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Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanks In, Not For

1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells Christians: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

This is a tough one for many of us. Are we thankful we are in bondage to an eatign disorder? I don't think so! I really like Dr. David Jeremiah’s viewpoint (Turning Points). He writes,

What could have motivated Horatio Spafford to pen the words to the mighty hymn "It Is Well with My Soul?" Before writing the hymn he had lost his only son in 1871, been financially ruined by the great Chicago fire of the same year, and then lost his four daughters at sea in 1873. His motivation was likely the truth of 1 Thessalonians 5:18: "In everything give thanks."

Many claim the verse is unrealistic: How could anyone give thanks for events like Spafford endured? But the verse says to give thanks in all things, not for all things. God expects no one to be thankful for tragedies that befall us in this life. But He does expect us to trust Him in the midst of such circumstances. In those difficult times, we can thank God that He will cause all things to work together for good in our life (Romans 8:28). While we grieve for those events and the losses incurred, we can give thanks even while in their midst.

Giving thanks when things are good requires enthusiasm, but giving thanks in hard times requires faith. If you are in the midst of difficulties, begin each day with a prayer of thanks.

"Prayer without thanksgiving is like a bird without wings." - William Hendriksen

[next blog will continuue "Obstructing Mental Paths.]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sifting Out Negative Thoughts [part 3]

We've been talking about tossin gout our negative thoughts--taking those thoughts captive and giving them to Jesus. Jesus was disciplined to follow the will of his Father. Then there is us—we impulsively put each thought into action immediately, instead of taking that thought captive. That is our flesh in action. Every one of our thoughts must be sifted through the filter system in our brain. Your brain allows you to select approximately 15-35 percent of what you read, hear, and see while getting rid of the remaining 65-85 percent.

Some of those thoughts get thrown out like trash. Others end up in the recycle bin and we find we’re taking them captive over and over again. If we build our mind with Scripture and godly thinking, then everything that goes through that sifter that is not scriptural, or truth, will set off our mental alarm. We reject it and toss it into the trash bin.

Physiologically, toxic thoughts upset the chemical balance in your brain, putting your body in a harmful state. The only way to prevent this from happening is by sifting through the toxic information and tossing it out. When you set your mind on Jesus and consciously take control of your thought life, it doesn’t take long for the positive benefits to kick in.
When that thought gets to the brain’s filter system, stop, and ask:

1. What good or happiness do I think I am missing if I don’t stop this thought?
2. What is the result that I’m trying to get by acting this way?
3. How do I think my response will lead to meeting my unmet needs?

The fact is already formed thoughts and habits will resist. The flesh will fight but it will be bridled by the Holy Spirit. The beast will trouble you, but prayer will send him away. If you learn to bring every negative thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, it will be one of your greatest assets when the time of trial comes, because your faith and the Spirit of God will work together.

Take Your Thoughts Captive [part 2]

Last week I said that everyday we make thousands of choices. Much of what we do comes from habitual behaviors. Most of our decisions are made by our unconscious. We gravitate towards familiarity; even though it may be unhealthy, it is comfortable. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult unless a roadblock of some kind is put in the path to help us change direction.

It works this way: You have a thought. Your brain releases chemicals which can be emotionally toxic or not. An electrical transmission goes across your brain. Then you become aware of what you’re thinking. Thoughts stimulate emotions that result in an attitude which finally produces behavior.

The sum of all our thoughts comprises our overall attitude which we act out. Allowing our minds to dwell on envy, lust, greed, or revenge only leads to bad behavior. All negative or wrong behavior starts with that one thought. It goes like this:

1. One negative thought produces a one or a number of toxic feelings 
2. Produces a toxic attitude and negative (or wrong) beliefs 
3. Make a wrong or destructive decision 
4. Results in wrong actions or destructive behavior 
5. Ongoing negative behavior eventually wreaks havoc on our minds and bodies.

When we become aware of a negative thought, we have a choice: to let it go through or put up a road block. The answer: put up a road block. Where do we get this road block? The living Word of God. It’s the God tool we use to erect a road block.

Eugene Peterson, The Message, paraphrases 2 Corinthian 10:5-6, “We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”

The NIV says, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” That means we interrogate it and toss it out, or let the thought through. When prisoners are taken captive, they are interrogated. When we take a thought captive, we do the same: “Why am I thinking this way?” “Why do I keep doing what I don’t want to do? Where is this thought this coming from?” We stop and ask God for information. Job did this (see book of Job). But Job also learned it was not okay to demand answers from God. Sometimes we don’t get an answer. We accept that and move forward. We ask God questions such as:

• How did I get here? What are my core values? Who influences me strongly?
• What is it about the way I am designed and my past experiences that attracts me to those influencers? How do I detach myself?
• Where do I place you on my priority list? My family? Myself?
• What do I need to do in life, with your help, to attain balance and happiness?
• What values or convictions have I discovered that are causing conflict in my life?

Continued next week!

Obstructing Mental Tracks [part 1]

If we can stop the negativity going on in our heads, we can also stop our negative behaviors; therefore, we are not helpless nor are we captive to our genetics or predispositions over which we have no power. Instead, we have the power to change and stop the cycle of destructive behaviors and attitudes.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians: "But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). What an incredible promise to claim, especially when we believe we are "transformed by the renewing of our mind” (Romans 12:2). God would not have told us this if he didn’t give us the ability to do it. This is exactly what Paul was talking about when he wrote in Philippians 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things." [It is noteworthy that he wrote this while in prison under conditions that would make any normal person depressed!]

God gives us the ability to think like this. The plastic brain is like a snowy hill in winter. Aspects of that hill—the slope, the rocks, the consistency of the snow—are like our genes, a given. When we slide down on a sled, we can steer it and will end up at the bottom of the hill by following a path determined both by how we steer and the characteristics of the hill. Where exactly we will end up is hard to predict because there are so many factors in play.

What will definitely happen the second time you take the slope down is that you will more likely than not find yourself somewhere or another that is related to the path you took the first time. It won’t be exactly that path, but it will be closer to that one than any other. If you spend your entire afternoon sledding down, walking up, sledding down, at the end you will have some paths that have been used a lot, some that have been used very little…and there will be tracks that you have created, and it is very difficult now to get out of those tracks (Dr. Pascual-Leone).

We all have mental tracks that get laid down. They can lead to good habits or bad habits. It is possible to get out of those old tracks and start new ones. It can be difficult because once we have created these tracks, they become “really speedy” and very efficient at guiding the sled down the hill. Our usual obstacle is giving up familiarity and comfort. Additionally, stress, fatigue, and not having basic needs met, will tempt us to stay on the same course.

Everyday we make thousands of choices. Much of what we do comes from habitual behaviors. Most of our decisions are made by our unconscious. We gravitate towards familiarity; even though it may be unhealthy, it is comfortable. To take a different path becomes increasingly difficult unless a roadblock of some kind is put in the path to help us change direction.

continued next week!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Disarming Deception (by Beth Moore)

Deception is the glue that holds every stronghold together. Let’s reflect on this concept: nothing is bigger or more powerful than God; therefore, anything other than Jesus Christ mastering the Christian’s life can keep its grip only through pretension and deception. Remember, Satan is the father of lies.1 No truth is in him. However, his specialty is twisting a lie until it seems true. The list of lies we often believe when we are held in a stronghold can be unlimited. Consider just a few examples:

I can never be victorious over this compulsion. I’ve had it too long.
I can’t help the mess I'm in. I'm caught, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
It may be a stronghold, but I really need it to get by.
I am absolutely worthless nothing but a failure.
I'm in control here. This is not controlling me.
This isn’t doing me any harm. I can handle it.
I’ll know just when to stop.

After all I’ve been through, I deserve this. There’s nothing wrong with this relationship. People just don’t understand us.
Everyone thinks these kinds of thoughts most of the time. I'm only human.
God may work for other people, but He doesn’t work for me.
I’ll just have to wait until heaven to get over this. Real victory isn’t possible on earth. God can’t possibly fill the void in my life. I need something more.
I am too emotionally handicapped to ever be OK.
It’s hopeless. I'm hopeless.

Sometimes we’re very aware of tolerating or even fueling a lie. Other times, we are caught in such a web that we can no longer see ourselves or our situations accurately. It’s not always clear when we’re being deceived, but one sure sign is when we begin to deceive. All you have to do to locate Satan in any situation is look for the lie. How do we recognize a lie? Anything we believe or act on that is contrary to what the truth of God’s Word says about us is a lie. Second Corinthians 4:2 tells us how to respond to such things: “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God.” This passage helps us identify four of Satan’s specialties that must be renounced and rejected by the believer in order for him/her to walk in victory: secrecy, shame, deception, and distortion of Scripture.

As you consider each one, you can readily imagine how deception permeates all four and how interrelated they are. Satan’s plans toward the believer are always the antithesis of God’s. Our Redeemer wants to loose us from the closets of secrecy and bring us to a spacious place of joy, freedom, authenticity, and transparency. Satan wants to keep us bound in secrecy where he can weigh us down in guilt, misery, and shame. Oh, beloved, I know from experience that so much of the shame we experience is wrapped up in the secret. In fact, the enemy knows that once we expose the secret places of our lives to the light of God’s Word, we’re on our way to freedom.

I'm not suggesting that the only way to be free is to stand up before our congregations and tell every detail of every sin we’ve ever committed or considered. The King James Version translates James 5:16 far more accurately than several other versions: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed” (emphasis mine). Some of the other translations say, “Confess your sins to each other…” (emphasis mine). The original word translated “faults” in the KJV and “sins” in the NIV is paraptoma, which means “fault, lapse, error, mistake, wrongdoing.” Contrast 1 John 1:9 where we are told, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” The original word for “sin” in this verse is hamartia, meaning any way in which we miss the mark and any “aberration from the truth.” James 5:16 refers to the confessions we make to others, while 1 John 1:9 refers to the confessions we make to God. Please notice the slight contrast between sharing our faults, weaknesses, and mistakes with others and confessing every detail of every sin to God.

If we’re going to live in freedom, we have no choice but to renounce every single secret place of sin in our lives to God, exposing even the smallest detail to the light of God’s Word. This is the means by which God injects truth in the inner parts.2 I have also found incalculable help and freedom in confessing details of my past sins and strongholds to a few other trustworthy, mature believers for the sake of accountability. There are a couple of people I really trust who basically know every detail of my life.

Living a consistently victorious life takes courage! But this courage leads to a glorious, indescribable liberty! What relief awaits you if you really decide to let God’s truth set you free…then keep you free. Be willing to ask God on a regular basis if you are overlooking or denying a stronghold in your life. Because of my past track record, I’ve had to learn to dialog openly with God about areas of my life that are at risk: areas where I’ve been defeated before or circumstances that suddenly result in anger or insecurity. I also ask Him to help me discern the very first signs of Satan’s deceptions in my life.

Let’s reiterate, however, that the most effective way to veer from deception is to walk in truth. Third John 4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” The wonderful news is: the joy that results from your walk in truth won’t just be God’s. It will be yours, too. As Christ said, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

1 John 8:44
2 Psalm 51:6

Adapted from Praying God's Word: Breaking Free from Spiritual Strongholds by Beth Moore, © 2000 by Beth Moore, Broadman & Holman Publishers

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Truth Shall Set You Free

Think of it this way. Your mind is like a computer. In your computer, you’ve probably got years of data collected. In your mind, you have years of rejection, hurt, deception, and anger programmed. You made a choice: to believe the data or not; to delete the data or not.

The word “truth” appears more than 224 times in the Bible. We need to begin to deal with the lies that put us in bondage and replace them with the truth. The truth will set us free. By giving ourselves to Jesus, we begin to see Satan’s power and lies, then we begin to resist him. Dr. Larry Crabb said, “The soul will not be healed without truth.”

It has been said that Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees. That’s not because he is afraid of us. It’s because he knows that the power of God gives us victory over the works of darkness.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says we are to take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ. If God can say these things about you, then you can say these things about yourself. Start by reminding yourself you are a child of the Almighty God. Truth!

We have to battle directly the enemy’s lies and confusion. The antidote for deception is truth. As you recognize a lie, defend yourself out loud. Those that meditate over and speak God’s Word’s out loud tend to change their thinking and habits faster. Truth changes our thinking, and thinking changes our behavior. Achieving a new way of life consists of repeating positive actions.

Read the following list and find the statements that best describe you. Then speak it out loud in your own words from your heart!

Corrupt Data: I am fat.
Speak it out: I am beautiful! I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
God’s Word: Psalms 139:14; 1 Peter 3:3-4

Corrupt Data: I am dumb and stupid.
Speak it out: I have the mind of Christ!
God’s Word: 1 Corinthians 2:16

Corrupt Data: I can’t! I’ve been sick too long and I can’t get well.
Speak it out: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
God’s Word: Philippians 4:13

Corrupt Data: I am ugly.
Speak it out: I am made in God’s image!
God’s Word: Genesis 1:27

Corrupt Data: Nothing I’ve tried works. I am weak and a lost cause.
Speak it out: I am strong!
God’s Word: 2 Corinthians 12:9; Joel 3:10

Corrupt Data: I am lost. I don’t know how to get back to normal.
Speak it out: I am found!
God’s Word: Psalm 23:1-4; Luke 15:6

Corrupt Data: I am a victim of my past and will never be able to overcome that.
Speak it out: I am a victor!
God’s Word: Psalm 60:12; 1 Corinthians 15:57

Corrupt Data: I am nothing. I am worthless.
Speak it out: I am treasured!
God’s Word: Deuteronomy 7:6

Corrupt Data: I am so scared.
Speak it out: I am safe!
God’s Word: Proverbs 18:10; Psalms 3:3

Corrupt Data: I can never be healed. I don’t deserve to be healed.
Speak it out: I am healed!
God’s Word: Isaiah 53:5

Corrupt Data: I am not loved.
Speak it out: God loves me!
God’s Word: John 15:9

Corrupt Data: I have been addicted to food for over “x” years. I’ll never be free.
Speak it out: The Spirit lives in me—I am free!
God’s Word: 2 Corinthians 3:17

Corrupt Data: No one likes me. You wouldn’t like me.
Speak it out: My worth is in who God says I am!
God’s Word: Psalms 8:5-8

These are God’s Words. So get into His Word (the Bible) everyday. Not only will you begin to see the truth, but also your faith will grow stronger. You will find that over time, your spiritual muscles of resisting Satan will grow, and the battle will get easier.

Speak it out: I am beautiful! I am lovable! I am worthy. I am capable! I’m not just saying that—God says that!

Read this excerpt from “I’m Beautiful? Why Can’t I See It?” by Kimberly Davidson.

Need support + encouragment for disordered eating? Visit: Olive Branch Outreach @