Schedule Your Stillness

Everyone is so busy—making meals, serving someone, taking kids to activities, running around, and talking to people. I see busyness everywhere. I can’t believe what everyone feels like. They engage in a conversation, but they hurry to go. They need to leave. They can’t be fully engaged because they’ve got their next thing right behind this one.

In the past ten days, I have spent many hours sitting in a prayer room. One of the prayer rooms I have been sitting in has been going since 1999. They have worshipped and prayed to God for our nation twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week since 1999. The moment you walk in there, you can truly feel the presence of God. You can tangibly feel it. My first day in there, the moment I walked in, I almost fell to my knees and began weeping. It’s powerful.

There is nothing more radical than stepping into a prayer room for the first time. You are in an unknown area. It’s like being in an ocean—you’re like, “Is a shark going to get me, or am I going to see a beautiful fish?” Am I going to like this or hate it? I don’t know. The first time, it is uncomfortable because you’re not used to it. It’s outside your comfort zone. Anything outside your comfort zone is uncomfortable. But if you truly allow yourself to pause, slow down, and stop the busyness long enough to step into a prayer room, remain there through the uncomfortable part, and sit and be still long enough—until you find comfort and peace—it will completely blow your mind and change you forever.    
I remember one of the first times Spencer was in the prayer room. She had taken a bunch of activities in, and she sat there. She sat there for forty-five minutes, and she could do nothing. She couldn’t draw. She couldn’t think. She couldn’t do the activity. She simply sat there. She was in the presence and power of God, and she didn’t even know it. The first picture she finally ended up drawing was a girl on her knees with her arms surrendered as high as she could reach them. It was beautiful.    
Chandler had a similar experience. She got in there and couldn’t take her eyes off of the worship leader. She was mesmerized. It was as if, “Wow, I have found the most peaceful place on earth!”    
If we are lacking peace because of our busy schedules, I believe the enemy wants to keep us so busy we cannot stop and renew our strength. Isaiah 41:1 says, “Be still and renew your strength.” God is talking to His army, and He is saying, “Hey, it’s in your stillness I renew your strength.”    
For me, I schedule stillness into my everyday calendar. People would ask me if I could do something, and I would say, “No.” It may be because I’ve scheduled my stillness. Although I am not busy with someone else, I’m busy with me. I’m busy with God. I don’t need an excuse bigger than this to keep my time and hold myself to it. 
It’s good to schedule stillness in your calendar because the busyness can sweep you away until you wake up and don’t know where you are. You are restless without peace. Schedule peace for yourself.    

Are Negative Thoughts Running Your Life?

Resist the devil.
There are many times when negative thoughts will pop into your head and cause you to feel as if youre not loved by anyone and youre all alone. Recently Robin Williams committed suicide. He had depression. You know, this whole problem had to start with a negative thought. One negative thought is not a big deal until it builds into a mountain of negative thoughts.
It is essential we learn to differentiate between good and evil thoughts. As Jesus put it, “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 NIV). If a destructive thought enters your mind and tries to steal the hope, faith, love, and peace you have in Jesus Christ, why would you even consider letting it be okay? Well, the truth is you probably wouldn’t think much of it because one negative thought isnt a big deal unless you allow it to take root. Then other negative thoughts creep in and build on it, and destruction takes hold.
We must learn to recognize that those stealing thoughts are from the enemy. They are from the devil. James wrote, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). It sounds simple, right? It is simple, but it also requires hard work. We need to be active in our resistance. This mental effort is part of submitting ourselves to God. When were not resisting those negative thoughts, were actually submitting to the devil.
There is no gray area, no middle ground, no in-between. You cant accept a destructive thought and claim you’re submitting to God. When we submit to God, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). If we are fully surrendered to God, we actually want to rid our minds of every harmful thought. We don’t want to keep those thoughts because we know they are not His.
I have noticed many Christians struggle with determining whether the thoughts and influences peppering our minds are from God or from the enemy. We have trouble sorting through everything. Many of us are living in a constant state of confusion. The uncertainty provides a foothold for negativity. We start to recall all of our sins. We know we’re guilty. We know the punishment our sin deserves. We start to believe the destructive thoughts are God’s way of punishing us.
I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that God is not looking for opportunities to bring you down. He is full of compassion towards you. He is not trying to find reasons to be mad at you (Isaiah 54:9–10 NIV). The devil, on the other hand, stands ready to leap into every gap in our faith. The enemy wants to deceive you. He wants you to believe the damaging thoughts are from God because then you will receive them. 

Once you allow negative thoughts to take hold, they will poison your mind. They will shackle you and prevent you from moving forward in the work God has for you to do. Pessimism will hold you in captivity. You will be a slave, and you will remain in bondage so long as you allow the negative thoughts to consume you. You wont be living in the fullness of the freedom Jesus paid dearly for you to experience.
The good news is God provides us with everything we need to resist destructive thoughts. If we “take up the shield of faith,” we “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV). We possess the equipment; what we need is a battle plan.
Step one: Pay attention to what you are thinking. We need to be aware of all our thoughts, and we need to learn how to distinguish between thoughts in step with God’s truth and God’s ways and thoughts from the enemy or our own flesh. The best way to learn the difference is to study the Bible. God will speak to you and teach you as you read His Word. You will learn to recognize His voice.
Step two: Resist the devil. Isolate destructive thoughts and refuse to accept them. When you feel tempted to view pornography, when you notice an attractive man and start wanting him more than your husband, when you are shopping and covet clothes you can’t afford, when you envy someone who seems to be more successful than you are, when you view your reflection in the mirror and start criticizing the way God formed you—those are the times when you need to surrender your thoughts to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Turn to God’s Word. Keep it nearby, in your heart and on a notepad or on your phone. Seek God’s truth and rely on His promises. Put your full faith in Him. Be sure to replace the sinful thoughts immediately with the truth because, as Jesus warned, if you kick evil out and dont replace it with anything, it will return seven times as strong (Luke 11:24–26 NIV).

Are Negative Thoughts Running Your Life?

Resist the devil.
There are many times when negative thoughts will pop into your head and cause you to feel as if youre not loved by anyone and youre all alone. Recently Robin Williams committed suicide. He had depression. You know, this whole problem had to start with a negative thought. One negative thought is not a big deal until it builds into a mountain of negative thoughts.
It is essential we learn to differentiate between good and evil thoughts. As Jesus put it, “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 NIV). If a destructive thought enters your mind and tries to steal the hope, faith, love, and peace you have in Jesus Christ, why would you even consider letting it be okay? Well, the truth is you probably wouldn’t think much of it because one negative thought isnt a big deal unless you allow it to take root. Then other negative thoughts creep in and build on it, and destruction takes hold.
We must learn to recognize that those stealing thoughts are from the enemy. They are from the devil. James wrote, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7 NIV). It sounds simple, right? It is simple, but it also requires hard work. We need to be active in our resistance. This mental effort is part of submitting ourselves to God. When were not resisting those negative thoughts, were actually submitting to the devil.
There is no gray area, no middle ground, no in-between. You cant accept a destructive thought and claim you’re submitting to God. When we submit to God, “we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV). If we are fully surrendered to God, we actually want to rid our minds of every harmful thought. We don’t want to keep those thoughts because we know they are not His.
I have noticed many Christians struggle with determining whether the thoughts and influences peppering our minds are from God or from the enemy. We have trouble sorting through everything. Many of us are living in a constant state of confusion. The uncertainty provides a foothold for negativity. We start to recall all of our sins. We know we’re guilty. We know the punishment our sin deserves. We start to believe the destructive thoughts are God’s way of punishing us.
I can assure you with 100 percent certainty that God is not looking for opportunities to bring you down. He is full of compassion towards you. He is not trying to find reasons to be mad at you (Isaiah 54:9–10 NIV). The devil, on the other hand, stands ready to leap into every gap in our faith. The enemy wants to deceive you. He wants you to believe the damaging thoughts are from God because then you will receive them. 

Once you allow negative thoughts to take hold, they will poison your mind. They will shackle you and prevent you from moving forward in the work God has for you to do. Pessimism will hold you in captivity. You will be a slave, and you will remain in bondage so long as you allow the negative thoughts to consume you. You wont be living in the fullness of the freedom Jesus paid dearly for you to experience.
The good news is God provides us with everything we need to resist destructive thoughts. If we “take up the shield of faith,” we “can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one” (Ephesians 6:16 NIV). We possess the equipment; what we need is a battle plan.
Step one: Pay attention to what you are thinking. We need to be aware of all our thoughts, and we need to learn how to distinguish between thoughts in step with God’s truth and God’s ways and thoughts from the enemy or our own flesh. The best way to learn the difference is to study the Bible. God will speak to you and teach you as you read His Word. You will learn to recognize His voice.
Step two: Resist the devil. Isolate destructive thoughts and refuse to accept them. When you feel tempted to view pornography, when you notice an attractive man and start wanting him more than your husband, when you are shopping and covet clothes you can’t afford, when you envy someone who seems to be more successful than you are, when you view your reflection in the mirror and start criticizing the way God formed you—those are the times when you need to surrender your thoughts to the cross of Jesus Christ.
Turn to God’s Word. Keep it nearby, in your heart and on a notepad or on your phone. Seek God’s truth and rely on His promises. Put your full faith in Him. Be sure to replace the sinful thoughts immediately with the truth because, as Jesus warned, if you kick evil out and dont replace it with anything, it will return seven times as strong (Luke 11:24–26 NIV).