Constantly Renewing The Mind

“Now your attitudes and thoughts must all be constantly changing for the better. Yes, you must be a new and different person, holy and good. Clothe yourself with this new nature.” Ephesians 4:23-24

How do we change our thoughts? How do we change our way of thinking? This was really baffling to me and to be quite honest, I didn’t believe it. After all, I am who I am, right? I have no control over what thought pops into my head. I mean, I must have million thoughts a day. How in the world can a person change the way they think? I can’t control that…or can I?

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We have so much more power over our minds than we realize! The devil will try and convince you of just the opposite. Don’t believe it! It’s a lie! We don’t have to settle for “I was born this way”. For many, may years I was stuck in a mindset that was shaped by the dysfunction around me and by the choices I made. My views and perspective on things weren’t right. It’s understandable why I thought the way I did, but it wasn’t right thinking. It didn’t bring glory to God.

Joyce Meyer, author and world-known teacher/evangelist says,

“Your problem is really not your problem, it’s your attitude toward your problem that’s the problem”.

In other words, our perspective, how we see things. It was pretty clear to me that I was an out-of-control addict for many years. I was born with it. I couldn’t help it. It’s just who I am and how I’m made. I don’t know anything different. I’ve tried to change but it doesn’t work. I told myself these things on a daily basis. Yes, I hated it, but couldn’t change it. Why? Because I had to have a renewed, God-like thinking in order to change.

Be aware of your thoughts. If a wrong thought pops into your head, the Bible tells us to cast down that thought.

“Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5

What this means is if we have a wrong thought we are to dismiss it and replace it with a God-like thought. This is where we “choose” our thoughts. I have found that memorizing a Bible verse and saying it to myself (or out loud) will usually dispel the bad thought pretty quickly.

Saturate you mind with reading God’s Word. If you are super busy mom or a person with no real time to sit and read, get some post it notes. Write some scriptures on them and place them around the house, on your car dashboard, around your desk or office. When you see them, read them. Say them out loud if you can.

God tells us what to think about. Philippians 4:8 says,

“…fix your thoughts on what is true, and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can, praise God and be glad about it.”

One of the perks of thinking a new way is the wonderful peace that comes with it. Confusion and a wandering mind doesn’t come from God. Peace and contentment comes from God. The closer we can get our thoughts to align with His, we can have a healthier and more enjoyable thought life.

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Stepping Out Into New Things

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God is always doing new things.  Stepping out into something new in our life can be very scary.  We can choose to continue living in our past.  We can choose to stay where we are.  God doesn’t want a stagnant Christian.  He also doesn’t want us reliving our past to the point where we aren’t able to move forward and make progress.  It’s okay to remember the good things of our past, but not to get stuck there.  God wants us to step into new things.  He wants us to trust Him no matter what, with no apprehension.

I ask myself, “Why are you so resistant to new things, when you can clearly see how God has pulled you through so much in your life?”  Times when I didn’t think I had it in me to go one more day, one more week, one more year, my God got me through.  I don’t like being uncomfortable.  Maybe that’s where my resistance stems from.  Fear usually plays a part in it—fear of the unknown.  But mostly, I just don’t like being uncomfortable!

The Bible doesn’t tell me that I have to be comfortable to be obedient.

Sometimes I just have to do things afraid.  Look at all the wonderful stories in the Old Testament when God wanted someone to step out into new things.  One of these stories is in Joshua 1.  God tells Joshua that it’s time for him to take his new position.  Moses had died and Joshua was in mourning.  God tells him it’s time to move forward into his new responsibility, leading the people into the Promised Land.  God tells him to,

“Be strong (confident) and of good courage…”  Joshua 1:6

This process also involves “letting go”.  To let go of something that I have held dear to my heart is not easy!  God is finished with a certain part of my life and if I am to grow further in my walk with Christ I must make a choice to start living, leave a relationship behind and step out in faith.  I shouldn’t be afraid to walk away from something that God is finished with because His Word tells me He as something new and wonderful for me.  My God is a good God and He is a faithful God!  Being a Christian, I must avoid anything that may compromise my relationship with Jesus.  This includes friendships and relationships.

The enemy loves to steal our joy because after all—a weak Christian is not an effective Christian.  Quite frankly, I’m tired of allowing that to happen.  So I am making a conscious choice to step out into new things today and trust in the Lord to direct my paths and lead me into a new part of my life.

 

I Can’t But God Can

I want to share with you an experience I had that involves how God empowers us and guides us in our daily life.

I remember when I had been promoted to an assistant manager position at a previous job. I have only worked there 2 months and by being quickly promoted, it had me both excited and scared.

My confidence level needs much improvement though. In fact, I almost didn’t accept the position because I was really psyching myself out. I was allowing Satan way too much time in my thoughts and almost worked myself into a panic attack. I was questioning whether God really gave me this or was it my own will taking over. Satan had me questioning everything and I was obsessing over it. I was stressed to say the least.

Most of you know my past and the bad choices I have made in my life. My struggle with addiction and years of verbal abuse all play a part in how I feel about myself and my abilities.

I remember the first day running the store by myself. I had a staff of 7 and it was important for me to not only keep everything running smoothly but I also had the strain of having to cut people early due to high labor costs earlier in the week. We have a couple employees who are “high maintenance”. You have to constantly watch them and stay on them to do their job. This alone is very stressful.

As soon as I walked in, there were problems.

Running that store was like a machine. If all the parts aren’t working properly, it quickly falls apart and it can be difficult to recover. So if one employee is lacking, it affects the whole thing. Five minutes after I walked in that day I said softly out loud, “God, you have to help me.”

“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.” Isaiah 40:31

No matter what problem was put in front of me and needed my attention and/or leadership, I remained calm and focused. I handled things without getting upset or freaking myself out. I was able to solve any problems that came up and from what I could tell, customers appeared happy with the service. The day wasn’t perfect and we did have a few customers who got upset but I was able to resolve any issues and make them happy before they left.
God gets all the credit!

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This had nothing to do with me. God was with me totally and it was all Him. Our lives can get so busy that we don’t always realize just how much God does for us on a daily basis. We don’t see just how much God is in control and faithfully loves us and guides us 24 hours at a time.

I encourage all of you to take a few moments today and reflect on how God works in your daily life. Ask Him to reveal the “little things” that we often miss. Remember that by humbling ourselves to Him, He empowers us to do things that we normally couldn’t do if left up to our own will.

Healing, Mental Health and Restoration

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well- balanced mind and discipline and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:9 AMP)

The Bible promises Christians a sound mind.  Mental illness, personality disorders and any form of psychological damage may result from childhood trauma, domestic abuse, demonic activity or disobedience to God (Deut 28:15, 28).  Thoughts are jumbled, chaotic and there is an inner turmoil that feels like torture.  A chemical imbalance in the brain can cause mood swings, aggression and depression.  Sometimes medication is needed.  Sometimes therapy, one-on-one counseling or a support group is needed.  But one thing for sure, CHRIST IS NEEDED!download (1)

I believe for some people that going to professional secular help is necessary.  It was for me.  Equally important is help from our pastor and keeping a biblical perspective about our emotions and thoughts.  God desires us to be whole.  This would involve every aspect of our life—spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

So how do you get to that point of healing?  Healing is certainly a process.  It can be an ongoing thing, but I also experienced an “instant” healing that changed my life!  I have another article titled “The Freedom of Forgiving Myself”.  I will tell you…I am a hard case.  I don’t know why that is and I wish I wasn’t like this because I could have saved myself from years and years of hardship and suffering if I would have just listened and followed God’s will for my life.

I’m one of those who has to experience everything for myself all the way down to rock bottom before I say, “okay, maybe you’re right”.  In the meantime, I become a self-hater, self-loathing, never understanding why I do the things I do or why I want to do the things I do.  Blaming others doesn’t work.  Feeling sorry for myself doesn’t work.  But God’s grace does work!

And you know, the bottom line is this….it doesn’t matter what others think you should do or how you do it, or what you do to get well, or how you do it to get well.  What matters is the connection between myself and God.  God is the only One who knows my heart.  He is the only One who knows what I need and how and when I need it.  So in a sense, for me, being healed and restored involved me being selfish and not letting anything or anyone influence me in the process.  It’s between me and God.

If my heart is aligned with His heart and my thoughts are aligned with His thoughts, them I am living on purpose and according to His will.

So the healing begins by allowing me to forgive myself.  To allow myself to put my foot down and say, “this is what I have to do to help me.”  It may seem very self-centered and selfish to those looking from the outside.  But let me reassure you…once I was able to forgive myself and allow Christ to heal my inner being, I came out a better person and a more likable person.  This opened the doorway for me to get well and stay well for longer periods of time.

I certainly haven’t perfected this whole sobriety thing, but I’m much healthier mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  I understand now what God means when He says He wants us to be made “whole”.  In this wholeness I found inner joy and peace.  I know that God has healed me from the guilt and shame I carried because I am able to open my eyes to things I couldn’t see before.  He has opened my ears to things I haven’t heard before.  Because of what Christ did for me on the cross, I can be healed and restored.

 

 

Our Emotional Life

God created us to be emotional, feeling human beings. Managing our emotions is an important skill set for anyone who wants to help others deal with life situations and life circumstances. I know from personal experience that it is very difficult for me to learn from someone who may be strong in their knowledge of the Word of God but in their emotional life they are a wreck.

It is equally important for our own personal peace and happiness to get a handle on our emotions. As Christian believers, our emotions play a major part of being “in His image”. Jesus was emotionally expressive during His ministry and portrayed a life of self-control, and situational discernment. He experienced anger, sadness, grief, excitement, joy, love and even experienced feelings of abandonment.

Our feelings are every changing. They seem to fluctuate with no apparent reason. We can go to bed feeling good about our day and in good spirits, and the next morning wake up irritable and tired. We often ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way?” It can be very frustrating and confusing. The good news is we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us.

It’s important to know that even though we feel bad, we can still choose do what is right. Our feelings are neither good nor evil. Our feelings cannot always be trusted though and they are usually unreliable. We are to follow wisdom not our feelings. The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to follow wisdom instead of our emotions. For example, something may feel (emotion) right be we know (wisdom) it to be wrong. Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe he is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle. We know what’s right but sinning would feel good or feel more comfortable than doing what is right. Paul also tells us in Romans 8:5-8 that if we have the Spirit of Christ living within us that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not our old nature.

“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” (Romans 8:5)

My emotions and feelings have run amok as an adult and although I have definitely “grown up” and matured in the last couple years, I still have much more work to do in this area. Just about my entire adult life has been consumed with drugs and alcohol I have heard that my emotional maturity stopped at the age of 18, which is when I started drinking and using on a daily basis. I have also heard that our emotional maturity ceased to grow at the onset of abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse, addiction or trauma greatly affects where we stand in our emotional lives.feelings jpg

I want to explore the Christian’s emotional life deeper and will be writing more posts on our feelings and how we can learn to do better in this area of our lives. We should do our best to model the emotional life of Jesus and I will be exploring more of how He managed His emotions when He walked on this earth. It is my hope that I can help you learn some practical ways to manage your emotions and we can mature together in how we handle our feelings on a daily basis. The transforming power of the Holy Spirit will help us heal our emotions from past hurts and with His help we can learn to develop a stable emotional life. As followers of Christ I believe it is our responsibility to develop and mature our emotional lives to a level that is pleasing to God and in return it will enable us to live a life of peace, joy and a sense of contentment no matter what is going on around us.

Sensitivity To God’s Will

“So then, my beloved just as you have always obeyed, not as in My presence only but now much more in My absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;  for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:12-13

I want to further my understanding of what this means—-to work out our salvation.  Charles R. Swindoll wrote a booklet God’s Will.  In it he explains the above verse,

“Closed doors are just as much God’s leading as open ones.  The believer who wants to do God’s will must remain sensitive and cooperative not forcing His way into areas that God closed off.  The Lord uses circumstances and expects us to “read” them with a sensitive, alert conscience.”

He goes on to say that what it means to work out our salvation in fear and trembling essentially means maintaining a sensitive heart.  As part of my prayers, I usually ask God to keep me sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading.  I have a true desire to know His will for my life.  God tells us in Psalms 32:8 that He will instruct and teach us in the way we should go.  So how do we know if we made a right choice?

One way is the fact that no matter the outcome, whether it is happy or horrible, we have inner peace.  It’s difficult for our human minds to comprehend having inner peace in the midst of a horrible outcome.  But I have experienced this personally.  It can and does happen.

I love one of the lyrics written by Heather Williams,

In spite of it all…..Hallelujah!

Every person wants the feeling of satisfaction.  It’s the feeling that we are making the right choices in our life and from those right choices we feel happiness.  I question that I made a right decision recently, but in spite of it all, I am leaning on God and I know He is instructing me and teaching me as I go.

The Confidence Killer

Satan is the enemy to those who want to follow Christ, to those who are called according to God’s purpose.  Satan is the enemy even to unbelievers.  We as Christians know that the devil hates us.  He hates us because we love God.  I wish unbelievers knew just how much Satan really hates them too.  He may “appear” to be happy with them because of their pride, immorality, and material possessions.  But he hates them just the same.  Satan likes to see people do his work on this planet, whether they are Christian or not.

Satan’s true hatred is toward the Almighty God.  He wants to do everything he can to us so that we grieve the Holy Spirit, demean Jesus Christ, whatever it takes.

I think what the devil loves most is stealing and destroying any kind of joy in a Christian’s life.  I think he gets his biggest kicks out of doing this to us.  Sometimes I feel like I fall so easily to this sneaky trick.  Doesn’t it anger you to think he does this?  Even worse, we allow him to do it!

One way Satan kills our joy is to doubt ourselves.  I’ve been doing this allot lately!  And quite frankly, I’m tired of allowing him to steal my confidence and my joy.  Today was a very stressful day at work but I find my peace and rest when spending time with the Lord and reading his Word.  The Lord has been reminding me that He is there and will take care of me; to not stress and to do the best I can.  God will even put people in our presence to give us encouragement and to remind us that He is watching and is with us.

I had a customer tell me that I have a “light” about me.  Comes to find out, they were a Christian and we had a quick talk about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.  It made my day for someone to see me like this.  I wasn’t sure I ever really portrayed a difference by my mannerisms.  It reaffirmed my love for Christ and that even in the midst of chaos we can still allow Jesus to shine through us for strangers to see.  Satan tried to steal my confidence and joy that day but,

 “Greater is He that is in me, than he that is the world”.

….take THAT Satan.