Our Pastor, Rick Warren, at Saddleback Church here in Lake Forest, California is the best expository teacher I’ve ever listened to. Since I’m some sixteen years older than him, I can safely say, he reminds me of myself. That’s why I connect so well with him. He just started a new series of messages on “Why You Need To Think About What You Think About: Rethinking Your Life.”
I want to share his basic outline with you to give you some points to ponder. Under each major point, I will add my Reflection.
1. MY THOUGHTS control my life, BUT I CAN control my thoughts!
“Be careful what you think about because your thoughts run your life!” Proverbs 4:23 (NCV)1
“. . . your life is shaped by your thoughts.” (TEV)2
[Reflection: All our thoughts are generated from something our six senses pick up. That’s where our control comes in. For instance, if you don’t like what you’re hearing, turn it off; if you don’t like what you are seeing, turn your eyes away; if you don’t like what your sensing, rebuke yourself and move on.]
2. ANY CHANGE I WANT IN MY LIFE will start in my mind.
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind.” Romans 12:2 (TEV)
“You’re blessed when you get your inside world – your mind and heart – put right. THEN you can see God in the outside world.” Matthew 5:8 (Mes)3
[Reflection: Today this is called introspection. It is a soul-searching, heart-searching, mind-searching process. When a clock, car engine, or appliance stops running, it most often must be taken apart and examined to see what part is not functioning properly or even broken. God’s Word is our Spiritual Mechanics Manual.]
3. I CAN CHANGE how I feel by changing the way I think.
David: “My heart is breaking, so I TURN my thoughts to God.” Psalm 42:6 (TEV)
Jonah: “When I’d lost all hope, I TURNED my thoughts once more to the Lord.” Jonah 2:7 (TLB)4
[Reflection: The idea that David’s heart was breaking and Jonah was so hopeless is because they were looking in the wrong direction or at the wrong object. They knew that the one thing that would help clear their vision was God and His Word. That’s one reason why we go to church so that through a song, testimony, and God’s Message we can focus again on what’s right. That’s the only way to know what’s wrong.]
4. EVERY BEHAVIOR IS BASED ON HOW I FEEL ABOUT changing the way I think.
“….think carefully about your behavior.” Haggai 1:5 (NJB)5
ASK: What lie am I believing right now?
“A foolish person will believe anything. But a wise person THINKS ABOUT what he does.” Proverbs 14:15 (ICB)6
[Reflection: As the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for anything you will fall for everything. Since thoughts control our actions and words, that’s where our behavior and reaction to things begin. It’s what your mind uses to process what your hearing, sight, and emotions. If you hear a knocking sound in your car engine, it’s usually because it’s not getting enough oil. The more Word of God we have in our mind the more the oil of the Holy Spirit can keep it running smoothly.]
5. ANYTIME I SIN, AT THAT MOMENT I’m believing a lie!
“There are ways that some THINK [is] straight, but they lead in the end to death. ” Proverbs 14:12 (NJB)
“Temptation comes from the lure of our own inner desires. These evil desires lead to evil actions, and the actions lead to death.” James 1:14-15 (NLT) 7
[Reflection: Sometimes the lie that sets off our thoughts and emotions may be the one we’re believing or the one we’re hearing. Pastor Warren said that his Dad told him the reason why a fisherman puts the bait on the hook is because a fish won’t bite an empty hook. So we can learn from this that it’s not the bait that catches the fish, it’s the hook. Sometimes our eyes and ears are reaching for the bait without realizing there’s a hook inside.]
6. AN UNSEEN WAR IS GOING ON in and for my mind.
“It seems to be a fact of life that while I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong. I want to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned, but there’s something else deep within me that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin inside me. In my mind, I want to be God’s servant, but instead, I find myself still enslaved to sin.” Romans 7:21-23 (TLB)8
[Reflection: Some think that long prayers or voluminous reading of God’s word will do the trick of bringing this battle to an end. The Apostle Paul found out that as a dedicated Pharisee, that didn’t work. The real answer came when he learned that we live by what our faith tells us, not by what our eyes and ears are telling us.9 This is another way of saying that we can only take control of these mixed emotions through sanctification. This is the act of subjecting ourselves to purification. Cleaning out all those things that start the fight in the first place. This is done by using the cleansing solvent in God’s Word.10.]
7. TO WIN THE BATTLE IN & FOR MY MIND, I MUST HAVE God’s Spirit and God’s word within me.
While we live in the world, we don’t fight the same way the world does. We fight with God’s weapons, not worldly ones. Our weapons have God’s power to demolish the enemy’s strong places. We can knock down all the worldly arguments and prideful defenses that set themselves up (in our minds) against the knowledge of God. In this war, we capture every rebel thought and we make it give up, and obey Christ!” 2 Cor. 10:3-5
“So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. ” Romans 8:6 (NLT)
Jesus: “If you learn and obey my Word, you will be my disciple. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31-32
[Reflection: Just reading a Devotional Guide, watching a church service on TV, or even going to church is not enough to really impact your thinking. Highlighting interesting thoughts in the Devotional Guide; writing down what the TV pastor or evangelist is saying, and taking notes in church during the pastor’s message is also a good step. But it’s not until you tell someone else about what you learned that really puts God’s Word into action. That’s because the Word of God is like a seed. As long as it stays in a box, it will not produce any harvest. You have several ways to share: your phone, your email, Facebook, a home Bible Study, or a personal visit. Try it! Then watch how you grow in the Word.]
8. MY GOAL IS TO learn to think like Jesus.
“Since Jesus went through everything you’re going through, and more, learn to think like Him.” 1 Peter 4:1 (Mes)
“Your thoughts and attitudes must be the same as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
“We have the mind of Christ!” 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV)11
[Reflection: When we put the phrase, “have the mind of Christ,” then we can certainly add, “to think like Him.” Paul then gives us the formula to follow: “Consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let His mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet He gave no thought to seizing equality with God as His supreme prize. Instead, He emptied Himself of His outward glory by reducing Himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled Himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in His death – a criminal’s death by crucifixion!”12 (TPT)13
The example given here is not to be Jesus, but be like Jesus. That means, to adopt His attitude, His mindset. He refused to hold onto something that would keep Him from doing what His Father sent Him to earth to do. Instead, He willingly sacrificed whatever it cost to get the message out about God’s plan of salvation for all who believe. He did not expect nor demand that those He went to would receive Him like a prince or a king. In fact, to show how He really felt about His mission and role in God’s plan, He washed His disciples’ feet. And when it came to living or dying because of His relationship with God the Father, He willingly chose to die in order to fulfill His Father’s will.
9. RETHINKING MY LIFE TO MATCH HOW JESUS THINKS IS CALLED repentance.
“Repent – change your mind and return back to God – so that all your sins may be erased – blotted out and wiped clean – and so that times of refreshing . . . and recovering . . . and reviving . . . may come from the presence of the Lord!” Acts of the Apostles 3:19 (AMP)14
[Reflection: I agree with Pastor Rick that the word “repent” is so misunderstood by the world today. When they are told to “repent,” it’s like telling them to put on sackcloth and ashes, sit out in the public square, and let people see how really repentant they are. But that is not the true meaning of the word “repent,” The Greek verb metanoeō literally means “meta” to change, “noeo” one’s mind. The word “noeo” points to a person having understanding. They can think and form an opinion; this allows them to discern and make up their mind about something. But it also suggests a mind being directed, looking for an answer or the truth and then become part of what they feel is true.]
Here is a letter that Jesus asked the Apostle John to write to the church in Ephesus: “I know your good deeds, your hard work, and your perseverance . . . But I’ve noticed this: You don’t love me as much as you used to at first. So REMEMBER what it was like before you fell away, and REPENT – change your mind and attitude, and RETURN to doing the things you did with me at first!” Revelation 2:2, 4-5 (Paraphrase)
NOTE: If you like this here on Points to Ponder, let me know. If enough of you are interested, I will certainly share it with you each week until it’s finished. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 (NCV) – New Century Version
2 (TEV) – Today’s English Version
3 (Mess) – The Message
4 (TLB) – The Living Bible
5 (NJB) – New Jerusalem Bible
6 (ICB) – International Children’s Bible
7 (NLT) – New Living Translation
8 (TLB) – The Living Bible
9 2 Corinthians 5:7
10 Ephesians 5:26
11 (NIV) – New International Version
12 Philippians 2:5-8
13 (TPT) – The Passion Translation
14 (AMP) – Amplified Bible