Friday, May 27, 2016

Thought Management


While we can certainly pray for God to give us the strength to not lead us into temptation, worry, fear, or frustration; thoughts come. Some good, some bad, and some downright confusing ... and just know that espresso right before bed can lead to some pretty interesting thoughts!

One time I saw this creature flying toward me, then I realized it was a turkey as it got closer (I was at my parents house for some reason too) ... and suddenly it changed into a giant turkey made from Legos as it passed over my head!! ... very odd. What next you ask!? I woke up ... but anyway ... I digress ...

My point is that thoughts come.

2 Corinthians tells us to take these thoughts captive ... in obedience to Christ

We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ

2 Corinthians 10:5 ESV
Paul's quote was more pertaining to defending the ministry, but the point is that thoughts can certainly be used as a weapon for or against God's work if we are not careful to manage.

Driving to work this morning it seemed that we have a three ways to deal with these thoughts ... I'm sure you may have varying perspectives, but these are mine, so deal with it! :)

We can reject it, receive it, or redirect it ... let me explain.

Rejection:  Some thoughts are just so unwholesome, sinful, or full of anger, discontent, comparison, and judgment that we need to immediately reject these and not let them go any further. Often they come packaged in what seems to be a message from God that we should share with others. We need to be especially careful of these thoughts. He is indeed alive and well in this world, working in and through us daily, and occasionally the Spirit will move and guide us as He sees fit; but be careful. We indeed are God's hands and feet on this earth, but we are not His rod and staff. To quote Matt Chander, "You make a crummy god."

Personal Application: I've found that if I would not like this thought to come to light, or this thought is not leaving me at peace, I need to reject it. (To be clear, peace is not happiness and joy.) Something that should remain hidden is rarely if ever from God, and additionally a thought about us, another individual, or situation, that is getting us more worked up and stressed than bringing us peace is also unlikely from Him. God is a God of peace, not bitterness, malice, and impurity. Yes He is a judge too ... but we are not.

Receive: Some thoughts are simply so filled with peace, Truth, and Life that build us and others up. Not surprisingly these are the thoughts that are least confusing and often from God. God is not a God of confusion. Easy then right? Not quite ...

Personal Application: So while I've found these thoughts are easy to discern, are biblically sound, and speak life, receiving them is not as easy. Contrary to the worlds' mantra of "Just Follow Your Heart" , this is often far from it, my heart is just not that good ... my flesh would not think of or want to do many of these things on my own. They often inconvenience, disturb, and push me out of my comfort zone. These thoughts may indeed be easy to discern that they are from God, but they are also the easiest to reject. Our flesh pulls us to be a god, not submit to One. Thus, we sadly often receive the thoughts we should reject, and reject the thoughts we should receive. It's very easy to lash out and give in to temptation - and much more difficult to lay our life aside for the sake of someone else.

Redirection: I got this idea from an artist featured on the Truth Project. The idea is that as children of God we should seek the good in things that perhaps have been twisted. It's the 
untwisting of something false and revealing God's Good Truth. This can be helpful and life changing; but is often difficult, and dangerous. At times I've attempted to untwist something that perhaps should simply have been rejected.

Personal Application: While the idea of being a warrior for Christ and having Him use us to untwist and conquer evil seems ... exhilarating ... I would never do this in the dark (alone). If some idea came to me that seems like an opportunity to redirect, I have learned that counsel ... Godly counsel ... Christ-loving counsel ... is what I need. Thankfully I have a spouse that is chasing after His heart that I can bounce ideas off of ... and some others I trust ... but it's not a matter or thought to take lightly.

So ... I'm not sure if this has generated any new thoughts of your own, or perhaps you have been trying to discern a message yourself, but either way, I know one thing. Seek Him ... truly seek Him ... and He will guide you.

Blessings,
~Matthew

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