Remember how at the end of each Sesame Street episode they would announce that “today’s programming was brought to you by . . .the letter (A) and the number (3)!” And if you were to go back and rewatch the episode, you’d see that the letter and number they gave credit to DID, in fact, influence the programming that day. “Today’s programming” is a great way to think of the filter through which we experience life on any given day. If we were to look back over our day and reflect on our choices, actions, and words we could probably boil it down and give credit to a key word or two.
About a week ago I had a day where, if I had given credit to what was influencing me, my day would have ended something like this: “Today’s programming was brought to you by the letter B (we’ll go with B for . . . Bossy) and the Number 1 (Selfish)!” I was a crabby wife that day and totally focused on me, my needs, what I felt I wasn’t getting, and the projection into the future that things would always be like that, which made me even crabbier. Let’s just say that the programming sponsors (letter B and number 1) didn’t make for a very fun day at the Casa de Gronhovd. I’m sure none of you can relate . . .I’m sure none of you have had a crabby-for-no-apparent-reason kind of day?
Who is today’s programming brought to you by? What are the key words or adjectives that would describe the filter through which you experienced your day today?
I have myself to blame for days like yesterday because today’s programming isn’t something that just happens to you — it’s something we each choose each day by what we allow our minds to focus on. We all have a filter through which we see the world and that filter gets set each morning. I’m a woman and so, yes, my hormones absolutely influence my emotions — but why is that an excuse for how we filter our world? In fact, I would argue it’s even more reason that we need to refocus (or “fix”) our thoughts each morning.
Philippians 4:8 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.
How many times have I been crabby because I perceive that life isn’t going my way? How often have I felt hopeless because my life doesn’t appear to be moving any closer to my dreams? We blame God for imperfect circumstances in our lives, but God never promised happiness, he promised JOY. And JOY is very different from happy. JOY is choosing to see your blessings and knowing the hope of eternity of Jesus no matter what our circumstances.
Galatians 5:22 (NLT)
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness . . .
JOY is actually a gift of the Spirit and, like all gifts, we can choose to receive it or not. I promise that I know how hard it is to choose joy in the middle of tough circumstances, fear, or the middle of a lovely bout of PMS. However, there is a way we can “fix our thoughts” on what is lovely, pure, and right: Prayer. Prayer is the best way to focus on what God would like us to see for the day. Prayer is not only a wonderful way to SEEK GOD, but also a very effective way to fix your thoughts. Prayer is how you determine if “today’s programming” will be brought to you by your hormones, your circumstances, or your God.
I was never good at prayer. I’d talk to friends who had quiet time each morning with God and I really thought it sounded calming and awesome — so I’d make time, sit still, and could not get my mind to focus on anything other than my to-do list. “Dear God, thank you for this day… (long pause in my mind) . . .I should probably do a load of laundry . . .oh, right, God, okay, I’m going to pray now . . . ” but I just couldn’t get the practice of meditation down.
When I was in school, I always listened better with a pen in my hand; writing things down helped me to focus and gave me something to do while I learned. I began to journal my prayers. I have over a dozen prayer journals filled with writing now! Other than helping maintain focus, the benefit to journalling prayers is the ability to go back months or years and be reminded of God’s faithfulness in how far he has brought us! Even though God can do anything, he first and foremost desires relationship with you.
Look at Romans 12:2 in a few different translations:
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. (NLT)
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. (NIV)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (ESV)
Prayer is where we start to allow God to transform first our minds and then our lives. It is an easy excuse to say we are too busy to pray and we’ll find people who will agree with us — taking time to seek God is countercultural and yet completely necessary. When we take time to seek God and build a relationship with him, he will reveal himself to us. Each day we have an opportunity to renew our minds, determine who is in control of today’s programming, and choose joy. Each day as we pursue our God-given tender desires, start with the filter that will lead toward success.
- How do you start your day? What influences “today’s programming?” (What is your filter?)
- What are the little things that set you off? What are the triggers for your day going from good to bad?
- How do you think “today’s programming” influences how you feel about your dreams?
- What are you grateful for today? What would you like to thank and praise God for today?
- What will you do today (and each day) to give God control of today’s programming? Write down a few ideas that seem reasonable for you and your life:
ACTION Challenges for the coming week:
- Commit to spending ten minutes each day journaling your prayers. If you’re not sure how to start praying, start with gratitude — what are you thankful for?
- Memorize Philippians 4:8: Write it on a post-it note or index card and carry it with you this week. Read it out loud while you’re driving or getting ready in the morning.
- Write a prayer about your tender desire — about your dream. Write out your fears, your hopes, and your questions for God about it.