Previous month:
December 2013
Next month:
February 2014

January 2014

Our Minds are a Battlefield

Minds battlefieldI now start most days sitting for ten minutes in silence as part of my morning ritual.

It has surprised me how difficult it is, not so much being silent, but stopping my thought life. Try it for yourself after you’ve read this post, and see how random thoughts constantly enter your mind.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Ps 46:10 NLT) The Hebrew word translated “Be still” literally means “Let go of your grip.” Let go of all that preoccupies your mind so you can open yourself up to a whole new kind of knowing. 

A knowing that can only come from God. The enemy doesn’t want us to be still, just as the enemy hates it when we pray. They love to distract us from our prayer life because they know prayer engages a response from heaven. When my mind goes off as I sit in silence, I just pray “Come, Jesus come” or something similar. I may have to do this a number of times just to still my mind.

Maintaining a positive thought life has been a constant challenge for me. I’m convinced it’s a key area where the spiritual battle is played out.

Many of you will be familiar with the CS Lewis classic, The Screwtape Letters where a senior demon, Screwtape, instructs a junior demon, Wormwood, on how to be successful in winning over his human victim. Be subtle, influence thoughts, tempt him to think about, distract from the positive, fuel the imagination about what might happen, etc, Screwtape’s letters exhort. The enemy can be so successful in its endeavors to influence our thoughts that unknowingly we can build walled fortresses in our mind.

I attended the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) Conference in 2012 and God used this event to highlight a lie I’d allowed myself to believe all the years of my marriage. This lie had become a fortress in my mind. I don’t recall exactly how I convinced myself so many years ago to believe what I did. However, I do know that I had continued to perpetuate this falsity to such an extent that I seriously doubted my future opportunities in ministry. The lie? I couldn’t have any form of ministry because I was married to a non-believer.

Now I went to ACFW seeking to connect with other authors and help promote my debut novel Angelguard that was releasing a few months later. I was sitting in one of the workshops and listening to this author who was sharing about how she had written both a novel and non-fiction book that reflected her own personal situation of being married to a non-believer. Yes, you’ve guessed it; I was listening to our dear friend, Dineen. I was stunned by the fact that here was an author in a similar marital situation as myself who obviously had a ministry.

Excitement filled my heart.

Could it be possible to have a ministry?  Truth invaded the fortress in my mind. I introduced myself to Dineen later that day and she blessed me with a copy of Winning Him Without Words.

On returning home, I devoured both books and did my own little research too. The release I experienced when I repented of believing this lie and allowing it to take such a hold on my future hopes was incredible. I literally felt a weight come off my shoulders. What this situation reconfirmed for me is the importance of vigilance in prayer and learning Scripture. Yes, learning it, not just reading it. We all have fortresses in our minds:

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” (2 Corinthians 10: 3-5 NASB)

Further, developing connections with people that are sufficiently close that you share your thought life is important. Now this may be friends, spouses or even professionals such as mentors, coaches and counsellors. As with any battle, an isolated target is an easier target, so stay connected. What active steps do you take to keep steadfast in your thought life?  

Notes: 1. Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton, IVP Books, p74   Ian’s Bio Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian's first novel, Angelguard, is now available in the US, UK, Canada and Australia. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian's website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter.     A Sneak Peek Into Angelguard

AngelguardWithin a period of weeks, three horrific bomb blasts devastate areas of London, Los Angeles and Sydney. No explanation is offered, no victory claimed for these acts of terror. Yet behind the scenes a Machiavellian European businessman is planning to bring the G8 nations to their knees for his own larcenous purposes, aided by the dark forces to whom he has sold his soul. Jack Haines, an Australian academic, is grieving the loss of wife and children in the Sydney blast. Against his will he finds himself thrown into a war that transcends the physical world, a conflict in which angelic guards have a special mission for him. This is a gripping novel of the unseen forces that throng our world. (We are blessed to have a copy of Ian's book to give away so leave a comment to enter the drawing.)

A Reader Question

This week I wanted to share a reader question with you.

"Is there a possibility that God would call you to marry someone who spiritually unmatched such as He did with Hosea? I ask this keeping in mind that God's Word tells us not to be unequally yoked with anyone."

My friend, if you look at the story of Hosea and Gomer, God tells him to marry a woman who will become a harlot. More than likely she was of the same "religion" as Hosea, of Israelite heritage and practicing what we call Judaism today. And you are right, God's Word tells us not to be unequally yoked, to not step into a relationship (marriage, business partnership, etc) with an unbeliever. I believe you are talking about 2 Cor. 6:14-16. (First Cor 7:10-16 is another great passage for those of us who are mismatched.)

As someone who had lived and is living this, I don't recommend it. LOL! God has worked in amazing ways in my marriage and grown my faith significantly because of my mismatch, but it's a very difficult and sometimes lonely journey. And I adore my husband and work very hard at our marriage. But the essence of who I am, a daughter of the Most High King, I can't share that with my husband. He doesn't understand it and has no desire to understand because he doesn't think God is real. That's the painful part.
I have encounters with God, see how He works in our lives and am experiencing things in the supernatural that astound me and fill me with such joy and fulfills me as only God can, but I can't share any of it with my husband.
One day I believe that will change and I firmly believe what 1 Cor 7: 10-16 says, especially about sanctification.
So, I hope I have answered your question. I don't know why you are asking, if this is for you or for a friend. There's a reason this is in the Bible because God loves us so much He desires us to have hearts set on Him first. When your spouse doesn't have this same focus, to put God first in his or her life, it makes it more challenging for us, because we are influenced by those we love and make covenants with, and marriage is a covenant.
As God honored the covenant that Joshua unwittingly made with the Gibeonites, God helps us in our mismatched marriages and works in miraculous ways to bless our pre-believers through us. But His first desire is that we do not walk into mismatched marriage, when His Word tells us not too. Pray for wisdom and discernment. I know God will supply that and more for you, my friend. Love and hugs, Dineen

Are you parenting teens while in a mismatched marriage?

My Friends, Lynn and I (Dineen) are now blogging monthly with ChooseNow Ministries with a heart to reach more women and men who desire to thrive in their spiritually mismatched marriage and raise godly children. Nicole has a great new resource that she wants to share with us.

Are you parenting teens while in a mismatched marriage? Who'd have thought that parenting through the teen years alongside a pre-believing spouse would be as challenging, even more sometimes, as parenting through the toddlers years. The thing about teenagers is they need you in different ways than younger children do. When teens need you, it's for more permanent things. Toddlers need a diaper change--but don't worry, if you get it wrong, you'll have another chance. Young children need a band-aid on a boo-boo--you'll do fine with that, but if you mess it up, you'll get to do it again. But when it comes to teens, their issues involve choices that have lasting consequences and life issues that can affect them for a long time. They need you. They need you both. And definitely more than toddlers do, they notice with you're not on the same page, and they quickly learn how to use your differences to their advantage. The most important thing is communication. Communication between you and your spouse, between you and your teen, and you and God. I work with parents and teens to make sure communication is effective and their relationships are thriving. I, along with my team at Choose NOW Publishing, have just launched an incredible set of resources for parents that meets them right in the heart of their need whether they are parenting alongside a fellow follower of Christ, or someone who has not yet surrendered to Him. When I talk with parents, I get asked desperate questions like these:

  • How can I keep my kids grounded in the faith?
  • What if I lose connection with my teenagers?
  • How have you managed to keep such a wonderful relationship with your teens?
  • How can I stop just trying make it through and actually enjoy my kids?
  • How can I make this a positive time in our relationship and in my teen's faith walk?
  • How do I help my teenagers know Jesus for real?
  • What if they never do?

As I re-read that list, I can envision the countless parents who have asked me those questions with desperation in their eyes. They want answers and concrete steps to take to make a difference in their teens' lives. This is even more true for the parents who feel like they are trying to make it happen alone. Powerline365 is just the companion you need to victoriously power through this next year and beyond.

 Powerline365 Plugging Parents of Teens into the Source Powerline365 is a high-voltage, multi-format daily devotional to help parents raise Christian teens without losing connection. Tap into the power you need to lead your teens into a vibrant personal relationship with Jesus. Many teens, even those from Christian homes, fail to connect with Him on a personal level. They forge on alone, searching for identity as the enemy pelts them with temptations and doubts. As parents, we’re left reeling, wondering where we went wrong. Powerline365 offers daily insight to ground you in truth as you plug into the Source.

It's time for you to power-parent from a place of confidence and surrender, believing God's Word is true, and His promises will never go unfulfilled. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within [your teenager], will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. (Philippians 1:6, NLT) Now, here's the really interesting part!

Crowdfunding is a super-risky, but potentially awesome way to make products available to the public. It pools the resources of the people who are most interested in either owning or supporting the development of a new idea or work. In this case, it would be the user of Powerline365 or those who believe in the project and want to support the raising up of a godly generation of teens who would fund--or buy in--at various levels based on what they'd like to own or gift to someone else. The best way for you to see what I mean is to pop over to the campaign site and see what's what. Just visit when you're done here.

The coolest thing about this project is the multi-format, multi-use approach we've taken to make it easily accessible to you in whatever way best suits your needs. And the best part is that we're currently engaged in an indiegogo campaign to fund this project.

Which means EARLY ACCESS for you! And by early, I mean you can have this material in your hands in TWO DAYS! Would you pop over to our campaign page and see what we have going on? There's a lot of great opportunity and interesting things you'll only have access to through this campaign. Plus it's the ONLY way to get ahold of these resources now, in time for 2014.

GIVEAWAY: And all who participate in the campaign and leave a comment here will be entered to win a Spark30 devotional subscription. We'll give away one for every ten participants. This can also be gifted! My heartfelt prayer is that you'll find victory in your relationship with your teens as you lead them to good choices and a strong faith in Jesus. Nicole O'Dell is the founder of Choose NOW Ministries, bringing a message of hope for today's families through daily articles, weekly radio shows, and the printed word. A mother of six herself, she has authored 23 books for parents and teens, both fiction and nonfiction, all with the goal of helping the reader make good choices NOW.