Tuesday, June 21, 2016

10 Truths that Defy the Lie of Emotion

What’s on your mind?

If I asked this over coffee, would you want to answer honestly?  Or would you prefer to show me the happy face that we all bring out in public? 

As some of the hardest things to control in our lives, our thoughts often run amuck with falsehoods and misconceptions. It’s not uncommon to have prolific, unkind thoughts toward ourselves. They’re ugly and unpleasant musings. Thoughts are difficult to control yet we’re told in Scripture to take each one captive to the obedience of Christ. 

Controlling thoughts can prove a difficult hill to climb but it’s not impossible, especially when we can fight them with the Sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.  

As we read and study the Bible, sometimes one verse - or even just a few words within a verse - can seem to jump off the page. All at once we think, “that was just for me!” We recognize the Spirit helping us draw our Sword for battle. Sometimes we hear repeated wisdom in different contexts and can then identify it as a useful spiritual weapon.

This happened to me a couple of weeks ago when I heard these similar statements from two different sources:  1) God’s Word is true no matter how our emotions perceive it.  2) We can trust God’s promises even when they don’t seem to manifest in the timing we’d prefer.  These were truths meant to demolish strongholds and overcome oppression. 

Both are deep-seated concepts boiled down into basic expressions. We could study and devour each idea for months, but in their simplest form, they continue to reverberate and multiply in my mind:  

God’s truth is steadfast.

God is a God of truth.

Truth doesn’t vary with my emotions.

My current trial or situation doesn’t diminish His great plan. 

God’s promises are yes and amen
(See 2 Corinthians 1:20)

If you’re anything like me - one who tends to let self doubt keep a firm grip on my heart and mind - there’s often a great divide between what is true and how I feel.  However, when weighing emotions against truth, truth wins, every time.

I won’t address ongoing negative thoughts in this post, trusting that many of us are intimately familiar with them. We needn’t watch the replay. 

Instead, I’ll share the truth of the Bible and allow you to connect the dots. I believe you’ll readily begin to see the bigger, truthful picture and how God sees you as a woman of faith.

Here are 10 truths that defy our emotions:

  1. We are God’s. Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
  2. We are chosen.  He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.  (Ephesians 1:4)
  3. We are blessed. Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her (Luke 1:45)
  4. We are made in God’s image. So God created man in His own image: He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. (Genesis 1:27)
  5. God cares for us.  casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7)
  6. We are redeemed and forgiven. We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7)
  7. We are set free. Christ has liberated us to be free. Stand firm then and don't submit again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
  8. We are beloved. So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; (Colossians 3:12)
  9. We are God’s masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)
  10. We are loved as His children.  See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are. (1 John 3:1)

Defy the lies and sleuth for truth

In our emotionally charged society, it’s easy to believe our feelings more than we believe established and proven truth. As women with heartaches and hormones, hurt feelings and areas of harbored shame, we have to work had to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. We can’t allow our thoughts to run rampant with our emotions. Instead, let’s make a decision to discover and then hold fast to the truth of who God says we are.

To help you focus on the truth about yourself, I have a free, printable set of notecards available for you here. They’re my gift to you - from one sister who struggles with negative self-talk to another. They don’t focus on positive thinking, but rather thinking truthfully. We’re not trying to persuade our minds into believing something, but to embrace our identity in Christ and realizing who God says we are. For that is the more excellent way.

Your Turn:

In what ways do you battle negative self talk?

What’s your favorite Bible verse about your identity in Christ?

Continue the conversation by leaving a comment below or connecting on Facebook or Twitter!

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Be strengthened today, by His Word

Psalm 119:28

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

The Christian Mom's Guide to Surviving Summer

Summer hasn’t even “officially” started and you can feel your sanity slipping away. Not because of too much time with the kids. Sure, they can get on your nerves from time to time, but you truly feel your calling to be a mom and you enjoy raising your kids. It’s a privilege, not a chore. But summertime can be messy.

Why - every year - does the chaos of summer schedules surprise us?  

As the days started to grow longer,
  • You longed for the end of school so that you’d have more free time in your schedule.  But now that summer is here, your calendar is already jam packed.

  • You eagerly awaited kids sleeping late so you could extend your quiet time with the Lord.  But the kids are awake at the crack of dawn, excited for new adventures.  

  • You daydreamed of warm, relaxing summer evenings.  But tempers flare by twilight because everyone feels overtired.

  • You imagined you could be a fun and ever-so-patient mom.  But neglecting your solitude and quiet time has you feeling frazzled.

I’ve been there. Most every mom either feels or has felt what you’re experiencing right now.  There’s no time for a quiet thought, let alone an hour of prayer.  

But there’s hope. With God, we know there always is.  When life seems to go haywire and the last thing you want to do is push God out of your schedule, remember - you have control. You can take the steps necessary to make sure summer is fun for the kids and rewarding for yourself, too.  

Here are 7 simple suggestions:

1. See Time as a Valuable Commodity.  In the summer, it’s easy to think you’ll have all the time in the world, but there are the same number of hours in a day when it snows as there are when it sizzles. You can find more free time your calendar, but you’ll have to purposely schedule that margin. As a family, determine the priorities for your time and then schedule those things first - to include free time. Seek God before saying yes. Slowing down and remembering to prayerfully consider your activities can increase peace and alleviate chaos.

2. Stay in God’s Word.  Your quiet, morning devotions may be on hold during this season, but you can continue to meditate on Scripture. Carry notecards that you’ll see several times during the day. Or choose verses that you can memorize together as a family while you drive from place to place.  Put the verses to a familiar melody and sing them until they're memorized. 

3. Prioritize Worship Gatherings.  The Bible teaches that we aren’t to stop meeting together as some are in the habit of doing, but to encourage one another (see Hebrews 10:25). Take that to heart. Think of worship time as a source of fuel for your empty tank.  The rest of your week is sure to be more pleasant if you attend church together as a family.

4. Find Ways to Talk About God.  We learn in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Summer is a great time to share just who God is in your personal life. Lay on the soft grass, look for shapes in the clouds, and share your heart about Christ. 

5. Sneak in some Bible Study Time.  You’re sure to have “bleacher butt” from time to time. Instead of reading magazines, novels, or checking Facebook while the team warms up, bring your Bible Study book. If you need to avoid conversation to do this, it’s okay to sit away from the other parents until the game starts.

6. Get Enough Rest. Everyone will be better for this. Make Sundays a day of rest with no planned activities after church other than simple, family life together. Take a nap (all of you), or at the very least, head to bed a little earlier.  Remember, God didn’t create man for sabbath, but sabbath for man (see Mark 2:27). It’s a gift from the Father. Delight in it.

7. Enjoy Every Moment Together. Consider creating a family gratitude journal or thankfulness jar. Collect the moments and memories for which you thank God and review them as a family before the school season starts again. 

May these suggestions help you not just survive, but savor the summer and provide you with memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

Your Turn:

How have you learned to guard your time in the summer months?

What’s your best tip for summer survival?

Share your thought in the comments below or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter. 

Be Strengthened today, by His Word,

Psalm 119:28