Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Problem With Being Passive

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 14, A Passive Mind, 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 below this post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. -1 Peter 5:8

Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. -1 Peter 1:13

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

We've heard the expression, "An idle mind is the devil's playground". This chapter takes this a step further and reminds us that a "passive mind" can lead to trouble in the same way. With all that each of us have going on trying to manage the needs of a child with autism, I think it is safe to assume that none of us has an "empty" mind. Speaking from my own example, if anything I find I need to fight not to have an overwhelmed mind.

It takes a great deal of discipline to be able to direct and then filter the thoughts we dwell and ultimately act on. Joyce gives a great example by sharing her husband Dave's struggle with passivity. She reveals that he was very disciplined in areas of work, fitness and leisure but difficult to motivate in other areas. It was an eye-opener to me to learn that the devil can create strongholds as a result of long-term passivity. Over time, with alot of practice, little by little, he began to study the Word regularly and diligently. As the Holy Spirit showed him the truth, he was much more active, motivated and eager in other areas of his life.

This made me think about myself. On page 150, Joyce writes: "A passive person thinks he is doing nothing wrong because he is doing nothing." The difference between sins of omission (not doing what you should have) and sins of commission (doing something you shouldn't) struck me here. Being afraid to act and follow God's leading keeps us from missing out on what God wants us to do. If that isn't bad enough, it also opens a door for the enemy to make it harder for us to follow God next time around. I thought of all the times I had a great idea (from God) and didn't act on it right away. Procrastinating has been something throughout my life that made many things much more difficult than they needed to be. From school assignments to cleaning my room, exercising, etc., I always had trouble getting started, which led to inactivity. Beyond that, I now see that as procrastination becomes a pattern, it develops into a stronghold-an area where the enemy has gained some footing against my walk with God.

The good news is that strongholds can be broken! Every time I am tempted to procrastinate or not obey God right away, I have these insights to help me do what I need to do-right away. Whenever I feel the "I can't do this" welling up inside of me, I can boldly declare that "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:13) I now can add this to my prayer life and meditate on what scripture says and pray against this. I can think about the right things on purpose so that my mind is not available for the enemy to attack.

Heavenly Father, Thank you so much for hearing and answering all of our prayers. Give us the grace and strength we need to stay alert and vigilant about our thought lives. In the name of your son, Jesus and by the power of His blood, we come against any evil spirits behind the passivity and inaction that may be attacking our minds and keeping us from Your purpose. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, renew our minds and help us to develop godly self-discipline in any areas where we need it most. Open our minds and give us understanding so that we can hear from you and follow where You will lead us. We give all of the glory to You and ask this in your son Jesus' holy name. Amen.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Judging Others

(Below are Nicole's thoughts to Chapter 13, A Judgemental, Critical and Suspicious Mind 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 below this post. Let's dig deep and join together to fight this battle.)

Why do you stare from without at the very small particle that is in your brother's eye but do not become aware of and consider the beam of timber that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, Let me get the tiny particle out of your eye, when there is the beam of timber in your own eye? You hypocrite, first get the beam of timber out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the tiny particle out of your brother's eye. - Matthew 7:3-5

The next mind that Joyce Meyer introduces us to is the judgemental, critical and suspicious mind.

Here's what Joyce had to say about this condition of our minds:

-Being judgmental, opinionated and critical are three sure ways to see relationships dissolve. Satan, of course, wants you and me to be lonely and rejected, so he attacks our minds in these areas. (p.133-134)

- God is the only One Who has the right to condemn or sentence, therefore, when we pass judgement on another, we are, in a certain sense, setting ourselves up as God in his life. (p. 134)

- I was critical because I always seemed to see what was wrong instead of what was right. (p. 134)

- We like to tell people what we think, and that is exactly the point-what I think may be right for me, but not necessarily right for you, and vice verse. (p. 135)

- Judgement and criticism are fruit of a deeper problem-pride. (p. 135)

- We must have "holy fear" of pride and be very careful of judging others or of being critical of them. (p. 136)

- The devil stays very busy assigning demons to place judgmental, critical thoughts in people's minds. (p. 137)

- Now, we cannot always prevent ourselves from having opinions, but we do not have to express them. (p. 137)

- A major problem is brewing in your mind when you ponder opinion until it becomes a judgment. (p. 137)

- Remember, your actions won't change until your mind does. (p. 137)

- Many times we are reaping in our lives what we have previously sown into the life of another. (p. 138)

- The devil loves to keep us busy mentally judging the faults of others. That way, we never see or deal with what is wrong with us! (p. 139)

- Allow God to deal with you first, and then you will learn the scriptural way of helping your brother grow in His Christian walk. (p. 139)

- ....the very same things we judge others for, we do ourselves. (p. 141)

- We make excuses for our own behavior but when someone else does the same thing we do, we are often merciless. (p. 141)

- When your mind has been poisoned, or when Satan has gained strongholds in your mind, it has to be renewed according to God's Word. This is done by learning the Word and meditating (pondering, muttering to yourself, thinking on) it. (p. 143)

- Our thoughts are silent words that only we and the Lord hear, but those words affect our inner man, our health, our joy and our attitude. The things we think on often come out of our mouth. And, sad to say, sometimes they make us look foolish. Judgment, criticism and suspicion never bring joy. (p. 145)

I never really thought of myself as one who judges. I know I do have my fair share of problems with being opinionated; however, I didn't think I judged others. Until this past weekend when my husband pointed out to me how much I judge him. At first, I thought he was crazy but then I kept feeling inside of me to listen to him and hear him out. Let me preface this story with a little background on my current life. I have been homeschooling my son, who is now 8, for the past two years. Before this, I was a stay at home mom who basically ran his in home therapy program, working with him and his therapists to give him the best life possible. Even before the therapy and his diagnosis, I was home with both my kids before they started school. Over the past 8 years, my days revolved around my kids. Therefore, it's only natural for me to feel that I know my children best and what is best for them. This is all well and good as long as I'm not critical or judging others. Case in point this past weekend. My husband stayed home to watch the boys while I went out to run some errands by myself. When I returned home, I immediately started grilling my husband with questions. What did you and the boys do? Did Sean have any behaviors? What did you do? Did you go outside? Did he go on the computer for too long? As I'm asking these questions I see my husbands face start to tense up. I thought he was just overwhelmed. Later, he explained to me what was going on with him. And I am so thankful he did or I would not realize that others were feeling this way. He told me that he felt like I judge him or I am critical of him when he watches the boys. He explained that it's not really what I'm asking as it is my facial expressions and how I'm asking. This was a very big moment not only for myself because I realized that I was being critical of him, but for our marriage as well because Satan could have really gotten a stronghold on our relationship at this point. Can you imagine the damage to our marriage that Satan could have done at this moment if my husband would not have brought this up to me? After apologizing and sharing that I didn't realize how critical I was being, I started seeing this week how often I am judging others and their ability to be with my children. It's something I am having to let go of and know that when I feel like I'm being critical I need to go to God immediately, ask for forgiveness and ask Him to show me the good in the situation.

I challenge you all, to take the rest of this week and this upcoming weekend and look at areas in your life where you could be judging, being critical or suspicious. Then go to God and ask Him to help you overcome this so that Satan has no room in our minds and we can move forward with having a mind that's pleasing to God.

Thank you for showing us how judging our minds can be and how displeasing this is to you. We ask that this week you show us situation where we are being judgemental or critical. We ask that you forgive us and help us have a mind that's pleasing to you.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

If You Pray, Don't Worry

(Below are Jessica's thoughts on Chapter 12, An Anxious and Worried Mind, 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!)

When I read this chapter, I had no problem relating to the effects of worry and anxiety on my life and relationship with God. As a mother of a child with autism, it is so easy to spiral into worry and anxiety about what the future may or may not hold. I have worried about how he could ever come close to catching up to his same-age peers, how will I be able to meet his educational and developmental needs, what needs will he have as an adolescent and then and adult-and how will we afford it all? As I type this I also think of how God has met our needs to this point, all of the amazing ways he has come through for us. He has never let us down. Yet, from time to time I need to have a serious chat with myself to be reassured that yes, every step forward presents new challenges, but God will also offer new solutions.

After I delivered my first son in the hospital, one of the nurses shared some great wisdom on this with me. She must have noticed this tendency in me because she said, "If you pray, don't worry and If you worry, don't pray". She was telling me that if I trust God and cast my cares on Him, I don't need to worry. Worrying, on the other hand, would undermine my faith and lessen the power of my prayers.

I think that I used to believe that worrying was some kind of insurance policy to keep me from becoming lazy and would actually help the outcome of whatever the situation was. If I didn't worry, wasn't I not taking things seriously enough? If I didn't worry, then I wouldn't be prepared for all the things that could possibly go wrong. As I learn more from God's word and through teachers such as Joyce Meyer, I can see how negative and self-defeating this kind of thinking is. When I realize the toll of repeated worry; how much harder it was to stay focused, how it stole my joy and peace, how exhausted it left me, etc., I can see that clearly this way of doing things is not only the least productive, but also not going to yield a positive result in any way. The very first thing Joyce states in Chapter 12, identify what worry really is and what it does to your life;

Anxiety and worry are both attacks on the mind intended to distract us from serving the Lord. The enemy also uses both of these torments to press our faith down, so it cannot rise up and help us live in victory. (Battlefield of the Mind, p. 119)

How do we break the cycle of worrying, especially when it is viewed as a part of our personality? We have to recite what the word of God says about worry and anxiety and learn how to enter into the rest of God. We have to remind ourselves of God's goodness and his promises to never leave or forsake us.

When we proclaim what the Word says about worry, and about how God promises to meet all of our needs we increase the power of God in our lives and decrease the power the enemy has. When we can trust fully in God, we enter into His rest and experience His peace. What does that mean exactly? To me, it means that regardless of how things look on paper, I can let my mind rest because I know God is working behind the scenes. When our mind is at rest, or at peace, we can hear from God and know what we should or shouldn't do. We will have more energy and focus to keep up with the work he has called us to do while we are waiting. Even if I can't see, I have to believe and trust. The bible tells us that there will always be storms and trials in this life. (John 16:33) Our example to others can be that of the "calm within the storm". To me, that is real power, to be able to face the trials of this life without fear and still have peace and joy.

Dear Lord,
Thank you so much for hearing and answering our prayers to you. I thank you for all that you do for each of us and our precious children. We cast all of our cares for their needs, both at this present moment and in the future, fully and completely on you. You have told us in your word that you love us and will provide for all of our needs, and your words are always true. Give us your grace and strength and call to our minds what your word says every time an anxious thought attacks us. We trust you fully with our lives and the lives of our children. By your goodness, may we enter into your rest and know the assurance that only your peace can give. We ask this in Jesus' name.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Do You Have The Mindset of Peter or Abraham?

(Below are Nicole's thoughts on Chapter 11, A Doubtful and Unbelieving Mind, 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!)

Bible Verses:
When God promised Abraham that he would become the father of many nations, Abraham believed him. God had also said, "Your descendants will be as numerous as the stars," even though such a promise seemed utterly impossible! And Abraham's faith did not weaken, even though he knew that he was too old to be a father at the age of one hundred and that Sarah, his wife, had never been able to have children. Abraham never wavered in believing God's promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was absolutely convinced that God was able to do anything he promised. And because of Abraham's faith, God declared him to be righteous. - Romans 4:18-22 (Life Application Study Bible)

"All right, come," Jesus said. So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he looked around at the high waves, he was terrified and began to sink. "Save me, Lord." he shouted. Instantly Jesus reached out his hand and grabbed him. "You don't have much faith," Jesus said. "Why did you doubt me?" And then they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. -Matthew 14:29-32 (Life Application Study Bible)

In the previous chapters, we've learned our minds go through many conditions which keep us from living the life that God wants us to live. These mindsets include a wandering, wondering mind and a confused mind. This week, Joyce introduces us to another condition of our minds...a doubtful and unbelieving mind.

Doubt and unbelief...that's a deadly combination if you ask me. When you doubt something, that means you're not too sure if it can happen or not. When you have unbelief in your mind, that means you believe it can not happen. Either one is not a good condition for our mind to be. Unfortunately, Satan uses both of these to try to keep us from having faith.

There are so many good points that Joyce teaches in Chapter 11. Instead of listing them on here, I encourage you to read this chapter several times to really let it sink in.

However, I would like to talk about two very important people that Joyce mentions in Chapter 11....Peter and Abraham. We can learn a lot about our mindsets in dealing with autism by looking back at Peter and Abraham.

Let's start with Abraham. Joyce writes on page 107..."Abraham had been given a promise by God that He would cause him to have an heir from his own body. Many years had come and gone and still there was no child as a result of Abraham and Sarah's relationship. Abraham was still standing in faith, believing what God had said would come to pass. As he stood, he was being attacked with thoughts of doubt, and the spirit of unbelief was pressing him to disobey God." I believe that disobedience in Abraham's case means that Satan wanted him to give up on having a child. Sure, Abraham wasn't perfect. He made his fair share of mistakes. I'm sure he had his moments when unbelief and doubt had a hold of his mind. However, he had faith that God would give him a child no matter how old he was. He kept faithfully pushing forward through all of the storms that came his way. Satan knows how dangerous we are when we have faith. As Joyce writes on page 107, " he attacks us with doubt and unbelief."

Which brings us to Peter's story. Immediately after Jesus feeds the five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, he sent them all home. Jesus then made the disciples, including Peter, get on the boat and cross to the other side of the lake. At night time, Jesus decided to go up in the hills to pray by himself. During this time, the winds grew stronger causing the waves in the water to rock the disciples in the boat. Jesus came to them walking on water. The disciples thought he was a ghost. Peter asked Jesus to command him to get out of the boat and walk to Jesus. Jesus did. So Peter got out of the boat. However, doubt and unbelief quickly overtook Peter and he started to sink when he looked at the waves surrounding him. He then shouts to Jesus and asks him to save him. Joyce writes on page 109, "Peter made a mistake; he spent too much time looking at the storm. He became frightened. Doubt and unbelief pressed in on him , and he began to sink."

What if Abraham's mindset was full of doubt and unbelief like Peter's? What if he doubted and didn't believe God's promise that he would have a son. What if he would have looked at the facts surrounding him...his age, his wife's inability to have children? What if he let doubt and unbelief take over his mindset?

We can ask ourselves these same questions with autism. What if I allow doubt and unbelief to creep in and keep me from believing that my child can get better? What if I start doubting that God wants me to reach out to others during this time? What if I only look at the facts surrounding child's age, where he is compared to other children? What would happen in my life, better yet, what would happen in my child's life if I let doubt and unbelief take over my mindset?

You see, only you know what God wants and needs for you to do in your life and through this storm we call autism. Maybe it's to reach out to other moms like yourself. Maybe it's to learn how to reconnect and play again. Maybe it's to share the Word of God with therapists and teachers. No matter what God asks of you, have faith. Like Peter, He wants us to get out of the boat, trust in Him and have faith. However, let's not be like Peter where we look around, get overwhelmed and start sinking as we look at the waves surrounding us in this storm of autism. Let's have faith that God is with us to help us through this storm.

The last thing I wanted to add that just really stood out for me in this chapter was on page 111. Joyce was sharing with us a story about her pastor and how he was wavering between two options in his life. He was given advice from another pastor that I am going to start doing in my life...."Go somewhere, get quite and still, then turn your head off. Look into your heart, see what is there, and do it!" I believe by doing this as well as by staying in the Word of God, we will know when God is talking to us and encouraging us to FAITHFULLY do something. We also be able to recognize when Satan is trying to fill our minds with doubt and unbelief.

Thank you for teaching us how to have a mindset for you, full of faith. Help us to cast out any doubt or unbelief and to press forward for you. Encourage us to find our quiet time and place to spend with you and hear from you what we can faithfully do for you.
It's in your name we pray,

Today's Post...

Good Morning!
I hope that everyone is doing well! Unfortunately in my house, I have two sick children. As we all know, sick children require a lot more time, attention, love, energy and patience. Therefore, I'm running a little behind on today's post. I hope to have it up by this evening.
Thanks for understanding and please check back in later!