Archive for the ‘2nd Corinthians’ Category

Above all else, guard your heart,
   for it is the wellspring of life. (Proverbs 4:23)

The student ministry just began a series tonight on toxic thoughts. We talked about four poisons in our thought life: negative thoughts, fearful thoughts, critical thoughts and discontented thoughts. Then we talked about a strategy that will help us detox our thought life – Identify, Reject and Replace.

As I processed along with T’s talk, I could identify the four poisons in my thought life and how I rarely do what is necessary to detox. However, I have noticed that God has grown me in the area of identifying the toxins. But I do not always reject and replace. Frankly and painfully, I would say that any rejecting and replacing that has gone on this past three-year eight-month period has been God’s supernatural insertion into my life. I certainly have been constantly negative about work (and my future). I don’t dwell as much as I did a decade ago, so I see where God has improved my mind/emotions. But, these improvements have only been because of the insane kindness of God, not because of my diligence and discipline.

I told the boys I’d write down two or three toxic thoughts I deal with and write out God’s solution. I encouraged them to do the same for next time we meet. May God do some cool things with my thoughts these next two weeks!

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 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. (2nd Corinthians 10:3-5)

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We began a new series this Sunday, titled, “Plan B.”  We were asked the questions: “What happens when Plan A takes its final breath?”; “What happens when Plan A is gone and is not coming back?” He used the words “shattered dreams,” and that is what stuck with me the most. He preached from the story of Joseph (OT). God had clearly given Joseph dreams as a youth but his immaturity (and his mouth) cost him and lost him some years. Of course, as God seems to always do, he redeemed those years for Joseph and used the hurt and wandering and wondering for his purposes. Joseph himself said, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20). I don’t think like that. My life right now is a waste. My friend encourages me to think of it as a wilderness. I work where I work because I chose to work there. I choose everyday to be disobedient to God’s call. My Plan B is my own fault, not God’s design. In other words, Joseph and I aren’t anything alike!

I presume that God allows our Plan A’s to disintegrate so we can grow, especially in our intimacy with him. Of course, there are many characters in the Bible who are examples of Plan B lives —

Paul wrote about his visions – “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2nd Corinthians 12:7-9)

James, the Lord’s half-brother said, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (James 1:2-3)

God spoke in Jeremiah’s time to his people living in Plan B – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11). In the context of this passage, God flat-out told his people you are going to have to wait, even in this painful place. Do my will, and do it well, and do it exceedingly well, in a place you don’t want to be, even though it is going to be yeeeeeaaaarrrrrrrssssss before I rescue you and bring you back to your land.

Brennan Manning, in his book Abba’s Child, describes his journey with Jesus using the words “glorious failures and disastrous successes.” Let’s hope my failures from the last decade can one day be described as glorious – should God make a way for me to be used again in useful, fruitful service.

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