Tag Archives: Thoughts

Still Learning

Journey toward Wholeness Re-blog #16, December 23, 2020 (First Published March 28, 2018)

Day by day, I’m still learning on this journey toward wholeness. I struggle with lessons in many areas including the area of corralling wild thoughts. Thankfully, God hasn’t given up on me.

The “wild thoughts” don’t cause as big a problem now as they did a couple of years back. At that time, one thought triggered others which went in a dozen different directions–all scary or sad. I remembered a phrase from 2 Corinthians 10:5, “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ.” The New Living Translation puts the phrase into these words: “We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.” I couldn’t seem to capture my rebellious, tangled thinking. But I’m learning–

Medicine helps. Practicing focus on verses or passages of the Bible helps. Also prayer, And just speaking the thought or thoughts out loud and saying, “Jesus, I’m bringing this thought/ these thoughts captive to You. Please help me now to think about things that are true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8)”–this makes a difference sometimes too.

(Mountain Goats near a trail we hiked)

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Changing Thinking

When someone suggested I call customer support about one of our office machines, I grumbled, “They’re never any help.” I added in my mind: I’ve had nothing but trouble with that stupid machine from the beginning! Also, communicating with tech support totally frustrates me.

Really? Am I thinking that people should immediately solve the problems and if not, I need to get angry? Or do I believe that because I’ve had difficulties before, things can’t change? Maybe faulty thinking is behind my irritation. How can I change?

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 New Living Translation).

I can start with prayer. Lord, please help me! I have harbored anger and frustration in my heart. which have come out in angry words. I also felt resentful toward people who seemed to get better service than I did. I confess these things as sin. Please forgive me.

I could follow up with choosing God’s way over mine. I choose to “cease from anger and forsake wrath because it tends only to evil-doing” (Psalm 37:8–Amplified Bible). I will “put on” the new me which is being re-created in the likeness of Christ (Ephesians 4:24). Now I can forgive others and choose to overlook someone’s fault. I will walk in an attitude of generosity which rejoices when others are blessed.

As I follow Him, Jesus leads me to experience abundant life. What a relief to be able to accomplish my tasks without tripping over my old non-renewed mind!

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Hope in God – Journey Reblog 11

As my journey continued through the distress of almost constant panic, I journaled about my feelings. In mid-January I wrote:

The hours and days pass moment by moment, and I feel faithless and fearful. But I choose to trust in You, Lord Jesus Christ.

            I need sleep! I got very little last night. Lord, You are the One who sustains my body. You know what I need, and You determine how soon the meds will take effect. You are the One who gives sleep.

            I seek You. I need You, Lord! You alone can help me. I don’t feel faithful or trusting, but You alone are Lord, and I’m determined to believe and trust You. Please heal my body and mind. Amen.

When a godly friend prayed for me, I thought that would fix everything. I was disappointed that I still woke up every couple of hours at night and first thing in the morning in panic. I also feared that I would be a disappointment to her—as though it were my responsibility to make the answers come instead of God’s!

Maybe I’m trusting in my ability to believe God instead of trusting in God Himself.

            Father, I don’t know how to change. Please help me focus on You and really trust You. Amen.

The medicine did finally start helping me sleep. I came to the place where I didn’t wake up in panic mode each morning.  By balancing brain chemicals, the medicine also enabled more reasonable ways of thinking. And God is helping me to change my thoughts to healthier patterns (Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”)*

So I want to encourage anyone who is still thrashing through the forest of anxiety/depression symptoms to hope or keep hoping in God. He will lead you out of your distress at just the right time because His faithful love endures forever.

Psalm 42:5 “Why am I so depressed? Why this turmoil within me? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise Him, my Savior and my God.”*

1 Chronicles 16:34 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever.”*

 

*Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

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The Soul’s Delight

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live” (Isaiah 55:1-3a NIV).

“Seek the LORD while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near. Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. [Other versions say, “and the unrighteous their thoughts.”] Let them turn to the LORD that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously” (Isaiah 55:6-7 New Living Translation or NLT). [Other versions—“freely pardon,” “freely forgive,” and “abundantly pardon.”]

Holy Spirit, I need Your help to forsake my old negative ways of thinking that I learned from the world and culture around me. I want to come and drink living water and partake of the bread of life. Please point out to me where I’ve chosen the wrong ways so I can repent. I will choose to be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2).

Ephesians 4:22-24 instructs me to get rid of my old corrupted nature—my ways of thinking and doing which aren’t under Your control. Instead, I am to “let the Spirit renew [my] thoughts and attitudes,” and to “put on [my] new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy” (NLT). So with Your help, that is what I’ll do.

I’m determined to quit feeding the old me with its negative thought patterns and behaviors which have no life. I want to start feeding my new nature which is becoming more and more like Jesus. He is life and the Giver of life. I will partake of Him and His Word, and I will grow.

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Speak Words of Blessing

“Light in a messenger’s eyes brings joy to the heart, and good news gives health to the bones.” (Proverbs 15:30 NIV)
Light in the eyes means the messenger brings good news. That news brings joy to both the bearer and the hearer.

<p class="wp-block-syntaxhighlighter-code brush: plain; notranslate">Whether I'm bringing good news or just contributing to conversation, I want my words to help and bless.I can see that I need to choose my thoughts wisely since the things I say result from the thoughts I think. (Luke 6:45 NLT–“What you say flows from what is in your heart.”) </p>

Lord, please help me think about what is right and true and excellent and praiseworthy. (Philippians 4:8) Then the words that come out of my mouth will build others up and bring blessing. Holy Spirit, thank You for persistently reminding me to practice wise thinking. The more I do that, the less I fall back into old habits of self-pity, anger, jealousy, and criticism.
Today let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart please You and bless others. (Psalm 19:14) Amen.

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Cleaning My Thought Closet

The other morning as I walked along, one of those old “if-only” thoughts popped into my mind. I used to torment myself with those a lot. I’d whine, “If only I had gone God’s way instead of mine, then I wouldn’t have hurt so many people, and I would be enjoying ‘X’ benefit that I don’t enjoy now.” Possibly true, but I can’t change what I’ve done, and there’s no longer room in my life for “if-only.”

That kind of regret focuses on me, not on Jesus. It brings no honor to God. In fact, it hints that I have hindered His power to forgive and heal. It hisses that God is somehow limited by my failure. How ugly! I’m going to my thought closet right now to yank out every one of those if-only garments that the Holy Spirit will show me. That will make room for more praise and thanksgiving and additional attractive spiritual clothing (like humility and patience).

 

Hebrews 12:2a “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith….”
2 Corinthians 5:15 “And [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for [Him] who died for them and was raised again.”
Ephesians 4:17, 22-24 “…[You] must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking. …You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.”
Colossians 3:12 “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.”
(All Scripture quotes NIV)

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The Trap of Perfectionism

People who think they have to be perfect feel driven much of the time. I speak from experience. We, in trying to reach perfection, succeed mostly at making ourselves (and likely those around us) miserable. How did I end up in this trap? For me it probably started as a desire to feel good about myself that took root in a crevice of pride and grew into striving to avoid the emotional pain of being corrected. I didn’t understand that the ache of driving myself to be always right was worse and longer-lasting than the pain of correction. I also didn’t grasp the fact that part of that hurt was caused by “all or nothing” thinking—for example, if I’m not 100% right, I’m a total failure.

Now that I recognize the problem, I asked for God’s help to break free. And He is helping. I still sometimes find myself spending my thought time on every mistake I can remember and feeling guilty for every sin (even though I’ve confessed them and received forgiveness–1 John 1:9.) So instead of keeping my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I end up focusing on past failures.

Trdmill w-person   One idea that helps me get off the treadmill of perfectionism is to capture the memories of mistakes and forgiven sins before they bump the thought speed control up to “race.” Then I tell myself to think of those things as just reminders that I’m not God—never have been and never will be. And really, what a relief! I’m way too small to handle His job. Any human being is.

Psalm 46:10–“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.”

Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.

(Verses are New Living Translation.)

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Living New

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So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I [God] am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.” –Leviticus 18:3-5 New Living Translation
Dear Father, Don’t let me live by the flesh (pursuing what I want and feel as a human). That’s “where I used to live”–in the “old” me. And let me not act like (or be conformed to) the world where I’m now dwelling. Instead let me be transformed, walking in Your ways, by letting You change the way I think. (Romans 12:2). That’s how I’ll find real life. Please help me quickly yield to and obey You as You work in my life. Amen.
Both my old “not-renewed” mind and a mind which thinks like the world tend to face life with questions like, “How can I get out of this? Who’s at fault? What will make me feel better?”
As I let Christ change the way I think day by day, I ask more questions like, “Is there a lesson I can learn? How do I allow God to grow me through this? How can I honor God in it?”
Father, thank You for continuing to work in us your children little by little so that we begin to think more like you. Amen.

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It’s Time

alarm clock only--2       Why do I waste time and emotional energy upsetting myself over things I have no control over? Instead of letting myself get irritated, frustrated, or angry, I could be meditating on God’s Word. After all, I claim that’s where my delight is (Psalm 1:2). Or I could be singing some of the church hymns and gospel songs I grew up with and love.
It’s time I set my mind on things above where Christ is (Colossians 3:2). I need to think on the good things of Philippians 4:8 (whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, or if there is any virtue or anything praiseworthy).
“Cease from anger and forsake wrath; fret not yourself — it tends only to evildoing.” Psalm 37:8 (Amplified Bible)
God has allowed these moments and days for me on this earth, and I want to use them for His glory. I can do that better if I keep my focus on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith (Hebrews 12:2). Each day, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to God, my Rock and Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).

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Thought Corral

By Your grace, Lord, I’ll round up all my wild thoughts, which are like mustangs allowed to roam the plains for many years past. I’ll bring them to enclose within Your fences and to be branded with Your character. You, O Lord, are God alone, but my thoughts wander from You, the living God, so often that I’ll need to lasso them one by one. Otherwise, I could never get them into Your corral at all.

You keep in perfect peace the one whose mind is stayed on You because he/she trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3, paraphrase

As I said, so few of my thoughts are centered on God that I need to corral the whole batch somehow and bring every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. I asked the Lord for some tips on how to keep my mind stayed on Him.

I thought about Prov. 3:6—Acknowledge God in all your ways, and He will direct your paths. So this might help: When I do anything, even a small thing, I can choose to do it as unto the Lord and acknowledge Him in it. Also, my ears tend to perk up when others are conversing, so I need God’s help to close my ears to things that are none of my business. I want to be very careful in my own conversations to say only what builds up and what is beneficial. In addition, it’s important, when I listen in a situation, that I let God tune my ears to consider what would please or displease Him, and think appropriately about those things.

Now, where is that lasso?

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