Category Archives: Renewing the Mind

The Truth Will Set You Free!

We’ve heard it for years – “the truth will set you free.” After all, Jesus said it (Jn 8:32). Right? We spend a lot of time in healing ministry identifying the lies we believe. And it’s true. Lies are lethal.

The TRUTH Will Set You Free

The TRUTH Will Set You Free

But what if the problem isn’t the lie? What if the problem is the truth?

Let me give an example. For as long as I can remember, I knew that I was unplanned, unwanted, and the wrong sex. My parents made no bones about the fact that they had gotten pregnant before they wanted to, and if they had to have a baby, it had better be a boy. The fact that I had the gall to be born a girl colored the way they raised me. That “truth” colored my self-image well into my 50s. I felt that I would never be good enough to even deserve to breathe air, much less accomplish much with my life. In ministry we looked for the lies, but my problem was the truth.

Healing came when I finally understood that while my history was “true,” God’s word was TRUE. God said that I was fearfully and wonderfully made (Ps 139:14). He knit me together in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139:13), and if he did that, he surely knew I would be a girl. God’s word said that He chose me before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). And He created me for good works that he prepared beforehand for me (Eph. 2:10). When I was able to absorb and then believe this TRUTH, I began to heal. The more I believed it, the more I healed. And before long, the TRUTH had set me free.

What “truth” do you need to replace with TRUTH in order to be set free?

Photo Credit: Chris

How to be Chronically Unhappy

Just in case you were wondering, there are some surefire ways to guarantee that you will be chronically unhappy.

Depressed Man

7 Surefire Ways to be Chronically Unhappy                          Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca

Tamara Star shares 7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People  in an article in the Huffington Post. I can confirm from my ministry with hundreds of people that these characteristics are unequivocally true. They’ll make you miserable in no time at all.

So if your goal is to be depressed, despondent, and glum, try these can’t-miss tips:

Believe that life is hard. Of course life is hard, but this is talking about a default belief system that hard is bad. I’ve discussed this here and here.

Refuse to trust others. The reality is that most people are good and trustworthy. But unhappy people assume they are bad and untrustworthy.

Focus on what’s wrong rather than on what’s right. Sure there is a lot wrong in the world, but seriously, there’s a lot more that is right. Unhappy people can find the negative in anything.

Negatively compare yourself to everyone. Yep, everyone. Decide you can never measure up, and sure enough, you won’t.

Strive to control everyone and everything. After all, you are doing such a good job in your own life. That vice-grip control is guaranteed to make you miserable.

Worry and fret about the future. After all it’s the one thing you can’t control. And heaven knows all that might possibly go wrong.

Gossip and complain about everyone you know. And those you don’t know.

Do these things and I can assure you that you’ll be miserable, depressed, despondent, and just plain unhappy.

Of course, if you don’t like it there, consider behaving just the opposite and see what happens…

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The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard

Persevering through the Hard Times

 

 

Where Does Depravity Come In When Dealing With Guilt And Shame?

A Divided Heart

A Divided Heart
Photo Credit: Windell Oskay

People who suffer from guilt and shame seem to major on the “wretched man” type Scriptures  (Rom. 7:24), insisting that the heart is deceitful (Jer. 17:9) or we are sinful (Isaiah 1:4). Yes, of course, Scripture says we are sinners, but sinners saved by grace! It’s when we insist on our own way and walk in our own understanding that we are corrupt. Once we accept Christ, we are the righteousness of God by faith (Phil. 3:9) and we have the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16). Sure, we can still sin and walk in self, but that’s where sanctification comes in. What we must remember is God’s character—his gentleness, loving-kindness, and mercy.  We must remember Romans 8:1!  If you are a believer, God’s intention is to conform you to the image of Jesus Christ  (Rom 8:29), not to condemn you. And frankly, he’ll stop at nothing until he accomplishes this goal. He’s on your side! Romans 8:31 is the best news ever!

So if you’re struggling with either guilt or shame, the good news is that God has an app for that. He’s on your side. Make the correct diagnosis and apply the correct remedy. Apply it over and over until your thoughts and feelings are in alignment with God’s word. You’ll be amazed at the change in your behaviors. Let me know how it works for you.

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Guilt or Shame? Do You Know the Difference?

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

 

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame

Diagnosing Guilt and Shame
Photo Credit: Life Mental Health

Guilt and shame both make us feel bad about ourselves. Sometimes awful. The result is often self-condemnation, hopelessness, and depression. We try to fix the problem, but all too often, we fail, leading to despair. We feel like Paul in Romans 7:24: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” So what do we do?

The good news is that God has indeed provided the rescue we need. But here’s the deal: you need to apply the right remedy, and to do that, you need to make the right diagnosis—are you suffering from guilt or from shame? Still be confused? Let’s look at an example.

Susan explodes with anger whenever something doesn’t go her way. Doesn’t matter whether it’s traffic, work, or family. She just explodes. She’s done it for so long, she’s decided that she’s just angry woman. She’s taken on anger as her identity—who she is—filling her with lots nasty feelings.

So how does she diagnose the problem so she can apply the proper treatment? Here’s how I approach it:

  1. Is this a behavior or a character trait? In this case, anger is a behavior—something she does. She lashes out. She yells. She curses. She seethes. Therefore, the problem is guilt and the antidote is confession, repentance, and believing that she has received God’s forgiveness.
  2. Does she feel better? Probably not because the repeated guilt has created repeated shame. So there’s another question to consider.
  3. Does God define her as an angry person? Is this her character, who she is? Who she was created to be? Here’s where we turn to Scripture, and the more of the Word you know, the easier this step will be. Look for passages that use the word you’re dealing with (in this case, anger), or passages that include “you are” or “I am.” Sometimes the passages you’re looking for will be a command. For example, Ephesians 4:26 acknowledges that we will be angry, but warns us to not sin in the process. Sometimes the passage you’re looking for is the opposite (consider 1 Thes. 5:5, Gal. 5:22, Col 3:12). Apply the word of God to your problem.

Once we’ve correctly diagnosed whether we’re dealing with guilt or shame, it’s much easier to apply the correct remedy and find freedom.

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Guilt or Shame? Do You Know the Difference?

Is Your Loved One Causing You Caregiver Stress? Maybe Not…

Bang Head Here

Bang Head Here for Stress Relief
Photo Credit LynnHasselberger

If you’re a caregiver, you experience stress. That seems like a given, right? But here’s the question: does caregiving cause stress? That also seems like a given, right? In my book, caregiving = stress. Period. After all, you’re responsible not only for your own well-being and that of your immediate family, but also the well-being of one or more dependent adults. Often dependent adults who can’t or won’t carry their own weight.

However, a new study in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine suggests that how we process caregiving stress depends largely on a person’s genes and upbringing – and less so on the difficulty of caregiving. Peter Vitaliano, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Washington, argues that psychiatric states and psychological outcomes are a function of exposure to stressors and vulnerabilities (early family environment, genetic factors, disposition). How one responds to stressors also depends on a person’s resources (coping, social supports, income).

So, while caregivers may experience stress, caregiving isn’t the cause.

That makes sense. As Proverbs 23:7a tells us, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds,” i.e., to change our feelings by finding a new way of thinking. If I decide that caregiving is causing me stress, I’ll be right. But if I can find a way to think differently about caregiving and my loved one, I will indeed feel different. I’ll be able to take caregiving in stride and perhaps even find ways to enjoy it. At least some of the time. The key really isn’t my challenging loved one. It’s me. It’s my mind and attitude.

What are some ways you manage the stress of caregiving?

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff |Relax and Trust God (Pt. 2)

 

Hand (of God)

Everything is God-Filtered
Photo Credit: Andreas Levers

Once we realize that it’s all small stuff, it’s much easier to put the minor—or even major—foibles of life in perspective. Here are three more strategies for whacking those seemingly looming problems down to size.

  •  Everything is God-filtered: This is perhaps the most useful lesson I’ve learned in a long time. We somehow give Satan a lot more credit than he deserves. We think the world and everyone in it is out to get us. We magnify our problems and minimize the role of God. In reality, it’s just the opposite. God is in control. In Jesus, everything holds together! Col. 1:17 tells us, “And he (Jesus) is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” This means that nothing is random. Nothing comes out of left field. Nothing touches me that isn’t filtered through the hand of God. So, if something hits me, my Father must have a reason and if I trust him, I can receive it differently than if I decide He’s against me too.
  •  God is with me and for me: Closely related is the knowledge that God is with me and for me.  He isn’t up in heaven wringing his hands and lamenting the mess I’ve gotten myself into this time. He didn’t lose me in the underbrush. He didn’t get distracted in the Middle East and forget me. No, His eye is ever on me. And he is on my side.  He’s my greatest fan. He loves me. And he isn’t surprised by anything going on in my life.
  •  Give thanks in all things:  Therefore, I can thank Him even when circumstances seem random. Even when I don’t like what’s happening. Even when I’m sure he’s on vacation. Paul tells us to give “thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 5:20). In the Greek, the words for always and everything translate to mean always. And everything. When we learn to thank God for everything, whether we like it or not, we are on our way to being unflappable.

What are your strategies for becoming unflappable?

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff | And It’s All Small Stuff (Pt. 1)

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff | And It’s All Small Stuff (Pt. 1)

Depressed Man

Don’t Let Small Things Ruin Your Day–Or Life
Photo Credit: Phillie Casablanca

I got an email the other day from a friend telling me about what seemed to me to be a minor problem with a vendor. A misunderstanding on cost or something. But it was his last line that stopped me. He said, “A least I didn’t let it ruin my whole day.”

Ruin your whole day? Seriously? I had just come back from a trip to Mom’s where she had fallen, broken her foot, lacerated her arm, and hit her head. That little fall resulted in over eight hours in the ER, plus several related medical appointments. The trip included several other appointments and dozens of problems she needed me to solve for her (and those continue every day). And it didn’t even occur to me to let it ruin my whole day, or any portion of my day for that matter! Now, I’m not bragging. I’m not always cool, calm, and collected, and I certainly used to let small things ruin my life. But I’ve learned some skills over the years that have helped me remain calm. Or at least calmer. And less of a victim.

Let me share a few strategies that have helped me. I’ll share the first in this post and the rest in the next one.

  •  It’s all small stuff: Richard Carlson has written a great little book called Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff.  In it, he shares strategies to accept what life has to offer with less resistance. Once we learn how to reduce the stress, we find that those things that used to have power over us lose that power. And that feels wonderful!

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Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff |Relax and Trust God (Pt. 2)