What Kind of Tree Are You?

By Linda Tancs

Journalist Barbara Walters once asked actress Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be. Hepburn likened herself to an oak tree. Not a bad choice. After all, the oak tree is a symbol of power and strength. And the Bible says that we should be like a tree firmly planted (Psalm 1:3).

Like an oak, a firmly planted tree is stable. So what does stability look like? For starters, it’s properly managing the past, present and future. Leave the past behind (Philippians 3:13). Be confident in God’s promise to provide in your current circumstances (Malachi 3:10). Remain hopeful for the future (Hebrews 6:19; Jeremiah 29:11).

So, what kind of tree are you?

Sweet Surrender

By Linda Tancs

Waving the white flag. It’s an action many a child undertakes when engaging in a fake war on the playground or in the backyard. It’s a sign of surrender, giving up all rights to the opposing force. Surrendering to God is like that. God has a plan for our lives, and surrendering to Him means we set aside our own plans in favor of His—the better plan (Jeremiah 29:11).

Romans 6:13 says that God demands that you surrender all of yourself; we don’t get to reserve a portion of our life for our own ends, a little corner dedicated to our career interests, ambitions, life goals or luxury goods. Indeed, Jesus said that His followers must deny themselves (Mark 8:34). That’s a complete call to surrender.

Surrendering to the Lord is sweet. It is, like the songwriter John Denver wrote, a life without care. Like a fish in the water. Like a bird in the air. Their needs don’t escape the Lord’s notice. And yours don’t, either (Matthew 6:25-34).

Are You Afraid to be Happy?

By Linda Tancs

Does happiness seem elusive to you? Do you go about daily life “waiting for the other shoe to drop”? Like Job, do you fear that something will come upon you (Job 3:25)? You’re not alone. According to a study published in the Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, people across 14 different cultures identified with statements like “having lots of joy and fun causes bad things to happen.” Clearly, there’s a universal need to control bad thoughts. Such thoughts lead to bad words and bad, unhealthy actions. Jesus came so that we might have and enjoy life, not fear it (John 10:10).

So what are some steps you can take to control your thoughts? Second Corinthians lends imagery of taking thoughts captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). Imagine taking bad thoughts and banishing them to a prison cell. Envision locking the cell door. Now replace each bad or negative thought with a biblical thought. Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us that God’s plans, or thoughts, are for our welfare. That doesn’t mean we never have a reason to be unhappy; rather, we should look to God to turn our trials into triumphs in due season. What can you focus on that’s pure, lovely, praiseworthy, commendable, honorable or excellent (Philippians 4:8)? Accentuate the positive, as the old song goes. Maintaining a positive focus will renew your mind (Romans 12:2) and bring God’s peace (Romans 8:6). You can’t be both peaceful and unhappy.