That’s What I Thought | Static
Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable.
Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8
Monday— Think on what is true.
It was past midnight when the young adult lifegroup wound to a close. “Man,” Trey mumbled as he folded up the chairs. “Heavy stuff tonight. Drake was all over the Bible. How’s he know all that stuff?” Kelli stopped stacking cups and frowned at Trey. “You know how, Bozo. He’s got a closer walk with God than anybody I’ve ever known. He doesn’t even watch a lot of TV, but is always cruising Bible sites and listening to the heavyweight teachers.” Aaron grabbed one side of a table as Trey began to fold it. “Yeah,” he said. “Since I quit trolling atheist sites and chat rooms, I’ve noticed my doubts are leaving. Truth is powerful stuff.”
We live in the information age, but we’re as biblically illiterate as any generation has ever been. We may know six ways to jailbreak a smartphone but can’t say for sure who Abraham was. Not all knowledge is truth and not all knowledge is worth knowing. When faced as we are with an overload of information, we have to be intentional about how much of it we let in. God urges us to pursue truth, but not all that claims to be truth should be trusted. The more we dabble in skepticism the more confused we become. There is no “your truth” and “my truth.” There is only Truth. Everything opposed to it is a lie. When the Bible is our foundation, we then have a filter through which we sift all other claims. If it contradicts God’s word, it is not truth.
Final Thought: What filter do you use to decide what to believe? Any source other than the Bible may be lying to you.
Prayer: Father, I listen too much to stuff that creates doubt and unrest in my soul. Help me learn to filter everything I hear through your word. I want to pursue truth, wherever it takes me and whatever the cost because it will lead me to you. Amen.
Tuesday— Think on what is honorable.
Honor has become as outdated as a hitching post. Branches of the military may use the term honor as a recruitment tool, but the rest of us only think about the word when addressing a judge. So let’s brush up on some terms. To be honorable is to be deserving of respect. An honorable action is carried out because of its rightness, not because of personal benefit. Honorable people live with integrity, even when no one is watching. They cannot be bought or compromised and are the opposite of hypocrites. So if this verse tells us to think on what is honorable, how do we do that?
We live in an honor-deficient culture. Within the last twenty years, honor has been flipped upside down so that wrong is celebrated while right is attacked. Dishonorable celebrities are idolized while faithful servants of the Lord are mocked. If someone can act, carry a ball, or play a musical instrument better than most, they influence our voting, our shopping habits, and our values. We consider them worthy of admiration without regard to whether or not they are honorable people. “Oh, I just like their music,” we say dismissively. Or, “He’s this year’s MVP,” as though a title cancels their moral debt. If we want to think on what is honorable, we can’t feast on the sordid details of dishonorable lives. Honorable thoughts require honorable heroes.
Final Thought: We are only as great as the gods we worship. Are your heroes honorable?
Prayer: Lord, I give too much attention to ungodly heroes. If their lives don’t honor you, then they’re not worth my attention. Turn my mind toward that which honors you and may my thoughts be a sanctuary for your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— Think on what is right (just).
The iconic Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” told of a conversation he had as a young boy that shaped the way he viewed the world from then on. He had seen a news report of a tragedy and it frightened him. He asked his mother about it and her words formed his philosophy. She said, “When you see things that bother you, always look for the helpers. There are always people helping.” She may not have realized it, but she was reinforcing God’s instructions to us. Looking for helpers does not minimize the horror of the tragic event, but it does redirect our thoughts from helplessness to hopefulness.
Thinking on things that are right does not mean we adopt a Pollyanna attitude and deny the pain of an event. But with news flashing across every screen 24 hours a day, our minds become quickly overloaded. Tragedy sells. Sensationalism keeps viewers and viewers keep advertisers and advertisers keep money coming in. Wrong promises more viewers than Right, so that’s the majority of what we see and hear. We need to follow Mrs. Rogers’ advice: look for the helpers. Look for the Good Samaritans. Seek and share stories about generosity, love, and honor. Healthy minds think on what is right.
Final Thought: Consider the bulk of what your eyes and ears are taking in. Are you thinking on what is right and just?
Prayer: Lord, it’s getting harder to find things that celebrate justice and rightness. I seem drawn to the horror stories that keep me upset. You know how I am, so you put a command in your word to correct me. Help me think on what is right. Amen.
Thursday— Think on what is pure and lovely and admirable.
The box office success of films like The 40-year-old Virgin and 50 Shades of Grey indicate just how twisted and debased our culture is becoming. We would expect that mentality of the ungodly. But when Christians join the world in scoffing at purity and enjoying immorality, something is terribly wrong within the church. Part of the problem is that we have a light view of sin and its consequences. Another issue is biblical illiteracy. Many people do not know that God decrees harsh judgment for sexual offenders so they see nothing wrong with thinking on what is impure, unlovely, and unworthy of admiration. Let’s change that
The Greek word translated “sexual immorality” or “fornication” in the New Testament is “pornea.” It refers to any sexual activity outside the bonds of heterosexual marriage. When condemning pornea, the Bible authors often coupled it with the word “akatharsia” which means impurity, or ceremonial uncleanness. Listed together, as they often are, God is saying that those who engage in, or enjoy watching, sexual immorality render themselves ceremonially unfit for His presence. That’s a pretty harsh sentence. God isn’t kidding around and He’s not shrugging with indifference when we defile ourselves or our minds with pornea. A mind filled with lusty images cannot also think on what is pure, lovely, and admirable. When we train our minds to think like God thinks, we understand His harsh judgments against impurity and immorality. Check out what He says here:
Look up 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, 18; Galatians 5:19-21; Hebrews 13:4; Ephesians 5:3-5; Colossians 3:5; Revelation 21:8
Prayer: Father, I repent of my impure thoughts and actions. I want my thought life to please you because my actions come from that. Cleanse my mind, my memories, my appetites. Purify me so I can enjoy your presence. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— Think about what is excellent and worthy of praise.
“I don’t see why Jay won the award. Mine was just as good,” Cary grumbled over breakfast. His mom set a pitcher on the table and looked at him. “Yours was passable, son, but it wasn’t excellent. You know you could have done a lot better.” Cary shrugged one shoulder and slurped his cereal. His mom smiled at his bent head, noting his stained shirt, untied shoes, and unwashed hair. “You know, son, an attitude of excellence shows up in everything we do. When we’re half-hearted, getting by with minimal effort, we can’t expect praise. You only started on your project last night. Jay worked on his for weeks.”
The Carys of the world become adults who continue to require very little of themselves. They drop out when it’s too hard, show up late when it’s too early, and never take the initiative if there’s no tangible reward. God is ashamed of them. He knows what He has entrusted to each of us and expects a healthy return on His investment. (Check out Matthew 25:14-30). If we don’t require excellence of ourselves, we never know our own potential. When we’re satisfied with sub-level work, barely getting by, we are squandering the gifts God entrusted to us. We are also terrible representatives of His kingdom because who wants to imitate a lazy slob? We are to do everything as an offering to the Lord. By refusing to settle for anything but excellence in our own lives, we train ourselves to be praiseworthy servants. We must pursue excellence because that’s what you offer a King.
Final Thought: When you are called to present your work to God for inspection, will it be excellent and worthy of praise?
Prayer: Father, how am I doing in pursuing excellence? I have to fight laziness because you expect me to use everything you’ve given me for your purposes. Change my attitude to one of excellence because you deserve my best. Amen.