There are many voices that fill our heads. Each day we are bombarded by radio, television, the internet, family, friends, co-workers, the public, and of course those inaudible words which echo – sometimes incessantly – in the private recesses of our mind.
Recently, my daughter Maggie and I spent the weekend being poured into by some amazing worship leaders and songwriters at the Kingdom Songs Retreat (KingdomSongs.org) in Franklin, Tennessee. The weekend was full of encouragement, teaching, songwriting sessions, and an optional open-mic night, where those in attendance could share a song. I decided against putting my name on the list because of course; “All of the songwriters and worship leaders in the room are way more talented than me, they had written better songs and certainly had better voices.” I was listening to the voice of fear – or maybe it was the voice of pride trying to assure I would not stumble over a word, miss a chord, or go flat in the chorus, I am not quite sure. Nonetheless, knowing I did not want to controlled by either, I picked up the pen and added my name to the list, not because I felt as though everyone needed to hear my song, but rather as a way to press against whatever it was that had lobbied so convincingly to keep me only a spectator.
Though this type of situation now happens infrequently, there was a time when I was controlled by many unhealthy voices; voices that validated fears and dismissed any positives in my life. Some, where spoken into my life by people whom I should have been able to trust, others were internal, but all served to squelch my joy and confirm my doubts. “If people knew the real you they would not like you.” “You’re a fake.” “Everyone else is better than you.” “How can you call yourself a Christian when you (fill in the blank),” and the list goes on.
The voices we listen to determine a great deal about how we live our lives; in victory or defeat, in sorrow or joy, in freedom or in bondage, in truth or in fear. Jesus said, My sheep hear My voice. I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27) To walk in our true calling, to be our true self, is to follow the voice of Jesus.
So how do we discern the voice of Truth and move beyond habitually yielding to those voices which seek to invalidate our call, silence our witness, and justify our destructive actions or complacency? By renewing our minds through the study of God’s word.
The apostle Paul encourages us, Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:2
The renewing of my mind began when I accepted as truth and committed to memory several key verses which define who we are as Christians:
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1 (NET)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. 1 John 3:1 (NIV)
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (NASB)
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:7-9 (NIV)
My son, do not reject the discipline of the Lord or loathe His reproof, for whom the Lord loves He reproves, even as a father corrects the son in whom he delights. How blessed is the man who finds wisdom and the man who gains understanding. Proverbs 3:11-13 (NASB)
Committing verses, such as those referenced above, to memory allows us the ability to combat those destructive voices of fear, condemnation, shame, and guilt, which only seek to isolate and destroy. Realizing that God wants only the best for us; understanding the difference between discipline and punishment; and accepting our identity as a child of God; allows us to discern the voice of Jesus who is drawing us to Himself.