Monday, July 28, 2014

Hope Begins in the Mind

So you would like to find some hope for your marriage even when you see no possible solutions.  Hang in there – there is always hope.

Do you know that our thoughts are the beginning of our destiny, the birth or death of our hope?  That’s where it all starts.

“Watch your thoughts, they become words; watch your words, they become actions; watch your actions, they become habits; watch your habits, they become character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.”   - Author unknown

The bible tells us to “take your thoughts captive.”  Contrary to what the world would have us think, we can have control of our thoughts. 

Divorce all starts in someone’s mind, in their thinking.  It’s what you do with those thoughts that determine what will happen to your marriage.  If you take the negative thoughts and refuse to act on them, refuse to allow them to dominate your thinking, you can change the destructive path your marriage might be heading.

Philippians 4:8 says, “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.”

So you see, whenever those negative thoughts about your spouse, in particular, occur, you have the power to stop them.  How?  Determine not to dwell on those negative thoughts.  Start focusing your thoughts on something else, preferably, something positive about your spouse.

When I was ready to call it quits with my marriage, I would look in the faces of my small children and realize that I didn’t want to put them through the pain of divorce as I had known as a teenager, and still suffered as an adult.  I didn’t want to wind up like my father, who left my mother for the other woman and led a very difficult life after that, only to die early at the age of 61.

God had also been reminding me that He wouldn’t be happy if I divorced my husband.  At first, I didn’t want to hear anything He tried to tell me, but eventually, I wondered if He might be my only answer.  Nothing had worked doing it my way up to that point.

I asked God to show me how to love my husband again.  What did He do?  He started reminding me of the wonderful traits about my husband that first attracted me to him.  I began to dwell on the positive attributes of my husband, and my feelings started to change towards him.  The love gradually returned, and wound up stronger than it had been before we had our problems.

Begin to focus on the wonderful things about your spouse that first attracted you to them.  You will see a change in your attitude AND theirs.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Our Thoughts

Our thoughts are the center of our being. They ultimately determine the path we will take in our lives. They determine our success in work, family, and relationships. They can also affect our emotional and physical health.

Taking our thoughts captive is a difficult process we must learn in order to live a peaceful life in obedience to Christ. We only need to read the newspaper, the Internet, or turn on the television to see the effect of wrong thinking.

Sometimes, wrong thinking may seem right to us. For example, maybe your family taught you to speak your mind, or they may have taught you to hold everything inside. Either way could be so engraved into your thinking that you believe it is right. It isn’t until you face a crisis that you realize there may be a better way.

We humans tend to resist making change until we reach a critical pain level caused by the behavior in need of change. As my husband always says, sometimes we need to be hit over the head with a two-by-four in order to turn our attention to God. Many of us hit rock bottom before we decide it’s time to make some changes. Most Christians came to God after a rock bottom experience.

Many spouses who jeopardize their marriages with unacceptable behavior do nothing to change it until they are threatened with losing their families. It often takes the other spouse actually leaving or filing for divorce before they make those necessary changes.

We are creatures of habit and stay comfortable where we are, regardless if it is right or wrong. Making a change is difficult, and many people remain blinded to wrong thoughts and behavior.

We need to work constantly at taking our thoughts captive. Learn what works best for you. The hardest part may be in recognizing that a thought needs to be discarded. We can dwell on negative thoughts for too long and not even realize it.

Ask for God’s help in changing your thinking. Over time, you will learn to distinguish between those thoughts that are obedient to God’s word, and those thoughts that come from your flesh or the mind of Satan.

If our thoughts are the center of our being, they need to be obedient to Christ to have Him as the center of our lives. His will should be our desire and our thoughts should revolve around His plan for us.

It is not much different for our marriage relationships. Our thoughts should be edifying and conducive to positive behavior towards our spouse. Their well-being should be our desire and our thoughts should revolve around putting them ahead of our own self.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Quiet My Mind

I don’t know about you, but sometimes, my thoughts can be my own worst enemy.  They take me places I shouldn’t go.  They hold on to offense and magnify it to consuming hurt.  They mislead my desires to worldly paths that take me nowhere.  They muffle the words that God intends for me to hear.

Women usually struggle more with quieting their thoughts than men do.  One thought leads to another and then another and then another.  Men seem to be able to take an undesirable thought and lock it in a room until they are ready to deal with it. 

In my quiet time this past week, one of the devotionals spoke distinctly to me.

July 9, 2014 – Jesus Calling”
“Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.  I speak softly to you, in the depths of your being.  Your mind shuttles back and forth, hither and yon, weaving webs of anxious confusion.  As My thoughts rise up within you, they become entangled in those sticky webs of worry.  Thus, My voice is muffled, and you hear only white noise.

Ask My Spirit to quiet your mind so that you can think My thoughts.  This ability is an awesome benefit of being My child, patterned after My own image.  Do not be deafened by the noise of the world or that of your own thinking.  Instead, be transformed by the renewing of your mind.   Sit quietly in My Presence, letting My thoughts reprogram your thinking.”

“Those sticky webs of worry.”  Boy, do I have a lot of webs in my mind.  I look at my husband who goes confidently along in life with complete assurance of his choices and ideas.  Not me.  I’m going to analyze, contemplate and deliberate on every idea that crosses my path before I can make a rational decision.  Even then, I may back-pedal a few times into a second guessing gear.  Worry about the correct decision is a given.  In fact, if there is any way I can fit worrying into my agenda, I will.

I know that fear and worrying are putting your faith in the devil.  Of course I don’t want to do that!  It’s a major battle we face, especially as women.  It affects our relationships with our spouse and with our children. 

In reading this devotional from Jesus Calling, it occurred to me that Satan intentionally throws doubt and fear at us to muffle the thoughts that God gives us.  “Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.”

How many times have I missed God’s plan for me because I was busy worrying about some menial issue that had no effect on my life?  Or maybe I was caught up in offense by a harmless word my husband may have said with no intention of hurting me.

If I could only slow down my mind.  “Stop worrying long enough to hear My voice.”  Hmm.  It grieves me that I may be guilty of missing His voice.  My biggest desire is to have an intimate relationship with God that I would know His plan for my every moment.

My new prayer will be, “Quiet my mind, Lord, so I can hear your voice.”