Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Spiraling Thoughts

As I was talking with a friend of mine who was struggling, I tried to offer her some advice. I hope this portion of our conversation will up lift you too.

Friend:  MJ, I need prayers today. It’s not bad. I have been listening to music for inspiration. Ever had one of those days? Your mind switches back and forth. Good things are happening…

MJ:  Which means that Satan will be after you to sidetrack your thought life.

Friend:  Oh yes, But I am fighting that DAILY!!! As quickly as I notice he is doing that, I run to the feet of Jesus. It is the only weapon I know of strong enough for some of these battles.

MJ:  I have to fight negative thought daily too. Some days I am more successful then others. The main thing is to keep going.

Friend:  I am excited, then upset, then happy, then sobbing, and then back to crying tears of joy again…All in the same day. I feel so wishy-washy!

MJ:  But you aren’t wishy-washy. That is the lie the enemy persuades us to believe when we are really getting stronger. You stay firmer in your godly thoughts and actions much longer then you use to do. You may not be aware of your growth but others can see it in you.

I am not where I would like to be either.  When the negative thoughts and accusations begin, I am much better about closing the doors with the truth. I am learning to recognize how Satan has belittled me in my thought life causing me to lose faith and spiral down in defeat. These are lifetime thought patterns, which have to be broken. I am progressing even though it may seem hopeless at times…and especially when fear gets involved. But I too have had to recognize that I am stronger then what I think I am. Knowing this gives me the courage, strength and peace of mind to move forward and finally bring balance to my thoughts and emotions.

So…how do we start to change our spiraling thoughts?

1.    Realize how important it is to bring your thought life under control. If you don’t see the importance then you will not see the need for renewing your mind. (Romans 12:2)

2.    Get in the Word and find out who you truly are “in Christ”. Then meditate on those truths until they become your natural way of thinking. (IN HIM by Kenneth Hagin.)

3.    Allow God's grace to cover all your mistakes especially while you are learning.

4.    Don’t allow condemnation to sidetrack your progress.

5.    Keep going even when it seems hopeless. You will grow and become stronger only if you keep moving forward.

6.   Stay connected with those who will help you and encourage you. You are not in this alone. Build mutual trust with others. Everyone has a mental battle of some kind. Helping each other remain strong is not only beneficial to you but also for all those you will be able to touch with the message of hope as you progress.

Do your thoughts spiraling out of control? Do you want to reach a more balanced pattern? Start fresh today by finding and capturing just one thought that is not the truth. Throw it out of your mind, stomp on it with your feet and claim the truth over the situation. If you are having trouble naming something, ask the Holy Spirit to help you get started. The process is difficult to say the least. However, with time and perseverance, you too can see positive results.

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 10:2

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. 
Isaiah 26:3

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Looking Back

Looking back at the past is something all of us do from time to time because it can be very satisfying to the soul. Reflecting on past mistakes can provide us with clarity and wisdom for the future. We can also see where our strengths and weaknesses are and be ready to say no to any wrong opportunities. So then…pondering the past can be a positive activity.
Recently, I came across writings about the past that were not so pleasant. This got me to thinking and questioning. When is looking back at the past not productive? Below are a couple of examples.

First, looking back is not good when we long for the way things were more then reaching for what God has for us today. Momentarily, remembering the ‘good ole days’ ourselves or with a friend can be a great way to relax and laugh at how crazy things were back then. However, when we choose to remain there instead of seeking what God has for us today, then looking back becomes unproductive. God has so much more for us if we have faith to move forward.

Secondly, looking back is not good when we use it to play the blame game. We either blame ourselves for our poor choices or we blame others for theirs. Upon remembering, the self-condemnation or our bitterness towards others is exposed. We keep dredging up bitter memories without ever taking the steps to allow them to heal properly. If only…I was smarter, had more loving parents, or better opportunities, life would be so much better for me now. May be so. Nonetheless, life is full of twist and turns and it is up to us to seek God for the way to overcome in anything we face.

Is anyone’s past perfect? I doubt it. Do we really desire little to no difficulty? Yes, if we are honest. However, in God’s eyes, suffering is a part of the grand scheme of things. Why? In the furnace-times of our life, God forges out His golden wisdom, and silvery understanding. We gain the character and humility God wants and we desire deep in our heart.

As children of God, we each have a unique plan designed for our particular personality. What pressures one would be a piece of cake to another. So we should never compare or compete with one another over our past. Even though we may not love or cherish our pathway, it can become the avenue to learning to overcome that we appreciate and enjoy later.

Is the remembrances of your past spoiling your future? Do you have a list of resentments in the pocket of your mind? Choosing not to let go cripples our ability to move forward. Choosing to move forward can bring wholeness of heart. When we are ready to move onward, God is waiting to show us the way.

Hebrews 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Luck or Faith?

It has been several years now since the summer I found over 500 four-leaf clovers. I found big ones and little ones everywhere I went. I even found some that were 5 and 6 leaves. Wonder what that would invoke? To my surprise and delight, I even discovered a small patch of four-leaf clovers in my own front yard. I couldn’t believe my “luck” in finding so many. I became driven to find more and more until one day the Lord broke into my thoughts with this:

“Is luck what you want to pursue or
is developing faith far better choice?”

This made me step back and look at what I was doing. God was not squelching the joy of finding all those unusual clovers. However, he was using this situation to propose an important question. Did I want to build my life on Luck or Faith?

Luck has to do with chance. It is the belief that inanimate objects like a rabbit’s foot, a special piece of clothing, or a lottery ticket have the power to bring about desired results. If ‘you’ do everything just right, the probabilities of the lucky object coming through for you will be better. There are sayings like “Wish me luck!” to help us feel like the deal is sealed. The underlying belief in all of this is that human reasoning and timing are more than enough.

But the question still remains: Do these temporal objects/beliefs really have the power to create and give someone what they need at the right time?

Faith, on the other hand, is a matter of trust. It compels us to focus on God’s power alone to work things out for our good. Faith teaches us to stay in God’s Presence until we receive the wisdom of what His will is in a situation. As we wait, we learn to trust His timing is perfect. God promises our faith is the guarantee we need to know what we asked for will come to pass. Why? Because we sought God first, came into agreement with His will and then asked according to that will without relying on our own selfish thoughts or desires. Intimacy with God is always the key to faith.

Remember…God is the author and finisher of our faith. He gave us a portion of faith when we first believed in Him. Now God is guiding and developing our faith in each step of our way.

So what will it be for you? Are you going to base you direction on luck or faith in the power of God? A variety of situations will fall on us throughout our lifetime. However, how we handle those circumstances is the key to lasting love and joy. So will it be "Good Luck or “Faith for your journey.” The choice is yours.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for,

the evidence of things not seen.

Luck is hope without any substance.
No evidence that what you desire will come to pass.

Faith leads to a testimony of God’s faithfulness.

Luck leads to deception.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Desire of My Heart

I received Billy Graham’s Training Center program guide in the mail today. As I thumbed through the speaker section, I came across one of my favorite authors, Lloyd John Ogilvie. Years ago, I had ordered one of his books for a penny from a new book club I had joined. The book was called The Other Jesus.  It was love from that first book onward because I appreciated the way he explained the love and care of God. I felt so accepted and treasured by God as I finished one book after another. His influence was a substantial catalyst in my quest for spiritual maturity.

Mr. Ogilvie’s written words are not the only cherished memory I have of him. The more I read his books, the more I desired to meet him in person. Now back then, I lived in a small town in Louisiana, no money for conferences and travel so the chances of meeting him were slim to none so I thought. However, that did not keep me from believing the impossible could happen “one day”. It was a dream, a desire, and a prayer in my heart that I kept tucked away for someday.

Well, two years later to my surprise and joy, God answered that heart’s desire. It came at a time when I needed desperately to know that God was with me and that he was hearing my prayers.

The excitement all started when my husband came home one day and said, “You’ll never guess who is coming to First United Methodist Church in Ruston, La.

“Who?” I responded expectantly.

“Lloyd John Ogilvie” he answered.

From that moment on, I screamed and jumped around for joy. Ruston was only 30 minutes from where I lived and the 3-night conference was free. I couldn’t have asked for anything more perfect.

On the night of the first meeting, I was standing in a hallway, when suddenly the door beside me flew open and a very tall handsome man came in. As I looked up, I immediately knew who it was and a large smile was my first response. Mr. Ogilvie put out his hand for me to shake and said,

“Hi, I’m Lloyd John Ogilvie.”

As I stood there and talked with him, I knew by his loving responses that his books were genuine and he truly believed what he wrote. The memory of that divine appointed meeting has been a lasting testament that God hears and answers the desires of my heart.

Do you have desires hidden deep within your heart? God is listening to those secret desires whether it seems like it or not. Then, in His perfect timing, He smiles and watches us fill with joy as the long awaited event comes to pass. Don’t give up on your God-inspired desires. Have expectancy in your heart that one day, when the time is right, joy in an answered prayer will come your way.