Quit Trying and Start Training to Have a Transformed Mind

  •  In June I started a series about personal change and how difficult it can be.
  •  In July the topic was the negative power of being offended; it was addressed as the     number one hindrance to being transformed by the power of God.
  • In September the focus was God's plan to transform us.
  • This month I'd like to talk about the basic steps of training for a transformed mind.

The Difference Between Trying and Training

In John Ortberg's book, The Life You Always Wanted, he discusses the difference between training for change and trying to change.  This concept has been very helpful to me in my personal life, so I've outlined some steps below to illustrate what training might look like. The "try versus change" paradigm provides hope in areas where I may believe the lie that “I can never change” or the famous, "That's just me...I've always been like this - hot tempered, impatient, irritable, a procrastinator, lazy, disorganized, overweight, drinks too much...” (fill in the blank for the character flaw you always justify). Training requires a plan and it challenges the deceptions we so love to nurture.

For instance, Ortberg says if you're impatient and it's costing you something in your relationships or at the office, you need to practice patience. What does that look like?  He says to drive in the slow lane on the freeway or get in the longest line at the grocery store.  Sounds pretty awful, doesn't it? But it does illustrate the point...we CAN change but we may have to invest our time and ourselves in ways that we previously would have have considered too tedious...too psychically costly or too difficult.

We cannot try to have a transformed mind. We must train! <<Click to Tweet

Here’s boot camp for a transformed mind:  

STEP 1 - GATHER AN ARSENAL OF VERSES

Get a list of your favorite verses, verses that have meant a lot to you over the course of your lifetime. One of my key lifetime verses is Ephesians 3:16-20 with the emphasis on verse 19: to know the love of Jesus which passes knowledge and be filled with all the fullness of God. You may borrow it if you like. Ten minutes of daily meditation on that verse is guaranteed to increase your personal awareness of how much Jesus loves you and His relentless tenderness towards you. 

Here are a few more of my favorites:

Philippians 4:8 Finally brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

2 Corinthians 10:5 we refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we bring every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ.

If you're new to this and you want to build your own arsenal of scriptures you can Google Bible promises for any subject (healing, relationships, money matters, strength, peace, work, ministry, etc.) and you’ll find lots of suggestions.

STEP  2 - MEDITATE   

Joshua 1:8 gives us a prescription for how to succeed and prosper in life through meditation! (Biblical prosperity refers to our bodies, minds, and souls being in good health. Financial blessings are included as one part of soul prosperity.)

This book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to DO all that's written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous and then you will have good success. Joshua 1:8 - NKJV

The Joshua 1:8 verse shows that we do play a part in the transformation process. It very much matters what I choose to focus on. The core of who we are as individuals is directly connected to the things we concentrate on. God comes in and does the heavy lifting...the literal transfiguration of our souls. But He uses the contents of our mind. So when we have been meditating on the Word, He uses those verses to change us.

When I meditate in the Word I participate in making my way prosperous. Why? Because that's God's design for us as His children. He provides a pathway, a vehicle, a structure for us to set our minds on. Our job is to practice keeping our focus on God and His Word. Our job is to show up ready to fight for our thought lives: it IS a battle!  

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Biblical meditation is going over and over the verses that we are studying and memorizing.  We may say them out loud or to ourselves. In the classical Old Testament way of meditating, a person would mutter them. Muttering is a half-speaking, half-ruminating style of rehearsing the scriptures. It's kind of like talking to ourselves under our breath.

Meditation is also purposeful thought. We're choosing what we're going to talk to ourselves about. Let's be real here, sisters, most of us do talk to ourselves either in the car or the grocery store or wherever. Meditating is choosing what we'll mutter to ourselves about or bringing our thoughts captive to the Word and to Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:5)

This is not the same type of meditation as yoga and the Eastern religions teach, which is to empty our minds of all thoughts. As Christians we empty ourselves of anxious, fearful, and otherwise negative thoughts. But we don't leave our minds empty. We fill our minds with thoughts of God's love, strength, faithfulness, wisdom, devotion, tenderness, and purposes for our lives.  This is partly what bringing every thought captive means.

Next month I'll put these steps together and discuss the last barrier to having a trained and renewed mind.

Resources:

The Life You Always Wanted by John Ortberg

The Supernatural Power of a Transformed Mind by Bill Johnson


Susanne Ciancio, LPC, is a Licensed Professional Christian Counselor. She has been serving the Christian community as a professional Christian counselor in Essex county and the surrounding area since 1986. Beyond her private practice in West Orange, NJ she is involved in teaching, consulting, and pastoral supervision in various churches in the area. Click here for Susanne's website. 

EDITORS NOTE: While Susanne can’t answer specific counseling-related questions, she welcomes your thoughts, comments, and suggestions about what kinds of topics you’d like to see addressed here at Circles of Faith.Click here to contact us.

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