Captivating Thoughts

Have you ever had a bee that just swarmed around you? You swat and wave your arms and it just flies away and comes right back. You get up and move and, all of a sudden, there it is again!

I know if you are at least as old as I am, you have had that happen. Now, let me ask you another question…Have you ever had this happen in your thoughts? I am talking about the negative thoughts.the patterns of thinking that can swarm and circle in your mind. Even if you get up and do something else…..for a little while…..trying to get your mind in a different place, they return….especially when you are trying to go to sleep. It is as if someone has turned on “headlights in your mind!” If we are all honest and if we have lived enough life….we all would admit to having negative thought patterns that, at times, swarm our thoughts and affect our whole day…or maybe weeks or months or years.

I have watched it occur in my own life and in the lives of others. It is easily seen, at times, in others…through actions and “out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” (see Luke 6:45). Sometimes….it is in the body language… or you hear long sighs…..a distance in their listening…like they are in another place….or just a lingering sad facial expression or anger that flares abnormally over simple stuff that shouldn’t evoke such a response.

The older I get and the more I pay attention…to myself and others…the more I realize that we can put ourselves in a “self-imposed” prison in our minds. I call it “fatal thinking!” We have thoughts like:

“This always happens to me…..”
“I never will…….”
“I can’t (is one that is prevalent)…”
“Everyone else does…..!”

This list could be a mile long.

The one thing I know for absolute certain is this: What happens inside of your head will find it’s way outside—into your life!

The way we allow ourselves to think is a choice and Scripture is very clear on what we are to do with our thoughts as God uses Paul as the vessel to teach us to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ,” (see 2 Corinthians 10:5). Meaning, we have to pay attention to our thoughts…Godly things originate there but sin originates in the same place as well…so we have to pay attention to what we think about, how we think…and where we allow our thoughts to go!

If you are not accustomed to putting your thoughts in a positive Christ-like order, this advice could be the most powerful advice I have ever written about. It can make you “sore” but put you in a better place to lead a life of “significance” which is God’s desire for all of us. It is my desire to encourage all of us to “bear much fruit”. Let me explain.

In Scripture Christ teaches us to abide in Him! Stay connected to the vine (God). Bearing much fruit, which I totally think is the same as a “life of significance,” means pruning. Yes, pruning comes with the territory…which can mean pain and circumstances that are not at all comfortable. As long as we live we will deal with our sin and the consequences of it (the law of reaping and sowing). We will deal with being affected by the sin of others. James chapter 1 teaches that God uses our trials to “mature and complete us”. Who wants to eat fruit that is not mature?! So….how are we to think?

I am NOT a loser…I am a child of the King. “I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in earth below—-indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord,” (Romans 8:38-39).

When things are not ideal or you are in the midst of a hurricane, engage in your thoughts that God does not lie and repeat the Scripture…”We know that God causes all things to work for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them,” (Romans 8:28).

On a personal note…when Thomas, our middle child, at age 5, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes I had to say the above verse over and over in my head. Honestly….it was years before I saw any good. To be perfectly honest…I would still take diabetes from him if I could. But let me just list some of the good:

He is now 23 and has been diabetic for 18 years…we, as a family, are more compassionate as a whole and I know we couldn’t be that without watching Thomas struggle up-close and personal at times.

The countless friends we have made because of this disease…especially the ones that have walked our walk (we wouldn’t have known otherwise). In particular, those who have a child with the diagnosis including a precious family in Greenville who have a son, Ethan. Thomas has reached out to them on occasion and they have reached back. They have even followed Thomas when he played for Clemson. The relationship is special. The father works in the health care industry.

Last February, when my mom was dying and my dad had a severe and sudden stroke …..this man came to our aid when we needed it the most. I just sent a simple text and he solved a major problem we had. I wouldn’t have known him if both of our sons didn’t have Type 1 diabetes. I could write a book just on this subject of diabetes and the good I see.

Don’t get me wrong. There has been some bad–seizures, low blood sugars, expense, sleepless nights, many sacrifices, and scary times–but I have seen God up-close and personal….in countless ways. Thomas, too, has seen interventions that can only be explained as supernatural, God’s hand of intervention.

Lastly, let me just say God desires for us to read and know His Word…to believe it and apply it in our thoughts, first and foremost.

I encourage you today….the way you think…your patterns of thinking will affect your whole life. It starts with the filling of your mind with the truth of God’s Word. Leaning into Him. Choosing to believe and stepping in faith even when you can’t see or you feel fearful. God does give you more than you can handle so that you can see Him more clearly and know HE CAN HANDLE IT. Not in our strength but in God’s power. Choose to think differently!

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