Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Beyond Reason

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 10 of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to leave a comment, question and/or scripture below this post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind and do not rely on your own insight or understanding. -Proverbs 3:5

For as long as I can remember, I have had to fight the urge to over-think things. I still do. Perfectionism, fear of the unknown or of the cost to me personally can overpower the good that God wants me to do if I let myself reason too much. It can also make decision-making much more difficult than it needs to be.

This chapter talks about a confused mind. The bible warns of the dangers of being of two minds in James 1:5-8. When we go back and forth, again and again on an issue or decision, it can rob us of our focus, energy and peace. (I know from experience) This is also why God doesn't want us to worry, but to trust Him completely.

As Joyce teaches us, the battlefield is our mind, and this is where the devil attacks us. God speaks to us in our spirit. Confusion and over-reasoning can lead to the mind overriding what God wants to reveal in our spirit. It is important to understand that we need both, and both ideally work together. Joyce makes this point really well on page 100:

The mind and the spirit do work together, but the spirit is the more noble organ and should always be honored above the mind.

We are to let God lead in the spirit and then follow in obedience with the mind. This doesn't mean acting on whims all the time and not using your mind to think things through. It means that we learn to listen to what God says (both in His word and in our spirit) above all else. God can work things out on our behalf in ways that we can't even imagine. He is not limited to what we can conceive of in our minds, His power and reach are truly beyond anything we could dare to dream. He knows everything that will happen as well as everything that could potentially happen.

We have all heard the expression that "knowledge is power". When you feel helpless and your child is in such great need, it is natural to seek out knowledge that will help. I have spent more hours than I can count researching and comparing various supplements, therapies and approaches that may help my son. It is important to be well-informed, but to stay balanced by not overdoing it. I have found when I overdo the research and reasoning, I end up feeling overwhelmed and confused.

When we trust God, we experience peace and rest in our minds. When our mind is at rest, we can hear from God and be led by the spirit. Only then can we have discernment about whatever we need to decide on. Joyce shares with us that this took getting used to at first. She was so used to her mind being full of reasoning, that peace actually felt "boring". Over time, and after seeing the fruit of peace in her life, she has come to treasure and protect her peace. I have found that my best decisions have come from a place of peace. I am learning to only do that which I have peace over. (this is so hard sometimes!) It does sometimes involve staying where you would rather not be until you have the right answer. (and not just trying something because you can't stand the waiting-like I said, I have experience with this.)

Dear Lord,
Thank you for hearing us whenever we pray to you. I am so grateful to serve a God that already has everything figured out, so that I don't have to. Thank you so much for always having our best interests at heart. I pray for all of the mothers that read this, that we all can experience your perfect peace. May our minds be at rest so that we can hear from you and have true discernment in every area of our lives. I pray that we trust in You fully and do not lean on our own understanding. When we are overwhelmed, confused or distraught over what we don't know, let us be comforted by the thought of knowing You, who is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-powerful. We give you all of the honor, glory and praise, and ask this in Jesus' name.

Bible verses:

As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. -Isaiah 55:9

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:6-7

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. -Romans 15:13

“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
-1 Corinthians 2:9

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Do You Have A Mind That Likes To Wonder or Maybe Wander?

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 9 of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to leave a comment, question and/or scripture below this post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

In Chapter 9, A Wandering, Wondering Mind, Joyce Meyer talks about the importance of gaining control of your mind so that it doesn't wander and so that you don't spend so much time wondering about things you shouldn't.

For me, a wandering mind describes my mind perfectly. Wondering isn't so much of an issue for me as a wandering mind. However, if you have a "wondering mind" I'd love to hear your thoughts on this as well!

What's sad is that my mind doesn't seem to wander during television shows, chitchatting with friends and family or when I check my email. For me, it's during prayer. My prayers at bedtime usually sound a little like this inside my mind...

Dear God, thank you so much for this day today. Thanks for keeping me and my family safe. I'm really needing some help right now with patience and understanding. Oh, I wonder what time we're leaving for the mall tomorrow. I really need to get my grocery list ready before I go. I can't believe that so and so forgot to call me back today. I wonder if I've made them mad. I think I want to go visit my sister soon. I haven't been up there for like 8 months......zzzzzzzzz

What I meant to pray for is my friend whose Grandma recently passed away. For my husband who is overwhelmed at work. For my children's safety. However, before I even started to pray for my friends and family, my mind started to wander. I didn't cover them in prayer like I meant to do. Joyce reminds us throughout chapter 9 about the following...

* An inability to concentrate indicates mental attack from the devil. (p. 87)

* The devil knows that a person cannot discipline himself to complete a project if he cannot discipline his mind and keep it on what he is doing. (p. 89)

* ...if the devil went through the trouble to attack me with a wandering mind, then perhaps something was being said that I needed to hear. (p. 89)

* The devil will give up when he sees that you are not going to give in. (p. 89)

I think about autism and realize how often my prayers aren't heard because of my wandering mind. I completely forget to pray over a new therapy I researched earlier in the day. I forget to give God my worries over my son's progress. It's pretty sad that we can go to God and ask, ask, ask then when it's time for us to listen, listen, listen our minds are not on track and not paying any bit of attention to what He's saying. We're too busy wandering!

In chapter 9, Joyce teaches us that we need to discipline our minds to stop wandering. How do we do this? When we pray, stay focused and make sure we're actually praying and not just saying the words. When we read the Bible, make sure we're comprehending God's word and not just reading the word. My favorite thing that she recommends that we do is to get a cd of your church's service so that you can hear it again and really let it sink in.

I decided to start something new that I'd like to share with you. I am a list maker. I get a lot of comfort out of making a to-do list for my day. There's something about crossing things off my list that makes me feel successful. Therefore, I made a "To Be Prayed Over" list. On this list are things and people I want to pray over, things I'm thankful for and things I need to give to God. Then, I pray over this list throughout the day. At the end of the day when I say my bedtime prayers, my mind will be so focused on what and who I need to pray for that my mind will not have time to wander. The best part is, I'll have prayed all day! Satan will have no room in my mind!

Now, I have to ask you...is your mind wandering? If so, take the time to read this chapter again. Really let God speak to you and tell you what He needs for you to hear. Stop your mind from wandering!

The following are the Bible verses that Joyce has throughout Chapter 9. I've listed them below in New Living Translation.

Bible Verses from Chapter 9

"So think clearly and exercise self-control..." - 1 Peter 1:13

"As you enter the house of God, keep your ears open and your mouth shut. It is evil to make mindless offerings to God." - Ecclesiastes 5:1

"I tell you the truth, you can say to the mountain, 'May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,' and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you've received it, it will be yours." - Mark 11:23-24

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Mind-Spirit Connection

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 8 of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to leave a comment, question and/or scripture in the comment section following the post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. -Ephesians 1: 17-19

What is normal? I now think of the expression that "Normal is just a setting on a washing machine." Most of the time I feel like my life is anything but normal because of the ways autism has changed it. Although I treasure my son and praise God for the good He brings out of this alternate situation, I do relish any experience we get to have as a family that resembles what is considered "normal". As we grow and heal, we learn to live in a "new normal" (which is often subject to change), pressing on towards what God has in store for us as mothers and our children with autism.

In this chapter, Joyce emphasizes that as believers, our mind and our spirit are to work together. This allows us to hear from God, be convicted in certain areas of our life that need changing, have His divine guidance and share God's message while we help build faith in others. In order for this to happen, we have to have a normal mind. If our mind is too busy, negative, worried, distracted or overwhelmed, the Holy Spirit can't get through to give us the revelation that we need from God. She describes a normal mind as one that is serene and calm, yet alert and focused.

We keep our mind in its best normal condition by renewing it in the presence of God, and by studying His word. The next step is to speak it out loud and meditate in our thoughts what the word of God says we should be thinking on, as Nicole pointed out from Chapter 7. We can then take this a step further in our prayer life. This is a very concrete and visible way that we can see the mind and spirit at work together.

What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. -1 Corinthians 14:15

Joyce shares about how this works in her own prayer life. By praying in the spirit, or praying in an unknown tongue, we are able to pray from our spirit directly to the Holy Spirit. She will often begin her prayer time by praying in the spirit, and then something will come to mind in her own tongue (English). If she doesn't feel the stirring of the spirit within her, she will begin by praying about what is in her mind, and continue until the Holy Spirit draws her attention to a specific area. It is important to have both the mind and spirit involved for balance. We know that we are praying as God wants us to in the spirit, but lack understanding of what God wants us to know if the spirit can't enlighten our mind.

I would like to share a portion of my own testimony in this area. In the early days of autism, as I was first dealing with a diagnosis, I leaned on my own understanding. I frantically researched and sought out intervention after intervention, thinking that the more I tried in the shortest time, the better my son's outcome would be. In addition to the pain of the loss, I was overwhelmed and frantic to find the answers that would recover my son. Reflecting this on what Joyce teaches us in this chapter, this was not a normal mind that could easily hear from God. However, in my great pain I reached out to God and He heard me. He graciously blessed me and gave me opportunities that I couldn't have gotten on my own. He set me on a path to help my son, heal my heart and help others, even when I didn't always have the right kind of peace in my mind.

I believe that Spectrum Spirit is not only to help other mothers but is a special gift of God to me personally, to help me grow in Him, love and serve Him better. Another important turning point was two years ago, when I brought my son to a spirit-filled prayer meeting to receive prayer. As I continued to attend this prayer group, I received my own experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit. I definitely relate to the way that Joyce explains this part of her prayer life. I am still young in this area and growing, but do feel as though I can talk to and hear from God with more certainty. This helps me to be more at peace and better allow God to lead me. After the spirit of God comes into you after becoming a believer, we can experience a release of the gifts and become full of the Holy Spirit. This can happen through personal prayer/meditation and also through the laying on of hands. The important thing is to have the Holy Spirit, in whatever way God wishes to give, and a peaceful, normal mind so that we can "open the eyes of our heart" and hear God's voice.

Dear Lord, Thank you for hearing us when we pray to you. Help us with your grace to trust in you fully, and set our minds at ease. Lift the burdens and cares of our daily responsibilities and free us from all worry about the future. Renew our minds and let our focus be on you. Fill us with your Holy Spirit and healing love. Open the eyes of our heart and lead us to true understanding, which can only be found in you. Show us the way in which to go and give us your joy to be our strength. We give you all glory, honor and praise for what you are doing in our lives and ask all of this in Jesus' most precious and holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lining Up Our Thoughts With God's Word

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 7 of Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this chapter as well. Feel free to leave a comment, question and/or scripture in the comment section following the post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things. Phillipians 4:8

"Consider carefully what you hear," he continued "with the measure you use, it will be measured to you-even more." Mark 4:24

The following are the points that Joyce Meyer made in Chapter 7 that had the most impact on me....

- The Word of God teaches us what we should spend our time thinking about. (p. 63)
- It is very beneficial to think about God's Word. The more time a person spends meditating on the Word, the more he will reap from the Word. (p. 63)
- ....we will get from the Word what we put into it. (p. 63)
- The flesh is basically lazy, and many people want to get something for nothing (with no effort on their part); however, that really is not the way it works. I will say it again, a person will get out of the Word what he is willing to put into it. (p. 64)
- How much time do you spend thinking about the Word of God? If you are having problems in any area of your life, an honest answer to this question may disclose the reason why. (p 65)
- Your mind plays an important role in your victory. (p. 67)
- By this process of new thinking we will be changed or transformed into what God intends us to be. (p. 67)

This next point just really hit home for me. It has changed me dramatically. I'm excited for the doors it's going to open for me.

- Many people will be in heaven because they truly accepted Jesus as their Savior, but many of these same people will never have walked in victory or enjoyed the good plan God had for their lives because they did not get their mind renewed according to His Word. (p. 68)

Think about how much time we truly spend in His Word. Studying it. Memorizing it. Truly knowing Him. I can honestly tell I do not spend any where near the amount of time that I need to right now. I sit hear and wonder why God hasn't answered me or shown me what I should do next for my son. Well, He's right there waiting patiently for me to dive into His Word. Truly knowing His Word is going to change my thinking. There won't be room for confusion, worry or doubt when I'm constantly learning about His love, giving and hope. However, for me to truly change my thinking, I need to get out all of the clutter. I need to shut of the television and study my Bible. I need to turn off my Black Eyed Peas music and turn on some Toby Mac, Mercy Me or Creed. It's all about what we put into our minds as to what thoughts are then produced. If we have nothing but good going in, our positive thinking will come out on top. I'm not saying that we should only watch Christian shows and listen to Christian music. I love some of today's new music. However, I think it's important that in today's negative society we pour alot more of the "positives" in our minds. Doing all of this will help keep us on track to lining up our thoughts with what God has written in his Word.

You see, God can't do the work He needs to do in our lives if we don't know Him. The best way to know God is through His Word. The more we know His Word, the more we can't help but be positive thinkers and look forward to everything in life. And the easier His Will can be done in our lives and in this world. By lining up our thoughts with God's Word, we will then have a much easier time figuring out which thoughts are from Satan, which are just pure nonsense and which thoughts are the good ones. Look at page 69 in Chapter 7. Joyce writes "Thinking about what you're thinking about is very valuable because Satan usually deceives people into thinking that the source of their misery or trouble is something other than what it really is. He wants them to think they are unhappy due to what is going on around them (their circumstances), but the misery is actually due to what is going on inside them (their thoughts.)" Truly knowing and "getting" God's Word makes this process so much easier.

So, I ask you, like Joyce did...what do you spend a majority of your time thinking about? Instead of thinking so much, pick up His Word and see what He can bring to the table. I'll bet you anything it'll help you be more aware of your thoughts and how to make them better.