My wife is a very disciplined eater. Terese is faithful to a low-carb diet, so she eats lots of healthy salads and vegetables and avoids things like hamburger buns and high-fat foods. She makes choices each day that fit into her goal of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Terese’s food choices flow out of the everyday process of aligning her thoughts to her long-term goal because she knows that actions flow out of the thoughts we determine to engage in our minds. The old saying “Change your thoughts, and you will change your world” is true and valuable. In my book “The Isaiah Encounter: Living an Everyday Life of Worship” and my weekly blog posts I point out that a key component of living a life of worship centers involves making God-directed and Spirit-empowered choices in our thought life
Every day we are barraged with thoughts that come at us through interactions with other people, books, TV programs, websites, video games, and even blogs like this one. It can sometimes feel like an attack of thoughts coming toward us at a furious flurry. Conflicting and erroneous perspectives and thoughts exert pressure on those of us who follow Christ and hold a Christ-centered worldview. Even for people who have walked with Christ for decades, our thought life is the land of spiritual battle, a place that can become either a productive garden or an exploding minefield. On first glance, it can seem like a cruel paradox for Christ followers as the Bible makes it clear that on our own we are powerless to master our thoughts, yet God designed us to as beings capable of making choices. So how do we navigate this maze and worship God with our thought life?
It’s all about willpower—but it’s God’s will and power, not our own!
I’m not a big fan of religious formulas, but I think there are some simple steps we can follow in bringing our thought life in line with God. Like a healthy eating discipline, a spiritually sound thought life begins with keeping our goal in mind. My personal goal is to know and follow Jesus Christ and make my life count for God’s kingdom. With that goal as a foundation, it’s not hard to integrate some healthy disciplines or practices that will make a profound difference in our thoughts and life over time.
The first step in developing and nurturing a spiritually sound thought life begins with daily looking to Jesus, as the writer of the Book of Hebrews stated:
“ …let us run with endurance and active persistence the race that is set before us, [looking away from all that will distract us and] focusing our eyes on Jesus, who is the Author and Perfecter of faith…consider and meditate on Him who endured from sinners such bitter hostility against Himself…” Hebrews 12:1-3 (Amplified Bible)
Focusing on Jesus in prayer and spending time reading and meditating on the Word of God each day aligns our heart and mind to Him. It also infuses God’s Holy Spirit and power into our thought life.
The next step is to continually turn to and lean on God—many times each day if necessary—and ask for His power to rule over your thought life. 2 Corinthians 10:5 is a great Scripture verse to pray whenever a negative thought or temptation tries to infiltrate the mind. Try memorizing and praying this verse and substitute “I” for “we” to make it a personal prayer as you surrender the thought to God:
“We (I) demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we (I) take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5)
Finally, nurture your thoughts through the filter of God’s Word by focusing on the healthy things of life rather than the junk spiritual food the world often offers. The Apostle Paul encouraged his friends to align their thoughts to God by doing this, and it still works today!
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
A healthy spiritual thought life is possible only through an active, engaged relationship with God in the person of Jesus Christ. In the power of Jesus Christ, we can choose healthy thoughts that will reap of a harvest of blessing for God and those around us— as well as ourselves!
God bless you.