Think On These Things, Part 4 - Cut. It. Out.




Instead of continuing with thinking on things that are lovely and commendable, I felt led to add another week to the topic of purity. This is such a dangerous struggle and one of the most difficult to overcome. Since last week's was mostly about preventing ourselves from the temptations that lead to impure thoughts, I sensed a need to offer some help for when we are in the midst of this yucky part of our thought lives.

Matthew 5:27-30 says the following: "You have heard it said, 'You shall not commit adultery.' But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell."

So... here are some things to ask yourself about your current thought life, along with steps to take to purify your thoughts.
 
First, ask yourself:
  1. What are my impure thoughts? Ask God to reveal to you any morally impure thoughts that you have been having. Ask Him to show you the ones that you dwell on, as well as the ones that Satan is constantly trying to put into your mind.
  2. When thoughts come in, am I trying to stop them? This is the big question. Thoughts only become sin when we CHOOSE to entertain them. All of us are tempted by lustful thoughts.
  3. What in my life is causing me to have these thoughts? This may be tough to answer because we don’t want to let go of “comforts” in our lives. Are you tempted by TV shows? Movies? Magazines? Books? Relationships in your life? Are you toying around with pornography?
Then…
  1. Confess. Spill it. Tell God all about it. (He already knows anyway.) Admit the thoughts you have been having and where they have been coming from.
  2. Repent. Let it go. Turn away. Ask God to turn you 180 degrees from your sin.
  3. Flee. Cut ANYTHING out of your life that is causing you to sin. TV show? Internet? Books/magazines? Relationship? Cut. It. Out. Very hard. I know. Been there. Just do it.
  4. Forgive yourself. Really. God has.
  5. Memorize scriptures that you can cling to when the temptations hit you again. Because they will. We do not stop being tempted because we ask forgiveness. Here are some scriptures to cling to: 
    • For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. - Romans 8:6-8
    • But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. - Galatians 5:16
    • But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires. - Romans 13:14
    • So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with a pure heart. - 2 Timothy 2:22
    • No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. - 1 Corinthians 10:13
    • You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you. - Isaiah 26:3a
    • Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body. - 1 Corinthians 6:18
God is faithful. He provides an escape for us when we are tempted by the evil desires of our flesh. Trust Him. He is our only defense against Satan's mind games. We cannot do it in our own strength. Satan is too powerful. Only God can fight the battle for us. May we all check ourselves of this struggle daily and may we allow God to win!

Finally, brothers, 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. - Philippians 4:8


Next week: Think on things that are lovely and commendable.


If you are reading this on Facebook, visit my blog: growwhereyoureplanted.com.
 
Comments tags: , , , , , | Links to this post | edit post


The Hard Love



Lisa-Jo challenges us on Fridays to write about a topic for 5 minutes... no editing allowed. Hard for me? We'll see! :) This is my first 5-minute Friday. Here we go...

GO.

Today is a good time to stop and think about the real meaning of "hard love."

But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed." - Isaiah 53:5

When you think about the cross, what do you think about? Do you think about the images of crosses that we see as Christians? Maybe you think about Jesus hanging there. Maybe you think about the forgiveness and are thankful.

Do you ever stop to really think about the pain?

Imagine for a minute the man we call our Savior, in numbing pain from a series of beatings, carrying a heavy wooden cross to Calvary. He can barely walk because of the weakness that has overtaken Him. When He gets up the hill, completely exhausted, His body is then pierced with nails. As the men hammer the nails into his hands and feet, his flesh is pierced, and blood streams out. When the cross is raised, it is dropped into the ground, thus pulling more at the wounds in his body. Oh the pain. Then think about the mental anguish as He cries, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?" The aloneness in that incredible last moment on the cross.

As we approach Easter and we think about our Savior, may we remember the hard love that He suffered for us... and be eternally thankful.

STOP.

Would you like to join us in 5-Minute Fridays? Stop by Lisa-Jo's blog and jump in!

Comments tags: , , , , | Links to this post | edit post


Oh, Impatient Me




Three hours of writing time tonight! Jeff said, “go,” so I went. The goal was to find a place that stays open until 11. A little difficult on a week night. Borders? Nope, 10:00. 10-minute drive to Barnes & Noble. You guessed it. 10:00. So much for 3 hours!

Oh, impatient me.

Came into the store to find only one person in line. Great! I can still have a good amount of time… Why is the guy working so slow?

Oh, impatient me.

Okay, frustrated now. So slow. It’s now been 30 minutes since I left the house. Still waiting. Angry now.

Oh, impatient me.

Then the voice… Stop! This alone time is not about you. It’s about Me! Learn to be patient. Learn to love those around you. Learn that others may be having a bad day. Always smile. Share My love. You may be a bright spot in a night where everyone else has been impatient to him. Trust Me.

Oh, impatient me.

Thanks for the reminder, Lord. An hour later... I get it. It's not about me. And You always have something to teach me. Finally, I listen.

Comments tags: , , , | Links to this post | edit post


RE:FOCUS - Think On These Things, Part 3 - Purity




Just as an FYI… in this post, I am mostly speaking to women. However, my hope is that everyone can get something out of this.

I have been waiting for this one. Anxiously.

It is somewhat taboo for women to discuss the topic of purifying our thought lives. We talk about how men struggle with lust. We talk about how easily they can get caught up in lustful thoughts, pornography, and sexual relationships outside of marriage. But guess what, girls? We face this, too. It just looks different and influences us in different ways. And we don’t want to talk about it. But today, we’re going to.

Men are physical. Women are emotional. You’ve heard that before, right? It’s true. And the emotional side can be more dangerous. A woman is not necessarily drawn away by a good-looking man. Sure, when we see attractive men, we are enticed to look, but physical attraction is not the main tool Satan uses to distract us. A woman is more drawn away when a man shows interest in her. When he cares about her. When he is a friend.

Do you remember the movie When Harry Met Sally? One of the most memorable lines from that movie is when Harry says, “men and women can’t be friends.” Sally looks at him strangely and they go on to have an amusing, yet true, conversation about this. I believe and have experienced that the easiest way for us (as women) to get caught up in impure thoughts (and possibly more) is to develop close friendships with the opposite sex. It’s just dangerous.

I hope you don’t see this as a legalistic rule. It’s not. I didn’t always believe it was important to limit my close friendships to only women (or tried to pretend I didn’t believe it). And I have mistakenly become emotionally attached to male friends a few times in my life. In fact, it got me into real trouble about 10 years ago and I almost destroyed my marriage. Almost. But God had a plan. Part of that plan is to pass on my experiences to others. A few years ago, I read a book that changed my life. Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge let me know that I am not alone in my struggles with thought life purity. And if I’m not alone, then someone (if not everyone) who is reading this post needs it.  

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” We must protect our hearts and our minds. We must protect our marriages. Wives, listen to your husbands. Because if yours is like mine, he has a lot of wisdom when it comes to this subject. And I just happen to be hard-headed.

There is so much more to say on the topic of purifying our thought lives… for prevention, for recovery, and also just to keep our bodies (and minds) as the temple of God. It’s so important! This post has been mostly about preventing... about keeping yourself out of situations that can create impure thoughts. Later this week, I will continue with a post about dealing with the thoughts when they come into your mind. I've tried a lot of things, but the only way to truly keep your mind pure is to let God take control of your struggle. You will be seeing more about this from me in the future. Until then… if you have struggled or are struggling with this topic, please feel free to contact me. Privately, if you would like. I’m here for you. And so is Jesus.

“Finally, brothers, 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.” – Philippians 4:8

Next Monday: Think on things that are lovely and commendable.
Comments tags: , , , , , , | Links to this post | edit post


What's Your Status?



In this social media age, our "journals" are actually a combination of our Facebook pages, our Twitter updates, and our blogs. There is an app on Facebook where you can actually look back at your status history and see what all you have talked about in the past.

It was interesting to look at mine. I saw the times when I was more self-focused, more attentive to the things of the world, lazier, happier, closer to God, which times of the year are my favorites (college basketball and baseball seasons). It was pretty cool to check out my perspectives over the past couple of years.

I would encourage you to look back at your statuses. Where were you at this time in 2010? Even 2009? What were you thinking about? Where was your focus? Were you centered on Christ or on yourself? Were you happy? Sad? Trying to look cool? Can you see trends in your posts where you were more negative or positive? Where are you now? What we put out there for the world to see is only a glimpse into what is going on in our hearts and minds. If we are putting junk out there, it's a pretty good indication that we have junk going on inside. Time for a clean-up? Just checking. We all need clean-ups from time to time. I challenge you... take a look back... and then let me know your thoughts.

If you are reading this on Facebook, visit my blog: www.growwhereyoureplanted.com.
Comments tags: , | Links to this post | edit post


RE:FOCUS - Think On These Things, Part 2




This is the second Monday that we are talking about Philippians 4:8. Our thoughts define our actions, and we need to examine ourselves constantly to make sure we are focusing on things that are healthy. God’s Word outlines it pretty clearly. Instead of thinking on things that will hurt us, defeat us, drain us, anger us, and make us miserable, let’s learn more about the thoughts that will grow us and make us stronger. Here is Philippians 4:8 again:

“Finally, brothers, 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.”

Think on things that are honorable…

When I looked up the definitions for “honorable,” the two that stood out to me were these: “characterized by integrity” and “deserving of honor.” And here are some of my favorite synonyms: decent, ethical, honest, principled, respectable, righteous, upstanding.

Are your thoughts characterized by integrity? Do they deserve honor? Do the synonyms of honorable encompass your thought life?

Thoughts lead to actions. If we are not honoring God, others, and ourselves in our thoughts, we will not be honoring in our actions.

Before you dwell on the anger you have toward your spouse, ask yourself if your thoughts are honorable.
                                                                                                                       
Before you consume yourself with your frustrations at work and how you wish your boss would just leave the company, ask yourself if your thoughts are honorable.

Before you tell yourself how bad of a person you are, ask yourself if your thoughts are honorable.

Before you allow any kind of anger, negativity, frustration, lust, or envy to devour your mind, ask yourself if your thoughts are honorable.

Guess what? The answer will always be “no.”

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” - Galatians 5:22-23. 

Thinking on THESE things is honorable.

We are to be honoring to God, others, and ourselves. 1 Timothy 1:17 says, “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be HONOR and glory forever and ever.” 1 Peter 2:17 tells us to “honor everyone” and Ephesians 6:2 instructs us to “honor your father and mother.”

Here is the bottom line: If a thought is not honoring to God, others, and yourself, it is NOT honorable.

Think on things that are just…

Ahh.. justice. How many times do we catch ourselves saying, “it’s not fair!”? And how many MORE times are we thinking about the unfair things in our lives? We spend a lot of time wondering when we are going to finally get “what we deserve.” In fact, most of our “just” thinking is actually about things that we consider to be “unjust.”

How can we stop our negative thoughts about our perceived injustices? We need to stop dwelling on the things we think are so bad in our lives. We need to begin to focus on the amazing blessings that we all have. Considering that we live in America, we are blessed beyond measure.

If you have a home to live in, you are blessed.

If you have a car to drive, you are blessed.

If you always have clothes to wear and food to eat, you are blessed.

If you have someone or several someones that you call your family, you are blessed.

If you can talk about Jesus in public, you are blessed.

There are many people in this world that cannot say yes to ANY of these questions. When you take into account this point-of-view, it is hard to use the words, “it’s not fair.” So, let’s think about how “fair” we actually have it. Think on the blessings in your life, not the things you wish you had. We need to be filling our minds with good, not bad.

Along with stopping our thoughts about injustice, we need to be thinking about how we, ourselves, can be more just. More fair. Before you make a business deal, leave a tip, deal with someone who has hurt you, or whatever else the situation may be, ask yourself how you can proceed with justice.

The Bible says that Noah was a just man. I want to be called just. Don’t you? It starts in our minds.

Next week: Think On Things That Are Pure 

If you are reading this on Facebook, visit my blog: www.growwhereyoureplanted.com.
Comments tags: , , , , | Links to this post | edit post


The Table



There is a special set of furniture in our kitchen. One that is found in most kitchens. A simple table and four chairs. I call it “special” because it has not always been as important as it has become in the last few months.

The table used to be the spot where everything was thrown down when we walked into the house. It became piled with “stuff” and never was the place it was meant to be. We ate out too much, and I never took the time or energy to cook for my family. Because the house just felt like the place we left our stuff while we were living our lives, I didn’t want to be here much. It felt cold. Even after leaving the stress at work, more stress hit me as soon as I walked through the door. But the problem was not my job, not anyone else. It was me. Mommy needed to make the house a home.

Since I came home from work a few months ago, I have slowly started to peel away the years of evidence of a heart misplaced. It was not an easy transition, as I can be incredibly selfish and stubborn. My pride controlled me for the longest time.

But now, part of every day is spent cleaning so that it is a home when my family comes in. Part of every day is spent cooking dinner. Meals are planned. 


Nothing is allowed to be left on the table.

We sit down almost every evening to dinner together. This is our special family time, all of us sitting in the same room. Making memories together around a table that has gone from being a cold, hard storage place to a warm, inviting, loving family table.

This is the evidence of a heart changed.

How is your table?




RE:FOCUS - Think On These Things





Our minds are constantly bombarded with all kinds of input, some good and some bad. We are influenced (sometimes subconsciously) by what we watch, what we read, what and WHO we listen to, and any other outside forces in our lives. Thought patterns of anxiety, impurities, selfishness, greed, hatred, destruction, laziness, and childishness have slowly and steadily taken control of our minds. The older I become and the more I learn about myself, the more I realize how important it is to filter the thoughts that I allow to run through my mind… and more importantly, the ones I choose to dwell on. You’ve probably heard someone say before, “you are what you think.” It’s true in a lot of ways. We’ve all made choices that we regret, but we also need to understand that the choices we make ultimately begin with what we think about. Our minds are true warzones with real fights going on each and every day… actually it’s more like each and every moment.

The mind is an incredibly powerful thing. If we do not control our minds (or submit to God’s control)… if we just allow ourselves to think on whatever pops into our heads, then our minds will control us. An unbridled flame becomes an uncontrollable fire, and it does so pretty quickly.

The answer? We have to allow God to reprogram our minds. And after the reprogramming, we can’t let up. It has to become who we are. Read Philippians 4:8 with me…

“Finally, brothers, 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.”

Because of some of my life choices (that I will talk more about in part 3), Philippians 4:8 has become a favorite scripture focus for me. It is a good measure of anything in life… thoughts, motives, actions, things we say. Just using it to test our thoughts can stop us from doing some really stupid things that we will regret. For the next few Mondays, we are going to look at this verse piece by piece and talk about this test that God has given us to use in our lives.

Think on things that are… true.
I looked up the word “true” and found the following definitions and synonyms: valid, honest, reliable, genuine, authentic, sincere, loyal, faithful, steadfast, unfailing, sure, real. Do your thoughts match up with these descriptions? Or do they fit more with these antonyms for “true”: corrupt, counterfeit, fraudulent, deceitful, false, unreal?

The only real truth is God’s word. Unfortunately, we take a lot of the things we hear about on a daily basis as “truth.” Remember the movie, The American President? There is a quote in the movie that says, “…in the absence of genuine leadership, they'll listen to anyone who steps up to the microphone.” Lewis was talking about how people are so easily swayed by whoever “takes the lead” and presents his case. We can see this in our thoughts. If we are not truly focused on God’s truth everyday, really learning and seeking to find out what He has to say to us in our lives, then we will be easily swayed to listen to anything that comes our way. Our “slow fade” culture has caused all of us to be desensitized in a lot of areas (some that you and I probably don’t even consciously recognize). However, when our lives are grounded on God’s truth, and that is the measure of everything that comes at us, it is easier to fight off the everyday temptations that try so hard to control us!

So, how can we fight this battle?


First of all, know that it can NOT be done in your own strength. Trust me… I have tried and tried. Sometimes, I think I am more stubborn than most people. I’ve tried “routines” to keep my thoughts clean (that I will talk more about later), and they never work. It’s like dieting to lose weight. If you just go on a diet, the weight will ultimately come back. However, if you make healthy eating a LIFESTYLE, there is more potential to keep it up. The same goes for thoughts. If you try to do it your way, in your own strength, the old thought patterns will come back. Only by staying focused on God’s word can you truly change your entire way of thinking.

Second, since you know that it cannot be done through your own strength, ask God to change you. Give Him control and ask Him to reveal the “input” areas that do not exemplify truth. And ask Him what He wants you to do with them… then DO IT! ☺

Third, pursue the truth. Offensively. Don’t sit back and wait for a temptation to come. Know God’s word so well that you recognize a non-truth when it comes. Then throw scripture back at the TV, radio, person you are listening to, whatever it may be. When scripture becomes so much a part of you that you use it in everyday conversation, you know you are growing.

Everyone wants us to think like they think. Some are more persuasive than others, but we all have had the thought, “if only they thought like me…” That’s why we need to be prepared now and why we need to be so enamored with God that all other influences fade away. The challenge for this week... look back up at the definitions for "true" and see where your thoughts fit. Then ask God to work on you. We're all works in progress. :)

…take every thought captive to obey Christ. - 2 Corinthians 10:5

Next Monday… Think on things that are honorable and just.

If you are reading this on Facebook, visit my blog: growwhereyoureplanted.com.
Comments tags: , , , , | Links to this post | edit post


The Assignment



The assignment is simple. Sort of.

"Tell a story in 6 words."

This July in Concord, NC, there is a speaker/writer/leader conference. My heart has longed to attend this particular conference for the past two years! I believe God is telling me that this is the year for me to go. I have been putting off the writing thing for too long. Fear? Maybe.

Okay, now what is this assignment for? This is my contest entry for an opportunity to win a full scholarship to attend this incredible conference called She Speaks, which is offered every summer by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

When I started thinking through ideas, trying to find a profound "6-word story," God brought one to mind:

DOES NO ONE HEAR ME? yes.

So many times in our lives we feel that we are looking for someone... anyone... who hears us. Someone who understands us. Someone who loves us just the way we are. We spend our time screaming at the top of our lungs, trying to find this "someone" in our own strength. But...

While we are screaming, God is whispering. "yes. I am here."

If you are reading this on Facebook, visit my blog: growwhereyoureplanted.com.
Comments tags: | Links to this post | edit post


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...