Who doesn’t have ugly thoughts, at least once in a while? Good news: You can replace ugly thoughts with truthful thoughts and renew your mind. Here’s a tool for you.
So today you learn how to:
1. Identify an ugly thought you believe that’s true about you or your circumstance.
2. Recognize the link between your thoughts and your feelings and replace your ugly thought with a new thought.
3. See change in your emotions and actions as you renew your thoughts. A helpful tool is my Transform Your Thoughts Journal. See it here.
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What’s better, this process has helped hundreds of my counselees renew their thinking. It is based on scripture verses like Romans 12:2 and Ephesians 4:22-24:
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Step 1: Identify
First, on notebook paper, set up your categories like this:
UGLY THOUGHT. . .EMOTIONS. . .ACTIONS
Then under “Ugly Thought” write your current or recurring negative, ungodly thought. Then jot down the resulting emotions under “Emotions.” Now, list your behaviors under “Actions.” Here’s an example.
UGLY THOUGHT: “I’m stupid”
EMOTION(s): Anger, depression, loneliness
ACTION(s): Yell at the kids, slam the door, eat a bag of chips
Step 2: Replace
Now write three new categories. Under “Truthful Thought” replace the ugly thought with a biblical truth or a scripture verse. Then write the likely resulting feelings under “New Emotion” and likely behaviors under “New Action.” On your notebook paper set up your categories like this:
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT. . .NEW EMOTIONS. . .NEW ACTIONS
Here’s a corresponding example.
TRUTHFUL THOUGHT: God says all his works are wonderful, so this means I’m an okay person and He’ll help me.
NEW EMOTION(s): Contentment, courage
NEW ACTION(s): Hug the kids, smile, complete the job application
Step 3: See Change
Lastly, chart the ugly thoughts you believe, your emotions, and your actions daily. As soon as you recognize an ugly thought, replace it with a truthful thought.
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And ask God in prayer to help you believe his truth. As you stick with it, you’ll begin to see a change in your emotions and actions as you replace ugly thoughts with the truth. Please be patient and persevere.
You didn’t develop poor thinking patterns overnight. In fact, they may have begun in childhood and are ingrained in your thinking. And so it’ll take weeks, sometimes months, as you to cooperate with the Holy Spirit in the renewing of your mind. Have hope. You CAN do it with God’s help.
Question: What is truthful thought you’d like to have in place of an ugly thought?
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
What if…your worst fear actually comes to pass? Then what? Listed in our Heart2Heart Counselor Directory, biblical counselor Suzanne Holland gives real answers to scary questions and provides hope. Suzanne is a premier counselor. Her article appeared first here at BC4Women.org and is used with permission.
“What if it’s cancer? How will we deal with that? I don’t want to leave my husband and children alone!”
“Or what if my car breaks down? I barely have enough money to cover my expenses! How will I get to work?
“And what if the pain gets worse? How will I cope with it? How will I function?”
All of these are legitimate questions asked by believers who are struggling to deal with a circumstance or eventuality that they feel ill-equipped for. There are so many things that can happen in this fallen world we live in. Many of them are pretty frightening.
As I read in Daniel 3 about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, I felt certain that they were frightened of that furnace. Who wouldn’t be? Nebuchadnezzar had erected a gold statue and commanded all people to bow to it. These three young men knew they could not do that.
I can imagine what their conversation was like, as it became clear that their allegiance to the One True God would stir up the wrath of this powerful king. Maybe, they asked one another,
- What if we can’t stand our ground?
- What if we lose our nerve?
- And if we do remain steadfast, how will we endure the furnace?
- Where will we get the courage to finish well?
I don’t know for sure if this conversation or one like it took place. However, I am pretty sure it would if it were me and my friends! I would be afraid and anxious about it for sure, at least in my own strength. But these three young men clearly were not counting on their own strength to see them through. They were depending on their God. When they appeared before the king, they spoke these words:
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you.
If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God whom we serve is able to save us. He will rescue us from your power, Your Majesty.
But even if he doesn’t, we want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up. (Daniel 3:16-18)
3 Crucial Convictions in Your “What If”
They express three important convictions in this passage. And we need to keep in mind as we face the “what ifs” of our lives.
1. Remember God Alone Has Ultimate Power
First, they express the fact that the king has no real power over them. In saying, “we don’t need to defend ourselves before you,” they are saying that he is not a threat. They know that the God they serve is far more powerful, and He will be their defender. They let the king know that they have complete confidence in God’s ability to save them out of that fire.
2. Know God Will Deliver You
Second, by fearlessly admitting the possibility that He may not save them in an earthly sense, they are letting the king know that they don’t fear death. Since they worship a God who is the master of eternity, they have a great hope of what lies on the other side of that furnace, should they perish there. In other words, they are telling him that, whether they live or whether they die, their God will deliver them from his hand.
3. God Alone Is Worthy of Worship
Finally, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego make it very clear to the king that nothing he does can ever make them worship any other god. No matter what he threatens, no matter how painful the consequence, they absolutely will not become idolaters.
Answers to Scary Questions
So, what’s the takeaway for us? How can we apply this passage to our what-ifs? Well, I would like to suggest that, instead of saying what-if-this or what-if-that, let’s change it up. Let’s replace “what if” with “even if.”
“Even if it’s cancer, I know that my God can rescue me from it. He can heal me of this cancer, but even if He doesn’t, He will deliver me. We will bring me to heaven, where there will be no more pain or suffering. I am trusting in Him. And I refuse to make restored health an idol. God has cared for my family all this time, and He will continue to do so, with or without me. I refuse to give in to worry.”
“Even if my car breaks down, I will not give into fear or panic. Jesus said that God cares so much for me that He has numbered every hair on my head. It is He who has provided for me up until now. Why should that change? I refuse to give in to fear.”
“Even if the pain gets worse, I will recognize that circumstances will always be changing, but my God never does. He is faithful no matter the severity of my pain or disability. Even if I can’t do the things I’ve always done, He will provide the help that I need. Or, He’ll remove the necessity of the task. I refuse to give in to panic about my pain.”
Think About It
What are the “what-ifs” of your life today, friend?
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Are you fearful or worried about the future? Remember that fear can lead to idolatry if we do not take it captive. Bring those fears to the Lord, remembering His faithfulness and love. Then, proclaim to everyone you know the truth about your great God. Let them see that you will not bow down to the idols of worry and fear about earthly things.
As you go through the fiery trial, let them see Jesus going through it with you, just as King Nebuchadnezzar saw four men walking around in the fire when He had thrown in only three. That same confidence that led them through their fire will lead you through yours.
Resources from Lucy
You may like this article:
Biblical Approach for Healing PTSD
Or this easy-to-download eBook:
Fit for Life: A Biblical Guide to Getting Fit (and Losing Weight)
Need prayer or want a free biblical counseling consultation by phone? Send me a secure message here.
Counseling Hope to Your Heart,
God declares overeating to be a sin: ‘For the heavy drinker and the glutton will come to poverty’ (Proverbs 23:21).
So begins the second chapter of biblical counselor Shannon Kay McCoy’s very helpful mini-book HELP! I’m a Slave to Food.
Then McCoy defines sin. These definitions include–
- whatever is not from faith is sin (Romans 14:23).
- therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin (James 4:17).
- all unrighteousness is sin (1 John 5:17).
- sin is lawlessness (1 John 3:4).
These descriptions view sin as the act of the will. Sin is choosing to act in opposition to God’s Word.
Sin of Overeating?
McCoy continues: “Perhaps you don’t believe that overeating is a sin. Many of us have been brainwashed by magazine articles, television talk shows, and reality shows that tell us that food is the problem: you are simply eating the wrong things in the wrong way.”
Often Christians view overeating as a diet problem rather than a sin problem.
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But overeating does n
ot seem serious. We often treat it as one of those ‘little sins’ that are acceptable in the church.
You don’t hear sermons or read books on the sin of overeating, do you? Your focus is more on getting treatment for your problem of overeating than facing up to your personal responsibility of repentance and obedience.
As McCoy pointed out, overeating is failing to do the right thing. It is unrighteousness and lawlessness.
Description of a Food Struggle
A woman McCoy spoke with describes her struggle:
My eating was out of control. I ate solely to satisfy whatever craving I was having at the time. As a result, my health was suffering and I was not honoring God with my life and body He had given me. I was for the first time confronted with the fact that the way that I was eating was sinful. I knew that my eating was ‘not good,’ but I never considered that my eating was sin.
In her mini-book, Shannon transparently identifies with her readers by acknowledging that overeating once dominated her life. Then she shares the life-changing counsel from the Scriptures, which changed her life, beginning with admitting the seriousness of her sin problem.
Overeating Is Not an Addiction
Some overeaters label themselves “food addicts,” believing they are addicted to food. However, addiction is not a biblical term. The world uses this terminology to describe the behavior of someone who is controlled by a substance.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines addiction in this way: “To devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively.” But the danger in labeling overeating as “addiction” is that it undermines the personal conviction of sin. If the problem is not sin, then you will look for solutions in a system of theories, not in the person of Jesus Christ.
Overeating Is Idolatry
The biblical term for “addiction” is “idolatry.” The sin of overeating is idolatry. And idolatry is worship and devotion to creation rather than worship and devotion to the Creator God.
You worship your stomach and appetites by indulging in food. In fact, you desire the created food more than your Creator. The problem is not necessarily the food you consume; it is the worship of your heart. But before you can be set free, you must acknowledge your idol, denounce it, repent, and give your heart and devotion to him. Your greatest hope is in turning from your false gods and surrendering your life to Jesus, who forgives your sins and frees you from the sin of overeating.
God’s Grace Empowers Us to Change
Romans 6:12-14 both exhorts us to repent of the sin of overeating and gives us hope on God’s power to change us:
Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.
In the remainder of her mini-book, McCoy teaches us how to conquer the sin of overeating by God’s gracious empowerment for disciplined living.
Get HELP! I’m a Slave to Food in print copy and/or Kindle format.
RESOURCE: Looking for a whole-hearted, comprehensive ebook to be Fit for Life. Get it now.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Words: Do you choose words that heal or harm?
In this short article, you’ll discover. . .
- Your words flow from your heart.
- How to Identify the verbal villians of pride, anger, and fear.
- Begin healing your heart.
Communication is the expession of how we feel and what we think. Did you know only 7 percent of your communication are your words? The remainder is split between your tone of voice and your body language. This means all three are crucial.
Right now let the words “Come here, Johnny” play in your mind. When you say them angrily, with a clipped voice and face scrunched up, you send one message. When you says them softly and sweetly, you send another message all together, don’t you?
Our words, along with our tone of voice and body language, have the power to encourage, heal, and teach. They also confuse, embarrass, and hurt.
“Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks,” and, “on the day of judgment people will give an account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:34,36).
Jesus underlines the truth that we know the essence of who we are by examining the very words we speak.
The Proud Heart
Pride elevates self. The person with a proud heart think she’s better than others. But God says all persons have value.
The words of someone with a prideful heart sound like:
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. (Romans 15:7)
Here’s a godly solution to pride.
The Angry Heart
Anger is agitation resulting from an unmet expection. Does you husband expect a delicious meal at 6 pronto? If it’s 30 minutes late, you may hear his grumbling words and read disgust or hurt on his face. When a coworker messes up an important project, do you blow up or clam up?
Anger itself is not sinful. However, someone with an angry heart may become bitter.
See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs us and causes trouble, and be it many are defiled. (Hebrews 12:15)
The words of someone with an angry heart sound like:
Here’s a godly solution to anger.
The Anxious Heart
Anxiety often arises when you face loss – loss of safety, security, reputation, family, friends, even happiness. You feel unease, perhaps dread. Rather than fearing God and depending on his sovereignty and goodness, you might succumb to sinful fear and your words may sound like:
God has not given us a spirit of fear, bu tof power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Here’s a godly solution to anxiety.
Healed Heart, Healed Words
In Genesis 1 God spoke the world and all that is in it into existence. We are his image bearers. Therefore, as his image bearers, he calls us to do what he does: speak life. Yet expelling verbal villains arising from pride, anger, fear and other difficult emotions is seldom easy. You may need help.
The good news is God can and will replace pride with humility, anger with patience, and fear with love. Begin with this question: “Is God pleased with what rules my heart?” Is it self or Christ? Next, choose to submit to Christ in every action, thought, emotion, and word. This isn’t easy, is it? It requires an attitude change and new godly habits.
Do you need help and hope? Make an appointment or sign up for a short, complimentary consultation. In person and Skype counseling available. Contact me today.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,
Empty nest. My friend Karen excitedly watched her three young adult children take flight. But my frend Diane felt uneasy. Her son had made bad choices in high school. Would he waste college too? And Dee had one heck of a time getting her daughter to leave the nest.
All three are adjusting to the empty nest, but only one is loving it. So far.
In this two-part series on the empty nest, you’ll discover. . .
- Best way to prepare your empty nest, whether your kids are just out of high school or farther down the road. Read part one.
- How to adjust and love the empty nest, including finding romance and investing in grandbabies.
The Empty Nest Book!
Author Michele Howe has written a book for any parent who finds herself in the midst of an empty nest. Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest tackles the questions moms face, the emotions they encounter, and the changes soon to come. I strongly recommend it. See the book on Amazon here.
In a friendly, interactive style, Michele shares spiritual wisdom from the likes of seasoned biblical counselor Paul Tripp, take-away action steps, personal stories, and prayers. Indeed, it is a cross between a devotional and a parenting how-to book.
While an older empty nest-er would find encouragement, hope, and practical ideas in the pages of Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest, it best suits moms who are entering this season of life.
Adjusting to the Empty Nest
DEALING WITH LONELINESS: One day Michele looked at the tree where her kids loved to climb, then her heart hurt. She tripped down memory lane–Easter egg hunts, Fourth of July fireworks, Thanksgiving feast, and Christmas joy–and began to feel lonely and sad. Isn’t it true that the older we get, we see life differently?
Michele says that one way to reduce emotional grief is by learning to live in the present and to be present. She asks, How can spending too much time reminiscing bring on sadness? How can you be more present today and look out for others in need of friends?
Take-Away Action Thought
When I begin to dip into sadness, I will search for those who need encouragement, help, and hope.
INTERCEDING FOR YOUR CHILDREN: Don’t you agree that moms who take their worry to God in prayer fare better than those who don’t? One way to be consistent in prayer is by keeping a prayer journal. So how does it work practically?
When your son or daughter calls or texts to tell you of a problem their facing, turn to your prayer journal, jot the details, date it, and pray. “The more time I spend perusing my prayer journal, the more my faith is strengthened, and the more inner peace I experience,” Michele shares. Her prayer journal dates back ten years! (Another help is Transform Your Thought Journal — an ebook for godly mind renewal.)
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
Loving the Empty Nest
REINTRODUCING ROMANCE: Every couple struggles sometimes. So it’s important to honestly appaise your marriage, own up to your mistakes, ask forgiveness, and start afresh. But you also must plan time to talk and have fun together.
Take-Away Action Thought
I will proactively make plans for enjoyable activities together every single week by getting the calendar out and marking specific dates/time.
STEPPING UP HEALTHY LIVING PLANS: “When my fifty-something body rejects the idea of getting up and moving. . .I am grateful that my child-rearing days are over,” Michele quips. It’s time to reevaluate fitness goals and to eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep. (A superbly helpful guide is this eBook: Fit for Life.)
INVESTING IN GRANDCHILDREN: This takes intentionality! Plans that truly matter don’t just happen. Rather, you pray, you plan, you proceed!
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When your grandkids live close, you’ll get to attend their school and church activities. But if you’re many hours away (by car or plane), you still can enjoy fun ways to love the little ones long-distance but you’ll need to plan. Right now list a plan of at least six different ways to practically show love to your grandchildren this month.
Friends, do you need prayer or have a question, why not contact me? I aim to answer within the day, God willing.
Sharing Hope with Your Heart,