Daniel Seabaugh

Truthful Thinking Is Greater than Positive Thinking

Truthful thoughts are greater than positive thoughts because truth sets us free (John 8:32). Positive thinking is great when immersed in truth. But positive thoughts often get unhinged from reality, causing us to get stuck in cycles of frustration and deception.

Christianity claims that truth exists. Not my truth or your truth, but real, objective truth—a reality that is present whether we believe it or not and functions whether we exist or not.
Because truth exists, our thoughts matter. We must take every thought captive, making it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). We must concern ourselves with things that matter to God, not merely things we believe will make our lives better, easier, or more enjoyable.
I regularly meet people who promote a worldview of positive thinking. In fact, there are religions and schools of thought that major in it. Such belief systems claim, to a greater or lesser degree, that positive thinking saves people from sin, grief, pain, brokenness, and even eternal damnation in hell. They’re attractive because they give us a sense of control. And in an age of chaos, a little control feels comforting.
In troubling times, advocates of positive thinking say things like, “Just think positive thoughts, and things will improve.” The assumption is that our thought patterns determine ultimate reality, not a being who exists and runs the universe regardless of our thoughts.
But can positive thinking actually save us? Can it rescue us from the brokenness of our lives? Can it heal us in a wholistic, soul-level kind of way?
There are at least two reasons why it cannot.
First, to live without truth is to live without healing. Said another way, a life without truth is a life of masking over problems. For example, when I’m anxious and think to myself, “I just need to conjure up a happy thought, and my anxiety will leave,” I’ll miss opportunities to address the source of my anxiety and find a lasting solution.
If I think about rowing a boat on a peaceful stream while my children are distraught and throwing toys at each other, I’ll miss the opportunity to parent wisely and be a person of reconciliation.
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Book Review: The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

In the book, Comer claims “the mind is the portal to the soul, and what you fill your mind with will shape the trajectory of your character. In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to.” I’ve also heard it said “you become what you behold.” So, what are you giving your attention to? After providing some history of how our world came to this constant state of hurry, Comer offers four practices to help us slow down and refocus our attention on Christ. 

Her phone dings. There is a Slack notification and messages from her daughter demanding to be picked up earlier than planned. She pours some coffee then notices an email from her boss. It looks like he scheduled a last minute meeting to discuss “important developments” in her department. The meeting is in an hour. She checks the time.
Her phone rings. It’s her husband. He sounds distraught. A knock on the office door interrupts her conversation. “Joey just quit,” says the voice on the other side. “What do you want us to do?”
“I’ll be right there,” she replies. “Honey, let me call you right back,” she tells her husband. Her body tries to catch her mind as she hurries to the door.
Her phone dings.
I think we all can relate to this lady. Life is moving at incredible speeds and we don’t know how to push the breaks. We’re not sure where the off ramp is or that one even exists.
The truth is, busyness and hurry has infected our lives like a plague. Not only can it cause physical and mental illness, it can also cause real damage to our spiritual lives.
Dallas Willard called hurry the great enemy of the spiritual life. It makes sense. The busier we become, the more likely we are to miss the reality of God. Our schedules, to-do lists, demands, emails, meetings, and notification after notification can easily derail our intimacy with the Lord.
In his book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer provides some tools to help God’s people slow down. Similar to Willard, he believes hurry is an epidemic distracting us from God and making us sick.
In the book, Comer claims “the mind is the portal to the soul, and what you fill your mind with will shape the trajectory of your character. In the end, your life is no more than the sum of what you gave your attention to.” I’ve also heard it said “you become what you behold.” So, what are you giving your attention to?
After providing some history of how our world came to this constant state of hurry, Comer offers four practices to help us slow down and refocus our attention on Christ. The practices or rhythms are not new.
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Brighter Days Await God’s People

Suffering is the result of sin. All the heartache in our world is because sin is running wild. It’s like a plague or disease. I’m not sure if or when things will get better, but I do know heaven is going to be amazing. Nothing in this life can compare to what’s ahead.

The conflict in Ukraine has me longing for heaven, yearning for that peaceful country—a land with no tears, a place with no war. It also has me lamenting the state of our world. Things are getting worse. It appears a sort of bleakness has covered the earth. I’ve been waking up these days with an underlying angst which manifests itself as cynicism. I’m beginning to wonder if things will ever get better.
Yet, despite my concerns, regardless of the fear I hear whispered at the grocery store, proclaimed on the television, promoted in the break room, or shared on social media, I know brighter days await God’s people. His word promises it.
Perhaps you live in a part of the world where things seem stable. Maybe your life is going well. If you had to take a survey which assessed the state of your life, you would answer with five stars. You’re thriving. If that’s you, praise God for his provision and favor. Will you join me in praying for those around the globe in less fortunate conditions?
Many people are not thriving. Some are in real danger. Their relatives are hiding in bomb shelters or fleeing their homes. The state of their lives is anything but awesome. In fact, if they took the same survey they would likely claim to be living in hell. Zero stars.
To my despairing brothers and sisters across the world, I am praying. I’m praying for God’s peace and protection. I’m pleading to the Father that your family will be richly provided for and protected from harm. I’m praying you will experience peace that surpasses understanding. I want you to know brighter days await.
Suffering is the result of sin. All the heartache in our world is because sin is running wild. It’s like a plague or disease.
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When Pressing “Unfollow” is not an Option

When we are faced with unpleasant people or ideas and opinions that clash with our own, we have two options available to us. The first is, we can reflect the heart of the world by fighting and dividing. Christ will not be magnified by such an approach. The second, we can unite around the person and work of Jesus, live the way he lived, and magnify our maker in ways we can’t now imagine.

It feels like people are dividing more than ever and losing the ability to talk through their differences. Have you noticed? Our world is fractured in many ways; yet, instead of talking cordially with those we disagree with, we often ignore them or seek to unfollow them like life is a social media account.
Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram were created, in part, to connect people. I’m not convinced it’s working. I’m afraid these platforms have created environments where people disconnect by ignoring opposing viewpoints and dividing at every turn. For instance, if you see something you don’t like on Facebook, you can unfollow it. If somebody says something offensive on Twitter, you can block them. Opposing viewpoints and those who hold them are easily avoidable on social media, and it’s causing some real issues in day-to-day, face-to-face life.
One of the oddest developments I’ve seen in recent years is people feeling personally attacked when an opinion of theirs is challenged. What used to be a simple disagreement is now seen as an attack on a person’s identity. A sure way to be blasted with derogatory remarks is to disagree with a person on a given topic. These are strange times, indeed.
How Shall We Live?
How does one navigate the complexities of the modern age? What do we do when an opposing point of view is not encountered on a screen, but rather, face-to-face? What do we do when a coworker disagrees with us on a matter we deem important? How do we interact with an instructor who promotes an idea different from our held beliefs?
In such cases, we can’t simply unfollow people or block their ideas. The real world doesn’t grant us that option. If you interact with people at all, you’ll be confronted with something you disagree with.
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Take Risks for Your Days are Numbered

When we take risks, particularly ones that advance the kingdom in some way, God is glorified; but we also experience joy. Have you ever done something you knew you were made for? Maybe it was having children or starting a business. Perhaps it was pursuing a creative outlet or serving overseas as a missionary. When we engage in activities that advance the kingdom of God, we will experience joy while glorifying our Creator. Things won’t always be easy, but they will always be purposeful. We will not waste our lives.

By and large, we live in a world that discourages risk-taking. Many of us, knowingly or unknowingly, have been conditioned to take the safe route through life’s twists and turns. I sometimes wonder how many people have been dissuaded from doing risky, world-changing things simply because it wasn’t “realistic” or in line with “the way the world works.”
Not only have we been conditioned to avoid risk, many of us have bought into a narrative that promotes a one size fits all mentality to success. For instance, we’re told if we want to have a successful career, we must train at the best universities. We’re told if we want to live with financial security, we must invest while we’re young and maximize our earning potential during our working years. We are sold youth at every turn through advertising and social media and then spend tons of money on anti-aging products to appear younger than we actually are.
Am I the only one, or does something about the success narrative seem off? Does anybody else feel like they’re being lied to?
Maybe I’m being overly critical of the world’s approach to life and success. After all, I believe education is a gift. My education is serving me well. I also think maximizing one’s earning potential can allow for greater generosity, which is something Christians should take seriously. Furthermore, when people care for their bodies, whether through exercise or anti-aging products, couldn’t the case be made they are simply stewarding what God has placed in their care?
I’m not necessarily opposed to the success narrative. Some of it can be redemptive. My real concern lies with fixating on the status-quo because it can be destructive to a person’s God-given, God-glorifying mission in life.
It’s not wise to avoid taking risks, especially kingdom risks, simply to maintain the success narrative. God has placed us on earth for a reason. We live where we live and during the time we live because God has stuff for us to do. Right now. In 2021.
It would be a regrettable thing to miss out on God’s plan for our lives because we were more concerned about our own plan or the opinions of others.
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Will the Real Local Pastors Please Stand Up?

We need more pastors who live for the renown of Jesus and die to their self-image. Instead of reminding us of the great things their organization is doing, these pastors should remind us of the marvelous things Jesus has already done.

It seems with every passing season another high-profile pastor falls from their ministry position. Sadly, I’ve come to expect it. I should probably grieve more. I should certainly pray more. Nonetheless, I don’t believe hell loses ground by simply adding more popular or hip leaders to the church. What the church really needs are servants who tremble at God’s word. We need shepherds who value others above themselves and live for the renown of Jesus, not their own platforms or appetites.
Will the real local pastors please stand up?
We sheep do not need to be entertained any longer. We need to be led to the cross. We sheep do not need a clever word from a charismatic pastor. We need to see what death looks like. Death of self-centeredness. Death of the idol named fame and influence. Death of sin. Death of the business mindset within the church and Christianity.
We need more pastors who tremble at God’s word—those who are not afraid to teach the truth of Scripture regardless of the cultural narrative. We need pastors who open their Bibles with awe because they long to hear from God.
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Book Review: Just Do Something

God has revealed his will for us in the Bible. As DeYoung states in the fifth chapter of his book, “Simply put, God’s will is your growth in Christlikeness.” He’s not nearly as concerned with the non-moral decisions of your day-to-day as He is your sanctification. Of course, God cares about where you work, who you date, and what you do with your free-time, but far more than any of that, He simply wants you to seek His kingdom and be holy as He is holy. The book is short and can be read in a day. It is full of cultural insights and biblical truths. I highly recommend it to anyone struggling to understand God’s plan. 

Life is full of questions. Where should I go to college? What degree should I declare? What city should I live in? Should I get married? Who should I marry? How many children should I have? On any given day, we our faced with thousands of decisions. In many ways, our lives are a reflection of all the decisions we have ever made.
Have you found it difficult to discover God’s will for your life in questions like the ones above or others like them? Of course, it is natural and even wise for Christians to seek God’s will in these areas; however, many Christians feel confused by doing so because His answers are not always discernible.
In his book, Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God’s Will, Kevin DeYoung says, “maybe we have difficulty discovering God’s wonderful plan for our lives because, if the truth be told, He doesn’t really intend to tell us what it is.” DeYoung promotes the idea that God’s goodness, providence, and sovereignty can be trusted, even when we don’t know how His plan for our lives will unfold. In other words, our faith in God should drive our decision-making, not our knowledge of His specific plan for our lives.
I have wanted to read this book for years. It is more than a decade old now but has been brought to my attention numerous times since it’s release. Most of my interest has come from my own grappling with discerning God’s will. Like you, I’m bombarded with a myriad of decisions on a daily basis. It’s frustrating when I pray about decisions and sense no direction from God. At times, the absence of clear direction has caused me to avoid making decisions altogether (which actually is a decision, but I digress).
My own wrestling with God’s will has kept the book on my radar, no doubt, but also my appreciation for Kevin DeYoung as a pastor, teacher, and author helped sustain my interest. I have read other books by DeYoung that were encouraging and helpful. I have also benefited from his teaching ministry as I occasionally download his sermon messages. It will not surprise you then to know the content in Just Do Something was like a breath of fresh air.
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No Flock, No Shepherd

Stay close to Jesus. He leads his flock to safe pasture. If you follow him, you will undoubtedly belong to a flock of sheep. That’s just how it works. Don’t be afraid of belonging to a church community. The real threat is not about losing your autonomy but losing your very life to ravenous wolves. Jesus wants to protect you. He’s wants you to belong to his flock.

The safest place for a Christian to exist is in the midst of a church community. It’s always saddened me how quickly believers shift from church to church looking for a pastor who believes what they believe, people who look like they look, and an environment that is welcoming though not too intrusive. It has become increasingly common for Christians to leave the flock in pursuit of some idealized self. In essence, they attempt to shepherd their own soul while having the audacity to call it faith.
Sheep stink and they stand really close to each other. They don’t all look the same, but they all have similar inclinations. All sheep lack an ability to lead themselves anywhere safe. That’s why they need a shepherd, so they don’t go astray and get picked off by a wolf.
Without a flock, there can be no shepherd. Sure, a good shepherd will leave the ninety-nine to search for the missing one (Matthew 18:10-14), but the missing one originally belonged to a flock. They were not some solo or intentionally isolated sheep. They were lost. They strayed from the flock of God.
There is no thriving flock without a faithful shepherd. There is no content shepherd without a flock. The two must exist together.
Scripture refers to God’s people as sheep. If you are a follower of Christ, you are a sheep of His flock.
According to the Iowa Sheep Industry Association, “sheep are prey animals. It is flocking together in large groups that protect sheep from predators because predators will go after the outliers in the flock.”
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The Changing Seasons and the Unchangeable God

Our response to distressing times should be found in the fact that God does not change. His promises are true. As the culture around us continues to change and head in a direction opposed to the heart of God and the clear teachings of Scripture, we can look to God for our hope. Though everything changes around us, He does not change. God remains the same. His being, perfections, purposes, and promises will never fail us.

In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.
– Psalm 102:25-27
In 2019, Gallup released an article citing the “10 Major Social Changes in the 50 Years Since Woodstock.” I found the article fascinating not only because of its content but also in light of the changes we’ve seen since 2019. Who could have fathomed all that has occurred since the start of the pandemic, much less Woodstock? How should Christians respond to all the social change?
You’re likely familiar with Woodstock. It was a music festival held in Bethel, New York in August 1969. It was a gathering of thousands of people to promote music, sex, drugs, love, and peace. According to the Gallup article, the young people who assembled at the festival “epitomized the countercultural movements and changes occurring in U.S. society at the time.”
The article also claims “the “open” display of activities at Woodstock was a direct challenge to the relatively conservative views of the time.” Woodstock was a clear signal that change was coming.
The article discusses ten major changes, I’ll mention four here which I believe are of particular interest to the Christian worldview.
1. Religious Attachment Has Waned
It’ll likely come as no surprise, but religious attachment has declined since the days of Woodstock. A decade before the festival, 75% of people described religion as “very important” to them. In 2019, only 49% made such a claim. Additionally, during that same span of time, people who attended a religious service weekly fell from 46% to 35%.
2. Majority Now Think First-Trimester Abortions Should Be Legal
In 1969, a few years before the historic Roe v. Wade decision, 40% of Americans favored making it legal for women to have an abortion at any point during the first trimester. In 2018, 60% were in favor. The assault on human life through abortion continues to rise.
3. Americans Now Prefer Smaller Family Size
By and large, family is no longer valued and children are no longer considered a blessing, but rather, a curse. It has become common to hear people claim children are an obstacle that keep them from attaining their goals and dreams. One recent article cites an increase in vasectomies by childless men in Australia. The reason many are signing up for the surgery is because “children would get in the way of their lives, and their plans for crafting the life they want.”
4. Premarital Sex No Longer Taboo
In 2019, 70% of Americans believed nothing was wrong with having sex before marriage. Gallup didn’t start polling on the issue until 1973, likely because the expectation of not having sex until married was entrenched in U.S. social norms prior to that time. The article says, even in 1973, “less than half of Americans (43%) supported premarital sex.” Premarital sex is anything but taboo in today’s rapidly changing world.
The Times They Are Still A-Changin’
A few years before Woodstock, Bob Dylan prophetically sung about the changing times. His words are no less true today.
As Christians, what are we to do? As the culture around us changes and heads in a direction opposed to the clear teachings of Scripture, how should we respond? I believe Psalm 102 provides the answer.
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What Ever Happened to Objective Truth?

If a proclamation is made, it is either true or false. When it comes to a particular issue, there is no such thing as your truth and my truth. It’s always possible we are both wrong, of course, but we cannot both be right at the same time and in the same sense. It is impossible. If we ever get to a place where we properly understand objective truth, I believe we will simultaneously have respectful dialogue with those we disagree with. When it comes to the huge issues in culture, objective truth should humble us. We should all be able to say, “I could be wrong,” and mean it.

One of the major cultural trends happening today concerns the nature of truth. Truth has largely been replaced by pragmatism and emotionalism. Pragmatism claims if something works, it must be true. Conversely, emotionalism, at it’s basic level, claims if something feels right or wrong, it probably is. Any concept of truth which exists outside of ourselves has not just taken a back seat, it has left the vehicle altogether.
Objective truth, according to Steven Cowan and James Spiegel, is a “real feature of the world that is independent of what a person or group thinks about it. Thus, for the objectivist, if a proposition is true, then it is so whether or not any person believes it. Further, it is true for everyone at all times and places.” I dare say no one speaks about truth in these terms today. In our current world, your truth is yours and my truth is mine. We better not blur the lines, either, or there will be major backlash from all parties involved.
It has always baffled me how anyone could believe truth belongs to a human person or group. We are all, in one sense, creatures of our environments. Surely if my parents insist stars are holes in the sky that allow heaven’s light to shine through, I’ll spend a good amount of my growing years believing it. Furthermore, if my older brother teaches me God created meat for the consumption of humanity and anyone who thinks differently are unenlightened airheads, I will spend much of my life feeling superior to vegetarians.
I’m convinced most of the bickering happening in our world today comes from a difference in perspectives. One person believes they have truth at the exclusion of those who disagree, while those who disagree believe such a person is foolish and simply needs to be educated. Objective truth, by definition, says something is true or false regardless of opinion and with zero neutrality. It exists apart from any system, idea, or human personality.
I was first exposed to objective truth when I began studying Philosophy in college. I recall experiencing an aha moment when I first learned about the correspondence theory of truth.
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