BUT, I finished… Lessons in the Renewal of my Mind


I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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. Romans 12:1-2

I am not good enough.

That’s Satan’s go-to lie for me. That’s the one ingrained into my very fallen DNA. That’s the one I fall for. Every. Single. Time. The one I dwell on. The one I expound upon. The one I can add to, ad infinitum.

Over the years it’s morphed from one thing to another.

I’m not girly enough.

I’m not athletic enough.

I’m not obedient enough.

I’m not assertive enough

I’m not organized enough.

I’m not laid back enough.

I’m not smart enough.

I’m not humble enough.

I’m not pretty enough.

I’m not thin enough.

I’m not short enough.

I’m not tall enough.

I’m not creative enough.

I’m not planned enough

I’m not compliant enough.

I’m not caring enough.

I’m not wealthy enough.

I’m not doing enough.

I’m not resting enough.

I’m not loyal enough.

I’m not disciplined enough.

I’m not conservative enough.

I’m not liberal enough.

I’m not conformed enough.

I’m not rebellious enough.

I’m not ______________ enough. The blank can be filled in with anything depending upon the situation.

The last few months have been a journey with God and me, specifically in regard to the idea of renewing my mind. This year’s theme passage for our Women’s Ministry at church is Romans 12:1-2, and God has convicted me about living out the words of this passage. This past weekend was a lesson in transformation, mind, body, and spirit.

For the last 12 weeks I’ve been a part of a Run for God group, a training program and Bible study designed to help you get in shape both physically and spiritually. We went from running 30 seconds at a time to running a full 5K race on Saturday morning. It has been an amazing journey.

But Saturday morning, I was under attack. I didn’t start my day like I wanted, my focus was on myself and not the Lord, my attitude was WAY off, and my thoughts were NOT renewed.

We started the race and I started too fast. The competition and adrenaline put my first mile almost a minute and a half faster than I had planned. For my first 5K since blowing out my ankle, that was a bad plan.

I started the race with two classmates from high school. It’s been cool to train with them again after years of “recovering” from the years of training together in high school. But about a mile into the race, I saw another girl from our class was also running the race. With her small daughter. On her back. And she was beating me.

I looked up the last half mile and saw she was still ahead of me. Carrying a toddler. And then I realized they were all three beating me.

And here came the “I’m not good enough” deluge.

“After all these years, I’m still not good enough. Bruiser girl in name only. I’m last place. I’m not fast enough, not in shape enough. One of them hasn’t run in years. One of them is pregnant. One of them is literally carrying a child on her back. And I’m going to finish last.”

And I wanted to quit. Nineteen-year-old demons of inadequacy caught up with me and I wanted to sit down on the sidewalk next to the UTC football team practice field and cry and be done.

But then I remembered, “transformation comes from the renewing of your mind.”

I’ve spent devotions with my girls at school this entire year going through the Psalms, showing them how God wants us to pour out our hearts, but then acknowledge His truth to overcome our emotions.

So that’s what I did.

“…And I’m going to finish last. BUT, I’m going to finish. I’m going to run this whole race. I’m going to reach my time goal. In the last 12 weeks I’ve lost almost 15 pounds and I’ve gone from running none to running 3.25 miles last Saturday in 45 minutes. I followed the plan, I didn’t do my own thing, I didn’t overdo and I didn’t get hurt. I committed, I allowed others to hold me accountable, and I finished.”

Finishing was the goal, not winning. And for a moment, I allowed the enemy to distract me from the goal. My natural mind drifted to my comfortable thought process of defeat and inadequacy, but God has empowered me through His Spirit to overcome my natural mind and to renew it, through His mercies.

So how did Saturday end up?IMG_3646 I finished last of the four Bruiser girls. But I finished. With my niece cheering me on at the finish line, I finished with a huge smile on my face. Then we turned around and went back to cheer on and encourage those who were coming up behind us. Because in the last 12 weeks, I’ve been transformed through the renewing of my mind.

How are you allowing God to transform you through the renewing of your mind?

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Poetic Application of Romans 12:1-2


I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 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. Romans 12:1-2

For the last several weeks, my 9th graders have been discussing the transforming power of transformed thoughts. This idea applies to relationships; with guys, with other girls, with friends, with family… How we think should transform how we live. But how do we do that? How do we actively change our thoughts and, in turn, use our changed thoughts to change our hearts and our actions?

We watched this video in class today, and it spurred some great conversation about how the world influences our passive thoughts and attitudes and how those thoughts and attitudes influence our choices. It reminded me of The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis’ classic work which imagines an exchange of letters between an experienced demon and a less mature demon-in-training. The methods of the evil one are not obvious, but are subtle, passive, sneaky. In this poem, the author writes A Letter to Satan, telling him just what she thinks about his schemes and control in her life.

Watch the video, check out the lyrics below, and think about this: If you looked at the influence of media in your life and compared your thoughts and attitudes to the Word, what sort of letter would you write to Satan about how evil has influenced your life?

Dear Satan,

I’m writing you this letter to inform you that our relationship is officially done.

You just lost one!

Cause for too long I’ve battled in my mind

Your voice v. God’s v. mine

For too long I’ve entertained the same thoughts as Cain

Like how truthfully my flesh loves to be first

How my pride tries to cover and hide so I can’t see the extent of this curse

So I’m returning all your gifts

Rejecting all your myths

See all this time I thought that I had control, but you were controlling this

Despite me doing good works in the church

Thinking I was a Christian

All the while allowed your spirit to lurk

What a deception

You went to church with me

A thwarted perception

Saying that I love God louder and louder

But had a spiritual infection

I see you’re a deceiver; you take advantage of every weak part

I could come to church every week

As long as I don’t apply the word to my heart

We were friends because I did what you wanted me to

I thought a little sin wouldn’t hurt

I mean I didn’t want to sleep with you

I just thought it would be cool to flirt

But I see you play for keeps

Now I know that the Word is true

What you sow is what you reap

I keep saying I’m so blessed, I’m so blessed

All the while secretly giving you a kiss

I remember all the places we used to go

Now inwardly it makes me sick

Like how you talked me into going to the club

At first I really didn’t want to go

I thought it wouldn’t affect me

But while I was there my lust began to flare and I got hot and heavy

Started thinking about the dudes in the room

Wanting to ride off in their Chevy

Or the comedy spots where we sat and laughed enjoying ourselves all night

When they were joking and mocking the church like that situation is light

And explicit sexual content echoed through that mic

And I laughed like it was alright

Now I know God wasn’t laughing

Even though you and I was on a roll

I see it was because my heart was so numb and cold

In the back of my mind

I thought I’d really give God 100% when I’m old

Once I’m done having my fun

Then I thought what if I don’t make it past 25, then what?

What did I live for?

I just can’t ignore anymore this proposal from the Lord

So I changed my number so you would no longer call

And I would no longer fall

But even though I did all that you still controlled me from afar

Because I was just trying to be a better person

Stopped clubbing, stopped sex, stopped cursing

Dropped friends, cause of greed stopped working

But stopping things don’t rid the seed of the serpent

It was all self-righteousness

A righteousness I created

It’s like using filthy rags to take a bath

When the truth is my entire sin nature is bad

And me stopping those things never dealt with the wickedness of my heart

If I thought someone did me wrong

I was so quick to lash back, all the while singing a praise song

Even though the Bible says repay not evil for evil, I refused to believe

And your strings got me doing things that I can’t even help

Trying to love my brother but always thinking about myself

What a curse

Like I could run up and hug someone at church

But because inwardly I wanted to be first

Didn’t realize it but I was wishing them the worst

Although the outside was clean

The inside of the cup was filthy and mean

So I wrestled with the conclusion

Maybe I’ve been excluded from being able to live this Christian life

But then that sounds like your voice

You’ve influenced so much of my life

Those events help me see how powerless I am

And the reality is there is only one way

And before I was set free, I had to realize I was a slave

I have no merit, virtue or favor with God

It’s Christ’ poured out lifeblood that saves

And I’m sick of it, my sin

I’ve defended it, time and time again

Dead in my transgression but now I’ve come on out of the grave

Because this new relationship is based solely by grace through faith

And my life is a result of what I believe

Since you shall know a tree by the root and the fruit

So rather than just dress modestly, I’m checking my heart too

Making sure there is no vanity

Or that I’m dressing to grab the attention of humanity

Because I know what I can do, if I remain in a relationship with you

My potential outside of Christ is extremely detrimental

So I’m clinging on with all I’ve got

So now when I think of all the movies we went to

Man I get so hot

Cause Christ has won my heart

I can’t sit there and glory in the violence on that screen

And even though I used to justify by saying I never hurt anyone

I was being entertained by the very thing

God choose to destroy the world for in Genesis 6

He said the earth was corrupt and filled with violence

So the only reason I wasn’t destroyed

Was God’s kindness

You see you helped me build a tower like you did with Nimrod

But I’m tearing it down for my God

By the way I’m clearing out my ipod

I’m giving you back all your music

Couldn’t see it before

This tool you were using

Different song

Different score

Brought the same conclusion

All about lust, money, self and sex

Yet those things are the reason Christ was out to death

Who you using next

Chris Brown, T-pain, souljah boy, ne-yo, Beyonce or Game?

Every artist motivation is the same

To take my heart away from the reason Christ came

I could say I’m saved all the while exalting men

Not a fanatic for Christ cause I’m a TI fan

No-one no-one, not even Alicia keys supersedes the reason Christ bleeds

No-one no-one has even ever heard Alicia sing about why Christ is grieved

And I thought her music was positive

But when I look into the word, Christ and Alicia are opposites

Christ is on my mind

So you won’t see me bobbing it

Because He’s all I need

He is all I need

Cause all that music was to glorify me

Yet the reason Christ came was to mortify me

To crucify my flesh

Not to be the Christian in Christian-Dior up in the video with Kanye West

Now I see

How he’s saying he’s Christian yet he’s exalting women, sex, and greed

And I said I was just listening to the beats

You had me so blind to the content

I was so deceived

Didn’t realized Satan disguised as I was hitting repeat

At the same time they were pushing repeat when my savior was beat

Pierced in His wrist and feet

To take away these worldly lusts these songs stir within me

So I confess

I’m no longer impressed with you whack lines

You’ll give me all your kingdoms if I bow and worship at your shrine

And I used to

But now I’m adopted into the vine

So every lie you told me

Like you being my homie

That I could rep Christ as long as we kicked it on the low key

I’m done with you and all the excuses you gave

Like living holy is a long process

But the truth is, you didn’t want me to change

I used to be a daughter of lies

You used to be my master

But now I’m at the feet of Christ with me box of alabaster

Because He redeemed me, set me free

And I will spend my time, all of eternity

Learning Him

Wiping His feet with my tears

Oh well, there will be no tears in heaven

But I will sit and give Him reverence

Because I know I’m undeserving of His love

See I’m now covered in the blood of the Son

So in case you forgot

I’m writing this letter to inform you that our relationship is officially done,

You just lost one!

Can Do vs. Called To Do


 I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

I have recently been battling my inner Wonder Woman. This happens when I let my sinful self-sufficiency sneak up on me. And what is so amazing about the whole thing is that I have twisted Scripture to justify my sin. After all, “I can do all things…”

Lead a Bible study? Write a book? Sponsor a club? Coach a team? Mentor a teen? Support a starving child in Africa? Teach a Sunday school class? Coordinate volunteers? Raise funds? Adopt a child? Keep a home? Go on mission trips? Visit the elderly? Learn to knit? Be the perfect wife? Win the Mom of the Year Award? Clip Coupons? Save the world?

Of course I can help you! I can do all things! After all, isn’t that what the Proverbs 31 woman did? I’m just doing what Scripture tells me to do!

What I quickly forget is that my terrible interpretation of that verse is just that—terrible. Paul is not claiming to be a spiritual Superman. Paul is saying that Jesus grants us the strength to do the things He sets before us. While I can do all things through Christ, He never meant for any of us to do all things at once. He alone is the one who holds all things together, and for me to think that I am needed for any bit of His work to succeed, I have deceived myself severely.

For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. Romans 12:3

And there’s my problem; I think of myself much more highly than I ought. After all, if I don’t do it, someone else is just going to mess it up. The only way it will be done right is for me to do it myself. So I end up trying to do it all, and instead of doing a few things well, I do a lot of things half way. Anyone else find themselves here? So what do we do to remedy this cycle?

For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong… 1 Corinthians 1:26-27

First, I must consider my calling. This has been the question on the Post-It note on my computer screen at work the last few weeks: Can Do vs. Called To Do? What things in my life has God genuinely led me to do in His strength, power, and calling, and what things am I doing simply because I am able? He has been convicting me greatly of the fact that just because I can do something doesn’t mean I should be doing it. I am convinced that there have been blessings I have missed in life simply because I spend time bowing to my idols and pride and busyness.

Second, I must remember that God chooses, not me. His thoughts are not our thoughts and His ways are not our ways. Sometimes He calls us to do the things we wouldn’t naturally choose for ourselves simply to remind us that it is His work and His calling and His equipping that are successful in furthering His kingdom. He doesn’t need me or my abilities to accomplish His will, but He chooses to use us when we submit to Him and His will. And when we begin to take matters into our own hands, things fall apart. Fast. If life is spinning out of control around you, it may be because you are just trying to do more than He has for you to do. What are you doing out of self-imposed expectations? Are those self-imposed expectations godly? I find that normally, they are not.

Third, I must be weak to show Him to be strong. It is not my responsibility to save the day; He’s already done that. I am not the Messiah; but I am called to reflect the Messiah to a lost and dying world. If, at the end of the day, all anyone notices is how much work I do, then I have failed miserably. We are not called to fix it; we are called to point others to the One who has already fixed it.

Sometimes being obedient means dying to self and saying no, because I am not Wonder Woman. As a woman, that is a hard truth to swallow sometimes. God created us to be helpers and multi-taskers, but our sinful nature can so easily twist that God-given desire to help into a sinful, self-focused desire to save the day.

What things in your life do you do simply because you can do the job and not because He has called you to it? Do you live with this thought in the back of your tired and stressed out mind: “Well if I don’t do it, it might not get done.”

How different would the lives of Christian women be if we began focusing on the few things He calls us to and releasing the rest to His control? I am learning that His ability to get it all done is much better than mine, and resting in that truth is freeing indeed.

Christians, Facebook, and Politics


A friend posed this question to me a little while ago:

Someone asked me today how I could post praises to God, and then bash Obama. I was also asked how I thought God would feel about this. Question: How can we as Christians disagree with the policies of this administration that go against the word of God without sounding like “bashing”?

Sometimes I think the problem is that we pray in private and criticize in public. I was much too guilty of that at one point, so I’ve quit posting my opinion about politics. People know how I feel, so when I address issues now, I talk about issues, not people, and I post the truth of Scripture, not my opinion.

Romans 12 and 13 give great instruction on how to interact with those who oppose us and those who govern over us.

Romans 12:16-21:Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Many believers, myself included on occassion, have allowed the current political tone to divide the body of Christ. We have an “Us vs. Them”, “W vs. Obama” mentality. “We” don’t like it when “they” talk about “our man”. So why do “we” expect “them” to be ok with it when “we” talk about “their idiot”? Isn’t that the attitude most days? If you need to blow steam about a particular political official with whom you disagree, do so in a “safe” place with people who agree with you and not on your facebook page where your steam could burn someone else and cause them to stumble.

So what should we do when we morally disagree with the policies of a particular administration? Paul tells us in Romans 13:1-7, “1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.

Speaking out against issues of morality is acceptable. For example, I have a real concern with some “Hate Crime” legislation that could be used to legal action against those who speak out against homosexuality. I believe that homosexuality is just one of many ways mankind has found to twist God’s good gift of sex, and in my ministry, I spend much time speaking and teaching about the truth of Scripture concerning sexual brokenness. If such legislation is passed, a time may come when I will have to choose whether to submit to the government who is asking me to be quiet on a subject about which God says I am to speak the truth or if I will practice civil disobedience, speak out and then accept the civil consequences of that civil disobedience.
But most political issues are not necessarily moral issues; we may think they are unwise, they are the result of past mistakes, they are detrimental and painful and appear asinine at times. But to bemoan the actions of any President as if the sky is falling after every speech he gives leaves the world to assume Christians are whiney hand-wringers who don’t really trust that God is sovereignly in control. President Bush is not the total idiot most Democrats make him out to be and President Obama is not the antichrist most Republicans assume him to be. Neither one is solely resposible for “where we are now” but I am certain that our current situation has not taken the God of the universe by surprise.
As far as disagreeing without bashing… I’ve learned that I can disagree without posting it on facebook. I’m learning that, as a believer, my status has a huge impact on people and I choose to use it now as a chance to speak hope and grace into the lives of others instead of using it as a megaphone for my unsolicited opinion. I don’t want the things I do or say to become a stumbling block for those who need the Gospel more than they need to see things my way concerning the American political system.
So as a believer, regardless of political affiliation, what are you doing to support our current civil servants? Do you pray for them? Do you send them notes of encouragement? Do you write in with ideas of how to change the things with which you disagree? Do you let them know your opinions? How do you keep yourself actively involved so that you don’t just become another all talk, no action complainer? After all, most of us complain that that is what “we” hate most about “them”. Turns out, we’re all “them” to someone.

Women and Sexual Sin, Part 3


Through the discussions posed by many Christian writers and thinkers, a realization has been made that the “big” sins associated with physical infidelity are  behaviors that are the natural end of increasingly sinful thought lives. In other words, if a woman asks the question, “How close can I be with my co-worker without having technically cheated on my husband?” then, according to Scripture, infidelity has already occurred. When Jesus taught, He addressed this correlation between the thoughts and the actions of man. “You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matt. 5:27-28). He also told his followers, “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).

While the issues of fornication, adultery, and homosexuality must be addressed and the behaviors replaced with good, godly behaviors, the Scriptures are clear in teaching that the real issues began not at the moment of physical immorality, but at the moment the thought of infidelity was first entertained. This is a concept that is lost on people today. Society tells people that anything is ok as long as you are not caught. Christ taught that the mind, the inner thoughts that can technically never be caught, are the starting point for sinful living.

For the person counseling a woman involved in sinful sexual behavior, the key to being restored to right relationships is an understanding that the root issue is not the behavior, it is the heart. While it is the behavior that has shattered relationships, if there is not change in the heart and mind, the change in behavior will not be a lasting change. “Though people involved in sexual sin say that they ‘fell in love,’ suggesting a response outside their control, every person has the ability to choose his or her actions. Choosing to sin sexually generally results from pursuing a feeling of closeness to another person without risking true intimacy or responsibility.”

In his letter to the church in Rome, Paul gave this explanation to the Romans concerning the relationship between the thought life and the behavior of believers: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1-2). Simply stated, if a woman will study the Scripture, will submit herself to intensive discipleship that is focused on the “renewing of your mind,” then the offering of her body as a living sacrifice will the natural response.