When it comes to thinking, focus, living the Blessed Life, and so on, the #1 question readers ask is this:
“How do I renew my mind?”
It’s an important question to answer, because we ALL need to renew our minds. The way we think. How we process information. What we expect from ourselves, others, and God. The tone in our voice, which affects people’s perception of who we are, which stems from our own self-estimation.
The quality of one’s life boils down to one fundamental issue: how do you understand things? Does love mean “like”, “abuse”, “obsession”, “sacrifice”, “loyalty”, “future abandonment”? We interpret the world from the grid of our understanding, and our interpretations are what mold and shape our lives.
Not everyone who follows a cookie-cutter solution or set of principles gets the same results. But principles are principles because they remain accurate and relevant, regardless of opinion or misinterpreted past experience.
We all know that everyone needs to read and memorize God’s Word. We know it, but we forget that it really can help transform our lives. God’s spoken word, both recorded and currently proceeding out of His mouth, is full of transforming life and power. You’ve probably heard that before, but maybe you didn’t believe it because, in your experience, that has not proven true. Well, it’s time for you to create a new experience.
I’ve put together seven steps that should work well for everyone. It’s NOT like a 12 Step program where you can go through the motions half-heartedly and see results. This requires focus, heart commitment, and dedication. There are customizations needed in each of these to fit you where you’re at in life, but this is a great starting place. Ready? Let’s dive in.
Step One: Set Aside Secular Media and Web Distractions
We forget that in order to fill our minds with thoughts of God and things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy and excellent (Philippians 4:8), we actually have to have room in our minds for those things to fit. The biggest mistake Western believers make is thinking that a little Bible reading or meditation is enough to experience having the mind of Christ.
Look at it as a matter of percentages. If 50% of your waking hours are spent digesting some form of secular media (music, Web, tv, video, photos) and 7% is devoted to Scripture and prayer, what is the atmosphere of your mind going to be like? You will resemble your mental environment. So if you are serious about renewing your mind, it’s time to set that stuff aside while you purify and dedicate yourself to renewal.
I recommend setting aside at least two months for this process. Once you’re about a month in, you’ll feel different. You’ll think different. Your desires will come from a more honest and unique place within you, compared to the conditioned responses you give when you’re senses are drowning in external stimuli. That gives you another month to observe the differences and enjoy being less cluttered.
If you’re wise, you’ll maintain a minimal focus on secular media even after your renewal period is over. Some people (myself included) have returned to gorge themselves on secular media because they are not able or willing to control themselves and maintain a mature balance. Think of it this way: Jesus isn’t looking for 10% Christians. Why would we give Him only 10% of our minds? Do we REALLY expect to fulfill the callings and purposes of our lives when we can’t get beyond thinking how the world thinks?
Step Two: Search Out Specific Parts of Scripture to Memorize
What you need most first will be unique to you the individual. Some will need to memorize the attributes of God. Some will want to begin with statements God makes about how He feels about them. Some will benefit most by starting with promises or with who God says we are.
If you’re not sure where to begin, I’m wiling to pray with you and help you determine where to start. Leave me a comment or fill out the contact form on the site with some details about your story: What’s going on, what you need / want most, etc.
Step Three: Meditate on Scripture
This is a challenge for impatient people. If you’re looking for quick and easy steps to a renewed mind, you’re going to fail. Think of it this way: you’ve been pouring media, conversations, and ideas into your mind for the past X number of years. The human brain/mind records everything experienced. Forgetfulness is not a matter of storage, but of organization and accessibility.
All those years, you’ve been filling your thoughts with unimportant data that has to be stored. Now, when it comes time to accept that your mind does not work with you to know what is true and good and holy, namely Jesus, it’s time to get real.
Your mind won’t be renewed over night. What you currently think and believe is the result of time spent absorbing and brain washing yourself to think a certain way. It might not have been intentional on your part, but by repetition and time, you’ve bathed your own thoughts in the thinking of the secular, unbelieving world.
You know how you can recite over and over again the thing you dread, and your panic grows and grows until you’re hysterical? It’s the same, but opposite, with renewal. What you once meditated on because of lust or pride has taken up residence in your house of thoughts. In order to renew your mind, you’ll have to replace those thoughts with powerful true thoughts.
Perhaps the best Scripture to meditate upon and memorize is 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.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. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.
Did you catch that? These are the things we are to be ever vigilantly pursuing and filtering:
- Acts of Disobedience
Step Four: Worship, Pray, Gaze
Part of renewal involves the “fruit of your lips”. We are created in the image of Almighty God, and He is the Creator. How did He create the universe? Simple. He spoke it into existence.Everything you say has creative power, because you are made in His image. Words go out like spinning tops from our lips, enabled with power and they continue on into the universe. What we speak is largely related to what we think and feel.
People are defiled or honored by the fruit of our lips. Choosing to worship and pray Scripture back to the Lord is a four thousand year old practice that has never lost its power. Start with the Psalms. Pray and sing these back to the Lord. Also, if you’ve collected Scriptures on the promises of God, remind Him of those as you pray. God is not a man that He should lie. He will fulfill what He has promised as long as we do not refuse to follow in His steps.
Gazing upon Jesus is an amazing thing we ALL need to do more. Psalm 27:4 says,
One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.
How do I gaze upon the beauty of the Lord?
This is a question I’ll be able to answer with greater insight and clarity over time, as I am still learning what this means as well.
Gazing upon His beauty begins with a renewed imagination. Don’t think your daydreaming and imagination are exempt from this whole process. We are not truly stewards of our thoughts until we’ve reined in our imaginations and submitted them to His Truth.
Take a few verses on a subject; His holiness, for example. Read these over and over. Read Revelation 1:12-16. Read Revelation 4. Picture your Creator seated on a throne in heaven as described. Open up your spirit to receive and just absorb the experience. This experience will become richer and richer, the more you renew your mind with Scriptures about God’s love, His beauty, and His glory. You can do this for years.
Step Five: Find a Group of Local Believers and Practice Your Gifts
No matter what you do on the inside, you’ll always feel something lacking if you don’t step outside your comfort zone and plant yourself into a healthy community. It doesn’t matter if you were invited. It doesn’t matter if you are popular. What matters is that you have a chance to engage with people who are pursuing God as earnestly as you are.
If you’re prophetic, practice giving words of wisdom and knowledge in the context of a safe environment. If you have a healing gift, pray for the sick and injured in your community. If you have the gift of helps, look for ways people need assistance. No matter your gifting, you can find a way to use it for the benefit of your local group of believers.
Step Six: Look For a Spiritual Mentor
Find someone who is more mature than you to talk with / hang out with. Someone you can learn from by just being around them. Pick someone of the same gender. Typically older too. Not a requirement, but it can feel weird at times if you’re 40 years old and being mentored by a 30 year old. That 30 year old may have been serving God faithfully for years and have a reservoir of wisdom and knowledge to share with you, but there will likely be life experiences a 30 year-old can’t identify with because he/she hasn’t lived there yet. Pray and ask God to lead you to the right person. He will.
Keep in mind that I’ve had many mentors, and not all of them lasted for very long. Some were temporary stop gaps, sent by God to help me along for a short time. I’ve been walking with an older gentleman as my mentor since December 2009. I think he’ll end up being a longer term relationship. But before him, it was two months here, three months there. No one really willing to commit to something more in depth or involved… possibly because they saw I wasn’t fully ready for that yet.
Step Seven: Be Alert. Always.
Pay attention to the thoughts and pictures in your mind. Forget everything you ever learned about fighting devils and demons. Yes, they exist. But no, they are not your biggest challenge. Your biggest challenges are what you know and what believe. You will walk in the level of power and freedom that you have the faith for.
We’re all guilty at some point of blaming God for not doing something He promised to do. We’ve all been there. Let’s not stay there. The reason we don’t see things happen that were promised is that we do not believe. We do not believe because we believe other things we see and hear more than we believe God.
A key benefit of renewing the mind is clearing out the space needed for God’s voice to no longer have challengers. When we make Him primary in time, focus, and energy, we hear and obey beyond our past ability. To walk in His promises, we must believe His Word. To believe His Word, His voice has to be more influential in our lives than any other voice.
Have A Question About Renewing Your Mind?
I can think of a dozen or more questions myself that spring out of this topic, so I’m sure some of you will have some. Feel free to drop a comment or question in the comments below. I’ll respond to each question, regardless of the quality of my answer.