The 4:8 Principle: The Secret to a Joy-Filled Life by Tommy Newberry sat on my want-to-read list for several years. So when I chose the word “joy” as my word of the year, I knew it was time to dust it off. If you regularly read Christian non-fiction, you may not find much ground broken in this book. Even more secular publications tell us that if we change our thought life, we change our whole life, which is essentially the 4:8 principle based on Philippians 4:8:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is ]lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” NASB
However, this book did provide a strategy for changing your thought life in the form of a series of questions to ask yourself. I found this both interesting and helpful and would like to share one of the sets of questions (which the author likens to evaluating your gratitude) with you in case you might benefit! And if you will indulge me, I’ll share my answers to these questions to ask yourself as well because it wasn’t until I put pen to paper that I understood how they could change my mindset.
The 10 Questions to Ask Yourself
What is positive and unique about your family? Our children are believers in Jesus. I love being with my parents and siblings. I would be hard-pressed to find someone that I think has a better husband than me. Allie will soon be a third generation Baylor Bear and she brings me so much joy by her love for Jesus and her beautiful singing voice.
What are 3 of your best memories from your first year with your spouse? Eating Hula Pie while facing the ocean, taking him a note at work to tell him I was pregnant with Shelby, and Digiorno Pizza and Must See TV every Thursday after working out together.
What is the most magnificent goal you have already accomplished?
What parts of your body tend to work really well most of the time? My mind is sharp and creative. My muscles are strong enough to be active and work out 5 days a week. I’m nimble enough to still teach exercise classes at 49.
In what ways has God shown His grace in your life recently? Bringing Allie back to a place of love and devotion for Him that brings me so much joy. Every time I hear her lead worship or think about my relationship with Chuck I feel His grace. And I know it’s only His grace that is sustaining me and allowing me to still experience joy through one of the most challenging things I’ve ever faced, but must remain unnamed for the privacy of others.
What is the nicest compliment you have received in the last month? Since my appearance is a tough area for me, I always appreciate my husband telling me I look pretty. And I often get compliments on my hair. Also, a co-worker told me of a selfless thing she did and then told me that I taught her that. And a student told me how much they love my class this week.
What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from another person? My mom modeled the importance of praying for my kids.
What is the most beautiful thing you’ve seen in the last week? As my sister was taking my daughter’s senior pictures, my husband jumped into a couple. To watch them look at each other and see how much they love each other put a lump in my throat.
What is an old crisis or rough situation from the past that in retrospect has turned into a blessing or benefited you in some way? I have been able to walk with several friends and acquaintances through breast cancer after having it myself.
What is the number one thing you are going to be grateful for this time next year? 25 years of marriage.
The Significance of Your Answers
It wasn’t until I journaled through this list of questions that I saw how my answers could combat some common joy-stealers.
The author also offers sample questions to ask yourself for morning, evening, marriage and parenting. Journaling or bullet-pointing these answers definitely reminded me of my blessings and shifted my thoughts to things that are excellent and praise worthy.
Other Nuggets From the Book
“Living with joy is our birthright. It is God’s intention for all his children.”
“When you focus on the good, you not only notice more good but you actually create more good…a virtuous cycle (rather than a vicious cycle)”
“Being joy filled does not mean that your life is perfect. It means that you emphatically trust God and believe that he has great plans for your life, regardless of what is happening right now. Joy is an outward sign of inward faith in the promises of God.”
“The most joyful place you can be is in God’s will.”
“Anyone can be happy when circumstances are wonderful, but joy is different. Joy is proactive happiness. It is the learned capacity to display your faith ahead of time by means of your daily mental attitude.”
“To act with joy now, live each hour as if your full potential has already materialized. Proceed, moment by moment, with the gratitude you’d have if your most heartfelt prayers have been answered.”
“What does a mediocre attitude transmit to the world and reveal about your faith? How could a bored, sullen, or defeatist attitude ever glorify him?”
“Emotional strength [is] affirming God rather than affirming your woes…you don’t have to make blemishes the essence of your life.”
“The choices you make that violate biblical truth invite emotional discord even though they may initially produce counterfeit joy. This emotional debt must always be paid back, with interest.”
“Those who experience more joy don’t necessarily have more to be joyful about; they just think differently.” (the law of attention)
“Realize that everything you watch, read, or listen to either brings you closer to God or nudges you further away.”
“When you are right with God, you naturally and humbly cherish life for what it is – a temporary gift…”
And now, no more questions to ask yourself. Just this week’s featured post from the link up!
I have often complained about how hard it is to make friends as an adult. But it’s because we don’t think we have time to just “waste” being with someone. And intimacy doesn’t happen without putting in some time. But as we grow older we no longer place as much value on this as we do productivity or making money or any number of other “good” things. This is why my hairdresser is now one of my dearest friends. Because we put in a lot of time over the years, without really trying! Pam Ecrement puts her two cents in with We’re Missing It.
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