Season: 5 Episode: 061
Shanda talks about the power of the mind and why positive thinking is powerful, but not the way it’s been shared in mainstream Christianity. She will tell you how to love God with all your mind and what that means in today’s culture.
“People who want to make a difference know it’s not about changing behavior, but changing the mind.”
“Psychology affects sociology.”
“If you want to change the way you live, change the way you think.”
“Transformation of the mind follows transformation of the heart.”
“There are only two possible outcomes when it comes to the mind: conformity or transformation.”
“God encourages us to elevate our thoughts to His. He will never lower His thoughts to ours.”
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How to study the Bible like a scholar REGISTRATION
Hey guys! Welcome back to another episode of Her Faith Inspires podcast where we take cultural issues and align them to biblical truth. Before we get into today’s episode, I have a favor to ask … if you appreciate this podcast and learn from me, please go to iTunes and give this podcast a 5 star rating. I would so appreciate it because this is the only way the podcast gets recognized besides you sharing it on your social media or with friends.
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I have some exciting news for those of you who want to learn apologetics. In March, we are starting a 6 week online course that will walk you through how to defend the faith. It will cover questions like
*How do we know God exists?
*Why do we believe in the validity of the Bible?
*Is there absolute truth?
And other topics that will equip you to defend the faith and enter into conversations that will demolish every argument against the gospel of Jesus Christ. To find out more information and to sign up for the 6 week class, go to shandafulbright.com/links. You’ll see the Online Apologetics class button that will take you right to the info.
Today we are discussing positive thinking.
Of course there is power in positive thinking. If you want me to just answer that question with a simple response, the answer is yes. However, the philosophy behind positive thinking is what is truly in question here.
For example, there are people who think you can name it and claim it. If you speak the thing you want then it should be yours. There is a book called “Name it and Claim It. The power of positive confession.” He basically says to agree with God and speak His words and then you will change your life.
Many people with this philosophy pray the prayer of Jabez. Jabez asked God to bless him and enlarge his territory. He didn’t want to cause pain because his name meant pain and his mother named Jabez this when he was born. He was sort of branded and didn’t want to live up to the name given to him.
We see this today with those who want to “declare” things over others.
They may say things like, “I declare a healing over you today.” Or, “I declare blessings over your life.” Is there anything wrong with this sort of philosophy that takes a thought and gives power to our words?
Philosophy is in the mind. It stems from what we know, right and wrong behavior, or a set of beliefs. Yes, there is power in positive thinking but that doesn’t tell us how to think in such a way that aligns to biblical truths about the mind.
What we must remember, and I promise to repeat often because I feel the mind is so powerful. is that God tells us to love Him with all of our mind. He actually states our whole being but breaks our components down to heart, soul, mind and strength.
What does it mean to love God with all of our minds?
We are going to talk about this first today. Besides defining what it means to love God with all of our minds (which is a question my ten year old asked me the other day), we are also going to talk about:
2) What does positive thinking look like according to Scripture?
3) Can what we think on change our environment and outcomes?
So, I’ve mentioned before that my 10 year has been battling anxiety for about 2 months now. It’s been worse at times than at others, but he came to me to pray that God would take away his anxiety.
I hated to break it to him, but I told him something you may think is mean.
And as a mom, I didn’t want to lie to my son, but I’ll be honest .. it seemed kind of hopeless to say out loud because it can deflate someones hope unless you understand the truth behind it.
I told him, “God is not going to take away your anxiety, Brody, because He already told you how to think.”
Again, that may sound harsh and my disclaimer is that I am not God and He can do whatever He wants, but when I went through anxiety, I asked God to take it away. And He never did, but what He did do was draw me back to His word and He told me that I needed to transform my mind.
How do I know that’s what He told me? Because Romans 12:2 says it. It says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind. If you want transformation for 2021, get a new mindset. And I’m not talking about positive thinking because that alone won’t do it. I’m talking about getting the word of God to renew your mind.
Do you know what it means to renew?
It means to make new again. Sometimes our minds need an overhaul. We need new thoughts, new meditations, new thought patterns. We can’t do that just by thinking positive thoughts.
Here’s the truth: Paul said in Phil 4:8 exactly what to think on. This is why I told Brody that God won’t take away His anxiety because He already told him how to think. And in reality, if we allow God to renew our minds, we won’t experience anxiety in the same crippling way we always do.
Paul said whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy .. to think on these things. We’re going to come back to this list in the second point, but these are all positive things. God wants us to think on the positive.
He constantly tells us what to think on and what to keep our mind on.
I love the Word of God because you can go to school to become a psychologist and find out how the mind works, but you can also find out a lot about the mind from the Bible.
You can become a sociologist and learn about human behavior, or you can read the Bible and find out about the human condition that explains a lot about human behavior and why we do what we do.
Now, if you’re going to college or have a degree in these areas, I’m not saying you can bypass higher eduction and learn all about these subjects in the bible, but I am saying that the word of God has many of the answers to life’s greatest questions and no one understands human nature and the human condition better than the one who created human beings in the first place.
So, how do we love God with all of our minds?
I once told my brother that we literally burn calories when we train our brains how to think. We must remember that renewing the mind is a spiritual task because we cannot and will not do it without the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
All of the self-help books and motivational speakers in the world will not help you transform your mind. They may give you tips on how to think and to refocus your thinking, but remember … Jesus said that all of the issues of life flow from our hearts; not our minds. That means as God transforms our hearts our minds will follow.
I am a human being and can give you all of the best pep talks I can muster up, but I can’t change your heart. I can’t even read your heart. No one can. So you, the same as me, must take ourselves before the Lord and allow Him to transform our hearts which will begin to transform our minds.
The first thing you should know about your mind is that when you get saved, you have the mind of Christ.
Paul says in 1 Cor 2:16 says this. He does not mean that every Christian can understand all Christ’s thoughts. He means that the indwelling Spirit reveals Christ. The spiritual person accordingly does not see things from the viewpoint of the worldly. He sees them from the viewpoint of Christ.
That also doesn’t mean you won’t go through the process of transformation but you will start. The sanctification process begins as we allow the Holy Spirit in and He begins the work in us.
Second, the word of God is the only way to transform your thoughts from worldly to heavenly; from low to high.
I don’t know if I’ve told you this story before, but I was raised in church but never really read my bible until I was 30. I mean I read it, but wasn’t consistent. It was only read here and there and I really had no plan. I have never been to seminary or formal religious education. I only went to college for my BA and teaching credential.
With that said, I went through anxiety in my early 20’s (as some of you know), and when my husband and I started dating, it went away. I got rid of the terrible person in my life that I dated for 4 years and life got better.
I associated my anxiety with him and thought that my thought patterns and “what if” scenarios had to do with him.
In a way I was right because he did bring a lot of negativity to my life, but I was also wrong because I had a weak mind overall.
I was naive, gullible, simple minded (still am in some ways and pray for wisdom, knowledge and understanding often), and I complained a lot because I thought if I voiced what I was feeling then everyone around me would share in my misery and I’d feel better.
This is the part I may not have shared …
When I was 30, married and had two children under the age of two, the anxiety came back and I was caught off guard. Before it did though, I had a dream that I was standing in my living room and the enemy was standing in front of me and he threw dumbbells at me. Every time a dumbbell came at me, I would quote the first scripture that came to mind and the dumbbell would turn to sponge and then fly out the window. It would never touch me and if it did it wouldn’t have hurt me anyway.
I woke up keeping the dream in mind but I didn’t understand it. Flash forward to two weeks later when the anxiety came back, the dream came to mind and the Lord reminded me of the power in His word.
I began to read and fight the enemy with the word of God. I stood on the word throughout that bout of crippling anxiety.
From that day on, I pick up my bible daily for several reasons:
- It is the only weapon of offense that we have to defeat the enemy. The rest of our armor listed in Eph 6 is to protect, but the sword is offensive and defensive. The enemy doesn’t care about your opinions, your preferences, who you know, how much money you make or where you live. But when you pick up your sword which is the word of God, he knows you speak Truth and he cannot deny it.
I am fully convinced the Lord gave me that dream to remind me that my sword had been sitting on a shelf and if I wanted to transform my mind and not have to continue battling anxiety and losing to it, the word of God was going to have to get into my head.
Since I’ve decided to love God with all of my mind, the word of God has strengthened my mind.
Anxiety hasn’t crippled me since that time in my life. I fought with the word for about 2 months and finally felt like the enemy fled as I resisted him with God’s truth.
I have gained more wisdom and confidence in who God is, who He has called me to be, and am convinced that the Word of God has saved my life and equipped me to look at the world and know that no matter what it looks like and how crazy it seems, God exists, His word is truth and heaven awaits.
And now, I am an advocate for bible reading and study. I will never tell you to lay down your bible for any reason at all. God says in Isaiah that “His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.” The Bible you hold in your hands are the very thoughts of God. Progressive Christians will tell you it’s not. Atheists will tell you its fiction. Skeptics will tell you men wrote it and it can’t be trusted.
They’re all liars.
Because heaven and earth will pass away but not one word in your Bible will ever pass away. You can trust that through it the Holy Spirit will transform your thinking as you allow the word of God to invade your thoughts. That is loving God with all of your mind.
Third, I meditate on the word of God. Honestly, the lessons I teach or the messages I speak come together better as I meditate on the Lord. I pray about the words I’ve studied and ask God questions as I drive or do my hair. It’s where some of my best conversations happen with the Lord and many, many times in those conversations the Holy Spirit answers as I think on His word or the lessons He teaches me. That is His job. Jesus said the Holy Spirit would lead us into all Truth. He is our comforter and will never speak of Himself but only of Jesus and what He has spoken.
Taking our minds before the Lord is loving God with all of our minds.
Things are being filtered through our minds all day, every day. What we allow into our minds either conforms us to the world or transforms us into the image of God. And they reveal whether or not we are loving God with our minds or allowing it to be conformed to the world.
What does positive thinking look like according to Scripture:
This is where we need to go back to Phil 4:8. Again, God tells us what to think on. Now, I know this is easier said than done. I’ve already said that we literally burn calories when we train our minds to stay on the right things.
Over time this gets easier. I equate this to physical training. When we start to workout and eat healthy, we don’t realize our bodies are changing and we’re getting stronger until we begin to take on heavier weights and see visible signs that our bodies are responding to the training.
So it is with the transformation of the mind and strengthening it according to God’s word.
A lot of times people read the Bible and they tell me they don’t feel like they’re learning or that God is speaking to them, but we have to remember that the Holy Spirit is working and some of the things you read will come to mind down the road and help you in the moments of your struggle.
Or you’ll realize while in conversation that all you’ve consumed in your reading time is making it’s way out and it will surprise you to know that it’s in there … your mind and your heart.
Paul tells us in Phil 4:8 the things to think on. Why does Paul say to think on what’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, praiseworthy? Because they’re things that are unchanging. They’re the constants in our lives.
When my 10 year old comes to me and says he’s afraid the bump on his head is a tumor and he’s worried he won’t wake up in the morning, I ask him:
Is that true?
Is it right?
Of course the answer is no.
He’s perfectly healthy. But I measure his thoughts up to the list of things to meditate on in Phil 4 and tell him to right his mind. That’s what we should do when our thoughts are not positive.
Now, I have a little disclaimer here … that doesn’t mean we lie to ourselves. If you feel sick or have a legitimate concern, see a doctor. I’m not telling you not to acknowledge things that require our attention.
For example, I recommended a book by Allie Beth Stuckey called “You’re Not Enough and That’s O’kay” a few months back and it’s an excellent book. Our culture wants to celebrate autonomy and the “you’re enough” mantra that keeps women searching from within instead of realizing our need for the Lord.
The lie is that we are enough.
But that’s a positive message, right? If I believe I’m enough I’ll never have low self-esteem again. If I believe I’m enough I’ll never compare myself to others and feel insecure. And if I believe I’m enough then I won’t try and be like anyone else. Isn’t that positive?
That’s the pretty little lie tied up in a beautiful package that the enemy tries to sell us through the message of positive thinking. The true message is that we aren’t enough. We can’t do it alone. We will never measure up no matter how hard we try and the positive message is that God sent His son to redeem us. He didn’t come because we are enough, He came because He loved us so much and knew we couldn’t do it without Him.
And once we submit to that message, and accept Him into our lives, it gets even better because the insecurity and comparison and low self-esteem begins to fade as God transforms me and I become confident that God made me in His image and I can be changed into the woman of God He had in mind since before the foundations of the world.
Paul believed that knowledge led to responsible Christian living.
The list given is more than just simple thought. The church is to count on the things to chart our course through life. We are to think on them so much we begin to put them into practice.
What is true is what is dependable and trustworthy.
What is noble translates a rare word with a broad meaning, but it has the idea of what carries the weight of honor and respect.
Right is a Greek word that translates to “just”.
Pure translates to a word meaning pure or holy.
Lovely is a word only found here in the NT and means “that which calls forth love”. It means the person should be attractive and admirable.
Excellent means morally excellent. It describes Christian virtue.
Praiseworthy means worthy of praising God.
This is the standard for thought life as a Christian.
Once we get our thoughts right, we can then turn to right practice. That’s what Paul did when he told us what to think on and then said in verse 9, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”
Our thoughts always precede action. But are our thoughts aligned to the list Paul gave in Phil 4:8? Use that as your standard when you weigh your thoughts from now on.
Can what we think on change our environment and outcomes?
The short answer is yes. But not really. Here’s what I mean. A lot of times our thoughts have to do with our perspective. Get a different perspective and you have a different outcome.
One of the lesson in Reflections of Eve is where Eve is in a perfect garden. She was beautiful, the world was right and she and Adam were in perfect fellowship with God. Eve didn’t have a bad thought. She never thought about rebelling and eating the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.
But the serpent came and changed her perspective.
Her view was the same every day and it never bothered her before. She walked through the garden and her thoughts never wandered over to a tree that she couldn’t have because God had given her full access to all of the other trees.
And when the serpent said she lacked … she needed the tree of the knowledge of good and evil so she could be like God, her thoughts changed and that changed the way she saw her environment.
James tells us the process of our moral failures in chapter 1:14-15. He said each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. The thought has to come before the action. Dwelling on the thought is what gets us into trouble and changes the way we see things.
Now, if you are a defeatist and say, “I can’t do _____” or “I’ll never amount to anything” then your thoughts have already defeated you and you have failed for lack of trying.
Roger Bannister said (and some contribute this to Henry Ford but when I first read the quote to my 6th graders, the source said it was Bannisters quote), “Whether you think you can or think your can’t you’re right.”
In other words, you can talk yourself out of a lot of things by the way you think.
I’m not a person who likes to lie to myself. In the gym, I’m not the best runner. In fact, I hate running because it’s running. There are times when I say, “I’m not the best runner” and my coach says, “You won’t be with that mindset.” Ok, I get his point but I don’t really feel like shaving any time off my mile at the moment. But also, he’s right because if I talk myself out of getting better at running then I never will get better at it.
There’s a balance to positive thinking and being honesty with ourselves and practicality has to come in here.
On a more serious note, I used to think I wasn’t very smart. I still don’t think my logic is on par with where I’d like it to be, but I am determined to love God with all of my mind. I am a lifelong learner of His word and learning from those who know more than I do.
As a result, I am careful to guard my mind from negativity and I am careful who I allow to mentor and teach me. Why? Because I want to keep my mind in the right place and if it is in the right place, there will be positive outcomes in how I live my life and the words I speak.
I want to close this out today by reminding you to steward your mind well. You are the only one who can do that. I’ve mentioned before that I don’t want to the MSM. It is negative, biased, and if you want to see Shanda with a bowl of ice cream and lying in bed all day because she thinks the world is ending … well, that’s the Shanda you’ll get if I allow that trash in my mind.
Be a student of the word. Immerse your mind in the word of God and the truth of His word. Set your mind on things above and not on things of the earth.
The only power in the way we think is when we allow the thoughts of God to penetrate our thought patterns and change the way we see the world.