Posted in Spiritual

Taking my thoughts captive.

Your thought life is where the rubber meets the road. All of life. Your goals, plans, dreams, wishes, desires — all of it is up in your head.

That’s just the way it goes.

And, let me tell you… the Bible has a LOT to say about the mind, temptation, our thoughts, and so on! Today, though, I’m focusing on one small passage of Scripture that is packed with power. This has confronted, convicted, and challenged me — leaving me desiring correction and change.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 ~

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Me. Myself. I. Taking EVERY thought I have and bringing it under the Lordship, Authority, and correction of Jesus Christ.

Depending on what version you read, it will either say “we take captive every thought” or we “we bring every thought into captivity.”

I love the idea of both. So, let’s focus on those two words right here. Take and Bring.

A little grammar always comes in handy. So, here’s the part where I indulge my inner English buff and tell you that these two words are verbs. And, no – they are not “linking” or “being” verbs – they are “ACTION” verbs. Do you follow me so far?

Take and Bring — those are two things that I can do. They are actions. They don’t happen by themselves. Someone has to DO them.

According to the dictionary…

Take. (1) Lay hold of (something) with one’s hands; reach for and hold. (2) Remove (someone or something) from a particular place.

Bring. (1) Cause (someone or something) to come to a place. (2) Make (someone or something) move in a particular direction or way.

This Scripture is saying that I must TAKE my thoughts. Me. Myself. I. I must actually TAKE my thoughts. I must lay hold of them. I must take ownership of them.

And then I must BRING them. Me. Myself. I. I must actually BRING my thoughts. Cause my thoughts. Move my thoughts. To obey Christ. To dwell on Christlike ideas, etc.

Me. I have to do this. No one else can do it for me.

I have to take ownership of my thought life.

I strongly feel as if, in my own life and Spiritual walk with Christ, this is an area of immaturity. And, somehow, I don’t feel as if I am alone in this battle.

Rick Thomas puts it this way:

Plan A for the devil is to keep all people from believing in Christ.

Plan B for the devil is to keep all Christians from maturing in Christ.

If the devil can’t get me to NOT be a Christian, he’s going to try to get me to be a shallow one.

And, I am NOT ok with that! I refuse to be a mediocre, mundane, and moderate Christian.

This – the area of my thoughts – is a place where God is putting his finger on & saying, “I’ve commanded you to be better. I’ve given you my Spirit. I have promised ‘everything you need for life and godliness’ (2 Peter 1:3).”

 

So, what exactly does it look like to bring my thoughts and move them under the authority of Jesus Christ? What exactly does it look like to captivate my thoughts?

That’s what we are going to delve into now.

First of all. . .

We must be aware that this – taking our thoughts captive – is a BATTLE. It is a war. The Bible is clear that we fight not against flesh and blood but against spiritual forces of evil (paraphrased from Ephesians 6:12). You need to accept the fact that, as a child of God, you are in a war. Taking EVERY single thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ is a huge undertaking. The devil wants your soul, and the easiest place for him to enter is in the mind. The devil won’t make this easy.

Secondly. . . 

You must suit up. You must put on your armor: Salvation, the Spirit, Truth, Faith, the Gospel, Righteousness, and Peace. You can’t leave off any part. This is a battle that you can’t fight on your own. Take it seriously. Get your priorities straight. Jesus first. Everything else behind Him. Prepare yourself. Spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Next. . .

Take anything in your life that diverts your thoughts towards things that are not Christlike, deal with it, and get rid of its hold on you. This might look like confessing sin. This might look like getting an accountability partner. This might look like creating a healthy and needed balance in your life, realizing that just because something is good doesn’t mean it is best. This might look like cutting out some Netflix shows that you’d be better off without. This might look like waging a war on materialism in your life and budgeting your money more carefully. This might look like fighting worry and anxiety, instead of succumbing to it. This might look like ending a relationship. This might look like getting rid of some friends whose influence are toxic to your relationship with God.

It will look different for each one of us. We know ourselves and our struggles and our areas of temptation. We KNOW what we need to REMOVE from our lives to enable us to take our thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ.

If you are unsure of what you need to do, I guarantee if you pray and simply say, “God, I’m serious about this. About taking my thoughts captive to obey you. About bringing my thought life under your authority. What do I need to cut out and remove from my life in order to purify my relationship with you?” If you pray something like that with sincerity of heart, God is going to use His Spirit to speak to you, to show you what eliminations you need to undertake.

Lastly. . . 

In order to take control of your thought life, you must implement good habits. Dig deeper in the Word of God. Don’t read because you have to; read because you need to. We can NOT live without God’s truth, people. We have to be people of the Word if we are going to be over-comers! Establish friendships with people who not only encourage your walk with Christ, but they speak truth into it, even if it hurts and you don’t want to hear it. Think and focus on what’s pure, what’s true, what’s right, what’s lovely, what’s admirable, what’s excellent, and what’s worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8). Create new habits that are good for you physically, mentally, and emotionally – nature walks/hikes, photography, writing, reading, coloring, relaxing. Self-care is vital. And, don’t forget that impure, ungodly, or inferior thoughts will try to creep in – they’ll try, trust me. And when they do, make a CHOICE right then and there – before they implant and take over – to throw them out and set your mind on things ABOVE (Colossians 3:2). Be on guard. The devil is sneaky.

Remember. . .

EVERY thought captive to obey Jesus. Not just part of our thoughts or a few of them. This is an “all or nothing” thing. And, yes. It seems like a ginormous task. It is. However, God wouldn’t tell us to do something that wasn’t possible. If God says, “Take your thoughts captive,” it means He is going to give us the grace to do it. If we just ask. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” I don’t know about you, but I know that my heart is God’s – – – so I commit my thought life to being under His authority as well. It just makes perfect sense. 

 

Pursuing Christ – Abandoning Self.

 

Photo by Victoria Bilsborough on Unsplash

Posted in Spiritual

Called to Virtue: The Pursuit

To the woman who’s reading this,

          First of all, I just love you. You are so beautiful. You have a unique personality and many gifts. You have a story behind your face. Hurts and failures. Joys and victories. I’m cheering you on. My heart wants so much good for each one of you. I’m reminded of where I was in life – not many years ago. My teenage years. And where I am now. A young, married wife just trying to learn and grow. Wow. I just look back on all the lessons I have learned – and some that I am still trying to learn… and I realize that my pursuit of Virtue should have been my top priority constantly. It is so easy to become distracted, I know. However, I encourage you to give everything to God now, not to wait until a more “convenient” time. Being a Christian and pursuing Christlikeness is where it’s “at” and where it counts. I pray something God says through me & this post today will speak to you, and that God will help us on our pursuit to become Virtuous Women.

 

To start out, you must first define Virtue.

According to a couple different dictionaries, Virtue is…

  • Behavior showing high moral standards.
  • Conformity to a standard of right
  • Moral excellence, righteousness, or goodness

 

Secondly, we must look to a Biblical example of Virtue, the “Proverbs 31 Woman.”

Proverbs 31: 11 – 31

Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. (She is far more precious than jewels.) The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no lack of gain. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants’ ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard. She dresses herself with strength and makes her arms strong. She perceives that her merchandise is profitable. Her lamp does not go out at night. She puts her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of snow for her household, for all her household are clothed in scarlet. She makes bed coverings for herself; her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them; she delivers sashes to the merchant. Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: “Many daughters/women have done virtuously, but you surpass them all.” Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands, and let her own works praise her in the gates.

I don’t know about you… but reading that passage overwhelms me. Here’s exactly what I think…

To become a virtuous woman seems just downright impossible.

But… Is it, really?

Check out these verses.

2 Peter 1: 3 & 5

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue… giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue.

 

You and I are C A L L E D to be women of virtue.

Overwhelming? Maybe. Doable? Definitely.

I am a FIRM believer that God doesn’t call you to something that is impossible.

Is becoming a virtuous woman overwhelming? Maybe. But, is it doable? Definitely!

 

 

Next, you have to study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” Here’s the list I came up with.

 

Point 1. Qualities of a Virtuous Woman

  • Trustworthy.
    • Not fake. Not a flirt. Not a facade.
  • Good-hearted.
    • Wishing the best for others. Seeking the highest good of those around, even if it’s uncomfortable or unrewarded here on earth.
  • Willing and hard worker.
    • Looking for opportunities to be helpful. Not slacking from work that needs done.
  • Makes her family her priority.
    • Takes care of them. First.
  • Treats her friends fairly.
    • Doesn’t seek to exclude.
  • Planner
    • Looks ahead and doesn’t forget about the future.
  • She knows her worth and value.
  • Consistent.
  • She treats those less than herself with care and love.
  • She prepares and grows in the easy times to withstand the hard times.
  • Resourceful.
  • Strong, but smart.
  • Carefree, not careless.
  • A speaker of truth that is covered in wisdom and kindness.
  • Not lazy.
  • Praiseworthy.
  • Good reputation, inside and outside the home.
  • Cares more about what God thinks that what the world thinks.
    • Charm is deceitful. Beauty is vain. Those things don’t last or matter.

 

(Side note: Wow! That’s a lot. I know. Yikes. But, the great thing is that God has promised to stay right beside us and lead and guide – Every Step of the Way!)

So, OK. We read the list of qualities. It’s not enough, though, to just observe and study the “Proverbs 31 Woman.” We have to move past that into actually “becoming” and “pursuing” the Virtuous Woman we are each called to be.

 

Point 2. How to become like the Virtuous Woman

You must have…

  • Intelligent Perspective.
    • Life is SO much more than just right now and just about you.
    • Don’t forget about your future self. Who you want to be in 5, 10, 15 years.
    • Inside matters more than the outside.
  • Intimate Prayer.
    • Talking to God.
      • On the daily. On the double.
      • If you don’t talk to someone, you don’t get to know them. And, in turn, they don’t get to know you. Don’t let this happen with God.
    • Pouring out your soul.
      • Your thoughts. Your struggles. Your sins. Your feelings. Your nothings and every-things.
    • Listening for God.
      • Taking time to be still.
        • Get over the awkwardness and enjoy His presence.
      • He WILL speak. Through His Word. Through the pastor. Through mentors. Through your conscience. Through your parents. Through music. Through quiet. Through peace.
  • Incredible Patience.
    • It doesn’t happen in a day.
    • It doesn’t happen all at once.
    • It’s more about the direction you are going than where you are.
      • Don’t be afraid of failure. Don’t expect perfection. Be prepared to mess up. More than once.
  • Intentional Pursuit.
    • Leaving the past behind. Reaching forward to what is ahead.
    • Letting others be who they are and where they are. You can’t dictate someone else’s J O U R N E Y. You must focus, instead, on Y O U R current growth and journey! (To the unmarried ladies: This means letting your future husband – whoever and wherever he is – stay somewhere out there in your future, where he rightfully belongs.)

If I could sum it all up for you, here’s what I’d say…

 

In order to become a woman of virtue, it’s gotta be…

†††

“Christ Comes First… the rest follows.”

 

 

(I presented this to the young ladies in our youth group. I made a slideshow presentation. If that interests you, feel free to comment/contact me. I’d love for it to be useful to others, as well!)

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash