4 steps: toxic thinking

Do you ever think about your thoughts?  Or the motivations for things that you do?  It seems to me that the thought processes, feelings, motivations and our internal mindsets have massive affects on our choices, conversations, attitudes and actions.  So if our thinking or emotions have been poisoned by the enemy (who comes to steal, kill & destroy), then it makes sense that the behaviors, conversations etc can be dysfunctional & corrupt.

Here’s a good example:  have you met people who have a chip on their shoulder, or think that nobody likes them or maybe they’ve been victimized & carry that mindset throughout their daily living?  There’s probably good reasons behind why they behave the way that they do.  But let’s remember this truth:  we have a free will to make different choices.

So here are a few things for consideration:

  1. Take a pause & reflect:  why am I doing / saying this?
  2. Is my behavior / conversation / attitude coming from a place of brokenness or distortion?
  3. Welcome the Holy Spirit into the places where you sense such brokenness & distortion / deception
  4. Let the Holy Spirit help you make different choices – Romans 8:26 🙂

Futile Pursuits

“You must not turn aside for then you would go after futile things which cannot profit or deliver because they are futile.” 1 Samuel 12:21

Samuel spoke these words to the Israelites after Saul was confirmed as their first king & I can’t help but think that these words apply to my life. Do I pursue futile things? I want to answer, “no”, but if I’m truthful, I pursue futile things. For example, when I’m painfully honest, I pursue popularity & applause from people, getting frustrated when I don’t get enough. I pursue an adrenaline rush when I consider adding kite boarding to my hobby list. I pursue futile things when I get sidetracked with making image more important than genuine love. I pursue futile things when I let my intellectual appetites undermine my spiritual development. These dont have to be exclusive, but I know myself well enough to know that my intellect can lead me on endless rabbit trails away from walking with the Holy Spirit.
What might be some futile things in your life that would distract you from growing in your walk with Jesus?

Pushing Buttons

Have you seen the cars that are started by pushing a button rather than using a key in the ignition? It seems like the “button pushing” concept is growing more common & it’s a nice upgrade for simplifying life, but for one massive exception:
Personal Buttons
Each of us have various buttons that cause us to react in various ways – some good & some, not so much. Rather than thinking in terms of people pushing your buttons & causing you to react, maybe it would be more helpful to think about the buttons that we have & why.
Instead of getting upset about people pushing your buttons, I think it’s more productive to think about what those buttons are & why we have them. This journey starts with accepting the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth & then agreeing to let the Holy Spirit lead us in truth. Without that decision, we’ll stay in perpetual bondage to the button pushing slavery & victim to the internal triggers that remain hidden but manipulated by the enemy of our soul.
Think about your personal buttons & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth about these buttons to you!

Healthy Choices

There’s loads of emphasis on making healthy choices, particularly with our eating, exercise & uses of time & money. I’m continually coaching my kids to Mae healthy choices & I’m abundantly clear that God coaches me along these lines as well.  Here are some specific areas for making healthy choices:

  • Advocate or Accuse: let’s be aware that accusing is what the devil does & advocating is what the Holy Spirit does. Which choice is your natural default?
  • Convict or Condemn: condemning is when there’s a dead end & no hope to change, grown or improve – everything the devil works to accomplish.  Conviction happens when the Holy Spirit speaks in our hearts about something that’s wrong, endeavoring to help us change.
  • Truth Or Lie: Jesus says in John 8:44 that the devil’s natural language is lying but a few chapters later, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of Truth. If we tolerate white lies or incremental truths we need to consider if we are listening to the devil more than the Holy Spirit :!

Let’s make healthy choices!!

The Dryer Shrinks My Clothes

In our home, one of my kid’s weekly responsibilities is to do the laundry for all of us. I often think that this child is shrinking my clothes from setting the dryer too high. But alas, we both know that this misconception is rooted in my desire to eat freely without consequences.
I think all of us have the ability to believe what we want & dismiss what we don’t like. This is another essential reason we desperately need the Holy Spirit in our lives. Jesus tells us in John 16 that the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth & in our modern living, we need an abundance of truth, full stop. Let’s make the ongoing decision to follow the Holy Spirit in truth even at the expense of eating less & exercising more 🙂

Truth Or Love??

Maybe I’m the only person to struggle with his, but I find it challenging to be truthful & sincerely loving at the same time. For me, this is a tricky balance because I find it easier to be loving & less truthful or more truthful but less loving.
In Proverbs 3:3, it says that we should keep both love & truth around our neck & written on the tablets of our heart. In this verse, we don’t get to pick one over the other, love over truth or truth over love. Instead, we are to blend them together as they connect our head to our body (as a necklace) & permanently inscribed on our hearts to inform our core values & define our actions, conversations & outlook.
With the Holy Spirit helping us, let’s blend love & truth throughout our daily living!

How to Improve

I have a child who is in the process of a vertical learning curve related to blame or responsibility. This is a nice way to say that blaming other people facilitates irresponsibility & this is no bueno.
These conversations challenge me to look at areas in my life where I might be blaming people & not taking responsibility for my actions, words & attitudes.
I’m seeing with stark clarity that the attempts to blame others limits my ability to grow & improve.
Are there places in your life where you seem quagmired? Is it possible that you might need to think about being proactive & taking responsibility for the things you can change?
Let’s be sure that we let the Holy Spirit speak truth into our hearts so that we don’t deceive ourselves, limiting how much we grow & improve.

Chasing a Laser

I’m currently watching my friend’s daughter use a laser pointer for entertainment, with their cat chasing the laser. She shines the laser on the floor & the cat pounces on the red dot, only to find that the dot has leaped beyond his grasp to another spot on the floor. Looks like it could provide some amusement for at least several minutes. 
Seems like the devil gets us in this game as well. He dangles something shiny in front of us, we pounce & find that the shiny bait evaporates to reappear somewhere else. We think that being pretty is the same thing as being significant. We think that being smart makes us valuable. We think that achievements or promotions make us important. 

While our looks, intelligence & achievements are important, let’s remember that our value & significance is because Jesus loves us, full stop 🙂

Don’t Surrender

“Bow down to me & I’ll give you all that you see.” This was the final temptation the devil tried against Jesus at the beginning of His ministry. I’ve been thinking about the 3 ways the devil tried to tempt Jesus – against His flesh, worship & power / authority. 
It seems to me that the devil uses the same schemes on us. He tries to tempt us with flesh stuff. He tries to sabotage our worship of God using alluring idols (money, image, pride, intellect, etc). And the devil endeavors to undermine the authority God has given us, telling us that we are frail, powerless, disabled & incapacitated. I think the devil’s number one tool is deception. This is reason alone to snuggle into the Holy Spirit, our Spirit of Truth, so we don’t fall prey to the devils’ efforts & schemes. 

Be sure to read my book, Heavenly Help, so you can stay in synch with the Holy Spirit & out of synch with the devil, the enemy of your soul!

Being Honest

“How come all these awful things have happened?”  Ever ask God this kind of a question?  I think probably everyone alive has asked God some variation of this question & the Bible shows people asking God the same stuff. 

I’m reading about Gideon & I seriously appreciate his honesty with the angel at the beginning of their conversation: If God is with us, how come all this stuff has happened to us? This was in reply the the angel’s salutation, “The Lord is with you, valiant warrior” 
Gideon’s initial behavior & words didn’t really confirm that he was a valiant warrior & if we are honest, there are lots of times when our behavior & words don’t express that we are valiant.  Nevertheless, God knows our substance & potential so God speaks to our true self rather than the smokescreen insecurities we wear. Not only does God call us by our true identity but God also helps us know who He is, as Gideon acknowledges when he experiences God as the Lord our peace in Judges 6:23-24. 

So let’s make it a premium value to be honest with God so that we can honestly know God 🙂

hot topic: REALLY helpful!!

I don’t do this often, so heads up!!  Buy this book!!!!

 Identity Thief

Seriously, the enemy of your soul wants to deceive and steal your identity every second of your life & often we are totally clueless to these efforts.  It’s his oldest trick from the beginning with Adam & Eve.  This book by my friend Robby is super helpful & brand new!!

I’d also strongly encourage you to buy:  Do What Jesus Did  Also by Robby & totally a blast!!

Happy Wednesday dear friends 🙂

Power View

I had a friend who wrestled with anorexia & bulimia. It was an entirely awful thing to watch her in this struggle & I couldn’t grasp how she could think she was overweight when the scale said 72lbs & she was like 5’7″. Despite numerous indicators that she was not fat or overweight, she still kept this mindset & it ripped me up. As she struggled with this challenge, I did my level best to be a supportive friend but there was nothing I could do to change her perspective. 
The vision she had of herself was defective & didn’t match truth, so this vision was inherently destructive. If we aren’t careful, our perspective & vision can be smoked with deception & distortion by the devil. This is why it’s absolutely critical that we live in Romans 12:1-2. Don’t be conformed to the world but be transformed by renewing your mind. Let’s choose power vision rather defective vision 🙂

Unlearning

Sometimes, I’ve learned lessons that I need to unlearn. For example, I learned to be highly independent & have always been a “do it myself” person. While its good to be independent, it’s better to be inter-dependent. So my “unlearning” is teaching me to be less independent & more inter-dependent, particularly on the Holy Spirit. This idea sounds good in my thinking & feels right in my heart, but the practical execution & roll-out of this unlearning can get kind of tricky & a little scary sometimes. 
Some important ingredients that go with becoming more inter-dependent on the Holy Spirit include:

  • time & schedules: unexpected delays, mishaps & schedule busters never catch the Holy Spirit unaware
  • flexible: adapting to the Holy Spirit means that I don’t always get my way
  • trust: being uncertain or even insecure serve to remind me to be more trusting in God rather than getting freaked out
  • people: lots & lots & lots of lessons with this ingredient, to be sure

What are some things you might need to unlearn?

Smoke & Mirrors

I recently read about how Jacob tricked his dad & brother to get Esau’s birthright & blessing – definitely shifty for sure. Whenever I read how Jacob’s mom put him up to being deceptive with his dad about getting his dad’s blessing, it makes me twitch because of the smoke & mirrors manipulation scheming. I find it positively revolting that Jacob & his mom would be so deceptive with their family, conniving, tricking & undermining trust. It’s repulsive to me because their actions totally sabotaged any trust & ultimately intimacy / connection they may have had with their family – maybe this trust never existed in the first place.

Nevertheless, for me an important take away is that when people are shifty & deceptive, there’s no real or grounded connection with them. Ultimately, it’s all just smoke & mirrors.

X-Rays

Going through airport security in foreign countries can be a very interesting experience, to put it mildly. The security in some countries is nothing more than a suggestion & in other countries, I’ve had some experiences that I just don’t talk about. But the whole point is that they want see past a person’s surface presentation, X-ray vision. 

It seems to me that the ability to see beyond the surface is really important. So many times in our lives we can be distracted & even deceived by mere appearances. Some people look amazing on the surface but if you dig a little deeper, they’re a disaster in every way. On the flip side, I’ve met people whose surface appearance was far from appealing. They’re disheveled & unimpressive from a quick glance, but underneath, they’re nothing less than magnificent humans.  And this is one of the things I most love about the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit has X-ray vision, knows who we really are on the inside & remains deeply committed, faithful & loving with us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be who God has made us to be 🙂

compensate

I’m coming to appreciate what it means to compensate from dislocating my shoulder in early January.  When I injured my shoulder, I tore off some of the cartiledge from the bone so my shoulder muscles have been endeavoring to compensate and they’re getting very tired of doing extra duty for the last two months.  It seems to me that we all try to compensate in various ways for things that we perceive as deficiencies, shortfalls and weaknesses.  And here’s the honest truth:  none of us are all of that & a bag of chips.  We are all flawed, masterpieces in the making, rough cut & ragged on the inside & outside.

So rather than trying to compensate by amplifying our humanity, let’s lean into God, give up some control and trust that God is working in and on us, conforming us to the image of Jesus with the power & presence of the Holy Spirit 🙂

Let’s stop compensating and surrender more 🙂

learning from mistakes

When I was 19, I dislocated my shoulder playing intramural basketball in college & had surgery to repair my rotator cuff.  Being a very smart & savy 19 year old, who knew everything & was highly independent, I didn’t want anyone’s help.  I even remember my kind & patient roommate chastizing me about how I might possibly regret not letting people help me with my shoulder recovery.  God bless my roommate – she was right & I was wrong.

Now I’m in my late 40s and have struggled with my shoulder for almost 30 years, most recently dislocating it during a  snowboarding adventure.  Having acquired some tread in life, I don’t want to make the same mistake that I made in my late teens, even when it means being altogether uncomfortable and asking for help.

The Bible is full of great examples of people who learned from their mistakes:

  • Joseph & his brothers when they came to buy food in Egypt
  • Moses not killing Egyptians when he returned to liberate the Israelites from Egyptian slavery
  • Paul stopped persecuting the church after his Damascus Road experience

Maybe it’s only bad to make mistakes when they’re the same ones over & over & over & over & over again 🙂

Inward Parts

This morning I had some kind of medical thing to look into my shoulder that I dislocated a few weeks ago. It’s really amazing what modern medicine can do – totally incredible! As I was getting my mind ready for this new experience, I remembered Ps 51:6, “You desire truth in the innermost being & in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom”
Very smart doctors get to look into the deep parts of my shoulder to see what’s happening in there. In an interesting viewpoint, God knows the absolute truth about who we are deep on the inside & helps us to walk out these truths rather than live in brokenness 🙂
Happy Friday!

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The right fight

In the war on terrorism, it can get tricky to figure out who to fight. Similar to the guerrilla warfare in Vietnam, when a soldier wears civilian clothing, it’s hard to figure out that he’s a soldier until it’s often too late. In the same way, the enemy of our soul often masquerades in what seems to be various human conflicts, stresses & pressures. If we only look at the outside of what’s happening, we’ll get distracted & fight the wrong fight, rather than warring against the true opposition of our soul. Jesus says in John 10:10 that the thief comes to kill, steal & destroy.
There is a real enemy warring against your soul & more often than not, your enemy isn’t your spouse, your pastor, your friend or your kids / parents, a co-worker or fellow student. The enemy of your soul is a masquerade genius, so don’t fall for the disguise!!

Admit it!!!

The Bible is filled with people who didn’t want to admit their failures, weak spots, shortcomings & downfalls, starting with Adam who deflected his blame for eating the forbidden fruit to Eve.  When God confronted Cain, Adam & Eve’s son, about his sinful intentions toward his brother Abel, Cain also tried to wiggle out of the confrontation with the question, “Am I my brother’s keeper?”  I could keep going with lots more examples (Aaron, Saul, Judas, etc) but my point is that by not owning their garbage & getting honest with God about their junk, they painted themselves into an ineffective and opaque corner.  Each of them had lots of potential but their potential was compromised from their lack of honesty.

The counter-examples are equally as powerful.  Consider David, after his downfall with Bathsheba and how he owned his garbage in Psalms 51.  While they lost the child that came from the affair, let’s also consider that their next child, Solomon, was the king of Israel during it’s most powerful time in history.  If you think about Paul in the New Testament, he’s the guy that said he was the chief of sinners in 1Timothy 1 and how the grace of God was powerful enough to change him, who was a very fallen and love-less man.  Paul was tremendously & powerfully used by God after he humbled himself and let God change his heart.

For each of us, let’s sidestep the denial and deception trap and live in synch with the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus calls the Spirit of Truth 🙂