thoughts

Do you remember those old Western movies with John Wayne? He rides easy in the saddle, holster slung low, and has an iconic drawl. But what I remember are the scenes of runaway horses and stage coaches. The horses move as one, faster and faster, dust billowing, the coach lurching, and the passengers tossed about like rag dolls.

 

The hero gallops close, at one with his horse as he leans toward rescue, and he grabs the team of horses and starts to pull back. Slowly, the horses come to a stop and we discover the passengers bruised and broken and the stagecoach off course.

 

So it is with our thoughts. We can take a feeling or sense about something and turn it into an assumption that leads to hasty decisions and divisive plans that leave those around us bruised and broken. Our thoughts run wild and steal our peace and good sense.

 

Last week I talked about developing an awareness of the thoughts. This week, we’re going to address what to do with them. Remember, if you don’t know what you’re thinking, you can’t address the negatives and keep the positives.

 

And that’s the key: we’re transformed by the renewing of our mind. And this transformation is evidenced on the outside of ourselves in how we live our lives and interact with people. Is it true transformation if you spend time praying for your loved one and then turn around and treat them with disdain?

 

Breaking cycles is not just thinking good thoughts, but it’s allowing action to flow from those good thoughts. We must remember that we don’t live this Christian life as islands or solo artists, but we are part of an intricate tapestry, a complete body that makes up the church. Each of us has a purpose in that body, and we find that as we walk and talk and grow in Christ. And our talk flows from our thoughts.

 

Webster’s Dictionary defines thought as an idea in the mind. The Greek word used in 2 Corinthians 10:5 is noema which means something that is thought out, planned, and devised. How many times have you planned out a conversation that puts someone in his or her place? Or orchestrated an elaborate series of actions to enact revenge on someone? Our thoughts can be as dangerous as a runaway stagecoach.

 

This same Greek word {noema} references the mind itself. It’s the word used for minds that are blinded to the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4) as well as the warning in 2 Corinthians 11:3 to be on guard for the adversary’s cunning ways to lead our minds away from sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

 

So when Paul is instructing us to take every thought captive, he’s commanding us to apprehend those thoughts that set themselves up against God. In order to do this effectively and strategically, we must be aware of our thoughts.

 

As we are aware of our thoughts, we can then begin to capture them. But let me warn you, capturing them might be kind of like trying to capture a fish with your bare hands. Or trying to hang on tight to a wriggling baby covered in baby shampoo during bath time.

 

To capture means to catch and forcefully hold. Kids who grew up playing king of the mountain or capture the flag know exactly what capture means. It means to gain something and then not let it go. No. Matter. What. (We can use this capture for good things too: like hope and peace and trust and love)

 

Can you arrest that thought that tears down your neighbor, acquaintance, grocery store clerk, or loved one?

 

Will you gain control of the run-away thoughts of revenge?

 

Would you apprehend those thoughts of despair?

 

Can you conquer those thoughts that tell you you’re worth nothing to nobody?

 

And will you secure the thoughts that strip you of your security in Christ?

 

It seems impossible, I know. Certain thoughts become patterns that feel like ruts we can never escape and we follow them to the destination we don’t want to experience. Again. And again.

 

We’ll get to that. It’s in the second part of 2 Corinthians 10:5, but first, I want us to grow aware of our thoughts and practice capturing them. Pick one area of your life, whether it’s a spiritual or relational to work on this week. Next week, we’ll address flipping the script and how to make our thoughts obedient to Christ.

 

The Takeaway

 

Maybe you struggle with hopelessness. Monitor your thoughts. See how many thoughts are feeding you despair. Then capture them. Don’t let them go any further than a thought. Don’t plan out the next five events that may or may not happen based on the depths of hopelessness you feel.

 

Or maybe there’s a relationship that pokes and prods. Evaluate your thoughts towards the situation. See if you’re planning conversations and encounters and then capture them. Take note and capture.

 

Scripture to Ponder

 

“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

 

“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4

 

“But I am afraid as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:3

 

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

 

 

 

 

 

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I write to encourage you that you can experience a vibrant, transformative relationship with God even if your past or your shame tells you otherwise. God invites you upward and onward, will you join me? You'll receive weekly devotionals straight to your inbox. By subscribing you'll receive my 7-Day Devotional, Kicking Perfect, as a thank-you gift from me!

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