You love the ocean breeze, mountain air, woodsy scents, or lake-house reprieve. There’s nothing like drawing close to the Lord through nature and allowing it to restore a weary spirit.
But what about nourishment for the mind? Have you considered taking an excursion that would give your mind a chance to grow closer to the Lord through new knowledge?
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
1. In one trip, you can visit Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, both located outside the Cincinnati, Ohio area. These attractions are more relevant than ever as schools and textbooks continue to omit God from creation and history. Touring these unique facilities will give you a refresher course in God’s design of the world and equip you with talking points when communicating with others.
2. In another vacation, you can visit the new Museum of the Bible which is opening in Washington, DC on November 17 of this year. It’s being touted as one of the most technologically advanced museums of the world while having some of the oldest Biblical artifacts anywhere. The goal of this massive, multi-media experience is to present the Bible in its entirety in a manner that lets Scripture speak for itself. Plan to visit soon and be a part of what God is going to do when His Word is honored and displayed for minds to absorb, and then is used to declare and worship Him.
I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Heb. 8:10)
It’s famously used in times of fear, and often recited in order to comfort, but interacting deeply with Psalm 91 can bring about other benefits as well. This fresh approach can be especially useful for reducing anxiety…and provides a terrific opportunity to interact with Scripture in a growth-producing manner.
Jen’s Keeping Room Tips:
Instead of reading straight through Psalm 91…
*Search for all of God’s promises in it
*Using specialty Bible highlighters, use one color to highlight the verses spoken in first person (v. 1-2); another color for the verses spoken to another party (v. 3-13), and a third color for the verses spoken by God (v. 14-16)
*Rewrite verses 3-13 replacing “you” and “your” with “I” “me” or “my”
*Find out how you’re called to prepare for the Lord to soothe you in times of angst (v. 1, 2, 9, 14, 15)
*Explore Philippians 4 alongside Psalm 91:2, maybe even writing out Psalm 91:2 as a heading for Philippians 4 in your Bible or journal
*Find all the Names and attributes of God located in this one Psalm
*Illustrate all the rich imagery in Psalm 91
*Read 3-4 different Bible translations and consider memorizing your favorite one. Or merge several translations together to make your own amplified version
*Make a list of all the reasons Psalm 91 gives you to thank and praise God
*Every day turn Psalm 91 into a prayer for someone different and see how many days you end up praying it
*Document the ways your life is changed by engaging actively with this Scripture
Great peace have those who love your law! (Psalm 119:165)
Even if traditional church music is not your style, sometimes it is worthwhile to read and ponder the lyrics of a highly regarded hymn. In Be Thou my Vision, there is a most striking verse: “Thou my best thought.” In this verse, the writer of this timeless masterpiece is declaring that the best place your mind can be is on God. Not musings of money, romance, success, winning, chocolate, nor even a great memory with a loved one. In fact, the best thinking you can ever do is simply focusing on the Lord.
Keeping Room Tip. Try this now. For a few moments, tell your worry, obsession, depression, discontent, anger, stress, fear, etc. to move over. But don’t replace your negative concerns with happy reflections upon the beach, food, football, nice cars, money, etc. Instead lead your thoughts…into the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5, Amp.) by meditating on the perfect character of your loving, saving God.
While some Christians tell a dramatic “before and after” story, you may describe your faith-life as “not where I used to be, but still not where I want to be.” But have you been staring at “not where I want to be” for far too long? You’re a Christian after all, so where is your miraculous change?
Biblical Starting Point:
The change that awaits you is…
- …in your head. Man really does equal his thoughts. (Prov. 23:7, Amp; Rom. 12:2)
- …found in wanting to know the will of God. (Rom. 12:2)
- …empowered by the Holy Spirit. (1 Sam. 10:6)
- …requiring you to fully acknowledge your need. (Is. 29:16-19; 64, Msg.)
Keeping Room Tips:
- Conduct a thought analysis. What percentage of your self-analytical thoughts revolve around the world’s evaluation of your looks, relationships, or successes? In contrast, what ratio of your self-evaluative thoughts come from embedded Word moving through your brain uttering truths such as “Yes I am tempted, but the Lord will provide a way out” or “The One who calls me is faithful.” (Ps. 34:5; 1 Cor. 10:13; 1 Thess. 5:24)
- Admit what it is you really want to know. Have your daily activities unintentionally sent God a message – that you are more interested in what’s trending on social media or what you feel like doing – than in discovering His Will? (Prov. 1:29)
- Log some serious hours with your God. Do you treat the Lord like He’s just the co-worker in the cubicle next to you, each of you minding your own business? Your internal temperature will turn up if you move your work-space into His; but by spending substantial time with Him, especially by reading and studying Scripture, you will look a lot more like who you want to be. (Is. 55:11; Heb. 12:29)
- Suit up. The world tries to downplay that you have an enemy who does not want you to be conformed to the image of Christ. For the next 9 days, read one verse a day starting at Ephesians 6:10 and ending with verse 18. With each one, revisit it periodically throughout its assigned day. Let these verses position you and teach you how to pray for protection.
Get ready – “where you want to be” is in sight!
You’ve fought the battle many times. Your emotions rise up, take over, and diminish your ability to have clear, productive thinking. The solution is not to give up on being rational, nor is it to conclude that emotions aren’t worthwhile. The key to winning this battle is to identify and organize your emotions in such a way that your feelings and thoughts work together to line up with Truth.
Keeping Room Tips: The following are examples of times you can teach your emotions and thoughts to work well together.
* Maybe fear and anxiety consume and confuse huge amounts of your thought bank. When you begin to feel these emotions, let Jesus help you escort them out. Make a list of each fear, then cross it out and replace it with the truth of God’s Word. This kind of activity doesn’t mean you are dismissing your emotions or that you’ve become numb. It just means you are taking hold of God’s best for you. The Lord gives believers a spirit of power, love, and self-control and this is the time to use it to create productive thoughts and positive emotions. (2 Cor. 10:5; 2. Tim. 1:7)
*Rehearsing incidents of past hurt can make you feel like the past is reality in the present. When you catch yourself on this spin cycle, you may want to express your feelings in a journal in order to track what God is currently doing in your life to help you with forgiveness and healing. Not only does this exercise help you leave the past emotions in the journal, but by including in your writing what God is doing in your life, you can end this reflective time having new thoughts and feelings. (Phil. 3:13-14)
* Your feelings may be telling you that you don’t want to serve someone in a particular relationship because of the way you’ve been treated. Obey God’s command to forgive and pray for those who harm you. Next thing you know, because you are following His instructions to pray and forgive even when you don’t feel like it, your heart will be changing to look more like His. This will end up improving your circumstances, or at least your ability to respond to them. (Col. 3:13)
*Perhaps your emotions are so intense that they are derailing you from being able to fulfill the call He has on your life. To get rid of your emotional paralysis, you might try keeping a sketch-book or timeline as a powerful way of tracking some of the ways God has been at work moving you towards His grand purposes. Creative activities that take your mind off of your feelings and onto Him is an effective way of becoming unstuck. (Jn. 21:25)
*Are you convinced the Lord isn’t answering your prayers? This belief serves only to train your entire body to stay in a state of distress. You have all you need to mentally calm yourself down by thinking of Scriptural promises such as “Be still and know that I am God” and “I will call upon Him, and He will answer me; He will be with me in trouble.” Recite them over and over in your mind until you begin to think and feel more belief. (Ps. 46:10; 91:15)
*Like many, you may be feeling stressed out all the time because the world will not stop throwing numerous distractions and temptations your way. So, it’s up to you to dismiss the unnecessary, stop telling yourself how stressed out you are, and prioritize the consistent practice of focusing on God and His plans. Instead of consuming all your energy thinking about your stress level, determine to use your emotions to bring you close to the Lord. Keep the process active by making this an important routine in your life. The results will be: more focused thoughts on tasks and greater brain health, fewer debilitating emotions, and deeper connecting with the Holy Spirit through it all. Your mind, heart, and loved ones will thank you. (Ps. 119:28, Ps. 119:103; Ps. 130:5)
The famous 1980’s commercial compared the brain on drugs to an egg frying in a pan. Many of you can still picture it: You see the hot frying pan and hear a serious voice say: “This is drugs.” Then the egg hits the hot pan and starts to sizzle. The voice ominously adds, “This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?”
However, it’s not only something as dangerous as drugs that changes the brain. Research demonstrates that even your thoughts have profound impact upon your brain’s condition.
Collectively speaking, because the United States is rapidly moving away from a Judeo-Christian moral code, modern American brains are being re-wired to think in ways that are in contradiction to Biblical values. In counseling and in discipleship, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to teach Biblical concepts to brains that have been significantly shaped by worldly thought. The consequences of this modern epidemic are damaging to souls, but there is hope: God created the brain in such a beautiful way that it can be repaired and healthy again.
Keeping Room Tips:
*Confess the ways you have conformed to the pattern of this world. For example, how has culture’s entitlement mindset convinced you that you “have to have” what everyone else has? Let the goodness of God’s will motivate you to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Rom. 12:2).
*Don’t underestimate the changes that can take place in your mind. Maybe society’s messages have convinced you that you “just can’t help it.” Be more willing to change. Because God understands how your brain has been wired and shaped in certain ways, He can put the right thoughts on your mind to help you be more devoted to Him and His ways (1 Chron. 28:9).
*Fight with all your might to get time in God’s Word. The world offers so many productive activities. Shut it all out for a set time every day and read Scripture. It’s the only way to protect your brain from maladaptive thought. (Duet. 32:47; 2 Sam. 22:31; Ps. 119)
*Don’t give up on this country or on this generation. You may be worn down from people accusing you of being clueless, prudish, etc. Be strong and be there for them. They may be feeding on the world, but they are still hungry for Truth. Help them understand the beauty and power of believing God’s Word. Make known to others what the Lord has done, tell of His wonderful acts in your life, give Him the credit He is due, and talk about His love and goodness every chance you get (1 Chron.16). Nothing heals warped brains like repeated Truth.