It all started with a text….

He said something normal.  You responded honestly and innocently.  He said something else.  You replied.  He didn’t respond right away.  You wait. And then hours turn into days later…still nothing. Crickets. Ghost. No return calls.  Unresponsive.  You wonder what happened.

And now the cycle of drama begins.  The “what if” thinking.  The “whys”.  The analysis, speculation and pontification, re-reading the entire thread of text messages several months back, picking your brain for clues.  Going over and over in your mind all kinds of things that could be wrong, trying to figure out what happened to make him suddenly stop communicating.  Your emotions and mind run wild with a variety of scenarios – he has someone else, he is cheating, I made him mad, and on and on…

This is just one example of many, many ways in which our imaginations and unregulated thought life gets the best of us.  It is not only the case in romantic relationships, but in just about every relationship situation and circumstances — platonic, family, work, business, ministry – everything.

Someone doesn’t like or respond to your post on Instagram or Facebook.  They didn’t like/share/support or whatever.

Someone doesn’t respond to your inbox.

Someone didn’t speak to you.

Someone didn’t invite you to their gathering.

And the list goes on. What is going on here?  How can we overcome our tendency to go down the negative path of rumination and anxiety when things like this happen?

The root cause is VAIN IMAGINATIONS.

Vain imaginations start off as “they think I’m this or that, they don’t like me, they did/said this because of this/that, she did/said/posted that because of this, he probably thinks such and such because of what happened here, she stopped texting because of that, she doesn’t call me because of this…she didn’t like/heart/share my post because of she is…” and so forth.

Vain is defined as producing no result; useless. Imagination is the faculty of forming new ideas, or images, or concepts; the part of the mind that imagines things.

Putting the two together you have images, ideas and concepts formed from the natural mind that are useless and produce no results.  I would go as far as to say that they definitely produce results, just not the kind of results you want to see in your life.

Vain imaginations consist of mind movies, assumptions, downright lies, and wild fantasies that we make up in our minds.  We can never truly know or understand other people’s reason or motives behind what they do.  In a way it is prideful to assume that you know why people take certain actions that appear on the surface to be negative or that maybe they may not “like” you.  It also speaks to a certain level of immaturity and being overly focused self and personal feelings.

The reality is as previously stated, we cannot tell or know what persons motives are unless we truly operate in the spirit of wisdom and authentic discernment or revelation.

Secondly, most people, 9 times out of 10 are very preoccupied with their own lives and have not truly paid you any significant attention.  The fact that we engage in such endless mind chatter and negativity speaks to the fact that we still have growing up to do if we take things so personal.

Engaging in vain imaginations holds us back in five main ways:

  1. We lose our peace and clarity. How many countless hours of emotional and spiritual energy have been wasted trying to figure out why someone did or did not do something that could have been spent healing and ordering our own lives and working in our purpose?  How much chaos and negative mind chatter has this created?
  2. Keeps us “in our feelings”. Negative mental chatter generates negative feelings offense. We have often heard the phrase “feelings lie.” It is true.  If the thoughts that the feelings originated from are not based in reality and truth then feelings are not rooted in the truth.
  3. Forfeit authentic Kingdom connections and relationships because of negative mind chatter and being in our feelings. Taking stuff personal against someone that God put in your life for a particular season but because you are in your feelings, you sabotage and cut it off over a vain imagination in your head over a text message or social media.
  4. Fantasies in romantic relationships. When we allow our fantasies of our new relationship to run ahead of reality, it has the same effect on our mind and emotions subconsciously as if it were real.  Where the mind goes, the body follows. We let our fantasies run wild and it has only been one date. Allow things to unfold naturally without the extra fantasies. This requires prayer and intention.
  5. Delays and Derails Your Purpose. Whenever we are caught up in faulty thinking due to vain imaginations, we cannot flow in God’s purpose because purpose requires clear thinking in the truth.

Another key nugget on mastering vain imaginations is the power that we have to choose the meanings we assign to different situations.  We get to choose how we receive what we see, our reaction, the story we tell ourselves and the meaning that we assign to the situation.

In other words, if a person suddenly pulls away, or seems to be less interested in engaging with me on a friendship level, then I have the power to choose whether or not I want to spend days re-hashing everything in my mind, getting upset and psychoanalyzing everything trying to figure it out.

I get to choose whether or not I am going to get anxious and worked up because the man I was dating suddenly stopped responding to my texts and calls.

I get to choose whether or not I am going to “feel some kind of way” every time I see their post on social media or not.

I get to choose the story, the meaning and my response.

The trick is to choose the story, the meaning and the relevant response that is most uplifting, empowering and positive both to myself and to the individual in question.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5 we read that we are to cast down every imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought to the obedience of Christ.  Until we can master taking ownership and controlling the story in our heads and the meaning, we will be forever at the whim of the vain imaginations that overtake our minds.

This week, I encourage you to be more observant of your thought life and the endless negative chatter.  Notice the times you suddenly feel sad or angry and you were fine before. It will surprise you when you realize the origin was a vain imagination.  Be prayerful and ask God to help you become more aware of your vain imaginations and to give you the power to cast them down.

Love,

 

TB

 

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No Condemnation. No Separation: Learning How to Live With a Clean Slate In Christ

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The eighth chapter of Romans begins with No Condemnation and ends with No Separation. You are not Condemned – you are Called. You are no longer Carnal – you are being continually Conformed to the image of Christ. You are not Jacked up – You are Justified.

Let’s look at the following verses in Romans Chapter 8 in both the New English Translation and The Message Translation to get a deeper understanding of how we can finally learn to walk free from the condemnation of our past.

here is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. Romans 8: 1-2 (NET).

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. Romans 8: 1-2 (MSG).

What does this mean for us in our daily lives full of struggles? It means that we don’t have to walk around condemning and judging ourselves for everything we have done wrong in the past or what we still may do today as we grow in God.

Christ took care of our mess on the cross. We don’t have to live under the stigma and stain of always feeling guilty, always waiting on God to beat us up over the head over something we did. We don’t have to walk around in fear of punishment all the time. We don’t have to condemn ourselves and inflict our own self-punishment anymore. Christ took care of the punishment we deserve on the cross.

The trick of the adversary is to get us to beat ourselves up, think about how bad we’ve been, wait for the consequences we think we deserve, and worry that because we of what we did that we don’t deserve for God to bless us. We believe that because of a particular sin that happened back in 2001 is why certain negative circumstances exist in our lives today.

We cut off our own blessings and refuse the grace of God because we still want to live in the past. As a man thinketh in his heart so is he, so if we continually think about our sin we are continually conscious of our sin all the time. We magnify the sin instead of God and we remain stuck, powerless Christians going to church without any real change in our lives. We can easily wind up being the kind of Christian that will never rise above his or her sin-consciousness to having a rewarding, righteous, and joyful lifestyle of being a blessing to others and the kingdom of God. This kind of Christian is no threat to the enemy.

Further in the passage we read that:

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

Yes, we are weak in our own strength. We know the thoughts that we think. We know our own personal struggles and issues. But God! As shown above, He helps us in our weakness. He knows what the real deal is with us – the things no one else knows and we sometimes try to hide from ourselves. Yet, in his love and mercy, Christ intercedes for us daily. On top of that He works to ensure that ALL things are continually working together for our good.

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

It is not our job to figure out how He is going to do it. It is not our job to attempt to piece together the puzzle of our life. He knows his original intention for our lives before we were even conceived in the womb. He knew what it would take to conform us to the image of Christ once we accepted Him into our hearts. He has predetermined our destinies, called us to be who He created us to be, and justified us in spite of ourselves.

With that said, it is critical for us as believers to stop allowing the Enemy of our souls free reign to capture our thinking at will. Where our thoughts go, our emotions and our mouth follows. Jesus died for us to walk in complete and total freedom without the tyranny of past or even present sins, struggles and issues hanging over our heads and running out of our mouths.

Finally, we read:

No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In the midst of every struggle, we are to know deep within our souls that we are being continually transformed to the image of Christ. Therein lies the reason for the struggle. Without the struggle we would not change. This is where the “all things come together for good” comes in. All of the struggles are working together for our good. While we are struggling he has graced us to overcome the struggle through the power of the Holy Spirit. He wants us to not condemn ourselves and to know we have been called and chosen to do what He has equipped us to do for such a time as this. We can walk out our collective destinies knowing that we are profoundly loved without condemnation and that absolutely nothing can separate us from Him. There is therefore now No Condemnation and No Separation for them who are called, chosen and justified in Christ.

(Image source:http://spiritualinspiration.tumblr.com/post/43716366379/therefore-there-is-now-no-condemnation-for-those)

When Your Dream is In Limbo: 3 Keys to Keeping Hope Alive for the Remainder of 2013 – Part 2

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Let’s face the facts.  This time last year as we were finishing out last two months of 2012, we were already beginning to think about what 2013 would look like.  We received prophecies.  We prayed, praised and worshipped.   We began to make confessions.  We began to declare and decree what would happen in 2013.

But alas, it is now November.  The year is far spent.  No doubt 2013 was a year that brought both challenges and blessings.  Not everything we had hoped for has materialized.  We thought for sure that we would be at a certain point, but we are not.  There are dreams and visions still yet un-manifested and unrealized.  We made significant shifts and progress in some areas, but in others we sit in the exact same position that we did in 2012.  What happened, Beloved?  Are you still in limbo?  Are you still waiting?   What hindered you?

Let’s pick up our discussion that began back in August (see When Your Dream is in Limbo – Part 1).  In Part I, we defined what Limbo is:

A region or condition of oblivion or neglect; a state or place of confinement; an imaginary place for lost, forgotten or unwanted persons or things; an unknown intermediate place or condition between two extremes; a region on the border of hell.

 Another way of looking at being in Limbo is also to view it as a season of Transition or Wilderness.  (see other posts regarding Wilderness Seasons and Transitions) We also looked at the first 3 keys to surviving being in Limbo so that we do not lose our minds, faint give up and turn back around: 1) Learning to Be Complete, Content and Rested in Christ; 2) Learning to Have Confident Expectation and 3) Let Him Continually Redeem and Regulate Your Mind while in Limbo.

To survive the remainder of this year without becoming overwhelmed at the prospects of what 2014 could potentially bring and to still keep hope that God will do what He said He would do, let’s look at a few more things.

Have the ROOTS [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him… (Col 2:7, AMP)

Let Him Help you Master and Maintain Your Deliverance while you are in Limbo. You don’t want to lose the valuable lessons and deliverances you learned before the limbo season started.  During the first part of this limbo season, God has rooted something things in you – such as a greater deeper root in Him, greater security in Him, being grounded in Him and His love.  Then there is a brief season of rest.  Then you may transition to a second valley which could be triggered by external circumstances and situations.

This second part of the wilderness experience or transition limbo focuses on rooting out, or purging out the stuff that accumulated in the first wilderness, i.e., mostly negative thought patterns, hurts and wounds not fully addressed or dealt with that accumulated in the first wilderness that would flare up and cause issues in the Promised Land. Note the process. In Wilderness/Limbo #1, God allows situations to develop for you to become dependent on Him and not the opinions of others and thus causing you to be ROOTED IN HIM.  In Wilderness/Limbo #2, God allows circumstances to force you to see your heart again and exposes things in you that need to be ROOTED OUT.  God waits for us to be rooted in Him, so that we could hang on when he begins to root stuff out of us.  We wouldn’t be able to survive the Rooting Out Process if He did it the other way around.  We must be rooted in Him to survive the purging process without giving up on God.  It would kill us.  So God, rich in grace and mercy, left the same character flaws in place while He rooted us in Him , and then when we have established enough root in a certain area, He initiates another purging through to take us through another process.

Thought purging and mindset pattern purging is extremely difficult without the grace and power of the Holy Spirit.  It is a mammoth battle — one not to be taken lightly.  You have to be rooted in Christ before you are in a position to handle this battle with any degree of deliverance or victory.  A key feature of this purging process is the intensity in which the thought patterns assert themselves in circumstances and situations once you are aware of them, repented of them, and actually attempt to focus on what you are thinking about and the right thoughts.  If you are trying to determine if you are in this season, let this be a clue.  THIS IS WARFARE!

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil 1:6, NIV)

Learn to Focus -Not Force.  Focus on what God is forming and working in you and your life this at time as we close out 2013.  Do not try to force what or where you think should be.   Let God do His work. He is the creator.  You are His Workmanship.  There is no use in getting anxious about it now.  This could be a potentially great season of your life if you let it.  Don’t worry about what someone else could do or may do or what could potentially happen.  We must trust God.  God is forming a deeper level of humility, grace, discretion, prudence and wisdom in us.  We are being tested in a variety of ways in how to conduct ourselves, how to handle business/financial/personal/family pressures, how to give encouragement to others in the midst of going through ourselves, and how to conduct ourselves in a way that generates trust and respect.  We are being tested in our ability to keep our mouths shut.  We are being forced to humble ourselves in ways never done before.  We are being forced by circumstances to realize a deeper dependency upon Christ that we did not have before.

LOOKING unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…(Heb 12: 2, KJV)

Look to Christ – Not Yourself & Not the Other Person or Persons.  Realize that as you look to Christ,  and cast the cares of your relationships on Him, that His timing for your deliverance will occur: 1) when you are not looking and sweating about it and; 2) when you are so focused on Him that the situation doesn’t bother you anymore.  Right now, we are still struggling, still learning how to daily cast cares, and how to daily stop re-running and re-hashing the same issues in our minds.  We are still struggling with trying to figure out how someone else is thinking and feeling.  We are still learning how to let it go, how to forgive, how to trust God with our ISSUES.  If we don’t stop looking out our own inadequacies and other people, it could keep is in a Perpetual Limbo, going about in the same old circles this time in 2014.  Beloved, let this not be your testimony!

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Phil 4:6, NIV)

Learn to Calm Down –  Christ is Here.  Remember that greater is He that lives in you than he that is in the world (1 John 4:4, KJV).  Christ is in your situation because He dwells in you.  You have the Mind of Christ.  No need to get emotionally depleted because you can’t figure it out and 2013 still looks the opposite from what have believed for.  Christ is right there in the midst of it so you can calm down right now. He is the Prince of Peace and He dwells within YOU.  Peace is the absence of all strife or fighting from within and without.  He is working.  He does all things well (Mark 7:37). If you have been earnestly seeking Him and praying, God is there!  Your motives have been purified. In 2013, you have been doing best you know how in your present situation.  God sees. He has not forgotten you.

I do not consider, brethren, that I have captured and made it my own [yet]; but one thing I do [it is my one aspiration]: FORGETTING WHAT LIES BEHIND and straining forward to what lies ahead..(Phil 3:13, AMP)

Learn to Finally Let Go of the Past in Limbo.  You just can’t drag it with you where you are going.  Let go of unrealistic expectations and your will.  Let them off the hook for what they did to you.  God is your validation and vindication.  For some people in your past, they must stay away from you at a long distance and do not need re-entry into your life at all, because they are emotionally and spiritually toxic for you.  It is totally understandable, healthy and expected for you to disconnect and not engage with such people but still be able to forgive them and pray for them from a far.  It does not mean you are being hard and cold.  It means you are setting healthy boundaries to protect your own life.  Jesus did not die a dishonorable death on the cross to bring you abundant life for you to allow dishonorable people to mess up your life.  Keep your boundaries intact as you move forward in 2013, let them go, don’t think about what happened, and keep it moving.

Until Next Time,

Lady TB

Image source: http://www.saharamet.org/desert/sahara/photos.html