I promised I would do a post on this topic, and here it is. I’ve decided to break this into a multi-part series because as I was writing, it kept getting longer and longer. I apologize in advance for the length, but it is my prayer that the Lord will use this to His glory.
…be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Renewing the Mind – Looking Back
“Renewing the mind” is not a new concept for me. I first heard about it when I went through Beth Moore’s Breaking Free years ago (the link is to the updated edition, I did the original). The study resonated with me but I was so convinced diets were the answer. I totally missed the simple message of how to break free because of my strongly held beliefs.
Later I purchased Praying God’s Word and proceeded to copy onto index cards almost every scripture prayer from the categories with which I struggled most. I still have them. They are color coded by category and kept in two three ring index card holders. Obviously I understood I needed to apply God’s word to my situation. However, I went about applying those scriptures the wrong way. You might be thinking, “how on earth can you mess up praying scripture?” Well, when you have your priorities out of whack, it’s easy.
You see, I tried to apply God’s wisdom to my diet worldview instead of conforming my boundaries to God’s wisdom. Read that again if you need to. There is a huge shift in mindset revealed in that sentence. Because my mindset was backward, I would often lament, “God, why aren’t you helping me lose weight? (focused only on the result) Why aren’t you fixing me?” (navel gazing)
He would tell me to “get out of the way so He could.”
Still missing the message, I’d further complain, “I’m tired of struggling with this.”
To which He would reply, “Then stop.”
I have so many prayer journal entries (and blog entries) that go along these lines. Sometimes I might actually take His advice for a few days, but then I would fight even harder or look for the next weightloss tool, plan, regime when I didn’t see “results”. I would pray those scripture cards for a few days (while starving myself on some diet) and then stop (when I couldn’t take it anymore and would binge). I was angry that it didn’t seem like God was keeping His word to help me resist temptation.
He kept telling me to stop striving, but I wouldn’t.
He would tell me to rest in Him, but the worldview I had called that “laziness”. I had to at least “appear” like I was trying to fix myself. I mean, there is absolutely nothing admirable about someone who has just given up and let themselves go. I thought that’s what He was telling me to do… give up on ever being thin… which, in truth, was my object of obsession for so long. He wanted me to stop putting my trust in diets (my idol).
So when I found Intuitive Eating and one of the principles was to “put weight loss on the back burner”, I thought they had the answer I was looking for because it “sounded” like what I thought God was telling me. Plus, they had “principles” to follow. God wasn’t giving me any steps to make this weight go away. I wanted a list of rules. I am grateful that the book convinced me to stop dieting, but one thing it lacks is a focus on God. Because of this, the message is hollow and self-serving.
All this time, God was really telling me to give up my worldview. He was telling me to lay all of my diet mentality at His feet. Ultimately, He was asking, “why are you still searching, as if I’m not enough?” That question has grown louder and louder in recent months and now, every time I think about looking for the answer to my weight issues in another diet, I can hear God saying, “Am I enough or not?” I didn’t realize it at the time, but listening to that Tenth Avenue North song (the link above) over and over on my ipod, was a way of renewing my mind. Eventually, it became louder than the need to search elsewhere. Then, when the message of renewing my mind was presented again last week… I was ready to listen.
Renewing the Mind – Looking Forward
I mentioned yesterday that I’ve recently gone through the Thin Within audio series on soundcloud about renewing your mind (there are 4 parts to it). Like I said, the concept isn’t new to me, but the execution, and understanding what it looks like, is. The audio contains some interviews with ladies who took up the practice of renewing their mind daily and it has completely transformed their lives.
When I say, “the practice”, I’m realizing that it isn’t any one method per say, but rather it could look different from one person to the next. There is a common thread though.
Beth (Moore) has said it. Heidi (Thin Within) has said it. Countless others have too. Renewing your mind is about more than just stopping the wrong thoughts. Yes, we can stop them, but if we don’t replace them with the Truth, they will return. When we’re told to take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ, this goes beyond just saying “no” to a negative thought or a lie.
3 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 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 10:3-5
Yes, we have weapons, but for now, I want us to see that we can demolish strongholds and “pretensions” that contradict God. We can even take our thoughts captive. Some people stop right there with the practice of renewing their mind. They think that just stopping the thought is the answer. I want to make it clear that renewing our mind goes another step further. I’m referring to the final statement of the passage, “make it obedient to Christ”.
If you were training a dog and all you ever did was say, “no, don’t do that”. Would the dog ever learn what you do want from him? Probably not. Would his behavior change. Um no. Your mind is similar in that if we say, “No, don’t think about that”, but we don’t tell our minds what to think… where will our thoughts go? Probably back to the original thought, but who really knows, they could head to something even worse!
However, if we grab that thought, and then change it to mirror God’s thoughts on the matter, this will renew our minds. Renewed minds change how we think. Changed thinking results in changed beliefs… and well, we already know, from painful experience, that we act upon what we truly believe.
So, what should our thoughts look like? Can you believe, God tells us that too.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. ~Philippians 4:8 (NIV) check out some other versions for more insight
If the thoughts we’re thinking don’t match up with this list, then we need to take them captive to Christ. If you’re like me, you’re probably bombarded with thoughts on a daily basis that fall outside of this description. Well, we’re not going to try to do the impossible of changing them all in one day… or of trying to change them on our own. We’re going to focus on doing what we can, and leave the supernatural stuff to God.
What can we do? We can take up the practice of renewing our minds daily. I do encourage you to listen to that audio series I mentioned earlier. You’ll learn about other methods than the ones I plan to discuss. I can’t really share what I haven’t been using, so I’m only going to talk about the practices I’ve felt compelled to adopt into my daily routine. Remember, your daily routine may look different from mine, but if the common thread is the same, we’ll still be renewing our minds.
If, like me, you’re looking for lasting change, we won’t find it in a man-made system. God tells us we are “transformed” by the renewing of our minds. I love what Cathy Mahr at Thin Within said in one of the audios when asked if she thought the changes in her were permanent. She said that she’d never seen a butterfly return to being a caterpillar. God says she’s a new creation, and so she lives like one. That, my friends, is what God accomplishes through the renewing of our minds. He makes possible, the impossible.
Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” ~ Luke 18:27
Let’s change our worldview. Join me tomorrow as I share about “Truth Journaling“.