I am a bookworm. You will usually find my reading 2-3 at a time, and I’m often quoting authors in daily conversations. It is pure happiness to chug information I’m interested in or authors I respect and trust. It also can be wearying and overwhelming to my soul, constantly inputting new content. At the beginning of 2020, in my dreaming and brainstorming with God, He prompted me to aim at absorbing content instead of inhaling it.
In December, I wrote down 8-10 titles I have been wanting to read or seemed relevant and timely for where I am personally and spiritually. One that wasn’t on the list but I preordered was Jennie Allen’s latest, Get Out Of Your Head.
I have always been a deep (and wide) thinker. And while this is a sweet part of my life with God, it also takes a LOT of discipline. The negative term for it might be over-analyzer. Am I often clumsy in the diligence? Yes. It is still necessary? 100% yes.
One reason I believe it is essential to train my mind to continually align and realign to the gospel is because God’s voice is the only pure, undistorted voice. His character is unchanging. His nature is holy, meaning His leading and counsel for you are perfect. His heart is for you.
We are all human, meaning we are all flawed. This means the books we read, the advice we’re given and guidance we receive shouldn’t have the final say for us. Why? Because even good intentions can be rooted in selfishness or pride. Even wise advice from a trusted friend can be lacking. Even a family member’s opinion can be skewed. Even the most popular book on sleep for your baby doesn’t know your unique child. Even counsel given by loved ones is filtered their life experiences.
I’m currently learning this as a new mom. There are many things that apply pressure and expectation that are actually morally neutral. The way is wisdom and the path is worn by submitting desires, worries and plans to the Lord.
We offer encouragement and counsel from what we know, and that’s wonderful and a gift of relationship.
Get Out Of Your Head is reminding me that God and His Word should always have the final say. The truth of Scripture is the only thing powerful enough to pave a clear path through the mountain and valley moments of our daily lives. It is the only thing that can offer lasting peace, genuine joy and sustaining hope in any circumstance.
Some favorite passages from Jennie’s book:
Heroes of the faith are not subject to their own thoughts. They are not subject to their feelings. They believe in one chief aim, and with every ounce of their power, they are working to think about Christ. Jesus is the axis around which all their thought spirals spin. When their minds turn and turn, they fixate on Him. (41)
We were not built to live for ourselves. (186)
The only true self-help is for us as followers of Jesus to believe who we are as daughters and sons of the King of the universe and to know that our identities are secured by the shed blood of God’s own Son. When we believe that about ourselves, we think less about ourselves and more about the mission we have been given to love God and the people God puts in front of us, no matter the circumstances… Self-help can offer only a better version of yourself; Christ is after a whole new you. (56, 57)
Taking every thought captive is not about what happens to us. It’s about choosing to believe that God is with us, is for us, and loves us even when all hell comes against us. (63)
Freedom is found in laying our lives down in the service of God, the One who made us, who knows us, and who has welcomed us into fellowship with Him. It is in this state of full surrender that the longing to obey rises up in us. Think of it: Obedience to God without full surrender is an exercise in robotically following the rules. Surrendering to God without obedience is the equivalent of faith with zero works. (194)
Cynicism at its root is a refusal to believe that God is in control and God is good. Cynicism is interpreting the world and God based on hurt you’ve experienced and the wounds that still lie gaping open. It forces you to look horizontally at people rather than vertically at God. (131)
Far better to focus on what will pull us forward than try to focus on what won’t push us back. That singular thought — I choose to serve — leads to our taking risks on Jesus’s behalf, which leads to our taking our eyes off ourselves and to seeing the needs of others for a change, which leads to our taking action to the glory of God, which leads to our depending more and more on divine strength from our Father, which leads to a deeper longer to worship Him. (197)
We spend a lot of time looking around at others — not so we can encourage them in their growth but so we can figure out how we measure up. We convince ourselves that God wants us to be amazing. We are all about empowerment. But lasting joy will come only when God is in the center; not when I am empowered but when I rest in His power. (153)
Humility says “Not only do I see you, but I choose to elevate your needs above mine.” (161)