Tag Archives: mind

In Search of Contentment, Pt. 4

Find the Strength of Jesus in You. (vs.13)

What an incredible statement: “I can do all things through Christ…” This well-known verse is many times taken out of context or stretched to imply things that it is not truly dealing with.

The doing of “all things” is not accomplished by your own power, intellect, ability, or willpower.  It is accomplished by the power of God.

Being content is a choice founded upon the strength of Jesus.  Many people are in search of contentment but may not even see that the underlying drive in their life is the need for contentment.  They may turn to a relationship in search of being content or satisfied.  They may turn to drugs, vaping, alcohol, pornography, or some other addiction in search of fulfillment.

What happens is the relationship, the addiction, or the perceived “need” then becomes a controlling factor in their life.  Instead of finding contentment, they find themselves enslaved to the “need” for more of their “medicine” or, in reality, poison.

Christianity Today, in their March 2019 magazine, featured the testimony of a former NFL player named Miles McPherson who played for the San Diego Chargers from 1982-1985.  As he tells his story, he had everything a person could want: a well-paying job, a dream come true to play professional sports, the high life of an elite few in the world, playing in the NFL.  But something was still missing in his life.

At a party with many veteran players, the men he looked up to as a child, he was offered drugs.  He said about that experience: “The cocaine that I consumed that night took me by the lapels and forced me into submission.  Soon enough I was completely under it’s control.”

Miles knew several Christians on the team, and they were vocal about their faith and about the power of Jesus to set people free from their sin and addictions.  One morning, after a day and night of drugs, no sleep, and a complete inability to say “no” of his own power to the drugs, he realized that it was Jesus Who had the power for the “no.”  That morning, in desperation he prayed to Jesus for salvation and asked God to deliver him from the power of the drugs.  And God did.

Something changed in him that day.  From that point on, he did not take any more cocaine or other drugs.  God changed him.  In the power of Jesus’ name, the addiction was gone.  Powerful story.

Instead of searching for contentment in drugs, relationships, the workplace, or some other aspect of life, it is possible to find contentment in Jesus.

“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”  All things include contentment.  It includes the power to overcome addictions and to see life in a new “God Dimension.”   Instead of relying on your own power to be a winner, rely on the Lord Jesus.

The Apostle Paul had God’s power in his life to find contentment: in the court house, in the jail house, in a crowded ship, in a church, and in a home.  He found contentment when he was hungry and thirsty as well as when he was full and well-hydrated.  In poor health and in good health, he was happy in Jesus.  With no money or some money, he was content in the name of Jesus.

Ask the Lord for His power to help you find contentment in the midst of your present situation.  With His power, you can have the same life but see it in a whole new way.   God’s power can give a “God Dimension” to you.

 

Please read on to PART 5 of In Search of Contentment

 

 

 

Advertisements

Defeating Discouragement

Defeating Discouragement 

And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. 

Number 21:4

Seasonal Affective Disorder  (SAD) otherwise known as “The Winter Blues” is probably in full force right now.  With those living in the Northern Hemisphere short on sunlight and full of snow during the Winter season, it is possible to become discouraged.

With all the recent ice and snow storms, most have not been able to get out of the house as much as they would like.  When the storms falling primarily on Sunday’s and Wednesday’s it has disrupted the faithful gathering of worshipers in the local church.  While the season has been disruptive, we can have victory over the discouraging thoughts we may face when we check the weather apps or scan the meteorologist reports.

The Israelite’s were traveling towards the Promise Land, but the path was not easy.  The walking, caravaning was no easy task.  Life was hard and they became discouraged.  Circumstances are powerful at changing our attitude and disposition.  But instead of focusing on the problems, we can discover victory over the problems.

No one is immune to the occasional negative thoughts about their circumstance.  It becomes a major problem when all we do is complain or think negative thoughts.  It affects our motivation, our interaction with others and our walk with God.   Sometimes “our way” is tough too.

If discouragement is not dealt with in a Biblical way, it is possible for it to develop into depression.  It does not have too.  Here are three ideas to help overcome discouragement.

  • But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  Matthew 10:30

The Lord Jesus knows everything about you.  Even down to how many hairs you have (or don’t have) on your head.  If He knows something so minor as this, think about all the other things He knows about you.  He knows your thoughts and wants you to live in victory, claiming healthy truthful thoughts about your life and your circumstance.

  • Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.  Matthew 10:31

Jesus values you more than the beautiful birds.  Of all the creatures of creation, God values Humans the most.  We are created “in His image.”  There is something special about you.  Be encouraged with the value God places on you!  David also battled with occasional discouragement.  1 Samuel 30:6 says, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God.”  

  • But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.  Matthew 14:27

The Lord is always available to us.  Be of good cheer.  God is with you.  Talk with Jesus in prayer.  Ask Him to help you overcome negative thoughts with Bible truth.  Learn a new Bible verse.  Recite it when the next storm comes.  Chose joy by the grace of God to not allow discouragement to control your life.

Look up – the sun will be up soon.  Spring will be here before you know it!

 

 

 

One Drink Later

One Drink Later

A military chaplain once told me a story of a teenager who enlisted.  This recruit grew up in a conservative church like ours with parents who loved Jesus. One night he, with his new army buddies he went out on the town.  He had never had a drop of alcohol in his life.  They coaxed him into drinking.  The next day, he woke up in a jail cell with a blood-stained shirt on.  He had no memory of what happened.  A fight had broken out in the bar and he stabbed a man – who later died.  At the age of 19 he had a life sentence.  He sobbed – “IF I had only listened to my parents, teachers and pastor.”  One night. One choice. One drink led to a lifetime of sorrow. We make meaningful decisions each day.

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.  1 Corinthians 6:12

The following stats are from NIAAA who monitor Alcohol consumption in America.

“Many young people drink alcohol…

  • By age 15, about 33 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • By age 18, about 60 percent of teens have had at least 1 drink.1
  • In 2015, 7.7 million young people ages 12–20 reported that they drank alcohol beyond “just a few sips” in the past month.

Youth ages 12 to 20 often binge drink…

  • People ages 12 through 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.3 Although youth drink less often than adults do, when they do drink, they drink more. That is because young people consume more than 90 percent of their alcohol by binge drinking. Binge drinking is consuming many drinks on an occasion (see box). Drinking alcohol and binge drinking become more prevalent as young people get older.
  • 1 million young people reported binge drinking (for males 5 or more drinks and for females 4 or more drinks on the same occasion within a few hours) at least once in the past month.2
  • 3 million young people reported binge drinking on 5 or more days over the past month.”

The damage done to the brain and thinking processes of a person who is consuming alcohol cannot be denied.  For reasons of pleasure, pain, or forgetting a problem, some people resort to drinking.  While mainstream culture promotes and makes alcohol popular, the true issues it and other substance abuse cause is seldom told or not fully understood in stark reality.  Broken homes, bruised bodies, car wrecks, and poor judgment are frequent and extremely common.

Many people I have counseled with who grew up in homes where alcohol ruled, decided against drinking alcohol themselves because of the first-hand problems they saw it create.  Alcohol does not “cause for a good time” like some people say.  It creates at atmosphere of foolishness and impaired judgment.  People can have fun at parties and have a good time hanging out with friends because of the people they are with and the things they are doing together – not because of a mind changed under the power and effect of alcohol.  To say: “I can’t have a good time without drinking” is one way of devaluing friendships.  Alcohol is in control of a person who says things like that. Enjoy the moment with the people you love.  Who wouldn’t want to remember “such a good time” to have good memories instead of foggy memories?

The Apostle Paul is teaching the Corinthian church that even if something is lawful – it does not mean it is good for me.  Even if I can – does not mean that I should.  Allowing your mind and body to be controlled by any substance or anything out side of the body is a form of addiction.  Drugs, vaping, smoking, drinking alcohol, or any other addiction is not something that you want to be subject to.  One drink later… you could be enslaved.

Parents – do all you can to help your teen not take their first drop of alcohol.  Warn about the dangers.  Teach the Bible admonitions.  Adults, purpose with the Lord’s help to abstain from drinking.  Your thoughts will be clearer, you will sin less, do less harm or evil than while “under the influence” and you will be better prepared for life because your mind is working more efficiently.

Consider in conclusion 2 of the many Bible passages giving ample warning:

Proverbs 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.

Proverbs 23:31-35 Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder (Snake). Thine eyes shall behold strange women, and thine heart shall utter perverse things. Yea, thou shalt be as he that lieth down in the midst of the sea, or as he that lieth upon the top of a mast. They have stricken me, shalt thou say, and I was not sick; they have beaten me, and I felt it not: when shall I awake? I will seek it yet again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The “Letting” of the Mind

The “Letting” Mind

“When James Calvert went out as a missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands, the ship captain tried to turn him back, saying, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To that, Calvert replied, “We died before we came here.”” (Ministry127)

Why would a man say that when facing a potential life and death situation?  He was thinking like Jesus.  He had the “mind of God.”

The word “let” is a verb defined as “not prevent or forbid; allow.”  The Scripture tells us to “let” the mind of Christ – Jesus Himself be in us.  What we think, how we think, and why we think is to be placed under the influence and direction of Jesus.  If we are not careful, we let a lot of worldly or wrong thinking impact our mind.  We must allow the mind of Christ to help us navigate life and not allow the world to do our thinking for us.

Have you “let” the mind of God to control your thoughts?  Will you let the mind of Jesus control your thinking today?

Our word “let” is found in Philippians 2:5-8 which teaches, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”

The mind of Jesus will lead us to four ways of thinking:

  1. A real humility about self.
  2. A sincere priority of pleasing our God.
  3. A vibrant call to serve others.
  4. A willingness to give your life to the Lord.

Do any of these thinking perspectives ring true in your life?  Consider the “what, how, and why” that your mind is thinking.  Ask the Lord to help you think like Jesus.  From the moment you “let” all your decisions and thought processes will filter through the Word of God and the Will of God.  Like missionary Calvert, your mind can think like Jesus – all to the glory of God.

 

 

 

 

 

Mind Games in Relationships

Mind Games in Relationships

“And be renewed in the spirit of your mind…”  Ephesians 4:23

One professional aptly stated that: “At age 20 we think: ‘What does everyone think about me.’  At age 40 we think: ‘It does not matter what other people think about me.’ And at age 60 we finally realize and think: ‘No one has been thinking about me anyway.’”

True.  Most of our thoughts about the perceptions others have of us are self-perceptions.  Most people are actually thinking about themselves and not thinking about you.  Why is it that we can be so consumed with perception and what others are thinking?

Testimony is one reason.  We should have a good testimony that is consistent with the Bible and that is exalting to Jesus.  Testimony does not mean that people are always thinking of us.  When they see us, or talk with us we should be edifying and encouraging.  When the Spirit of God uses your testimony to help another person, they may think of you for a moment, but otherwise, they are not constantly thinking about you.

Most of the time however, the reason we are so “self-conscious” of what others think or may think about us has to do with our personal pride.  Pride can create “Mind Games” than consume our time and damage needed relationships.  This pride takes form in several ways.  Here are two:

  • Do you know someone that needs constant affirmation for the most basic tasks in life? As our children grow, they will ask from time to time “Are you proud of me? I just made the ball go in the basket.  I just painted a watercolor, etc…”  As we get older the need for affirmation should adjust to find value in “who we are” in Christ – not merely what we have done or can do with our actions.  Insecure people seek the “pat on the back” in an obsessive way.  We all need encouragement and should actively encourage others, but insecure people are consumed with peer affirmation to the point that it paralyses any positive progress in their spiritual life and in their family/acquaintance relationships.
  • Like a bull in a china shop, overconfidence is bullish, brash, and bold in detrimental ways.  This self confidence is the opposite of biblical humility.  Its ego is fed by the projection of a certain “image” or perception the confident one wants other people to think about him/her.  This boldness can be dismissive of other people and cause division in relationships.   The ego must be fed at all costs because “I have an image to keep up…”  This confidence can be in position, ability, wealth, or social standing.  Self-righteousness is also a big contributor in a religiously minded person. Sometimes people who are overconfident, trying to impress people, have nothing in their life really worth bragging or boasting about.  Many times, they have shallow victories with no real success; but they want others to think that they are successful.  It’s another form of pride and is also one manifestation of an insecurity.
  • Finding the balance in this pendulum of emotions and thinking is found by centering in on Jesus. We can be emotional and relational extremists in the thinking of our mind if we do not find a Bible balance.

In one long sentence to the Christians in the church at Corinth, Paul writes 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 which declares, “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: 5 Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; 6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Notice that our sufficiency, security, and confidences is in God, not in ourselves. It takes humility to see this in a personal life.

Don’t let mind games swing your emotions and relationships from side to side.  Reject the personal pride that causes faulty and sinful thinking.  Replace pride with humility and a desire to point people to Jesus.  Sharpen your testimony and ensure that your life (evident to others and in your mind) is not self-absorbed.  Let the Word of God and the Spirit of God “renew” your mind each day.  Purpose with God’s help to have accurate, Biblical, and right thoughts about yourself and others.

Other people are generally thinking about themselves.  Stop thinking about yourself too and learn ways to help yourself and others think about Jesus. His Word. And His Father.

 

 

 

 

Scripture Shaping

Scripture Shaping

I have always found amusing the scenario the Sadducees connived in their minds and spoke to Jesus about.  This story they dream up is funny in several ways.  Read on.

The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother: Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh. And last of all the woman died also. Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her. Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”  Matthew 22:23-29

After the second or third brother married her, you would think the next brother in line would hesitate or wonder, “What is she feeding him?”  The next brother would ask: “What did she do to him?” or “how did he die?”  or “Does she have a knife or poison?”  You would think that by the time the seventh brother is to be married to her, he would be running the other direction.  How old is this woman?  How old are the brothers?  It is a statistically unlikely story.  It is one they made up in an effort to trap Jesus in His teachings.

The Sadducees were the some of the most wealthy and ultra-educated people of Israel.  They had a conceit and arrogance about them.  They denied anything supernatural such as: the resurrection, rewards for doing good, and even denied that angels existed.  They were frequently in quarrels with the Pharisees who believed in the supernatural.   The Sadducees adhered to the Law of Moses while the Pharisees added oral tradition to the Laws of Moses.

After Jesus took to task the Pharisees and said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s” the Sadducees thought they could trip Jesus up with their unusual question about marriage and “who’s” wife will this woman be in Heaven?”

Interesting to note:  These religious people did not believe in the resurrection.  They did not believe in Heaven or Hell.  They are trying to get Jesus to say something that would confirm their faulty belief system.  If they could get Jesus to say there is no Heaven or Hell, that could help them undermine His ministry.

Notice how Jesus responds in Mathew 22:29-33.  Jesus says that in the resurrection and by extension – in Heaven, people are not given to each other in marriage.  Think about how the church is the bride of Christ.  There is no need for individual marriage in Heaven like we need on earth for a help meet and “completion.”  Jesus continues to talk about the resurrection and says that “God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”  These Sadducees were “astonished” at His doctrine.  And rightly so.  Jesus is always right.

Before His explanation of their contrived dilemma – Jesus says in verse 29: “Ye do err, now knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.”   They asked a foolish question.  Their pre-suppositions were faulty.  Their thinking on the matter was not right.  An entire paradigm for life was incorrect because they did not know the Bible.

Could it be that as modern Christians we do err, not knowing the Scriptures?  Look in your own life to the times when you made a bad choice.  Could it be that you are so proud to not even admit a wrong choice?  When the bad choices were made and the outcome was not what you hoped and the problem grew worse – could it have been because you did not know the Scriptures?

Our minds need the refinement of God’s Word.  This is an everyday process to let the Word of God develop your mind.  Let the lines of the Bible write on and guide the thoughts of your mind.

We could call this the “Scripture Shaping” of the mind.  How many times have you reasoned in your mind selfishly instead of Scripturally?  How many times have you tried to beat a bad habit or a sinful habit and failed? Our minds and desires err when we do not know the Scripture.

These affluent, educated, and socialized men could not think right.  We can have similar issues today.

Self-justification, ill-rationalization, and incoherent thinking are directly impacted and informed by what we know – or do not know.  I encourage you to let the Scriptures Shape your thinking. We err when we do not know the Scriptures.

 

 

 

 

The Opposite of Worry

The Opposite of Worry

Jesus taught in Matthew 6:26, “Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Perhaps if we could understand the song birds, we could hear them say something like the following:

“Said the Robin to the Sparrow…

‘I should really like to know

Why these anxious human beings

Rush about and hurry so.’

Said the Sparrow to the Robin,

‘Friend, I think that it must be

That they have no Heavenly Father

Such as cares for you and me.’”

Of course, the Lord cares so much for you – much more than the creatures of His creation!  May God help us to not let “worry” define and destroy our lives.

If anyone could have had a “good reason” to worry – it could have been the Apostle Paul.  He had many troubles that he endured.  From declining health, to the government wanting him dead, to even having Christians fighting each other and even fighting against him, Paul had much potential to worry.

Philippians 4:6-7 declares, “Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

“Be Careful” is a phrase that means “to be anxious about.”  It is a Bible term for worry.

I like how one person wrote: “Let us not bankrupt our todays by paying interest on the regrets of yesterday and borrowing in advance the troubles of tomorrow.”

Synonyms for “Worry” include “concern, apprehension, and fear.”  We fear much and worry a lot – it is natural.  Things we worry about may include:

  • Will by health decline or what if I acquire a disease?
  • What type of relationship will I have with family members in the future?
  • Will I ever get married?
  • Does he/she like me?
  • Where will I go to college?
  • What type of house will I have one day?
  • Where will I live?
  • Can I get enough money for this vehicle?
  • Can I really pay these bills?
  • Wil I get this promotion?

“Don’t worry, be happy” may seem like a helpful statement, but it is inaccurate.  The opposite of worry is not happiness.  The opposite of worry is peace.  While worry is natural, to have peace is supernatural.

Understand the peace of God is the presence of God.  Most people never have victory over worry because they are attempting to live life apart from God.  Even Christians struggle sometimes with leaving each burden with the Lord can casting their cares to Him.  When we know His presence, and let that guide us, we will experience peace of mind and heart.

How can I have the “peace of God” in my life?

Be Sure to Pray.  Philippians 4:6 says our response to worry should be prayer.  There are 3 terms used for prayer in this verse.

  • Prayer – This is a general term used in our addressing the Lord, and seeking Him. It implies worship. Perhaps each of us should take more time to “Adore” and show love to God in prayer.
  • Supplication – This is a term for special and detailed requests. It means to ask a petition.
  • Thanksgiving – Gratefulness is missing in our prayers sometimes. This term means we should have grateful language in our talk with the Lord.  Instead of “demanding” and asking, why not pause in part of your prayer moments and be thankful to the Lord?

Be Sure to Check Your Mind.  As verse 7 indicates, the peace of God can “keep our hearts and minds.”  Righting thinking goes a long way in the search for peace of mind and victory over worry.  Bible teacher, Dr. Warren Wiersbe wrote that only 8% of the things people worry about happen.  That means 92% of the things people worry about will not or cannot really happen.  How much time, energy, and thoughts are wasted on worry?  Perhaps too much to count. We control our minds by thinking of “Good things.”  Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”

Replace worrisome thoughts with the peaceful thoughts that God gives us in the above verse.

Be Sure to Check Your Actions.  Philippians 4:9 goes on to describe the third way to replace worry with peace: “Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you.”

Do what you know is right according to the Scriptures.  Paul cites the Bible teaching he gave and the Godly lifestyle he demonstrated as a good example for the Christians in Philippi to follow.  Are your actions matching and coordinating with your prayers and your thinking?  Our actions and what we “do” should complement the prayers we offer and the thoughts we think.

If we are not doing right, and know that we are disobeying God in a certain area, then we cannot have peace in our heart.   As Christians, we have “peace with God” continually in salvation, but we may not be at peace in our heart because of disobedience.  Similar to how a small child may shy away from a parent when they know they are doing wrong.  They are still the son or daughter of their parent, but are ashamed of their actions and may even avoid being around the parent. They have “guilt.”  They know they should be doing the right thing, but have succumbed to a temptation to do the wrong thing.

Take a student for example.  A test is coming and instead of studying and preparing for the test, he plays games on facebook, texts people all night, and does things other than study.  When the test is presented to him, he begins to worry because he did not do the things he was supposed to be doing.

Take another student.  She hears about an upcoming test and takes her books home to study.  She memorizes, writes out the main subjects of the test, develops a study guide, and puts much time and effort into preparing for the test.  When she is given the test, she has peace in her heart because she did what she was supposed to do.  Humanly speaking, she did everything possible to be ready and a lasting result is – peace in her heart when tested. The same is true in our Christian life.

When we do what we pray with thoughtfulness, are controlling our minds with right thoughts, and are doing what we are supposed to be doing, we can replace worry with supernatural peace.