To what voices am I paying attention – regardless of whether I obey them? What is mental inconsistency doing to our lives? How does God really feel about me?…
This is highlighting a June post from our SoundCloud channel, with the accompanying transcript (which is especially for our international brothers and sisters). I know this is tough stuff but we need not be afraid of truth when God’s heart calls for it to be known.
Doublemindedness can also lead to a heart heart, just like being hurt can sometimes make us want to harden our hearts. Our Lord is a loving master, a powerful champion who is kind towards the broken hearted and who is not at all like the other masters we have known.
(audio message is 20 minutes)
Preface: “What I have to say here is for my tribe – people dealing with mental illness symptoms themselves, but the rest of you are welcome to listen in. If you are not familiar with the Bible, I reference it a lot because I believe it is from God and therefore matters a lot. Whenever I say a location term like “Matthew, Ephesians, Luke” etc I am referring to which section of the Bible – which we also call the Scriptures – that quote can be found. It is a reference. So just so you can be oriented…”
Today I would like to talk about what I call double mindedness. This is when we have one foot rooted on truth, on God, on healthiness, on holiness, and another foot in unhealthiness, untruths, and paying attention to evil. Sometimes whether we want to or not, we end up in this condition, straddling two views and two lines of thought, and flip flopping between two mindsets, two loyalties, two types of behavior, or two worldviews. It is an unintentional duplicity that many of us, myself included, often don’t even realize we are doing.
Even if you are not a Christian this type of thing happens to you too when you say one thing and do another, or affirm one thing to one person (and really believe it), and then say something totally different later and really believe that as well even though they are contradictory things. As Christians it happens with the flip flop between affirming God’s truth and the depressed thinking, the doubts and the self depreciating thinking. It happens in the way we flip flop between elevating morality and then elevating immorality in our minds.
This double-mindedness is something I have had to really deal with myself. There were times in my life where I would say to another person – “yes, God loves you so much, he is a gracious God who forgives you when you repent” and then later that night in the car driving home I would be thinking to myself “I hate myself, God will never forgive me for what I have done”. And as I look back I realize that God is in heaven going “Yo! I love you! What are you doing?” I think the problem with doubt is not about asking hard questions to God – God can handle our hard questions. The problem with doubt is the inconsistency, the being blown by the wind. We are not saying “God this is so complicated I can’t understand it, please help me understand it” But instead – we are saying God – this is the other side of the story and I am staking my alliance there, even if it is just a few minutes. Do you see the difference? It makes you extremely unsteady. There is a way to ask questions without moving your allegiance. We need to seek to stay loyal to God even in our thoughts.
Matthew 6 and Luke 16 both quote Jesus saying “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.” We need to pick and stick with being in God’s camp mentally as far as we can. I believe it is dangerous to our spiritual and mental health to be in a position where we are flip flopping between two opposite things.
There is this concept of what people call worldliness which is not talking about international thinking or different cultures. I like to call this type of thinking kosmos thinking because that is the literal word from the Bible in the original manuscripts. What I call kosmos thinking is the worldview that would result if the whole world was left to fleshly thinking patterns totally apart from God and his truth. Now I am absolutely not talking about throwing away the wealth of human knowledge or not listening to non-Christians. I really believe that all truth is God’s truth.
Our enemy ultimately is not human beings. Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, authorities, powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” As a result we are asking ourselves how can we fight against this darkness that comes into our minds, that we find ourselves pressing up against.
Kosmos thinking often starts by having us ask the wrong questions which distracts us from the questions we really should be asking. For example I was having really unkind thoughts about people, dwelling on things I felt like they were hiding. I was asking myself the wrong question. I kept asking “is this true about this person?” whereas the answer I said to myself was “ah yes, it is true”, and I was getting frustrated at the fact that other people were denying this “fact or truth” about this person. But I was never asking other types of questions like “am I being kind in the way I think about this “truth” about this person?” Kosmos thinking I believe sometimes can get us so focused on the what of things we totally forget the why and the how, which also are very important. Its a worldview shift, having you think of the entire world in a way that is limited, and doesn’t let us see the whole picture. This can cripple us.
The thing about kosmos thinking is that it can slowly poison your mind .There is this army tactic where an army would go the spot where they knew their opponents would eventually be setting camp and they would poison the well ahead of time so that it would weaken their enemy. Now as they were doing this, they did not want to make the poison in the well too strong, because the first guy would drink out of it, keel over dead, and the rest of the people in the camp would be like “that water is poisoned” and they would not drink out of it. So they would do a milder form of poison or dilute it with the water so the army they wanted to weaken would not notice they were getting weaker at first. So they would drink it at first thinking there was nothing wrong but eventually it was going to get to the point where they were not going to be able to fight effectively. I think that definitely happens with this kosmos thinking in our minds, it makes us spiritually weak and more easily defeated in those small battles that we deal with every day.
So why do we drink from this poisoned well of kosmos thinking and disloyalty to God? Sometimes it is our anger, we are angry at ourselves, God, or others. Sometimes it is nostalgia we get used to being comfortable with certain ways of thinking, they are familiar, they seem harmless or seem to relieve our anxiety in the moment, etc. Sometimes it is our curiosity – that is something I personally have dealt with a lot. Some of you may hear voices and there is there is a part of you that sometimes wants to focus on those negative voices at times, but I really believe that not engaging with them can help with getting healthier. It does not mean necessarily that is not a reality of sorts, it just may not be a healthy reality. Sometimes we hear these voices and we spend a lot of energy arguing with them or reacting against them – saying to ourselves I am not going to do that I will do the opposite! But either way you are still giving it attention, and I believe sometimes attention feeds these interactions. I realize this is different for each person though, so perhaps God may be leading you in a different direction. I think it is definitely good to pray about things, but in my experience it has been much better for me personally when I stopped giving attention to negativity in my mind and tried to focus on the good.
Awhile ago I was working in this child residential unit in this psychiatric hospital with boys who had a diagnosis of what they call Oppositional Defiant disorder. Just think about those words – oppositional. Defiant. These boys would do anything to get attention, and attention would feed their behavior. They wanted any sort of reaction from me. If they did something bad (for example, threaten to hit me) they loved it weather I were to laugh at them or with them, or scold them, either way they got what they wanted, my attention. The only way I could get them to stop was to ignore the behavior, which was very counter intuitive I must admit as you can imagine for me in the beginning in thinking this way.
With these voices and personalities that some of you deal with and again I am not talking about split parts of your own personality like dissociative identity disorder, I am NOT talking about that I am not talking about anything that is human – other people alive today, or parts of you. If you are dialoging with God – great, or another human being or with the hurting parts of yourself, there is nothing wrong with dialoguing with yourself, caring for yourself, or recognizing parts of yourself and trying to get peace through that or with other humans. Whether you are arguing with the voices or agreeing with them or reacting against them, it is still giving them attention which I think can be still feeding them, sometimes in my own experience it is better to ignore.
In speaking about this other reality, for those of you who don’t deal with this just hang in with me while I just step to the side here and talk to people deal with alternate realities. What is God’s character? Is he the kind of God who expects us to jump through hoops instantly? Is he the kind of person who says “I want you to go to Africa now! With no confirmation, just go, don’t ask anyone about it! Or stop eating now!” Only you know, for those of you who deal with this, what types of things you feel led to do. But God is a good father. He knows we are dust – he knows our weaknesses. He teaches us in his Word to test things. He is patient with us. I believe this with all my heart, if you feel confused, God will never be offended or angry with you if you test the voice you think is from Him. You may be thinking – who are you to say that? I Thessalonians 5:19 says “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” I repeat: “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.” The Bible instructs us to test things – that is God’s will for you! If any voice in your head is making you believe that testing something is sinful that voice is inaccurate because God’s word tells us to test things. There are other verses that talk about testing things we receive.
God does speak through his Spirit to us today, and his Spirit is within those of you who know him and works through your decisions which should be based on wisdom not on what other people would call “coincidence”. So many people like us, make big decisions based on one-time circumstantial “signs” we call them. I have made some of the worst decisions in my life based on one-time circumstantial events or signs as I called them, thinking God was communicating a certain thing to me when really it was not what I thought. I believe sometimes there is a spiritual explanation so it might not all be in your head, but might not be the spiritual explanation you think it is.
Just focus on Jesus – you can talk to him in prayer. Ask Jesus – Is this from you? Is this healthy for me? Then be still. Listen to him, listen to his voice through the promptings of the spirit that is within you and test what you sense against Scripture. Have some time to be still. Often the answer is “No my daughter, no my son, this not healthy for you, this is not bringing spiritual life and spiritual thriving to your life.” John 10 says that the sheep know their shepherd’s voice , the shepherd always comes though the gate (rather than some other way). The voice of Jesus is wise. So what is wisdom? James 3:17-18 tell us “But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits.” The voice of God has the fruits of wisdom. As James 3:17-18 says wisdom is – listen to this – pure, peaceable, gentle, open to reason, and full of mercy and good fruits.
Don’t think of the negative voices as your friend. They are not your friends. Jesus is the friend who has really been there with you the whole time and knows you best. I know it is so hard to let go, but you have got to turn your face away. It doesn’t mean it isn’t real in a sense, it is just not healthy.
James 4 says “friendship with the kosmos means enmity towards God. Therefore anyone who chooses to be a friend of the kosmos becomes an enemy of God. Or do you think that Scripture says without reason that [God] jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us. But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble. Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”
Even if have you been friendly with the kosmos which is enmity towards God according to James 4, God jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us and gives us more caris. Caris is the word that the translators translate as “grace”.
Caris which has the following range of meanings – so this is what God gives us – gracefulness, pleasing circumstance, matter of approval, kindly bearing, graciousness, an act of favor, acceptance, free gift, grace, gracious provision, gracious scheme, gracious dealing from God, an emotion corresponding to what is pleasing or kindly, graciously devolved endowment or influence, among other words and descriptions. That is the way God deals with us who know him. That is the way God deals with his children, he may warn us he made discipline us, but he does that, even the discipline with caris. He does not condemn us, he does not shame us, he does not force compulsion.
We do need to have compassion on ourselves, and God is okay with us asking him hard questions and expressing our feelings to him. Ask God – where is this coming from? And – is this line of thought, this voice, etc – is this my hurting self? OR is this line of thought turning me against the truth of God? Sometimes it helps to respond to these types of thoughts and voices, but many times I have realized it is good for me to ignore them, not feed them in any way. Imagine what would have happened if Adam and Eve had stopped listening to the evil serpent when it tried to make them eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? I repeat – the tree the serpent was tempting them to eat from was called “the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” If they had stopped listening and not given into their curiosity about evil. They were thinking about what would it be like to know about evil? Wouldn’t that be a type of wisdom? Learn to hate the bad – pray for help.
Sometimes we give into that curiosity, we look at someone who isn’t a Christian and think what would it be like to kiss that attractive person who I don’t know. Or – what if I went to have my palm read – what would they say? Or what if I hurt myself what would that feel like? Or I wonder what these hateful voices going to say next, what if I study them would it help me be a better warrior? Will it really be that bad?
Stop listening. Don’t play with fire. Discernment is discerning what thoughts to listen to and what to feed in your mind. Be able to discern what is good and don’t drink poison. Poison is the worldview that you are drinking. We think evil has just a little bit of good in it. Or we “miss” what is bad – “it was so great back then, before I was a Christian when I did this and that”. Just admit what is happening to yourself and fight! I know you all are warriors. You can fight you know how to fight. Just do it please, fight for yourself, do it for other people, fight against this type of toxic thinking within yourself that is poisoning you and poisoning other people. Do eat it, don’t dwell on it. Call the bad bad and the good good. So often we play around with mixing good with bad. We label things in your minds as bad the goodness of God or different things related to God, and we call good things that we know deep down inside are not good for us. 2 Cor 6:14-15a says “What fellowship does light have with darkness, or the people of God and Bail?” Mark 3 says “A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.” James 1 says “God gives good and perfect gifts.. .he does not change like the shifting shadows.” We see the truth and immediately walk away and forget.
I am hoping to write or talk more about the discernment process in the future, and if you want to talk to me about anything I’ve talked about today or other stuff that you are dealing see my lifecoaching page on the website. There is a charge but would be happy to talk to you.
I realize today all I really had time for was to try to open your eyes and share some insights that helped me. I had this barrier between God and me and I didn’t know what to do about it. And the problem at that time was I was not being loyal to God in my thoughts, I was pretending that evil was good and not so bad, as though negativity was my friend or a roommate in my mind that I maybe I didn’t like all the time, but I was comfortable with or sort of nostalgic about. And I totally had the wrong idea of God and his character I thought he was some sort of taskmaster which he isn’t. Its when I got fed up, and said God you are good, and this stuff is bad, help me to hate it (because I didn’t hate it at the time) that I was able to move forward. And as I stepped out in faith he helped me to love him and understand how he really is, and to hate the bad. And it transformed my spiritual life, it was what was holding me back all that time. Pray – God help me to see you as your really are, and to hate this negativity in my mind, or this alternate worldview that is poisoning me. He will help you to fight for your mind and for freedom.