 

Is the Bible enough in a complex world?

 

2 Peter 1.1-21:

God-Breathed & Sufficient

 

The Bible isn’t just a book about God. It is inspired by God, literally, God-breathed (2 Tim. 3.16).

We’re told in verse 21:

“for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.”

Charles Ryrie in his book Basic Theology says this about verse 21:

This verse tells us as much as any single verse how God used the human writers to produce the Bible. The Holy Spirit moved or bore them along. The use of the same verb in Acts 27:15 illuminates our understanding of what is meant by “bearing” or “moving” the human writers. Just before the ship that was taking Paul to Rome was wrecked on the Island of Malta, it ran into a fierce storm. Though experienced men, the sailors could not guide it, so they finally had to let the wind take the ship wherever it blew. In the same manner as that ship was driven, directed, or carried about by the wind, God directed and moved the human writers He used to produce the books of the Bible.¹

So while God used men to pen the Scriptures, it was the Holy Spirit who moved or carried them along causing them to write exactly what He desired, without error.

So is the Bible enough to teach us how to live in our complex world or do we need to add something to it?

Let’s look at verses 3-4:

“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4).

God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness.” It gives us all we need to live life in a fallen world, with sin-cursed bodies, and among other sinners.

 

The Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture

 

The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. It means that not only is God’s Word inspired and inerrant, it is also sufficient for all the issues of life. We don’t need to add man’s wisdom to it.

When Paul told us in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is God-breathed, he went on to say it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).

But today we’re told, perhaps not in so many words, but by inference, that the Bible is not enough. Rather than looking to God’s Word for help to solve problems, overcome the past, and deal with life dominating sins, believers are often referred to psychologists and counselors who use worldly philosophies and unbiblical therapies.

Rather than calling drunkards and the sexually immoral to repentance, they are told they have a disease or they can’t help the way God made them. Victims are told that what happened to them explains all their problems, instead of helping them understand their own sinful responses, the sovereignty of God, and the freedom that comes from walking in forgiveness and grace.

Some might think I’m being overly simplistic or unrealistic.  Continue reading

“The Rapture & Uncle Levi” October 17

 

The RaptureImagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?

 

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20
Psalm 119.1-8
Proverbs 27.13
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18

 

The Rapture & Uncle Levi

 

1 Thessalonians 4.1-18:

The Rapture

The Rapture

Verses 15-18 speak of what is called the Rapture of the Church.

15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.

The word “rapture” means to be “caught up.” Paul said those who have died in Christ will rise first. So when Christ returns for His church, the bodies of believers who died previously, whose spirits are already in heaven, will be resurrected and changed. And those of us who are alive will be caught up and our bodies will be changed, as well.

There was a foretaste of this event right after Christ’s death in Matthew 27:

50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.

So even though these resurrected believers would die again, it was a preview of what is to come in the future.

Can you just imagine what it must have been like—the family is sitting around having dinner and there’s a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi or Cousin Benjamin” who had died a few years before!

Now imagine what it will be like when the Rapture happens. The graves of the dead believers will be opened, but this time they’ll be gone, along with believers who were alive at the time of the Rapture!

I would imagine there will be more than a few family members who had rejected what their husbands and wives and mommas and brothers were telling them, who fall to their knees and cry out to God. It won’t be too late for them to be saved, but it will be too late for them to escape the Tribulation, seven years of famine, disease, earthquakes, disasters, and persecution the likes of which the world has never seen. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the book of Revelation.

Let’s pray and stand up for the truth now while there is still time for those who may listen.

 

Today’s Other Readings:

 

Jeremiah 19 & 20:

Is the Word like fire in your bones?

Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?

Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (19.9).

Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?

 

Psalm 119.1-8:

Mind, Will, and Emotions

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B is for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.

While it’s long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Different + LINKUP

 

Blended Families Part 2: The Same Only Differednt -

Blended families are everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those individuals and all families face.

 

Blended Families Part 2: “The Same Only Different”

 

In part 1, we talked about some of the very real losses that members of step families face and the importance of examining our own attitudes, actions and desires. Understanding those losses can help us become more understanding and asking God to help us examine our own actions is vitally important and an essential first step in the process of growth and change.

 

Charlatans & Frauds

 

Matthew 7.3-4 says:
3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?(NLT)

Jesus was very descriptive in this passage, wasn’t He? My paraphrase is, “Who do you think you are, trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when you can’t see past that giant log in your own?” Then He starts the next verse with the words, “You hypocrite …!” (v. 5).

Two synonyms for the word hypocrite are charlatan and fraud. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as, “somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.”

When we preach doing right to our family members and then respond in sinful, unloving ways, we’re playing the hypocrite! We’re frauds!

 

Why is this so important?

 

James, chapter 1:
22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.

“Deceiving yourselves.” There is delusion, spiritual blindness, that occurs when we fail to examine our hearts and actions by looking into the mirror of God’s Word with a view to obeying it. We can respond selfishly and sinfully to others while believing we’re completely justified.

We face enough challenges in blended families, why add spiritual blindness to the list? But by looking into that mirror and being a doer of it, there is blessing.

And Hebrews 5 says:
14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

We have the ability to discern good and evil; that is we have wisdom, when we practice doing what’s right. So the difference between removing our own logs and being a doer of the Word, as opposed to being a hearer and not a doer, is the difference between delusion and wisdom.

By the way, James, the writer of the book by the same name, was the half-brother of Jesus. There were other siblings, too (Mk. 6.3), and Joseph was His step-father. That makes Jesus part of a blended family. More about His earthly family and other blended Bible families later.

But there is something else we need to understand about being a hypocrite or a fraud. When we tell others, particularly our children and step-children, they must respond one way (loving, kind, accepting, patient, etc.) and we do something else, we’re completely discrediting ourselves and end up provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6.4; Col. 3.21). It’s hard to imagine anyone not resenting a fraud and children are no different.

 

Unique Yet the Same

 

In part 1, I stressed the fact that blended families face some unique challenges, and that’s certainly true. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those all individuals and all families face.  Continue reading

“7 Ways to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions” August 19

 

roller coaster of emotionsWhen we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show! As believers, how can we learn to live by something besides our feelings and emotions?

Also read about the meanings of God’s name, how joy follows loving discipline, and how the truths of the Gospel contain the power of God.

 

Today’s Readings:
Job 29 & 30
Psalm 97.7-12
Proverbs 23.15-16
I Corinthians 1.1-31

 

7 Way to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions

 

Job 29 & 30:

Don’t let emotions run the show!

 

Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.

Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we are going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real, and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!

In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.

So how can we avoid letting emotions run the show in our own lives?

 

7 Ways to Avoid a Roller Coaster of Emotions: 

Continue reading

October 17 “The Rapture & Uncle Benjamin”

ancient wooden doorImagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Benjamin” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?

Today’s Readings:
Jeremiah 19 & 20
Psalm 119.1-8
Proverbs 27.13
1 Thessalonians 4.1-18

 

Jeremiah 19 & 20:

Is the Word like fire in your bones?

Rather than believe the truth, the leaders of Jerusalem tried to intimidate Jeremiah into silence. Have you turned on the news lately? Sound familiar?

Even though Jeremiah was tempted to keep quiet, he said, “But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, and I could not” (19.9).

Is that you? Are you so full of God’s Word that it’s like fire in your bones? So much so that you would risk mistreatment, persecution or death, as Jeremiah did?

 

thoughtful riverPsalm 119.1-8:

Mind, will, and emotions

Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B if for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.

While it is long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading

August 19 “A roller coaster of emotions”

roller coasterWhen we go through tests and trials, there is often a roller coaster of emotions. But we don’t have to let our emotions run the show!

Today’s Readings:
Job 29 & 30
Psalm 97.7-12
Proverbs 23.15-16
I Corinthians 1.1-31

 

Job 29 & 30:

A roller coaster of emotions

Our friend Job is on quite a roller coaster. In yesterday’s reading he had some of the most incredible revelation from God and in today’s reading He thinks God has totally abandoned him.

Isn’t that a picture of the roller coaster of emotions we can all experience when we’re going through a test or trial? The important thing to remember is that even though the feelings are there, they’re real and they’re often strong, we don’t have to be controlled by our emotions. By that I mean, we don’t have to let them determine the way we act and respond!

In spite of all his roller coaster feelings, Job stayed faithful to God. Remember what his wife said at the beginning, “Why don’t you just curse God and die!” (my paraphrase). But Job didn’t waver from his faith in God, even though he didn’t understand why God was allowing all this calamity.

Continue reading

May 8 “Paranoia” & the Skit Guys “Mom Goggles” video

Before we get into our reading today, take a minute to laugh at the “Skit Guys” on Mothers. Happy Mother’s Day!!

Today’s Readings:
1 Samuel 18 & 19
Psalm 58.1-11
Proverbs 15.27-30
Luke 24.1-35

1 Samuel 18 & 19:

The wicked flee when no one pursues

Two verses stood out to me in chapter 18. Verse 12, “Now Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him, but had departed from Saul.” That verse sums up what had been going on for a while. David had never done anything but good where Saul was concerned, yet Saul was “afraid” of him. We love putting labels on everything today. Somehow if what we’re going through has a name, it makes us feel better. Today we might call what Saul experienced “paranoia” and the solution might well be medication.

Just putting a label on things doesn’t solve the problem and, while I’m not saying medication is always wrong, in this case, it might have gotten rid of the “bad feelings,” but wouldn’t have solved the root issue. In Saul’s case the root was rebellion and disobedience to God’s clear commands. Sin was the root of his paranoia!

paranoia

Proverbs 28.1 says, “The wicked flee when no one pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion.”

The other side of that proverb is demonstrated in David’s life. Verse 14 says, “And David behaved wisely in all his ways, and the LORD was with him.” Several times we are told that “David behaved wisely” and we can see the results as God repeatedly blessed what he did on and off the battle field. He could step out in faith without fear, because he knew God was on his side. Continue reading