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?

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.

Run to Win!

Tonight after a successful night of bible study I was highly motivated. I went to the gym and started thinking. As I lifted weight after weight, I realised at that moment that no single event in my life determines my future. I have to decide every day if I want to run or not. I choose whether to win or lose.

I cannot put my trust in myself, nor can I sit back and do nothing – faith without action is dead. Every day brings new opportunity, and each successful day builds onto the previous ones.

If you are discouraged by what life has dealt you, move past it by kneeling by your bed and praying! Next time life is too much, go back again and pray. Tomorrow may be even harder than today, but again, pray.

1 Corinthians 9:24-25 says ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.

Don’t give up.

Challenged, or Changed?

I attend church every week, and each week a new message is taught. The problem is, I find I often don’t think about what was spoken until I prepare for the weekly Bible study (my church calls it a community). The question I have to ask myself is this: If I’m not thinking about the message, how can I be actively working on my character in that area?

I find myself going to church each week, coming away challenged, but not investing the time each day to review what was spoken and working throughout the day to achieve that higher standard. Distractions are stopping me from applying the truths I learn!

These distractions remind me of the parable of the sower in Matthew. Matthew 13:20-21 says “The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” In this parable, I believe it is easy to be the rocky ground. Although I agree with the message and find it frees me, if I don’t apply it to my life every day, it will have no lasting effect. If there is no lasting effect, am I only attending church for a good feeling? Am I a Christian?

I have started making the community a place to be accountable. I think it is fair to say most people struggle with similar problems. Because of these struggles, we can relate and have grace toward each other. We encourage each other to apply the word and acknowledge when we aren’t living up to what we should be. We create strategies to overcome the hardest obstacles.

Can you relate to this? Do you notice yourself going to Church but not always applying the teaching? The best way to turn from being challenged to changed may be to find a Bible study that keeps you accountable.

The Struggle With Pornography

I’m going to get real; I struggle with pornography. I have struggled with it from a young age; I started watching it around the time I was 11 years old. This time was when all my hormones started going crazy! I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew I liked girls!

I didn’t ask my parents for help during this stage, and because my parents homeschooled me, I never learned about sex. Being so curious, I started exploring everything online; This was a terrible move! I quickly found online pornography and got addicted. It escalated so fast, I found myself watching it for three to four hours every day!

At the age of sixteen, I found God and realised this habit needed to stop. So I quit for one day. Then I started again. I didn’t know how hard this would be, and I didn’t realise how long I would struggle.

The number of times I have tried to stop is too many to count. The number of times I have prayed asking God to take it away is also too many to count. I have tried many different techniques to help fight it. Some techniques helped, but none have stopped me from going back. Over time the amount of pornography consumed has decreased significantly (2 – 3 hours, down from 21 – 28 hours), but the last push to completely stop feels beyond my human ability.

I have had many thoughts of doubt and judgement. I have often thought I am not good enough to be a leader in any way because of this sin in my life. I have experienced incredible shame. I have felt isolated and alone. I have cried to God for hours on end – crying to the point my eyes hurt even to open them.

I get strength from Romans 7:15-20 which says “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but sin living in me that does it.”

I will not give up. If you are also struggling with this, don’t give up. I believe God will empower us to overcome! If you are comfortable, comment below on your struggle and how God has helped you so far.

Overcoming Fear

From a young age, I remember experiencing nightmares. These nightmares weren’t just scary dreams; they were torture from hell. In any given night I would find myself running. I was running from hungry animals: wolves, dogs, bears, lions or snakes. These animals were after me to devour me. After running and hiding as much as I could, eventually, these animals would find me and would tear me apart, limb from limb and eat me alive. I remember waking after each dream covered in thick sweat, my little heart pounding inside my chest violently. At that waking moment, I realised I was in a dream, but the fear was just as real after waking. At that time, I would find I had wet myself. From age 4 through till 8 I was afraid to fall asleep because I knew I wouldn’t find rest. Home life was far from ideal, and after a stressful day at home, I would experience an even more terrifying night. This stress led to bad sleeping habits and wetting the bed every night up until age 7.

Thankfully, the story doesn’t end there; I would go on to discover God’s love for me and the power it has to overcome fear. At 15 years old I started praying that if God were real, He would find me and help me. At 16 during one of my prayers, God’s love came and ‘washed over’ me. It is a feeling hard to describe, but I will do my best. This feeling of love was so powerful that I couldn’t stop crying. The crying was extreme. I couldn’t control it. At that moment I knew I was loved. I knew I was important and not forgotten. All the years of neglect and abuse vanished in an instant. My built up hate toward others was also taken away. All my fear became empty and vanished.

In the Bible, 1 John 4:18 says “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” This verse is right in my life. If I ever feel fear, I pray and worship with everything I have.

If you have a problem with fear, you have a problem with love. Pray that God will show you the love He showed me.

Prayer: God, I ask that you show me your love. I want to know you more intimately and want to be free from fear. I know that fear is never from you, so I pray that you would free me from it. Let the love you show me flow through me to others that they may also know your love. Amen.