Archive | April 2018

Choose the Fruit

JoyForTheJourney.png

 

During this month of April, I hope that you have enjoyed reading some of the principles from my new book, “Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart, Grace Your Tongue”, as much as I have enjoyed sharing them with you!

I pray that as you read this final excerpt from my book that you will examine your speech habits and decide to begin again today!  Decide that you will change the words that come out of your mouth from frustrating to forgiving … from impatient to gracious … and from accusatory to encouraging!

Now listen to me … none of us is immune from mouth disease so this week’s blog is going to hold great challenge for you!  But I believe in you … You can do it!

It is time for you to stick out your tongue and say, “Ahh!”

Have you done that dreaded but extremely vital self-examination lately? Now—look in the mirror as you do it.

Do you have it?

Do you have “mouth disease”? Are you infected with an “oral bacteria” of the very worst kind? Have the germs of the culture attached themselves to your vocal chords? Is your tongue rife with verbal viruses?

What is it with women and their words? What is it with anyone and their words?

We are definitely defined by the stuff that proceeds out of our voice boxes.

The organ that lies between our pearly whites has the capacity to control our very lives.

The vile eruptions that come tumbling unbridled out of that lovely orifice called the mouth are often what color our relationships and the atmosphere of our homes.

Our words have the propensity to direct us, to define us—and to drive us.

It is as if we are compelled by a force of nature to continually talk, and we often refuse to stop talking until we have the very last word in every conversation and in every argument.

The anchor verse that will change the way we talk is found in Proverbs, the book of wisdom that is changing our thought processes, giving boundaries to our emotions, and now will impact the way we speak.

Perhaps you have previously read it and wondered what application it had for your life:

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Proverbs 18:21)

 

April 26 blog pic 1.jpg

 

The stark reality is that, someday—in the not-too-distant future—you are going to be forced to eat the fruit of what you have chosen to say.

When dealing with the tongue, your options are twofold: you can speak life or you can speak death. There is no middle ground between those two choices.

There is no gray area when it comes to the words that you speak.

That’s it. Just life or death. Which will you choose?

When you understand that you have the power to speak life or death every moment of your existence, it will underscore the fact that controlling your own tongue will be one of the most vital endeavors of your life.

First, you must take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ; next, you must guard your heart faithfully; finally, you must put a bridle on your tongue.

If you don’t first think something or feel something, then, in all probability, you will never say it.

Any idea or opinion begins in the mind, travels to the heart, and finally comes out of the mouth.

Perhaps there is no other life matter that we should take more seriously than the matter of the tongue.

The ability to discipline your tongue is more important than the number on your bathroom scale, more essential than your education, and more profitable to you than climbing the corporate ladder.

Consistent discipline in the attempt to manage your mouth will create more beauty than will a home that is attractively decorated, and provide more true wealth than will a full retirement fund.

According to the always-applicable truth of the Bible, your tongue has the power to control the type of life that you will enjoy in all of your tomorrows.

Will your life be a fruitful one?

If you can maintain godly government over your tongue, your life will be one of joy and peace; you will cultivate a home atmosphere that is warm and inviting, and you will maintain friendships that flourish.

 

April 26 blog pic 2.jpg

 

Conversely, if you refuse to regulate the discharge that comes out of the cavity that lies beneath your nose, your life will be dry and brittle. Nothing beautiful will grow in your life, and you will be known for “halitosis” of the very worst kind!

When Craig and I had our first child, Matthew, every time the pacifier came out of his mouth, we threw it away and plucked a new one out of the sterilized packaging. No dirt was going to touch the lips of our precious, darling boy!

When we had Christopher, just two years later, we could no longer afford the volume of new pacifiers that our previous behavior required, so we placed his discarded pacifiers into boiling water on the stove. Every evening, whether a pacifier had been thrown to the ground or not, it received the boiling treatment under my watchful eyes.

Then, when we had our third son, Jordan, I would merely run his dirty pacifiers under running water at the kitchen sink. I wasn’t picky about the temperature of the water; hot or cold water would do. I justified that it was clean enough after a dousing of fresh water from my kitchen spigot.

When our fourth child, Joy, would throw a beloved pacifier out of her mouth, I would simply put it in my own mouth to clean it off. Just a quick lick, and it was as good as new to go back into her little rosebud mouth.

And finally, with baby number five, Joni Rebecca, I didn’t even bother to replace, to boil, to rinse, or to lick. I would just pick the pacifier up off the ground and put it efficiently back into her mouth.

We can laugh at the way we have parented over the years and how diligently or how casually we have protected our children from germs, but the truth is that none of us would knowingly expose our children to a fatal disease.

There is not a compassionate or concerned person who would willingly bring bacteria or viruses into breathing distance of their loved ones.

Yet, if it is true that our tongues hold the capacity to pour serious and life-altering matter on those whom we love, it is vital that we examine the words that we speak and the tone of voice they are spoken in.

The Holy Spirit is speaking to you, and He is reminding you that words have power for good and power for evil.

Words can bring life, and words can destroy. Words can revive, and words can kill.

You choose… which will it be in your life?

Advertisements

Delighting Yourself in the Lord

JoyForTheJourney.png

This month, in my blog, I am sharing some of the exciting principles that are found in my brand new book, “Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart and Grace Your Tongue.”

Last week I reminded you just how important it is to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ … no stinking-thinking for any of us!

Today we are going to deal with the issues of our hearts … otherwise known as “emotions”!

Let me begin by asking you a simple question …

What is it about life this side of heaven that absolutely and fully delights you?

What is that one “thing” that delivers exquisite joy and satisfaction to your heart?

Some people gain the greatest satisfaction from having new cars, rich friendships, or excellent entertainment. Others are delighted by state-of-the-art technology, the achievements of their children, or traveling to far-flung destinations.

I am delighted with books … with Christmas … with college basketball … and with being with those I know the best and love the most.

Because I am a “Word-girl”, you know that I must turn this “delightful” subject back to the Bible! What do the Scriptures tell us about delight?

“Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4)

This beautiful phrase “delight yourself in the Lord” in this challenge from the Psalms can be translated “to be glad in the Lord, make merry in the Lord, take exquisite pleasure in the Lord.”

As human beings who are tied to earthbound living, we have taken delight in all of the wrong things; instead, we should be exquisitely pleased in the Lord!

 

April 19 blog pic 1.jpg

 

We mistakenly suppose that pursuing the desires of our soul will make us happy, when true delight is found in splashing exuberantly in the love of the Savior.

When I first began digging into Scripture and discovered this exciting verse, I falsely assumed that if I showered my love upon Jesus, He would give to me whatever I wanted!

I supposed that if I read my Bible in extravagant amounts, I would be able to move into my dream house; or if I sang louder and more robustly at church, I would get to drive a pink Cadillac!

I dreamed of going on difficult missions trips and then being given the opportunity to spend time on a lush Hawaiian island!

Did any of you believe that as well?

Yet this verse holds richer and deeper meaning than my false assumptions could ever begin to realize.

The lovely and sacred truth that Psalm 37:4 teaches is that when I find singular pleasure in the Lord, He will then place His own desires in my heart.

It is those true desires, given by Him that He is then able to fulfill and bestow.

We erringly assume that pursuing our heart’s desires will make us happy.

In reality, it is being fully glad in the Lord and allowing Him to establish a desire in our hearts that He Himself will fulfill that will deliver a satisfaction infinitely better than simply being happy!

When I delight myself in Him, and He fulfills the desires that He has placed in my heart, it brings me unmatched joy, deep contentment, and the peace that passes understanding.

April 19 blog pic 2.jpg

 

The Surprise of God!

Craig’s mother, Becky, is one of my heroines of the faith.

She is a woman of prayer and a student of the Bible. She has loved her family well, and we all grieved with her when her beloved husband, Wesley, went home to be with the Lord.

Shortly after Wesley’s death, Craig and I and our five children moved nearly a thousand miles away from her. She has one other son, David, who lives three hours away from her.

Becky, whom we all call “Nanny,” has spent her entire life “delighting herself in the Lord.”

When we left North Carolina to serve the Lord in the northeast, she found herself alone and living on a very limited income. It would have been very understandable if she had thrown a pity party or two and stocked up on mountains of tissue boxes in order to wipe away her understandable tears. However, she determined not to waste those years of her life and became a pillar of faith in her small community.

On Monday mornings, a group of women gathered in her home to pray for their children and grandchildren. On Wednesday evenings, Becky attended prayer meetings at her church, and on Thursday evenings, she invited a group of neighborhood women into her home for a Bible study. On Friday nights, she played games and had a potluck dinner with other widows. On Sunday mornings, she taught Sunday school and then would often go to a neighbor’s house for lunch to which she brought the rich, Southern dessert.

Becky was happy and fulfilled during those challenging years because she delighted herself in the Lord in a very lonely season of her life and did not give in to the malaise of her soul. She has found deep delight in loving and serving Jesus!

You, too, will be surprised at how God is able to change the desires of your heart when you choose to delight yourself in Him.

Your heart will miraculously mimic the desires of God, and the greatest Gift Giver of all will fulfill your deepest desires.

The joy that you will experience will be enormous and purposeful when you delight yourself in Him and all that He is!

Take some time today just to enjoy Jesus … sing a favorite Sunday School song or spend some time just praying for the people in your life who you dearly love.  Open a well-read devotional book and read it again!  Make a list of your blessings and of all the things you have yet to look forward to!

Listen to a Christian radio station or the podcast of a favorite Bible teacher. Call someone on the phone and spend some time praying together.

The Lord will meet you in that place of delight and He will refine the desires of your heart.

The Power of the Mind

JoyForTheJourney.png

I am having so much fun this month sharing with you principles found in my new book, “Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart and Grace Your Tongue”. This week, we are going to be talking about the warfare that goes on in the gray matter between your two ears!

If you have a problem with worry, anxiety, self-defeating thoughts, negative thinking, fantasy in your brain or critical cogitations, then this week’s blog is for you!  It’s time to clean up your thought life and to guide your mind!

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3–5)

These three verses, written by Paul through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about two thousand years ago, hold the compass that unmistakably points us in the right direction whenever we deal with an assault by Satan on our thought life. If you are tired of struggling with the enemy’s barrages against your mind, these verses will give you the strength you need to press on as an overcomer in Christ.

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh …”

With our minds, we both conceive of and receive thoughts; then, we either reject those thoughts or accept them.

It’s true … the place where we have given the largest amount of ground to Satan, by accepting many of his false ideas, is in our mind – which is the most dangerous place of all.

The mind is dangerous because it is part of our fleshly system, or fallen human nature. Yet, if you ponder this truth, you will quickly realize that this is actually great news if you are in the middle of spiritual warfare, because although your mind has been clogged by countless conversations with Satan, you will not have to fight him in the weakness of the flesh—you can defeat him in the power of the Spirit!

 

1.jpg

It is fighting Satan in the flesh that wearies you and drains you of all of your purpose and all of your productivity. When you attack Satan in the Spirit, rather than in the flesh, you will find yourself strengthened, and you will miraculously begin walking in the authority of Christ.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses.”

This particular Scripture firmly states that we are to attack the lies of the enemy with something that is divinely powerful”!

What in the world could that be?  What is the divinely powerful weapon that we have been given access to?

This one-two punch of “divinely” and “powerful” is best translated from the Greek as “absolutely God”!

Let me say that again … absolutely God!

There should not be one bit of your flesh in the fight; you can stand with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God, in your hands and let that sword rip Satan into shreds on your behalf. (See Ephesians 6:17.)

When you fight your battle with “divinely powerfulweapons, you will demolish “strongholds” in your thought life.

A stronghold is an area in your mind that Satan controls because he stated his argument in a deceptive conversation with you, and you believed his misleading hypothesis.

Many Christians embrace the lies of Satan and rehearse them over and over and over again until those lies have become strongholds in their mental real estate. If Satan can gain a foothold in our minds, he will likely control our lives, because as we think within ourselves…so are we.

 

2.jpg

 

Do you know what this means? Read on, my friend, read on …

You literally give to Satan a parcel of real estate in your brain when you allow yourself to think thoughts of fantasy, worry, criticism, or anything else false and negative. All that Satan is capable of giving you is deception; all that God is capable of giving you is truth.

We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

When we have given Satan a piece of real estate in our gray matter, our thoughts will inevitably begin to contradict the truth of the Word of God.

Our heavenly Father took a great risk when He gave us the freedom to think for ourselves. This privilege of being able to choose our own thoughts confirmed the gift of our being made in the image of God Himself. We are set apart from animals with this extraordinary gift of having the ability to choose our own thoughts.

We do not fight our Satan-induced doubts with drugs, with neuro- logical reconnections, or with a lobotomy! Instead, we bring down every thought that is contrary to the knowledge of God and destroy speculations at their very root.

Once and for all, we need to do what the Word of God says to do with the lies of Satan: Destroy them! Take them captive! We must take captive our outrageous and unhealthy thoughts and make them obedient to Jesus Christ.

As you strategically choose your thoughts, your goal is to fill your mind to a greater degree with the principles and truth found only in the Bible. If you have a “default” setting in your brain, it should always be set to the Word of God!

Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart. For Your lovingkindness is before my eyes, and I have walked in Your truth. (Psalm 26:2–3)

How God Thinks

JoyForTheJourney.png

 

I am not the neatest person in the world, are you?

The sad truth is that I did not receive the “cleaning gene” that most women seem to receive at birth … or at least when they begin to care for a home of their own.

More often than not, there are dishes in my sink, clothes on my bedroom floor, and yesterday’s towels strewn across my bathroom. (I am blushing right now.)

Some days, my bed is haphazardly made, but most often, it is left askew from my postmenopausal sleeping patterns. Additionally, my kitchen floor perpetually needs sweeping, and my laundry is a never-decreasing mountain on the laundry room floor.

It’s not that I am opposed to cleaning, I just always have more important things to do, like answer e-mails or read a book or talk to one of my children on the phone!

I know…I know…I know…. If I would just spend a little bit of time every day on my home, I might be able to keep it in order. I get that; I do!

I have a friend who has tried to train me from the earliest days of my marriage that if I would just spend one hour a day first thing in the morning on cleaning and straightening, my house would never get disgustingly out of control. I did try that strategy for a day or two, but within about fifteen minutes of my first attempt, I was distracted by a magazine article or by a piano piece that was calling my name.

 

April 5 blog pic 1.jpg

 

As much as I find absolutely no enjoyment in cleaning my home, I do, indeed, enjoy the results when I discipline myself to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

I love it when my blue bathroom towels are all folded and put away neatly and in order.

I love looking into my bedroom and seeing a bed that is made with precision—with no wrinkles to be found!

And oh, the rapture that fills my messy soul when my kitchen floor is swept and there are no dishes lingering in my sink!

And did I mention that I love the smell of a sparkling-clean bathroom, of freshly washed laundry, and of dusting polish?

Why do I love the results but absolutely hate the process? Why, indeed? It is, quite simply, because of the daily effort and focus required.

Our minds are much like the homes in which we live: we must daily keep up with the process of organizing our mental clutter and cleaning up the cerebral dirt and grime that accumulates in our thought patterns, not to mention scrubbing the dark and dusty corners of our brains; otherwise, spiritual havoc will quickly ensue.

But while the process of sanitizing our brain may be exacting and frustrating, the results will be absolutely fabulous!

But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that He will instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:15–16)

The powerful, heavenly implications of this verse are nothing less than astonishing!

We, as mere mortal, have the miraculous potential to think like God the Father thinks!

When we partner with the Holy Spirit in our mental processing, we are able to understand situations, people, and events just as Jesus does. We have the miraculous ability to receive the wisdom of the ages. As human beings, we have been bequeathed the glorious discernment of the Holy Spirit.

We can have God-sized dreams and divine creativity in our pea- sized brains!

Wow … just wow!

When the channels are open between you and heaven, you are invited to tap into the infinite mental powers of the God who created such glorious demonstrations as diamonds, giraffes, and stars. You have been given the wisdom of the Father who invented the water cycle and electricity. Your creative Partner is a Genius who paints sunsets and renews the seasons every year.

You have the mind of Jesus Christ.

 

April 5 blog pic 2.jpg

When my husband, Craig, was the youth pastor of a church in the Deep South at the beginning of our ministry together, we became close friends with one of the families who attended that church. The father, Harold, was an engineer and served as a church elder. The mother, Sarah, was a stay-at-home mom. Harold and Sarah’s family was built around Mary, their teenage daughter; Michael, their middle-school-age son; and Ricky, their ten-year-old son.

When their son Ricky was in the fourth grade, Harold and Sarah were called in for a conference with his teacher. The teacher made them feel comfortable but wasted little time with small talk. She quickly let them know that Ricky was not doing well in school. Furthermore, she informed the shocked parents that Ricky was showing symptoms of some serious learning disabilities and that he likely would never graduate from high school. The compassionate yet truthful teacher had great concerns about Ricky’s future ability to succeed in middle school and suggested that they look into a special school for their delightful, lively child.

As Harold and Sarah processed this diagnosis, they decided that, to succeed in his studies, what Ricky needed was the mind of Christ. So Ricky and his determined mother began to memorize Scripture together. Sarah placed Scripture verses on every kitchen cabinet and on the bathroom mirror in their home. While Ricky was eating breakfast, he was looking around at the Word of God. While Ricky was facing the bathroom mirror, brushing his teeth, he saw only Bible verses.

Sarah was so focused on helping her son to be able to process information in a normal way that she even climbed up a ladder and attached Bible verses to the ceiling over Ricky’s bed so that, every night before he fell asleep, he would see the Word of God, and every morning, when this little man woke up, his very first sight would be the truth of God’s Word.

When Ricky entered fifth grade, his parents began to see a miracle in the making. His grades slowly began to improve, and he was able to pay attention in class, in spite of the usual distractions. Ricky began to repeat at the kitchen table what he had learned in class, and he developed a voracious appetite for learning. His improvement continued, and he eventually graduated in the top ten of his high school graduating class of nearly five hundred students! He later graduated magna cum laude from a private university and earned his MBA from one of the most prestigious universities in the nation.

Today, Ricky is the CEO of a major pharmaceutical company, all because he had parents who believed in the importance of tapping into the mind of Christ.

My blog this week is taken from my new book, “Guide Your Mind, Guard Your Heart and Grace Your Tongue”.  Released on April 3, this book will change the way you think, it will revolutionize your emotional responses to life and it will make your tongue the loveliest part of you!  You can purchase it at Barnes and Noble.com, CBD.com, Amazon.com or at our website, justjoyministries.com.  Why not buy a copy for you and for a friend?!