12 Apr Ep 012 – Throwing Out Negative Thoughts
Martin Luther said, “You can’t stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop them from making a nest in your hair.” Martin Luther wasn’t really talking about birds, he was talking about your thoughts.
Many times we try to control your actions without dealing with our thoughts, and it’s hard. That’s why willpower doesn’t always work. If we deal with the thoughts first, then the actions will take care of themselves.
Info from the Show
God’s Word has a ruler for our thoughts, “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.” 2 Corinthians 10:5
In this episode we’ll break down that verse and find a practical way to take everything thought captive that doesn’t line up with the Word of God.
I’ll also show you how to distinguish between God’s Voice and Satan’s voice.
- Battlefield of the Mind by Joyce Meyer
- Ashley’s Blog post about Conviction vs Condemnation
Welcome back, my friends. This is Ashley Varner. Thank you for being here. I have a lot to share in this episode, so I’m going to just jump right in. All this month we’re talking about saying no, learning how to say no. Today, we are talking about saying no to negative thoughts. This is something that is huge in my life. It is a struggle that I have dealt with for many years, but it was when I started living out what I’m going to share with you today that I started to really start winning the battle against negative thoughts in my mind.
I want to start right away with a quote from Martin Luther. He said, “I can’t stop a bird from flying over my head, but I can stop them from making a nest in my hair.” I know that might seem kind of crazy to start off with, but I want you to know that you have control over your thoughts. You might not be able to stop a thought from coming into your mind, but you do have the ability to stop those thoughts from taking root in your mind. That’s what Martin Luther was talking about.
We can control our thoughts, and our thoughts are what control our actions. A lot of times we try to control our actions without dealing with our thoughts, and that’s really hard. That’s why willpower doesn’t always work. However, if we deal with our thoughts first, then the actions are going to take care of themselves. That’s kind of what we’re going to talk about in this episode. I want you to know that the word of God has a ruler for the kinds of thoughts that we should have in our mind. He has kind of a measuring stick for us to follow, and that is in 2 Corinthians 10:5. It 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.”
What does that mean? It says that if you really want to demolish anything that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, if you want to take down negative thoughts in your mind, the word of God says demolish. It’s not just about saying no to those thoughts. It’s about demolishing those thoughts. Then, what we have to do is take those thoughts captive. What does that even mean? I want you to start paying attention to what you’re thinking about. When a thought comes into your mind, I want you to line it up against the ruler of God’s word. If it doesn’t line up with that, if it doesn’t match the truth of God’s word, then we need to decide not to believe it. I’m going to talk to you about the next part of that in just a second.
Before I do that, I want to give you an example. Say you’ve had a crazy day and you’re tired and you snap at your kids and this thought comes into your mind that says, “I’m a horrible mom. I’ll never be everything that I’m supposed to be.” Now does that line up with God’s word? Do those thoughts, whenever you put them up against the truth of God’s word, do they line up with that? The answer is no. What God’s word says is, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” That’s the truth.
Any time that we have these thoughts that come up against the knowledge of God … What I believe that to mean is the truth of God’s word. If you have a thought that comes up against the truth of God’s word, then it’s time to make it obedient to Christ. What does that mean? What does it mean to make a thought become obedient to Christ? Well, it’s not just about saying, “You know what? I’m not going to think that. I’m not going to allow that to take root in my mind.” What we have to do is we have to replace that thought with another thought, and that other thought has to be the truth of God’s word. We know that the truth of God’s word is powerful.
You may have heard me say before that one of the best ways that you can pray is by praying God’s word. It’s because there’s truth in it. There’s power in his word. Whenever we replace negative thoughts and we replace thoughts that come up against the knowledge of God and we replace those with the truth of God’s word, we’re going to start to see power in our lives. We’re going to start to see a difference in the way that we act and in the way that we live, because we’re pretty more focused on his truth versus the negative thoughts. Even the lies, I would say, that come up, because if you have thought that “I’m a horrible mom and I’m never going to be good enough,” if you’ve thought that, that’s a lie. The only way that we can combat that kind of lie is with the truth of God’s word. That’s where really choosing to not listen to negative thoughts, it’s not enough just to know that they’re negative and to know that we don’t want to hear them. We have to replace them with something stronger, and that’s the truth of God’s word.
I want you to consider the fact that you can’t replace a lie with the truth if you don’t know the truth. That means that you have to dig into the word of God. If you are really serious about growing in Christ and you are really serious about becoming what God wants you to be, you cannot do that without knowing the word of God. Period. It sounds like black and white, but that’s because it is. If you’re a Christian, you need to have God’s word in your heart. Bible memorization isn’t just for kids. I have talked about this a little bit, maybe a lot. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I talk a lot about the fact that your kids need to know God’s word, and you need to know God’s word too.
I have done something really intentional with my kids this past year where every single week they are learning scripture. They’re memorizing scripture every single week. They are learning how to apply it to their lives every single week. I have done that alongside them. We’re learning all these verses, and I’m talking to them about what that looks like in their everyday life. Now you might think, “Holy cow, how does she find time to do this?”
You know when we do it? On the way to school. I’m driving to school. I know what the verse is for that week. I’m teaching it to them in the car. It takes eight minutes to get from our house to their school, and that’s all we do. Every day, five days a week for eight minutes a day, we are memorizing scripture together. You can do that. You can find the time to do that. it will pay dividends in your life whenever you have the truth of God’s word in your heart. It’s not just for kids. Bible memorization is not just for kids.
If you struggle with certain kinds of thoughts, then go to God’s word and say, “Lord, show me the verses that combat this kind of thinking in my life.” You can do that. Google it if you have to. If you struggle with fear, Google verses for overcoming fear if you need to. Feel free to email me. You can email me at [email protected] I would be happy to kind of work with you and come up with a couple of verses for you, because this is something I feel so strongly about. You have to have God’s word in your life active so that you can change your thought processes, say no to negative thoughts, and say yes to the truth of his word.
A lot of times, whenever we are thinking these negative thoughts, it can be kind of hard to tell, or even any thoughts at all, not just negative thoughts, but it can be kind of hard to tell if it’s God’s voice or if it’s the enemy’s voice talking to you there. I wanted to share a couple of specifics on how you can tell God’s voice versus the enemy’s voice. Now I did not come up with these all by myself. I did see a graphic on Pinterest that shares this. As I have been living this out in my own life, I’ve seen and kind of added and tweaked things a little bit to show you the difference.
The first is God’s voice will always be specific. Satan’s voice, or the enemy’s voice, will always be very general. Here’s an example. The enemy might say, “You’re a bad mom.” That is super general. You know right away it’s not from the Lord. God’s voice will be very more specific because he does speak to us and correct us at times. There might be some times where there’s correction in your life and it doesn’t feel good, but you can know it’s the Lord when it’s very specific. Instead of the enemy saying, “You’re a bad mom,” the Lord might speak to your heart and say, “Be more patient,” or he might say, “Just like I’ve been patient with you, be patient with your kids.” See what the difference is? One is very generalized; there’s not a solution. The other is very specific, and you can tell that difference between the Lord’s voice and the enemy’s voice.
Another example is that God’s voice calms us, where Satan’s voice worries us. If there’s any kind of thoughts that come into your mind that cause worry, right away, you know that is not of the Lord, because his word says over and over and over, “Do not worry.” The Lord’s not going to put thoughts into your mind that are going to cause you to worry. Now he might put something into your mind that says, “You know what? I want you to pray for something specific.” There might be something that in earthly ideas that you might want to worry about, but he’s not going to speak to you in a way that’s going to cause you to worry. It’s going to cause you to push forward or to pray or to calm you in some way.
Another example is Satan’s voice condemns us, and God’s voice convicts us. If you want a little bit more specifics on the difference between condemn and convict, because sometimes people can get confused about that, I have a blog post that talks about this in its entirety. I’m going to leave a link to that blog post in the show notes so that you can read through it and really see the difference between conviction and condemnation, so I’m not going to touch on it too much here because that entire blog post talks about that. If you feel condemned, know that that is from the enemy, because there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. However, there is conviction that the Lord brings into your life, and if you want to know the difference of that, like I said, head over to that blog post.
Now this last difference between God’s voice and Satan’s voice is really a great picture, mind picture for you. The first example is Satan’s voice will always try to convince us to run from God. If you are experiencing thoughts that make you think, “I don’t want to tell anybody,” or, “No one feels like this,” or, “I can’t go to God with this,” know right away that is a red flag. That is from the enemy. The beautiful opposite of that is that God’s voice always brings us back to him. Always brings us back to him.
If you think of the story of the prodigal son, whenever he was … If you don’t know the story, there was a son that left his family. He went and squandered all the money, and when he had used up all the money and he was kind of at the end of his rope, at the bottom of the pit, he thought, “You know what? Even my father’s servants live better than I’m living right now.” Then he went back to his father. Thoughts like that are from the Lord, because what they do is they draw us back to him. God is a God of reconciliation, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he will always want to reconcile with you. You’ve heard it here. It’s the truth. He is a God of reconciliation.
You can always tell his voice because those are always going to be the thoughts that are bringing us back to him, bringing us back into relationship with him. If you have any thoughts that make you think, “You know what? Oh, the Lord’s not going to love me anymore. There’s no way he could forgive this sin,” right away, you know that that’s the enemy.
We’re not perfect and we don’t live in a sinless world. There’s going to be times whenever you have negative thoughts, but the key is, whenever you feel those thoughts enter in your mind, whenever you have those negative thoughts come into your mind, you have to cut them off and replace them with the truth of God’s word. It’s not enough to just say, “You know what? I’m not going to believe that,” or, “That’s not true.” You have to replace it with the truth, because the truth will always overcome the lies.
Now when we start to think about what we’re thinking about, that’s when we can begin to change it. I alluded to this earlier in this episode, because our thoughts are what determine our actions. What you’re going to find is whenever you are intentional about what you are thinking, whenever you pay attention to the thoughts that are in your mind, whenever you start lining them up against the ruler of God’s word, then you’re going to make changes from the point of your thoughts, and that’s going to flow out in your actions.
Whenever you truly believe that you are worth taking care of yourself, then you’re going to start taking steps to take care of yourself. Whenever you truly believe that your home is a place of ministry, then you’re going to start taking better care of your home. When you believe that your children are meant for greatness and that they are set apart for the Lord’s work, then you’re going to start treating them differently. You’re going to start doing your role as a mother and as a homemaker and as a wife and as a daughter, all the different hats that you wear, you’re going to start seeing yourself differently in those lights. That’s really what it’s all about. It’s about saying, “Lord, I’m choosing your thoughts over my own thoughts,” and those are the best kind of thoughts to have.