A Better Thinking

A Better Thinking

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 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.” (Philippians 4:6-8).

As Christians, there are some things that we should think about—things worthy of our time and attention and ponderous attention. There are also some things not worthy of our heart’s pause—things that walk contrary to a life that is controlled by and rooted in the Spirit of the living God.

Contrary things walk contrary and breed inconsistencies into the life of a believer. We are forced to grapple with the issue everyday as we seek to live out the tenets of our faith. If not carefully guarded, our hearts become the fertile soil for some seeds that were never meant for the rooting therein.

I know.

Today I host some “bitter seeds,” and I’m confident that bitter doesn’t fall within the “true” and “noble” of Paul’s mindful checklist. Thus, I’m praying the truth of scripture over my wandering thoughts, desiring for God’s peace to be my portion. Always, God’s peace … for the journey.

That’s the heart behind this blog. To give readers an occasion to “pause from the ordinary in order to partake of the Extraordinary.” Peace isn’t an emotion or a temporary state of being. Peace is a person. His name is Jesus, and he intends to be our constant … our Way of doing life, most days in spite of the ebb and flow that works itself into our 24/7.

The “anxious and everything” will always find us. Yours may not look like mine today, but I imagine it to be present. If not in full blown status, then simmering somewhere just beneath the surface of your emotional stable. All of us are but one crisis away from having it voice its loud and its proud into our calm.

Your crisis may not be a huge thing; to the rest of the world, it may seem small and insignificant, but the rest of the world doesn’t live in your world. Your world hosts some tailor made “anxious and everything,” specifically designed to trip your triggers and to expedite your fall accordingly. Instead of recognizing those triggers and bypassing the danger, we allow them their bruising over our lives.

Instead of offering up our prayers and petitions to the only One who can bring peace to our “anxious and everything,” we offer up our own variety of solutions to soothe the ache.

Instead of truth … lies.
Instead of noble … improper.
Instead of right … wrong.
Instead of pure … profane.
Instead of lovely … hateful.
Instead of admirable … defaming.
Instead of excellent … evil.
Instead of praiseworthy … punishment.

Thus, the contrast to Philippians 4:8 …

Whatever is a lie, whatever is improper, whatever is wrong, whatever is profane, whatever is hateful, whatever is defaming, if anything is evil and rife with punishment, think upon such things.[i]

No wonder our worry; no wonder our anxious. No wonder our need to bring everything out into the light and to the foot of the cross for the soothing comfort of a better Peace. Whenever we default to our own solutions of managing the crises that come our way, we are left to the mercy of a depraved mind tilted in the wrong direction and mired in the murky waters of corruptible thinking.

God’s Peace isn’t anchored in that soil. He walked that soil for a season and on our behalf so that our feet wouldn’t have to make the journey. Still and yet, there are days when we choose to marshal our steps along that path, and instead of finding God’s promised Peace, we fuel our “anxious and everything” until it becomes the unmanageable cloaking of our hearts.

It’s a heavy mantle to carry, friends, and a weighing down that I don’t need today; thus, I’m going to take God at his Word, and bring my prayers and petitions to the foot of the cross and leave them there…

*knowing that I’ve been heard.
*believing that my words are kept and held and tended to by the extravagant grace of heaven.
*receiving the Peace that I’ve been promised.

Knowing. Believing. Receiving.

The posture of an uncluttered heart. The hope of this expectant pilgrim. Thus, I pray…

Unclutter me, Father, as I bring it all to your hands and to your understanding this day. I do not want to linger in my bitter and in my confusion. Instead, I give them to you, and ask you to work your will into my way of thinking. Forgive me for trying to manage this one out on my own; instead, teach me to trust you with my “anxious and everything” all the days of my life. You’ve given me your Peace; let my lingering thoughts rest in such a holding today. Amen.

[i] Antithesis based on word study search from The Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament (Chattannoga: AMG Publishers, 1992).
Copyright © March 2009 – Elaine Olsen

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PS: My friend, JD Walt, has written a stirring song, put to melody by modern-day psalmist, Chris Tomlin. For your Lenten journey, “My Beloved, Mine; I His.”

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42 Responses to A Better Thinking

  1. “believing that my words are kept and held and tended to by the extravagant grace of heaven”

    Amen and Amen.

    XO Melinda

  2. Indeed, God does not inhabit the murky waters of anxious confusion nor is His Peace “anchored in that soil”!

    We would all be wise to take a “heart’s pause” at those words that invade our thoughts and attempt to poison our hearts.

    God’s grace to you in unfettered thoughts.

    Denise

  3. This is the scripture I’m meditating on a lot. I’m commiting it to heart. As always, your post has been just what I needed, giving grace to my heart.

  4. Praying for peace and clarity in whatever situation you are struggling with. Loved the song! Beautiful, beautiful!!!!

  5. Yes … that battlefield of the mind that often has us living on the flipside of God’s goodness in us, in our lives. It’s low-ground living.

    Give me His high ground any day!

  6. I’m wondering if you are a mind-reader, girlfriend. You always seem to write exactly what I need to hear. Today is no different! I’ve never heard that particular Chris Tomlin song. It’s beautiful, as are the scripture verses that accompany it. I felt a peace come over me as I read each verse.

    Praying for you today…
    Love you

  7. Thank you for your words of peace and encouragement. I, too often, forfeit my peace by dwelling on meager things. It can happen so quickly that I don’t even realize I’m doing it. I love that you said that peace is a person, Jesus Christ. How powerful that thought is! God bless you for sharing this inspriing word today. By the way, I’m glad you enjoyed the casserole, but I’m sorry you burned your hand.

  8. Elaine, I am ever amazed at the profoundness of your writing! I feel so pale standing along side you! God has gifted you tremendously!

    Bless you!
    Marilyn

  9. Your crisis may not be a huge thing; to the rest of the world, it may seem small and insignificant, but the rest of the world doesn’t live in your world.

    This spoke volumes Friend, absolute volumes as I had a little mini-crisis meltdown Saturday evening and thought anyone of my Sister’s In Christ wouldn’t be acting this way….but his is my world…and I’m living in this world. So thank you for understanding without even being in the know.

    Love to you,
    Yolanda

  10. One of my favorite passages on worry comes from Jesus’ lips (Matthew 6) “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” Thanks for your reflections today. xoxo

  11. The perfect word for me today. God knew exactly what I needed and used you to convey it.

    Unclutter me too, Father.

    Blessings!

    Sheryl

  12. That is my verse although it is mighty hard some days to keep in mind. You blessed me today when you said you have been praying for us because I know you really do and that means so much to me. Knowing someone else out there is petitioning God for me as well–it means so much!
    Thank you! Your writing is wonderful as always and you are making a difference in lives!

  13. “Whenever we default to our own solutions of managing the crises that come our way, we are left to the mercy of a depraved mind tilted in the wrong direction and mired in the murky waters of corruptible thinking.”

    That will preach, dear friend. I have defaulted to my own solutions more times than I care to name. It was ALWAYS the wrong choice, always.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post!!

    Leah

  14. “Unclutter me, Lord.”

    One of the best prayers I could pray. Amen!

  15. Oh to have an uncluttered heart. Pure and righteous and holy. Yes, I need the words of Phillipians to invade my thoughts and clear the ever-accumulating clutter.

    Another song, that strips it to the core is Empty Me, by Jeremy Camp.
    Holy Fire
    burn away
    my desire
    for anything
    that is not of you
    but is of me
    I want more of you
    and less of me
    Empty me

    Hugs my friend,
    Kelli

  16. One of my favorite scriptures: “For the mind set on the flesh is death; but the mind set on the Spirit is LIFE and PEACE.” Romans 8:6 What a great flesh-out to this verse.

  17. I had bitter birthed in my heart today. Still praying for it’s release and my surrender.

    Joy

  18. I think that this verse have been a theme in my life since last year definitely, Mrs. Elaine…I want the Lord to completely renew my mind. I want His thoughts in my mind, not fleshly thoughts. God has us on the same page here…

    Blessings, love, and ((HUGS)) in HIM:)

    katiegfromtennessee

  19. “*knowing that I’ve been heard.
    *believing that my words are kept and held and tended to by the extravagant grace of heaven.
    *receiving the Peace that I’ve been promised.”

    I’m so thankful He is our Prince of Peace!

  20. Thanks for your words this day and I “DITTO” Beth E. Loved the song and all the scriptures, You are a blessing to all of us, please continue to pray for my hubby and our family. Love you.

    In Christ,
    Tootsie

  21. wifeforthejourney:

    Thank you for helping start my morning with an “unclutter me…” appeal to the Lord. How often do I find my heart and mind dwelling on your antithesis of Phillippians 4:6-8?

    Hope you will have a great day today, and we will both rest in the peace God has prepared as our portion for this day.

    Love you,
    Billy

  22. Amen!:)

    Thank you, once again, for encouraging me.

    I pray that this day finds you and your sweet family well.

    In Christ,
    Amy:)

  23. It is so hard to “receive” the Peace, particularly when bitterness reigns. I love how you said that because the inability to accept or receive this peace is something I struggle with daily.

  24. Loved this post especially this:

    “Peace is a person. His name is Jesus, and he intends to be our constant … our Way of doing life, most days in spite of the ebb and flow that works itself into our 24/7.”

    Love the prayer at the end too – Unclutter! Wow!! Go to it LORD!

    I am thankful that His PEACE has become so tangible for me now! No more abstract – it’s His Present reality in my life – that constant!

    Looking UPward and Choosing JOY,
    Stephanie
    [Time to FLY]

  25. Elaine,

    What a powerful message. The video brought me to COMPLETE TEARS and worship.

    I have to find another word to describe what the Lord uses you to do in my life so that I can stop repeating the words, You are such a blessing. While so true, it’s even deeper than that.

    Love you.

  26. Elaine, Philippians was the very first book of the Bible that I studied after coming to Christ (literally started the study with my church the following week), and the fourth chapter is a favorite (Philippians 4:6-7 is my life verse). Seeing the opposite of verse 8 really hit me. This is an incredible post.

  27. Only God can take the confusion, and the blurry and make it clear. Trusting Him and knowing HE will do just that today! Amen

  28. I am going to share your words with a young woman who emailed me yesterday. I have prayed with her, but this blog is so appropiate for her heart. I too am blessed to have read in and the constant of God in all of my life.

  29. “Peace is a person.” Amen!

    And He walks with me and He talks with me….and He tells me I am His own…and the joy we share as we tarry there…non other has ever known. 🙂

  30. This was truly a timely word. If we can all just allow this truth to sink in and stay- at all times! wow! Thank you for sharing this with us today Elaine!

    Blessings to you,
    Kennisha

  31. Oh Elaine…I needed to come here and read this. With tears my cluttered mind is revealed to my own self. Cluttered not with anger or issues…but with stuff. Just stuff that is occupying too much space…and the need to clean out the clutter is overwhelming.

    Thank you. You always have it. RIGHT here.

  32. Good morning! Thanks so much for the negative version of Phil 4:8. I needed to read it!

    I met with a wonderful friend and his wife this past Monday as I was headed out of Orlando. He reminded me of the verse “Be still and know that I am God.” I told him “I can’t…” He replied, “You can, but you won’t! You’re scared of what might happen if you are still.” He hit the nail right on the head. Do you have any thoughts on this?

    Needing peace in many areas right now~

  33. AMEN & Amen! I have no words to comment except that I so need HIS peace today. I seek HIS peace in me. HE is my peace!

  34. Elaine, I purposefully began today in 1 Peter 5:7: “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”

    So often we carry burdens that He never intended us to bear! It’s so liberating to remember that we need only to surrender them at His feet.

    Love, Joy, and Peace in Him!

  35. Oh, the contrast of
    the tiresome anxiety of me
    versus
    the transcendent peace of God.

    If it weren’t for the tiresome anxiety… perhaps there would be no need for the transcendent peace…

  36. Oh, Elaine. I'm SO glad I got to read this a second time. Thank you, my friend, for reminding me of the need to unclutter–to get rid of the thoughts that can destroy. Praying more will stop over here and be blessed.