Refocus Banner-2.png

For a printable version of this week's content, click here.

 

If you aren't able to see the videos posted on this site, make sure your browser is allowing Adobe Flash Player. You can adjust your browser's settings in the preferences, or general settings section.

Mind the Mind! 

It was one of the most memorable slogans in higher education — “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  That is a true statement. 

 

GOD CREATED YOU WITH AN INCREDIBLE MIND!!  Everything good (or bad) that we do starts in our minds.  It’s one of the reasons the Bible puts a LOT of attention on our minds ~ on what we allow in our heads ~ on what we think about. 

 

Most people think that “you can’t control what you think!” …….almost like whatever direction your brain wants to go, you are helpless to direct it.  That’s what a lot of people believe.  Problem is, it’s not so!  Your Bible is absolutely clear on the fact that YOU ARE IN CONTROL/IN CHARGE OF WHAT YOU ALLOW YOUR BRAIN TO FOCUS ON.  Well, where does the Bible say that?  Glad you asked.  The answer is “in many places,” but here’s one instance:

 

    “….take captive every thought
                   
to make it obedient to Christ.”  
                                            (2 Corinthians 10:5)

 

If you aren’t careful, you can let your mind go in some pretty bad places and you can think some very wrong stuff…..I thought about Katy Perry (you probably recognize her).  Recently, Katy got vulnerable in an interview where she spoke about how she
considered taking her own life back in 2017.

The 35-year-old pop star told SiriusXM CBC that she hit a personal and professional low when she and then-boyfriend Orlando Bloom broke up and she experienced poor album sales.  She said, ”My career was on this trajectory when it was going up, up and up and then I had the smallest shift, not that huge from an outside perspective. But for me it was seismic. 

 

Katy started allowing herself to think all sorts 

of negative and untrue thoughts.  And she ended up in this dark place in her thinking where she considered just ending her life.  She knew she had to change her thinking and Katy said that she started practicing gratitude —— and in doing so she said that practicing gratitude probably "saved my life" because if "I didn't find that I would have wallowed in my own sadness and probably just jumped but I found the ways to be grateful."

 

Did you catch that?  She started changing the way she was thinking!  Katy talked about how she works on her relationship with God and believes that she is created for a purpose and created for a reason, and that “I'm not disposable” and “you know, every person that's been created has a purpose.

 

She went from some hard times to considering suicide to practicing gratitude…… What happened?  She changed her thinking! 

 

What you put in your mind has an effect on what you think about. Think back to those scary movies you watched as a kid, then had nightmares? And you made the connection - the way to avoid the nightmares was to stop watching that kind of movie. God has provided a way to overcome unhealthy thoughts and behaviors, and gain self-control. Here’s a magnum truth:  LIFE WORKS WHEN YOU DO IT HIS (GOD’S) WAY!!

 

And His way of doing life is for you to take charge of what you think.  (Another way of saying that is this:  Think about life like God wants you to think about life).  Re-read that verse above in 2 Corinthians. And guys, it works!!

 

Here are a 5 practical ways to “take your thoughts captive:”

 

  1. Accept responsibility for your thoughts. You really can learn to control what you allow your mind to think about!!

 

  1.  Tell yourself:  “My mind (not just my behavior) is going to change.”  One of the great passages in Romans is in chapter 12 — in verse 2, here’s what God
    tells us:  Don’t be like the people of this world, but let God change the way you think. Then you will know how to do everything that is good and pleasing to Him.  Another way the Bible says that is that we are TRANSFORMED by the renewing of our minds. 

 

[READ THIS NEXT PARAGRAPH S-L-O-W-L-Y]

  1. Practice taking your thoughts captive. YOU TELL YOUR MIND WHAT IT IS GOING TO THINK ABOUT!!  It doesn’t control you - you control it!  Paul said "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.  Confront your thoughts. Turn them over to God and become who He sees you can be. It will take work to take your thoughts captive each time they “pop” into your mind (That also includes the things that people say that are unkind - you have to tell your mind what it is going to focus on!). The Holy Spirit, Who lives inside of every Christian, will help you to take control of your thinking.

 

  1. Confront any disabling/negative thoughts! You tell your brain to “knock it off!”  Speak truth to yourself - NOT lies and hurtful, negative thinking. 

 

  1. Choose to focus your thoughts on the right & good things. This stuff really works!  For instance, what if instead of thinking disabling/negative thoughts, we chose to do what Philippians 4:8 tells us to do? ………. to think about those
    things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable.”  When we think that way, God brings His peace to our lives.

    What a contrast that is to the thoughts of millions of people today! Don't look to a movie, TV show, social media or how-to formula to accomplish this for you. It takes personal discipline and commitment.

                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~

    It is possible. Really, it’s not just possible; it’s how God designed us to think.  It
    is not easy, but our God empowers us to focus our minds on what is right and
    good.  And the more you do it, the more natural it becomes.  

 

Activity #1 - So try this:  Today, focus on telling your brain what it’s going to think about and what it’s NOT going to think about.  Confront some of that negative thinking that brings you down.  Tell yourself the POSITIVE truth about things.  IT WILL MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE.  You have God’s word on it……

Train the Brain

        When you were younger, you might have
       thought some things like these kids thought:

  

1. Dear God, Thank you for the baby brother but what I asked for was a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up. Joyce 

2. Dear Mr. God, I wish you would not make it so easy for people to come apart. I had to have 3 stitches and a shot. Janet 

3. Dear God, how did you know you were God? Who told you? Charlene 

4. Dear God, I bet it's very hard for you to love all of everybody in the whole world. There are only 4 people in our family and I can never do it.  Nancy 

5. Dear God, my Grandpa says you were around when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?  Love, Dennis 

6. Dear God, do you draw the lines around the countries? If you don't, who does? Nathan 

7. Dear God, did you mean for giraffes to look like that or was it an accident? Norma 

8. Dear God, please send Dennis Clark to a different summer camp this year. Peter 

9. Dear God, maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each other so much if they each had their own rooms. It works out OK with me and my brother.   Larry 

 

10. Dear God, I keep waiting for spring, but it never did come yet. What's up? Don't forget. Mark 

11. Dear God, my brother told me about how you are born but it just doesn't sound right. What do you say? Marsha 

12. Dear God, if you watch in Church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes.  Barbara 

13. Dear God, is Reverend Coe a friend of yours, or do you just know him through the business? Donny 

14. Dear God, I do not think anybody could be a better God than you. Well, I just want you to know that. I am not just saying that because you are already God.  Charles 

15. Dear God, it is great the way you always get the stars in the right place. Why can't you do that with the moon? Jeff 

16. Dear God, I am doing the best I can. Really. Frank 

17. Dear God, I didn't think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool. Thomas

~~~~~~~

When you got a little older, you started thinking a little deeper thoughts and you started asking some other important questions……Because you wanted to know things and because truth matters…..and you started thinking some thoughts that you’d never considered when you were younger.

And to be honest, some of the thoughts that you started thinking were actually harmful thoughts/destructive, negative thoughts.  You listened to some wrong voices 

 

and sometimes you actually allowed yourself to believe thoughts that were not true.  OK, there’s nobody here but you and Jesus, so “raise your hand if you’ve done what I just described.”  Oh, go ahead and raise that hand….we’ve all done it.  We’ve all listened to wrong voices and sometimes allowed ourselves to believe thoughts that were not true.

But WHAT IF WE CAPTURED THOUGHTS IN OUR MINDS
AND TOLD OURSELVES “I’M NOT LISTENING TO THAT LIE…..
I’M NOT BELIEVING THAT NEGATIVE JUNK….I’M REPLACING
THAT STINKIN’ THINKIN’ WITH THE RIGHT KIND OF THINKING!”  

There are hundreds and hundreds of verses in the Bible that deal with how we think….with what we allow in our hearts (which affects our heads!)…with the importance of what we do with our minds…..

Take a look at this video and then complete the following activity:

Activity #1 - Look up the following 4 verses/passages and write down what you believe God’s Word is saying about it:

Romans 12:2 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________


Philippians 4:8 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Proverbs 4:23 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Philippians 4:6-7 ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Garbage In: Garbage Out

Greg listens to the radio everyday on his way to work. He hears News Heads talk about everything wrong with the world. Then he gets to work and looks at his coworkers do worse than him, and thinks about how he’s a better worker than those other guys. He gets home and watches reality television. The people he watches on his television all create this grand facade that “you are at the center of your universe.” 

Greg has listened to country music his whole life; not the sweet country music about love and family, either. He likes the songs that talk about violence, alcohol and mistreating women. At the end of the day, Greg is sad. He doesn’t have many meaningful relationships, he wrestles with his self-esteem, and he’s always worried about the events happening in the world and constantly fears for the worst. 

Hopefully, you don’t see much of yourself in Greg. Hopefully you’re pretty far off from where he’s at. One day, Greg may look back and say “how did it get to be this way?” And he would look back at the decisions he made everyday to allow himself to be negatively influenced by all those radio shows and that bad music.

 

One day, Jesus told us of an equation I like to call, “Garbage In = Garbage Out.” 

In Matthew 6:22-23, Jesus said, “the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eye is healthy, your whole body will be filled with light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!”

Your “eyes” doesn’t mean your literal eyeballs. He’s speaking about your mind! When you allow your mind be to be filled with dark thoughts, discomfort over current events, and selfish behavior then your life is going to reflect that!

 

Let me put it to you this way: if you squeeze an orange, what comes out? Orange Juice!

 If you were to squeeze a lemon, what would come out? Lemon Juice!

 Now, when you squeeze a sponge, what comes out of it? Whatever it was soaking in!

 

You are a sponge. If you soak yourself in God’s Word, then when life presses you, blessing life and goodness will come out. But if you soak yourself in selfish thoughts, inappropriate music, or bad news, then when life presses you nothing good is going to come out!

 

In your notebook or journal, write down a couple things you can “soak yourself in,” this week!

The Unexamined Life

One of my favorite movies is called The Princess Bride. In one of its most iconic scenes, a battle of wits takes place. Watch it for yourself!

Vizzini, the bald guy, is given a riddle from the Man in Black. He tries to best him by “figuring him out.” Maybe, just maybe, he can make the right decision if he can figure out what kind of person this Man in Black is. He fails.

Sometimes, we find ourselves in a battle of wits that looks a little different. Instead of trying to figure out the person sitting across from us, we are charged with figuring out ourselves! That may sound so wild to you, figuring out ourselves. 

 

As it turns out, figuring out ourselves can be one of the best things that can happen for you! Socrates, one of the great philosophers of World History, once said “the unexamined life is not worth living.” What he meant by that, is that we should know why things are the way that they are. For example, don’t settle for just knowing that you prefer action movies over comedy movies. instead, take a look inward and try and figure out why that’s your preference.

In Proverbs 20, it says “the purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”

How wild is that? Visualize what your mind looks like. Now, imagine that your mind is deep underground. There’s a tunnel leading all the way up to the surface, and the only thing in that tunnel is a bucket tied to some rope. If you were to stand at the surface of this deep well and pull the bucket back up, what would you find inside of that bucket?

 

Romans 12 tells us that we are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. Some people believe that we should be transformed by trying harder, always being on our best behavior, or wearing clothes with Bible verses on them. But the truth is, until you change the way you think, you will never actually change!

So, in order for you to change the way you think, it’s vital that you first understand the way that you already think. Do you have a bad temper? Could it be because someone hurt you when you were younger? Do you have low self esteem? If so, could it be because you don’t think highly of others?

 

God wants you to take a deep look at yourself. Your life will make a bit more sense, and might just get a little easier if you can work on trying to understand your thinker! Imagine this: I bought a power tool the other day and was having trouble using it, because I didn’t look at the instruction manual first! It’s the same way for you and me.

When you take a look in your mirror at the person that God created, you’ll see two eyes, a nose and a mouth. Two ears, freckles and eyebrows. If you take a long look, maybe you’ll notice something you hadn’t before. But here’s the truth: the things you don’t notice, God already knows. He knows every hair on your head. He knows every thought that you’ll ever think before it ever crosses your mind. The God who knew what you would look like far before He ever created you, also knew what your heart, your personality, and every part of your mind would look like. He knows your favorite ice cream flavor, favorite vacation spot, favorite type of music, and He speaks in a language that you can understand. He knows the people who hurt you, and how it changed you.

 

Activity: Set aside a few minutes of your day. Find a quiet place that you can have all to yourself. Take some crayons, colored pencils or markers and a blank sheet of paper. Now, imagine what your mind looks like. Does it look like clouds, trees and sunshine? Or does it look like squiggly lines and zig zags and polka dots? Have fun, and make the best picture you can!

 

Then, take a moment and ask God what He thinks that your mind looks like. What does God have to say about the way you think about yourself? Or the way you think of your parents? The way you think about God?