Sometimes I have Stinking Thinking

https://rhm.podbean.com/e/sometimes-i-have-stinking-thinking/

Here is what I know:

Wrong thinking leads to wrong living

Here is another thing I know:

Manure happens

And, a third thing that I know:

One of the greatest stumbling blocks to spiritual life and spiritual growth is getting stuck in our negative, untrue, and impure thoughts instead of believing and living what God says in His Word

Our natural or built-in language is negative

When left to what comes naturally – being negative (negativity) – we lose sight of the spiritual truths that can set us free

And, sadly, in my experience, many of us refuse to push through the clutter and clamour of negative thinking and false beliefs that can and do bombard us daily

If it is not us fighting wrong thoughts – it is someone we love or are close to that is constantly struggling with STINKING THINKING

    • I just will never get it right
    • I will never amount to anything
    • I’m no good – I always fail no matter how hard I try
    • No one really cares about what happens to me
    • If I disappeared, no one would notice, much less care
    • No matter how hard I try, nothing changes
    • My life stinks and it is only going to get worse – I never get a break
    • There is no way I can change that – it is just who I am
    • It seems that I mess up everything I do
    • God could never love me after all that I have done
    • I have to take care of myself because no one else, especially God, comes through for me so I had better grab whatever I can whenever I get the chance
    • Add your favourite “self-talk” for “inner conversation” to the list

Any one of these thoughts can be deadly

And added one upon another and repeated often enough they can imprison us in a hellish life filled with toxic waste

Most people – even Spirit-filled believers – need to break free into the amazing and exhilarating freedom of God’s truth

The root of most sins we commit outwardly is the false beliefs we embrace inwardly

The root of most of life’s disappointments is toxic thinking that takes us in a direction that leads to dissatisfaction and disappointment in life

So we need to identify and reject the STINKING THINKING that keeps us from God’s best 

We don’t need Dr. Phil to tell us what God revealed to us in His Word thousand of years ago

Your thoughts determine who you become

Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) “For as [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he.”

If you think negative and toxic thoughts you will become a negative, sick and toxic person

Your soul will stagnate and wither

If you think God’s truth in your thoughts, you will become like Christ

Your soul will flow with living water and flourish

Again, here is something I know:

If you’re not trying to move away from the inner negatives you speak to yourself daily

If you’re not willing to focus on God’s absolutes instead of your own mental chatter (self-talk tapes)

You will only drift away from what you desire most – freedom to just be the you God created!

Most of life’s battles are won or lost first in the mind

Reading a biography of Abraham Lincoln and he is quoted as saying:

“I want to know all God’s thoughts. All the rest are just details.”

Our thoughts are either focused on what’s eternal, life-changing, and true

Or lost in the details of our temporary, selfish, false beliefs

Saying that in a spiritual manner:

If you are a Christian, then you’re fully aware of the battle between your flesh (your earthly desires) and your spirit (your heavenly desires)

Although sometimes we need to be reminded!

This ongoing battle between flesh and spirit is usually fought in our minds

A husband does not wake up one morning and decide he is going to cheat on his wife that day

Instead it is a gradual process of sliding away thought by thought that allows him to begin an adulterous relationship

This truth applies to your finances, your family relationships, your life-style, your satisfaction with your job, your friendships

Again, a serious truth I know:

If you want to win the physical battle, we have to control the spiritual battlefield

And Scripture makes it clear how we can control the battlefield:

“Carefully guard your thoughts because they are the source of true life”      (Proverbs 4:23 CEV)

Obviously we need to guard our minds (our thoughts)

Like a firewall protects your computer – You need to protect the hard drive of your mind

We need to know what we are fighting again

We need to understand what we are fighting for

We need to be aware of the enemy and alert to his ways

Paul makes our strategy clear and concise in his teaching to the Corinthians:

“The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:4)

The Greek root word translated “strongholds” here is ochuroma 

As a noun it can be translated as “castle” or “fort”

As a verb “to fortify”

A literal translation for Paul’s usage would be a “prisoner locked by deception.”

If we don’t demolish thoughts that are not rooted in His Word we become “prisoners locked up by deception”

As Christians, we have stronger weapons than knives, guns, and grenades

We have faith, prayer, and God’s Word

God wants us to use His weapons to win the battle of the mind

God’s truth releases us from the prison of lies we tell ourselves and the lies that the world constantly bombards us with

Unfortunately, many believers are held hostage by toxic lies

We hold the key in our minds but lose sight of it in the junk drawer of our negative thoughts

Paul the apostle knew this and so he continues in his letter to the church at Corinth:

“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)

In other words, get rid of STINKING THINKING

Any thought that is not from God should be demolished, destroyed, annihilated

Instead of being prisoners of the thought war, we take untrue thoughts captive and make them obedient to God’s truth

Here’s a truth I know:

We can win the mind games

From my study of God’s Word, my own experiences, as well as the shared experiences of others – I have identified four specific kinds of toxic waste that can and does poison our minds

1> PESSIMISM – which usually produces chronically negative thoughts

2> ANXIETY – which usually manifest as fearful and worried thoughts

3> BITTERNESS – which pollutes our thinking with discontented and envious thoughts

4> CRITICISM – which pumps destructive judgmental thoughts into our minds

Four thought-bondages that form the strongholds (fortress – castle) in our minds

1> NEGATIVE THINKING (PESSIMISM) 

A lot of born again, Spirit-filled believers battle with chronically negative thoughts about themselves, others and life in general

We call it self-talk …

Maybe it is dealing with our self-image:

          • I don’t have what it takes
          • No matter how hard I try, I’ll never get ahead 
          • No matter what I do, I always get the short end of the stick
          • I am never good enough
          • My life is always going to stink

Maybe we are overwhelmed with too much to do:

          • There is too much to do and I just can’t do it all
          • No one appreciates all that I do
          • All I ever do is give, give, give – people constantly suck life out of me – and I never get anything in return
          • I don’t know how much longer I can take it

Maybe your negative thoughts tend to surface in more mundane areas of life:

          • My hair looks awful – it never does what I want it to do
          • I’ve got nothing to wear and can’t afford to buy anything I’d enjoy wearing
          • Do you kids think I am made of money?
          • I can’t believe I wasted money on this stupid book

Again, a truth worth noting:

Even if a grain of truth exists in a particular thought, where you plant the seed determines how – and if – it will grow

If you let weeds grow in your garden too long, they will choke out the truth – the one good seed – and smother your joy

You will be forced to eat weed salad because they have taken over the good fruit you wanted to grow there

Weed the garden of your mind on a regular basis

What needs pruning?

What needs to be nipped in the bud before it overtakes the fruit of the Spirit your soul longs to experience

2> FEARFUL THINKING (HIGH ANXIETY)

A close cousin to NEGATIVE THINKING is FEARFUL THINKING

You may be able to quote the verse that says, “God has not given us a spirit of fear,” even while your thought life is haunted by a host of fearful spirits

Economic fears:

          • What’s going to happen to the economy?
          • What if my taxes go up again?
          • What if my company downsizes and I get laid off?
          • What if things don’t really recover after COVID?
          • What if the price of gas keeps going up?

Relational fears:

          • You love your spouse, but he or she continues to disappoint you
          • Marriage isn’t what you hoped it would be
          • Will we be able to work things out?
          • Do I just settle for less and keep quiet?
          • Does he / she still love me?
          • What if I never have a good friend I can trust and rely on?
          • How can you really trust someone anyways?

The lists goes on — and we ride the bullet train of worry all the way to the last stop at High Anxiety

3> ENVIOUS THINKING (BITTERNESS)

Although most people alive today are more blessed than anyone in the history of the world — it is still so easy to be consumed with discontent and envy

In the midst of the bounty of blessings we experience daily, thoughts of dissatisfaction pop up like pimples on a teenager

Discontent lead to dissatisfaction which leads to ENVIOUS THINKING (they have it, why can’t I?) and eventually BITTERNESS (at the hand that life has dealt you)

Maybe you battle with discontent regarding your appearance

    • I don’t like my body
    • I wish I looked different
    • No matter what I do, I just don’t measure up physically

Discontent regarding… 

    • The relationships you have or don’t have
    • The house you live in
    • The money you don’t have
    • The camper you wish you could have
    • The boat you always wanted

I repeat the truth:

Discontent lead to dissatisfaction which leads to ENVIOUS THINKING and eventually BITTERNESS

4> JUDGEMENTAL THINKING (CRITICISM)

Perhaps without even knowing it, you are consumed with criticizing anything that crosses your path

You can find fault with:

    • People
    • Buildings
    • Companies
    • Governments
    • Churches
    • Family members
    • People you work with
    • Lunch menus
    • Basic behaviours of others
    • The sermon or teaching
    • The worship
    • The neighbours
    • The weather
    • People’s expectations
    • Dress codes

1> NEGATIVE THINKING (PESSIMISM) 

2> FEARFUL THINKING (HIGH ANXIETY)

3> ENVIOUS THINKING (BITTERNESS)

4> JUDGEMENTAL THINKING (CRITICISM)

Think about your thoughts and be brutally honest

Do you battle with:

      • Negative thoughts about yourself, other people, or life in general?
      • Are you consumed with fearful, worrisome thoughts – putting your faith in bad things happening rather than good?
      • Do you find yourself discontented, always wishing life were different or better?
          • Envious of others
      • Are you occasionally or often critical, finding something wrong with a lot of people, places, and things?
          • So become very judgmental

If you answered yes to one or more of these questions – your life is being infected with toxic thoughts

You are losing the battle of the mind

It is time to switch tactics and fight to win

It is time to take these thoughts captive and pull down the strongholds (castle, fortress) that they have built in your life

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ…”

TPT  “For although we live in the natural realm, we don’t wage a military campaign employing human weapons, using manipulation to achieve our aims. Instead, our spiritual weapons are energized with divine power to effectively dismantle the defences behind which people hide. We can demolish every deceptive fantasy that opposes God and break through every arrogant attitude that is raised up in defiance of the true knowledge of God. We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One.”

MSG “The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ.”

NLT “We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.”

The Solution:

Once you have identified toxic thoughts, it is up to you to decide to take action and replace the lies with truth

Shine the light into the darkness

In Philippians, Paul states, “The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7)

As you meditate on God and His Word — He will protect your mind

And, you will be filled with what you feed into your mind … what you feast upon with your mind

Paul explained it this way

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

When you think God thoughts — He will guard your mind with peace

Instead of meditating (always thinking about) poison, we are to meditate on truth

You might not see an overnight change in your life, but if you direct your thoughts toward God, you will, over time, be more joyful and peace-filled

And, again, a truth:

Once you acquire a taste for wholesome thoughts and godly thinking, your mental palate becomes more sensitive to the taste of poison

So, the practical:

1> When we hear something that is not true, we have to discern the lie

This is much easier to do if we know our Bible decently well – knowing the truth helps us to discern the lie

2> Once we determine that what we heard is a lie – we need to take it captive and replace it with what is from God … 

What His Word says about the situation or person or comment or thought

3> We then decide and choose to think the God thought instead

This can be difficult to do at first and will certainly take practice

For a while you may have to go through a step-by-step process like 1-2-3 above

But, after a while, our minds will be made new, different, and filled with truth

We will be fluent in God’s truth and be able to exterminate the false ideas trying to enter our mind and feed on our faith as soon as they hit us

We will instinctively recognize poisonous thoughts and reject them before they stain our thoughts

We will find that our default setting is: “…whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, (we will) think about these things”

Without hesitation, we’ll reject thoughts that are not from God

And naturally (or supernaturally) we will think God’s kind of thoughts

Again, another truth: 

You will always find what you are looking for

Think about the difference between two birds: a vulture and a hummingbird

Vultures soar high in the sky, looking and searching and what does he find?

Dead things

 

The ugly oversized bird doesn’t stop until he finds lifeless, rotting road kill

Contrast the vulture to the tiny hummingbird

With wings flapping 20 beats a second, what does this small bird find?

Not dead things and disgusting rancid meat, but instead, sweet, life-giving nectar

Daily, each bird finds what he is looking for

The same is true for you

You can be on a road-kill diet or you can find nectar in each day

If you want to find things to be negative about or to worry about, it is not hard to do

If you plan to be critical, you don’t have to look far to find fault

If you choose to be negative, you’ll easily accomplish your goal

BUT, if you want to see the good in life, you will find it

If you choose to watch for places where God is working, you will see His loving presence each place you look

If you decide to look for hope, faith, and a better future, you will discover these positive things and more countless times a day

Decide the destination of your mind

Any time your mind drifts towards dangerous thoughts, stop

 

Grab those runaway thoughts – take them captive

Do whatever it takes to get the trash out of your mind

An Old Testament prophet said to God:

“You see me and test my thoughts about you. Drag them off like sheep to be butchered! Set them apart for the day of slaughter!” (Jeremiah 12:3)

Can you hear the passion for truth in Jeremiah’s words?

He asked God to test his thoughts, identify any that were “black sheep,” drag them off, and butcher them

And we must do the same with our thought lives!

And I am not just talking about being positive and saying self-affirming things

I am not saying that you shape your life with good thoughts

I am saying that you shape your life with God thoughts

Remove anything that is not from God

Align your thoughts with His Word

To sound spiritual: If your life is continually corrupted with unhealthy thoughts wash them with the water of the Word (Ephesians 5:26)

Realize that you are not a victim of your thoughts

You have the power through Christ to take them captive should you wish to do so

You have the power to be free of those inner tapes that are sending negative messages

You will find what you are looking for: 

          • You can believe the worst or think the best
          • You can find reasons to worry or reasons to have faith
          • You can live pessimistically or you can possess life-changing faith

Paul reminds us that the world is full of spiritual toxins but that your mind will not be overcome

Romans 12:2a “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind …”

The Greek word translated as “renewing” is anakainosis, which means:

      • To restore
      • To renovate
      • To make better than new

You could envision an old, termite-infested house being transformed by a good exterminator and a construction crew from HGTV

Think of it as “Mind Makeover: God Edition”

If you want to live a clean life in a polluted world, you must remove the seeds off poison from within

Practice taking every thought captive

Ask God to identify and help remove the life-draining ideas and images of your mind

Fill your thoughts with His Truth and the beauty of His goodness

Renew your mind with His Word and watch your faith grow and life change in ways that will astonish you.