The Right Move

By Linda Tancs

Chess is a game of strategy, requiring players to master the art of manipulating how the pieces move. Sometimes, life feels like a never-ending game of chess, doesn’t it? We spend countless hours, days, or even years trying to manipulate people, events and circumstances to achieve an outcome that best suits us, or so we think. There’s no shortage of manipulators in the Bible, either. Consider Jacob, who manipulated his father Isaac into giving him the family blessing (i.e., the first son’s inheritance) by posing as his older twin brother Esau in the presence of his blind father (Genesis 27:34-38). Even Satan poses as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14).

What kind of move are you making? Are you a wolf in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15)? A smooth talker (Romans 16:18)? Do you callously disregard others (Ezekiel 34:4)? You might have made the wrong move for so long that you’ve forgotten what the right one looks like. Well, here’s a hint: it’s whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely or whatever is commendable (Philippians 4:8). Let the Holy Spirit guide you to the right move, to all truth (John 16:13). How do you do that? By reading the Bible faithfully, which we’re reminded is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and for training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16).

Under New Management

By Linda Tancs

What goes through your mind when a business goes under new management? If it’s an establishment you favor, you probably hope that nothing happens to change your opinion. If it’s a troubled business, maybe you hope for a better outcome. Sometimes, we need to put our own mind and behaviors “under new management.” Ephesians 4:22-24 explains that to follow Christ means to put off your old nature and acquire a new nature. But what does that mean? Ephesians gives answers: don’t go to bed angry, be truthful, deliver an honest day’s work, watch your mouth (Ephesians 4:25-32). That’s pretty specific. Essentially, it’s all about focusing on what is right, true, noble, pure, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). Can you manage that?

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.