Encouragement 2-04-04

February 4, 2004

Encouragement for Today


Make Up Your Mind

Mary Southerland – Director with Proverbs 31 Ministries, Author and Speaker


Key Verse:


Isaiah 26:3 You, LORD, give true peace to those who depend on you, because they trust you.  (NCV)





As I stood on the sideline of the football field where my eighteen year old son was practicing for the South Florida All Star Football Game, I was not prepared for the hideous sounds and horrific sights that assaulted every protective sense I have as a mother.  My baby – my six foot, two hundred and thirty pound baby - was knocking padded giants left and right as he bulldozed his way toward the goal line.


Mixed emotions, foreign thoughts skipped through my heart and mind.  On one hand I was so proud of Jered that I felt like shouting to the college scouts and coaches standing beside me, “That’s my boy!”  On the other hand I wanted to drag him off of that field, lock him in his nice, safe room and never let him play the barbaric game of football again. The curious thing is that Jered is a gentle young man who loves every animal he sees, will do anything to help anyone in need, rarely gets angry and is a major hugger!  So what happens when he steps on that football field?  I’ll tell you what happens; he turns into a growling, intimidating predator who will bash heads and bruise any bodies that get in his way!


On the ride home, I shared my thoughts with Jered, describing my astonishment at his metamorphosis from the teddy bear I know to the bulldozing bear opponents fear.  He laughed and said, “Mom, ninety per cent of football is mental.  If you think tough you will be tough.”  I could buy that theory, in part, but looking at Jered’s size, considerable bulk and bulging muscles, I had to believe that his physical attributes had something to do with his intimidating bruiser mentality on the football field.  “Son, you are a hulk.  Any player would be afraid of you!”  He grinned, loving the compliment and then reminded me of a friend who had graduated two years before.  Chris was a short, lean but deadly running back known for intimidating players twice his size.  I did remember Chris, as well as Jered coming home from several practices complaining, “I’d rather get hit by anyone on the team but Chris.  He is brutal!”  My son then said something I will never forget.  “Mom, Chris was a great football player because he thought he was a great football player.  I have seen so many guys who are bigger, stronger and better who could not begin to play as well as Chris played. In this game, success is not only in the body but the mind.


What a powerful truth – on the football field – and in the game of life.


The thought processes of a child are very different from those of a mature person.  A child thinks only of himself and his desires, his wants and needs making up the heart of his world and completely occupying his focus. Certainly for the sake of survival every baby comes into this world as a narcissist, thinking only of its own needs.  But with healthy growth of the mind comes a natural change in focus from inward to outward.  The thought life of a mature believer must be well trained because the greatest battlefield for the Christian is the mind.  Proverbs 23:7 tells us, “For as he thinks within himself, so he is.”  (NASB)  In other words, what we think about powerfully influences what we will become.  Our actions, our attitudes and habits are born in the mind, an offspring of the thought life we entertain. 


We can literally change our lives by changing how we think – but we cannot do it alone.  God’s standard and guideline for the thought life is very clear and demanding.  In fact, it’s downright impossible! 


Philippians 4:8 “Think about the things that are good and worthy of praise.  Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.” (NCV)


We choose what we watch and read, the conversations we have and the time we spend in the Word.  If the mind is not filled with good, trust me, the enemy will fill it with bad. The human mind will always set itself on something!  In this passage, Paul is challenging us to wisely choose that setting, taking charge of our thoughts by inviting the Holy Spirit to empower God’s standard for the mind. It is time for us to allow the Holy Spirit free reign in training our mind, harnessing our thoughts and measuring them by God’s standard. If we don’t make up our mind, our unmade mind will unmake us.  In order to live right we must think right.  How about you?  Have you made up your mind?



My prayer for today:


Lord, I confess to You that my thoughts are not pure.  I have allowed the world and outside influences to pollute the mind that should be set on You.  Right now I choose against my old ways of thinking and invite the Holy Spirit to stand guard over my mind.  I commit to fill my heart and mind with Your truth. In Jesus’ name I pray and believe.  Amen.



Application steps: 


I recognize the power of my thought life. 


I choose God’s worthy standard for my thought life from this day on.



Reflection points:


In the past, how have my thoughts affected my decisions or actions?


How can I control outside sources of influence?


What part can the Word of God play in renewing my mind?  How?



Power verses:


Colossians 3: 2 Let heaven fill your thoughts. Do not think only about things down here on earth.  (NLT)


Ephesians 4: 22-24 Throw off your old evil nature and your former way of life, which is rotten through and through, full of lust and deception. Instead, there must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes. You must display a new nature because you are a new person, created in God's likeness--righteous, holy, and true.  (NLT)


Romans 8:6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.  (NASB)


Isaiah 26:3 You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.  (NIV)


Psalm 26: 2-3 Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.  (NIV)


1 Chronicles 28:9 "And you, my son Solomon, acknowledge the God of your father, and serve him with wholehearted devotion and with a willing mind, for the LORD searches every heart and understands every motive behind the thoughts. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will reject you forever.  (NIV)



Additional resources:


How to Live a Life of Victory by Mary Southerland



A Woman after God’s Heart by Elizabeth George



Radically Obedient, Radically Blessed by Sharon Jaynes



Ultimate Makeover by Sharon Jaynes



Originally published Wednesday, 04 February 2004.