5. Renewing Your Mind
"There must be a spiritual renewal of your thoughts and attitudes." Ephesians 4:23
Once a rabbi decided to test the level of obedience in his disciples, so he called them together and posed a question. "What would you do if you were walking along and found a purse full of money lying in the road?" he asked. "I'd return it to its owner," said the disciple. "His answer comes so quickly, I must wonder if he really means it," the rabbi thought. "I'd keep the money if nobody saw me find it," said another. "He has a frank tongue, but a wicked heart," the rabbi told himself. "Well, Rabbi," said a third disciple, "to be honest, I believe I'd be tempted to keep it. So I would pray to God that he give me the strength to resist such a temptation and to be obedient in doing the right thing." "Aha!" thought the rabbi. "Here is the man I would trust."
In Romans 12:2 the Apostle Paul teaches spiritual renewal occurs when we quit conforming to the way this world thinks and instead we are transformed by renewing our minds through exposure to the truth found in the Bible. Renewing our minds involves an actual restructuring of our brains. The science of Neuroplasticity has recently discovered the brain can be physically reshaped and has proven what the Bible has always revealed - the mind can be redesigned both in thought and form. This reshaping of our brains involves for us to first thing in the morning meditate on Bible verses as it is God's thoughts recorded for us. Christian meditation is an intense focus on scripture for a period of time that produces a new mindset becoming the "knee jerk" response of our thinking and speaking. The reshaping of our brains includes exchanging our thoughts with God's thoughts that we receive as downloads during our prayer times and recognizing our fear based beliefs then releasing them into God's care and replacing these fears with faith based beliefs. Discovering fear or faith based thoughts includes listening to ourselves. Our words are a powerful creative force as every spoken word reinforces and produces either life or death in our lives.
Science has also proven the human brain never shifts into neutral. Like a computer it is constantly processing and storing data at a remarkable speed and uses this databank of information to create fear based or faith based beliefs. This database of thoughts manifests desirable or undesirable results in our lives. Our brains are memory banks that contain whatever we look at, listen to, and act on. Job said, "What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come true." (Job 3:25) Job was an example of someone who meditated on fear based beliefs, but after severe calamities and adversities he renewed his mind and he was restored.
"If the Holy Spirit controls your mind, there is life." Romans 8:6
It is said our eyes are the windows to our souls. If we want to control what comes into our minds, we have to filter what we look at/watch and do more than attempt to not have unwanted thoughts. If we become obsessed with trying to control unwanted thoughts and we think to ourselves, “I don’t want to think about that,” this thought is going to pop into our minds repeatedly against our will producing shame and guilt which is a vicious destructive cycle. The solution is not to try to stop thinking about wrong thoughts, but to provide a stream of positive life giving information and experiences. How do we accomplish this? Through wise media/entertainment choices and by reading the Bible. Reading the Bible every day renews our minds to think like God does and our minds are programmed differently to live a godly life.
1. Are the media/entertainment industries corrupting our minds and creating fear based beliefs?
TV, movies, videos, magazines, and music can lure us away from God. These media forms may create fear based beliefs that are capable of stealing our dreams and produce a dissatisfaction with our abilities, relationships, possessions, and/or appearance. All media forms are something like "junk food" for the soul. The diet we feed our souls is totally within our control through our viewing and listening choices. If we indulge in a steady diet of junk food, we lack the solid nutrients that are essential for healthy faith based thought patterns. Philippians 4:8 lists the “soul healthy” elements which help guide us in our entertainment choices: "What is true and honorable and right… things that are pure and lovely and admirable… things that are excellent and worthy of praise."
The media and entertainment industry provides an "all you can eat" buffet of junk food that can direct our focus from a love based perspective into a fear based focus. The media companies look at each person as a trophy size fish. If we become hooked by their alluring bait, we are slowly reeled in closer and closer. Their greedy goals are to control our behavior through fear based propaganda and sensationalism.
Now, with your eyes opened to the aspects of soul junk food, you're equipped to use good judgment by keeping your eyes open and discerning to enticing bait. Jesus said, "If you know these things, which I have taught you, blessed are you if you do them." (John 13:17). It is not just the believing in his teachings, but the doing them by faith that blesses one's life. The only thing that blocks our faith is fear.
2. What exactly is the fear you're speaking of?
Fear is faith shifted into reverse and the nemesis of our faith. The embodiment of fear is named Satan. He is the father of lies, makes accusations against us before God daily, and his goal is to steal from us and destroy us.
Fear based thoughts typically present the worst case scenario for any situation or relationship. When you become aware of these type of thoughts pay attention to what the underlying fear is rather than trying to block them from your mind or stuff them away. View it as an opportunity to erase and replace the fear with love/faith.
Fear and love are the human experience. The contrast of these two enable us to be grateful for love and relentlessly resist fear. The awareness that something is working against us without knowing what to label it is fear operating below our conscious awareness. This is the thread that ties all of humanity together. To be born into this world is to be immersed in a world whose very structure is comprised of fear.
Fear is the motivational factor in producing tyrants whose desire for power over others is a coping mechanism in managing their core belief of fear. Fear produces phobias so diverse volumes of books have been written on them. Fear produces fear of dying, fear of poverty, fear of commitment, fear of loss, fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of violence, fear of being alone, fear of the future, fear of disease, etc.
One day shortly before Jesus was arrested and then crucified, he said to his disciples, "I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." (John 14:24-27) Fear is the only thing that prevents us from realizing the unlimited and unconditional love and acceptance God has for us.
3. How can I quit believing in fear?
The first step is realizing fear is like a huge structure within us that was built by each painful and traumatic life experience. Imagine this structure to be made up of individual building blocks all interconnecting one another. This structure only continues to remain formidable through the belief fear is real when it is actually an illusion. We have been given the power with the gift of our free will to build this structure up or tear it down.
Worrying about fear causes us to focus on it thereby perpetuating it. When we choose faith it shifts our focus to God. When our focus is life giving rather life depleting miracles will be manifested.
Facing our fears looks something like this. When we encounter a person who has a particular characteristic that irritates us this like a mirror reflecting that irritating characteristic that really is within us. When we see the irritant we can also identify the fear that is supporting it. Once the fear is seen we can recognize it for what it is... simply an illusion. We have been empowered by God to eradicate our fears through the exercise of releasing the lie and embracing the truth. Truth always creates the abundant life Jesus said is ours as children of God. But its up to each one of us to create this abundant life for ourselves through our free will choices.
When a fear is triggered you may feel compelled to react without knowing why. It is a compelling feeling like something isn't quite right or an ominous feeling or an awareness of something being just beyond conscious awareness that is attempting to gain control by creating irrational behavior or decisions. Whenever this scenario takes place take a moment of silence and ask yourself "What am I afraid of?" Now with pen in hand write down the answer to your question. This text empowers you to erase and replace the fear you were not aware of just moments ago. So look at manifesting fears as a very positive thing. It empowers you to change that which you were unaware of moments ago, but most likely has been operating in your life negatively for a long time.
What we fear we create. Our own creative power of prayer with prayer being defined as believing and speaking as Jesus taught us with the fig tree is used to create that which we are afraid of in order to perpetuate the fear. Fear uses this power to bring life to itself. The demise of fear operating in our lives is accomplished through recognizing the fear and choosing faith instead.
The reason most people fail at becoming free of fear is that they aren't prepared for what the process involves. Once you make this choice its not an instantaneous process, but a process that always starts off with that fear attempting to maintain its control by generating reasons to remain afraid. These can include physical pain, emotional turmoil, or mental stress. Once you identify these manifestations, you are now able to release them.
An aspect of our spiritual survival involves identifying and releasing any fear associated with the possibility of experiencing future disasters, traumas, and illness. The fear of the unknown plays havoc with our thought patterns and emotions. If left unchecked these thoughts become the words we speak. The words we speak are powerful, so decide if you want life giving experiences or ones that steal life from you. Then choose your words wisely, so that they will produce the life experiences you desire.
Jesus said to enter the kingdom of God as a child. What did he mean by this? My guess is that a child before the age of five is fearlessly trusting. Unless taught differently they will take the hand of a stranger and walk with them smiling as they go. They are fearless. Entering and living in God's kingdom requires fearless trust in God. Jesus had this and his life reflected it. The miraculous provision along with signs and wonders that surrounded his life reveal the heart of a man who fearlessly trusted God with every step he took. We can have this same lifestyle. The choice is ours.
4. How does fear operate?
Fear causes our faith to sink and our doubts to rise. Fear produces a lack of trust in God's ability to work in and through our lives successfully. Fear causes our thoughts and emotions to become unsettled by surrounding circumstances. We are then set up to make decisions that are contrary to our best interests and the interests of others. These fears are our weak areas.
Nothing, no one, and no demonic spirit can make us afraid. We are the ones responsible for allowing ourselves to be afraid by letting it into us. How do we do this? Our words are powerful because we are made in the image of God. When God speaks He creates, so due to the Holy Spirit that lives inside of us our words are producing all the time. The question is whether they are producing desirable results or not... blessings or cursing... life or death. The choice is entirely ours.
When we speak anything that is fear based or make a decision based in fear gives Satan a legal right to manifest destruction in our lives. This is why speaking faith based words or scriptures are important to speak no matter what we are seeing or hearing at the moment... at all costs watch your words and "speak faith" only! Say what you want not what you don't want.
♦ "If you claim to be religious and don't control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless." James 1:26
♦ "I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart." Mark 11:23
♦ "Does anyone want to live a life that is long and prosperous? Then keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies!" Psalm 34:13
Becoming fearless is a process. It requires facing what we fear today in order to be fearless in the future. Some of our fears were established when we were children. As children, we were powerless over our environment, but we did have control over what we would believe.
A good exercise in identifying established fear patterns and replacing them is to make a list of them. Then decide if these fears are required beliefs for your current protection or simply outdated beliefs that were created for your survival during a time when your options were limited. Now, create love based beliefs that will replace the fear you've identified and no longer want in your life. Then release these fear based beliefs to God and replace them with beliefs based on love. "God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline." (2 Timothy 1:7)
When we shift out of believing in fear and into believing by faith - miracles are ours.
Spiritual Survival Handbook by Kathleen Brown. Copyright © 1999. All rights reserved.
Holy Bible New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc. All rights reserved.
'No Longer Doubting', is an excerpt from the book "Jesus Freaks" and used with permission, 1999. By Voice of the Martyrs (http://www.persecution.com) and DC Talk; published by Albury Publishing, Tulsa, Oklahoma.