Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: Do you want to be a strong woman? Mary Kassian says start by developing strong thinking.

Mary Kassian: Am I thinking the way God wants me to think about this friendship? Am I thinking the way God wants me to think about my attitude towards my husband? Am I thinking the way God wants me to think in terms of what I’m dwelling on, or in terms of what I’m feeding my mind on? Because as we think, so we will act. 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy, along with Dannah, for August 5, 2019. 

Dannah Gresh: Nancy, does the name Patty Hearst ring a bell?

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: It does. I was in highschool, like mid-70’s, and she was kidnapped. Refresh my memory.

Dannah: She was kidnapped in 1974 by the SLA, the Symbionese Liberation Army. They were extortioners. It was a kidnapping for ransom. 

Nancy: Her grandfather was a wealthy newspaper man, William Randolf Hearst.

Dannah: That’s right, good memory! Two months after she was kidnapped, they have video footage from a security camera in a bank of her helping her captors rob a bank! She would go on to help extort two million dollars from her father’s fortune. Mind-boggling! How does this young woman go from a loving, normal young woman to her mind actually controlled by her captors?

Nancy: Something happened in there that she didn’t intend to go there. She didn’t start out that way, but she let her mind be controlled. They talk about the Stockholm Syndrome, where you actually start to sympathize with your captors.

Dannah: Thinking like them.

Nancy: You cooperate with them and think like them. And this whole thing of the mind, we’re talking about today in this series with Mary on “The Right Kind of Strong.” Mary Kassian is a strong woman; she’s “the right kind of strong.” She’s a wife, a mom, a grandmom. She’s an author, a conference speaker. She’s been a big part of the whole ministry of Revive Our Hearts for many years. 

I’m just thankful for the friendship the three of us have, and how we help each other. We can all think back to times when we’ve been tempted to think wrong things, and to fall into traps in terms of how we think. We’ve helped point each other to Christ, point each other to the Word of God and straighten our thinking. 

So, Mary, you’ve written what I think, maybe . . . I don’t know, they’re all important, but I think this latest book you’ve written on the “right kind of strong” may be the most important book you’ve written in terms of the impact I think it’s going to have on the thinking of women. So thank you for writing it, and thank you for being here to talk about it with us.

Mary: Well, we all want to be strong women, and I think that resonates with us. We want to be strong. And so this book is based on the passage in 2 Timothy where Paul is addressing some issues in the church in Ephesus. One of the problems there was a group of women who were “weak women.” We talked yesterday about the women who were weak because they had let things “creep in.” They had let bad influence creep in, but the second phrase in 2 Timothy . . .

Nancy: And can I just read that passage so we get context?

Mary: Yes, please.

Nancy: For those that weren’t with us in the last session, Paul’s talking about awful things happening in the last days, these are times of difficulty. That’s important to remember because we sometimes look around our world and we think, Wow! Things are worse than they’ve ever been. No. 

Paul told those New Testament believers that this is what it was going to be like. There were going to be people with all kinds of wrong ways of thinking and talking and living. He said there’s certain kinds of people that need to be avoided. Then he says “among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning, never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 3:6–7). 

We talked in the last session about things and people and attitudes and values that creep into our lives, into our homes, into our relationships. They’re subtle, subtle compromises. But he says they can have a powerful impact. They can capture these weak women. And that’s where the mind becomes so important. 

Mary: It does. Because that word “capture,” the Greek word actually has military overtones. It means that you are coming taken captive, you’re captured. Some translations actually use the word “captivated,” because there is an aspect of psychological dominance. 

Nancy: Brainwashed.

Mary: Where you’re brainwashed, yes. Where your mind becomes taken control. You still have control of your own mind, but you are beginning to see things in the way that your captor wants you to see them. That was the situation with Patty Hearst and the Stockholm Syndrome, but it was also the situation here at Ephesus. These women who Paul called “weak” were captured. They were taken captive. They were fully captivated by these false teachers and these influences that came into their lives. 

Nancy: And as with Patty Hearst, when we let our minds get captivated, when end up doing things like she did with bank robbery. Things where you think, I would never do that! 

Dannah: You’re cooperating with Satan which is what happened with Eve in the Garden of Eden, right? She’s listening to the serpent at the base of the tree. She’s identifying with him. She’s dwelling on what he said, thinking it over, playing it in her mind over and over and over again. Suddenly, before you know it, her enemy has influenced her, and she’s cooperating with the devil.

Nancy: And she ends up in a place where she could hardly imagine! You’ve got this man that she was so one with, the God she was so one with, now she’s hiding. She’s in fear; she’s in shame; she’s got guilt; she’s got broken. You look back and you go, “How in the world did I get here?”

Dannah: “What was I thinking?”

Mary: “What was I thinking?” I hear that all the time at conferences when praying with women. They unpack their stories and the mess they’ve gotten into. When the Lord brings them to a point of clarity, they look back and go, “What was I thinking?” 

Dannah: Can you think of someone?

Nancy: Well, in the process they weren’t thinking, we weren’t thinking. I don’t want to just say “they” because it’s us too sometimes. As we’re talking about Patty Hearst being brainwashed and ending up robbing a bank for millions of dollars, that’s not probably something that will ever happen to most of us, probably not any of us.

But I’m thinking about a woman who turned in a prayer card at a conference I did years ago. She said, “Please pray for me. I’ve got seven children. I’m spending eighteen hours a day on the Internet, and I’ve met this man. He loves me in a way that I don’t think my husband does. I love him. I’m thinking about leaving my children to go be with him.” 

I mean, I’m not making this up. I remember seeing that prayer card and I got so burdened, so concerned that, long story short, I found that woman. I said, “Would you be willing to talk?” 

She was a graduate of a Christian university. Her dad had been involved in Christian ministry. I mean, like a background like a lot of us might have. We met at a mall while her husband cared for the kids. We talked, she and I talked.

Dannah: Did her husband know this was going on?

Nancy: Yes, he did. It wasn’t a great marriage. I’m not going to kid you. There were issues. But she was in such a fog. She couldn’t think clearly because she had let those creeps—not just that creep on the Internet—but wrong thinking, wrong attitudes about her husband, about her children. She had let those things creep in. Now she was in a place where she had Stockholm Syndrome. I mean, she’s brainwashed. She doing what, in light of day, she would have acknowledged were really foolish things. She couldn’t see it. 

Fast-forward. Her family got destroyed. Devastated. It was awful. She didn’t end up with that man on the Internet, but she ended up . . . It was just a long, bad story. But a number of years later, God began to open her eyes. She came back to the truth. She came to a place of repentance. Well, by then there was a lot of collateral damage and things that couldn’t be fixed. Children were older. Her first marriage was wrecked. 

I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it. God let this woman, her mind, be renewed. He brought her to a place of repentance; He gave her grace. As she looked back now as a new person wanting to follow Christ and loving His Word and starting to think right . . . She was letting God capture her mind instead of the enemy capture her mind. She looked back on all that previous stuff and said, in essence, “What in the world was I thinking? How did I think that man would make me happy? How did I think I couldn't be happy with the children God had given me? How did I think that all those hours a day on the Internet playing with fire that I wasn’t going to get burnt?” Now this woman lives with a lot of regret. She could never forget where this all led her.

Mary: There are lots of consequences.

Nancy: There are lots of consequences and yet, I’ve watched that woman be able to move, unbelievably, into a place of restoration and healing. But again, with consequences. So you see the power of these wrong ways of thinking . . . incrementally. She didn’t start by meeting this guy on the Internet and spending eighteen hours a day on the Internet. It started with smaller ways of thinking that ended up undoing her. 

Mary: So Nancy, that’s the situation with so many stories. I hear them, Dannah hears them, and it’s that incremental nature of the progress in changing our thinking. It creeps in, but it causes us to think the wrong way, and we end up in a fog. 

It reminds me of a story that happened in my backyard one year. Where we put a gate in our fence, and the kids started walking across it. A few weeks later, a couple months later, all of a sudden there was a big, hard, old path that was packed so hard, the grass wouldn’t grow. It didn’t happen by just walking across that lawn one time/ It happened when that lawn was walked across several times, numerous ways. 

When we begin to think the wrong way and then think the wrong way repeatedly, it’s like wearing a hard path into our minds of faulty thinking and faulty thoughts. That’s what really gets us off track. 

Nancy: It’s believing things that aren’t true about God, about ourselves. We’ve talked a lot in this ministry about lies that women believe, things we believe. Maybe we don’t always recognize it the first time, but this, again, goes back to Eve and Adam in the Garden. With all the truth surrounding them—the beauty, the blessing, the good things God had blessed them with—then here comes this enemy infiltrating (this creep) with a wrong way of thinking. It caused her to doubt God’s goodness, to doubt that God means what He says.

When you start believing that stuff, you mull it over. When you listen to it repeatedly, you start to act on it. And sooner or later you've worn a really rough path across your heart. 

Dannah: I find this is true even of, I guess I want to say “less scary” things like, food. If I am looking at pictures of cupcakes and all that stuff, I want to eat those things. But if I am feeding my mind on how strong my body can be if I use food as fuel, if I eat the vegetables (which is really hard for me to do) then I’ll do that. But it’s whatever my mind is being taken captive by. Is it being taken captive by vegetables, or fruit loops? Really? Right?

So what is the second habit of the spiritually strong woman, Mary?

Mary: Well, the second habit of the spiritually strong woman is that she masters her mind. So these women in Ephesus were being captivated. They were being captivated by teachers and ideas of, ideas that were not true. They were being taken captive, wrapped up, because of the way that they were thinking. They weren’t thinking the right way, the creeps had messed with their minds. 

And so, a spiritually strong woman makes a habit of checking whether her thoughts are in line with God’s thoughts, and then correcting them if they are not. It’s a small thing, and yet, as you said, Dannah, it’s something that happens every day, multiple times a day, and on many many different issues. 

Am I thinking the way God wants me to think about this friendship? Am I thinking that way that God wants me to think about my attitude towards my husband? Am I thinking the way God wants me to think in terms of what I’m dwelling on, or in terms of what I’m feeding my mind on? Because as we think, so we will act. I think that sins generally take place in our minds before we begin acting out on them. The Scripture’s really clear about that.

Nancy: I think that’s it’s so easy today to just put our mind into neutral and just drift. A lot of times, and again, I’m going to go back to this phone. A lot of times it’s mindless scrolling, like “I’m just relaxing.” And relaxing is not a wrong thing to do, but what am I feeding my heart with while I’m relaxing? Is it things that are going to pull me away from God’s truth, or things that are going to draw me into God’s truth? 

Now, that doesn’t mean that every waking moment we need to be reading our Bible. But if we’re not reading our Bible at all, or a lot, we’re going to be more vulnerable to wrong ways of thinking. But also if we’re just mindlessly . . . And that’s not just social media, not just on our phones, but also in conversations we have as women. 

It’s amazing. Women get together and start talking. Then we start taking in—like drinking the “Kool Aid.” Some woman’s in a difficult marriage, and she’s bashing her husband. 

I was at the gym the other day and working with a personal trainer for a session who was helping me to think right about my body. And she said to me, “You know, so many people that I work with, who come through this gym, I hear them bashing their husbands and talking negatively about their husbands.” Well, a lot of women fall into that.

Dannah: It’s also sometimes a form of humor. I’m not even sure sometimes when I hear women say those things that they actually mean it, or if they’re mad at their husbands. It’s just become this acceptable form of humor to belittle our husbands. It really pierces my heart when I hear it. 

Nancy: But what is it doing to our minds, if we’re taking in wrong ways of thinking, negative ways of thinking, critical ways of thinking, ungodly, immoral ways of thinking?

Dannah: It’s building those pathways, right?

Mary: It’s building pathways. We think so many thoughts. Our mental chatter goes on all day, every day, in the background—when we’re eating, when we get up, when we’re taking a shower. Even when we’re speaking to someone else, we can have this mental chatter going on. There are tens of thousands of thoughts that go through our minds every day. And each thought is like you’re walking on a path.

Nancy: It’s physiologically true that the neurons are being . . . You understand this stuff better.

Dannah: Yes, the brain had a quality called neuroplasticity. You’ve read about this, right Mary? So that means if we’re choosing to focus on the negative, and the captivity, and the carnal thoughts, and the cheesecake, and the guy, and the social media, that our brain is going to mold itself to function well and direct itself towards those things.

There’s really interesting research that shows that when we get into a pathway of negativity our brain looks not healthy. It’s almost like trees without leaves on it. The healthy neuroplasticity of the brain choosing to think on things that are true, lovely, right, pure, renewing the mind, that brain actually builds muscle. It looks healthier when we choose to do that, but we don't choose it very easily. We are much more naturally choosing the negative and to be taken captive, right?

Nancy: You have to be so intentional.

Mary: You do need to be intentional. Researchers actually say that of the mental chatter that goes through our minds every day, probably upwards of 80 percent of it is negative. Just negative mental chatter.

Nancy: And that’s not just negative people.

Mary: It’s not just negative people. It’s negative thoughts. Negative thoughts about ourselves . . . 

Dannah: “I can’t do this. I’m not enough.” “She’s better than me.” 

Mary: “She doesn’t like me.” Negative thoughts about ourself, negative thoughts about our capacity, negative thoughts about our future. Just anxiety, worry, all sorts of negative mental chatter that goes on in our minds all the time. It has an impact on us, because the way that we think is the way that we live.

Dannah: And the Bible talks about it; it talks about carnal thinking and spiritual thinking. What can we learn from what God’s Word has written for us in black and white letters as far as how we are supposed to take our thoughts to Him?

Mary: One of the things that Paul told Timothy is to pray that people would come to their senses, so that they would no longer think the wrong way, and begin to think the right way. It comes down to having a mind that is in Christ Jesus. When we become Christians and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are given the capacity to think God’s way, and to learn God’s way, and to begin to love God’s way. We begin to form those neuro-pathways that take us down that way instead of the negative way of carnal, immoral thinking. 

The devil is the Accuser. He’s called the Accuser. 

  • He wants us to think negatively. 
  • He wants us to think negatively about ourselves. 
  • He wants us to think negatively about our husbands. 
  • He wants us to question the motives, to be critical. 
  • He wants our fingers to start flying on social media and be critical, or jump to the worst conclusions about others. 

He is the accuser, and when we play his game, that begins to form as the pattern and the habit in our life. And a strong woman says, “No. I’m not going to do that. I am going to let my mind be shaped with Truth.”

Nancy: Sometimes we focus first on our emotions. What am I feeling? What is the sadness, the discouragement, the fear, the anxiety, the worry, the guilt? But we have to realize that those negative emotions are rooted in ways of thinking. It’s not just enough to go and start to deal with the emotions (which we do need to do).

Dannah: Your thoughts are the boss of your feelings. 

Nancy: You’ve helped me with that, Dannah, so much. Say it again!

Dannah: Your thoughts are the boss of your feelings. I actually wrote that sentence prayerfully, trying to translate Lies Women Believe for Lies Girls Believe. How do you tell a ten-year-old that her thought life matters? Your thoughts are the boss of your feelings. 

Nancy: So you need to identify: what are the wrong thoughts that are resulting in these negative feelings? And people have some really understandable reasons for having negative emotions. I mean, they may not have been parented well. They may have experienced hurt or pain in their past or in the present. I mean, they’re not just making this stuff up.

Dannah: They could be in a season of grief. Grief is appropriate, but we can’t stay stuck in the grief. We can’t fixate on the thoughts of the loss. We don’t ignore them . . . Jesus wept.

Nancy: We’re going to talk more about those feelings, but I don’t think we can deal with them if we don’t go back to: what are the ways that we’ve allowed our mind to captured by the enemy?

Mary: There’s a lot of popular psychology that talks about, “We just need to have more positivity, more positive thinking, and we need to counteract our negative thoughts with positive thoughts.” 

Nancy: Tell yourself how wonderful you are.

Mary: Tell yourself affirming thoughts. It’s not all bad. But I think that the Word of God takes us to a deeper level. It addresses the problem more at the root cause. Ultimately, if I’m feeling bad about myself, telling myself that I shouldn't feel bad about myself might help a little bit, perhaps for a period of time.

Dannah: It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a deep gash.

Mary: Exactly. So the Word of God takes us to a deeper level in that is says: listen, when you have the mind of Christ and you are able to think with the mind of Christ, instead of your own, carnal mind, then you will be able to begin to cure the problem at its root. Tou’re not just putting a Band-Aid on it. It’s not just self-help. You’re actually taking the truth and the power of the Word of God, and the power of the Holy Spirit to begin to transform your mind. 

Romans talks about that. It says, “be renewed by the transforming of your mind.” You will be renewed, you will be continually made new, you’re going to wear that new path, that healthy path, in your mind as you bring your thinking under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and begin to think truth.

Dannah: Mary, could you speak to the woman who’s listening who can’t believe that she’s spent eighteen hours online meeting someone and she’s considering leaving her family. Or maybe she’s the woman who’s just eating Fruit Loops at midnight.

Nancy: Or she’s overwhelmed with her life or her past or her pain. There’s so, so much of that out there. It just feels like everything is broken—there is no future, there is no hope. I think this thing of hopelessness and despair is something I see so much among women. 

In fact, I got a bundle of letters, handwritten letters, recently from a group of women who are in a teen challenge program dealing with substance abuse and addictions. Just reading some of the background of these women, some of the thoughts that they’ve wrestled with, these were extreme cases, but I thought that this is something we all struggle with at varying degrees and levels. We feel imprisoned, captivated, captured by our past or our circumstances.

Dannah: Like there’s no way out.

Mary: We feel like we’re inadequate; we feel like we’re failures.

Nancy: Someone may have told us, when we were six and we believed it. Then that tape—to use an old technology—keeps replaying in our heads over and over again.

Mary: That mental chatter just wears us down. I think that you need to remember that we are in a spiritual battle, and that the battle is a battle for your mind. It’s a battle for the way that you think. The Accuser—the Creep—is always going to be trying to influence you to think negative things, to think things that are not true, to doubt God, to believe lies.

You’ve talked so much about the lies women believe, the lies girls believe, and the only remedy for that is by believing truth. Take a leap of faith and say, “Jesus, I’m going to believe what You say.” 

Nancy: You have to know what the truth is, for starters.

Mary: Which you have to know, exactly. It’s not self-help talk. It’s not perk-me-up talk.

Nancy: It’s like drinking in, taking in this Word so that every time those wrong thoughts come, you have something to counter it. 

Mary: Scripture says of itself that the Word of God is living, and it’s active, and it’s powerful—and it is! You need to trust that. If you have those negative thought patterns that you are combating, what you need to do is to get some truth into your life. 

Find some Scripture that tells you truth. Write that Scripture down. You might want to put it on a sticky note and put it on a mirror. You might want to put it as a screensaver on your phone. You want to memorize it. You want to bring that into your heart and into your mind and engage God’s help. Ask God to help you believe truth.

Nancy: I often talk about counseling our hearts according to truth. A good counselor is going to tell you truth. Well, sometimes we just need to counsel our own hearts. I think of Psalm 42 and 43 where the Psalmist is depressed, he’s discouraged, he’s overwhelmed. But then he says, “Hope in God, my soul!” He talks to his soul. He counsels his heart according to truth. 

Mary: That’s what strong women do. A woman of strength counsels her heart. She speaks truth to herself. She says, “I’m not going to believe the lie. I am going to believe truth. Instead of being captivated and captured by falsehood, I’m going to take my thoughts captive for Jesus and take them captive for truth.

Dannah: Sometimes it’s just a matter of saying, “Jesus, help me. My thought life is not healthy. Will you teach me the truth? Will You captivate these negative thoughts and give me the right ones?

Mary, I would love to get this book into the hands of women who are listening right now.

Nancy: I’m thinking, like, every woman.

Dannah: I need help with my thought life. I am overwhelmed with negative thoughts, with accusatory thoughts. We’d love to send you a copy of Mary’s new book: The Right Kind of Strong: Surprisingly Simple Habits of a Spiritually Strong Woman. We’re going to send it to you as our way of saying “thank you” for helping us define the strength of women in our culture today by God’s Word, not the messages of other movements. 

You can make a gift to the ministry right now by calling 1–800–569–5959, or you can go to make your donation there, and be sure to request a copy of Mary Kassian’s newest book.

Nancy: A gift to Revive Our Hearts really is an investment in helping women around the world think God’s way. There are other ways that you can get this book, but when you make a donation to this ministry and we send this book to you as our way of saying “thank you,” you’re investing this message in the hearts of other women. 

Dannah: Maybe you’re sitting there thinking, It seems impossible to me to overcome the myriad of negative thoughts that just assault my mind every day. It could be that you have a memory from your past that just replays over and over in you mind, you just don’t know where to begin to stop the negative thoughts. 

On the next Revive Our Hearts Mary Kassian is going to help us identify if there might be some unresolved sin issues or other problems that are preventing you from mastering your mind. So I hope you’ll join us for the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth wants to help you bring every thought captive to the truth. It’s an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 

All Scripture is taken from the ESV, unless otherwise noted.

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.