Training More Than Trying

In June I started a series about personal change and how difficult it can be. In July I focused on the negative power of being offended; it was identified as the number one hindrance to being transformed by the power of God. In September my focus was God's plan to transform us. Last month, I discussed the basic steps of training for a transformed mind. 

This month I'll finish up by discussing what may be going wrong in fulfilling our desire to have a renewed mind. God has a part to play. He won't do our part and we’re not supposed to "try" to do His part. 

Training for the Marathon of Having a Renewed Mind

The process of transforming the mind is not a quick fix...it's more like training for a marathon. Reading the Bible and meditating on Scripture is the foundation for training to be transformed. Our part is to exchange our thoughts and opinions for God's thoughts. Secular psychology calls this Cognitive Therapy (CT) or thought therapy. It's the process by which a person identifies negative, destructive thoughts and displaces them with more positive, hopeful, and optimistic ones. Research has proven empirically that CT works! 

Discerning The Part We Play and the Part God Plays in The Transformed Mind

As believers we have a distinct and powerful advantage because we're exchanging our old thoughts for Truth, the Word of God. AND there's so much more! Although we do show up for the training, the more important variable is God's power and touch on the whole process. His power is often in the form of Grace, but please do not rule out a true miracle. Sometimes I struggle or grapple with a bad habit or negative thought pattern or reactivity for a very long time and only bring about a tiny change. Then I remember, "Oh yes, God does the heavy lifting here. I need to step back and create room for God to work."  Then the results I've been striving to achieve in self-control, weight loss, home or job organizational skills, etc., seem to go forward on a much grander scale. It can feel like a gentle breeze behind me assisting me toward the right path or a mighty wind taking over completely and pushing me in a direction I never would have chosen for myself. That's the work of the Holy Spirit. 

It stands to reason that if the program we use to make changes in ourselves is not working, it's most likely because we’re trying to renew ourselves. We’re seeking to make changes by trying harder or working to figure it all out (with our unrenewed minds). How's that working? 

The key to successful training is understanding our part and His part in this. Our part is to bring every thought captive by meditating on His Word. Make His wonderful Word our default, the place we go when angry, anxious, fearful, etc. 

His part is to touch our hearts, minds, will, and emotions with the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Mike Bickle says in his book Growing in Prayer that the most magnificent part of our inheritance in Christ is that God promises to touch our hearts and minds with His Glory!  

It is God’s job to do the transfiguring and transforming. How does He do this? <<Click to Tweet

The Bible says in Hebrews 10:16 This is the covenant (promise) that I will make with them…I will put My laws (Word) into their hearts (emotions) and in their minds (understanding) I will write them…

 

What if the problem all along has been us thinking we are supposed to be in charge of changing ourselves?  In other words: trying to change ourselves! 
In essence, our part is to make sure we've filled our minds with God's Truth and promises. We talk to Jesus and remind Him of His promises. (Author Mike Bickle calls that abiding.) Then when one of life's many problems, setbacks, disappointments, or curve balls comes along and our personality is squeezed like a grape in a wine press...guess what comes out?  That's right!  His Word and His provision and sufficiency are right there in our hearts and in our mouths. 

John Ortberg says in his book, The Life You Always Wanted, that almost anyone can prepare for a 26-mile marathon by allowing 6-9 months to train. I challenge you!  Give yourself 9 months to train. Get yourself a buddy or personal trainer and practice the steps outlined in this series (especially October's piece) to train for a renewed mind. What have you got to lose?  Maybe just your mind...your old unrenewed one that is! 


RESOURCES


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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