InPursuit

Discipline of Mind {Book Club Thursdays}

Welcome!

We’re jumping into Barbara Hughes’, Disciplines of a Godly Woman (affil. link).
For your convenience, all the posts in the series will be archived here. Or, to make life even easier, subscribe to our Book Club Thursdays newsletter and receive all book club posts directly to your email. 

You will also receive a link to our private FB group where we can chat through some of the concepts in this book and a free PDF downloadable Study Sheet

I hope you’re ready for the ride, because it’s going to be filled with encouragement, insight, and God-inspired wisdom.

Chapter 6: Discipline of Mind, Submission’s Education

“Do not confirm any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,”  (Romans 12:2).

At the age of 21 I was a single momma with a 4-year-old son, and I was leading a destructive life. I was putting myself in unwise and unhealthy situations and scenarios. I was making foolish decisions, going down dark and self-destructive paths.  I had done things I never imagined I’d do, and gone places I never imagined I’d go. I was lost, for sure. I was hopeless, without a cure for my distress and hopelessness. I was broken beyond repair. But God.

April of 2003, God met me in this place. His kindness drew me to repentance and my life was changed. My sin was forgiven. I was given eternal life with Him, I was filled with the Spirit of God, my slate was wiped clean, and I had the backing of heaven on my side. I became a child of God, drafted into–adopted into–His family. I became accepted in the Beloved, approved, redeemed, restored, reconciled to God by Christ.

Instantly, so much became available to me. Yet, there was one little problem. I didn’t know about it. I didn’t realize it. I was still the young 21-year-old who needed desperately to allow God to unravel divine layers of grace. I needed Him to show me what to do with all the hurt, baggage, pain, and junk that I carried with me. I knew I was forgiven and set free. But how did I begin to walk this out practically in my life? How did my newfound relationship with God work itself into my every-day-ordinary? How did making Jesus Christ my Lord and Savior affect the different areas of my life which I was walking out in destructive ways and patterns.

How doI change? How does a mind and heart steeped in rebellion, wickedness, perversion, evil, and iniquity move towards righteousness, holiness, and truth?

Well, I didn’t know it back then, but “it is God who works in me both to will and to do according to His good pleasure,” (Phil. 2:13). I didn’t realize it at the time, but it’s the Holy Spirit  Who leads us in all truth (John 16:13). Fourteen years later, I can look back and see how God works in us patiently, lovingly, and transforms us, little by little. One step at a time. I didn’t know it back then, but every time I opened my Bible He was teaching me. He was leading me. He was guiding me. He was revealing truth to me. Every time I got on my knees in prayer, He was working out His plan in me. Every time I picked up a book to learn about the Christian walk, go deeper into a specific topic, or read about men and women of faith…He was growing me.

Today, I understand that I was choosing NOT to conform to the pattern this world was offering. My heart testified that there was a new way to do things. My mind had been touched by God’s redeeming power, and I knew that there was a different way to live. A way in which life abounded. Peace was mine. Joy was mine. I was Gods and He was mine.

Submission’s education was happening in my life and I didn’t even realize. I just had such a hunger for God and His word. I was cultivating my heart and mind and didn’t even know it. I was being changed. I was being renewed. My ways of thinking, behaving, speaking, and the choices I was making were starting to align with God’s word. Looking in the mirror, I couldn’t see the dramatic work taking place. It was a day-by-day, moment-by-moment work. The Holy Spirit sanctifying me and causing transformation in my whole life as my mind was being renewed.

Now, that’s great and all, but how does it look practically? Okay, let’s talk about that. Barbara has shared some wonderful ideas, tools, and thoughts on this very thing.

God’s Computer Program

“Many women may feel defeated because their past has been such a series of bad choices. It’s hard to believe that you can change when you’ve regularly chosen the impure, the illusory, the negative. But no one can rationalize her present choices by the past. As Christian women, we are free to have christian minds! It’s within our reach–and it’s part of our discipline of godliness.”

Like a computer, input matters. Paul emphasises what the Christian’s input should be: “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy– think about such things,” (Phil. 4:8).

What comes out of man is what’s in his heart. If we desire the output of our lives to be godliness, then it’s important we’re being careful with the input. Our mental programming and heart must line up with Scripture. After all, it’s God who designed us. He knows how we function to our best capacity. Filling our minds with negativity, ungodly influences, and all things lewd and negative will not create the desired output. Rather, it will take intentional focus on that which is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy.

“So make this truth a foundation for your  life as a godly woman: A Christian mind is impossible without the discipline of refusal. Part of having a Christian mind is saying no to ungodly influences.”

The Power of Refusal

This next section is vital. Yet, I know I won’t be able to expound here the way I’d like. So bear with me as I place before you quotes from this section that help us to see the power of refusing what culture wants to throw at us.

“Any who think that they have been able to keep their minds noble and pure in this culture, without rigorous discipline, are kidding themselves,” (p. 69).

Barbara goes on to share statistics regarding the increase in violence, sexual content, and foul language in our television shows, movies, and games. Keep in mind that this book was first printed in 2001. What is described below has increased exponentially.

“Some years ago media critic Malcolm Muggeridge said: “The  one thing television can’t do is express ideas… There is a danger in translating life into an image… it is falsifying life.” If you haven’t noticed, television is all about image! Consider, by contrast, how God communicates with us: “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,” (Hebrews 1:1-2)…

Words communicate ideas. This is important!  As cultural observer and critic Kenneth Myers has said, “A culture that is rooted more in images than in words will find it increasingly difficult to sustain any broad commitment to any truth, since truth is an abstraction requiring language.” As the images of television increasingly become the favored method of communication rather than words, people lose their capacity for reasoned thought. They therefore lose the ability to possess the mind of Christ,” (p. 70).

The power of refusal helps us to refuse that which is “dumbing” us down and choosing that which will help us to think and reason biblically. It’s about choosing to turn off the television, or media (not because it’s a sin and not because we’re legalistic about our media intake), but because you want to spend time cultivating the inner life.

“I’m not advocating that Christians stop watching all TV and movies. Christianity is by nature countercultural not anti cultural. There are worthwhile things to view. But I am calling for gospel women to take control of their minds–what comes in and what goes out… Ours is a media age, but the psalmist offers some wise and timely advice for us: “I will walk in my house with blameless heart. I will set before my eyes no vile thing,” (101:2-3). So let Christ be the Lord of your daytime and your prime time!” (p. 71).

Intentional Programming

Back to Paul’s words to the Phillipians, we’re to think on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy. Thinking on these things is God’s perfect designs for mental health and abundant living. “God calls us in His Word to rigorous and positive discipline in this area.”

Scripture Reading

“The godly woman’s discipline of mind is achieved through a serious and continual exposure to God’s Word…This is all-important. You can never have a Christian mind without regular reading of the Scriptures and serious Bible study. Why is this? Because you cannot be profoundly influenced by what you don’t know. If you are filled with God’s Word, your life can then be informed and directed by God–your relationships at home, your parenting, your career, your ethical decisions, your internal moral life. The way to a Christian mind is through God’s Word!” (p. 72).

This is as simple as opening up your Bible and choosing a chapter or book to read. If you want a bit more structure and direction, in her book’s resource section, Barbara shares a one year Bible reading plan.

Whatever you do, though, opening up your word is essential to the discipline of mind. It’s the only way to know God’s heart and to think the thoughts of God after him.

Christian Books and Great Literature

This part of the book is one of my favorites. Growing up, I never heard about reading christian books and literature. I didn’t even know there was a wealth of information available to me on the lives of great Christians who went before us. I didn’t know there were men and women who performed great feats and endured great trails to advance the Kingdom of God. It was like if life jumped from the Bible heroes right to us, here in the 21st century. There was so much background and history I was missing. These stories are important. They are part of our Christian heritage. In the past seven years, I’ve had the pleasure of reading through some of these, and have been greatly challenged, encouraged, and impacted by them.

“Why should we bother with Christian reading apart from Scripture? All the Christians who have come before us are offering a wealth of accumulated knowledge and wisdom. To feed on their ideas and experiences is to reject spiritual anorexia. Great Christian writing will magnify, dramatize, and illuminate life-giving truth for us. Others have walked the same paths we want to walk. They’ve chronicled the pitfalls and posted warning signs for us along the way. They’ve pointed the way in their descriptions of spiritual delights that will draw us onward and upward,” (p.74).

Barbara shares almost six pages in the resource section of the book to help us continue learning and growing far after we’ve closed the pages of this book. This part alone in the book is worth more than the cost I paid for the book!

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The Discipline of Mind helps us to walk with the astounding gift God’s granted us: the mind of Christ. I leave you with this encouraging exhortation from Barbara:

“Women, once we’ve exercised that right of refusal, we can fill our minds with good stuff! Some of us read rapidly, some don’t. But any one of us could commit to reading two or three really good books in the year ahead. The human brain [is] an amazing instrument with what fabulous capacity! The mind is greater than any and all computers because it can possess the mind of Christ and think God’s thoughts after Him, hear His heart, and do His works. What an eternal tragedy it is to have such a mind and have it redeemed, and yet not have a Christian mind. Bring your mind under submission to the Gospel. Protect it! Say not to the spiritual wastelands that try to invade your home,” (p. 75).

I encourage you to memorize Philippians 4:8. Allow God to to transform your life by the renewing of your mind! Then meet me here next week when we’ll talk about the Discipline of Contentment.

{Thoughts to Ponder}

Q1: Philippians 4:8 points your thought life toward positive ideals. How can you do this practically when you’re in the middle of stress, trials, or difficulty?

Q2: Read Matthew 5:29, Psalm 101:2-3, Psalm 119:97-100. What do these teach you about your thought life?

Q3: What book are you currently reading to cultivate your thought life?

Q4: What 3 books (that will help cultivate your heart and mind) do you want to commit to read through in the next year?

**Some discussion questions taken from Disciplines of a Godly Woman by Barbara Hughes. All quotes by Barbara Hughes unless otherwise noted. 

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© 2016 Darlene Collazo | {In Pursuit} My Quest

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