I am preparing for a very busy week ahead of me. I ministered at a men’s-camp in the Cape last weekend, and on Tuesday and Wednesday I will be hosting a Spirit School in Paarl. Then I’ll return home, and minister at another event over the weekend in Vanderbijlpark.
All I can say is “glory to God” for the way He moved in the hearts of those men over the weekend. It makes me so excited to see the transformation taking place in the fathers, husbands, businessmen, and leaders of our country. Greater things are yet to come as the men of God walk out in their God given anointing and calling!
In-between my busy schedule, I would like to share a short message with you about something that determines so much of our day-to-day happiness: and that is our state of mind. During the last couple of weeks, Aldo has written so many letters about the “thorns in his mind”. At first I thought it was a part of his unique lingo, but yesterday a friend sent me a newsletter from Dr. Caroline Leaf’s ministry; and what I read really helped me to understand Aldo’s letters about the “thorns”.
Let’s start off by looking at what the Word of God tells us about our thought-life:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:1-2).
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience when your obedience is fulfilled (2 Cor. 10:3-6).
The “thorns” Aldo was talking about, were those thoughts and images that haven’t yet been brought into captivity to the obedience of Christ – and therefore, they were hurting him.
Let’s listen to what Dr. Caroline Leaf has to say about this:
(Taken from Dr. Leaf’s web-site: http://drleaf.com)
87% to 95% of the illnesses that plague us today are a direct result of our thought life. What we think about affects us physically and emotionally. It's an epidemic of toxic emotions.
The average person has over 30,000 thoughts a day. Through an uncontrolled thought life, we create the conditions for illness; we make ourselves sick! Research shows that fear, all on its own, triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses and activates more than 30 different hormones. There are INTELLECTUAL and MEDICAL reasons to FORGIVE! Toxic waste generated by toxic thoughts causes the following illnesses: diabetes, cancer, asthma, skin problems and allergies to name just a few. Consciously control your thought life and start to detox your brain!
Medical research increasingly points to the fact that thinking and consciously controlling your thought life is one of the best ways, if not the best way of detoxing your brain. It allows you to get rid of those toxic thoughts and emotions that can consume and control your mind.
Change in your thinking is essential to detox the brain. Consciously controlling your thought life means not letting thoughts rampage through your mind. It means learning to engage interactively with every single thought that you have, and to analyse it before you decide either to accept or reject it.
How do you go about doing that? By "looking" at your mental processes. That may sound like a strange, if not impossible thing to do. After all, it's not as if you can just crack open your skull like an egg and have a look at what is going on inside your brain.
It is possible, however, to look at your mental processes. In fact, it is not just possible, it is essential.
For example consider the following:
How many "could-have", "would-have", "should-have" statements have you made today?
How many "if onlys" were part of your inner vocabulary today?
How many times have you replayed in your head a conversation or situation that pained you, or one that hasn't even occurred yet?
How many scenarios have you created of the unpredictable future?
How much is speculation taking out of your day?
How passive is your mind?
How honest are you with yourself?
Are you at cross-purposes with yourself - going through the motions, but not really committed to the goal, saying one thing but meaning another?
How distorted is your thinking? Are you forming a personal identity around for example, a disease? Do you speak about "my arthritis", "my multiple sclerosis", "my heart problem"?
Do you ever make comments like "nothing ever goes right for me"; "everything I touch fails"; "I always mess up"?
If you answered yes even to just one of these, your thought life needs detoxing right now.
A potential pitfall on the path towards detoxing your brain is the fact that toxic thoughts come in many guises. On the surface, a thought like "I must do well" seems positive enough. It is only when you look at it closely, and check out the feelings it generates and their effects on your body and mind, that you will be able to judge fairly and squarely if this is a thought that serves you well.
If you base your thought life on assumptions like the above the foundations will be shaky and the edifice (your body mind) that you create thereafter will be highly unstable. As you think more toxic thoughts and generate more toxic emotions, that edifice will show cracks, cave in and eventually collapse altogether as burgeoning illness and disease takes hold.
Right off, you need to ditch unrealistic thinking and keep in mind some key principles to kick-start the process of controlling toxic thoughts: Thoughts create your moods When you experience a fear-based emotion you will feel depressed and your thoughts will be characterised by negativity A negative thought linked to emotional turmoil will be distorted "...bringing all thoughts into captivity to Christ Jesus" (2 Corinthians 10:5) becomes the golden rule of safe thinking
The process of "bringing all thoughts into captivity"
There are four simple techniques involved:
Understanding that thoughts are real and have an actual anatomy Thoughts are real things: they have a structure in your brain and occupy space. Thoughts are the same as memories. Thoughts and memories look like trees and are called neurons or nerve cells. You build a double memory of everything as a mirror image of each other. This means that the memory on the left side of the brain builds from the detail to the big picture; and the memory on the right side builds from the big picture to the detail. When you put these two perspectives of thought together, you get intelligent understanding taking place. As information comes in from the five senses, you process it in certain structures of your brain, then you grow branches on the "trees" to hold this information in long term memory. In fact, as you reading this, you are growing thoughts, because, thoughts are the result of what we hear and read and see and feel and experience. This means that whatever you grow is part of you, actual branches in your brain that create your attitude and influence your decisions.
Increasing conscious awareness of your thoughts and how you are feeling. Knowledge of the anatomy of thought naturally leads into the process of actively analysing incoming information and thoughts constantly. You should never let a thought or thoughts roam chaotically and unchecked through your head. Examine every thought you have and ask yourself: is this good for me? Is it from God or the devil or my own confused thinking? Conscious awareness of your thinking should become like a habit. A habit takes twenty-one days to create. Today is the first day of that twenty-one...
Doing something once you have analysed the thought. So, whilst technique two is developing a conscious awareness of what you are thinking about. Now technique three is doing something about the thought. This means making a conscious decision to actively accept the thought (if it is good for you) or reject it (if it is bad for you). This means you use your God-given ability of free will (this also has actual structural position in the brain) to do something about the thought you are consciously aware of. Thoughts have as much control as we give them.
Building new memories over the old. This is the really exciting part in dealing with our thought life because, accepting or rejecting the thought is changing the neural circuitry of your brain: you brain is growing while you think and you have control over the process. Technique four happens when the brain steps in and creates a structural representation of what you have chosen to accept (adds more branches on the tree) and converts what you have chosen to reject into hot air!
Lets see how these four techniques work if you have an unforgiveness in your memory trees towards someone:
Technique one: this unforgiveness looks like a thorn tree and will hurt you - visualize the twisted bitter thorn tree.
Technique two: be consciously aware of this thought of unforgiveness - where it comes from, how long it has been there, and so on.
Technique three: ask the Holy Spirit to help you use your free will to make the wisdom decision to reject unforgiveness and forgive. Picture the unforgiveness disappearing as hot air.
Technique four: now build a new de-thorned memory to replace the thorny unforgiveness with for example, quoting scriptures, singing a worship song, praying for the person, and so on.
(End of Dr. Leaf’s newsletter. We encourage you to visit Dr. Leaf’s web-site, and learn more about this subject from her resources.)
I hope you can see how important this matter of “thinking what we think about” is. If we can identify those thorn bushes, we can actively start working at getting them pulled out by the roots and replaced with the truth of God’s Word.
Aldo uses another peculiar word in his lingo when he says they “fire” me with their words. This is his way of saying that slanderous, hurtful words spoken against him become like fiery darts of the enemy. These fiery darts come in the form of thoughts. That is why we must be so careful about what we say about others. Only God knows the heart of each man.
I pray that God’s shalom (completeness, wholeness, health, peace, welfare, safety soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, fullness, rest, harmony, the absence of agitation or discord) will rest upon you, and your thoughts, this week.
I’m off to the Spirit School now…