Friday, 24 May 2013

To think is to create - what is in our minds determines what comes out in our words and actions (Phil 4:6-9)

This week in Tracie Miles study on Stressed Less Living I was encouraged to meditate on Phil 4:7 and God in his faithfulness brought to mind a teaching that I shared with my church group a few years ago and prompted me to look at this verse in context with the surrounding verses.(see below) 

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

8-9 Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. Philippians 4:6-9The Message (MSG)

I was reminded that worry is futile and that God actually commands us not to do it.

So why do we choose to do it anyway? In my case it was familiar, it became part of my self talk; helping me figure out the outcome brought a sense of control to the situation - looking back now I realize that it did not however bring peace and joy.
Then in May of last year, a dear friend of mine sponsored me to attend a weekend retreat that greatly accelerated my personal growth. During that weekend I discovered that I was operating on auto-pilot most of the time responding to life based on self-limiting beliefs that I created along the journey. Although I had heard from Joyce Meyer, Charles Stanley and others the importance of a disciplined mind I didn't understand why it was so important or how to achieve it (the analytical in me wanted more information and evidence). However, I did choose to trust God and attempt to discipline my mind filling it with scripture and forward moving thoughts and when life happened I was better prepared to deal with it.
Recently, I attended an emotional intelligence workshop which reminded me of what I already knew (taking me out of auto-pilot again) and provided the understanding I was looking for. The average person thinks over 67,000 thoughts per day and to think is to create so if I am not managing my thoughts one thought can easily trigger another thought and cascade my mind into a spiral of stinking thinking and before I know it I am speaking and acting from a place of doubt, insecurity and possibly fear.

So practically speaking how do we actively, consciously manage our thoughts?
In my case, it has been a progressive learning curve that started with scripture and evolved to looking for the opportunity for growth.
1) meditate and pray with scripture such as;
2 Tim 1:7 I have not been given the spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind
2 Cor 10:5 Take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ
Phil 4:7 Focus on all that is lovely
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a pure heart and renew in me a steadfast spirit
2) resist, redirect and renew my thoughts by praising the Lord and thanking him, finding wholesome entertainment, turning to solving a different problem. When a stinking thought enters my mind I picture a STOP sign, take the thought captive in my hands and nail it to the cross then praise God for allowing me to consciously and actively manage it.
3) Practice positive unconditional regard towards others; show love at every opportunity, share my heart with others, be an encourager, smile, give of myself and watch the response
4) when change comes that may cause stress I acknowledge it, accept it, adapt and adjust as required choosing to look at the opportunities for growth instead of the negative possibilities. Focus on what is instead of what if allows me to creatively find solutions to life's problems. Besides God is greater than my circumstances and I can trust Him to get me through.

Just this morning, in my alone time when I was struggling to quiet my mind God revealed to me that it is impossible to focus on two thoughts at the same time. As a result, I chose to let go of the stinking thinking and picture myself sitting with Jesus. How refreshing to know that I can choose my thoughts.

I encourage you to take your dreams and desires to God in prayer believing that He is greater than your circumstances. He has shown me that I can do anything with Christ and that the effort required to take captive my thoughts is more than worth it. I don't expect to get it right every time but I am willing to practice focusing on good and pure thoughts to quiet my mind and live out God's purpose for my life. I am trusting that my his grace and gentle nudging it will get easier with time.

May you be richly blessed.

PS- Because words are concepts that can trigger different responses based on our experiences or personalities I appreciate which at the convenient click of a button can help me change translations and dig deeper into the meaning of God's Word in my life.

This mindmap has some useful word concepts that have helped me out of stinking thinking. (