Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Alignment, part 1

“You are today where your thoughts have brought you,you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Have you heard of the tool “The Red Bucket?”
It’s a simple book designed as a workbook/journal to help us busy Americans focus on one thing for 90 days. I have found this workbook to be immensely helpful for me in more than one area of my life as it challenges old paradigms and helps create new ones.

This summer has been a delightful time of discovering resources that are presented to the secular world but have biblical themes running through them. One of the biblical themes running through The Red Bucket is right thinking: believing the truth about ourselves and the world. The premise is that when we begin to think empowering thoughts, rather than negative self talk or criticism of others, we begin to move in ways that take us towards our dreams and fulfillment in life.

This premise came from the Bible.
Over and over the Scriptures point us to the reality that God is for us and he gave us dreams that we are to live out so that his kingdom purposes move forward. Our purpose will always match our created design!
So, what’s the key?

The key is our thoughts.
Over and over this summer Jesus has pointed me to this as the key to kingdom breakthrough. As we think correctly about God, his character and his intentions, and then ourselves in our identity as his followers, our life will come into right alignment with Jesus’ priorities.
Listen to what Paul told the Church of Rome: (a culture very much like ours today)

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
There it is in black and white (or green!).
God will change the way we think as we seek to know him.
So, how practically, do we do this?

I’ve developed four questions that help us to be open to Jesus changing the way we think.
Here they are:

The Alignment Questions:
Jesus, align my mind with your mind.
Jesus, align my emotions with your heart.

Jesus, align my will with your will.
Jesus, align my life choices with your priorities.

I challenge you to commit to using these questions as you begin your daily reflection time with Jesus. Take a couple of deep breaths and then slowly move through the questions one at a time. Then, take some time to read Scripture and pray. Over and over, I find that Jesus does a bit of an adjustment on me—until I come closer and closer into right alignment.

Here’s a regular example. Yesterday, I was overtired and had a very busy day. I was standing at my washer thinking very negatively about my life and myself. Then, Jesus popped into my thoughts and challenged me: “Do you really have to have a bad day? Maybe you could ask me to align your thoughts with my mind.”

Good thought, since I just challenged the people at the Celebration the night before to use these questions in their daily life for 30 days. So, I began pray the four requests to Jesus as I surrendered my thinking to his mind. My day began to brighten up and amazingly, I even got through my long list of to dos!

So, where is our thinking skewed from God’s mind?
I believe we often have two fundamental beliefs that are far from true.
They are: God is not for us and he cannot be trusted.
I know your first reaction might be: I don’t believe that. But if you begin to search you will find that everyone has a place in their life where our enemy has stolen the truth and planted the lie. This is the strategy that he used with Adam and Eve and he continues, often very successfully, to use it today.

Here are two Scriptures that combat the lies with God’s truth:
Romans 8:31-32: What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

God is for us. He hasn’t withheld anything from us; he shows us that by his unbelievable gift of his Son, Jesus, to the world. This is his sign of trustworthiness and his generosity, he wants to bless us!
God is good. His goodness and his mercy, which is overwhelming, pursuing love that never quits, is following us for our whole lives. God doesn’t stand apart; he draws near to us, continually showing us his goodness.

I just had my birthday last week. I popped out of bed knowing that Jesus had some birthday gifts for me. The first one was an invitation from him to ask for anything I wanted for the coming year. This is another truth that he is currently challenging me to believe: (John 14:13-14)
You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

Jesus tells us that when he answers our prayers, it brings glory, delight to his Father. He lives to delight his Father, and he lives to delight us!

So, here’s my challenge:
Make a commitment to use the Four Alignment Questions for the next 30 days.

I will be reflecting on one question each week for the next few weeks, as we partner together to walk aligned in a Jesus lifestyle. Together we can build on the solid foundation of truth about God, ourselves and the world around us.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tamara, These are great questions related to Obedience. As you focus on Identity and Obedience this fall I'm looking forward to the questions that come out of the Identity corner of the triangle. Have you thought of what they are? I've been mulling it over. - LB