Posted by Amber Lea
Being a writer in this modern world often requires a certain amount of time spent on social media and the internet. I spend time reading articles, stories and news clips, as well as watching videos, gathering and researching information. And often, I find the content rewarding and uplifting.
However, there are times when it seems like most of what I see is negative, sad, hateful, disappointing, disgusting, or rude.
There have been certain news stories for instance, about people and events that are just so horrible that it is hard for my mind to conceive the reality of it. I find myself asking, “How could anyone do such a terrible thing”? I know the answer…because there is evil in the world. But knowing that does not make me feel any better.
Earlier this year, while I was gathering some information for an article I was working on, I read several stories that disturbed me deeply. Everywhere I looked, I found more bad news. With a seemingly constant bombardment of rancid content, I found myself being filled with hatred, disgust and contempt over the atrocities. The emotions going through my heart were so strong, I was physically shaking and began to feel quite sick.
I knew the feelings that I was experiencing were not good, and not according to God’s will. I know He doesn’t want for me to hate anyone. But with each story I read, each news clip and show I watched, I found it more difficult to let these negative emotions go. I decided I had to take a break for a while.
The main purpose of my writing is generally to encourage others and share hope through faith in Jesus, and sometimes a little humor to lift the spirits. In going back over the articles I had been writing, I could see a sourness in them that I knew was not what God wanted for me to share. By secular (worldly) standards, they were fine articles. But not by God’s standards. So I deleted them all.
As a result, I haven’t produced very much writing this summer. Like a drained battery, I needed to recharge myself, and my spirit.
I was reminded of what the bible says in Romans 12:2, “Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].” (AMP)
I have spent the majority of this summer working on yard improvement projects, and spirit improvements as well. In reading and studying the bible, and through much prayer, I have found new strength and vitality in my spirit, along with renewed joy.
Two verses in particular had a profound impact on my heart in regards to what had been going on in my spirit:
Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. (Proverbs 4:23 AMP)
But take heed to yourselves and be on your guard, lest your hearts be overburdened and depressed (weighed down) with the giddiness and headache and nausea of self-indulgence, drunkenness, and worldly worries and cares pertaining to [the business of] this life, and [lest] that day come upon you suddenly like a trap or a noose; (Luke 21:34 AMP)
As I had been reading and watching negative stories, my thoughts became negative, and so did my heart. My writing (which comes from my heart) was also coming out negative.
I made an intentional change, a decision to “guard my heart”, in refraining from negative influences. In choosing to intentionally surround myself in positive and encouraging people, stories, songs and scriptures, my own spirit has become positive again.
It became very clear to me that what I allow into my mind (what I see and hear) has a very strong influence on my thoughts, which in turn, influences my heart. What is in my heart is what comes out of my mouth, (or written) what I share with others.
I’ve had to learn to not allow myself to be distracted by negative or ungodly images and postings. Sometimes that means scrolling past certain stories, pictures and videos. Sometimes it means turning the channel on the TV, or turning it off altogether. Sometimes it means closing the newspaper, and opening my bible.
It’s not that I’m trying to pretend that there is no evil in the world and that everything is fine. I know all too well bad things happen, evil does exist. But I can’t afford to let it infect my heart and suck all the joy and good things out of my spirit! I can choose what I look at and listen to, and I choose positive and encouraging things, and images that build love and hope.
What do you allow to influence your mind, and therefore your heart?
For parents, what do you allow to influence your children?
Posted by Amber Lea
A few months before I was born, my dad met a stranger who was new to our small Tennessee town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer, and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around to welcome me into the world a few months later.
As I grew up I never questioned his place in our family. Mom taught me to love the Word of God. Dad taught me to obey it. But the stranger was our storyteller. He could weave the most fascinating tales. Adventures, mysteries and comedies were daily conversations. He could hold our whole family spellbound for hours each evening. He was like a friend to the whole family. He took Dad, Bill and me to our first major league baseball game. He was always encouraging us to see the movies and he even made arrangements to introduce us to several movie stars.
The stranger was an incessant talker. Dad didn’t seem to mind, but sometimes Mom would quietly get up – while the rest of us were enthralled with one of his stories of faraway places – and go to her room read her Bible and pray. I wonder now if she ever prayed that the stranger would leave.
You see, my dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions. But this stranger never felt an obligation to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our house – not from us, from our friends, or adults. Our longtime visitor, however, used occasional four-letter words that burned my ears and made Dad squirm. To my knowledge the stranger was never confronted.
My dad was a teetotaler who didn’t permit alcohol in his home – not even for cooking. But the stranger felt he needed exposure and enlightened us to other ways of life. He offered us beer and other alcoholic beverages often. He made cigarettes look tasty, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (too much too freely) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing. I know now that my early concepts of the man/woman relationship were influenced by the stranger.
As I look back, I believe it was the grace of God that the stranger did not influence us more. Time after time he opposed the values of my parents. Yet he was seldom rebuked and never asked to leave.
More than thirty years have passed since the stranger moved in with the young family on Morningside Drive. But if I were to walk into my parents’ den today, you would still see him sitting over in a corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures.
His name? We always called him “TV”.
He has a sister now. Her name is “computer”.
(Author Unknown, but seems to have appeared in circulation on the internet around 2007)
Just something to think about: What we allow to enter our minds also enters our hearts. And from our hearts, our life flows. What’s flowing from you?