3 Steps to Stopping Ugly Thoughts

ugly thoughtsWho doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.

So today you learn how to:

1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.

2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.

3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here.

What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires;  to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Step 1: Identify

First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:

UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS

Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.

UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”

EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness

ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips

Step 2: Replace

Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:

TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS

Here’s a corresponding example.

TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.

NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage

NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application

Step 3: See Change

Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought. And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.

You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.

Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?

Counseling Hope to Your Heart,

 

Help! I’m a Slave to Food (part 1)

foodFood is a gift from God, right? But for some people, overeating is a. . .sin. In this helpful post that first appeared here, counselor Paul Tautges shares parts of Shannon Kay McCoy‘s booklet, Help! I’m a Slave to Food. It is used with permission. (Edited for length–LAM)

God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).

So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.

Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–

  • whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
  • therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
  • all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
  • sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).

These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.

Sin of Overeating?

Slave to Food-small email

McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”

Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem. But overeating does n

ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.

You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.

As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.

Description of a Food Struggle

A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:

My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.

In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.

Overeating Is Not an Addiction

Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.

Overeating Is Idolatry

The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.

You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.

God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change

Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:

Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.

Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.

RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

Top 3 Reasons for Anger!

anger 3Anger: Some women bottle it up; others let it blow. The important question: What’s the best way to handle anger?

You’ve experienced anger, haven’t you? We all have. The reasons for anger outnumber summer dandelions. Like a dandelion, it has a root. Just as weeding can rid dandelions from your yard, you can learn the best way to let go of your anger.

In this article, you’ll get these two practical helps to grow hope in your soul:

  1. Identify 3 main reasons for anger.
  2. Discover the how to zap anger at its root.

The last thing you want is a place for the devil. The word devil come from the Greek diabolos, which means “one who makes malicious false statements; a false accuser; a slanderer.” It is the a title for Satan.

His main goal is to deceive people, including Christians. He wants to convince you to reject the truth and believe lies.

‘In your anger do not sin.’ Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. (Ephesians 4:26-27, NIV)

Reasons for Anger

Hurt: Tami’s husband is MIA — “in the worst way,” she says. “He’s here but not here. I’m so hurt I could scream.” After dinner, he disappears into his man cave, where he reclines in a La-Z-Boy and flips cable channels. He has next-to-know conversation with Tami or their two young school-aged children during the evening. She cleans up after dinner, helps with homework, and gets them ready for bed — and seethes.

A normal response to a hurt is anger. When hurt, do you stuff your anger? Do you yell or slam doors?

Lack of control. When your life gets squirmy, you may feel out of control and angry.

“What are you? Stupid?” Suzanne yelled into her cell. Her teenage son had forgotten to pick up his little brothers from soccer practice. A single mom, she depends on her eldest for help. Her mocking putdown reveals her feelings of lack of control. She didn’t get what she wanted so she got angry.

Can you think something you got that you didn’t want? Perhaps a parking ticket? A poor performance review? A snub from a friend? What was your emotion?

Godly indignation. Sometimes — but not often, if we’re honest — you and I feel anger when we hate what God hates. God hates hypocrisy. He hates evil. God hates the trafficking of children. God experiences anger yet never sins. His anger is holy.

Here’s a scene in the Bible where Jesus displays anger:

Jesus goes into the synagogue on a Sabbath where there were Pharisees and a man with a withered hand and “looked around at them [the Pharisees] in anger and, deeply distressed at their stubborn hearts, said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ He stretched it out, and his hand was completely restored. Then the Pharisees went out and began to plot with the Herodians how they might kill Jesus” (Mark 5:6).

What’s something you hate that God hates? Does it make you angry? This is godly indignation.

How to Kill Anger

Hold on to your godly indignation and let it propel you to good — this is holy anger. My husband and I hate the suffering of families in poverty. Our anger has led us to support a child through World Vision and to organize a food drive to stock a local food pantry. But. . .

Uproot ungodly anger. It ends up hurting you and the people around you. It also grieves the Spirit (Ephesians 4:30).

Unresolved anger can become bitterness that poisons your relationships and you. The sure “cure” for anger is forgiveness. Let’s look at forgiveness from two angles.

When you’ve been wronged, you can become angry and sin. Or you can choose forgiveness. Forgiveness isn’t easy. It costs you. It cost God (Colossians 3:13). When you forgive someone, you no longer hold the person’s sin against them. Forgiving doesn’t excuse their behavior or pretends the wrong never happened. However, you choose to let it go.

Your also deal with your hurt in a godly manner. It is wise for Tami and Suzanne to seek God’s perspective and determine to obey the Word in spite of how they feel. Both women need to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) to their family members.

Tami could let her husband know how his disappearing act hurts her and the family. She can be confident that God will work in her husband’s heart, convicting him of his need to ask forgiveness (2 Timothy 3:16). Suzanne could lovingly remind her son that she counts on him to help out and if he’s unable to follow through on his commitment than he needs to let her know so she can make alternate arrangements.

In addition, Tami needs to ask her husband’s forgiveness. She has anger toward her husband that she need to confess. Suzanne needs to ask her son’s forgiveness too. Angry words cut like a knife.

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. (James 1:19)

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

3 Parts of a Message

Did you know that the words you say are just one part of your communication? Your body language and your tone of voice make up a far larger part of your message than your words. Would you believe that they account for more than 90 percent of your message? This is an essential you need to know — that I need to remember too — in all of our relationships.

Please subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it! When you subscribe you also will get a complimentary e-Book on your indentity in Christ. Also, order the quick download “7 Steps to Putting the Past in the Past. . .and Keeping It There.”



Sharing hope with your heart,

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Feel Worthless? Reject Lies You Believe!

worthlessHave you believed the lie “I’m worthless”? Many women have! They feel like pond scum! 

In this article, you’ll discover:

  1. Why you feel worthless.
  2. How to overcome the worthless trap.

Remember this: No woman is ‘pond scum’!

‘Am I a Worthless Freak’?

Women who feel inferior often wonder if there’s something terribly wrong with them–and with God. Did you know that what you believe about God affects what you believe about yourself? If you have a twisted view of God, you’ll probably adopt a distorted view of yourself.

So where do twisted views come from? Let’s look at three of them.

CHILDHOOD INFLUENCERS

Often the important people in your childhood told you in words and/or actions that you didn’t matter. Did your dad abandon you? Was your mom emotionally unavailable? Did a relative or family friend poke fun at you?

Perhaps you wore glasses or had carrot-colored hair or were super skinny or a bit chunky. When people who ought to build you up tear you down instead, you begin to believe their lies. Their lies say: You’re worthless.

People often asked, ‘Why do you live with your uncle and aunt? Your folks, brothers, and sister live close, why not live at home?’

‘I don’t know,’ I answered. Wondering, am I a freak? –KC

RECURRING HURTS

Later in life you may experience compounding hurts of a broken marriage, a teenage son or daughter who refuses Christian values, the pain of office gossip, or a tramautic event like bankrupcy, death of a loved one, even robbery or a rape.

Everytime I see a guy who looks the creep who held a gun to my head, I think, ‘Why did he pick me? Am I wearing an X or something?’ –MH

BAD CHOICES

People-pleasing, drugs use, longing for love from guys — these are a few of the bad choices some women make to counteract feelings of worthlessness.

Sadly and tragicly, says Nancy Leigh DeMoss, there’s a sick progression from deep hurts in childhood that lead to destructive beliefs and actions.

“First, as a child, [a] woman was told a terrible, destructive lie,” DeMoss says. “She listened to the lie; then rathering countering the lie with the Truth, she dwelt on the lie until she believed it was actually true.

Ultimately, she acted on the lie until she found herself in bondage to the lie: ‘[I] became very depressed, and wanted to go to sleep and never wake up.'”

What is a lie you believed? How did it color your thinking and your choices? Did you even want to just give up? Where did you find peace?

Getting Free of the Worthless Trap

Like mold in a shower, lies blacken your beliefs about yourself. Repeat: You are not pond scum! Every believer is a precious daughter of the Most High God! Your worth is rooted in Christ.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him. 1 Peter 2:4

Indeed, Jesus was rejected by men. More important, he was chosen by God.

When Godworthless sent Jesus Christ to earth in order to pay the price for your sins and mine on the cross, he declared your precious worth. Will you continue believing the lie that you’re worthless when God has proven you have great worth? It’s a lot to wrap your mind around, isn’t it?  

Here’s an another amazing truth:

Christ gave his life for you in order to give his life to you so that he could live his live through you.


Three Actions to Take:

1. Recognize that God wants to bless you. He is for you. You belong to him, and he wants you to experience the abundant life.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

2. Determine to want what God wants: a loving relationship with Jesus. Let go of lesser pleasures that entice. Seek the greatest pleasure and spend your life enjoying God.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

3. Embrace the truth that God uses the pain of trials, including feelings of worthlessness, to deepen your desire for the highest dream.

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1:6-7

Isn’t it wonderful to know that you belong to God? That you can enjoy him? That your pain has a purpose: to become more and more like Jesus.

An Offer

Friends, we have one hope: Christ. In him we have everything we need to live a fruitful and godly life now. If you’re in a trial and would like biblical counsel to grow and change and find solutions, I invite you to consider biblical counseling. I’m a certified biblical counselor (ACBC, ABC, BCC) and a graduate of Western Seminary, Portland, OR, in Pastoral Care to Women.

I meet with women and families in person in greater Chicago and by Skype worldwide. Would you like a complimentary 20-minute consult. Please contact me.

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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3 Ways to Escape Temptation

temptation

You can escape temptation. Knowing this brings hope, doesn’t it? Here’s an escape plan.

If someone offered you houseboat a few yards above Niagara Falls, would you buy it? Of course not.

Would you let your teen attend a Prom with a known drug user? No again.

These are obvious risks. You wouldn’t feel tempted to “give in.” Temptation is an enticement to make an ungodly choice because you think that you will gain something: pleasure or another benefit. At times you have succumbed to temptation, haven’t you? We all have.

In this article, you’ll discover three ways to overcome temptation.

  1. Understand how temptation works.
  2. Know true change is possible.
  3. Draw near to God.

1. Understand How Temptation Works

Why do Christian women sometimes lose the temptation battle and–

The short answer: You have an enemy who wants to snooker you into believing the lie that giving in means more happiness for you. It doesn’t. Maybe for a very short while you experience fleeting happiness. Soon guilt weighs you down and you feel shame, fear, even depression.

When you understand how temptation works, you are more likely to escape it.

Once a beautiful angel named Lucifer, Satan desired exaltation above God (Isaiah 14:12-14). God then kicked him out of heaven along with angels who sided with Satan. Satan now “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). He is strategic and intelligent but not all-powerful. He is a defeated foe with two basic plans.

Plan A: Interfere with your following Christ in the first place.

Plan B: Tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power.

Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’: for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he himself tempt anyone (James 1:13).

2. Know True Change Is Possible

You can hope to overcome temptation. Hope isn’t wishful thinking. It is the confident expectation of good.

This confidence depends on God’s nature and his Word, not circumstances. It assures you that sin no longer rules (Romans 6:14). It guarantees that God has the ultimate victory over sin and death (Romans 8:35-39). 14). It strengthens you in the midst of difficulties.

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God knows when you’re tempted and he promises to provide a way of escape. Isn’t this comforting? You aren’t the first one to face trials like yours. Others have–successfully. You can choose a new, godly response. You need not fall back on old sinful responses.

As a well-known biblical counselor has said, “Paul makes it clear that to say ‘I can’t’ is not an option when God says one can.”

3. Draw Near to God

A while back, while loading groceries in my car, I noticed sunglasses in the corner of my cart. I had failed to the item on the check-out counter and didn’t pay for it.

My teenage son said, “Mom, let’s go back in and pay.” I was already running behind schedule and was tempted to zip away, rationalizing that the cashier should have seen the sunglasses so it was her fault, not mine. What would you have done? I returned to the store and paid.

Temptation itself is not sin. Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert and didn’t give in to the temptation (Matthew 4:1-11).  When temptation is resisted there is no sin.

Jesus told the devil, “Be gone, Satan! For it is written,

‘You shall worship the Lord your God
    and him only shall you serve.’”

Jesus’ words remind me of this verse in James:

 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

What a comforting promise! Satan’s Plan B — to tempt you to be an ineffective Christian by doubting God’s goodness and power — doesn’t stand a chance against the Lord. You can be victorious in Christ when tempted to gossip, right? Or yell at your kids. Or get drunk. Or give in to fear.

When tempted, resist!

This escape plan sounds to easy to work, doesn’t it? I challenge you to keep track of the times you’re tempted, what you did to resist the devil (or failed to do), and what was the result. God is able to keep you from stumbling.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)

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5 AMAZING NAMES GOD CALLS YOU!

Blessed, Daughter, Saint, and more!

In this delightful, four-color ebook, you’ll discover the precious names God calls you. Today so many Christian women don’t fully know their wonderful identity in Christ. Isn’t a time to know yours? Filled with scripture, photography, personal stories, and encouragement!

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