Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Flourishing Faith: It's a Matter of Choice

       I just got back from a week-long getaway with my husband in Chicago with a sightseeing adventure amidst a few days surrounding his work conference. Being a dual citizen of both the USA and Canada, it was an incredible opportunity to be in this exciting city for Independence Day weekend. One of their functions was a dinner cruise concluding with watching the July 4th fireworks off the shoreline of Lake Michigan... Simply breathtaking! The patriotic side of me couldn't help but burst into song by singing the American National anthem which ends with this phrase:

"...O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

       As I sang in the dark, many were awkwardly looking around trying to see who was singing... I could sense some thought it was a bit weird and were perplexed by what Canadian actually knew the words to the anthem!  Some thought it was bold of me to do so and thanked me saying:"Wow, you are so brave, I could never sing in front of people!" Brave? Hmm, I hope that I am marked by bravery in this lifetime by more than just singing, but was touched by the compliment nevertheless. I'm glad I did it... I felt prompted to do so. It was a choice. Sure, I could have given way to fear but I chose to go for it and did it afraid. As a result, others were blessed. At the same time, I didn't give it my all and held back a bit not knowing the reaction it would produce. Because of that experience, it made me ponder on how many times we hold back our full selves based on toxic thinking...

      Beside the cruise, another highlight of the conference was their closing speaker Dr. Jason Selk, a sought after performance coach who teaches  individuals, businesses and sports teams to be "mentally tough" by keeping our minds focusing on solutions rather than problems.  Throughout his entire talk, I couldn't help but think about our 15th annual conference  "Flourish" with keynote speaker Dr. Caroline Leaf  who is a  cognitive neuroscientist with a PhD in Communication Pathology specializing in Neuropsychology. Although their approach is different, both would agree that the battle is in our minds to live our best lives and it is up to us to choose to train our brains. 

       A verse that Dr. Leaf refers to in her teaching is a powerful reminder about the gift to choose and consequences of our choices:

"I lay beside you life and death; blessing and cursing. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live." Deuteronomy 30:19

       We may not all burst into song on a boat to bring a blessing to others, but we can all resolve to work at disciplining our minds so that we can bring life through our words and actions.

      I must say that disciplining my mind has got to be the most difficult but most rewarding act of discipline. It affects everything! If I could have spent more time with Dr. Selk, I would have loved to ask him about his faith and how he coaches others in wholeness- Mind/ Body/Spirit. I simply cannot fathom how one can truly become mentally strong without Jesus and the infilling and empowerment of the Holy Spirit.  The Bible says that we can have the 'mind of Christ' as we trust in Him, follow His ways and meditate on His words. By doing so, we will truly act like the brave soldiers we are destined to be and act like "Citizens of Heaven."

"For I have told you often before, and I say it again with tears in my eyes, that there are many whose conduct shows they are really enemies of the cross of Christ. They are headed for destruction. Their god is their appetite, they brag about shameful things, and they think only about this life here on earth. But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as Saviour. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into a glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control." (Phil. 3:18-21)

        God has wired our brains for love, power, confidence and peace. Our sinful default mode of fearful-negative toxic thoughts can be rewired with the truth of God's word. By doing so, we act as citizens of heaven by being truly brave to act on those truths... I ache to live more consistently in that zone, how about you? It's a matter of choice. 

Watch Dr. Caroline Leaf's Episode "Bad Choices Leads to Toxic Thinking," as featured on her show "Switch on Your Brain" on TBN.

Jodi Kozan is the founder and President of Women's Journey of Faith. She (along with her fabulous team) is gearing up for their annual conference "Flourish" on November 7-8th 2014 hosted at TCU Place Saskatoon, SK Canada with Keynote speaker Dr. Caroline Leaf and Integrity Worship artist Dustin Smith.  Jodi was born and raised in Thief River Falls Minnesota and moved to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan after marrying her prince charming Tim in 1990 where they are raising their 4 daughters. You can learn more about WJOF, the Flourish conference and other exciting news by visiting their website www.wjof.com.

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