Tag Archives: philippians

I’ve got my eye on the goal

24 Mar

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2

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If you’ve been reading my blog for the past two months, you may have noticed that I’ve blogged about some pretty tough times. Without giving details, I’ve shared what I call “Lessons From My Journey.” These posts are the longest ones I write, and they are filled with lessons through scripture that I’m learning as I navigate my way through what most would define as a “trial.” (Although to me, it is more and more a blessing and an opportunity.)

I’m going to continue to use vague terms when referring to this season in my life simply because that’s what I am most comfortable doing. Someday I believe I’ll get to share my story in more detail, but that day is certainly not today. Or next week. Or even next year.

But today I want to talk about how–two months after this so-called storm began–I am given a choice: to sabotage everything I’ve learned thus far OR to continue to press on and let God have total control.

When something difficult comes our way, it’s easy to feel defeated. It’s hard not to pity ourselves. It’s difficult to keep going strong when things don’t go our way. But I’m so blessed to have met Jesus long before this time in my life arrived. Without him, I cannot even begin to imagine the dark place I’d be in right now.

During this time in my life, I’ve sought the counsel of beautiful, strong, mature and wise Christians. They have helped me stay on the path to restoration and, thanks to the Holy Spirit alive in me, I have not strayed. God has used some incredible individuals to speak into my life, to pray for me and to encourage me. Most of all, he has used them to direct me to the Word. Now I hunger for it like my life depends on it. Sure, there are some great books and brochures about getting through trials, but more than anything, the Word of GOD is what we need (I love Romans 15:4).

So what exactly am I wanting to share today? Well, like I said, this week I was given the opportunity to give it all up. To walk away from my beautiful journey toward wholeness in Christ and to enter into a dark place. To put it more bluntly, I could have wrecked everything I’ve learned and started walking on my own. Without Jesus. Doing my own thing.

But he kept me.

And I love that Philippians 3 provides a great insight about perseverance toward Christ and not looking back. It’s helped me so much! The author talks about not letting others bring us down on our journey as Christians. Normally, I would use the ESV to quote scripture. But The Message makes it so abundantly clear and I want to share this version with you. I know it’s long, but please read the whole thing:

Focused on the Goal

12 I’m not saying that I have this all together, that I have it made. But I am well on my way, reaching out for Christ, who has so wondrously reached out for me.13 Friends, don’t get me wrong: By no means do I count myself an expert in all of this, but I’ve got my eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward-to Jesus.14 I’m off and running, and I’m not turning back.

So let’s keep focused on that goal, those of us who want everything God has for us. If any of you have something else in mind, something less than total commitment, God will clear your blurred vision-you’ll see it yet!16 Now that we’re on the right track, let’s stay on it.

17 Stick with me, friends. Keep track of those you see running this same course, headed for this same goal.18 There are many out there taking other paths, choosing other goals, and trying to get you to go along with them. I’ve warned you of them many times; sadly, I’m having to do it again. All they want is easy street. They hate Christ’s Cross.19 But easy street is a dead-end street. Those who live there make their bellies their gods; belches are their praise; all they can think of is their appetites.

20 But there’s far more to life for us. We’re citizens of high heaven! We’re waiting the arrival of the Savior, the Master, Jesus Christ,21 who will transform our earthy bodies into glorious bodies like his own. He’ll make us beautiful and whole with the same powerful skill by which he is putting everything as it should be, under and around him.

Isn’t that just beautiful? I have always thought The Message was…ahem…”watered down,” but I compared this with both the NIV and ESV, and while those two versions are also incredible, The Message seems so much bolder to me. It’s almost like Paul is in your face, telling you to not be foolish and run toward Christ!

If there’s one reason for pressing on, it’s because I want to run after God and continue to be more like Christ (v 13).

The way I see it, while we walk with Christ, things will happen to us that are out of our control. People will fail us. We’ll experience heartache, pain, loss and more. But we’re called to press on. I truly believe that everything God allows in our lives is an opportunity to allow ourselves to be molded into Christ’s image. And the bad stuff is a huge part of that. Don’t let temptation get in the way of your walk with God. Keep going…keep pressing on…keep persevering…keep your eye on the goal!

If you’re struggling to press on, I encourage you to meditate on Philippians 3 (and Hebrews 12, which I started this blog out by quoting) today. You CAN do this. You don’t need to give up. God’s doing something in your life. He’s making you more like his Son. It’s going to be beautiful…

In Christ,

Jen

Whatever is lovely…

18 Mar

It’s spring again!

Let me ask you this: when you think of spring, what comes to mind? New life? Growth? New opportunities? A bright future? Good change?

These are all things that are so often metaphorically attached to spring, according to most people. But what happens when spring brings pain for you instead? I want to talk a little bit about this today.

A few springs ago was what I used to consider one of the best times of my life. It was so full of what I thought was new, good change. It was exciting and just lovely! But now, because of a recent turn of events, those memories aren’t so sweet. In fact, when I think of them, they don’t bring back the joy they once did. They actually cut very deep if I allow them to. And I don’t want to allow them to!

You see, I’ve been fighting a battle in my thought life this week and one verse keeps coming to mind as I do. Perhaps you’ve heard it, but will you dwell on it with me right now?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

To help myself focus on these things we’re called to think about, I made a note card that simply lists each of these things. Then I ask myself this whenever a painful memory or thought enters my mind: is what I’m thinking about true? Is it honorable? Just? Pure? Lovely? Commendable? Excellent? Worthy of praise? If the answer is no, I have to mentally force myself to STOP. And that’s not enough. I have to think about something else.

So what are some pure and lovely and just things I can go to mentally during these times? One word: Christ. I simply stop thinking about whatever is on my mind and focus on the fact that God sent his one and only son (John 3:16) to die for my sins. Then, when Jesus died and rose again, he left us here on the earth with a beautiful and wonderful gift: his Holy Spirit. And we are so blessed by that. And by the fact that we are given the Word of God to help us and instruct us (Romans 15:4).

The ESV Study Bible by Crossway provides a beautiful commentary on this verse in Philippians. Short and sweet, it says:

The Philippians are to fill their minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

I truly believe that we as believers, like the Philippians, are to do this very same thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love spring! And here in Michigan, we have had an early spring and are enjoying long days with beautiful 75 degree weather. I already have freckles on my face and shoulders, which normally doesn’t happen until May! But this past week in particular has caught me off guard as challenging for my thought life. If you’re experiencing a battle in your own thought life, I pray you’ll use this technique. It’s transforming and it works! And when your brain is tired of thinking at all, just put on the song “Rise” by Kari Jobe. It will lift your spirits, I promise!

We will cry out Your renown
You are the God who has saved us
We will rise to praise You
We lift a glorious sound
You are the one who redeemed us
We will rise to praise You

Now, I’m ready to get back outside and enjoy my spring!

Jen

Whatever is lovely

18 Mar

It’s spring again!

Let me ask you this: when you think of spring, what comes to mind? New life? Growth? New opportunities? A bright future? Good change?

These are all things that are so often metaphorically attached to spring, according to most people. But what happens when spring brings pain for you instead? I want to talk a little bit about this today.

A few springs ago was what I used to consider one of the best times of my life. It was so full of what I thought was new, good change. It was exciting and just lovely! But now, because of a recent turn of events, those memories aren’t so sweet. In fact, when I think of them, they don’t bring back the joy they once did. They actually cut very deep if I allow them to. And I don’t want to allow them to!

You see, I’ve been fighting a battle in my thought life this week and one verse keeps coming to mind as I do. Perhaps you’ve heard it, but will you dwell on it with me right now?

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

To help myself focus on these things we’re called to think about, I made a note card that simply lists each of these things. Then I ask myself this whenever a painful memory or thought enters my mind: is what I’m thinking about true? Is it honorable? Just? Pure? Lovely? Commendable? Excellent? Worthy of praise? If the answer is no, I have to mentally force myself to STOP. And that’s not enough. I have to think about something else.

So what are some pure and lovely and just things I can go to mentally during these times? One word: Christ. I simply stop thinking about whatever is on my mind and focus on the fact that God sent his one and only son (John 3:16) to die for my sins. Then, when Jesus died and rose again, he left us here on the earth with a beautiful and wonderful gift: his Holy Spirit. And we are so blessed by that. And by the fact that we are given the Word of God to help us and instruct us (Romans 15:4).

The ESV Study Bible by Crossway provides a beautiful commentary on this verse in Philippians. Short and sweet, it says:

The Philippians are to fill their minds with things that will inspire worship of God and service to others.

I truly believe that we as believers, like the Philippians, are to do this very same thing.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love spring! And here in Michigan, we have had an early spring and are enjoying long days with beautiful 75 degree weather. I already have freckles on my face and shoulders, which normally doesn’t happen until May! But this past week in particular has caught me off guard as challenging for my thought life. If you’re experiencing a battle in your own thought life, I pray you’ll use this technique. It’s transforming and it works! And when your brain is tired of thinking at all, just put on the song “Rise” by Kari Jobe. It will lift your spirits, I promise!

We will cry out Your renown
You are the God who has saved us
We will rise to praise You
We lift a glorious sound
You are the one who redeemed us
We will rise to praise You

Now, I’m ready to get back outside and enjoy my spring!

Jen