THIS SERIES: CREATE SPACE FOR LIFE
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
… we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,
[2 Corinthians 10:5 NASB]
Do your thoughts cause you problems?
Are you one of those people whose mind is constantly buzzing? Someone who habitually does one thing while thinking about another; or whose thoughts drift off even whilst having a conversation? Maybe you are a worrier, someone whose mind is often filled with fearful or anxious thoughts; or maybe day-dreaming is your thing, your way of escaping from an unsatisfactory life?
While we’re looking at spring-cleaning our personal worlds, it’s a good idea to look at what’s going on between our ears. Our thought-processes can either partner with the life of God in us, or war against Him. And for those of us wanting to live lives filled with the peace of God, it’s hard to be at rest when our minds are out of control; we need to take time to declutter the mind.
ANXIETY AND A NEGATIVE MINDSET
If you are besieged by anxious, fearful thoughts, the cure is not in shoving them away, but in replacing them with truth. We don’t change unhealthy thought patterns by not thinking, we change them by putting alternative thoughts in their place. The root meaning of ‘repentance’ is to change the way we think. To align ourselves with God, we need to root out all our negative, anxious, unbelieving thoughts and replace them with those that match the way the Lord thinks.
So the first step in conquering unhealthy thought processes is to face them, confess them to the Lord and ask for His cleansing and forgiveness.
Then search out Scriptures (the internet is a great boon here), which address your worries and concerns; read them on to an mp3 player, or similar, and listen to them repeatedly. Alternatively, buy a notebook, and write down the anxiety or negative thought pattern. Then underneath, in a different colour write the truths you have discovered. On a daily basis, start to declare those truths over your life.
It won’t happen overnight, but in time, faith and hope, rather than anxiety and fear will start to dominate your thinking—and the investment of time and patience will pay dividends in the increase in rest in your life.
AN OVER-ACTIVE MIND
For those of us who are reflective types, this is an occupational hazard. How easy it is to be engaged in one activity, but have your thoughts elsewhere; to be physically doing one thing, and be mentally absorbed in another; in this age of multi-tasking it is a state that is actively encouraged. However, this kind of undisciplined thinking is a problem because we become scattered, rather than centred; and actually, as research shows, less productive. This habit, if deeply ingrained, can not only affect our performance, but our relationships, our joy in the present, and our sleep patterns.
Decluttering the mind is also a process rather than a sudden transformation. It’s about learning to live fully focused on the present, and on the Lord who fills the present with Himself. I wonder how many opportunities to encounter Him, or to see His Kingdom power at work in the task at hand, we miss because we are not really fully present?
How about making the choice this year to learn how to live moment by moment, in the presence of Jesus? How about learning to give ourselves with faith to the task in hand; learning to listen as we go to the voice of the Spirit? I wonder how many lives we might touch through our ordinary everyday living?
Start by choosing one or two things per day that you usually do in ‘automatic’ gear. Resolve to do them with full focus; then invite the Lord to come and fill the activity with His presence.
This section of the website might also be helpful:
Creating New Mindsets
While we’re looking at spring-cleaning our personal worlds, it’s a good idea to look at what’s going on between our ears. Our thought processes can either partner with the life of God in us, or war against Him.
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Imagination is a gift from God: the ability to ‘see’, to hold in the mind’s eye a finished project is an essential part of any creative process. And day-dreaming, when it involves the intentional use of the imagination, can aid us in our journey into becoming the people we were created to be.
Where day-dreaming is destructive, however, is when we use it to escape present reality, when we absent ourselves from the mundane and ordinary, and take up residence in a fantasy world. This retreat from the issues of the present sucks our energy, but is unproductive in creating change.
A third way we can declutter our minds this year is by taking hold of any propensity to day-dream, and bring it captive to Christ, and receive instead His ‘visions and dreams’.
The Lord has great plans for us; His ‘dreams’ for us are far more beautiful than any we can conjure up. Let’s take time to ask Him what He has for us this year, and let’s also dust off old prophecies spoken over our lives. Then instead of fruitless day-dreaming, why don’t we designate specific ‘envisioning times’ (with a clear starting and finishing points) when we can explore ‘the land’ waiting for us. In this way we can use the gift of imagination in a purposeful way to serve the King and His kingdom.
SOME SCRIPTURES TO PONDER...
The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.[Romans 8:6]
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]
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
[2 Corinthians 10:5]
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.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
For God has not given us a spirit of fear,
but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
[2 Timothy 1:7 NKJV]
In our desire to ‘create space for living’, let’s not forget the space between our ears! Clearing out old, unfruitful thought patterns could just change your life!
Next Friday: You are the Temple of the Holy Spirit: Declutter your Body
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