Wednesday, July 11, 2012

True and Lovely

I LOVE this verse, and you have probably heard it before (It's posted on my refrigerator door):
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 4:8 (NIV)


This verse is valuable for so many reasons. When my daughter went through a period when she couldn't put scary images out of her mind, I said this to her over and over, "Bella, is this real? Does God want to scare you? Think of something lovely- of all the wonderful things you have or the amazing things God has made..." 

When I choose what movies my kids can watch or what music I allow them to listen to (yes, I do that), I use Philippians 4:8 as a standard. Is it noble? Is it pure? 

When I hear the buzz of a new book hitting the scene that EVERYBODY is reading, I ask around, seeking to find out first, whether it's dark or if it's uplifting. Basically, my benchmark is, "How will I feel after reading this?" 

I even read reviews on movies that I, myself, am interested in seeing. I've pressed the stop button or turned the channel more than a few times, when I felt the prick of the Holy Spirit telling me this isn't something that's praiseworthy. And when I haven't turned away, I usually felt like I had wasted a good portion of my life on worthless entertainment.

Overall, I value what I allow into my head and heart.  Many things stick, and I'd rather it be the good stuff :-)

I'm completely aware that not everyone has the same levels of tolerance for violence, or cursing, or gossiping, or whistling at shirtless men at the theater. What bothers me, doesn't always bother my husband, and my daughter's always been more sensitive than my son.  But we all know what we feel is appropriate, even if we feel it AFTER we've sat through something uncomfortable. 

So what actions do we take when our conscience taps on our shoulder? Do we ignore God's nudges or do we accept His best for us? Do we turn away from what is false, what is lowly, what is wrong, what is corrupt, what is repulsive, what is shameful...even if it borders anything dishonorable? I hope we choose whatever lifts our spirits, never what pulls us down. So many of our attitudes and beliefs are shaped by our most common influences- good or bad.

Do your friends, that book you're reading, the websites you frequent, or the TV shows you record make you a better mother?  Do they inspire you to help someone or push you to do something daring or brave?  Does your playlist encourage you to love unconditionally or to respect those around you?  If not, I'd recommend looking for something that changes you and those around you for the good.  It may not be popular, but it will make you happier.

Take a minute to soak in the surrounding verses in Philippians 4. God always laces His instructions with beautiful promises of how He will take care of us.

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you're on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute! Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:4-9 (MSG)

The radio voices, news writers, and even the best-selling book lists can't be trusted.  They have an agenda.  God promises us peace, when we focus on HIM and what He believes is best for us- not because he's going to get paid.  He just loves us, and He is always good.  That's the truth, folks.

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