How to Take Control of Your Thoughts
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WHY IT MATTERS
Kelly believes we need to think about what we’re thinking about. “It determines our reactions to others, which affects our relationships, which shapes our lives,” she says. Referring to Proverbs 23:7, she adds, “What we think is what we are.” Kelly says we all have subconscious thought patterns, based on our experiences and beliefs, which can result in distorted, unhealthy thinking.
She admits to having plenty of struggles with her own thought life, including battling an eating disorder in younger years because of it. Thankfully, she has seen wonderful changes as her mind has become renewed by the truth of God’s Word. “I’ve come to realize Jesus doesn’t look at me and see my dysfunction; Jesus looks at me and sees His reflection, the image of Christ in me. This is consoling. What changed me from wanting to die, being mean to my kids and hating myself for it, constantly criticizing people, being ultracompetitive with other women, being horridly selfish, getting all caught up in a million feelings of inadequacy, suffering from anxiety, and regretting the past was embracing Christ in me.”
GETTING PRACTICAL - STOP/START
Wanting to offer people clear, practical help in taking every thought captive, Kelly looked to Scripture for a model. She came up with what she calls “The Stop/Start Process,” which she sums up this way:
1. Stop thinking according to our conformed minds.
2. Start thinking according to our renewed minds.
“A conformed mind,” Kelly explains, “is led by old ways and by the enemy’s lies. It places pleasing people above pleasing God. I go after comfort before connection with God. It falls back into old patterns instead of receiving strength to endure and persevere in forming new ones.”
She says renewed thinking, on the other hand, is based on and aligns with three elements – the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, and discerning prayer. “The Word of God is operative,” Kelly points out. “It does surgery to remove what will kill us. It then reorients and rehabs us. Our priorities are reset and recalibrated. And this is where we are activated in mind, word, and deed.”
Kelly goes on to describe a simple process anyone can use with any thought that enters his/her mind:
1. Capture the Thought. Identify and write down any feelings, thoughts, or beliefs that need to be renewed, and note what the Holy Spirit reveals to you as you pray.
2. Determine Who is Speaking. Is it God whispering in a still, small voice? Is it the enemy, the accuser of your soul, speaking? Is it the flesh speaking in your mind?
3. Understand Intent. What might the devil want to steal, kill, or destroy through this thought? If left unchecked, in five, ten, or thirty years, where will it lead me?
1. Submit to the Mind of Christ. We read the Bible to find out what God says about our thought.
2. Discover Any Unlocked Doors. What may have opened me up to feel this way? What (feeling, fear) is under my thought? Is there something in my history I need to repent of?
3. Repent, Renounce, and Pray. “We can say, ‘I recommit my eyes, my heart, my hands, and my thinking – the whole of me – to You, God.’”
4. Go a New Way. “It’s not always as hard as we make it seem or as hard as the enemy tells us it is. Jesus has afforded us a lot; the enemy wants to forget that.”
5. Keep the Temple Shining. Pray for protection. Think on what is good. Keep using the sword of the Spirit.
HEALTHY HEART POSTURES
Though our brains do our thinking, our thoughts stem from our hearts, Kelly believes. “Hearts think, and hearts – on their own accord – are deceptive. Our hearts dictate our thoughts, our thoughts direct our actions, and our actions determine our lives and whether we follow Jesus or not. God tells us, ‘You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart’ (Jer. 29:13). Deep, hungry, and open hearts welcome Jesus and yield to the mind of Christ. Let’s continually evaluate our hearts. And never leave them unattended. The heart requires regular check-ups, just like the physical body,” she says.
The eight heart postures that Kelly encourages us to have are:
1. I Trust that God is Near
2. I Don’t Need Pity; I Walk in God’s Love
3. My Lot in Life is Beautiful
4. I Have Nothing to Lose by Loving
5. God is Strong in My Weakness
6. Right Now, I Put All My Trust in God
7. I Forgive Me!
8. My Problem is Not Too Big for God
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