Yesterday I wrote about our tendency to tell ourselves lies, and the solution in the way, truth and life of Jesus. Read it here.
Alongside that divine solution, there is a practical set of tools or guidelines to help you find it, use it and benefit from it.
These guidelines are found in Dr. Chris Thurman’s book The Lies We Believe: Transform Your Mind and Renew Your Life. I recommend this book for anyone ready to admit that their thinking needs to gain some clarity from the divine truth of the Bible (that’s all of us, but not everyone is ready to admit it, are you?).
While the guidelines are definitely practical, and the science and psychology in the book easy to understand, there is plenty of Scriptural truth and inspiration in the book as well.
Additionally, the guidelines are outlined in a memorable acronym. Thurman’s instructions include starting a journal where you write in each of these 5 columns, one for each guideline, on a daily basis. It’s a prescription. More important than taking your daily pills, because a core of truth in your inner being will, according to Jesus, “set you free” (John 8:32).
T is for Trigger Event
A trigger event is an external circumstance that sets off a response—and that response could be pleasant, unpleasant or even kind of neutral. Identifying trigger events in your daily existence is the first step to learning truth.
R is for Ruined Thoughts
Now, for each trigger event, write down what you think about it. What you think about the person who pulled into your parking spot. What you think about your gigantic display of Christmas lights or your daughter’s first place performance in the spelling bee.
Be most aware here of faulty thinking or inaccurate ways of viewing the trigger. For example: “Because my Christmas lights are so impressive, God is going to reward me with good things.”
U is for Unhealthy Response
Thoughts lead to feelings and behaviors. If you think that the person who pulled ahead of you into “your” parking spot is a jerk, then you are going to feel justified to treat them like one. That becomes your chosen behavior, and an unhealthy response.
Writing these responses down is the truth, and it’s okay to show yourself some grace and compassion here. It’s not meant to be flattering, and the good news is that it’s not the final word.
T is for Truthful Thoughts
Now we turn the corner, and the process becomes particularly biblical and Christian. God’s absolute truth is absolutely trustworthy. The words of God in the Bible never steer you in the wrong direction. So, what words of God can replace your faulty thinking? What does Jesus teach that helps you evaluate your feelings about people who are jerks, or your proud moments like displaying the best Christmas lights?
H is for Healthy Response
Many Christians unfortunately miss this step. They believe that having the truth is the same as living the truth, but it’s not. Jesus mentioned this at the end of his Sermon on the Mount, the importance of putting his words into practice (Matthew 7:24-27). What are the next steps to the truths that apply? What feelings and behaviors do they produce that replace your unhealthy responses? What does God promise to you as you love, trust and follow him?
Try this Bible verse for starters. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Romans 12:2). This verse is sandwiched between some beautiful promises and practices that draw a believer closer to God in worship and in clearly knowing God’s will for your life.
So why not give these 5 guidelines a try? I’ve started the journal, and am here to chat if you want to check in with each other. Just reply to this email.
PRAYER: Jesus, I trust too often in the lies of this world, and pray to be transformed in my thoughts by your truths. Remind me how beautiful, practical and saving your words are for me when I believe them. And help me put more of them into practice. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Open your Bible to Romans 12:1-3 and discover the wider promises and purposes of God when it comes to replacing lies with truth.