Wednesday, September 21, 2011

What is truly lovely?

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. --Philippians 4:8

These pictures are from Mt. Diablo, where you will find the amazing Manzantia Tree. It is a beautiful tree with incredible bark. I can't get enough of photographing it when I go to Mt. Diablo.

I just memorized this verse. Lately I have been struggling with my thought life. I begin to think about things which are really not lovely. I don't mean that I think about an ugly building, or some dead plants that lurk nastily in my yard, or an abandoned house out in the country that is falling down in disrepair. I'm talking about just plain negative, hurtful thoughts about people I love and the situations that I find myself in. I realized that this has been damaging to my spiritual life and growth. Just like nasty, ugly weeds in a garden, those thoughts were choking out the things that I should have been thinking about.

I had also studied this verse from 2Corinthians 10: 5 "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." It wasn't so difficult to recognize the thoughts that I was having as thoughts which wouldn't really stand up to what Christ would want me to be thinking about. I quickly learned when one of those negative type thoughts came to mind that I should pray and ask God to help me by taking those thoughts which I had started to think and remove them from me. It was working. But soon I found that I was not thinking much of anything else!

Then I came again to the Philippians verse. Now, I can focus my thoughts! I should be thinking about things which are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. Why? So that I can truly worship and glorify Christ.

So, last night when I couldn't sleep, I started calling things to mind which I knew were true as opposed to the things which I had been thinking which really weren't true but were instead those garbage like thoughts.

What I know is true is that God is good all the time, that His word endures forever, that He loves me so much He sent Jesus for payment of my sin, and that because I have chosen to follow Jesus as my savior and Lord I have the Holy Spirit to guide and direct me everyday.

What I know is noble is a little harder to come up with. A starting point will be living by God's word instead of the world's standards is noble.

It is much easier to think of things which aren't pure. So, a starting point for purity is to realize that things which don't honor and glorify God should not be things that I think about. This includes gossip! And, it also includes tv shows that I have really enjoyed in the past but I've come to see are purely smutty! My diet of purity beginning now is that I've trimmed off some of my tv, I actually quit reading a fiction book that I had been looking forward to reading.

Thinking about things which are lovely really leads me to God's creation. I'm so glad that God gave us such variety in nature! There is always something new to discover there. The Manzantia tree is where I'm starting my worship this morning.

What do you think might be excellent and praiseworthy to think about? The truth of the matter is that in life many times the only things which you will be able to think about which fit the criterion of Philippians 4:8 are the attributes of God Himself. No person you love will ever fit all the categories, no situation will either. So, when I'm stuck in a pit of darkness, I will be aiming my thoughts up and out of the pit and to the High and Mighty Christ who alone saves me.

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