Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Extreme Mind Makeover

I have been going through a Bible Study with a friend called Breaking Free by Beth Moore. It is my second time through the study and it has been life changing both times.

Last week, we talked about The Steadfast Mind and about learning to think rightly. Thinking rightly does not come naturally to those born in sin. We must practice this art of deprogramming wrong thinking and reprogramming with God’s Truth.

Satan, our archenemy, does not play fair when it comes to our thinking; he loves to distract and dazzle us with anything that will keep our thoughts from centering on the Truth. He will twist and turn the lies until they sound almost true, and then convince us to believe these fallacies. Our minds become so used to this distraction, to the messages of the world, to our own unbalanced judgments that we don’t even realize we are not “capturing” our thoughts. We think lazily because we are lazy. We don’t hunt down the lies because it’s work. We choose to think and do as world thinks and does because we have become accustomed to taking the low road--not the high one. We actually “like” the wallpaper of lies and potential strongholds in our minds. They feel familiar to us…homey.

Homey is the last thing these lies are if our real home is Heaven. Undisciplined thinking leads us into pits of depression, apathy and pride; what we don’t tame and temper will take control of us. Our unbridled thoughts, because they have power over us, actually become an idol in our lives--an idol we bow to every time we let an unwholesome image, picture, complaint, enter our brains.
These thoughts then, separate us from God and His Truth and keep us imprisoned in the confines of our own sinful selves. God’s power is then diminished in our lives because we keep ignoring Him by our disobedience. If we continue to harden our hearts in these early stages of listening, and we keep putting off what God has told us to do, the less discernment and strength we will have in the next battle of the mind.

So, what can we do about this outlandish, outdated wallpaper that covers the seams in our brain? We can rip it down and put up new stuff—beautiful, wholesome, Godly and gorgeous wallpaper!

Here’s how: First, we need to be aware of what thoughts are running through our heads and hold them up to the Truth of God. Do they measure up? Are they making us more like God or more like the world around us? Are they wholesome? Are they helpful? Do they accurately represent Jesus? If not, we must scour God’s word for direction on our strongholds. Personally, I struggle with a critical spirit and critical thoughts, so as I have started the re-wallpapering process, I have ripped down the old, judgmental thoughts and opinions (and let me tell you, removing old wallpaper is MESSY and SLOW), and replaced it with Truth like Ephesians 4:29 which says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up, according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” This is the wallpaper I must look at now, not the old false stuff that comes naturally.

I have copied these “reprogramming” words on note cards that I am trying to carry with me and review—when I am waiting at a stoplight, waiting at the orthodontist, waiting for my kids to come out of youth group—you get the idea. Then, I review, review, review and avoid, avoid, avoid; review my new “wallpaper” and avoid old habits, songs, magazines, friends, that make me yearn for my old ways.

I would compare the process of re-wallpapering to learning a new language—first it is hard and confusing and tedious, but eventually things start to fall into place and you start understanding how to properly communicate. This new language becomes easier, but it is still never as natural as your native tongue.

We must make the deliberate choice to think like God. We must set our minds on things above. We must take captive every thought with the Divine Power God has placed within us.

Are you ready to start re-wallpapering?

Let’s remodel together, shall we?

"For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.”

2 Corinthians 10:3-5

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


If you know anything about Mohandas Gandhi, you may recall that he was a peace-filled, tranquil leader in India in the late 1920's through the 40's.What you may not know is that Gandhi was fascinated with the simple spinning wheel.

The wheel, for Gandhi, seemed to symbolize his need to "center" himself--his need to withdraw from public exposure and the limelight. The simple act of returning from his day to his humble dwelling, sitting Indian fashion on the floor, and spinning the wool from which his clothes were made brought proper gravity and peace to his world. The spinning wheel, it seems, restored Gandhi to his proper sense of proportion in his world. At the spinning wheel, the prince became the pauper and royalty became the common man. Pride deflated and peace increased. "The spinning wheel was always a reminder to Gandhi of who he was and what the practical things in life were all about. In engaging in this regular exercise, he was resisting all the forces of his public world that tried to distort who he knew himself to be." (from Ordering Your Private World by Gordon MacDonald).

Though Gandhi was by no means a Christian, he was on to something with his spinning wheel. Here is what I think he got right: We need to spend time doing some meaningful activity that brings us back to our humble origins--an activity that makes us think rightly about ourselves and our lives. For me, that activity is spending time with God in His Word. If I spend too much time away from His Word and too little time sitting at His feet, I become unbalanced and uncentered. I fall prey to my own pride and to the false promises of security in this world. These little distractions, these slight diversions, these momentary pleasures become the seductions that capture my soul--the soul that belongs to God. And I become uncentered. And like Gandhi, I need to return to my "spinning wheel" of scripture to restore balance to my life.

I wasn't made for this world and nothing in this world will satisfy me fully. I was made for God. I have given my life to Him. And to return myself to my proper un-inflated proportion, I must center myself by focusing on His Word. Only in doing this will I be able to see I'm really not "all that!" but that my Lord is EVERYTHING!

"For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others."

Romans 12:3-5

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I read Hosea today, and this passage made me weep.

This is the story of the prodigal Israel, the forgetful Ephraim, and myself...when I choose my own course. God help me to run into Your arms--not away.

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

“Daddy, how much do you love me? Tell me one more time. I want to stay with you for always and forever. You said you’d never leave me right?"

Come to me my beloved son…

But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me.

“Ok. Ok. Yeah, I get it--you love me. But you know, I’m not a kid anymore and I need a little space-- away from you and away from your rules. Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

Israel, Israel , I am looking for you…I am longing for you…

They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images.

"Stop pursuing me! Can you hear me? I must get ahead in this world! I will be successful! People will know my name! My time and energy are all spent. I have none left for you. Stop with the 'love’ stuff, OK?"

Why do you give your love and devotion to another, my son? I am all you need. I love you fully.

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them.

“Enough with this sentimental garbage! So you taught me to walk. What else have you ever done for me? I have gotten where I am by my own hard work! I am the master of my own destiny!"

I was so proud of you when you took your first steps. You walked right to me. I wish you had never walked away…

I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love;

"I keep hearing your voice…and frankly, it’s starting to irritate me. I don’t want your blessings! I don’t want your forgiveness! And most of all, I don’t want your love! I don’t need you."

I will never leave you or forsake you. You are precious to me. I have redeemed you. I have called you by name. You are my child. My love for you is endless.

I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.

"Your law is so heavy. Do you really expect me to obey it? It is oppressive! You are oppressive! What did you say? No! I don’t want your help! Do you think I am weak? I don’t want—no, I don’t need-- your food. It makes me feel sick to my stomach."

My law was given to show you how much you need ME. I do expect obedience, but not on your own, my child. Not on your own. I desire to help you, beloved. I want to lift your burden. See, I bend down to you—to your level. I leave my throne and come to you. I want to feed you Wholeness and Truth and Beauty. I want to give you Joy—My Joy. I want to share it with you. And, remember, I will always love you.

Based on Hosea 11:1-4

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Close to His Heart

“See, the Sovereign LORD comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him.
He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.”

Isaiah 40:10-11

As we study the book of Isaiah in church this summer, my eyes have been opened wide to the powerful, amazing, and just God that I serve. It is my heart, however, that has been blown away by His LOVE.

Isaiah, in a nutshell, is a book of judgment and of hope-- judgment of the Israelites for refusing to be the kind of people God created them to be, and hope for the same from their rejected, but still compassionate, Father. Isaiah prophesies in detail what exile and captivity will be like for Judah, but he does not leave them hopeless. God, speaking through Isaiah, also speaks here about their promised salvation—both from the Assyrians and, ultimately, from Satan. I think God figures that if they can see what is to come, they will be able to persevere through the awful stuff that is staring them in the face --kind of like when I run a race and I get really tired, but I keep on going because I know the finish line is right around the corner.

Anyway, as Jeff preached last night, this compassionate side of God became very real in my mind. God starts out Isaiah 40 by saying,

“Comfort, comfort my people…speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for, that she has received from the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.”

Remember that God is talking to the Israelites here—the ones running fast away from Him into the arms of other suitors; the ones fashioning gold, silver, even wood, into idolatrous gods; the ones forgetting the Father who taught them how to walk. God continues to love his chosen ones and want comfort for them when they have chosen to separate themselves from Him. Amazing!

Not only does God comfort his people, He continually fights for them. Jeff explained the verse at the top of this post in this way: With one arm, because He is supremely powerful, He fights off the enemy and destroys those who hurt His children, but at the same time, with the other arm, He gathers His lambs and carries them close to His heart. One arm fighting, one arm gathering—simultaneously serving justice and showing mercy—simultaneously judging and loving. What a picture of my God!

It makes me cry to think of Him like this—carrying me next to His heart. Like the kicking and screaming Israelites, I stiffen and shriek and try to run, yet He leans down to gather me to His heart. He fights off my enemies because He loves me—not because I deserve it. He treats me with gentleness because I am His child. He loves me because He can do no other.

Just Ruler
Powerful Warrior
Tender Shepherd
My Father
My God
My Comforter
My Life.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12: 1-2

Friday, June 18, 2010

Bubble Up

As I was running this morning, sorting through my thoughts and immersed in my ipod accompaniment, I heard the song "JOY " by the group Mary Mary. These are the words that spoke to my mind:

I get joy, joy thinking about
What He's done for me
I get joy, joy thinking about
What He's done for me
It's in my hands, my feet
I'm talking about
What He's done for me
I get joy just thinking about
What He's done for me

And I thought, "Do I get joy just thinking about what He's done for me?"

The real answer to that question is "No".

Why not? Why do I not get joy when I remember all that Christ has done for me? Why do I not get joy when I recognize all that I was saved from? Why do I not get joy when I realize what I am apart from Him? I do not get joy because I am not focused on Him; I am focused on me.

When my problems and my pride make me think my life is too difficult and unfair, and when I choose to focus on my feelings and my rights...then the joy drains out.

When my circumstances determine what attitude I will carry and what kind of day I will have, and when people interrupt my neatly planned schedule of accomplishing much...then the joy drains out.

When I am too busy to "center myself" by sitting with God, talking with Him and letting Him teach me through His Word, and when things become confusing because I haven't put Him first...then the joy drains out.

I want my joy to be overflowing. I don't want my joy to drain out. I want to be Christ-centered, not Tori-centered. I want to be all about Him, not all about me. I want to bubble up with good feelings every time I think about the freedom Christ has given me...about the sweetness He shows me...about the renewed mind I'm thinking with...about the things He has forgiven me of. I can do this by reminding myself everyday--reminding myself who I am and Who He is to me.
He is my Savior and my Lord. He is my JOY.
It makes me happy just thinkin' about it!

"Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Colossians 3:1-3

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Jars of Treasure

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."

2 Corinthians 4:7

Isn't this just the coolest verse? I am so clunky and clumsy and wrong, but God is so beautiful, grace-full, and right. Anything good that shines through this "jar" is most certainly all God, and therefore all glorious. Praise the Lord!

You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
You make everything glorious
And I am Yours
What does that make me?

from the song "Everything Glorious" by the David Crowder Band

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

In Christ Alone

I have been going through the Beth Moore Bible Study, "Breaking Free" with a friend this spring. We have been talking often about our job as Christ-followers to empty ourselves of "us." When we empty ourselves of "us" and fill our spirits with Jesus, we actually become the person that God really wants us to be. Sound confusing? It is a little, but let me make it more clear for you by sharing with you an email I received from Jenn.

I met Jenn late last spring just before she gave birth to her third child. A few weeks previous to our meeting, Jenn's husband, Billy, who many thought was a believer, decided to rebel against God's authority over his life. Billy had met another woman when he was away for a 5 week military assignment and he called Jenn during that time to inform her that he would not be coming home, but would be leaving her and their two (almost three) preschool-aged children. Needless to say, Jenn was shocked and life has permantly changed for her family. Billy obtained a quick divorce and married his mistress and now plans to move to another state to be with her.

Given the above history, anyone sane would say that Jenn had every right in the world to be bitter. She was the one wronged. She was the one left holding the bag...and the baby...and the house payment. She lost. Billy won. Right? Wrong.

As Christ followers, we have agreed to become "living sacrifices" unto God. Being a "sacrifice" means giving up. Yourself. Emptying you of you. Having no rights anymore. When we become living sacrifices, we become holy and pleasing to God--and it is only then--after we give ourselves to His service--that He can fully fill us up with His Holy Spirit. In doing this we are the true winners. This is SO hard to remember when we are the one who is wronged. It is even harder to put into practice...but it can be done. Which brings me back to Jenn. Jenn has emptied herself of Jenn. Jenn has filled herself with Christ. How else could she write the following email?

I may be meeting Billy’s new wife, Sara, tomorrow in the late afternoon. He’s moving to Ohio to live with Sara after he drops off Lily and Lucas to my home. My prayer is that every piece of me that has ugliness toward those two would be permanently erased, and that I can show Sara the love of Christ. I know it doesn’t mean being her best friend or condoning what has happened. But to be conformed to Christ means to show her love despite what she has done to me and my children. I know that through the power of Christ, one life could be changed forever for the kingdom of God. This is not about me. This is about an opportunity to save, renew or influence a soul. And if nothing else, I’ll have examined my own heart and allowed God to cleanse it, and my children may have a moment that will remain with them for life, seeing that God can take away bitterness and produce love beyond what a human being is capable of. They can look back and remember and example of the power of God at work.

I thank you all for your prayers during the past year. I now covet your prayers for Billy’s and Sara’s hearts to be softened, and for my heart to be transformed yet again. The moment his car pulls into the driveway begin a critical moment in time. I am willing to surrender all of myself…but there is still ugliness in my heart that needs to be removed. “Lead me to the cross, where Your love poured out. Bring me to my knees, Lord I lay me down. Rid me of myself, I belong to You. Oh lead me, lead me to the cross.”

For God’s glory!


Only through Christ can Jenn have Love this perfect. Only through Christ can Jenn think this clearly when she is hurting. Only through Christ can Jenn's feelings of hate be transformed into such Mercy. Only through Christ can Jenn ask for blessing on her enemies rather than revenge. Only through Christ is Jenn made more like the self God designed her to be.

In Christ, there is freedom, not bondage. In Christ, there is hope, not desperation. In Christ, their is clarity not confusion. In Christ there is wholeness for our broken, bandaged souls.

I was so struck by Jenn's authenticity, and brokeness and Strength in her weakness. Christ is being so clearly reflected in her life, and her love, and now...her legacy.

Thank you Jenn.
Thank you God.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ I stand

"In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling."
Exodus 15:13

Sunday, June 6, 2010

He's Got You Covered

Well, things are looking up and Brent is home from the hopital--where they keep you up all night in their attempt to heal you--and I am exhausted from all the scariness of last week. Today, I just layed on the futon in the porch for the better part of the afternoon and finished the book , Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. In the chapter called Taking A Stand, they speak of Martin Luther:

"It wasn't Martin Luther's first stand when he nailed Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. He had learned to trust God with his life long before he was summoned before the Holy Roman Emperor and given the choice to either recant or be branded a heretic and thrown outside the protection of the law. There, before the most powerful men of his day, he said,
"Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God."
"The God Luther prayed to had been faithful many times before. And whether Luther would lose his life or keep it, he knew that his God would be faithful again."

Oh what faith Luther had! I want to be able to stand in this glittery world, with all of its charms, where I am not popular, but peculiar, and say "Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God." I want to trust my Father so fully that my soul relaxes in His presence. As the Psalmist says in Psalm 132:2,

But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

A weaned child is old enough to understand that she can trust her mother. She doesn't need to clamor and fuss when she is hungry or uncomfortable. She only needs to wait, and hold her mother's hand. She has spent so much time in her mother's presence that she knows that her mother will always protect her and do what is best for her. Her mother would never hurt her. A weaned child knows this about her mother and so her childish, trusting soul can relax in the presence of her authority. She doesn't have to worry--only trust.

I want to relax in God's authority. I want to be able to take a stand when I know that I should for the simple reason that it is right in God's eyes. I don't want to care about man's judgements of me. I want to be so dependent on my Father, so trusting of Him, that I can do no other than stand for Him. As Troy said in the service on Saturday night, "Relax, be quiet, and trust in God. If you are walking with Him, He's got you covered."

He's got you covered. Do you believe that? Do I believe that? Does my life reflect that I am a weaned child? Am I willing to take a stand in this deceptive world?

I am.
I can do no other.
So help me God.

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."
Mark 8:34-35

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Therefore We Will Not Fear

"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me." John 14:1

I read John 14 late last week and for some reason, God kept bringing this verse into my head. I said, "OK, God, I don't think that my heart is troubled, but I will remember that." But for the rest of the week it haunted me. I couldn't get it out of my mind.

I thought maybe God didn't want me to be nervous about Luke's upcoming Man Trip to hike in the Colorado mountains, so I told God that Luke was His, and I really have had much peace about the trip. I decided to trust since Jesus said I should.

Then I thought maybe I wasn't supposed to worry when my kids got sick with a strange never-ending virus. I decided He loved them more than I did and that He was the Great Physician.

But, finally, I thought, "Now I understand" when my Mom and Dad brought a flustered Cole home from a little outing and they told me he had collapsed (He's OK now, but we still don't know why he fainted). For crying out loud, he's a 12 year old boy--little boys don't pass out!!! This time, I REALLY wanted to worry and think about all the uneasy possibilities in my mind, but Jesus commanded me, "Do not let your hearts be troubled." It was a choice I had to make to be obedient--to be "all in" for Him. I made it and decided to let God decide the future.

Today, though, I've decided that the real reason God kept bringing that verse to mind was to show me that I wasn't really trusting Him with EVERYTHING. Today I took a very sick Brent into the Emergency Room at 4:30 a.m. He was burning with fever, shaking uncontrollably, and vomiting all the way to the hospital. And I didn't know what was wrong with him. I was so scared and my heart was truly troubled. I was allowing the building anxiousness to trouble my heart and I didn't know how to take control of the panic --the panic I had so logically set aside in my previous few challenges. How could I trust God with this rock of a man, my leader, my love? How could I give up control and let him get sicker?!! I had to do something, so I rushed him to the doctor--and that was a good decision--but I was determined that he would get well right away. The doctor would treat him and we would head home before the kids went to school. Everything would be fine.

But it wasn't. Brent was in pain. Brent's fever was climbing. Brent had pneumonia! Brent had to be admitted to the hospital, and he's still there now. It's scary for me to have my stability removed from me.

As I sat on a bench outside the hospital tonight, waiting for the valet to retrieve my car, I felt very alone. And then the verse came bounding into my head, "Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me." I felt alone because I didn't trust that God could take care of this situation. I really didn't believe He had things under control. But, He does you know.

So...I have decided to not let my heart be troubled. I have decided to do what Jesus said and trust in Him and trust in His Father. After all, why shouldn't I? I have seen how he has carried me in the past. Why shouldn't I trust He will do the same with me in the future? Even the uncertain future. I don't want to be like the forgetful, ungrateful Israelites who, within one generation, forgot that God parted the sea for them. Oswald Chambers speaks Truth when he says "God will cause us to 'dwell in prosperity,' keeping us at ease, even in the midst of tribulation, misunderstanding, and slander, if our 'life is hidden with Christ in God.' We rob ourselves of the miraculous, revealed truth of this abiding companionship with God."

"For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God."

Colossians 3:3

"God is our refuge and strength, and ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging."

Psalm 46:10

Today I committed to make God my REFUGE, my STRENGTH and my HELP--not just sometimes, but all times. Let's trust Him together.

Do not let your hearts be troubled.