Well, Hello my friends! Welcome to Christians Living In The Real World, Episode 5!
Before we begin, I want to give a shout out to our friends in Europe! 15% of this podcast downloads are in European countries, with 8% of all downloads coming from the Ukraine.
To my Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ, please know that I am praying for the evil massacre of your beautiful people and country to END! It is hard to imagine that one man’s selfish ambition could cause such horror in what is supposed to be a civilized world!
Bless you… May the Lord empower you to lean into Him every moment of every day… This evil is NOT of Him. He hates it as much, if not more than we all do. And He loves you! And we love you… Stay STRONG in the Lord!!
We are in Part 3 of a 4 part series called…. WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT?
We’ve talked about What do you think about God and What do you think about Satan?
I want to take just a moment to remind you why we are drilling down on this theme….
To sum it up, Proverbs 23:7 (NASB) says, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”
In the context of that passage, it is referring to a man who says, “Yes… Go ahead and eat, but his thoughts are stingy and counting the cost…”
That’s the thing about our thoughts… No one can see them but ourselves… And of course the Lord.
And yet….. While our thoughts are not literally visible to others, they certainly do show up in the results of our lives…. As Scripture says…. “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” Because our thoughts lead to our feelings… our feelings to our actions, and of course our actions… or inactions… create the story of our life!
Today we are focusing on the question, “What do you THINK about yourself and others?”
I was going to separate those two topics, but the more I prayed about it, I realized that the answers are usually not all that different.
So let’s begin with what you think about yourself.
And let me warn you… Today, I am firmly wearing my coach’s hat! If you have ever had an effective coach, you are aware that they do not mince words….. They are not going to tell you that you are doing great when in plain sight they see a path for you to break through!
A coach is going to bring you the truth … Point out the blind spots… And then it is up to you to take the ball and run with it! So if you tuned in for the purpose of being told you are perfect right where you are, allow me to spare you the next 20 or so minutes!
Okay…. So what do you think about yourself?
If we are honest, we DO THINK about ourselves A LOT!!!
So much of it is unconscious though… and so much of it is negative…. and almost all of it is repetitive, creating those neural pathways that eventually train our brain to believe certain thoughts… even when they are not true!
We have talked about this in the past in general terms, but today, I want you to specifically think about your thoughts about yourself.
Ladies….. WE HAVE ALL THE THOUGHTS, don’t we?
I feel so stupid..… I cannot let go of my past…. God cannot forgive me… I am not lovable …. I am too heavy
Seriously… I know women well into their 80’s, who are thin… and STILL worried about their weight!
Round and round we go in our minds….
I was raised in a blended family. My dad died in a car accident when I was 7 days old. My mom was a 28 year old widow with a newborn and an 18 month old. She eventually remarried my when I was almost five. He was also widowed and had 5 children, all older than my sister and I… Sheesh… We all know 7 isn’t enough, so they had two more together.
Needless to say, it was non stop activity. I often wonder how my mom kept her sanity, as she had been an only child!
There were A LOT of strong personalities in that household!!
Loud…. Quiet… Funny… and those that wished they were… Competitive… Peacekeepers … Anger… Bitter…. The whole shabang!
I remember feeling lost at times… almost invisible… trying to figure out who I was in the mix.
Of course how we think about ourselves in our home is how it shows up out in the world…
In fact, I remember in Jr High… I did a little experiment with my two best friends. The three of us were inseparable. Typical 8th grade girls who were emboldened by our friendships because we were all so insecure on our own.
I decided I was not going to say anything until someone noticed. As in literally… NO TALKING until someone realized that I had not spoken. In my little insecure mind, I had told myself that no one cares what I have to say so they would not even notice if I were silent.
First of all….. WHO DOES THIS???
Anyway… Unfortunately, I pretty much proved myself right!!
In hindsight, I now know that I have always been drawn to strong leadership type personalities… Not because I was one, but because I so WANTED to be one of them. Jane and Kristie were both at the top of the Jr High food chain in personality and popularity, and for some unknown reason, they let me tag along.
For TWO FULL DAYS, I said nothing… It was not until the end of day two, in our last class that one of them casually asked me, “Everything okay? You haven’t said much today.”
In playing such a silly game, my brain engaged its cognitive bias… looking for evidence that I was right, and created the dreaded outcome because then, I KNEW I was right… No one cared what I thought…. Meaning no one really cared about me… See this destructive path our minds can take us down?
Nothing could have been further from the truth!
Fast forward…. When I was in my late teens, I had convinced myself that I was too fat. Now keep in mind, I had been a varsity cheerleader and one very competitive tennis and racquetball player. I was NOT fat! I was solid muscle!!
In fact, I remember when I was playing intramural softball and the boy that I had a crush on said, “I’ll bet you can knock it out of the park!”
NOT what a teenage girl wants to hear from the boy she’s pining after!!
So what did I do?
I took control of the situation and for the next three years, I was very much anorexic before anyone had ever heard of the term.
Karen Carpenter died from the complications of anorexia in 1983 and it was only then that I realized that my behavior had a name… and some dire consequences if I didn’t change something!
Why do I tell you these things… Because if we are honest with ourselves, we still exhibit the same behaviors as adults… Maybe not so overtly, but then again… maybe!
We have a thought that no one cares about us… So we isolate or stop communicating with those we love, and when THEY do not respond how we think they should, we conclude that they do not care about us or what we think!
Clearly, it’s all their fault!
Or, as in the second scenario, we try to control a situation, which often includes trying to control others, harming both ourselves and our relationships, when the premise for our wanting to take control was based on a lie to begin with.
We have such an enormous capacity to create mind drama that places us as the victim in the middle of some melodramatic screenplay we call our life!
And remember what we talked about in the last episode…. We have an ENEMY whose native tongue is the language of lies. That is all he knows and all that he wants you to believe in order to render you useless.
Who are you telling yourself you are?
Would you EVER dream of speaking to others the way to talk to yourself?
“Listen, my sweet child…. You can go and do your best if you like, but the truth is, you are never really going to amount to much…. If you can just hold it together and get through life without messing up too badly, we will count that a win, k?”
Yet, that is often what settle for in our own lives… Believing it is up to us… we have limited capacity and many believe that’s as good as it gets.
Well, I’ve got news for you… You DO have limited capacity… So do I… So does every other human being. Equal playing field…..
Yet THAT is where the Lord steps in and uses VERY ordinary people for VERY extraordinary things!
Who does GOD say you are?
As I talk to Christians from every walk of life, the struggles are the same, and they are REAL! Let’s take a look at the most common places where we get stuck… or begin to spiral out… Let’s take a look at the TOP 5 hits!! What lyric resonates with you, my friend?
1) Are you stuck in discouragement?
Do you feel alone in your efforts, as though you will never get any real traction in all that you are trying to accomplish? Do you think you are doing your best, but still not making progress? Does discouragement weigh you down, keeping you from showing up as your best self?
Some may say that it is too simple to combat these thoughts and feelings with Scripture… But what if that IS our key weapon? He has provided us with a direct response in order that we will know Him and His presence in these times….
Says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
YOUR GOD WILL BE WITH YOU wherever you go!
Do you dare take that thought on as your own? Replacing discouragement with empowerment of His being with you wherever you go??
2) Are you struggling with an ongoing sin, perhaps an addiction? (2 Corinthians 5:17)
Have you given up hope of ever changing? Have you given into the despair of feeling defeated by
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”
2 Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.”
Can you find it within you to discard that toxic thought … Or at least set in on the shelf for a moment, while you ask the Lord to help you embrace His truth. Trying on these new thoughts… daring to believe they might be true…. Ask yourself…. If He is speaking directly to me in this mess I am in…. Is it possible that I can overcome this by taking these toxic thoughts captive and replacing them with new thoughts that BELIEVE HIM?
3) Do you think you are unlovable?
“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
Dear friend…. The GOD OF THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE LOVES YOU!!! Can you please consider taking that thought on as your own?
“Do not fear. I have redeemed you. I have summoned you. You are mine”
4) Are you hanging onto your sinful past?
Your past is a circumstance. There is nothing you can do to change it, but you absolutely can choose to think about it differently, going forward!
What if the apostle Paul had hung onto his brutal past, condemning and even killing Christians was Paul’s primary purpose before meeting the risen Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Paul could have spent the rest of his days dismissing the Lord’s forgiveness and new direction for his life based solely on the sinner he WAS in the past. Had he done that, who knows how differently the early church would have looked?
Dare to think on these things…. God has a plan for your life. If you drown out that plan with your own thoughts, you rob Him… and yourself of all that is possible!
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”
5) Are you worried, anxious, or afraid?
“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
Okay…. I lied…. There are six…. 😉
6) Do you think you are UNWORTHY? Friends… Jesus died because you are SO worth it! (John 3:16)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” .
You may have read these passages hundreds of times. You may have even memorized some of them… Knowledge is useless dear friend… Unless we allow that knowledge to transform our thinking!
Are you allowing it to sink in that we REALLY DO have the capacity to change our thinking?
I am going to be strong in this statement, though I do not intend it to be offensive…
My friends…. If you are insistent in hanging onto the thought that you are unworthy, you are literally calling the Lord a liar.
Sit with that for a minute…. We cannot look at the examples above, where He so wants us to know how much He loves us and how valuable we are, and still cling to the thoughts that keep us stuck… Blaming our past.. Blaming others or our circumstances.
When we hold onto these destructive thoughts, we diminish His love and forgiveness.
The two simply cannot coexist, so I challenge you… I implore with you… to take this moment to decide! Do not let this be one more message that goes in one ear and out of the other.
James says…. “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.”
This is not an admonition… This is an encouragement! Take your life back!!
Take hold… Get a grip…. And KNOW in the depths of your being, which thoughts are not serving you so that you can replace them with the TRUTH!!
Totally your call!
Go put on the Frozen soundtrack and listen to it 100 times if you need to…. LET IT GO… LET IT GOO!!!!
Friends… we have the opportunity to completely recreate ourselves by choosing new thoughts. Thoughts that dwell on who God says we are instead of the awful stories we create in our minds.
So before we wrap up, let’s talk about our thoughts about others….
It’s the same and it is different.
All of those Scripture passages we looked at… Yes… They are written for you…. And you…. And you…. And every other man, woman and child on the planet, past, present and future!
They are written for those who have dedicated their lives to the Lord, perhaps even in full time ministry… and they are written for the mass shooter who’s horrific crimes leave us breathless.
Are you aware that the atrocious killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, gave his life to Jesus Christ while in prison? By all accounts, it was true and sincere.
He repented for all he had done and felt remorse before God.
Just curious…. What are your thoughts about that?
Some would say it wasn’t real. It doesn’t matter if that is what we think. God knows and that is all that matters….
Others would say that isn’t fair! He should never get to spend eternity in heaven after his brutality! Yet God does not appear to have a sliding scale on sin…. Again, we look at the life of Paul… Who had been a man named Saul whose sole mission in life was to destroy Christianity and kill believers in Jesus…
I think God uses these examples to remind us that He is God and we are not.
We have been called to love one another as He has loved us.
I am in no way suggesting that we tolerate sinful behavior. God is a just God and He very clearly detests sin while He loves the sinner. I recognize the challenge in that. In fact, I think that in many cases, the Church has gone so far in the direction of accepting sin, that we have lost the clarity of God’s design for our lives.
But we will get more into that in the next episode when we discuss what we think about our culture.
What is your matrix for other people… If you ever took a computer programming class, you know that every bit of coding begins with a chart that looks like, “If this… then that.”
Is that how you approach your relationships and view of others?
If you do this, then you deserve my love and attention.
If you do that, then you will receive the silent treatment as I try to get you to do what I want…
When you are indignant or angry with someone (and it happens to all of us), what does that look like?
Can you try on a different thought? At least consider that the other person may have genuinely made a mistake… or is under a lot of pressure… You get to choose!
Just remember what you choose will lead to a result. Is it the result that you really want?
I would encourage you to examine … write it down so it can look you back in the face… What are you thinking about other people in your life?
Are you obsessing over the person who caused so much pain in your life?
Chances are they have moved on and don’t give any of it much more thought at all… You are only holding yourself captive?
Can you consider forgiving that person, not because they asked for it or even deserve it, but rather to free you from the endless pain?
Can you objectively look at all you have been forgiven in Christ and extend that same forgiveness to others?
Are you focused on what others have that you do not?
There is freedom in gratitude… In fact, it is humanly impossible to experience jealousy and gratitude at the same time. Gratitude feels SO much better!
Are you trying to control things that are not yours to control? That includes other people… including your spouse. When you are tempted to control others, simply remember…. You are in charge of you and they are in charge of themselves. There is no MANUAL for them to have a certain way, nor do they get to have one for you. I am not suggesting there are not natural consequences for behavior, good or bad … I am simply saying we can only control our own.
As I step down off of my soap box, first I want to thank you for listening. This is the HARD WORK part I have spoken about in the past. There is no other way to say these things than to speak them directly. That is the role of a coach… Get you out of your comfort zone, as ironically, how uncomfortable it truly is…. And move you toward the abundant life God longs for you to have.
This is not positive thinking or self help…. We all know there is enough of that thinking out there. I am not even talking about will power to change something…. Will power is finite and eventually runs out.
I am talking about taking hold of God’s Word in such a way that it transforms your thought life.
As you head into the next week, I want to encourage you to ‘take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ’. You will be astounded when you see Him make His presence known as never before!
Next, we will wrap up this series with “What do you THINK about our culture?”
Until then, peace and grace to you my friends!