Dogs are amazing. I had two Doberman pinchers back in the day and I loved to take them on a walk. They are such intelligent, strong, yet elegant dogs. They have such a memory and intuition when they looked at you, they knew what was going on, and you felt that they could read your next move. Often when taking them for a walk people would see them coming and be afraid – neighbors would even cross the street to avoid us! Their presence and stature were intimidating. “Sardius” and “Lady” loved to take a walk – if I missed their walk, they would have so much energy that they would be so rambunctious!
Lead your mind
Our minds need to be taken for a walk too. With all that comes at us, we need that time of release. Unconsciously we can “collect” things and they “stack up” and cause pressure on the inside and the “pent up” energy can translate into frustration.
Just as we leash our dog so they don’t run away or get into stuff we don’t want it to – so we must do for the mind. Leading our mind with a directive keeps our mind engaged so that, the wrong thoughts don’t hijack our attention.
Leading the mind can happen as we create a healthy point of reference, this is a starting point of our thoughts where our thoughts are projected from, that fill our mind. This starting point could be a past event that has shaped the way we come to conclusions – good or bad. How we were raised and educated also is a starting point. Then a frame of reference is created in which we develop and sustain our thoughts. The point of reference is the arena where we act and make decisions on what we know. In developing and guarding these elements we help keep a leash on the mind.
We have all heard “the tail is wagging the dog”; this means that a small or unimportant part of something is becoming too important and is controlling the whole thing. This imbalance happens so easily to a mind that is not bridled. Psalm 32:9 “Do not be as the horse or as the mule which has no understanding, whose trappings include bit and bridle to hold them in check, otherwise they will not come near to you.”
Training our mind to think with God doesn’t come naturally. We are “wired” to seek pleasure and comfort as our primary focus. As our point of reference changes from ME to Christ, then our values and priorities change. We are led by another kingdom in Romans 8:14.
Let’s say, in our past bad stuff happened, how is it that we can lead our minds to a healthy place without denying what happened?
Paul shows us in Philippians 3:13:
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We learn to surrender the painful and broken things and we replace them with Gods thoughts. Our focus is directed to life-giving promises that keep our attention. This is a moment by moment exercise to train our mind to fixate on the real truth. Letting the toxic go is the beginning of healing.
Leading the mind is a heart issue…Your heart is what feeds and dictates to your mind. Fill your heart with life-giving nourishment so that your mind is not empty. Many have said “I can’t get rid of these thoughts! They are overwhelming and it wrecks my whole day!” We have all had gradual panic attacks that render us paralyzed – but this can happen less and less! When we focus on the truth, God changes our mind. He becomes our compass and moves us in HIS direction.
The mind is constantly moving and looking to engage–this is why the psalmist said in Psalms 19:14 let the mediation of my heart be pleasing to you…
Develop the right thinking
Here are some healthy ways to develop the right thinking:
- Focus – Discover and acknowledge the REAL truth.
- Feed – Saturate and let it replace the voids and broken places in your heart.
- Fellowship – Talk to yourself in truth. reinforce it to others, and act on it.
We have all heard it said, “You cannot manage other people unless you manage yourself first.” This is true! Jesus gives new coordinates and redefines our direction. He trains our mind and leads us to life and freedom. The voids are now filled with precious treasure in Proverbs 24:4. The precious promises fill our spaces and there is no room for the vile. The apostle Paul shows us a healthy grid for the mind in Philippians 4:8 ” Whatever is whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
Solomon pleads in Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” An empty mind is vulnerable and can easily be filled with trash. The balance to recognize is what you think about is not sin – acting it out is. Sinning is inevitable if carnal thoughts traffic the mind continually. When you cross the line to action in James 1:14-15 it leads to death.
Going back to the dog analogy – often when Sardis would catch a scent of an animal or food he would jerk the leash in another direction. You had to have a good grip on the leash otherwise his impulse would send you reeling…How often does impulse grab you? Impulse has its greatest strength in the areas that are not surrendered to the Lord. We are wired to cleave to the dust in Psalms 119:25. Impulses can hijack and intercept our mind – we must not let our minds defeat our hearts. Lust patterns have cosmic intelligence that leads to carnality and self-absorption. To “derail” this cycle we look away and look unto Jesus in Hebrew 12:1-2, otherwise our fate is found in Proverbs 26:11 “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.” Hoping we don’t fall is not a strategy – we must be intentional here.
Here are some ways to safeguard your mind and keep your head in the game:
- What are we thinking about – be aware and adjust.
- What are we spending time meditating on – Does it strengthen or weaken you?
- What is your dreaming about – Does it build confidence or fear?
- What moves you to action – or procrastination.
- Addressing psychic noise in your mind – Recognize and acknowledge that it is happening and cast down arguments that lead away from the truth
The Psalmist leashed his mind by filling his heart with godly things. He writes in Psalms 119:109 “My soul is continually in my hand: yet do I not forget thy law.” This is a moment by moment exercise to train our minds. We can have spiritual A.D.D. but don’t sweat it, just keep investing the right nourishment. Take your mind for a walk-in green pasture and still waters, and let the great shepherd lead you. Enjoy thinking with GOD!
Action Point: Journal your response and thinking patterns throughout the day. Recognize and acknowledge your reactions, and strengthen those areas to build healthy responses. Satan works in patterns – be one step ahead.
Jason is a graduate from Maryland Bible College and Seminary, and presently he leads the Pastoral Care Team of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore. Since age 16, Jason has been involved with mission work among the former Soviet-Bloc countries in Eastern Europe, as well as in Asia, and in the United States. While living in Ukraine, he helped church plant three new churches that continue to thrive today under trained nationals. He has also written five books and has his own podcast (tinyurl.com/IRpodcast)