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Destructive Thoughts

Written by Nancy Leigh DeMoss on . Posted in Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Your Thought Closet Makeover (Jennifer Rothschild)Destructive Thoughts

Leslie Basham: There once was a woman who got a knock on her door. 

Jennifer Rothschild:
 Who is it?

 It was a thought. And it said . . .

 Those women at that church, they don’t appreciate you!

 This woman responded . . .

 Come on in! You know me.

 Then she let that thought keep talking.

 If they appreciated you, they would say, “thank you.” And did you notice how the pastor listed everybody else in the community, but he never said your name. He’s never going to notice what you do.

 And she chose to expand on that thought . . .

 You’re right. In fact, not only do those women at that church not appreciate me, my husband doesn’t appreciate me. I am not appreciated. In fact, I don’t think anybody has ever liked me.

 But it doesn’t have to be this way. When a thought knocks on the door . . .

 Who is it?

 And you recognize the thought as destructive . . .

 Those women at that church, they don’t appreciate you!

 You can respond with the truth.

 I actually don’t know that those women don’t appreciate me. No one has ever told me that. I act upon what is known, not what I speculate upon.

Leslie: You don’t have to let destructive thoughts in. We’ll find out why on Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, March 4.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss:
 The energetic voice you heard in our opening today was Jennifer Rothschild. Yesterday she explained why our thoughts matter. She showed us how to recognize destructive thoughts. And she explained how to keep them from entering what she called our thought closets.

If you missed any of the program yesterday, I know you’ll find it helpful. You can listen it at

Jennifer Rothschild was a speaker at True Woman '10 in Chattanooga. She delivered a powerful personal message about trusting God through her blindness. And she also addressed women at a breakout session called, Your Thought Closet Makeover. We heard the first part of that message yesterday, and we’ll continue with part two today.

Jennifer’s been telling the story of Naaman from 2 Kings chapter 5. This Syrian general visited the prophet of God in Israel, and was told to bathe in the Jordan River to be cured of his leprosy. This hurt Naaman’s pride, and he began talking to himself. Here’s Jennifer Rothschild to pick up the story.

 Naaman did not recognize and was unwilling, therefore, to refuse. So he was letting lies into his thought closet that just fed his pride and were going to put him in a position to forfeit his healing, except for what happened in verse 13.

In verse 13, he was confronted by his servants. And for our purposes, I want you to look at this principle as allowing yourself to be confronted or drawn near to by your friends. Naaman’s servants came to him, and they said, “Master—in so many words—my father, if the prophet had told you to do something great, you’d be all over that. But all he told you to do was go wash in the river. So why don’t you go wash in the river?”

What happened in that statement was that Naaman’s servants did two things that were very intentional. They provide for us a model of how we are to be in community, a community of truth with our sisters. First of all, they spoke to Naaman with respect.

Some of you are a lot further along in your spiritual walk, and so if there is a person in your life that you’re given opportunity to draw near to, you need to respect them with the same respect you would grant to the most revered pastor in your life or to the Lord Jesus Himself.

We treat people with complete respect. We don’t say, “I am the valiant holder of truth, and I have come to bash you on the head with it because I can tell you are wardrobed in anger, so let me fix you.”

Respect. That’s how Naaman’s servants approached him. They respectfully approached him. That’s when they said, “My father.” That’s respect. “Master, you are all that. We respect you. But here’s the other thing: We know you. We know you. If—if—if the prophet had told you something to do something that was really grandiose, you’d do that. See, we know you, and you’re all about that. But he didn’t. He just asked you to do something humble, and you’re not all about that, and we know you. So, humble yourself.”

When we as women enter into communities of truth with each other, we need to do it respectfully and with intimacy.
 What that does for us is it gives us an opportunity then to engage in what I call the third “R.”

  • First you’re recognizing truth and lies.
  • Secondly, you’re refusing the lies.
  • But thirdly, you can’t stop there. You must always re-phrase with truth.

For me personally, one of my issues—and a friend brought it to my attention—was that I was hard on myself. I was a name caller. I will never forget the day I went to get my passport.

Well, for me, it’s kind of difficult to get errands done. I have to plan in advance so I can have somebody to take me, and, of course, I’m paying them to do so. So this particular day I went all the way, thirty minutes across town, waited in the long line, just to find out that I didn’t have the proper paperwork. I decided I would go home, get the proper paperwork. I had the pictures already taken. I set up another appointment with Helen, she was going to drive me.

Well, when the day came, it was a couple of weeks later, I get all the way to the post office, stand in the long line, get right up to the front. I have all the paperwork, but my picture is not there. We leave the post office.

A week later, I make sure I’ve got all the paperwork; I’ve got the picture. It’s all ready. Helen and I carved out some more time, and now my window of opportunity was getting small. I had to get this done in order to leave on time.

Hmmm. I waited in the long line. I hear the very apathetic Federal worker say, “Next.” That was me! I was thrilled. I was finally getting my passport. I handed him all my paperwork. I was, like, proud of myself. I stack it in front of him, and there’s my picture, and he said, staring clearly into the paperwork because his voice was drowning into the desk, “Where’s your birth certificate?”

“It’s there, isn’t it?”

“Nope. You gotta have a birth certificate to get a passport.”

“I know you have to have a birth certificate, sir. It’s there, right?”

“Gotta have a birth certificate to get a passport. Go home and get your birth certificate.”
Well, that’s how I felt. So I leave the post office. I have no idea where the birth certificate was. I’m walking to the car, and I said, “Idiot! What is wrong with you? You can write books, but you can’t get a stinking passport! Everybody knows you’ve got to have a birth certificate. Idiot!”

And I caught myself as that word was dangling at the door of my thought closet. I refused it entry, and I re-framed, re-labeled it, re-phrased it with truth. And here was the truth that I re-labeled it and re-phrased it with: “You’re not an idiot. You’re forty-five and forgetful, but you’re not an idiot. (Laughter) In fact, Ephesians 2 says that you are the absolute workmanship of God, and clearly the workmanship of God has days when they are forgetful, and it’s okay.”

So I, through self-discipline and the grace of God, left idiot outside and ushered in the workmanship.

Now, yes, I got my passport, and I’ve been to Canada twice, and all is well. But the point is this: You can’t just stand at the closet door and leave a lie hanging there because it will work its way back in. You must re-phrase it. You must re-label it with truth so that truthful statement becomes the new habit.

For me, that has pretty much run true. I will say, there are days if I’m not walking in the Spirit, I am fulfilling the desires of the flesh. Unfortunately, the desire of my flesh is to fall back on that old habit of saying lies to myself. That’s just the truth, girls.

Naaman had the opportunity, because of his friends, because of his servants, to make a decision: to speak truth to his soul instead of just hang on to the lies and forfeit his healing. And that’s what he did.

I’m encouraging you to make sure you are in community with someone
. It might be a group of women, but at least it needs to be one woman that you can tell the truth to. She knows about you. She treats you with respect; you treat her with respect. You know each other intimately enough to recognize each other’s strengths and weakness so that you can enhance each other’s strengths and deal with the weaknesses.

I have a good friend named Lisa. We talk on the phone every two weeks because we don’t live in the same town. We ask each other three questions, and they help each of us with our areas of weakness so that we can be alert.

First question: What do you see in my life that encourages you? What do you see in my life that encourages you?

You see, that’s what the servants did with Naaman. They said basically, “Dude. You’re amazing. If he’d asked you to do something great, you’d have done it. We’re encouraging you. We see that strength in you, valiant warrior.”

What do you see in my life that encourages you?

Second question: What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

You cannot have that conversation unless you’re being utterly and completely respectful toward each other and there’s intimate knowledge of each other.

What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

That’s what Naaman’s servants did. “You know, all he asked you to do was wash in the river. You’re about to forfeit your healing here because you’re being prideful. We’re cautioning you.”

What do you see in my life that you would like to caution me about?

Third question
—this is for the legal experts in the room. It’s the catch all: What else would you like to tell me? (Laughter) There are some of us that know how to work our words in such a way that those two questions can be asked without being answered. What else would you like to tell me? What else would you like to tell me?

Using those three questions with my friend Lisa has helped both of us grow, not only individually spiritually, but it’s helped us grow in relationship with each other. She’s a trustworthy friend who can say anything to me, and I will hear her, and I will trust her, and I will also trust her to never say it to anyone else.

So be wise, women. You need each other. Isolation is never a healthy way to try and clean out your thought closet. You need each other. We need each other. That’s why I am so heartily recommending Bible studies. We need to be together, not just in a coffee shop bashing people or our husbands, which can happen if we don’t have guided questions and truth in our thought closets.

That’s why I so recommend Bible study. Not only does it provide you an opportunity to become more grounded in the Word, but it gives you that safety net of how to behave as a godly woman with each other.

So those are the three questions.

Naaman, thankfully, responded to his servants, and he went back to the Jordan, and he washed seven times. The result was that he was healed. By the time he got back to Elisha’s door, I think you’re now at about verse 18 or 19, he approached the prophet very differently than he did the first time because this time when he approached the prophet, he said to him, “My father.”

You see, he now wasn’t expecting all the honor and the praise and the healing. He’d not only been healed by the river of God; he’d been humbled by the river of God.

That’s why we stay in the Word. You will never speak truth to your soul if you don’t know truth. So we stay in the Word so that we know truth. We are washed in the river of God’s Word so that we’re healed by that truth, so that our thought closets are flooded and immersed by the truth, so that we’re wardrobed with truth. The result is a woman who’s not only healed but humbled.

There is no more beautiful wardrobe than you can wear than that of the garment of humility. It brings honor to our Father, and it becomes a bridge through which we can enter into other people’s lives.

I have no idea what’s in your thought closets, and this, clearly has not been an exhaustive look, but this I know: We all have some things in our thought closets that we know doesn’t belong—lies we’ve told ourselves; lies we have been told that we choose to believe; destructive habits of name calling or self-talk that we know do not result in us living the vibrant, free, liberated life we really want.

So I encourage you to do some inventory.

  • Recognize what is in your thought closet.
  • Refuse the lies.
  • Re-phrase or relabel every lie with truth.

The result will be that you will have a thought closet full of truth.

Last verse I want to share with you is Psalm 19, verse 14. Psalm 19:14 is the prayer that my sweet southern grandma used to pray all the time.

She used to always quote to me this verse, and it was her prayer. It might have been, too, that she recognized in her granddaughter a propensity of using words. And, of course, your greatest strength is going to be your greatest weakness. And she’d say to me, “Jennifer, let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to Him ‘cause He’s our strength, and He’s our redeemer.”

That’s the verse I want to leave you with because the words of our mouths are not only the ones we speak to each other. The words of our mouths are the ones we speak to our own souls. If we have received Christ, then He should be in the very center of our thought closet, and we do not need to pollute where He is enthroned.

“Let the meditations of my heart”—that’s those things you dwell on, that you ruminate over, that you think about all day, those thoughts that keep swirling through your mind. “The meditations of my heart, let them all be acceptable to You.”

If it helps you to imagine Jesus standing in the middle of your thought closet, that may help you recognize what you’re saying to yourself. You know why? Because what is acceptable to you, based on your habits and your fallenness, chances are, are not acceptable to Christ. So make Him your standard for what you say to yourself—what is acceptable to Him.

And then also, girls, let’s let Him be our strength, because He is. We don’t muster up enough will power to say all the right things and do all the right things all the time. No. We fall heavy on the strength and the grace of God to redeem every lie and turn it into truth because He is our standard, and He is our source for truthful self-talk.

Nancy: Jennifer Rothschild has been showing us what it looks like to replace lies with biblical truth. She’ll be right back with some practical follow up. But first, would you ask the Lord to reveal any destructive thoughts you’ve been entertaining in your mind? Then replace what you know to be true from God's Word. 

Tomorrow begins what some call the Lenten season. It's that forty-day period leading up to Resurrection Sunday. I have found it to be a great time of the year to focus my thoughts on who Jesus is and what He has done for us.

So I hope you'll join us here on Revive Our Hearts beginning tomorrow for a new teaching series called "The Wonder of His Name." Over the course of these next weeks we are going to look at thirty-two life-changing names of Jesus.

We'd also like to send you my new devotional book that explores each of these thirty-two names. It's a great way to reflect on these powerful names of Jesus and to let them change your life.

Like the teaching series, that book is also called The Wonder of His Name. This book is going to be a beautiful addition to your library and your home. It is perhaps something you'll want to keep out on your coffee table—not just to look at, but to use.

It's beautiful because Timothy Botts did an excellent job of illustrating each of these thirty-two names of Jesus in his signature calligraphy and watercolor. It really is lovely. I hope you'll get a copy and use this resource over these next weeks to help focus your mind on Jesus as you meditate on thirty-two of His names.

We'll be glad to send you that book, The Wonder of His Name, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size. Just ask for the book when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or you can visit us online at

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