Your Thought Closet Makeover (Jennifer Rothschild)When a Lie Knocks on the Door
Leslie Basham: Jennifer Rothschild got an invitation from a well-known talk show host to be on his television program. He was interviewing a couple whose children were deaf and blind.
Jennifer Rothschild: And he asked me to come and me to come and be a voice of encouragement to the mom and the dad. What a great opportunity.
Leslie: After losing her sight many years ago, Jennifer learned to lean on God’s strength. She now passes encouragement to others through her writing and speaking. Her segment on the talk show went very well, and she stayed in contact with the host’s wife.
So when Jennifer and her husband, Phil, traveled back to California where the show was taped, they wanted to visit the set again. The host’s wife set up the details.
Jennifer: She said yes. And she had it all set up for us. She was even going to send us a car to take us to the studio. I mean, it was awesome. Well, if you travel much, you know that your life is easier in and through airports if you travel lightly. So I had done so. I brought two outfits, and two pairs of boots.
So that morning I got dressed very quickly. I was so distracted. It was so fun. I was distracted and not paying real good attention.
Leslie: That distraction was to cause a problem for Jennifer. She discovered it when she and her husband, Phil, were in the car.
Jennifer: I reached down to move my pant leg, and when I did my hand rubbed against my boot, and I realized, "Oh man, I meant to wear my red boots with this outfit. These are bumpy, so I must be wearing my brown." But I thought, No big deal because brown is a neutral color. It's no big deal.
So I reached over to move my other pant leg . . . (audience laughter) You are so smart! So, realizing I had one red boot and one brown boot, and I was thirty minutes away from the hotel, there was nothing I could do about this.
Well, I expected from Phil at least a gasp of empathy, or something, but instead, what I got was "ha-ha." And if that wasn't bad enough, it was followed by the click of his camera, where he was taking pictures.
Before I even got to the studio, my mis-matched boots were uploaded on Facebook.
Leslie: Jennifer and Phil arrived at the TV studio and engaged in small talk with the staff.
Jennifer: And after a few minutes, when it was appropriate, I said, "I just have to show you this." It's embarrassing when you don't have on matching shoes, but when you are blind and don't have matching shoes, it is even more pitiful. I wanted her to know that I knew, so I lifted up my pant leg, and all of a sudden I hear from the staff, "Oh!" Empathy.
So one of the production staff said, "What size do you wear?" Then she ran and got me a pair of size 6 black boots from wardrobe. And I took them home with me! It pays to be pitiful!
The reason I'm sharing with you this story right from the onset is, the reason I was wardrobed as I was, was because of what was in my suitcase. The reason you are today wardrobed in the clothing you are wearing is because of what is in your suitcase, if you traveled, or with what is in your closet.
The principle more broadly spoken is anything you wardrobe your body with comes from your closet. Anything you wardrobe your life with comes from your thought closet. So if you, like me, are distracted, in a hurry, not paying attention, carelessly throwing things in and out of your thought closet, you may wardrobe your life in a way that just doesn't work.
You may not be living the life you intended because of what you are saying to yourself.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, March 3.
Nancy: In 2 Corinthians 10, the apostle Paul says he “takes every thought captive to obey Christ” (v. 5). Paul understood that thoughts matter. That's because thoughts lead to actions, either helpful or harmful.
Have you been taking every thought captive, making sure to set your mind on the truth? Jennifer Rothschild is about to show you why the thoughts you entertain really matter. And she’ll show you how to dwell on the truth. Jennifer delivered this message at a True Woman '10 conferences, in a breakout session called, “Your Thought Closet Makeover.”
Jennifer: Now, I will give you one disclaimer from the onset: This is not going to be a seminar about positive self-talk. This is going to be a time when we’re going to discuss truthful soul talk because it is scientifically verifiable, although I don’t understand how scientists did this, but it has been verified that everybody talks to themselves.
In fact, your inner dialog consists of between 150 to 300 words a minute. That means if you put all those words together and let them hold hands and become sentences, then you are speaking to your own soul between 47,000 and 51,000 sentences a day.
Now most of those are very neutral, seriously. They’re very neutral—like, “Um, where did I put my keys? I cannot forget to go pick up the dry cleaning. I sure hope my husband let the dog out. I wonder if he let the dog out? I wonder if I should call my husband?” See what I’m saying? Neutral, not a big deal.
But, there is a powerful minority of words that we speak to our own souls that are not neutral. They are destructive. I am not going to use the word negative or positive. I’m going to use the words constructive or destructive. Many of the words that we say to our own souls are destructive. They do not add to your life. Many of the words that we speak to our own souls are not truthful.
Proverbs 12 tells us that, “As a man thinks, so is he.”
Loosely interpreted, “as a woman puts things in her thought closet, so is her life wardrobed.”
John Stott was an Anglican minister, and I’m going to give you a long quote. I can already hear there are some papers and pens moving, so I’m going to say this very slowly. Then I will repeat it again for those of you who want to write it down. Okay? The quote is this: He said,
Sow a thought; reap an action.
Sow an action; reap a habit.
Sow a habit; reap a character.
Sow a character; reap a destiny.
In other words, the life that you are living right now is a direct reflection of your thoughts. So what’s in your thought closet? Is it giving you the life you want? You see, some of the things in our thought closet are there because we haven’t paid attention, and they’re there because someone else gave them to us. Like a parent, or a spouse, or a former spouse.
Some of us have things in our thought closet, like names that we call ourselves. My name of choice was idiot. “You’re such an idiot.” Now, do you think I would ever call you that? Never! But I used to call myself that. How about you? What’s in your thought closet? Is it true?
So let’s pay attention to what’s in there because we want to make sure we don’t put ourselves in the same peril that Naaman did. Now, you might wonder, “What in the world does Naaman have to do with talking to yourself?” Well, girls, he did. He talked to himself, and what he said to himself put himself in a position to almost forfeit his healing.
We’re going to go to 2 Kings chapter 5, and we’re going to let Naaman be our guide through our thought closets.
Second Kings chapter 5, verse 1, describes a guy named Naaman, and the Bible says that Naaman was the second in command to the king of Syria. Your Bible might say Aram. Same country. And he was a valiant warrior.
Now, before we talk about what the rest of the verse says about Naaman, let’s describe who Naaman was. First of all, when a Hebrew name is used, we always want to go and see what the meaning of that name is because it’s very significant. Naaman actually means “well-formed and beautiful.” He was politically and militarily successful because he was second in command to the King of Syria. He was at the top of his career.
But the Bible says at the end of verse 1, Naaman had leprosy. Leprosy, of course, was that dreaded disease of the ancient world. It was chronic. It was painful. And for a leper, not only did they deal with the constant physical pain, but they dealt with the social isolation that came with leprosy.
Leprosy is always a type, a picture, of sin because what leprosy does to your body, sin does to your soul. It’s corrosive. It’s chronic. It eats away. It brings pain. It never ends well. It brings social and spiritual isolation.
Now picture our good-looking Naaman—politically, militarily successful, very intelligent, clearly; but he has leprosy.
So in verse 3, the Hebrew servant girl that belonged to Naaman’s wife said to her mistress, “Oh that my master would go to see the prophet in Samaria so that he could be healed.”
Well, that’s all Naaman had to hear. I can just see the guy pulling together his chariots and his retinue. I can see him draping laurels upon himself and all of his medals that show his success in battle, and there this honorable, dignified, intelligent, handsome man goes to see the prophet Elisha in Samaria.
Prior to him getting there, if you’re familiar with the story, and we’re not going to talk about this part today, he stops to see the King of Israel. He brings gifts. But by verse 9, he has arrived at the home of the prophet Elisha. Now when he arrives, he not only arrives with all of his laurels and medals from battle and his chariots and his retinue, but he arrives with some expectations in his thought closet.
His expectations were two-fold: When he knocked on the door of the prophet, he expected to give and receive honor because he was an honorable guy, and he also expected to receive healing. That’s it. That’s what he wanted, those were his expectations. They were based on desire, of course, but they were also based a little bit on pride.
You and I always need to look at what’s in our thought closets because if we have some festering pride in there, then it is going to cause us to make some choices and have some reactions that we may not have really planned on having. In doing so, we may forfeit that which is our deepest desire.
For Naaman, it was healing. So he knocks on the door, but instead of the great prophet coming out to give honor and bestow healing upon Naaman, the servant is sent out. The servant basically says to Naaman, “The prophet said that if you want to be healed, you need to go wash in the Jordan seven times.” Well, Naaman was mad. It violated his sense of pride. That’s not what he expected. All he wanted was healing and to receive honor, and he got neither, and he was mad.
You and I have things in our thought closet that we may not even be aware they are there until they are violated. I expect to be treated a certain way, and if you don’t, you’re going to ignite the fire in my thought closet, and I’m going to turn into an inferno. That’s what happened with Naaman.
As I talk about Naaman’s story, I’m going to bring up what I call the three R’s. The first one shows up here. It’s what I call recognize. We must recognize what is in our thought closet. Naaman didn’t. The enemy of your soul knows exactly what’s in your thought closet, and if you choose to be unaware of it, he will use those very things as the weapons against you. So awareness, recognition of what is in our thought closet is incredibly important.
In Matthew chapter 26, verse 41, Jesus says to His disciples, “Watch and pray because your flesh is so weak, but your spirit, the spirit is willing.” Matthew 26:41, “Watch and pray.”
The Greek word for watch there really means “tune in, be alert, sober up, pay attention” because, you see, the enemy is quite aware. So you must be even more aware of your own weaknesses and the lies that you may have stored away in your thought closet.
So how do you begin to recognize? Think about the things that you say to yourself on a daily basis. Okay?
Now, ask yourself these questions:
- Would you speak to someone you love in the same way you speak to yourself?
What if someone you really respected, like your pastor, or someone you just really look up to, what if that person got to listen in on all your thoughts. Would you say the same things, not just to yourself, but the things you say to yourself about others, or about your own expectations?
How about this . . . for those of you who are moms or grandmothers:
- How would you feel, would you want to write down everything you say to yourself and everything you’ve stored away in your thought closet? Would you like to write all that down and give it to that daughter or son that you love and say, “Here, I want you to talk like this when you’re an adult”? No!
Begin to recognize what is in your thought closet because the enemy knows, and your unwillingness to just be honest and pay attention will give him the absolute weapons and battlefield upon which he can use those weapons against you for your own defeat.
That’s what was about to happen to Naaman. He didn’t recognize that he cared about his pride more than he cared about his healing. So the Bible says . . . and I think we’re in about verse 11 right now. The Bible says in 2 Kings 5:11, that “Naaman turned around in a rage, and he said to himself . . .” He began this inner dialogue where he said to himself: “That prophet, he should have come out here and called on his God. He should have waved his hand and healed my leprosy. That’s what he should have done.” Because it’s never about me. It’s always about everyone else and what they should be doing.
What’s in your thought closet? These are the expectations I have because it’s all about me and my needs, and if that man doesn’t act in the way that I expect him to, then I’m just going to be angry and walk off at least emotionally.” What’s in your thought closet?
Naaman was willing to walk away in anger because he didn’t recognize what was there. Now, once you begin to recognize what’s in your thought closet, that’s going to bring you to what I call the second “R,” and it is this, and it is what I wish Naaman had done right away: Refuse lies. Refuse. Refuse it.
If you are a woman who speaks truth, truth can always come into your thought closet. Truth can always come in, and remember, truth is always constructive. It may not be positive; it could be what we call negative, but if it’s truth, it’s going to bring you life. So it belongs in your thought closet.
So let’s just think about what happened to Naaman and what could happen to us.
Every thought has to knock on the thought closet door in order to gain entry. So when Naaman got angry, he began to talk to himself, and it was as if the thoughts went:
Knock, knock, knock.
And Naaman said, “Who is it?”
And the thought said, “That prophet! He should have come out and honored you!”
And Naaman says, “You are right, because I am a man of honor. I didn’t realize I felt so violated.”
And then the thought says, “Yeah, and not only that, he should have waved his hands and healed you.”
“You are absolutely right. I’m a valiant warrior, a good-looking man, and I’ve got leprosy. That’s holding me back. I need to be healed. He should have done that for me.”
And then the thought continues: “And he wants you to go wash in the stinky Jordan River? You’ve got rivers in your country in Syria that are much better.”
“You are so right. Come on in, thought, because my rivers are better. He has violated my pride. So I, therefore, must protect it. So come on in, thought. You sit right here in my thought closet, and I will feed you, and I will entertain you.”
Now, it’s easy for us to have an attitude toward Naaman, but let’s take this home to us.
You’re working at your church. You volunteer so much, and suddenly you’re tired, and you get a knock on the thought closet door. You say, “Who is it?”
And the thought says, “Those women at that church. They don’t appreciate you.”
And the thought continues: “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.”
“You’re right! Nobody ever notices.”
As you feed the thought, it encourages you to embellish the meal, and you say, “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.” (Laughter)
So what we do, according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5, what we do is that the next time the thought knocks on the door: “Knock, knock, knock,” we act according to 2 Corinthians chapter 10, verse 5, and we “hold every thought captive, and we make it obey Christ.”
So when the door of your thought closet is knocked upon (knocking sound), “Who is it?” You have the choice to confront the lie, whatever it may be, or to confront the reality that you just don’t know.
So if that thought knocks on the door: “Those women don’t appreciate you!” here’s how you can handle it: “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.” You’re going to hold the thought, and you’re going to keep making it match truth.
“In fact, let’s suppose they don’t appreciate me. So, I do my work heartily as unto the Lord.” That’s truth. You can let that in.
Here’s another way you can look at that statement with truth: It can hurt your feelings. You can have hurt feelings.
When I talk to you about speaking truth, I’m not talking about just putting on a Pollyanna. If you feel like somebody has hurt your feelings, and you feel unappreciated, the Scripture says if you know—not speculate—but if you know your sister has something against you, then you go to that sister, and you make it right. But remember, the Word says, “If you know.”
There are a lot of things we need to work out in our thought closets between us and God before we ever take it out and make it public.
Once that thought agrees with truth, then it’s allowed in. When you begin to feed truthful thoughts into your thought closet, then your thought closet is filled with truth, and you can’t help but wardrobe your life in truth.
A woman who allows lies into her thought closet is:
- wardrobed with a martyr spirit
- wardrobed with hypersensitivity
- wardrobed with pride
- wardrobed with bitterness
But a woman who allows truth into her thought closet is:
- wardrobed with freedom
- wardrobed with humility
- wardrobed with compassion and empathy
- wardrobed with others-centeredness
Now, which of those lists do you want to be? Wow!
Nancy: Jennifer Rothschild has been giving you a vivid picture of what happens when a thought presents itself. We don’t have to accept lies, and we can choose to dwell on the truth.
I believe bringing every thought captive to the obedience of Christ is something we need to pay attention to daily. When you set your mind on the truth, God begins to renew our minds and transform our lives by the power of His Word.
This Wednesday, the Lenten season begins. It's that forty-day season leading up to Resurrection Sunday. It’s a perfect time of the year to set aside some extra time to fix our minds on who Jesus is and what He came to this earth to do for our salvation.
We want to encourage you to focus on Jesus in a special way during this season by listening to a new teaching series called The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus. That special series begins this Wednesday.
You'll get a lot more out of that teaching when you get a copy of a new book we produced called, The Wonder of His Name. I've written a daily devotional—one for each of the thirty-two names of Jesus in this series. I learned so much and was so blessed by the months I spent studying each of these names. I know they will bless you as well.
And I think you’ll really enjoy the illustrations, the artwork from the artist Timothy Botts. He's made this a really lovely resource.
We want to send you that book, The Wonder of His Name, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. We know women need to keep their minds focused on the truth of God’s Word, and that’s what we are about and why we exist.
I want you to know that your prayers and your financial support of this ministry really do make a difference. So when you make a donation of any amount, ask for the book, The Wonder of His Name. You can give us a call at 1–800–569–5959, or visit