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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.

Hives, the ER, and the Shield of Faith

I wielded the shield of faith a lot this past month, as I felt shot at from every side. A big part of the “attack” had to do with my health, including a visit to the emergency room, a terrible full-body rash (I’d share a picture, but then you’d never visit this blog again), and terrifying insomnia (how is my body supposed to heal if I can’t sleep, I anxiously wondered as I tossed and turned night after night).

Satan really will use whatever circumstances he can to discourage and defeat us—even our health. A man named Job knows that even better than I do. It all started when Satan asked God for permission to attack Job’s health, swearing that Job would curse God if his health was compromised. But instead Job worshiped God.

In physical misery but tangible faith Job said, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15). And for the record, God didn’t kill Job; just the opposite. Read the end of Job’s story here.

There were times this past month I felt like Job and wondered if I would survive.

Turns out the armor of God isn’t just an interesting concept to toss around on the blog; it’s intensely personal and necessary for normal, everyday life. Ephesians 6:16 urges us:

In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one.

Taking up the shield of faith is a fancy, colorful way to say trust God.

For me it started with a choice to thank God for the hives, the trip to the emergency room, and the itchiness, even when I didn’t like or understand it. Lifting the shield of faith meant thanking Him—and believing—that this was His best for me. This was how I would learn to trust Him more, to depend on Him more, to experience His peace.

It meant thinking about His names as I lay in bed and asking Him to be that to me:

  • My Wonderful Counselor when I didn’t know which doctors to believe and which medical advice to take.
  • My Mighty God who is able to heal me.
  • My Everlasting Father who delights in me and protects me.
  • My Prince of Peace who can give peace even in the most frightening situations.

As I’d take medication or eat, I’d remind God that He’s my Healer (Ex. 15:26). I’d acknowledge that my trust was not ultimately in this medicine or food; I needed Him to heal me.

Five weeks later, I’m happy to report that my rash has now almost completely disappeared, and I’m sleeping some every night. And while Satan wanted to take me out through this difficult ordeal, God has used it to rescue me in ways I never dreamed possible. I could fill pages with how He has used it for good (well, I already have in my journal), and I may share some of that with you in the future.

For now, though, I want to encourage you in your own difficult circumstances to lift up the shield of faith. Lean into God; rest your full weight on Him. This will protect you from the temptation to doubt His goodness, listen to Satan’s lies, and walk away from the One who has your back, who has your very best in mind.

God is for you. He is with you in the darkest, blackest night. Lift up your shield of faith, and lean into Him with a heart full of trust. He will not fail you. I promise. (Well actually, He promises.)

Hives, the ER, and the Shield of Faith” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.

How Close Do You Want To Get . . . Really?

You should’ve seen it. This Sunday, the church gymnasium was transformed into the bustling city of Jerusalem around A.D. 30. After I’d joined the tribe of Ephraim and received a bag of denarii (Roman money), I sat down cross-legged in the temple, right in front of the veil leading to the Holy of Holies (where I never would have been allowed in real life).

That’s when little Sarah came over and squeezed herself onto my lap. Then, when the shofar blew signaling it was time to move on to the next station, Sarah slipped her little hand into mine as we walked a few steps to the synagogue. She sat in my lap again as we learned to sing the Shema in Hebrew and stayed close all morning as we went from booth to booth.

And then, while we were at the potter’s shop, I heard a shout, “It’s Jesus!” If I hadn’t already been told that the Sunday school teacher Chris was playing the part, I wouldn’t have recognized him with that wig of long, curly, dark hair. He slowly wove his way through the crowd of 400 people, hugging the children as he went.

Sarah pulled me forward, not content to watch from behind a wall of people. I let her pull me so far, and then I slowed, not wanting the adults to wonder why I was crowding Jesus and not letting others have their turn. But Sarah wouldn’t let up. I stopped, she strained. She pulled, I resisted. Finally, she dropped my hand and went around the mountain in the middle of the room so she could get to Jesus.

Sarah wasn’t the only child who did this. Instinctively, all the children wanted to get as close as they could to Jesus. Maybe that’s why Jesus told His perturbed disciples so many years ago,

“Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it” (Luke 18:16–17).

As I saw the difference between me and Sarah, I couldn’t help but wonder how close I would’ve tried to get to Jesus if I’d been alive when He walked this earth. Would I have been willing and desperate enough to cry out loudly with Bartimaeus, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me”—even when everyone around me was telling me to just be quiet? Or would I have been more like Nicodemus who came to Jesus under the cover of night so no one would see?

More importantly, how desperate am I today to get as close as possible to Jesus? Am I content to hang back and observe Him along with the grown-ups, or am I pressing forward with the children to stare up in wonder at Him?

I’m afraid I know the answer, and oh, how I long for that to change. So thank you, Sarah. You have no idea what you taught me this week. I want to be like you when I grow up.

PS: What do you think it looks like to want to get close to Jesus today?

How Close Do You Want To Get . . . Really?” was originally posted on LiesYoungWomenBelieve.com.