renewing the mind: crisis plan

This is the 4th post in this series on renewing the mind. If you’re just joining me, you can start here and move through them at your own pace.

It has taken me longer to complete this post than I intended, but here it is.

I am finding the pro-active approach to renewing my mind is very important. Before moving on to the topic of “crisis plans”, I would like to mention another proactive mind renewal tool that has been pivotal for me since I was a very young child. I suppose it is so natural to me that I didn’t even consider it to be something we must be proactive about, otherwise I would have listed it earlier.

Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. ~Psalm 119:11 (KJV)

The tool is scripture memory. I’ve been memorizing God’s word since I was able to talk. At a very young age I was involved in AWANA, and we memorized so many scriptures through that program. It’s true, I’ve been more lax about it as an adult, but I do find that God brings His words to my mind often. He has even brought scripture to my mind that I have never officially memorized. I don’t know if He’s just placing His Word in my mind, or if He’s bringing forward Words I’ve read (having read through the entire Bible several times over the years). Either way, He’ll prompt me with a passage or concept, and then I look it up and discover that it’s been in my Bible all along.

Obviously you can be re-active, but typically, for me anyway, that means it will take me longer to reach the point I could have started with. It takes longer because I end up wallowing in the thoughts longer and I’m relying on my ability to remember, “Oh right, I wanted to renew my mind when these thoughts came up again.” And then it takes me a bit to stop sulking because the “club of condemnation” almost always comes out.

However, if I’m already practicing renewing my mind before the crisis hits, I tend to catch those thoughts/behaviors before they’ve completely ruined my whole day (week or month) AND I turn to God sooner because my mind is already being trained in that direction. I’m also finding that I am less likely to turn my attention to new and old diet solutions so I can “fix myself”.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. ~ Isaiah 26:3 (KJV)

I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here by saying, being proactive about renewing your mind is key! Ok, now on to the “crisis plan”

Oh Lord, I’m in the middle of a crisis!

Even being proactive, I still have weak moments. Yes, my flesh still screams and demands it’s own way. Yes, I still live in this fallen world with all of its multitude of ways to infiltrate the mind. A crisis (big or small) is going to happen, but with God’s grace and a few tools, we’ll be ready for them. These are by no means the only tools you can use, so ask God what will work for you.

For starters, most days, you will probably find a cross drawn on my hand in ink. I generally have to draw a new one every morning. At first, I was really fussy about the way it looked, but now, I keep it simple, and if it doesn’t look perfect, it doesn’t matter. I’m not saying you must draw on yourself, or tattoo yourself. If you aren’t at peace with an exercise like this, it isn’t for you. For me, it is a physical reminder, and one with which I am perfectly at peace.This little cross reminds me that I already have a plan when temptations do arise.

Knowing what you will do when you encounter negative thoughts or lies buzzing about in your head is a HUGE step toward winning the battle (read: be proactive, have a plan). Here is a list of tools I’m currently using in my Crisis Plan:

I Deserve A Donut – Yes, I know I’ve already mentioned this one, but seriously, it is a big resource in a little book (there is also an app). The author lists numerous rationalizations and emotions that prompt us to eat when we aren’t hungry. You can scroll down the list to choose the one affecting you in the moment, then turn to that page for help. She includes questions to prayerfully ask yourself as you process what you’re thinking/feeling, as well as scripture to point you back to God. You can journal these, or you can work through them verbally. I typically do them verbally, like I’m having a conversation with God.

Truth Journal – Heidi from Thin Within did an example entry for this during one of the audio clips I’ve mentioned in the last three posts. Barb Raveling’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project, arrived in the mail yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to really dive in, but a cursory glance through it showed that the idea comes from this book. I am really looking forward to reading it.

Basically, when your brain is going haywire, you pull out this journal (it’s separate from your Faith Journal). The object is to take the lies and, what Heidi calls, “little “t” truths” and replace them with big “T” truths. A little “t” truth is a lie that contains an element of truth; or maybe it’s true in that moment but doesn’t have to remain so. Like the statement, “I want to keep eating” (see photo). That was true when I wrote it, but it is a want or desire that can change. A big T truth is God’s Truth and it doesn’t change; or it may be a truth that contradicts a lie I’m telling myself… Like in the example where I say I’m “behind” on my work. The truth in that moment was that I wasn’t behind at all, I just wasn’t ahead of schedule any longer.20150618_121311 (2)

To do this exercise, you write 3-5 short sentences describing how you’re feeling, or what is bothering you, leaving a space between each line. Then you number each statement (there might be more than one statement per sentence). After you’ve numbered them, you address each statement individually and write the big “T” truth in the spaces between the lines. As you address the lies, draw a line through them. The photo is the first entry I did of this sort. I was feeling overwhelmed, inadequate, and had a desire to procrastinate. I chose this one because it was less personal than other entries I’ve made 🙂 In the past, I would let these kinds of thoughts fester all day long. This one little exercise on that particular day kept me from turning the day into an “I feel sorry for myself” eat fest.

Essentially, my Truth Journal is the place where I make a conscious effort of turning my thoughts back to God… I’m taking my thoughts captive and making them obedient to Christ in a very literal sense through this exercise.

Praying God’s Word – As I’ve mentioned over and over, Beth Moore is one of my favorite Bible Teachers, hands down. The resource the Lord led her to put together through this book is one that blesses me. This is the book I used to make the scripture index cards I mentioned in the very first post of this series. If I know I’m struggling in a moment with a particular stronghold, I can turn straight to that section and begin praying scripture immediately. I keep the book with my reference materials, and the index cards I made could end up anywhere in the house. There have been days I have literally worn them around my neck (lanyard).

Praise Fest (or Feast) – This is another one of Heidi’s tools. Super simple. You just start telling God (or singing to Him) how awesome He is. I’ll admit, I typically turn to this one last. If my mind is still stuck after doing the other two things, I’ll do this. I’ve found that praising God for using these struggles to turn my heart and mind back to Him is a terrific way to turn the tables on the enemy. It’s funny how thanking God for the crisis moments, really changes the way you view them.

A praise fest can look like any number of things. You can turn on praise music (or just sing acapella). You can also say aloud your “God List”. A “God List” is a running list of God’s attributes, benefits, character traits…etc. I don’t keep an official God list. Instead, I’ve decided to have my Faith Journal do double duty by underlining words or phrases that describe God or His character. Then, I can flip open the journal and my eyes quickly land on those words/phrases and I can start praising God for Who He is (see photo). I decided that I would underline them in green because it reminds me that I am growing closer to Him by knowing Him better.

Anyway, the next time you’re feeling low, give the praise fest a try, it works and leads me to the next one.

Treasure Hunting – I can’t remember what Heidi calls this on the audio, but she describes listing ways in which God has shown His glory to you throughout the day. You can also make it a list of what you’re grateful for.

I’m trying to make a habit of asking God for one special treasure each day (proactive) that shows His love, His glory, His presence in the mundane… I don’t remember to ask every day, but on the days I have, He hasn’t disappointed. It can be as simple as noticing a beautiful flower on my walk, or as big as God prompting Peter Furler to play a certain song during a Third Day concert at Red Rocks. Before Peter shouted the song’s title (Mac Powell asked what he wanted to perform next), God whispered to my spirit, “This one’s for you, Julie.” How could I not feel treasured in that moment? God is so good to me.

Ok, before I start weeping with joy and this post ends up waiting as a draft for another day…let’s keep moving… Treasure hunting can also apply to those crisis moments (reactive) because it is really difficult to dwell on the negative when you’re turning your focus to how blessed you truly are.

Thought Busters – There are moments, of course, when I do not have time to sit and work through my junk. Watching my daughter’s belt test last night would be a perfect example. I’m not about to walk out of the dojang while she’s kicking her heart out to deal with the thoughts bombarding me. No, I need to be present for her. This is where I use a short scripture or phrase to blow a negative thought to bits instantly. Of course, I must have these memorized (proactively hiding His Word in your heart) for them to be available when I need them. Here are some of mine:

Thoughts that berate my appearance get shot down with, “I am fearfully and wonderfully made”.

Thoughts about defeat or feeling like I’ll never win this battle evaporate with, “My God is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that I could ask or imagine.”

Thoughts that make me feel like I’m not making any progress are stopped with, “All things are made beautiful in God’s time.”

Thoughts that prompt me to think that I’m not doing anything to “fix myself” (you know, that urgent feeling to start a new diet or exercise plan so you can whip yourself back into shape)… with these thoughts I go straight for the jugular with, “In Jesus Name, GET THEE BEHIND ME SATAN! I am doing something about it by trusting the God who made me! My hope is in HIM and not in anything this world has to offer!”

Obviously you have to prepare for these moments ahead of time. You may use scripture and phrases God gives you while you’re Faith Journaling or Truth Journaling. Ask Him for the right words. Even if you find yourself in crisis mode, and do not have access to “physical tools”, remember, your most valuable resource is the God of the universe and He is accessible 24/7.

I highly doubt this will be the last time I write about renewing the mind, but this is the end of this series… for now anyway. Thanks so much for hanging in there with me through these posts. I hope we’ve learned that we can’t just sit around expecting God to change us without our involvement. He wants us to walk this transformation with Him. Our minds are continually taking in information, and if we aren’t actively renewing them with God’s Truth, they will conform to or continue in the pattern of this world.

Choose this day whom you will serve…

Update: Renewing the Mind: One Year+ Later

renewing the mind: renewal stops

We’ve kind of defined renewing the mind, and we’ve talked about daily renewing our minds through Truth Journaling. We are going to get to “Renewal Stops” in this post, but I feel like God is taking us in another direction first…

Seek His Plan For You

There are so many great ideas for building a mind renewal practice that fits how God wants to restore and transform your thinking. Be sure to check in with Him.

When I was listening to the audio file on this topic, it would have been really easy to become overwhelmed with all of the great ideas. I took notes during the first couple of webinars, but then realized God isn’t calling me to “do it all”. He wants to tailor daily renewing my mind for my particular needs. Even though I’m listing the tools He’s using in my life, that doesn’t mean He’ll choose the same ones for you. So, seek His will on the matter. Trust me, it will work so much better if you do.

The Dailiness of It

Blessed are those who listen to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway. ~ Proverbs 8:21 (NIV)

Why do I keep saying “daily”? Because I believe one of the pivotal keys is to make this a daily spiritual habit. It must be a priority to us. In the beginning we must make a conscious decision to do it. As our taste for the Lord grows and matures, we will crave Him and the time we get to spend renewing our minds. You may even ask Him to give you that desire.

I spent years (many many days) trying to make a conscious effort to change my eating habits. So much energy and thought and time was poured into what, when, and how much I should eat… not to mention all the tracking and reading and researching, exercising… and the obsessing about it, oh Lord, the hours of obsession. Well, I’ve decided to trade all of that for one simple practice, renewing my mind daily. And you know what, this practice takes a fraction of the time and energy all of those other things consumed. Which means I’m actually “free to live”. Gasp! You mean there is life outside of dieting, before and after photos, tracking food, mental beatings, and calorie burn? Yes, life more abundant and free!

You may be wondering then, “if this is to be my focus, when do I work on my weight?” You don’t, God does. When your mind begins to change, your actions will change as well. And to show you just a snippet of what is possible with God, He gave me an example to share.

Oh Glorious Bean of Coffee

Coffee entered my life when I was in tech school at Keesler AFB many moons ago. I had never been a coffee drinker until I discovered that one cup of the dark magic would keep me awake for hours during early morning classes. Some in my class might have called me hyper, but hey, I wasn’t snoozing. It was a miracle because our instructor’s droning had the opposite effect with almost equal power. Although I hated the taste, I was hooked immediately.I think I had avoided it until then because my PopPop would always say, “It’ll put hair on your chest”, and well, that’s the last thing a girl wants.coffee

A few years later I would discover that I simply could not drink full-caf coffee if I expected to be a functional human being. It was a full-blown addiction and missing my dosage by even 15 minutes would bring on such horrible withdrawal symptoms. Friends, it ain’t purty. So, I went cold turkey (quite miserable three days), and then switched to decaf. I even had to cut out caffeinated sodas (I rarely drink any soda these days).

I realized I could easily stick to one cup of decaf a day, 99% of the time, with little to no symptoms; so, I thought it was a good compromise. By this point, I had developed a taste for it.

If you’ve been following me through my “no more dieting” journey, you know that I now try to listen to my body and what it is saying to me about the foods and beverages I consume. Recently, I’ve begun to feel that having a daily cup of decaf wasn’t sitting great with me. I can’t explain it, just kind of “ick”. I tried to force myself to eliminate it a few weeks ago, but found that I seemed to want it even more. I even ended up having a, very unusual, three-cup-day. The tactic the secular books give you of noting how it makes you feel and reminding yourself of that when you think you want it… well, that wasn’t working. I would still make myself a cup every morning.

Since I’ve begun to practice renewing my mind in the mornings (typically before breakfast), I think I’ve had coffee twice in the past 10 days. That’s an 80% decrease in my coffee consumption just from a morning practice of renewing my mind with God. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about whether I was drinking coffee or not till I sat down to write this post and God decided to show me a way that this practice is already benefitting my physical body. That means I am naturally drinking less coffee. Say what? Just imagine, if renewing my mind affects my coffee consumption, doesn’t it stand to reason it will affect other eating/drinking habits as well?

Now, am I saying you shouldn’t drink coffee? Good heavens, no. Please don’t take away from this that I think drinking coffee is a sin. I’m simply saying I observed how it makes me feel physically, and I think cutting back on it is a good idea… for me.

Now, let’s move on to the actual topic of this post.

Renewal Stopsrest stop

I guess you could consider this to be a form of “maintenance” during the day. I’ve started my day with time in the Word, prayer, and writing in my Truth Journal. Now, to maintain that focus throughout the day, I have some other tools in my arsenal:

Breaking Free Day by Day: A Year of Walking In Liberty – I love this little book because it takes the message of Beth Moore’s Breaking Free, and breaks it down into short daily devotionals. I keep a copy of this in the master bathroom by the toilet. Ok, so maybe you don’t want to talk about the bathroom, but we all spend time there. It’s generally quiet (especially now that my kids are older), and it only takes a minute or two to read one of the little pages. I love to multi-task, and I think this is a far better use of that time than surfing the net on my phone.

I Deserve a Donutdonut It was originally designed for crisis moments when you want to eat outside your boundaries (more on this later), but I also use it for daily maintenance. I have both the book and the android app. The book usually stays with my other resources on my desk, but the app goes with me anywhere I take my phone. If I’m using the downstairs bathroom, I’ll pull up the app (ok, so maybe I’m in the bathroom more than you are, but I doubt it). Or, if I ride along in the car with the husband on an errand, sometimes I’ll stay in the car and read through the app. To pick a category, I generally ask myself what I struggled with last, or the most. I might even randomly pick a category. I’ll click through to those questions and scriptures and answer/read them. Keep in mind, I’m not actually struggling in these moments I’m describing. I’m just using this time to solidify in my mind the truth about such struggles. I’m practicing what I want to think before I need to think it. I’m thinking about getting Barb’s book, The Renewing of the Mind Project as well.

Music – I love music. God speaks to me through songs in such a way that it goes directly to my inmost being. Lyrics become a part of me, and so I have to be careful what music I listen to. I especially love songs about transformation, perspectives, redemption, freedom, gracepraise, praise, praise, and praise. Oh, did I mention, praise? Ha ha. Sorry, there are just too many to list out here. Sometimes, I’ll even picture God singing them to me… like the Tenth Avenue North song I mentioned the other day. Technology is terrific in this Third Day @ Red Rocksarena. I can listen on my phone, my ipod, online, in my car… I can pump music into my head while I work, while I play, while I walk… Of course, sometimes He prevents my ipod from working. That usually means “we need to talk”.

Dancing – It would not be entirely unusual for you to catch my girls and I dancing around the living room to the aforementioned artists (+ many many more) . No, I won’t be posting videos of that 🙂

Have your Cake and Your Skinny Jeans Too – Ok, so this is a secular book on hunger directed eating, but I have used it as part of renewing my mind. I will mainly read the chapter about why diets don’t work. I like her chapter on this better than Intuitive Eating’s because it’s simpler and more like having a conversation with a good friend. I’ve read this chapter over and over and over again… why? Because I want to be certain that my “intellectual” brain doesn’t ever try to fall for the diet lie again… and thus lead the rest of me back to the kool aid. Having facts regarding the truth about dieting in my head is very helpful to me. I don’t read it as often as I did a couple of months ago, but I know it’s there if I want a refresher. I think the reason I haven’t needed it as much, or the Intuitive Eating book for that matter, is because I do not believe diets are the answer any longer. I believe God is. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the help I’ve gleaned from this book.

Ok, so those are some of my renewal stops. They help keep my thoughts from going where they shouldn’t by simply being proactive about the practice of renewing my mind. Still, sometimes those old thoughts creep back in. They are getting quieter, but we do need tools for those crisis moments when the enemy bombards our minds (and lives) with lies.

Tomorrow we’ll get into the “Crisis Plan” and tools I’m using in those situations.

renewing the mind: faith journaling

Yesterday we did a bit of an overview of what renewing the mind is and today I would like to share a tool I began using last week. You can call it whatever you like, but I’m calling it my “Faith Journal” and sometimes my “Mind Renewal” journal. I feel that by making this a habit, I’m stepping out in “faith”.

He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. ~ Deuteronomy 32:4 (NIV)

Faith Journal

I love paper journals. I always have. The Husband started buying me Moleskine journals a 20150616_124722 (2)few years ago and I would journal my prayers in them. I also receive journals periodically from my co-op students in all shapes and sizes. I’ve used them for grocery lists, project planning, lesson planning… etc. Well, this past semester, I was given this absolutely gorgeous journal. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to write in it. Yes, it is really pretty. When I opened the gift, I gasped. You see, I had been talking to God about starting a special journal. I wanted to get away from my whiny prayers where I kept begging him to fix me (or fix what was wrong in my life). And here, He provided the perfect journal.

So, yes, now I knew He wanted me to switch gears, but I didn’t know what direction to go. I waited. I’m rather glad the journal was so pretty that I didn’t want to mark in it for fear of messing it up. It’s not one of those that you can just rip out a page you don’t like. It’s bound like a Bible.

When I heard Heidi talk about Truth/Faith Journaling (we’ll talk about Truth journaling later) on the Renew your mind audio, I knew immediately that this was what God wanted me to do with the new journal. It came with a gel pen also. Both in the color purple. It reminds me of royalty for some reason. And, as the Lord would have it, my birthstone is purple. I always loved blue because it made me think of strength and water, but purple now makes me think of my heritage in the Lord.

Anyway, the cover says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). I quote this verse a lot. It’s one of my favorites. I think I liked it so much as a kid because it sounded rather mysterious. I know that’s probably a really silly reason to like a verse, but hey, I was a kid.

Back to faith journaling… I decided to carve out time each day (at least once a day) to sit with my new journal, purple pen, Bible, scripture prayer cards (from Praying God’s Word), and any other resources I feel God is calling me to use (I Deserve a Donut is usually there too). I use this time to write God’s truth in my journal with the faith that He will embed these truths into my mind. Some days I write huge passages of scripture. Some days I add quotes from other sources. Most days I include at least one scripture prayer. And, on about half the pages so far, I’ve included in bold letters, “I AM FREE” in the margins.

20150616_125127 (2)

I try to do this first thing in the morning, but if I don’t get to it then, I pick a time and I disappear into my room where I won’t be disturbed. A lot of the Thin Within ladies use truth cards, and I think that’s great! I started making truth cards in a spiral of index cards, but felt that God was telling me personally to do something else. I already have all those scripture cards I mentioned yesterday, and I felt God saying those were enough. I knew I would do a journal anyway, so I decided that could be my version of truth cards for now.

I only write what is true or what I want to be true in this journal. My focus is on GOD’s Truth, and not my own version of it. If I want to think the thoughts of God, I have to know His voice. That’s why most of what I write in there comes from the Bible. I call it a faith journal because I’m stepping out in faith through the act of doing this practice before I even encounter temptation.

The section of my scripture prayers titled, “Idolatry”, is fantastic at keeping God in a proper perspective in my mind. Most of them talk about who God is, how great He is, and all that He has done. It’s a bit difficult for an earthly idol to hold a candle to those descriptions. So, generally, that’s where I start my “mind renewal” time. I ask God to keep my mind from wandering, but if it does, I want Him to bring my focus back to Him.

I know that at any point in the day, I can carve out a bit of time to renew my mind some more. It is not uncommon for me to do this multiple times a day even, especially if I come across a truth I want added to my journal. I might jot a note on a sticky and put it with my journal for the next day, or I might sit down right then and add it. Usually though, having my “renewal stops” throughout the day works to keep my mind in the right place after journaling in the morning.

We’ll talk about “renewal stops” tomorrow, but I hope this gives you an idea of what Faith Journaling looks like for me. Eventually I hope to add art to my entries. I love the Bible Art journals I’ve seen from Cathy Maher (Thin Within) and others.

 

renewing the mind = transformation

I promised I would do a post on this topic, and here it is. I’ve decided to break this into a multi-part series because as I was writing, it kept getting longer and longer. I apologize in advance for the length, but it is my prayer that the Lord will use this to His glory.

…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

~ Romans 12:2b

Renewing the Mind – Looking Back

“Renewing the mind” is not a new concept for me. I first heard about it when I went through Beth Moore’s Breaking Free years ago (the link is to the updated edition, I did the original). The study resonated with me but I was so convinced diets were the answer. I totally missed the simple message of how to break free because of my strongly held beliefs.

20150616_093238 (2)Later I purchased Praying God’s Word and proceeded to copy onto index cards almost every scripture prayer from the categories with which I struggled most. I still have them. They are color coded by category and kept in two three ring index card holders. Obviously I understood I needed to apply God’s word to my situation. However, I went about applying those scriptures the wrong way. You might be thinking, “how on earth can you mess up praying scripture?” Well, when you have your priorities out of whack, it’s easy.

20150616_093309 (2)You see, I tried to apply God’s wisdom to my diet worldview instead of conforming my boundaries to God’s wisdom. Read that again if you need to. There is a huge shift in mindset revealed in that sentence. Because my mindset was backward, I would often lament, “God, why aren’t you helping me lose weight? (focused only on the result) Why aren’t you fixing me?” (navel gazing)

He would tell me to “get out of the way so He could.”

Still missing the message, I’d further complain, “I’m tired of struggling with this.”

To which He would reply, “Then stop.”

I have so many prayer journal entries (and blog entries) that go along these lines. Sometimes I might actually take His advice for a few days, but then I would fight even harder or look for the next weightloss tool, plan, regime when I didn’t see “results”. I would pray those scripture cards for a few days (while starving myself on some diet) and then stop (when I couldn’t take it anymore and would binge). I was angry that it didn’t seem like God was keeping His word to help me resist temptation.

He kept telling me to stop striving, but I wouldn’t.

He would tell me to rest in Him, but the worldview I had called that “laziness”. I had to at least “appear” like I was trying to fix myself. I mean, there is absolutely nothing admirable about someone who has just given up and let themselves go. I thought that’s what He was telling me to do… give up on ever being thin… which, in truth, was my object of obsession for so long. He wanted me to stop putting my trust in diets (my idol).

So when I found Intuitive Eating and one of the principles was to “put weight loss on the back burner”, I thought they had the answer I was looking for because it “sounded” like what I thought God was telling me. Plus, they had “principles” to follow. God wasn’t giving me any steps to make this weight go away. I wanted a list of rules. I am grateful that the book convinced me to stop dieting, but one thing it lacks is a focus on God. Because of this, the message is hollow and self-serving.

All this time, God was really telling me to give up my worldview. He was telling me to lay all of my diet mentality at His feet. Ultimately, He was asking, “why are you still searching, as if I’m not enough?” That question has grown louder and louder in recent months and now, every time I think about looking for the answer to my weight issues in another diet, I can hear God saying, “Am I enough or not?” I didn’t realize it at the time, but listening to that Tenth Avenue North song (the link above) over and over on my ipod, was a way of renewing my mind. Eventually, it became louder than the need to search elsewhere. Then, when the message of renewing my mind was presented again last week… I was ready to listen.

Renewing the Mind – Looking Forward

I mentioned yesterday that I’ve recently gone through the Thin Within audio series on soundcloud about renewing your mind (there are 4 parts to it). Like I said, the concept isn’t new to me, but the execution, and understanding what it looks like, is. The audio contains some interviews with ladies who took up the practice of renewing their mind daily and it has completely transformed their lives.

When I say, “the practice”, I’m realizing that it isn’t any one method per say, but rather it could look different from one person to the next. There is a common thread though.

Beth (Moore) has said it. Heidi (Thin Within) has said it. Countless others have too. Renewing your mind is about more than just stopping the wrong thoughts. Yes, we can stop them, but if we don’t replace them with the Truth, they will return. When we’re told to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, this goes beyond just saying “no” to a negative thought or a lie.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. ~ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

bibleYes, we have weapons, but for now, I want us to see that we can demolish strongholds and “pretensions” that contradict God. We can even take our thoughts captive. Some people stop right there with the practice of renewing their mind. They think that just stopping the thought is the answer. I want to make it clear that renewing our mind goes another step further. I’m referring to the final statement of the passage, “make it obedient to Christ”.

If you were training a dog and all you ever did was say, “no, don’t do that”. Would the dog ever learn what you do want from him? Probably not. Would his behavior change. Um no. Your mind is similar in that if we say, “No, don’t think about that”, but we don’t tell our minds what to think… where will our thoughts go? Probably back to the original thought, but who really knows, they could head to something even worse!

However, if we grab that thought, and then change it to mirror God’s thoughts on the matter, this will renew our minds. Renewed minds change how we think. Changed thinking results in changed beliefs… and well, we already know, from painful experience, that we act upon what we truly believe.

So, what should our thoughts look like? Can you believe, God tells us that too.

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 (NIV) check out some other versions for more insight

If the thoughts we’re thinking don’t match up with this list, then we need to take them captive to Christ. If you’re like me, you’re probably bombarded with thoughts on a daily basis that fall outside of this description. Well, we’re not going to try to do the impossible of changing them all in one day… or of trying to change them on our own. We’re going to focus on doing what we can, and leave the supernatural stuff to God.

What can we do? We can take up the practice of renewing our minds daily. I do encourage you to listen to that audio series I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn about other methods than the ones I plan to discuss. I can’t really share what I haven’t been using, so I’m only going to talk about the practices I’ve felt compelled to adopt into my daily routine. Remember, your daily routine may look different from mine, but if the common thread is the same, we’ll still be renewing our minds.

If, like me, you’re looking for lasting change, we won’t find it in a man-made system. God tells us we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. I love what Cathy Mahr at Thin Within said in one of the audios when asked if she thought the changes in her were permanent. She said that she’d never seen a butterfly return to being a caterpillar. God says she’s a new creation, and so she lives like one. That, my friends, is what God accomplishes through the renewing of our minds. He makes possible, the impossible.

 Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” ~ Luke 18:27

Let’s change our worldview. Join me tomorrow as I share about “Truth Journaling“.

sunriserun

 

ssmt: verse #12

I really think the summer is flying by just a little too quickly. My to-do list seems to be growing instead of shrinking, as the days are disappearing. I didn’t realize how much participating in SSMT would magnify the words of my verse 1.

Today we get to post the 12th verse in our memory list, so be sure to check out Adrienne’s post to the Siestas. I am still going through Psalm 103, so, big surprise, the next verse is:

For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him. ~Psalm 103:11 (KJV)

When I was a kid, I pictured “fearing the Lord” as cowering like the cowardly lion before the “great and powerful Oz”. I thought the Bible was telling us to “be afraid, be very afraid.” And then I memorized verses like, “fear not, for I am with thee”. Talk about confusion for a little kid. Well, God used a lesson from my Dad to teach me about “fearing the Lord”.

I loved to swim. Growing up in a part of the country where sun and surf were king, suited me so well. If there was a body of water, and my parents gave me permission, I was in it. We would go to the lake and to the beach. I loved the water. I had not even an inkling that the water could be dangerous. I remember my Dad teaching me how to dive off the side of a pier from a squat and later from standing. Oh, I didn’t know how to swim like a competitive swimmer, my swimming was more utilitarian than that, but I loved challenging the limits of my breath, arms, and legs. I only got out of the water when I had to.

I must have freaked my parents out a few times because I remember my Dad saying I “had no fear” when it came to the water. I was in the second or third grade at the time. “You want me to be afraid of the water?” I asked. This seemed to contradict an earlier lesson in fear regarding a huge horse at a festival.

“Well, not afraid of it, that’s not good either,” he replied.

“I don’t understand.” I was treading water in the deep end of the pool at our apartment complex. Secretly seeing how long I could appear to hover there before my arms and legs gave out.

“Water can be very dangerous and you don’t respect that part of it.”

I’m sure I gave him a confused look. I had been taught to respect my parents and those in authority over me. I didn’t get how that applied to water. He shifted gears.

“Would you play with a rattle snake?” He continued.

“No, Sir.”

“Why not?”

“It would probably bite me and I might die.”

“But you don’t run screaming if you see a snake either.” He was right, I had been around a number of snakes, and just over a year later would even catch a pigmy rattler on the driveway of our home (using precaution of course). “You act appropriately around snakes because you have a ‘healthy fear’ of them. You respect them. You need to respect the water like you do snakes.”

I remember being really confused because I didn’t see how water could be dangerous if I knew how to swim. Over the years, I did have several close encounters with water, and by the grace of God, I survived them. Some were because of my recklessness and some were just fluke things that there was no way I could have prepared for. Years later as a teenager, when a large wave smashed me into the ocean floor and began dragging me out with the undertow, my Dad’s words flashed through my mind. We had been warned that the undertow was particularly bad, but I still got in the water. I clawed at the sand and held my breath for all I was worth. I remember praying that God would help me. The force pressing me into the sand lifted and I was able to surface. I got out of the water and sat on the shore for a good while watching the waves crash. Unfortunately for a 21 year old man staying a few doors down from us, the undertow claimed his life that day. My respect for water changed. I didn’t fear it, but I definitely approached it with more respect from then on.

When we are told to “fear God”, we are to have a proper view of who God is and what He is capable of. We aren’t called to cower out of fear, but to humble ourselves out of respect. God could easily force us to do His will. He could smite us all without speaking a word. We forget sometimes that He is the Creator of all things. He’s the one who quiets the storms or raises the flood waters. He’s even the one who allows waves to smash us into the sand for a lesson we so desperately need for our own good. But He’s also the living water… our salvation and our deliverer who washes away our sins. He wants us to choose to love and respect and obey Him. If we do, He promises mercy… and “so great” mercy at that.

SSMT: verse #11

It’s June 1st and that means we’re adding a new SSMT verse today. I’m still moving through Psalm 103, so today’s verse is:

“He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.” ~Psalm 103:10 (KJV)

This is another way of saying, “God is merciful”. The funny thing is, God is far more merciful than mankind. We are critical of others and ourselves. One thing I’m learning from my journey through Thin Within is that God’s grace is sufficient. This allows me to let myself off the hook for not being perfect. This doesn’t mean I’m saying, “Oh well, God forgives.” No, it means I recognize my errors without condemnation while relying on God to change those behaviors.

The Bible tells us the “wages of sin is death”. I don’t know about you, but I’m mighty thankful He doesn’t “reward” His children “according to our iniquities”.

Beth shares her heart with us today regarding loss. Be sure to check out her message.

Ok, now I really need to get some stuff done today. Blessings!

SSMT: verse #10

Good Morning! It’s already May 15th and that means it’s time to post the tenth SSMT verse of the year. I’m still working through Psalm 103 so today’s verse is:

He will not always chide: neither will he keep his anger for ever. ~ Psalm 103:9 (KJV)

I’m going to have to pray about the full meaning of this one and get my hands on some commentary too. Be sure to check out today’s post over at LPM Blog. It’s rather short, but sweet.

Blessings!

SSMT: verse #9

Oh my goodness. I’ve been so caught up in the Thin Within series that I totally flaked posting my 8th verse yesterday. I didn’t even think about it being May 1st already.

So, I’ll make this quick. I’m still moving through Psalm 103:

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy. ~ Psalm 103:8

So glad this is one of the shorter ones. I think this verse is perfectly timed as I need “plenteous” grace and mercy at the moment.

thin within: day fourteen

thinwithin

Today was rather crazy. Admittedly, I was not in the mood to do the study today. I tried while I was in the study room at co-op, but I simply couldn’t focus enough to do all the exercises. And then when I got home, I was too tired. So, some of this is from Day 14 and some was completed the morning of Day 15.

Day Fourteen

Today asked the question “who has God created you to be?” This can be such an overwhelming question to this recovering perfectionist… and to tackle it on such an exhausting day… well, I simply wasn’t in the mood.

We revisited the eagle story, which I still love. “I am an eagle, not a chicken!” It’s not enough though to believe you are an eagle. Yes, that’s where it begins, with belief, but if we truly believe, our actions will follow. I will act like an eagle if I the belief is my foundation.

If God had not intended the eagle to fly, stepping off the cliff with or without wings spread would have proven disasterous! ~ Thin Within (p. 139)

So, we have to know who God has created us to be before we jump off clinging to a belief. God’s word tells me that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) In Ephesians I learn that I am “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved.”

Now, you may be wondering, “why on earth is the author harping on all of this – haven’t we already covered ‘who we are in Christ’?” Well, I don’t know about you, but if I had this belief down in my inmost being, food and body image laws wouldn’t have such a strangle-hold on me. If we don’t “get this” truth, we might as well stop because we won’t be able to live victoriousfreedom-chain01us for longer than it takes for our willpower, resolve, and strength to give out… which isn’t long.

We are building on the concept of who we are in Christ by acknowledging in this lesson that we don’t have to be a slave sin. We don’t have to be mastered by the food and body image laws any longer.

For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. ~ Romans 6:14 (NIV)

A reminder, “eating” isn’t sin. The sin is turning to something other than God. The sin is trying to “fix ourselves” in our own power. The sin is in conforming to the world’s views, standards…etc.

I love how the author also talks about what happens when we “blow it”. She asks the question of whether or not God is grieved “by my willful reluctance to surrender all unto Him or to my lack of faith to claim the power of the Holy Spirit”. To this she responds:

He is grieved because we, as His beloveds, are missing out on His very best. ~ Thin Within (p. 142)

If you’ve got kids, think about this in regard to them. You tell them to do something and you already have in mind a “reward” you’re planning for a job well-done. Unfortunately, your kid decides to blow it off and either not do it, or does a very poor job. Sure, part of you may be angry (we’re human after all), but isn’t there a part of you who is disappointed that you can’t bless that kid with what you’d planned? Yes, I can relate to this.

Fortunately, God is a perfect parent (which may be difficult for us to fathom being imperfect parents). He has our best interests at heart, always. He knows what we’re capable of in Him and He longs to bring that to fruition. However, even though we mess up, He will never break His covenant of love.

The author goes on to describe an “obedient life” using a quote from one of my favorite Bible teachers on the planet. Beth Moore is like my big sister (in Christ) – yeah, I know I’ve never met her in person… but so what. Anyway, this was taken from her fantastic study, Breaking Free:

Obedience does not mean sinlessness but confession and repentance when we sin. Obedience is not arriving at a perpetual state of godliness, but perpetually following hard after God. Obedience is not living miserably by a set of laws, but inviting the Spirit of God to flow freely through us so the power to be victorious comes from God and not from us. Obedience is learning to love and treasure God’s Word and see it as our safety. ~ Beth Moore, Breaking Free

Take Action

This is the part that I didn’t fill out until the morning of day 15. We were asked to come up with lies we still believe. I’ve already been addressing these lies for a bit now, so it was hard to come up with some that I firmly still cling to. Most of them are cracked and breaking apart. God did show me that I am still relying a whole lot on my own strength, not just to follow the 8 keys and completing the daily lessons, but also to keep up with the writing of this blog series… eeekkk! Can we say, “hello, conviction”!

After addressing the lies, we were given a list for replacing false beliefs with truth. I really liked this list. Then we applied one of these truths to the visual aid on page 148. Neat exercise. Really hope you have the book 🙂

A Note About the Medical Moments

While, I have mostly agreed with everything in these so far, I still have to be very careful not to turn some of the information into “rules” or “laws”. I’ve been meaning to say something about it. Since today’s kind of hit me in an ugly way, I thought I would mention my thoughts on it. I am choosing to let God tell me what I should and shouldn’t eat. While I do accept that not everything is beneficial, I’m still keeping food “neutral” in my mind. Knowing something is better or worse for me has never been a strong enough motivator to force me to “eat healthy”. Besides, I trust God to naturally eliminate my desire for what He knows won’t work for my body and increase my desire for what does.

Observations and Corrections

Like I already said, today was wacky. I was running behind schedule and stood in the kitchen chugging my coffee so I could get out the door on time. I didn’t have time for breakfast (coffee was it) because I hadn’t planned very well the night before (so not me). I left the house a bit on the hungry side.

The second “standing in the kitchen” eating incident was out of sheer anxiety over trying to avoid plopping on the sofa with something to eat. I was genuinely hungry, but I wasn’t calm or relaxed. I didn’t pay attention to what I was eating. It was like “grazing” in the pantry. I know I didn’t eat much because I definitely stopped before a “five”. I could call this an utter failure, but the victory is that I didn’t eat while watching TV. Yes, it was still a form of distracted eating, but it wasn’t pleasant in the least. I hated it, and I think that alone will be a deterrent from making this behavior a habit.

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Circled K=”Standing in Kitchen; T=”Table”

Now, there has been a bit of a change in the tv watching dynamics at our house. The husband and I decided to put a sitting area (with a tv) in our bedroom this week. I’m not going to go into all the reasons we decided to do this, but from the moment we started discussing it (months ago), I said, “NO FOOD in the room” (with the exception of some date nights). Even though the TV was set up last night, I went to bed when I realized I was having trouble watching it without thinking about food. (the husband got headphones so I wouldn’t be kept awake by it).

Well, tonight, I was having the same issue, but kept in mind the boundary I’d set – “NO FOOD in the bedroom” (except date night) – and begged the Lord to help me honor it. I could still go down to the kitchen to eat… which is what I did… hence, the whole standing about grazing thing. When I came back to the room, I didn’t hang in long with watching TV though, I ended up going to sleep instead.

Part of the reason I was ok with the sitting area in our room was that I wanted to break my pattern of sitting on the living room sofa eating while watching TV. Knowing that I don’t want food in my bedroom on a regular basis, I hoped this would be a physical obstacle to my old pattern of behavior. So far, it is helping… but I still feel that draw to numb out in front of that box with food. This is something I really rely on for relaxation in the evenings. The husband and I have been doing this for years after getting the kids tucked in. Even when I was dieting I would do this (I had “tv watching approved snacks” then). I believe the Lord will help me break it though.

So, the dynamic change, with the exhausting day… yes, I don’t see today as a failure at all. It was an opportunity to turn it over to God… again, and again, and again…. and again.

But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation. ~ Colossians 1:22 (NIV)

 

SSMT: verse #8

Tax Day (do you hear the ominous music playing?). I am so not thrilled to write that check to Uncle Sam… he’s become a nasty, greedy bugger in his old age. I refuse to let his greed overshadow today’s SSMT celebration though… well, I’m going to try not to let it. Lord, help me!

Today is SSMT verse # 8. I’ve already posted at LPM blog. Be sure to read Diane Vaccaro’s message today. I’ve got a really busy day ahead so I’m going to get right to posting my verse. I’m continuing through Psalm 103:

He made known his ways unto Moses, his acts unto the children of Israel. ~ Psalm 103:7

Tomorrow will be the first post in my “Thin Within” series. Until then, I hope your April 15th is one of grace and beauty.

Blessings!