Before I share Kelly’s post, just wanted to point you to Samaritan’s Purse. If you are looking for ways to help the Philippines, this is one great outlet. Let’s continue to pray together for our brothers and sisters who are are living in the midst of total devastation. 

If you missed Part One of Kelly’s post–On Releasing Control, be sure to check it out. 
Here’s the second part of her talk:

On Taking Responsibility for What I Can Control

As I continued to sit on the beach, I sensed God stirring another thing in my heart. I wrote the letters “RC” again. This time the “C” was not crossed out. 

This represented “Taking Responsibility for what I can Control.”  

God began directing my thoughts towards things that I often take a passive approach to, but need to start taking responsibility for. 

This can be lot of things, but I’m going to focus on just one today ~ and that is our thoughts. 

I can control my thoughts. And, I must take responsibility for my thoughts.

I can choose what I let my mind dwell on. This is so BIG for me. Oftentimes, I know that I must intentionally choose my actions, but I’ll take a passive approach to my thoughts, assuming that I can’t help it…that I just have these continual feelings of insecurity, worry, fear, jealousy, bitterness, resentment, etc.

But the truth is, I actually choose to dwell on things that make me afraid over and over again. 

I continue to go down paths toward anxiety. 

I intentionally mull over the negative aspects of a person or situation. 

And, while I may even think that those thoughts don’t affect anyone else, what I continually fix my mind on seeps into my actions, words, and relationships. 

John Ortberg says:

One of our illusions is that the reason we worry is because we have problems. 
We think, “If I just didn’t have problems, then I wouldn’t worry anymore.” 
The good news is, your problems are going to go away. 
The bad news is, that won’t happen until you die…
Until then, however, life will be full of problems. 
The real challenge is between our ears. 
The way we live will inevitably be a reflection of the way we think. 
True change always begins in our mind.  

Researchers have found that the human brain is amazingly changeable. Synapses remain or whither away depending on your mental habits. Those synapses which are heavily trafficked become stronger and thicker. Those that aren’t get weaker.

Another way to explain this is that there are little passageways in our brain. If we continually go down a certain passageway with our thoughts, grooves are actually formed in our brains. (I actually heard a scholar say, “our brains are very groovy.”)

In other words, if a certain thought always leads to another negative thought, which leads to more worry, fear, or despair, when we allow ourselves to indulge in those thought-cycles again, we are literally creating slippery slides in our brain. Once we have that first thought, it spirals down to the end.  

Here’s the good news: God has designed our brains so that we can form new grooves. We can intentionally and proactively take control of our thoughts and practice things like hope, love, joy, forgiveness. When you do that, you are actually, literally, rewiring your brain! 

So, what does it look like for us to take responsibility for our thoughts?

1) When you sense yourself going down a dark path in your mind, you can stop and speak God’s truth over that thought: 

2nd Corinthians 10:5 says, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Romans 8:6 says, “The mind controlled by the sinful nature is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” 

And, in those moments when you feel too weak to speak His word, when the lies seem too true, call up a trusted friends or a counselor that can remind you of the REAL truth. 

2) Another thing I want to invite you to do is to take any thought, especially thoughts that feel weighty or that you find yourself turning over and over in your mind, and ask, “What direction do those thoughts lead me in? Are they leading me toward life – towards the person I want to be? Or in the other direction?”

3) We must remember that we can’t stop thinking wrong thoughts by trying harder not to think them. It just doesn’t work. But you can do something else. You can “set your mind.” 

The most basic power you have over your mind is that you can choose what you pay attention to. At any moment, we can turn our thoughts from one direction to another. It is within our capacity to set our minds: that explains why two people can be in the same set of circumstances and yet have completely different experiences.

Will we choose to set our minds on the presence and goodness of God in the midst of  our circumstances? Or will we choose to set our minds on worry and anxiety and fear. 

The ultimate freedom we have, the freedom no one can take away, is the freedom to decide what our mind will dwell on. 

Praise God, who helps us in our weakness. Ask him today for help in taking control of your thoughts. 

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