The Mind Battle

Public speaking has always terrified me in the past. There is no denying it. I would stress for weeks before the event. During the talking, fear filled my mind, and I couldn’t think straight. Next, my legs would forget how to operate. I was fighting to stay standing! The fear I experienced was so intense that even at the last minute I had thoughts of backing out. “There must be some way to get out of this!”

Unfortunately, the fear and negative thoughts I experienced weren’t limited to public speaking. I set a fitness goal of running five kilometres in twenty minutes. After over twenty weeks of progressing slowly, (taking my time from 28:00 to 24:04), I thought about giving up. I really didn’t see how it was possible to achieve my goal in any reasonable amount of time. My thoughts toward my goal were mostly negative.

Can you relate? Have you had negative thoughts stop you from achieving your goals?

In the case of public speaking, it was only recently that I realised that my fear was fake. I realised that the anxiety only exists in my mind, and to overcome it I must deny EVERY negative thought and turn it into a positive one. The result was that after being invited to speak in front of 150 people for ten minutes, the stress that usually comes was replaced with excitement and anticipation! Wait, what?! I was excited to speak! During the speaking, I still struggled to get started, but after a couple of minutes I was really confident and fired up. I spoke from my heart and overcame. I was walking around the stage, boldly and clearly speaking with the help of The Holy Spirit.

I am still yet to achieve my fitness goal, but after adopting this same thought pattern of thinking positively, I have trained daily and taken my time (running 5 km) from 24:04 to 21:37 in just three weeks!
Your success depends on the health of your mind. You are capable of so much more than what you think you are!

2 Corinthians 10:3-6 says ‘For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

The Bible commands us to take every thought captive. Notice the language here: the word captive implies there is a war, and your thoughts are the enemy! Wow. This is serious. The good news is that you can overcome and win this battle by forcing each thought into surrender to God.

Positivity In Place Of Negativity

Last week my pastor asked me to share as part of a Sunday service, and I accepted. During the week leading up to the service, I had many thoughts tell me I couldn’t and shouldn’t follow through. These thoughts filled me with stress and anxiety because I didn’t deal with them. I wanted to quit before I had even started.

The day before the service I decided to take ownership of my thoughts. When a negative thought entered my mind, I turned it into a positive one. For example, “You aren’t good enough. You’re going to embarrass yourself.” turned into “I have prepared thoroughly, and The Holy Spirit will speak through me.” By repeating positive thoughts over and over, the stress inside me slowly started to decrease. By the next day, I was calm and collected. I still had some negative thoughts to deal with, but overall I was positive.

The message couldn’t have gone much better in the end, and it just proved to me that many thoughts are lies, especially the negative ones.

James 1:12 says ‘Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.‘ There is much blessing for all who remain faithful and commit even through trials.

Have you been outside of your comfort zone? How did you overcome stress or anxiety?

Going All In

I was thinking about my life in the context of eternity. I am alive for a short time (120 years if I’m blessed), yet there are many times I don’t live like it. In my studies, I don’t always give 100% of my effort, and in my job, I don’t always go the extra mile. Most importantly, I realised I was not going all in with my relationship with God.

Can you relate to this? In many situations there is room for improvement, but how far should you go? Your time is limited, so how should you prioritise it?

Colossians 3:23-24 says ‘Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Matthew 22:37-38 says ‘Jesus declared, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.’

Therefore, do the best work you can, knowing you are serving God, not your boss/lecturer/teacher/pastor and prioritise your relationship with God above all else.

Family

This week God has been talking to me about family. It started when I was talking with a friend about her family. Her family experienced some hardship but didn’t handle it well. As a result, some relationships suffered and today still need attention.

The conversation I had with my friend reminded me of my family. Last year I moved away from family but didn’t make an effort to stay in contact. I wanted to leave them behind as much as possible because of my past (terrible) experiences. However, after some thinking and praying, I believe God wants me to connect with them again.

Have you struggled with your family in the past? Are there relationships you can help mend?

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 says ‘If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

God wants every one of us to love each other the way He loves. This includes family.

Take Control of Your Emotions

I was alone in my bedroom when I finally couldn’t hold it in any longer. My shoulders started to shake, and I began to cry. I was upset because I was following my emotions, and they were dictating my mood. I had a decision to make; I could continue to allow my feelings to control me, or I could take control of myself and go to God.

When I look at my life, I want to see a man of God who is firm and secure. I want to see courage, faith and fearlessness.

What do you want to see in your life? Perhaps you also want to be secure, firmly planted on the rock that is Christ. Maybe you want to have more control over your impulses and desires.

I have good news! Every impulsive desire, failure or fear can be overcome by renewing your mind.

When I was alone in my bedroom, I chose to pray. After praying a little while, I started playing worship music and singing. After only a few minutes, my emotions turned from sadness to contentment. I knew deep down how much God loves me.

If you want to take control of your emotions, actions and ultimately, your life, get alone with God and refresh yourself. Don’t just leave God in the part of your day where you do your devotion, but instead live with Him. If you see a need for more strength, don’t hesitate to ask Him.

Romans 12:2 says ‘Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Ask For Directions

From a young age, I have been competitive. I always do my best to win at everything – from games at a friend’s house, to working on a project for my job; I do everything I can to be the best. This competitiveness drove me to listen to a lot of audiobooks. The purpose was to learn everything I could about my job, the world, and business in general. The problem is that a lot of successful people chase after money. They aren’t Christian, and their values started to rub off on me as I listened.

Can you relate to this? Do you find yourself following other values rather than God’s?

This morning I prayed that God would realign my heart and my desires. I want to follow Him and His direction for my life rather than creating my plan. I know God is looking out for me now. I have surrendered to Him so that He will lead me.

Each day is a day to surrender. To follow God requires each step (each day) to be used for good. Each day is an opportunity to draw closer to God and the destiny He has for you!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.‘ God will lead when we are willing to follow.

Does This Verse Change Generosity?!

I was reading the bible in Proverbs when I came across an unusual verse. The verse made me rethink how I view giving and generosity. I was convicted and challenged when I understood another aspect of how giving works. The Bible text said (Proverbs 19:17) ‘Whoever is generous to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will repay him for his deed.‘ Wow! I didn’t know God took generosity so seriously! The fact that he takes personal ownership of our kindness to the poor, turning it into a loan He will repay shows His heart for the poor.

What makes this verse even more interesting is how He chooses to be in our debt. As far as I am aware, this is the only time God is in our debt! God is very generous to us already, extending His grace every day. We are almost always on the receiving end when it comes to our relationship. After all, He is the one who saved us, and He is the one who gave His love without expectation of return. However, here He is giving us the opportunity to give back beyond His expectations. The act of giving to the poor reverses the roles of giving and receiving. God becomes the receiver, but true to His generous character, he will not accept the gift without promising another gift in return!