Friday, November 8, 2013

Our Thoughts and Emotions - Part 3 of 3

Image by Christina Morley
The fact is that whatever is going on inside of us overflows into how we behave toward others. If our thoughts are stirring up negative emotions, then we need to consider what we are thinking about. We decide what to think. The Bible tells us that whatsoever things are pure and whatsoever things are lovely, we should think on these things (Phil. 4:8).

Usually, what happens is that we waste lots of time reviewing in our minds a particularly negative situation over and over again. If we notice that our thoughts are spiraling downwards, then we need to grab hold of them and make a focus shift by redirecting our thoughts towards God’s view on the situation. Unhealthy thoughts bring unhealthy emotions.

When my eldest daughter was just four years old, she began battling with her thoughts. She would ask questions like how do we know when our thoughts are from God and when they are from the devil? Deciphering truth from a lie was especially perplexing for her as she struggled with lots of negative thoughts toward herself.

I had a few conversations with her about it, but I didn’t seem to be getting through to her. Then one day my son decided to try and help her with her dilemma. He was only eighteen months older, but his advice took. He told her that the devil speaks to her mind, and God speaks to her heart. The way he put it was simple enough for her to grasp. Once she recognized that her thoughts were not always telling the truth, and that she could listen to her heart, she began having more peace of mind.

It’s also important to note that the way we treat ourselves is the same way we’ll treat others. This means that we cannot respond toward others lovingly if we don’t love ourselves. The way we treat ourselves has everything to do with the way we think about ourselves. Our minds hold a lot of power.

We need to train our thoughts to be in line with God’s thoughts. We are not victims, and we are not powerless. We can change what is troubling us. Through Christ Jesus, our old thought patterns no longer need to have center stage. In fact, they can be totally replaced with God’s truth by reading the Bible and by receiving His thoughts about life. Through the Word of God, we can positively impact our lives and the lives of others around us. In Christ, we can have peace beyond understanding.

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Friday, October 11, 2013

Our Thoughts and Emotions - Part 2 of 3

Art and Text by Christina A. Morley
Nothing heals a wound like forgiveness. God says that we should forgive others as the Lord has forgiven us. All of us have done wrong and have hurt others in the process, so we all need forgiveness. When we remember that God freely forgives us, we can obey Him by doing the same.

Sometimes the wounds inflicted go so deep that we might not feel the people who hurt us deserve forgiveness. We harbor negativity toward them because we want them to pay for what they’ve done. This negativity seeps into our being like a toxin, but we only end up hurting ourselves. The more we suffer emotionally, the more we suffer physically.

Whenever we think the other person doesn’t deserve forgiveness, we ought to look back at the cross. Jesus endured a brutal crucifixion in order to accept punishment for mankind’s sins. He took the penalty of every injustice that we ever felt with each blow. That horrible event was God’s just punishment for all sin, so there could be forgiveness for everyone.

He knows how we feel. He fully understands our weaknesses, our struggles, our hurts, and our pains. He doesn’t take the wounding we’ve received lightly. Yet, He also knows that the answer to any wounding comes through forgiveness. Sometimes, we need to forgive ourselves too. When we don’t, we are declaring that God’s judgment on Jesus was not sufficient suffering to pay for our mistakes. Forgiveness helps the hurting heart to heal and the hardened heart to feel.

Sometimes it helps to remember that hurting people hurt others. This doesn’t excuse their behavior, but does explain it. Something went wrong in their lives, and then, they acted out of their own emotional mess. We have the opportunity, on the other hand, to make the right decision regarding forgiveness so that this messed-up cycle stops with us.
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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Our Thoughts and Emotions - Part 1 of 3

Image and Text by Christina Morley
All of us have traveled through life and have picked up a number of wounds along the way. For some the wounds inflicted were more terrible than for others. When these wounds are not healed, they begin to impact our lives negatively.

Perhaps you lost a parent while growing up and have always felt the void this left. Or your family didn’t know how to show you love. Maybe you were one of the many at school who felt the stinging words of bullies. Or perhaps you were emotionally, physically, or even sexually abused.

Whatever the wounds, they may still leave you wondering if you are special and if you really matter. Your logic tells you that if you were special and if you did matter then those people would never have hurt you. Maybe you’ve even convinced yourself that you deserved to be treated that way. The devil is the author of these kinds of lies. If you have confused the ill-treatment with your self-worth, then you have acknowledged that the devil is right, and God is wrong.

It’s important that we take inventory of our thoughts and emotions on a regular basis. They impact our lives to a great extent. Some of the things that we carry are too heavy for us to bear. God asks us to cast our burdens on to Him because He cares for us (Ps. 55:22). He knows everything in the tiniest detail and understands all human suffering. There is nothing on this earth that goes by Him unnoticed. If a little sparrow falls from the sky, He knows and cares. Yet, He is never gloomy, and He is not wrapped up in negative emotions.

When our emotions are overpowering us, it’s a sign that something is wrong. The matter only worsens if we try to avoid whatever it is that’s bothering us. Usually, we keep ourselves so busy that we’re out of touch with what’s going on deep down inside.

We complicate matters when we don’t search our hearts to discover the source of our problems. Instead, by running from our pain, we develop “ghosts” that don’t go away. These “ghosts” are unresolved issues that resurface and trigger us to react to situations in an inappropriate manner, like when we blow-up at the slightest provocation or respond defensively when spoken to.

Issues that have not been appropriately handled need to be brought into the light. We have to make the choice to face the real reason behind the pain. By bringing these “ghosts” into the light of truth, we will know them for what they really are. No longer will they be faceless wounds. Instead, they will be known as real hurts with names like “rejection” or “neglect.” As each negative experience from the past is distinguished, the better equipped we’ll be to recognize them every time they rear their ugly heads. Then we can deal with them appropriately.
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Poem - The Sun Rises

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The sun rises across the sky
As people are walking by
Shining on the rich and poor
From desert to sea shore
On every man, woman, and child
From the city to the wild
It rises and then sets again
Each day without end
Telling a tale for all to see
That we aren’t living equally
Perhaps equally we never will
And also without justice ‘til
We speak up for the weak and small
In the daytime and at nightfall
To remain consistent and fair
As our lives are there to share

by Christina Morley
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Money on the Move – Part 4 of 4

When it was time for us to leave Japan, we had no idea how we would pay our way back to the airport. Then unexpectedly, one of the Japanese workers who helped us get on a train to the airport gave us some money. Not only did he give us enough for our fare, but there was also enough to buy a few souvenirs at the airport. During our time in Tokyo we had firsthand experience of God working through people and through us.

Life is not all about shopping at the mall, watching TV, or playing computer games. As parents, it’s our responsibility to shape our children’s world-view. Most kids don’t even appreciate what they have. The best way to combat materialism is by giving away money or things. The best way to combat selfishness is by giving away time through acts of service.

Consider taking your kids with you on a short-term outreach during a holiday or summer break. Allow them healthy exposure to the outside world so they can learn how other people live. Teach them to be grateful, compassionate, and generous. God has blessed us so that we can be a blessing. God doesn’t want the resources we possess to stop with us. He wants them to keep flowing.
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