This week we are supposed to talk about the mind. We’ve spent the last 2 weeks together, with Heather from MyLifeWellLoved, studying the implications of Mark 12:30. We’ve studied the Heart and the Soul, and now we’re moving into our minds for the week.
Be sure to check her page for the counterpart to this post. It’s been incredible to have worked through this together. We’ve both experienced so much of the same struggles throughout the writing process, but since we are two very different people – the Lord has allowed it to bring about some really vulnerable writing and producing. For that, I’m grateful.
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To be honest, I’ve been anticipating this week as the hardest and most personal for me – so I figure I better go ahead and get that confession out of the way.
I struggle here. I’m a thinker – not a genius one – but I over-think. I play out scenarios in my mind, dream up outcomes, create conversations, analyze body language, tone, underlying messages and meanings. I know – it’s exhausting and strange all at the same time. It’s probably why I’m tired. My whole life I’ve been like this.
With that being said – I need all the weeks, but I really need this week. It’s a process trying to retrain oneself toward holy. My flesh wants one thing, while my soul or spirit another. It will be the work of God in us to begin to train our bodies, hearts, and minds towards Holy Grit.
The mind is elusive, because it’s private. We think we can hide our inward thoughts and emotions from the world, and play pretend. But most of us who have ever been a part of that game know that it can’t last forever. Someone will eventually find us out. We will suddenly slip up and say or do something contrary to our posed outward actions.
At that point, the thing we’ve feared for so long becomes reality. We’re a fraud. We’ve been found out.
Our sensitive eco-system of walls and filters crumble as our facade of friendly melts under squelching heat of the truth.
We’re not really perfect. We’re not really happy all the time. We’re not really content in our season of life.
These things we’ve kept under the lock and key of our minds will eventually be exposed, and when they are, we will each come to the point where we will meet ourselves face to face. Who we believe we are in Christ will come to a point of crisis as we process our internal hurt and shame. #askmehowiknow
In last week’s quiet times we spent 2 days together talking about the soul versus our flesh. I want to sit on that for a minute. I believe it’s applicable – because the outward desires of our flesh, combined with those daily, mundane tasks of life on earth, make it hard to focus on the eternal things of the soul.
I truly believe part of the struggle of being a first-world Christian is our scheduling of life. There are so many expectations planted into the minds of women; from our culture, our families, our colleges and careers, our friends and spouses – all, in their own ways, expect things from us. I’m holding my index card from last week in my hands, and it’s as if it’s leaning down to the right. My flesh has created such weight in my life that the dichotomy is off-balance.
When the see-saw of eternal versus internal balance of our lives is off – I believe we can go directly to the mind to assess the situation.
Where are we putting our thoughts?
What are we pouring over for answers?
What dreams (or nightmares) keep us up at night?
What inward, secret battles are we facing day after day?
The New Living Translation version of Isaiah 26:3 says this: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”
This verse indicates perpetual, intentional, movement of thought. Because I’m a word nerd – I’m going to share a few different ways scholars have worded the English to reflect the original Hebrew. (all emphasis mine)
“The steadfast of mind…” New American Standard Bible
“…whose mind is stayed on thee...” King James
“…the mind that is dependent on You…” Holman Christian Standard Bible
“…one whose mind remains focused on you…” International Standard Version
“…those whose minds cannot be changed…” GOD’S WORD Translation
In one of our very first posts, we said that the theme for this entire project is to learn to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and then to live life as beautifully re-made lights, offering the ultimate hope to a lost and dark world.
I believe in modern-day post-church culture, the fight for our mind is intense. Instantaneous accessibility to any and all information often leads us to believe that we should know and practice all the things, all the time. Mind traps from the creator of lies himself begin subtly, conveniently, and cleverly enough, that we often cannot pinpoint the place it began.
We engage in harmless contact, read harmless posts, check out harmless fashion or fitness bloggers – because that’s the world we live in. It’s what we do.
But friends – all the while, if our minds are not totally dependent on Christ, if we do not remain focused on Him, if our minds can be changed, we will lose to the flesh every time. We will engage in comparison traps, sin pits, self-loathing, and fear so deep, fast, and intense it will pull us under before we even realize what has happened.
We start scrolling through blogs and instagram feeds – analyzing someone else’s life – comparing ours to theirs – and you know what – it’s poison. I am so passionate about this week’s’ subject matter because I have lived it. For me, following certain accounts is like sipping poison.
My OB/GYN got on to me during my pregnancy with Ansley and told me to get off the internet. I kept coming to her with questions and concerns I had after ‘researching’ (I use the term loosely) the web, pouring over blog after blog about who knows what. She kindly told me that unless I was reading edited and well-reviewed medical journals, to not waste my time on what anyone else was doing, wearing, listening to or smelling during their labor. She was so right!
Don’t we sometimes need to give ourselves that same prescription? Unless it’s good quality stuff or the word of God – is it worth our time?
The TV shows we watch, the movies we rent, the accounts we follow, the websites we frequent… are they giving us life, or ripping ours apart?
This next week we’re going to continue to analyze the mind through examining Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. I believe God’s given me a visual that might help each of us discern where we are ‘health-wise’ within our minds.
But before we finish, I want us to read together Ephesians 1:17-18. I’ll share the King James Version with you because I believe it to be the best and most true to the Greek.
“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”
This verse, along with several others, is a part of a prayer and benediction Paul offered up to the Lord on behalf of the Church at Ephesus. Paul is asking the Lord to give His church the spirit of wisdom and revelation so that the Spirit could move within it.
In the start of verse 18, the phrase “the eyes of your understanding” has been translated many different ways – the term ‘understanding’ here is actually dianoia, the same Greek term used in our lantern verse Mark 12:30, when Jesus says we are to love him with all of our mind.
As we’re learning, heart, mind and soul are all similar and very inter-connected. So here, in our context, the phrase ‘eyes of your understanding’ has also been translated ‘eyes of your heart’ several times. When I looked up the Greek – a metaphor came up about the eyes of the mind as the faculty of knowing, and things becoming clear.
I want the eyes of my mind and heart to have 20/20 vision. I want to see things for what they are and know the truth.
I want to know right away if things are good or bad for me. I want my mind to be in tune with my heart – but only if both are pure. And if they’re not pure, Jesus help me make them so.
In my analysis of Ephesians, the phrase the hope of his calling in Greek is interesting in that the term for calling can sometimes even mean an invitation to a feast, but most often translates as ‘the divine invitation to embrace salvation of God.’
As we are invited into the Kingdom of God, we are simultaneously invited to a feast. We are included in a really special dinner. The most exquisite dishes have been prepared, the table has been transformed, and our Father sits and waits for us. And we, distracted and overwhelmed, ask for a to-go bag. We have been offered a 5 star affair, and yet we allow ourselves to settle for take out.
Sit. Eat. Partake.
His inheritance is our participation. His inheritance is our salvation.
Through salvation, the Holy Spirit will come, and if we are willing to receive it, give us a spirit-filled mind that experiences the dinner feast. In the knowledge of Him, the Holy Spirit will move inside our souls, hearts and minds to breathe life, understanding, and revelation.
When the eyes of our hearts and minds understand, we will know the hope that comes with faith in the One True God. When the eyes of our hearts and minds see rightly, we will know that our calling is His glory. Our salvation is His inheritance.
His inheritance is our seat at the table.
I want to sit at that table and experience all that he has for me. I want my husband, daughter, family and friends all at that table. I want to sit next to you at the table.
If we’re going to be present in life, we’ll have to be mentally present. When we are not mentally present – we become no more than a distracted body, taking up space, and hurting someone else’s feelings.
I believe the woman with Holy Grit is present in her life. I believe she practices caution when following accounts. I believe she pays attention to who she pays attention to. I believe this woman knows when she needs to put up guards not only on her heart but mind as well. She knows there will be discipline involved to turn her mind towards heaven.
This week – let’s go ahead and begin praying for strength of mind as we will likely be tested during our time of study together.
During our Quiet Times, we’re going to look at and work through 4 different ‘quadrants’ of the mind. We’re going to work through some more working definitions and self-analysis. I’m going to ask you to keep working hard, keep digging in, and keep being honest with yourself. Know that however deep we allow ourselves to go with these scriptures and material, the more we’ll get out of it.
So as you bravely dig, go through your social media accounts (I’ll do mine too!) and politely unfollow or hide anything or anyone that’s causing you to compare. Maybe you need a weekend to unplug socially, or to try a Facebook fast for a couple weeks. It’s amazing how much time I waste if I’m not mindful of it.
Let’s not be afraid of a mental workout and a little extra training time this week. We’re praying for you and cheering along as we’re already on our 3rd week together! Wow.
You’re doing great! – RLD