Category Archives: christ

Positive Thinking, it’s not what you Think

I’ve been thinking about this post for about 2-3 weeks now and with tomorrow being 4 weeks since my surgery, I thought I should probably write it.

Where do I begin?

I guess I will briefly mention that heart surgery is my fourth major surgery since 2002. The first three (gall bladder removal and 2 c-sections) were not the best experiences (UNDERSTATEMENT!) and I’ve been dreading heart surgery ever since. Not the actual surgery – but the recovery.

I tend to over think, over analyze, over plan, worry, get anxious, and spend all together too much time anticipating negative things.

Because of this, Philippians is one of my favorite books of the Bible. Why? Because generally speaking it’s all about Joy.

Paul is writing from chains and he can’t “shut up” about being thankful and full of joy. He is excited about all of the things God is doing in spite of (or rather because of) Paul’s difficult circumstances.

The book as a whole is the antithesis of my negative normal.

Looking at specifics, Philippians has many powerful verses that remind me God is good and he commands me to rejoice. He commands me to not be anxious. He commands me that “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” I should think on such things (Phil 4: 8).

When I was in college, I wrote the following, in large print, on paper:

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, 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 your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6 & 7

And then I stuck it on the ceiling over my bed. It was a very helpful reminder and many nights I stared up at it, repeating the words in my head, letting the peace of God calm my anxious heart.

I’m not bragging here. I’m telling you I have a REALLY hard time being positive and joyful. And I’m constantly challenged by God’s best for me, as spelled out in Philippians. He doesn’t give any exemptions or qualifiers. He just says “rejoice”!

What I don’t mean

At the same time, this joy, not being anxious, often also seen as “positive attitude” or “positive thinking” is NOT in the same as when people say things like “I’m sending you positive thoughts (or vibes or whatever)”.  There is not positive energy that exists in the universe as some type of currency we can pass around to each other.

This “rejoice” God commands is also NOT some type of guarantee that things will go well, here on earth. It’s not a magic formula. Think positive and you will have a wonderful life. Paul, writer of Philippians, is an example of that as he was probably killed for the faith. (See more here)

So what does all this mean in relation to heart surgery?

I am extremely grateful for the timing of how everything went. I’m thankful for the support network surrounding me. I’m thankful for the circumstances and the results.

I don’t specifically think I automatically am having a good recovery because I’m more joyful. At the same time I also don’t discount that perhaps God commands us to rejoice because he knows he built our bodies to respond better (scientifically speaking) when we are positive.

God loves us more than anyone can even wrap their mind around. He loves me more than my parents love me. He loves me more than my boys, or than JJ, love me. His commandments are an out flowing of that love. Because he is the definition of love and everything that is good, because he is all powerful and all knowing, because he wants the absolute best for me – he commands me in ways that are sometimes very confusing and backwards looking to me. Yet, I trust that he is who he says he is.

He wants the best for me. And in Philippians, he commands me to rejoice in all things and in all circumstances.

In summary – Positive thinking is not what you think. It’s not because I want things to go well. It’s not because things are going well. It’s because He loves me and he commands me to rejoice. And – in opposition to my negative normal – it is Christ in me, from which the Joy overflows.

To His Glory, forever. Amen.

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A prolonged Saturday?

Sometimes, it feels like we are living in the “Saturday.”

There was Friday (it was bitter, but good) and there was Sunday (we Know Christ is Risen) – but what do we do with right now?

He Lives. The Victory is won. But there is still pain; there is still sorrow in the World.

It feels like we know Friday happened, we know he promised to rise in three days. We know He fulfiled that promise and in fact did rise on that First Easter Morning. Now we are living in the “in-between” – in the light of his Promise to return again. A Saturday of sorts?

Waiting, with hope, for Sunday? He is coming back.

I don’t point out our current Saturday situation simply to reflect on the downtrodden and weary issues of the day. I say it  with a sense of wonder and hope; a sense of anticipation and excitement.

Easter reminds me how glorious it must have been to first discover the grave was empty.  And if the grave could not contain him – death has no power. In this Saturday, what do we have to fear?

With an empty grave and death losing its sting – I can’t help but hold a transfixed eye on the Savior who is Perfect Love.

There are no more powerful credentials he could present that that of keeping the first promise to rise.   One Marvelous day, we will once again see with our eyes, the Risen Lord.  His word is good. His promises hold strong.

It was Friday. It may be Saturday, but we Know – Sunday’s a Comin’.

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Joyful Weeping

Lisa’s memorial service was today. It was both very joyful & hopeful while also being sad.

I don’t think it’s sunk in yet for me. That there will be no more memories made with Lisa here on earth. It might not sink in that she is gone and just not moved geographically until it’s a few years out, when all of my friends and I grow older and my idea of Lisa is frozen in time.

The service was wonderful. Point blank asking what Lisa would ask of each of us. “What are you going to choose? In this moment of sadness, are you going to turn to God? Or are you going to turn from God?”

She was never shy about calling people out. Pointing out truth. In moments of sorrow, our hope is in turning to God.

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Lisa

L-R Michelle, Sophie, Lisa, Debra, Paula at our friend Jenni's wedding

wow… It’s been an incredible couple of years.  I am so thankful to have met Lisa two years ago.

Lisa had an infectious smile.  Seriously, think “Stereotypical, gorgeous Texas Woman” and that was Lisa. She could line dance. She could wear the fanciest high heals with confidence. She could walk into any room and instantly have new friends. She would do anything for her friends. Need an encouraging text? Have a bad day and want to have a shoulder to cry on? Want a nice note in the mail via snail mail out of the blue? one word: Lisa.

On our first small group meeting, she shared about her recent health issues, how she had a very rare tumor and surgery to take it out cost her part of her lung.  It sounded serious, but we all prayed with her and thanked the Lord that so far, she was able to move forward, increasingly with distance in time from the illness.

We celebrated together a year ago when she had a clean scan. No tumor!

We laughed together until we cried at her parents house for our small group retreat last spring. I don’t even remember what we were laughing at, but it was marvelous.

Also last spring, she sat a boy (my now husband) down for a conversation about “his view on relationships” drawing out info to pass along to me. (I had no idea she did this until after!)  After my hubby & I started dating, I learned that she had numerous conversations with him, including a “Don’t you break her heart! Don’t you String her along!” conversation.

We cheered her along, prayed for her, as she traveled to Bulgaria in the summer to train and equip christians as well as to work with orphans.

She encouraged and uplifted me as we worked together to be wise and make good financial decisions.

We prayed profusely as word that the tumor was back and she needed surgery again. When the September surgery didn’t go as well as hoped, we prayed, we laughed, we visited, we believed that God’s plan is unknown to us and it is better than we could imagine.

We cried when the tumor was back again 2 weeks ago and the outlook was not good.

We knew the end was coming quick. We know that God loves Lisa more than any of us.

And today we celebrate.

With tears in our eyes, but a song in our heart, we know that Lisa is with our Heavenly Father.

She is no longer in pain. She is no longer sick. She is no longer fighting. No longer struggling with the things of this world.  She is with the One who loves her.  Peace and Comfort. Warmth and Light. And a place where she can once again, use her beautiful voice to praise the One paid her debts and will one day raise her life up from the dead.

Finally I ask, do you know the One? Did you know that he paid your debt (just like he paid Lisa’s & mine?). And he promises to raise your life up from the dead. Both litterally in the future (we’ll all die) BUT also Now.

Live life abundantly, because that is why he came. Lisa lived life to the fullest because of Christ. I hope my life Count’s for Christ as the example that Lisa set did.  I hope that one day, it will be known that I lived Life Abundantly, because of Christ.

John 10:10b I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

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An "evil" class

I am taking a class called the Theology and Problem Evil. It is taught by Dr. Henri Blocher and it is Amazing! I am in the middle of writing a book review for a book called “Can God Be Trusted?” by Dr. John Stackhouse. The entire conversation of the class is very complicated and filled with theological and philosophical arguments. The main point: we can still maintain hope in Christ and through Christ and perhaps evil is not intended to be comprehend, rather to be fought.

Sadly, the class is over on Friday. Dr. Blocher lives in France and just comes to town to one month a semester to teach. Happily, that will free up three afternoons a week to study for comps.

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Planet sale

The other day I was driving and I saw a sign on the side of the road. It read “Plant sale.” At first glance, I thought it said “Planet Sale.” I thought that was odd, who can sell a planet. Are planets sellable?

Then as I continued down this thought line, I realized that in a way, Yes, planets, or at least ours, can be purchased and sold. In a way, our particular planet, earth, has been bought a long time ago. Humanity does not belong to itself and cannot try and sell itself.

Christ bought the planet with his sacrifice, but humanity often doesn’t know he is the rightful owner. Instead, humanity thinks that it can individual sell itself out for whatever price it deems worthy. The evil one also contains false beliefs about the ownership and sale-ability of earth & humanity. He thinks he is the rightful owner when in actually, he is just a renter. The actual owner welds the true power and control, not the tenant.

Humanity, though as a whole, ignorant of the owner, might disregard the high price that was paid. Humanity may kick and scream, insisting it is free to sell itself. We are beyond fortunate that the owner has already chosen to purchase and acted accordingly, for if we were stuck being owned by the current tenant, there would be no hope of freedom. On the other hand, that is not, nor will ever be the case. The true and rightful owner is one of Love. Through that Love, along with grace & mercy, we are set free.

Hmmm.…an owner sets free the possession. Interesting thought. Glad that such an owner purchased our planet.

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Run towards the Center. Christ is at the center of all things. With full and complete abandoning of all that hinders, Run!
Don’t be bogged down with idiosyncrasies, with mundane apathy, with trivial pursuits. Simply let go of all and Run.
In complete surrender of feelings, emotions, thoughts, logic – leave all behind. Only with Christ is one fully alive.
Do not lollygag, skip, walk, or stroll. Run full speed as if your life depended on it. In fact, your life does depend on it.

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Hope

On Sunday, my small group at church was talking about hope. The definition of hope we were discussing ran along the lines of Being Sure of something. Confident that it will happen. Not having fear or doubt that what you “hope” for (yes, I just used the word in the definition) will take place.

When we were discussing this in regards to the Christian faith, I made a comment that yeah, I totally agree with this definition of hope. Not “I hope it snows this winter” but I Have Hope that I will go to Heaven when I die. Hope that one day I will see Christ. (if You are reading this and you do not believe God exists, that the Bible is Truth, or that Jesus is Gods son sent to save humanity, then undoubtedly these two statements sound the same).

This Hope is a wonderful thing. I have very poor health and have often thought that I probably will not live to be super old. I find that I can talk pretty candidly about the possibility of dieing. When I do, everyone (including on Sunday) looks at me like I am crazy. Not really, I think I have just come to terms with the fact that Hope is all we have. (in Life, in death, in every moment). Everything in the world could turn upside down tomorrow, and what would I have, I would have my Hope in Christ.

Some would say (probably those who do not agree with my Hope in Christ) why then continue living each day? Recently I have been experiencing an overwhelming sense of Joy, Love, and Peace, with life itself. Each moment in time has so much potential and so much importance, why would you want to walk away from these daily gifts God gives?

Anyway, I don’t think discussing death is morbid or forbidden. Just as we live, we shall one day die. (Hey, just thought of something. Maybe because the definition of Hope has change through the years, I should start replacing it with “shall”) Why not discuss what happens next or why death is a necessity? Yeah, it is sad. Very sad. BUT, if you have Hope in Christ, the sadness does not last forever, Joy comes in the morning.

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