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February 3, 2016

Sometimes, life falls apart - or at least, you may feel like everything is falling apart. How about times when you feel all alone, maybe even feel like God abandoned you?

 

In such times, we need to learn what I call mind control. I’m not talking about pulling a Jedi mind trick or manipulating someone else’s mind, but rather you training your mind to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).

 

A childhood friend, Hannah Pinkerton, first introduced this concept of mind control to me a few years ago, and at that time, I wrote it off as just another goofy thing Hannah said. Truthfully, I never really thought much about training my thoughts, but as this new year began, I’ve encountered significant situations that have shown just how much I can let my thoughts get the best of me. I realized then that the scriptural concept of mind control had something to it. The concept of mind control is training your mind to ignore Satan’s whispers and redirecting your mind to trust and listen to God’s promises. You do that by knowing the Word of God

 

If I’m being transparent, life has been hard lately. A few people have damaged - even destroyed- my trust, so my heart has been heavy and my mind distracted. So I knew I needed to turn to Scripture. When Job’s world was falling apart and the Lord allowed Satan to take everything from him, his response was, “The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Praise the name of Yahweh” (Job 1:21). How was he able to respond with that peace and clarity? Job had trained his mind to trust the Lord. The strongest example I found of a man with strong control of his own mind is King David. In Psalm 42, we find David talking to himself. He is in a state of depression, and he feels far from God. He asks himself a question to which he already knows the answer: “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me?” Then he encourages himself in saying, “Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.” David goes on to say, “The Lord will send His faithful love by day; His song will be with me in the night.” He knows God is never far away and is always there even if we don’t recognize that He is. He could never have said all those things if he hadn’t trained his mind to believe them before. He had spent time meditating on God’s word so that when dark times did come, his mind was ready.

 

It has been said, “the Holy Spirit has affinity for a trained mind.” A trained mind is a mind that knows the character of God and believes the promises of God. But how do we do that? First, we have to know the character of God and what He promises us in His word. Warren Wiersbe says, “Stop feeding on your feelings and start to feed on His Word.” That is why it’s important that we read the Bible and pray. We must know God, and we do that by spending time with Him. When we know Him, we trust Him. When we trust Him and believe what He says, we are able to direct our minds to Him even if we feel down or abandoned.

 

Philippians 4:8-9 says, “Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things. Do what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” This passage doesn’t mean that we won’t face challenges or have hard times. In fact, verses 6-7 tell us not to be anxious because our Father knows we will encounter situations where our minds need to be trained to dwell on the good things. Romans 12:2 says to “be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”

 

We can train our minds to dwell on the truth that because of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, we are now new creations and He promises He will never abandon us. Knowing that means that in life when hard times happen, or when the enemy sneaks in with condemnation, we can set our minds on the truth we already have hidden in our hearts. We will be able to say in the midst of life’s biggest trials, “It is well with my soul.” When we can direct our mind on the character of God and believe the promises of God, we will have a controlled mind that will not be shaken.

November 8, 2015

 

Happiness usually seems to be just barely out of reach. I think everyone runs into problems with being happy with where they are but I’ve found this to be the case especially for people my age. Many people forget to be faithful in the present because they are too busy focusing on the future. We so easily fall into the mentality of “if I just had ____ I would be happy.” We seem to be just one event or life situation change away from being just totally content. If I could just make it to graduation, land that job, get married, settle down etc… We never have enough and we always want more. People have the hardest time being content right where God has planted them. Why? Because it is not natural. Paul says in Philippians 4:11, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Paul had to learn to be content no matter what life threw at him.

 

When we live our lives purely for ourselves, striving for happiness becomes our main goal. Reality check: happiness isn’t our sole purpose in life! When we turn our eyes off what we want and what we think would make us happy and turn our eyes toward how God wants to use us and what He wants in our lives THEN we will find contentment.

 

Contentment totally revolves around trusting God. When we don’t trust that God has our best interest in mind, we become anxious when a circumstance is out of our control. This can lead to a frustration that festers anger and bitterness. But like my friend Keith Harmon says, “God is good, He is faithful, we can trust Him.” God is fully aware of our needs and we can expect him to supply those needs or to give us the strength to persevere.

 

I believe that the biggest roadblock in being happy where God has us now is when we compare ourselves to others. I’ve heard it said before, “comparison is the thief of joy,” but I think it could also be said, “comparison is the thief of contentment.” God loves you unconditionally just as you are this second. He doesn’t love anyone else more or anyone else less.

 

If we trust that God is good and is faithful we don’t have to worry about our future. Instead of worrying about our future, we should be praying and waiting for God to move. Take the time to thank God for all He is doing now and what He has already done. Even if He never answers another prayer or never does anything else for us, He has done enough already. He is enough. Psalm 16:5 says, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure.”

 

Trust that God is enough and find contentment in knowing that God’s ways are perfect and these old words will ring true in your life:

 

“Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, ‘It is well with my soul’”

 

October 15, 2015

I’ve been learning some quick little truths about confrontation that I thought I’d share.

 

It is more compassionate to give severe rebuke to another Christian’s sin than to just pat your friend on the back and tell them, “keep trying…it’s okay.” Obviously we don’t need to judge, reject, or be putting ourselves above them. We should be serving and loving them.

 

But as frustrating as it is there are definitely limitations on what our human action can do. Some people will not accept it.

 

“No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for them—

the ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough "– Psalms 49:7-8

 

As my dad always told me, “You can’t change anyone but yourself.” (Don’t you wish we could sometimes though!) Bonhoeffer said, “Our brother’s ways are not in our hands; we cannot hold together what is breaking; we cannot keep life in what is determined to die.” These are hard words to swallow for someone like me who thinks they have the capability to help everybody. I’ve learned there are some people who just refuse to listen to truth (sometimes even me). But God’s Word is inside us and He wants it spoken through us. If we are faithful to carry out His message, He can save them through us.

 

 “My brothers and sisters, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone

should bring that person back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of their way

will save them from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” -James 5:19-20

 

We need to not be afraid of confrontation. I feel convicted that there are people who I need to have (loving) conversations with. I can’t stand by anymore and watch friends fall apart while immersed in their sin. I know there have been times (not too long ago) when I really needed someone to come to me in life and give me a wake up call. But I also have come to the realization that there are some people who I just need to back off and pray for and let God be God and work in their lives. ***All of this in REAL humility

 

“Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit

 should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves,

or you also may be tempted. Carry each other’s burdens,

and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:1-2

 

 

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