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Death to My Evil Twin

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.  Philippians 4:8

One of the most amazing gifts God has given us humans is our mind.   The brain weighs about 3 pounds and contains around 100 billion neurons— cells that carry information.  There’s an old myth that we only use about 10 percent of our brains.  That has been debunked.  I know that must’ve been false because it seems some people don’t even use that much!  But seriously, new studies show how much of our brain we actively use varies from person to person.

I can tell you without a doubt that my mind runs 24/7 – seemingly all by itself.  And usually, off into thoughts that seem like they belong in someone else’s body.  It’s my destructive thoughts that tell me I’m not good enough.  I’m not worthy.  I’m not loved.  I will never be forgiven.  I’m ugly, fat, wrinkly, etc.  It’s like my mind gets taken over by my evil twin.

Isn’t that the battleground so many of us find ourselves on day and night?  Those anxious thoughts that keep us looking at the clock at 1am, 2am, 3am….?

Praise God that He gave us a shield and sword to fight back the beast who is really behind all those thoughts – the devil himself.

My friend Caroline gave me a great tool last year that helps me in this spiritual battle.  It’s a piece of paper with three columns.  The first column lists the destructive thought such as, “There’s nothing special about me.”  The second column speaks God’s truth against that thought with statements like, “I have been chosen/set apart by God.”  And the third column lists the shields and swords of God—related scripture.  In this example it lists Ps 139, 1 Cor. 1:30 & 6:11, Eph 1:4, and Hebrews 10:10 & 14.

This handy guide is something I can pull out whenever my evil twin brain decides to ruin my day or disrupt my sleep!  The best part?  You have the same tool at your fingertips.  The Word of God was given to us not just to learn more about Him but to help tear down those thought strongholds that want to rule our lives.  His mighty words were what Jesus Himself used when tempted by the devil.

I was recently reading in my Sparkling Gems from The Greek about the difference between using His Word as a “logos” or a “rhema.”  Logos is a “sweeping stroke.”  When we study the Bible this way we get broad and full direction for our lives.  But in Ephesians 6:17 the word “rhema” is used.  That means a sharp and fatal blow to the enemy.

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God: Ephesians 6:17

What Paul is directing us to do is have at the ready “fighting words.”  God’s words that we can call up quickly to mind and tear apart any thoughts the devil wants to use against us.  And we can use those words knowing the power and authority that lay behind them.  

God in His greatness knows how amazing our mind is – He created it.  He knows the power and dangers of our imagination and our thoughts.  The devil knows it too.  But with the gracious gift of the Holy Bible we can shield ourselves from the devil’s lies.

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Transformation Prayer, Uncategorized

Wonderfully Made

For we are God’s masterpiece. 
He has created us anew in 
Christ Jesus, so we can do 
the good things he planned 
for us long ago. 
Ephesians 2:10

A prayer to love myself

Heavenly Father, so many of my perceived short falls come from my poor sense of self-worth.  I look in the mirror sometimes and to be honest I don’t always see what you see – a beautifully, wonderfully made daughter of God.  And I confess that my lack of love for your creation can spill over to my inability to openly love others without judgment.  But I don’t want to grieve the Holy Spirit any longer.  My heart, body, mind and soul were created by and belong to you, LORD.  With the reminders found in your Holy Word to love my neighbor as myself I will look into that mirror with newfound love and admiration for your creation.  Thank you for my life, thank you for making me uniquely me.  I lift this up in Jesus’ name, Amen

I sat and listened to her tell me how she feels unworthy, unlovable, lacking talent and more.  It made me so sad because she was none of these.  What made me even sadder was I realized I’ve frequently thought the same about myself.  I look in the mirror and think, “You look old, unattractive, chubby, wrinkly – very non cover of Vogue-like.”  And then I turn to my closet and evaluate which clothes will fit me that day.  Tearing myself down for gaining those few extra pounds.  And the piece d’ resistance?  Wondering if what I’m going to accomplish that day will be of any value.

I was listening to a pastor the other day who was in the middle of a series on committing our whole bodies – heart, mind and soul – to God.  She went on to talk about how when we struggle with self-worth it affects everything about our lives.  If we get into a mild argument with our spouse, we might believe they obviously think we are stupid or worthless simply because they disagree with our opinion.  We grasp for people outside ourselves to build us up but when they do, we don’t always trust their motives.

For you created my inmost being; 
you knit me together in my 
mother’s womb. I praise you 
because I am fearfully and 
wonderfully made;your works are 
wonderful,I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:13-14

How many of us can truly say, “I know that full well?”  We easily quote scripture proclaiming that God loves us.  But do we really believe it?  

Some of us were fortunate to grow up in loving homes which shot us out into the world with a great sense of belonging and love.  That sense gets attacked regularly by the world.  And those of those who didn’t start out that way also experience those attacks of the world. It’s no wonder, starting from a lack of a filled bucket, that so many of us plunge into self-destruction and self-loathing.

When, during a particularly difficult time of false self-evaluation, I looked in the mirror and realized how dishonoring I was being to God.  And that if I could just start with the acknowledgement that God made me and knows me then maybe, just maybe I could grow to love me just as He does. 

We must rest in the glory and amazing work of God in order to fully be His warriors.  That starts with us.  No matter your thick or thin hair, your smooth skin or wrinkles, your short or tall stature, your past, the job you have (or don’t), your ability to arrange flowers or pick the perfect wall color, your knowledge about science or the humanities, God loves you.  He loves me.  I am wonderfully and beautifully made.  I just need to keep telling that to the girl in the mirror.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Faith, Jesus Follower, Transformation Prayer, Uncategorized

Free To Be

But one thing I do: Forgetting 
what is behind and straining 
toward what is ahead, I press 
on toward the goal to win the 
prize for which God has called 
me heavenward in Christ Jesus. 
Philippians 3:13-14 

A prayer to live without regret

Holy God, it’s been many years since I accepted your gift of salvation, which along with that gift came forgiveness.  And yet, so often I am unable to forgive myself.  My heart still twinges when I think of the times I lived in sin.  And once saved, I look back at the years I realize I wasn’t fully committed to obeying your Word.  I’ve wasted enough time, however, not accepting your grace.  I am learning how much you love me, LORD.  And with that, I’m working to accept that I am a new person because of your son Jesus.  The old me can’t take up any more precious time when you are filling up my heart with overwhelming love.  I admit I sometimes need stern admonishment from you to keep me on track.  But at other times please send me a gentle kiss or unexpected hug to remind to live in today, not the regrets of the past.  I ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.

I don’t know about you but I’ve done some very non-Christian things in my life.  I spent about five years of my younger life seeking inappropriate relationships with men.   I thought that if I turned over my precious gift of intimacy that I would find love.   We can watch endless movies, read countless novels, and dispense wisdom about how fruitless this path is and yet never seem to apply it to our own lives.

The first time I said a desperate prayer was when, at 19, I thought I was pregnant.  I begged God to save me from myself.  And He did.  I don’t really know why since I know others were not.  I bargained with God to do His part and I would stop such reckless behavior.  And I did not.  I wasn’t a Christian at the time – although I believed in God.  So maybe He was giving me a few allowances.  I won’t know until the day of my eternity when I can ask Him.

Fast forward a few years and I was a young mother with two kids.  I was a Christian by then.  And yet I continued, time after time, to disobey God.  Boy did that lead to a lot of unnecessary hardship.  Of these two situations it’s actually this second that I tend to regret the most.  Because I truly knew better.  I think of all the wasted hours of tears and painful relationships I could have avoided.  I think of the times I could’ve been a better mother and wife and friend had I just surrendered myself completely to God.

If we confess our sins, he 
is faithful and just and will 
forgive us our sins and purify 
us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9

I realize that by holding on to my forgiven past it’s like a log tied around one ankle.  It hinders me to fully grab onto the joy of today and promises of God.  It’s not that we need to forget our past.  We can learn a lot from our choices and their consequences.  But when we accept Jesus as our savior we must accept that we are now changed in our spirit.  Sometimes we just need to remind our heart and mind of that change.

Friend, I don’t know what sinful choices you may have made in your past, but Jesus came so we don’t need to live an entire life of repentance for our past regretful choices.  We need to turn those sins over to God only once.  And turn our faces toward today.  

There’s a lot from my past that I’m still working on fully releasing to God.  He has already forgiven me for them.  I just need to let go of the string and allow them to float into the heavens.  With His gentle reminders of His love for us we can be free.

If you want this too, add the prayer to your daily prayer list and watch and see how God works in your life!

bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, Uncategorized

The Mind-Field

That day we were taking our usual walk through the canyon by my house.  What wasn’t usual was that it was April 2020 – the height of the panic of Covid-19.  Our entire conversation was focused on trying to discern the truth about the dangers we were facing.  My friend turned to me and said, “I don’t understand.  Why aren’t you afraid?”

Before I reveal my answer let me back up a bit.  I am a maturing Christian.  I’m past the “baby Christian” phase and making what my Bible Study Girls call “imperfect progress.”  Had this virus and the media response to it been around about 10 years ago I would be freaking out.  I wouldn’t be able to sleep.  I would pace the house all day with jumbled, unsettled thoughts – not being able to accomplish anything.  I would be frantic about the economy, my husband’s business failing, my kids getting sick and so much more.  The battlefield of my mind would look like a World War 1 field of hidden trenches, barbed wire and the stench of all things unsanitary.  That’s how I handled a lot of problems.  Fast forward to that April 2020 walk.

Trench warfare WWW1

“I’m not afraid of dying is the simplest answer,” I replied.  I had peace in my mind and in my heart that for one, I didn’t have control over much of what was going on and two, if I got sick or someone I loved got sick and died I knew I would see them again.  I hadn’t thought about it much until she asked me.  And when I answered I realized my mind battlefield looked more like victory than a bombed-out shelter. Sure there are the occasional skirmishes but my battle plan is solid.

So many of God’s lessons about going out and making “fishers of men” first require us to get right minded with Jesus.  And James reminds us of this when he admonishes us to control our tongue, commit to doing good deeds, show others mercy, and gain God’s wisdom.  So, when he says:

“Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

JAMES 3:18

I first think, “how can I be a peacemaker when I frequently battle myself?”  We’ve all joked before about having an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other.  Each whispering in our ear.  The tug-of-war going on in our minds is surely not peaceful.  And if we can’t get our own mind to be at peace with God then how can we reflect peace out to others?

I was reading excerpts from Francis Frangipane’s book, The Three Battlegrounds.  One of those battlegrounds is our mind.  The description of the combatants is fascinating.  It’s important in any battle to know who, exactly, you are up against.

“We should know this about Satan: he is an ancient and extremely treacherous foe.  On the other hand, the strength of most Christians lies primarily in idealism and untested fervor.”

In other words, Satan has had a lot more practice on this battlefield than you or I.  It’s no wonder he seems to succeed so easily.  We are tricked into thinking all our negative self-talk is justified – even in the face of knowing we are made in God’s image.  Ya, but that saggy stomach and those large hips.   And people aren’t going to like us anyways.  Honestly, with this realization of Satan’s 10,000 page resume up against our entry into this battlefield for what, 30 years, 20? 5? 1?  It’s no wonder we struggle finding peace in our minds.  

“What happens when you wake up in the morning feeling low, irritated, discouraged, or frustrated – and you don’t know exactly why?  There has to be reason.  For every root there is a fruit.”

Joyce Meyer, Understanding the Root of Your Fruit

We’ve all done this – some of us are doing it every, single day.  We wake up (that is if we ever did get to sleep) and immediately start thinking how bad the day is probably going to be.   Sometimes we struggle because we just aren’t taking care of ourselves physically.  Did you drink that extra glass of wine and went to bed late?  What’s your diet and exercise routine (ha!)?  Or maybe it’s a spiritual problem like you care too much about what other people think about you instead of focusing on God.  Maybe you’ve forgotten that Jesus lives in you and you’ve shoved Him aside in order to try and “take control.”   I do know this, when we aren’t aligning ourselves with God then the opposite must be true.  And if that’s the case how in the world can we effectively handle a grumpy salesclerk?

“I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants – but let them not turn to folly.”

PS 85:8

Turning to folly is the key to that statement.  The gift of peace is right there for the taking.  God allows us to be sifted by Satan.  He did it to Peter in order for Peter to get his pride in check.  God knows we have wheat and chaff in our minds.  He is greater than Satan.   So, when God allows Satan to test us, sift us, and we turn to the angel on our shoulder instead of the devil, God knows the end product will be good.   Our minds want to tell us the opposite of God’s love.  Our minds want to be distracted by worldly things.  Those darn minds can think too highly or lowly of ourselves.  And our minds like to seek revenge.   Just as James describes the small bit controlling a large horse, we need to use God’s Truth in His Words to tame our wild minds.  

This is what my mind looks like when I want to just scream!

God is always working in our life.  We just need to pray and persist in our goal toward God-centered wisdom.   When we rise in the morning and thank Him for another day to be able to serve Him; when we take the time to sit in communion with Him; when we keep our eyes, hearts and minds on Him throughout our day it doesn’t leave much room for Satan to enter.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.  The mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”

Rom 8:5

I don’t know about you but I’d rather make it through the minefield safely using Jesus as my bomb-sniffing dog.  Constantly looking to him along the path for guidance.  He knows what lies ahead.  When we are closely aligned, I can see His subtle signals telling me to be careful and which steps to take.  When we successfully make it to the other side we can guide others through that field as well.