I’m contributing several devotionals to a month of Holy30 at Beyond Bathtime this month.

Here’s today’s devotional on Romans 8:5-7:

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit… For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God… but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

Years ago, I was out to lunch with a young girl from my church, who was telling me all about a TV show she was really into. I was surprised that this was her ‘thing’ because the show was filled with immorality, violence, and materialism—all themes that represent rebellion against, not peaceful surrender to God.

Trying to be gracious, I told her that no, I hadn’t seen the show. I said that my mindset is easily influenced, and I can’t watch shows like that one. But the girl said, “Oh, I don’t have to worry about that–TV doesn’t affect me. I can watch it, and it doesn’t change the way I think or believe.”

Seriously? Did this girl really think that she could consume countless hours of steamy bedroom scenes and money-hungry vengeance; that she could let those themes rattle around in her mind during her free time, and yet never be changed?

But her face betrayed her. As she described the storyline of the show, her expression was filled with delight and approval and appetite for more. Setting her mind on this show had changed her. She just didn’t realize it. It reminded me of Edmund (in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe), eating the Turkish delight, and not realizing the ugly spell of self-centeredness it had cast upon him.

This month, one of the things I’m setting aside for Holy30 is watching TV in the evenings when my family is already in bed. My husband is an extremely early riser, and often goes to bed before I do, so after the kids go to bed, I’ve gotten in the habit of watching various TV series on Netflix. This month, though, I want to work at filling my mind with more wholesome material before bed. So I have a stack of Christian books on my bedside table, ready to go.

On day one, I was completely surprised at how many times my mind wandered to the Netflix series that I had been watching the week before. Each time it came to mind, I thought, “No, I’m not turning that on tonight.”

But my appetite for the show kept returning. I had no idea how much my heart was filled with delight and approval and craving for more of this show. And guess what some of its themes are? Immorality, violence, and materialism! I cringed when I realized what I had been allowing my mind to dwell on! Somehow, without realizing it, I had fallen prey to the same thinking that I had noticed in my friend—that I can watch something, or ‘set my mind on it’, and it won’t change the way I think or believe.

What we set our minds on—what we enjoy thinking about and allow to roll around in our imagination—inevitably shapes the way we live. I can’t be someone who loves God and lives for him if I’m constantly filling my mind with stories and entertainment that are ‘hostile toward’—or squarely opposed to—God. 

Conversely, if I yield to the Spirit of God, and allow him to control my mindset—to direct what I allow in, and what I choose to review in my free time—the result is not just a rule-following girl who can pat herself on the back a little more firmly. The difference is life and peace! If I give him unhindered and unrestrained control, the Spirit will flow through my mind like a purifying stream of water—living water!

I’d like to invite you to consider your own mind’s appetites.

  •         Consider the things you feed your mind with when no one else is around.
  •         What do you look forward to clicking on or opening when it’s quiet?
  •         Could your mindset, like mine, be influenced by something that is contrary to the Spirit of God?
  •         Is there something God would like you to stop filling your mind with?

But to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace…”

Let’s experience the life that the Spirit of God wants to give us—during Holy30 and beyond!

Holy30 is a 30 day challenge of cutting out spiritual junk, and filling ourselves with holy appetites. Read more about it here.

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