Thursday, February 24, 2011

Power Thinking

Taking charge of your mind can lead to new habits of thinking and a new sense of peace. One of our Foundational Equipping classes helps believers apply a well known passage of scripture. I grew up in a church that believed in the Bible from genesis to maps and that included the index for some. But we all had a problem; none of us knew how to apply the biblical principles in real life.
For example, I heard this Bible verse of Jesus being quoted a lot. Preachers loved to bear down on it and used it to urge us to memorize the Bible. You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free! John 8:32
Any strong Bible based preacher can go off on that verse for a number of sermon topics. They can wend their way up the mountain of holiness and righteous living and right back down the valley of despair and sin. They would be able to tell us horror stories and tales of tragedy to show us what happens when people fail to understand the truth. The truth was should we run into any problem or temptations in life Bible memorization would be our escape hatch. We would rise and sing…

The B-I-B-L-E
That’s the book for me!
I stand alone on the word of God
The B-I-B-L-E!

Let me say before wandering off the subject that I agree with this verse and believe it points us to enormous power for healing, deliverance and freedom. But one thing was unfortunately left out of most preachers’ teaching: It is not enough to memorize the truth; we must also learn how to experience and apply the truth.

The term TRUTH in this passage is used in the Bible to mean sexual intercourse that led to pregnancy. When the scripture says that Abraham “knew” his wife Sarah, it does NOT mean that he read a book about her or even that he memorized hr vital statistics.

In the same way, to KNOW the truth means to experience, live in and apply the truth. In fact, the context of this verse says that Jesus is talking about more than Bible memory. Verse 31: “If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples”. Abide is to live in and feed on my word like a branch on a vine. Christianity and Christian truth are living, vital, growing and impacting. They are not static!

How Does One Know the Truth?

I was not taught much about how to abide in the truth. Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Light! But I never heard anyone suggest a way to actually abide on Christ until I was an adult of 30 years. At this time I am going to share a simple but difficult way to start abiding in The Truth.

1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. ROMANS 12:1

It is a remarkable thing to read that St. Paul considers true worship to be offering our work, our fellowship and play as well as our romantic lives to God daily. What happened to the notion that reading the Bible, attending church and evangelizing our neighbors was real worship? He destroys it in one sentence. The he says something else that challenges our way of thinking.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. ROMANS 12:2

This focus on our mind seems secular, fleshly and sinful to a lot of Christians. Aren’t we supposed to forget the mind, stop thinking and going to school and be spiritual? Nope. Just the opposite. Give our mind and our brain to worship God all day every day.

Most of us need some simple, easily remembered principles to follow if we are really going to break old habits and start new ones. In order to start a diet and lose weight I need to stop old ways of eating and start new habits. The same is true of thinking patterns. We have developed very strong habits about the ways we think about life from the world around us. As St. Paul says, “Stop thinking like the world and start thinking like Jesus.

For example, the Bible exhorts us to remember that we can have perfectly developed peace if we keep our minds focused on Jesus. Many people were reared to have anxious thoughts and fearful ways of thinking that lead them to have sleepless nights and harried days. The answer is to focus on the love and presence of God and stop worrying, but that is quite difficult and may take months to accomplish.
What is an Emotion?

Emotions have four parts. So, when I feel nervous, anxious and fearful for no reason we must analyze what is causing the worry so we can change it and find perfect peace. Here is the secret: Are you ready to see it? The four parts of Feelings are:

Activating Events
Belief System
Consequential Feelings
Decisive Behavior

There are two of these that I cannot change directly and two parts I can change directly. I cannot change external Activating Events. When the Middle Eastern Muslim nations began to flare up many people got very worried. The Muslim revolts are Acts that I cannot change. When I think and ruminate on how awful that is and what will happen to oil prices I think of higher prices and how much money it will cost to drive and those thoughts make me worried. Because I was worried I stopped driving so much. The Activating Events (Revolts) did not make me worried but my Beliefs about the Events did make me worried. And, the Feelings caused me to stop driving and that was a Decisive Behavior.

A=Revolts in the Middle East
B=This will cause higher gas prices
C= Fear, Worry, Anxiety
D= Stop driving so much

The Bible is the most powerful book on psychology and behavior ever written. I am forever amazed at how insightful and healing it is to know and follow the Bible. The key is to know and apply the truth that sets us free. For more on how to “Take every thought captive to the mind of Christ" watch a video where Cyndi Wineinger and I teach the basic components of Power Thinking. It is all in the "How to Have a Peaceful Heart in a Stressful World” video. Our notes for the video are also available.

So, taking charge of your mind can lead to new habits of thinking and peace.


Steelers#1 said...

Thank you for your ministry and the Feb. 24 article on POWER THINKING. I read it today, just when the Lord led me to find it when He knew I needed it. You are a blessing! God bless you and Sweeten Life Systems!

Gary Sweeten said...

Thanks for the input. Keep seeking God and you will be empowered.