What are some life-transforming experiences you have had? What conclusions did you make about God, others and/or yourself in light of those circumstances?
We all develop thought patterns based on our experiences. Some of our thought patterns seem to be correct based on our experience. When we take time to ask God what He thinks about them, we sometimes come up with another perception. The scripture in Isaiah that tells us God’s thoughts are not ours suggests it would be helpful to consider what His thoughts are on our daily life experiences. When we embrace ways of thinking that are not God’s, we develop unhealthy emotional responses and behavioral patterns that in no way reflect the Fruit of the Holy Spirit.
I experienced abuse when I was a young child. As a result of that experience I formed an opinion about God that He was mean and unjust. I also thought I couldn’t trust Him to keep me safe. I didn’t trust other people as a result of my experience. The emotions that followed this line of thinking were anger, fear, and rejection among others. The fruit that was expressed in my behavior was to withhold relationship and trust. I did not like this result in my relationships, so I began to explore my thoughts. I knew God’s Word said I could walk in freedom, but I wasn’t experiencing it. I wanted my life to be different, so my thoughts needed to change.
As I asked God what He wanted me to think about Him, He began to show me His true nature and character and speak truth to me. His truth is not based on the facts of my experiences. It is based on who He is. I could choose His truth and experience freedom (John 8:32), or I could continue to choose to believe the lies that He is mean and untrustworthy.
An important concept foundational to our personal journey into wholeness and in pastoral care is the truth that we have a God-given gift, the power of choice. We get to choose what we think, how we feel, how we behave, and to whom we will submit our life. Most of us give little or no thought to this powerful ability and how it affects our present and future. Everyone gets to choose. The difference between life and death, freedom and bondage, abundance and lack lies in realizing the importance of choosing godly thoughts.
Thoughts are like seeds. They produce emotions, which in turn affect behavior. The longer we entertain our thoughts, the stronger our emotional and behavioral responses become. What does your current crop look like? Is it sweet, or bitter? Godly or ungodly? Anxious or fearful? Peaceful or confused? Perhaps it is time to take an inventory of the kinds of seeds (thoughts) you have been planting that have produced the crop you are harvesting in your life. You don’t like your life right now? Take a look at the thoughts that have brought you to this point in your life and ask God if they are okay with Him. Change your life by changing your thoughts!
Recognizing an ungodly thought pattern is the first step toward choosing a new thought that can change your life. Take responsibility for the ungodly thought patterns that have governed your life by asking God to forgive you for living your life based on them. Under the direction of the Holy Spirit make a decision to live your life based on the godly thought patterns He will show you when you ask Him.
You really do have the power to CHANGE YOUR LIFE BY CHANGING YOUR THOUGHTS! Begin today. Ask the Lord what thoughts are producing the negatively expressed emotions and ungodly behavior patterns. Then ask what He wants you to think instead and begin applying His truth to your daily circumstances.
With God’s help, you can do this!
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…” (Romans 12:2 ESV).
Here is a journaling question for you to consider: “Lord Jesus what thought pattern have I embraced that is producing ungodly behavior in my life today? What do you want to say to me about this?” Be sure to take time to listen and record His answer to you.
Rev. Dr. Carolyn Allen has partnered in pastoral ministry with her husband, Ron, for 50 years. She has seen and lived a wide spectrum of church life in rural churches, suburban and city parishes. She has experienced several streams of the expressions of the Body of Christ.
Carolyn has a Masters in Christian Counseling and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies. Her own journey into wholeness evolved while raising a family and caring for others. She is an ordained minister on staff at the Heartland Parish, Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Carolyn recently published Journey Into Wholeness, a book that helps you learn foundational biblical principles that will lead you through practical ministry and personal application. Learning to ask key questions will enable the reader to evaluate thoughts that produce feelings that lead to ungodly behavior, if not challenged and changed.
Journey Into Wholeness is available on Amazon: www.amazon.com.
You can reach Rev. Dr. Allen at firstname.lastname@example.org.