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The Battleground of Your Mind

 

The Battleground of Your Mind

 

Crazy news flash for you . . . did you know you have up to 70,000 thoughts a day?! Researchers say most of us have between 45,000–51,000 thoughts a day, but it can be as many as 70,000!

Most of the battles you fight each day rage in the battleground of your mind. Here are just a few blog comments from this last week that reveal the mind battles you’re facing: 

  • "I feel like I’m not worth as much as the pretty/skinny/athletic/cool girls." —Ella
  • "I had formed a habit of thinking I hate myself or I hate my life when things went badly." —Michelle 
  • "Please pray for my stupid self." —Mist 
  • "I struggle with lies like I’ll never be good enough, I’ll never be pretty enough, and Even if I become beautiful enough, people won’t love me for me." —Michelle

I think the apostle Paul knew what a battleground our minds are when he wrote to believers:

Take the helmet of salvation (Eph. 6:17).

Quick history lesson—back in the day, Roman soldiers wore heavy helmets that covered their cheeks, foreheads, neck, and ears so their enemy’s battle-axe wouldn’t send their head flying off. Think of the helmet of salvation like our modern-day football or motorcycle helmet—except much more beautiful.

Now obviously, you don’t need to put on the helmet of salvation in order to be saved, ’cause Paul wrote this to people who were already Christians. But you do need to put on the helmet of salvation in order to think true thoughts that line up with who you really are now in Christ.

Your thoughts matter—big time. In Romans 12:2 we’re told, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind." Your mind was never meant to control you—you were meant to control your mind! As you do, you will be transformed from the inside out.

So how are you to get the upper hand over your thoughts?

Thinking Brand-New Thoughts
The answer is found in 2 Corinthians 10:5: "Take every thought captive to obey Christ." Warning—that’s a lot of hard, unending work! But it’s worth it, because the alternative isn’t pretty. Taking every thought captive to obey Christ means you’ll have to constantly monitor every thought to see if it passes the Philippians 4:8 test:

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

If a thought doesn’t pass the Philippians 4:8 test, rather than letting that thought captivate you, instantly capture it in your mind and turn it over to King Jesus. Then replace that stray thought with one that is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, or praiseworthy.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any of those thoughts on my own. I have to borrow Christ’s thoughts by memorizing His Words so I can replace my thoughts with His.

Can I encourage you to do the same? Buy a spiral-bound, index-card notebook from Walmart, and write out verses you find most helpful. Or store them in your phone. It doesn’t matter how you do it as long as you get His words into you.

I encourage you to start with verses that talk about what all is included in the gift of salvation. Become a serious student of your salvation. (This is how you put on the helmet of salvation—by knowing and chewing on what Jesus has done for you and given to you.) What saved you? How do you know this? When God saved you, what benefits and lavish gifts did He give you? For a great place to start, read or listen to these forty-five gifts God gave you when you were saved.

If you’re in a relationship with Jesus, you now "have the mind of Christ" (1 Cor. 2:16). Obviously that doesn’t mean you’re omniscient, that you know every single thing there is to know as God does. But it does mean your mind, which used to be hostile toward Him, can now understand, accept, and think on the things of God. Incredible!

So pick up that helmet of salvation and put it on. I want to see some helmet hair!

Then come back here and tell me about a mind battle you won this week. Let me know what thought you caught yourself thinking and how you beat that thought back by putting on the helmet of salvation and taking every thought captive to Christ.

Note: Parts of this post are excerpted from Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl.

The Battleground of Your Mind” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Four Ways to Live Within Your Limitations

140224-limitations

The past couple months I’ve been learning how to acknowledge and live within my limitations. After all, God alone is infinite; I am not. Here are four truths I’ve been remembering and implementing in everyday life:

1. It’s okay to work at a less frenzied pace—and even take breaks!

I used to work straight through my eight-hour workday. I’d even take my laptop into the bathroom stall with me. I’m not kidding. Lunch would be inhaled at my computer. I worked at mach speed. Who knows, my coworkers may have even witnessed smoke coming out my ears!

Now, though, I’m joining the sane lunch group in the cafeteria. I’m getting up from my computer every hour or so for a game of Ping-Pong, a short walk, or a change of scenery. Breaks are important. In fact, Jesus had to tell His disciples to take breaks, too:

“And he said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat” (Mark 6:31).

2. Everything doesn’t have to be done NOW.

Last week I picked up a prescription, dropped off my energy bill, and got my tire patched. I didn’t, however, make my Walmart returns, cash that check, or grocery shop (there was enough food in my fridge for at least a couple more days). On a whim, I stopped by the library on the way home and picked up a book a friend recommended. Progress!

The truth is I don’t have to run all my errands now. I don’t have to respond to all my emails now. The world won’t end if I don’t knock everything off my to-do list right now. In fact, it will be a whole lot better for me and others if I use that extra time to drive the speed limit back home rather than racing on to the next thing on my to-do list. Proverbs 19:2 warns,

“Whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.”

3. I can and need to prioritize.

The way I used to live was based on the belief, When I get all my work done, then I’ll rest and play. What a fool I’ve been. My work will never be done, no matter how hard or fast I work. So I need to ask God to help me prioritize.

Jesus modeled this beautifully when He came to earth. As you know, He didn’t heal every sick person. There was so much He didn’t do in the world. But He did spend time with His Father seeking His priorities. That’s why Jesus was able to say at the end of His life on earth,

“I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

4. I can ask for help.

I’ve asked for help more in the past couple months than I have in . . . well, possibly my entire life. I think the breakthrough happened the night I asked a friend to drive me to my hair appointment because I just didn’t have the energy. Who asks someone to drive them to their hair appointment?! Girls like me who are willing to acknowledge when they’re feeling really weak, I guess.

I’ve been trying to implement this maxim, “If you don’t ask the answer is always no.” The other day I asked someone to shovel my snow, and they offered to do so for the rest of the winter! I’ve been so blessed and helped by sharing my needs with others. I dare you to try it, too. Warning, though, it will take a dose of humility to admit you can’t do it all on your own. Reminds me of Moses, actually,

“Moses’ father-in-law said to him, ‘What you are doing is not good. You . . . will certainly wear yourself out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone. . . . look for able men . . . and they will bear the burden with you’” (Ex. 18:17-23).

I hope these truths help you as much as they’ve been helping me. I’m curious, do you think you’re living within your limitations? How so?

Four Ways to Live Within Your Limitations” was originally posted on TrueWoman.com.

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Embrace Your Neediness

 

Embrace Your Neediness

 

 

No one I know wants to be needy. It sounds so . . . clingy and pathetic and helpless.

And yet, isn’t that what we are? We launch into this world screaming, naked, and hungry, and we exit this world—if we live to a wrinkled old age—stooped, forgetful, and dependent on others.

But for the few years in-between, we shove our neediness down deep, put on a big-girl smile, and live as if we have no needs—as if we’re not hungry and crying and empty on the inside.

But every once in awhile, we catch a glimpse of our neediness, like this girl:

I didn’t think I was boy-crazy, but I asked some close friends of mine and they said they thought so. So I decided to stop. I’m not talking to anyone about guys, flirting with guys, dreaming about guys, or anything else. But it’s so hard. My crush and I are both in student leadership in our youth group. . . . I can almost feel my commitment melting away at the sight of him. I want to fulfill this commitment, but I don’t know what to do.

What this sweet girl probably doesn’t realize is that boy craziness is really just girl neediness. (And for the record, you don’t have to be boy-crazy to be needy—any kind of idolatry is a sign of neediness.)

Yep, we’re all more needy than we realize. The question is, What’s to be done with our neediness?

Stuff it down deep. If you ignore it, it will go away.

Fill your neediness with alcohol and pans of fudgy brownies and relationships and the latest movies and lots of new clothes.

No, the answer isn’t stuff it. No, the answer isn’t fill it.

The answer is embrace it, like the great poet David:

Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy (Ps. 86:1, emphasis added).

Run straight to God with your neediness. God, the One who formed you out of dust. God, the full One who emptied Himself and entered your world as a helpless baby. God, the compassionate and merciful One who knows what it’s like, who’s suffered in every way you have—yet always without sinning.

Mary Kassian says it so well:

Neediness is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. [It can] just [be] pinned to the wrong hope. Looking to man to give what only God can supply is an exercise in futility, frustration, and pain. And it can lead farther and farther away from the place where that longing can truly be fulfilled.

The Girl-Gone-Wise knows what the deep longing in her spirit is all about. So when she feels needy, she directs her longing and sighing Godward (Ps. 38:9). She understands that only as she delights herself in the Lord will her needs be met. He is the One who gives her the desires of her heart (emphasis added).

You’re needy. I’m needy. We always will be, this side of eternity. The question is, Where are you running to fill your neediness?

O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you (Ps. 38:9).

Embrace Your Neediness” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?

 

Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?

 

 

Whether you caught The Hunger Games opening weekend (and contributed to making it the biggest November opening ever!), or whether you have no idea who Peeta and Katniss are, I’m guessing you can relate to this girl’s bottom-line question:

I finished The Hunger Games series, and I am so envying Katniss. I mean, I know they are just fictional characters, but seriously! Peeta loves her so much and so unconditionally. This guy is SO perfect. I know I have God and all, but is there gonna be a guy that really loves me THAT much??

Will I ever be loved like that? Even if I’ve never asked that question out loud, it’s been the silent question behind the tears filling my eyes after dropping yet another novel into the library dropbox or watching the credits roll by after yet another chick flick. Could that ever happen to me?

But as the books and movies have been released and the tears have fallen and the years have passed, I’ve come to believe that even if . . .

Even if Peeta actually existed in real life . . .

And even if I were his “Katniss,” the woman he lived and breathed for . . .

It wouldn’t be enough. Not for long.

That’s because the hole in my heart—and the hole in your heart—isn’t Peeta-shaped. Or Gale-shaped (Katniss’ other love interest).

You weren’t made to be adored but to adore.

You weren’t made to be worshiped but to worship.

You were made for more. You were made for God.

A God so big the waters of the earth fit into the palm of His hand. A God of nearly 500 billion galaxies. A God who has no weaknesses, who never trips or falls or needs you to rescue Him (like Peeta). A God who not only talks about dying for you (like Peeta), but a God who actually sacrificed His life for you.

Why?

So you—a poor nobody from the dark, outer district—could enter into the closest relationship you have ever known with the kindest, most powerful King who has always been. So there could be no distance or discord or disconnectedness between you and Him.

How do I know?

Because God thought up marriage—the most committed love relationship we can experience as humans—to give us just a taste, a tiny taste, of the oneness we can and will know with Him, through faith in Jesus Christ:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church. . . . This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it [marriage] refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:25–32).

You are loved. So much more and so much better than Peeta loves Katniss. You are loved by this God who makes Peeta look . . . well, puny.

Dream bigger. You were made for so much more!

Will I Ever Be Loved Like Peeta Loves Katniss?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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The Best Valentine’s Ever

 

The Best Valentine's Ever

 

What’s your favorite Valentine’s memory? Mine took place on a snowy Saturday night in 2012 when five teen girls piled into my home with their pajamas, pillows, and Chi hair straighteners.

We did the typical things girls do at slumber parties (ate a lot of sugar, did each other’s hair, posed for a photo shoot) but the main reason we got together—and the highlight of the party—was sitting on the living room floor cutting and gluing and writing and praying.

Card Making

We’d asked the church secretary for a list of the names and addresses of the widows in our church, and then we made them each a homemade Valentine’s Day card and included a picture so they could put faces to our names.

Why did we spend our evening reaching out to a bunch of older women we hardly even knew rather than watching a couple of chick flicks? Because we wanted to love the same people God loves. Did you know widows have a very special place in God’s heart? He protects them and provides for them and urges us to do the same:

"You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child" (Ex. 22:22).

"He [God] executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing" (Deut. 10:18).

Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation (Ps. 68:5).

The LORD watches over the sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin (Ps. 146:9).

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world (James 1:27).

The next morning we hand-delivered one of our cards to a woman in a nursing home and stayed to visit, sing, hug, and pray for her. We dropped the other cards in the mail and were delightfully surprised when we received a couple letters back from widows warmly inviting us into their homes!

card

I wonder what widows you know. Would you make a list and send at least one of them a Valentine’s Day card this year? (You might want to send one to a single mom, as well.) After you’ve done that, I’d love to know your thoughts. Why do you think God cares so deeply for widows and wants us to do the same?

 

PS: I think a highlight this Valentine’s 2014 will be sharing my new book, Confessions of a Boy-Crazy Girl: On Her Journey from Neediness to Freedom, with the teens around me. If your heart is hurting this Valentine’s Day season, would you pick up a copy? It’s 40% off over at Moody Publishers today through February 17. Enjoy!

The Best Valentine’s Ever” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

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