What Are You Dwelling On?

Week 2 Beauty & Truth: What Are You Filling Your Mind With?

Beauty & Truth

Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Philippians 4:8 (The Voice)

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. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (HCSB)

Welcome back to the kitchen table!  This week we will examine what it means to “fill our minds”. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8 to fill our minds, think, or dwell on these things.  Regardless of the translation these are all same word in the original language. Take a look:

dwell on logizomaito take an inventory, to estimate, to reckon, calculate, count over, meditate on.  This word deals with reality.  This word refers to facts not suppositions.

 Dwell —The reality is, dwelling is part of what we do as women. Dwelling involves taking an inventory, reckoning and meditating.

What do your daily “dwelling sessions” look like?

Mine usually involves something like this: I turn it round & round, looking at all the angles of the “what ifs” and “if onlys” — rehearsing it, calculating and contemplating, until it consumes me! This kind of dwelling session enslaves us and manifests itself as worry, doubt, anxiety and insecurity.

Here is more of Lori’s story as she shares one of her “dwelling sessions”:

Around the time Blair was to be discharged from the hospital to a nursing care facility for rehab, I was invited to participate in a weekend retreat with a small group of friends from our church. My mind was in a constant swirl about the past, the present, and what the future might hold.  I would dwell on what life used to be like and I wanted to go back to what I considered to be “normal.” Then I would think about the difficulties of what I would need to deal with when I left the safety of the retreat.  And, of course, I obsessed about what our future might hold:  What would Blair be like?  What would I do if he only recovered by 50%?  How would this affect our relationship?  How would this affect our daughters?  Would we even be able to pay our bills?  What about our plans for the future?

During one of our evening sessions at the retreat, a young man who I knew pretty well had a poem he wanted to share with the group.  He said that God had inspired him to write this poem earlier in the week and felt that it was meant for someone in the group that was gathered there that evening. His poem was entitled, “Rest” and explained how much our Father wants us to lay aside our burdens and worries in order to experience the peace and love that come only from His presence. I’m sure there were others in the group that benefited from that poem, but I knew that it was meant for me.  It wasn’t just the words of that poem that changed my life, it was also the realization that God cared enough about me to inspire a poem and make sure I was there to hear those words. I believe that the true knowledge of God’s love and the acknowledgment of the truth of any situation is the key to “really living.”  In my life, I have seen that embracing love and truth can free us in the present and actually protect us in the future from the fear and anxiety that sometimes plagues us and at times can even immobilize us as women.” —Lori Fink

God’s desire is not for us to fixate on the circumstance or relationship that is troubling us until we are a meltdown mess. His desire is for us to evaluate and respond to those things that occupy our thoughts through the lens of truth.

As I would rehearse my troubles to a friend, she would always say, “But the reality is . . .” The reality is always where the truth lies.  And yes, sometimes the truth is not pretty or comfortable.  Sometimes the truth can be terrifying.  But the truth also contains the fact that God is good and He loves me, some days that is all that kept me going.  Oh yeah and taking every thought captive and examining it for truth. —Lori Fink

Truth — things that are true is the first in the list that Paul exhorts us to dwell on.  This word in the original language is alethes meaning true, real, conformed to the reality of things, loving the truth and not concealingIt is a word that denotes the reality of a thing. That is just what Lori was talking about—getting to the bottom of things!  Wading through our fears and feelings to get to the reality of the truth.

Now this does not mean we are to live in denial, putting on our Pollyanna smiles and pretty masks.  It simply means we can honestly and openly come before our God and pour out our hearts to Him. (Psalm 62:8). He is our safe place to express and unload all that talk going round in our heads. Once we’ve unloaded, vented, ranted and raved —and yes it is okay to rant and rave before our God, He is big enough to handle it —once we’ve “got it off our chest”, then our “dwelling” needs to take on a different focus.  Look at the definition for dwell again.  It states that this word refers to facts, not suppositions.  We need to turn our attention to dwelling on the facts.  So how do we determine what is true?   How do we sort out the facts from our feelings? 

Truth is found in the unchanging character of God, in the truth of His Word and what HE says is true of us.  We need to remind ourselves, rehearse, and dwell on the truths of His Word, regardless of what the world or our circumstances are screaming.

Philippians 4:8 gives us a list of things to “dwell on” and the filter through which we should examine our situation.  We can examine our situation and ask:

What is true?

What is honorable?

What is just?

What is pure?

What is lovely?

What is commendable?

What is excellent?

What is worthy of praise?

And perhaps the specifics of that situation make it difficult to find any of the above!

But the truth, the reality, is God is good! He brings good out of even the most difficult situations. And when our eyes are focused on Him, we can see what is true, honorable, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise because HE IS all of those things!  I love Lori’s realization and affirmation that some days this truth is all that kept her going!

The truth that HE IS causes us to change our perspective and with a renewed perspective we can ask, “How might I respond in a way that is…true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent and worthy of bringing God praise?

Finally, Paul follows his exhortation to dwell with an instruction to do.

Do —look at this word in the original language:

            do prassoto practice, to perform repeatedly or habitually

Over and over and over again, we remind ourselves and rehearse the truth of who God is, what He has done for us and who He says we are in Christ Jesus. We are to dwell on the truth of who God is and what His Word teaches us.

So go ahead and get busy —dwell and do! ANDThe peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesusand the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:7, 9

See you next week at the kitchen table as we examine what it means to embrace beauty in our daily lives.

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 P.SClick here for a list of verses that are great “dwelling session” material.  We’d love to hear from you on what some of your “go to” verses are when you need to be reminded of truth.  Comment on this post and share them with us!

A Story of Beauty & Truth

A Story of Beauty & Truth

Fill your minds with beauty and truth. Philippians 4:8 (The Voice)

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable — if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise — dwell on these things. Philippians 4:8 (HCSB)

beauty and truth1

{This lovely watercolor print was done by Emily at Jones Design Company and is available on her website.}

What does a life characterized by beauty and truth look like? What does it mean to fill our minds with beauty and truth?  What does this look like on a daily basis in the midst of doing ordinary life with our ordinary tasks and daily to-do lists? What does it look like when life throws us a curve ball we weren’t expecting?

So often as women, we measure our worth and the substance of our lives by our accomplishments, perfections, performances and a constant striving to be accepted and approved by others. I don’t know about you but for me that is e.x.h.a.u.s.t.i.n.g!  If this is the basis for our identity then, what happens when one season of life that has so defined us, ends? What happens when circumstances take a turn and we find ourselves in a place we did not expect nor want to be?  I have shared many times before that the true measure of who we are is based solely on who we are in Christ Jesus.

But how do we learn to live out that identity on a daily basis in the midst of our busy lives and unexpected circumstances?  So much of how view our worth and our attitudes, reactions and responses are based on what is going on inside our heads.  I don’t know about you, but for me that is a battlefield and the “off” switch never seems to work!  Philippians 4:6-8 offers us some answers but first I want to share a friend’s story with you and the inspiration for this study.

Lori is my precious and long-time, dear friend.  We first met when our children were young (and we are now empty nesters). Chris and I had just purchased our dream home right next to Lori and Blair. We were their “unchurched” neighbors and they loved on us and invited us into their lives without judgment.  We became fast friends. That year Chris and I both surrendered our lives to Christ.  They poured into us and showed us what it meant to be the hands and feet of Christ.  Although we ended up losing our house (consequence of my shopaholic days), we remained friends and they continued to minister love and grace to us.  When we both began homeschooling our children, we’d take field trips together, do projects together, and just hang out.  Later Lori and Blair gave up suburban life and Blair’s engineering job to move back to their home state of Pennsylvania and become organic farmers.  They settled into life on the farm.  We missed them terribly, but we each took turns making visits to one another.

Fink Cady banner pic

Then in 2005, Lori and Blair’s lives changed in an instant and dramatically!  Blair stood to teach on a Wednesday evening at their church and suffered a cerebral hemorrhage caused by an arterial venous malformation. Life changed drastically that day for Blair, Lori and their girls. Life as they knew it would never be the same.  Long story short, Blair was told he would never fully recover. At one point Lori was told he would probably spend the rest of his days in a full-time care facility.  But God had other plans!  Blair came home.  He was granted permanent disability by the state.  They began to try to find the new normal with Lori taking on most of the responsibilities for which she used to rely on Blair.  But God had other plans.  In 2011, they began considering a move back to Georgia where their girls wanted to attend college. Unbeknownst to Lori, Blair had begun applying for engineering jobs. He was offered a job in Atlanta. After seven years of being on total and permanent Social Security Disability, Blair is now working again as an electrical engineer. It is amazing how God works!  The portion of Blair’s brain that contained all that engineering knowledge and skill remained intact. But, in the years immediately following Blair’s episode, Lori began to feel lost.  Listen to her words:

 “It was at a time when I was starting to rebuild my faith.  Blair’s illness and our church experience at the time had left me floundering around and feeling unsure of what I really believed and what was really true. I saw how quickly life can change and I didn’t want to continue living the same old way. So I asked God what it meant for me to really live. His answer was 1) walk without fear, 2) love unconditionally, and 3) embrace beauty, which I think means in others, in ourselves, in nature, in our homes, everywhere!” —Lori Fink

When Lori shared this with me across my kitchen table last year, it resonated powerfully with my heart and soul.  All weekend, I could not get those three statements out of my mind.  God brought reminders from His Word as I contemplated Lori’s statements.  After several months, her words continued to ring true in my head and heart as I thought about what it meant to really live for the Lord and to find my identity completely in Him!  So I asked Lori if she would grant me permission to use her three statements, and the truths I had began to uncover in the Word, to write a study to encourage others in living the abundant life in Christ.  She agreed!  So pull up a chair at the kitchen table with Lori and me.  We’ll be having a cup of hot tea and maybe some tea cookies or scones.  You grab a cup of tea, coffee or whatever you’d like and join us!

Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing more of Lori’s story and unpack what it means to:

1.   Embrace Beauty

2.  Love Unconditionally

3.  Walk without Fear

4 Know Truth

Philippians 4:8 will be our guiding verse as we seek to live out these powerful statements by  filling our minds with beauty and truth!  We hope you’ll make plans to join us!

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