At the gym one day I heard these words ring through my head:
“Your mind is the control tower - it’s where battles are fought - it’s where life happens.”
I immediately thought, “God, is that you?” Nope. It was Dr. Charles Stanley. He was on one of the TV’s preaching a sermon that would profoundly impact me from that day forward.
“Your mind is where battles are fought and where life happens and it is Jesus who gives us the power to think RIGHT!”
These words pulled me right out of an intense, HIIT workout and made me forget all about only resting for 30 seconds. I knew what he was saying would help strengthen a muscle I had been neglecting: my mind.
Since hearing that sermon nearly one year ago, I’ve actually learned to treat my mind as the control tower. These are the words I wrote down in my journal on June 6, 2019:
“Since hearing Stanley’s message, I’ve been examining my thoughts with scrutiny. I’ve found that while my thoughts aren’t necessarily negative, they tend to be ‘empty’ more often than not. Due to this, I’ve been trying to replace empty thoughts with verses or at least positive affirmations.”Today, I wanted to share 3 simple actions that helped me take more control of my mind - and more importantly, focus more of my mind and life on God and His truth.
First: Examine your thoughts
Thoughts come and go so quickly and so subconsciously that it makes it easy and even normal to not give our thoughts a thought. Can I get a witness?!
Dare I say that regardless of who you are - believer or nonbeliever - practicing the art of examining thy thoughts would benefit you and those closest to you greatly (with the assumption you would do something about your thoughts).
With the above in mind, make a mental note (better yet a physical note) to take inventory of your thoughts for the day. Before you begin, pray over Psalm 139:23-24 and ask the Lord to “search your heart, test your anxious thoughts and point out anything that offends Him.” Trust that He will.
Within a day max you will start to get an idea of the pattern your thoughts make. You will soon come to see where you fall on the cynic-idealist spectrum, realize what’s junk and what’s not and discover what your general disposition towards life is.
If you want to take it a step further, ask someone close to you how’d they describe you before sharing with them your self examination.
Second: Scrutinize and question every thought
In Romans 12:2 we read, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
In other words ask yourself “where did that thought come from?” If the thought didn’t come from Jesus, discard it!
As revealing as examining my thoughts was in step one, it was here that the “veil was lifted from my eyes.” I started recognizing, to a greater degree, just how careless I had been with my mind. I got a sobering picture of what I had been consuming. There was junk that needed to be tossed out and not allowed in there in the first place.
If I fed my body what I fed my mind, I wouldn’t be healthy. It was time to detox the control tower.
The first thing to go was a popular, “binge-worthy,” show that my wife and I were watching together. What’s ironic is that three episodes into the third season she told me she wanted to stop watching it. Cold turkey. No patch needed.
I consented immediately and asked her to explain.
“I dreamt about it last night because I was thinking about it before bed. I even think about it during the day and it’s not something I want to think about.”
In 2018 Netflix reported that the average subscriber spent 71 minutes watching something on their platform per day. That’s over 8 hours per week and over 35 hours per month of watching TV on this platform alone. And we haven’t even dipped our pinky toe into the 2+ hours per day spent on our phones.
So ask yourself: what are the thoughts, feelings and maybe even dreams that come along with whatever you consume?
Whether you watch a particular show (or 4 at once like my father-in-law) ask how 35 hours of that (insert violence, sex, dehumanization, etc.) impacts your mind.
And if I could plead for one thing: Don’t say it doesn’t affect you. It does. The only one you're fool by saying that is you.
Third: Cut the crap insert the good
Now that you know where the junk comes from, it’s time to get rid of it. Since both TV & social media consumption can boost dopamine production in your brain (similar to other types of addictions) this may be more challenging for some.
Regardless of the source cut it out. If it’s not from our good Lord it needs to go and it needs to go now.
But simply eliminating thoughts isn’t enough. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians he says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
This will take practice and truth be told, negative and false thoughts will pop into your mind. But when you recognize this happening you can shift your mind from that which is bad to that which is “true, honorable and right.”
Bad day at work leave you feeling inadequate? Remind yourself that “You are chosen by God” (1 Peter 2:9)
Have a thought pop in saying you are unworthy? Head to Zephaniah 3:17: “You are worthy.”
Think that you simply aren’t enough? You are more than enough, “You are complete” (Colossians 2:10)
Dr. Charles Stanley ended his sermon with this challenge, and it's one I'd like to share with you:
“Let the Word of God flow through you. May it become so fluent that you think of a verse every time you speak.”
I don’t know about you but that’s the kind of language I want to be fluent in!