If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything – it’s the extremely valuable lesson that NOTHING, NOTHING is secure in this physical world.
C-19 has brought us face-to-face with what we value most. It has shown us where we have put our trust. It may be teaching us what we have taken for granted in this life.
We are more quietly reflective about our purpose on this earth. We have a deeper awareness that there is so much in life that we cannot control. We are sobered to realize that our jobs, our lifestyles, our plans, even those people we love most dearly may be stripped away from us in a split second. We feel small, powerless, and weak.
C-19 has reminded us of the frailty of life and the futility of our earthly pursuits. As the world has pressed the pause button, our lives have trembled and been shaken to an abrupt halt. As the dust settles, we find ourselves looking into the sieve to see what precious little remains that is of true and lasting value.
We feel so vulnerable. Yet, when our soul is quieted, our hearts are better prepared to listen for God perhaps like never before. Could this be a silver lining?
We "listen" to God in so many ways, but one of the best ways to better understand the Creator of this universe, His ways and character are through the longest love letter ever recorded in the history of humankind: the Holy Bible.
I would like to invite you today to discover God's perspective about C-19. Bible study has taken many turns in my life. There's no single "right" way. Maybe it's been a while since you cracked your Bible open or perhaps you've never read one single verse. Over the years, I have discovered a simple 3-step process to recharge my desire to seek God and His Word.
Tune in to Episode 16 of the Choose 2 Think podcast for 3 simple and practical tips to get you going today. You may discover that when you place all your apples in God's cart, there is absolutely nothing to fear. You can learn to think and process life in a way that chases away discouragement, distress, anxiety, and depression.
Click the link below to listen or visit your preferred podcast host, like Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or Castbox. I even load the audio to YouTube just in case you prefer that platform. Be sure to subscribe to this weekly show. wherever you listen.
If you find yourself encouraged or inspired by what you hear, please pass the link on to another friend who may be struggling.
What better time to rise up in your faith?
So many things of this life can really weigh us down. It might be our fears, worries, and a gazillion anxieties and cares that are such heavy burdens we may be bearing. Thank goodness, there is a better way!
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
What does this verse mean? I think it means that we can be yoked to the things of this world OR we can choose to be yoked to Christ. Draft cattle wore yokes when plowing. We, too, can wear "yokes" when we are working and doing life. If we are not careful, however, we may choose to yoke ourselves alone (we will lose balance) or we may choose to yoke ourselves to other burdens or bondage objects like toxic thinking, addictions, perfectionism, performance mentalities, legalism, or our own identity of who the world says we should be - which will all bring us down.
Yokes provide ease when worn appropriately and fitted nicely as designed. Yokes also create a "draft" where we are drawn in the right, proper direction when walking with Christ.
For me, I was yoked in my life to the worldly idea that I could do life by myself with an "I got this, God" kind of mentality. I have also been yoked to toxic thinking, totally discounting that I have the mind of Christ.
In all scenarios, it is never too late to take off the yoke that binds, that is heavy, and that makes our lives miserable and extremely difficulty to "do." If you are weary (and you know if that is you!) there is a different way that can actually energize and empower you in new and exciting ways!
You can take up Christ's easy and light yoke, following Him as He leads the way. Then as you work and do life, you actually will find the REST FOR YOUR SOUL (your mind and emotions) that no other yoke could ever offer much less provide! God bless you on your journey!
I am so grateful that Jesus gave us this image of a yoke to remind us that there is a better way with Him! SIDE NOTE: The yoke in my video actually weighs 27 pounds! Rico comes in at 4.5. :)
Picture this: An intensely lit, blindingly white room with one open door in the back that leads to all things pitch black.
Then picture a bucolic, stunningly beautiful vineyard with sloping hills, a rising sun, vivid color contrasts of blues, greens, yellows, fresh air.
You have a choice: You can walk through the door into the darkness OR you can reside in the vineyard.
Which would you choose?
As we conclude our reflections on imagination, we have learned that in life we can train ourselves to deal positively with dashed hopes and expectations and that we can willfully resist the temptation to allow our imaginations to run wild when we feel jealous or afraid. We actually have the ability to control our thoughts, but we must consistently and repeatedly practice doing so.
In other words, we are determined to use our imagination FOR us, not AGAINST us.
Every single day, I face my own mental battles and the option to walk through the door into the darkness or to remain in the light, and I'm sure you do, too.
Sometimes I'm challenged by a sad or distressing memory or regret; sometimes I wrestle with a comment someone said to me; I'm feeling disappointed in myself or others; and other times, I'm my own worst enemy and discouragement overwhelms me.
In all scenarios, I have learned to tell myself: "Stop. I am not going to walk through that door into darkness where there is no good benefit for me or others. I choose life, health, wholeness, and peace. I play for God's team. In His vineyard there is no lack of any good thing. There I find security, forgiveness, blessings, freedom, rest, strength, and hope. I am His child, an heir. I have His Spirit inside me and the mind of Christ to help me find and practice Truth."
This self-talk is the discipline of using "Truth Trump Cards" to control my thoughts which influence my brain and consequently direct my mood and behavior. This is how I reorient myself to continue to walk in God's love.
Often, as previously discussed, at the root of darkened imaginings is fear.
Both Love and fear are powerful motivators, but Love is stronger and more deeply influential.
The Apostle and Evangelist John wrote this so beautifully in his letter to the Christians (in Ephesus it seems): "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love" (1 John 4:18).
I don't know about you, but I want to be perfected in love (to have completion and fullness, maturity, to be characterized by consummate human integrity and virtue). This is really hard to do without having first received God's love.
In other words, when we have God's love in our hearts, we have the Supreme and Divine Advantage. In our mental storehouse are innumerable Truth Trump Cards that we can quickly cast over our toxic, fruitless thinking.
We are better equipped to wage war in the battlefield of our minds. We are offered victory through Christ who defeated any and all darkness that we could possibly ever imagine. We are offered a nice place to do life in God's vineyard.
If this sounds hokey to you, I am truly sorry. There was a day when I also would have thought this was weird, foreign, and absurd. But I was spiritually blind, and spiritually blind people cannot see the Truth until the scales fall from their eyes.
For me, I found myself in that dark room, chased by the Hound of Heaven and ultimately rescued by the Author of Love.
Hmmmm....speaking of hound dogs, Rico says hello. He wonders why you are not subscribing to our aGH monthly newsletter! I mean who doesn't want to enter a drawing for a free book and $25 gift card coming your way?! Plus we will send you a GRATITUDE WHEEL to download, print, and personalize! Just click on the aGH Newsletter tab to enter your email address and name. And I promise I won't misuse this information! :)
Until next time, I'm so grateful that God allows us the choice on how we use our imaginations. May He abundantly bless you and encourage you today!
It's nearly 2 am and our loved one has not made it home as planned. We call. No answer. We text. No response. We wait. Now it's 2:03. We call. No answer. We text. No response.
Our adrenaline increases and our body begins to respond to our imagined fears. We picture a gazillion scenarios in our heads. A wreck. A kidnapping. Drinking and drugs. We may even feel a bit of anger and disrespect sprinkled into the mix, especially if this has happened before or repeatedly.
Or maybe for you, your mind has been conditioned to respond negatively every single time you hear the phone ring because once that ringing brought horrific and devastating news. Just the sound of the phone especially at an odd hour makes your heart race and your mind run on overdrive.
Or perhaps you keep a keen eye on the weather channel and you become positively swept away mentally by the chance of a tornado, hurricane hit, severe and strong wind alerts, negative and freezing temperatures. You brace yourself in a frenzy of reeling thoughts and emotions.
Or say you live in a country threatened daily by bomb raids. Maybe your ministry is based in an anti-Christian area. Perhaps your job comes with tremendous risk and potential for bodily injury.
Maybe you fear flying. And what's with all the crashes of late?
I think you get the picture.
From the possible death of loved ones and fatal accidents to pending or probable sticky issues like threatened job loss and family separation, if we are not careful, we use our imagination to fuel the flame of fear instead of extinguish it. Our thoughts and minds become a toxic, chaotic soup, and we disconnect from the Truth. This leaves us vulnerable and emotionally unprotected.
Fear is a familiar, pervasive root for many individuals, and it's no wonder that "take courage" and "do not fear" are such common admonitions in the Bible. As a society we enjoy identifying and naming our fears which essentially and unwittingly may give them a life and power suit of their own. There is, after all, a phobia for practically everything. Truly, some fears are debilitating and positively crippling for certain individuals.
Some of us choose to use our imaginations to expand and perpetuate the fear which destroys our peace and robs our joy. When we allow imagined fears to take center stage in our minds, we miss out on the opportunity to stay grounded in the Truth. The point here is not what the fear is but rather how to overcome it. Some of us have much work to do in this arena.
The good news is, however, that we have a choice in the matter. This means there is hope for change. Just as we can choose to engage our imagination in negative, harmful ways, we can also lock our imagination into gear in positive, healthy ways. We can train our minds to shake off fear when it comes creeping up our back with an aim to cover our heads, close our ears, and blind us.
Let me give you a personal example of how this works.
I used to have a slight fear of crossing bridges. I think it may have started several years ago after I had a toxic dream in which I had all four of my young kids in the van, buckled under seat belts and fastened into car seats. As we were crossing the bridge, it suddenly collapsed and sent my van nose-diving into the water. It was a horrific, traumatic nightmare to say the least, and from that imagined experience I developed a negative association and conditioned response when crossing bridges.
Thankfully, I can tell you that I have trained my mind to recognize and arrest the fear when it comes calling. At first, however, I felt powerless. I willfully replayed all of the imagery and sounds and frantic desperation of my nightmare. I rehearsed and rehearsed what happened in my dream which in turn affected my actual reality. Each time I so much as approached a bridge when driving, I felt my heartbeat increase and I imagined the bridge collapsing as I was crossing. I found myself speeding up to cross as quickly as possible.
Now, I am happy to report, I use Truth to trump whatever fears erupt in my thoughts and mind and are channeled into my brain. As I approach the "bridges" of my life, I remind myself that my loved ones belong to God. They are His. He is enough for them just like He is enough for me. I recognize that although I do not want to lose those I love, each individual is appointed a day to pass from this world. I pray daily for protection in body and mind and spirit for all my loved ones. I pray that God's purpose for each one of us be realized and brought to full fruition in our sojourn here on earth.
I remind myself that although God's providential will allows for many horrible atrocities and tragedies on this earth, that we are never alone if ever we are pressed to walk through the flame. I also recognize my fear and ask Him to rewire my brain to rest in His strength. He did give us Christians the mind of Christ. Shouldn't this come in to play here?
Then, believe it or not, I push myself toward gratitude.
I thank God for each "bridge" He has given me because it creates an opportunity for me to choose. I thank God that I can use my imagination to turn my eyes toward God, take His hand, and make it to the other side. Every internal and external conflict we face offers us an opportunity to glorify our Creator or not. When we choose "life," we find life. When we choose "death," we find it.
I am grateful that "bridges" remind me to live in the NOW moments of my life. An interesting thing happens when I start thanking God....the fear loses momentum and power. I've redirected my mind to God, His will, His ways, His truth. I am thankful that "bridges" can lead me to a closer walk with my Creator. The more I rehearse the Truth, the more I believe it.
What is your biggest fear? How do you cope? What Truth trump cards do you use to strengthen you and give you courage? I would love it if you would leave a comment below! Let's talk about it!
Also, next blog post will wrap up the topic of our imagination.
Say, have you subscribed to my monthly newsletter yet? I have a great offer going if you do: your name will go into a drawing for a $25 Amazon card, a free book, plus I will email you a GRATITUDE WHEEL for you to download and personalize! Offer ends soon! Please tell your friends!!!
Finally, a disclaimer: Obviously, I am no trained psychologist or counselor. I recognize that some of us might benefit from talking through our fears with a professional. For me personally, the practices of capturing the lies in my head and mind and not giving way to negative imagination have brought me deep healing and restored hope in my Christian walk. And I want that for you, too!
Therefore as you have received
Most of us aren't drawn into discussions about jealousy as it's a bit of a touchy topic for some reason. But if you are like I am, you've wrestled with it, and you may desire to conquer that green-eyed monster as it rises in your mind and heart--once and for all.
What causes jealousy inside us? It could be stemming from a lack of self-confidence or a poor self-image. At root could also be a fear of rejection, abandonment and displacement. We may feel unwanted, not needed, or worthless. We may be riddled with loneliness, insecurity and distrust. We may find ourselves entangled in a distorted or twisted mindset as we believe lies about ourselves or others. We may not understand true, unconditional love as we focus on ourselves and attempt to control, manipulate, or "possess" others as a means to somehow make them love us.
So what does our imagination have to do with jealousy? Well, in essence, jealousy is aroused when we give way in our thoughts to suspicions and speculations. We willfully engage in an otherwise morbid curiosity and fantasy in a chamber of images, also known as a "room of idols or carved images" (from Eze. 8:12).
In other words, we allow the "imaginations of [our] hearts to run riot" (Psalm 73:7). We may choose to "walk in the way which is not good, following [our] own thoughts" (Isa. 65:2).
Here is an example that I used when we started our discussion on our imagination a couple of blog posts ago: A colleague is flirting with your spouse at an office party, and your spouse seems to be enjoying the attention. Or here's another scenario: your mate seems a bit overly attentive to their cell phone these days and you start wondering why.
In a split second, your thoughts shift to overdrive. You begin to imagine your mate is cheating on you, is unfaithful, is wandering away. You know their attention is going to someone else, better, younger, smarter, funnier, and more positive and energetic. Then, you feel taken advantage of--especially after all you have sacrificed and given to your mate over the years. You are convinced that your mate no longer loves you or cares for you. You know you are losing their affection and love. Your mate can relate better to this new person than they can to you.
You picture your mate with this individual, laughing, having coffee together, exchanging gifts, sharing in the sacredness that belongs only to the two of you. How dare they! Your fears are now mounting to a fever pitch of unbridled anger and resentment. The roar in your head is deafening. You knew you would be abandoned in this way. You suspected your mate would reject you. You, after all, are unwanted, unlovable, and will always be alone. You don't have what it takes to keep your mate.
Talk about a chamber of images.
Whoosh. Where is Rico when we need him? Oh yeah, he's trying to nap, of course!
Seriously though. Do you see what happened? This individual used the power of their imagination in a destructive way and was lured off the rational, responsive road onto a path of speculations, assumptions, and internal reactions to vain imaginings. Sadly, this type of toxic thinking can even lead to violence and abuse. The one caught in the web of toxic fantasies may lose clarity of thought and may say or do things they really don't want to say or do.
God gave us our minds. He tells us to capture our thoughts and vet them on the altar of His Truth. When we don't (no matter the scenario), it is a set-up for discomfort and dis-contentedness.
Goodness, I'm all for healthy boundaries in our relationships, but if you recognize that you are prone to giving way to your toxic thoughts and concluding inaccuracies about yourself and others, it might be time for you to address this issue of jealousy. Often, if left unattended, the results of engaging our imagination is such a harmful way may lead to shame and destruction of self and others and possibly of the very relationships we value so much.
The overarching root is fear, and truly neither you nor I were designed to operate out of fear. The jealous person often does not feel really valued and loved by God in the first place. Sadly, they have forgotten who they are in Christ.
There is a better way, but we must commit to changing.
May we all have the strength and clarity of thought and mind to reject the lies that pop up and dance across the stage of our minds. Instead may we turn to Truth and choose life, light, and forgiveness.
May our stronghold only be the Lord. May we choose to believe what God says about us--really, really believe it. He is our Anchor to help us reorient our minds, to settle us down, and bring us to our knees before Him. He is faithful in His methods, and He will teach us and guide us with every thought along the way if we partner with Him.
I am so grateful that God invites us to do life His way.
We are destroying speculations and
All content © Victoria D. Walker, 2013-2020.
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