4 Steps to Love God With Your M.I.N.D.

Reading book

Sometimes I wonder if I am doing all I can to love God. That may sound like a strange statement, but it’s honest. As I fight the battle between the flesh and spirit I find myself growing weary of giving God my all.

Recently, I read a familiar passage of scripture that washed over my spirit convicting me to take a closer look. The scripture comes from Matthew 22:37… “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”

While reading it the Lord said, “Jodi, are you loving Me with all of your mind?

Whoa! I knew I was loving Him with all my heart and soul, but I could not say yes to His question. So, I replied with a question:

“Lord, how am I supposed to love you with all of my mind when my thoughts are battling between right and wrong, lies and truth…?”

Do you love God with all your mind, or would you be asking God the same question I did?

God is aware of the difficulty we experience loving Him as He desires us to. Knowing this He has provided us with a powerful weapon that can overthrow the enemy of our mind. His word!

The question is whether or not we will use it. But to use it we must believe God’s word, surrender to it, and live it out.

Are we going to give in and let the flesh win because we are tired of fighting the enemy or will we unleash the power of the Word and claim ground that is the Lord’s?

If God wants us to love Him with our mind, and He does, then no wonder the battle is so intense. The enemy is threatened when our minds are fixed on Christ because we live in peace. (Isaiah 26:3)

The enemy, Satan, is a deceiver, liar, thief, and seeks to distract our thoughts in hopes to lead us down a path of destruction (1 Peter 5:8).

I am willing to stay in the fight using the weapon, the word, God has provided. Are you?

To strengthen my resolve to stay in the battle I created a four-step process using an acronym with the word MIND. (By the way this is God’s answer to my question to Him.)

To help us recall M.I.N.D. click HERE for a printable.

While the process sounds simple, the application of it will prove its need of preparation, awareness, perseverance, and unyielding commitment.

Meditate

Intentionally ponder about God’s truths, and His promises. Recall times He answered your prayers, provided, protected, and proved His awareness of you. The more you meditate on His word and track history the more you will have your mind fixed on Him.

*Create 3×5 cards with scriptures that encourage you, remind you to love God, and inspire you to worship Him. Place them in your car, on your desk, and on your mirror.

Identify

What causes your thoughts to drift away from God? Identify the pitfalls, triggers, so you can be on guard the next time they encroach. Knowing is half the battle.  Take comfort in the knowledge that His word heals and delivers us from destructions (Psalm 107:20).

Navigate

God’s word is a lamp guiding our path, so use it as you navigate a new thought pattern (Psalm 119: 105).  Begin by renewing your mind (Romans 12:2).  Think on things that are true, honorable, right, pure, and lovely (Philippians 4:8).

Declare

Make a commitment declaring that you cannot do this without Him, but with Him you will be victorious (John 15:5).  Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He will do it (Philippians 4:13).  Declare that you will strive daily to love Him with all your mind (Psalm 37:5).

By the time you have gone through “M.I.N.D.”, you will find your thoughts have been redirected, and you now have the upper hand. Let’s not give up on fighting the flesh so that the spirit may win. God is our strength!

The next time your thoughts are unhealthy, destructive, untrue, or deceptive pause and remember “MIND” (Meditate-Identify-Navigate-Declare). Practice until it becomes second nature.

I pray that when God asks us if we are loving Him with all our mind we will all say, “YES,” and with all our heart and soul, too.

When loneliness invites company

Young woman enjoying the nature

Have you ever felt lonely? I imagine everyone has felt it at some point in their lives. To be honest I struggle with it more than I care to admit. Sometimes the loneliness is short lived and other times it is a lengthy battle. I know I am losing when I hear the Enemy whispering lies and I begin wondering if there is any truth in them.

Lies such as:

  • Your friends have forgotten about you.
  • You are not needed.
  • Protect your heart, and keep others at a distance.
  • No one else feels the loneliness you do.
  • You are all alone.

Has the Enemy whispered similar lies to you?

When we are in a state of loneliness, the suffocation of it can prevent us from fighting. We fall limp at the feet of the Enemy hoping for a glimmer of light from God to strengthen us.

During one of my battles of loneliness, I went before the Lord and pleaded for His help. I asked for His light to shine in my darkness. I needed to hear His truth about my situation, feelings, thoughts, and fears. I went to Him because He has never lied to me and He can be trusted.

He led me to the book of Psalms 62-63. As my eyes fell upon Psalms 62:10 my heart sank deep within.

“Do not trust in oppression.”

The Mariam Webster dictionary describes oppress as a sense of being weighed down in body or mind:  depression an oppression of spirits

It was clear to me that I was trusting the whispers of defeat, despair, and desolation. But the battle between my heart and mind raged as they conflicted one another.

Then the Lord drew my eyes back up to Psalms 62:8

“Trust in Him at all times, O people;
Pour out your heart before Him;
God is a refuge for us.”

As I began pouring my heart out to God and choosing to trust Him, rather than in my oppression, something began to happen. His light began to overpower my darkness. The battle between my heart and thoughts were beginning to properly align.

However, there was one more step He led me to take.

The step was found in Psalms 63:3

“Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.”

I craved His lovingkindness because this life was feeling bleak. I knew I was to praise Him not just within my heart and mind, but out-loud. This sounds like a simple action step, but when we are in despair, depressed, and lonely it can feel like a daunting task. At first, my words came out as a mumble. However, the more I spoke of His glory, might, power, and majesty I became overwhelmed by His presence with stronger pronunciation.

My loneliness had invited God to join me for company. The battle was won because God heard my praise and my cry for help! My breathing became deeper, thoughts clearer, and eyes brighter. The truth was prevailing and my trust was no longer in my oppression but in almighty God.

Are you in need of His presence? Praise Him out-loud.

Are you in need of His power? Trust Him to do what He says He can do.

Are you in need of His truth? Go to His word and let the truth set you free.

The next time we sense the darkness of loneliness crouching over us, let’s be quicker to turn to God and praise Him. Praise Him with a LOUD voice, because the Enemy cannot withstand our praise to the God of gods, Lord of lords, and King of kings. There is power in His name!

Isaiah 41:10 – So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

 

John 14:16 – I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, who will stay with you forever.

 

Following Jesus Takes Grit

Have you ever made a promise to God not knowing what kind of resolve it would take, but you were all in?

In my late twenties, God called me to follow Him into ministry. In yielding to His calling I promised God I would never turn down an opportunity to share with others about the mercy, grace, and redemptive power He granted me. I committed to following Him anywhere, anytime, and at any cost.

Little did I know what kind of grit I would need to keep my commitment.

There have been seasons when I wanted to retract my promise. Seasons that were too hard, too overwhelming, and too painful to forge ahead.

Have you ever wrestled with keeping your promise to God?

Click here and join me over at Contagious Joy ministries to read the rest of the story.2016-06-27-abigail-keenan-barnimages-008

 

Choosing to celebrate rather than grieve on Mother’s Day

Caring hands

Mother’s Day is a bittersweet time of year for me. Is it for you, too?

I struggle with a mixed bag of emotions; Full of grief and celebration. I have said goodbye to two wonderful moms in my life. The first was to my biological mom as she lost the battle with cancer at the age of 46. The second was to my adopted mom (my mother-in-law) that lost the battle to congestive heart failure at the age of 58. I grieve that I cannot call them on the phone, sit with them on the porch, laugh at silly jokes, or contemplate life together.

While I grieve their absence, I celebrate that they are in a better place with the Lord. I celebrate that there were times that I could cry on their shoulder, laugh until we wet ourselves, talk about different paths of life, and dream together.

I celebrate that I not only had a mom that wanted me but also loved me.

I celebrate having a second mom that took me in and loved me as her own.

Celebrating life is far better than grieving it, but many of you have no celebration within to offer.

Maybe you don’t know your mom or have a strained relationship with her.

Sister, we can choose to grieve what could, should, or would have been, or we can choose to celebrate what is true.

  • Celebrate the life we were given by God and the life He chose to use to bring us into this world.

For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

  • Celebrate the Moms God has given us:

MOM=My Other Mothers

Let me explain.

While I was blessed with two amazing mothers, God also gave me the gift of many other mothers.

My childhood girlfriends shared their moms with me.

A close neighbor that adopted my mom, as if she were hers, also loved me like a mom.

Women within the church have taken me in as a daughter.

My Step Mom of 28 years and Mother-In-Law of five years loved me as their own.

The many other mothers God has placed in my life have loved me with open arms, counseled me with great wisdom, taken me shopping, sat up late talking, and fed this hungry girl many times.

Who in your life has mentored you, spent time with you, shopped with you, cried with you, or prayed with you?

Celebrate them on MOM’s day (My Other Mothers’ Day) and let them know how grateful you are for them.

We will grieve our losses, but let’s honor God by celebrating the women He has brought into our lives. A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)

This is the day which the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalm 118:24)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let God’s Voice Be Louder Than Your Fears

 Woman and rain shower

Have you ever felt lost while traveling? You call out for help, but no one answers. My husband had military orders to move to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, and we decided to save money by moving ourselves. He drove the U-Haul truck full of our meager belongings, and I followed in our car. We were all set to communicate freely via the CB radio and use an atlas to navigate. This was before cell phones, y’all! I knew if I could keep the truck in my line of sight, I would be okay. Before we would approach a turn, Chris’ voice would come over the CB radio giving me a heads up. I was comfortable following his lead, trusting he knew the path we needed to take.

It wasn’t until nightfall my comfort turned into intense distress. The heavy traffic caused us to separate, and I could no longer see the truck. I called Chris’ name over the CB radio several times. Panic gripped my heart when I did not hear a response. I had no idea where I was, the traffic was pressing in on me, and I started crying hysterically. My fears of the unknown jammed my logical thinking, and I became a wreck.

Have you ever felt alone in a situation and panic set in?

Have you ever cried out for help and felt like no one could hear you? It’s possible this is something only I have struggled with, right?

When we allow fear to grip us, we tend to react illogically. Analyzing what the outcome could be, we can get overwhelmed and let negativity sidetrack us. The noise we create in our panicked mind blocks us from hearing anything other than our inner voice. This can leave us feeling unheard, alone, and lost.

But here’s the good news: God’s word can comfort us and bring us to a logical state of mind:

  • Be mindful God hears us.

 In my distress, I called upon the Lord, and cried to my God for help;             He heard my voice out of His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears. (Psalms 18:6)

  • He calls us to be still.

Be still and know that I am God. (Psalms 46:10)

  • He alone is our calm.

When my anxious thoughts multiply within me, your consolations delight my soul. (Psalms 94:19)

  • He is always before us and will never leave us.

The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I am a little embarrassed to admit, but that night on the dark highway, when I was gripped by fear, I was not calmly calling out for help-I was screaming! I was screaming so much so that I had to force myself to breathe before I passed out. It was at that moment I heard a voice.  It was Chris calling my name, “Jodi I hear you. You are okay. Please calm down.”

He then proceeded to navigate me to an exit where we reunited. I was so busy crying out for help I did not stop long enough to hear his response. Sometimes we do that when we are crying out to God and wonder why He has not responded. Perhaps during our crisis, if we instead paused long enough to listen for God’s response, calm and peace will fill our hearts and minds.

Let God’s voice be louder than your fears and louder than your inner voice. What He has to say will help you get back on course.

If you are like me and lose sight of God from time to time, just remember He is right there beside you. He is willing to respond to your cry, quiet you with His love, and navigate you to a place where you can become still and know He is God.

He’s got the wheel, and He’s got you, friend!

 

 

 

Secret Walls That Limit Our Faith

Woman praying alone

Does your faith have secret walls?  Hidden limitations you’ve built around your life? For years, I refused to go on a mission trip overseas. I reasoned that God could send someone else, and that it was best for my children if I didn’t go. To be honest, I wanted to go but I was trapped by my fears.  My fears formed a fortified wall around my faith allowing me to go only so far with God. When I considered what was on the other side of the wall, I imagined horrible outcomes: Sickness, not being allowed back in country, orphaning my children, or not being with them if they needed me. The enemy had me right where he wanted me. Faithless. Ashamed. Controlled. Ineffective.

I imagine you have your own reasoning for your faith walls.

Maybe God has prompted you to witness to someone, but you felt inadequate, and decided to wait for another day.

Maybe God wants you to begin a new ministry, but you are insecure about your ability and decide to bury the dream.

Maybe someone you know suffers from a chronic illness, and because you haven’t seen improvement you doubt healing and your prayers have tapered off.

Maybe you have faith that God loves, forgives, or has plans for everyone else, but cannot believe those truths for yourself.

It is those feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and a lack of self-worth that limit our faith.

God is not the creator of those limits. We are.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) However, we choose to thwart that power and discipline when we allow our flesh to override God’s desires for us. Our hope and belief can waver when things seem impossible. The enemy plants the lie and waters it with doubt: Will God really make good on His promises to me?

Consider the Hall of Faith in Hebrews 11. This is an historic account of real men and women who struggled with their faith, but chose to knock down their walls of inadequacy, insecurity, doubt, and fear. When they did, God showed up in huge ways and made good on His promises!

I remember the day God broke down the fortified wall that had kept me from traveling on mission. God was prompting my heart to travel to South Asia with my husband, leaving my boys behind. As I was praying and asking God to help me take this step of faith, He simply stilled me with His love and spoke into my soul:

Jodi, you will never receive the abundance of life I have designed specifically for you if you continue to live in fear. I have plans to use you for My Kingdom. You may have given birth to your children but I created them and I love them more than you could ever dream! You can trust Me with them. Do you trust Me? Yes Lord, I trust You! I trust You for what I cannot see on the other side of my wall.

I went and I was effective! I was no longer faithless or controlled by the enemy’s lies.  But, I must be honest and tell you I prayed A LOT. However, the more I prayed, the more He strengthened my faith in His faithfulness. Peace ruled instead of fear. There was freedom on the other side of my faith wall. The enemy no longer had me where he wanted me. Instead, God had me right where He wanted me – trusting in Him.

Do you fear what’s on the other side of your wall? You don’t have to! There’s really nothing to fear when you trust God for the outcome. He will cause all things to work together for good if we let Him.

Secret walls limit our faith. Ask God to help you push down your wall so your faith can be without borders. It’s the life you were purposed to live … LIVE IT!

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1

I See You, But Do You See ME?

i-see-you-but-can-you-see-meHave you ever had life circumstances hit you hard? I have. A while back I was blindsided by some circumstances causing me to become emotionally unstable, stressed, and weary. My thoughts were confusing and irrational. The more I tried to think clearly, the more deeply I fell into despair. I prayed, journaled, spoke with others, cried, and exercised hoping for a reprieve. I believed Isaiah 26:3 to be true so I pressed in and rolled the words over and over in my mind, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” But instead, my thoughts were inconsistent. I felt like my world was falling apart.

Can you relate?

Have you ever been desperate for God to speak, “Peace, be still,” so that your circumstances would miraculously change for the better?

During one of those trying days, God used a simple penny and a song to speak peace into my soul. He may not have spoken audibly but I heard Him loud and clear.

I made a trip to the store and prayed before I got out of my car, “Lord, speak. Help me.” I had hoped to make it in and out of the store without anyone seeing or speaking to me. As I pushed my cart along the side of my car a penny on the ground caught my attention. (Side note: The inscription on pennies, “In God We Trust,” reminds me to trust God. I always keep them as a reminder.) As I looked at the penny it was as if God said, “I see you, but do you see ME? I did not want to be honest with God but I was and told Him “No.” I was blinded by my circumstances, emotions, and confusion. I asked Him to open my eyes and mind to be able to see Him. After loading my purchase in the car, I got in and the radio was playing, “Just Be Held,” by Casting Crowns. Here are a few of the lyrics that spoke to me:

Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place…

If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still

But if your eyes are on the cross

You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted

In time, you’ll understand

I’m painting beauty with the ashes

Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes

In the storm is where you’ll find Me

And where you are, I’ll hold your heart

I’ll hold your heart

Come to Me, find your rest

In the arms of the God who won’t let go

This experience opened my eyes to see Him. To see that He was with me. To see He was in control. To see He was working my brokenness into something useful. To see He is holy and still on the throne. I began sobbing because I felt God’s love and His presence.

I was doing what had brought peace to me in the past: praying, journaling, seeking counsel and exercising. I was trying to trust God with words but not with heart.

When we completely trust in God with ALL our heart, He exchanges our unrest for peace. As I fully abandoned to God my self-reliance, expectations, control, and grip on my circumstances He graced me with peace; A peace that immediately calmed my storm. Though my circumstances did not change, I changed. And because I changed, I can now walk in Isaiah 26:3.

Because I trust in You God, You will keep my mind in perfect peace. (my paraphrase)

Do you see God? He sees you.

Ask God to speak, and then listen and look for Him in the simple things. He is there!