What does the Bible say about the power of your thoughts?

Found this article online and wanted to share here. The link to the original article is found at the end of this post.

We have a strong desire to do life well, to maximize our potential, and (most importantly) to reflect the image of our Creator.

I’m not here to offer magic formulas, but I do believe there’s a particular path that ends in a life well-lived and a lasting legacy. That path starts (and ends) between the ears.

The Bible speaks often about the power of the mind and our thoughts. I think it’s easy to glaze over this and overlook the connection between thoughts and transformation. Maybe it’s to “self-helpish,” and we’ve been turned off by cheap self-help books.

The unhealthy relationship between science and faith hasn’t served Christians well either. Science connected the mind with transformation years ago. But the bitter (and unnecessary) rivalry between faith and science wouldn’t give credibility to its findings.

More and more, science is confirming Scripture, not contradicting it.

Our minds are powerful, and our thoughts shape who we are and will become.

Here are 7 verses about the power of your thoughts and mind.

Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! –

Deuteronomy 30:19

For years, this verse haunted me. I didn’t believe life — particularly love, joy, peace, etc. — were choices. I always thought circumstances played a role. Simply choosing love and joy was too easy. But what if it’s true?

Dr. Caroline Leaf says this in her book Switch On Your Brain,

“As we think, we change the physical nature of our brain. As we consciously direct our thinking, we can wire out toxic patterns of thinking and replace them with healthy thoughts.”

In essence, she says, science is proving free will and relationship between thoughts and reality.

Do not copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

-Romans 12:2

Changing the way you think changes your perspective which changes how you act in the world. Paul’s words aren’t new. “Change your mind” is the central theme of Jesus’ first sermon (Matt. 4:17).

Jesus challenged people to change their thinking because regardless how many times you read through the Bible, if your mind doesn’t change, you will simply impose your biases and labels on the words you read.

God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.

-2 Tim. 1: 7.

Basic fear says “Hey fool, if you jump off that cliff you won’t make it. Get away from the cliff.” This type of fear is healthy and good.

But fear and distrust of life and people isn’t from God, yet it seems hard-wired into our minds. We’re afraid of being afraid. The Spirit always breathes love. Always.

When you choose fear, your life and legacy suffers.

I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin. But I do not excuse the guilty. I lay the sins of the parents up on their children and grandchildren; the entire family is affected — even children in the third and fourth generations.

-Exodus 34:7

Another haunting verse here that speaks directly to the power of our thoughts. Not only do your thoughts shape your life. They also influence the lives of your future kids and their kids.

Science has confirmed this truth. The science of epigenetics has shown that our dispositions, bad habits, anxiety, and hatred of cats can impact our kids even before they are conceived.

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

Take every thought captive. What a great idea. But is it even possible? Well, if we trusted God’s word, we would know it was possible.

The answer to capturing your thoughts is right there in Scripture, hidden in plain sight. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” The powerful effects of prayer and meditation have been well-documented in recent years, again confirming what Christians should already know.

Capturing your thoughts requires stillness, something most Americans, and many Christians, have no time for. And as long as we have no time for prayer, our thoughts, emotions, and feelings will continue calling the shots.

Whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.

-Philippians 4:8

Every now and then I meet someone who is different. You know the ones. These people see the world differently. They’re calm. Nothing seems to shake them. Ever. They’re almost impossible to offend, and they listen much more than they talk. They love everyone, even their enemies. Their joy and peace are infectious.

When I encounter someone like this, I leave wondering what awesome sauce they take and where I can buy a jar.

People who are different understand Philippians 4:8. They chose love. They chose to see the imago dei — God’s image — in everyone. They choose good, and ruthlessly eliminate negativity.

What you choose to see determines your reality. You have the power to change your reality by shifting your focus.

As someone thinks within himself, so he is.

-Proverbs 23:7

We are not victims of biology or circumstances. If you’ve chosen to believe otherwise, this verse sounds like hogwash. But again, science is proving what Scripture already says.

Dr. Leaf one more time:

“When you think, you build thoughts, and these become physical substances in your brain.”

You were created in the image of God, full of love and grace. What might happen if you started believing this?

There are many others verses in the Bible highlighting the power of our thoughts. But I hope you see the truth behind God’s timeless words. What you allow into your mind determines your reality and ultimately your legacy.

So, start capturing those thoughts.

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Healthy Families, Spiritual Disciplines

Legacy Lost?…

A Devotional from the FamilyLife daily devotional for couples.  Great reminder:

visit Family Life

The Loss of Legacy


For He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which He commanded our fathers that they should teach them to their children.
Psalm 78:5


I cringe at findings like the following from the 2000 census, as reported by the Department of Health and Human Services. These are family statistics comparing white children and African-American children:

  • Living in families with a father and mother—75.2 percent of white children and 33.3 percent of African-American children
  • Living in single-parent families—17.7 percent of white children and 46.2 percent of African-American children
  • Living with no parent at all—3.7 percent of white children and 12 percent of African-American children

As I read these, I think of my friend Crawford Loritts sharing a tribute to his dad on our radio broadcast one day, thanking him for his faithfulness as a father:

Thank you for choosing not to get paid triple time on Christmases and other days when we needed the money living in that small Newark apartment, because you wanted to spend time with your kids. Thank you for not buying new cars until after we were grown because you wanted to have money for vacations…. Thank you for teaching me and telling me that I’m a man and for standing with me during hard times.

Everything I am today is because of you, Dad. You never made a big splash and you never blew your own trumpet, but you quietly did the deed.

It’s sobering to consider how quickly a legacy can be lost when a father is not there for his children. It’s heartbreaking to think of the kids who are growing up disconnected from families and a generational heritage of faith—both in African-American homes and many others across the racial spectrum.

Oh, how today’s children of all races desperately need the hearts of their fathers to return to their calling!


What are you doing to secure a spiritual legacy in your family?


Pray for the healing of all the families of our nation and world—and for children who need to know both father and Father.




Healthy Marriages, Spiritual Disciplines

Learning to Pray with your Wife

I found this article on Family Life’s website.   Great approach to creating the discipline of daily prayer with your spouse.  I checked out the link at the end, and it is active.  Enjoy:

It has always been a struggle for my wife and me to pray together. Over eight years of marriage we have never been able to fall into a solid routine. We could string a few days together or maybe a few weeks, but then there would be that inevitable lull where we just stopped.

There is never a great reason. We were too busy. We just forgot. There was a basketball game on. We had a rough time getting our son to bed. We were watching TV.

Do you and your wife pray together? I am talking about more than just before you start eating your meal. Do you take focused time to pray intentionally with each other?

As the spiritual head of our house, I believe it is my responsibility to initiate our prayer time together. This has always been a tough assignment for me. But I am determined to grow.

Dennis Rainey, the president of FamilyLife, is always encouraging married couples to pray together. In fact, he describes this as the best marriage advice he has ever received. One of his mentors, Carl Wilson, told him, “I’ve prayed every day with my wife Sara Jo for more than 25 years. Nothing has built up our marriage more than our prayer time together.”

Dennis wrote a prayer devotional book to help couples called Two Hearts Praying as One. He describes prayer as the single most important spiritual discipline you and your spouse will ever share.

I deeply desire a prayer life with my wife that is consistent, so I decided to try going through Dennis’s 30-day prayer journey. My wife and I committed to each other to work through it together. Below I have included some of my thoughts while going through the devotional with my wife, after which I have listed a few tips I learned through the 30-day journey.

Day 1: We actually started the prayer journey with an argument. I was nervous about starting and sabotaged the time by accusing her of feeling uncomfortable with praying in front of me. It didn’t help that she made a few comments about how many times we have tried to pray consistently together but have never gotten very far. It was weird. In spite of it, we pushed forward and made it through the first day. I wouldn’t describe this day as a spiritual victory, but at least we got started.

Day 5: Hearing each other pray out loud is getting more comfortable. Our prayer is beginning to feel and sound more authentic rather than manufactured. I’ve always felt we have a great marriage, but we discovered a depth that has never been present. Tonight we were able to voice some of our personal struggles with infertility in a way that has never happened before. Five days in a row!

Days 9 and 10: These days held our biggest challenge thus far. I left town for work and was gone for two days, working long hours. We were finally able to talk and pray on the phone with each other around 10:30 the first night. The next evening we were able to pray together on the phone earlier. Emily read the devotional and I listened over the phone. This was a great accomplishment because previously in our marriage, distance between us usually resulted in a lack of intimate talk and prayer. We are excited for the oneness habits we are building.

Day 17: Not going to lie. We almost missed this day. I left early in the afternoon with some friends to watch a basketball game and was gone the rest of the night. Emily and I had completely forgotten to plan our prayer time. Fortunately, the Lord used our 2-year-old son to remind us. About 10 minutes before I left, he came walking out of our room with our journal. He told us that he was going to read to us. We stopped right there, read the devotional, and prayed together thanking the Lord for the reminder through our son.

Day 18: Going to bed tonight, my mind was preoccupied with watching the weather reports about a string of storms spawning tornadoes coming through our area. Emily gently reminded me of our need to pray together and opened the devotional to read. She then led us in prayer. Afterward, she turned and fell asleep; I continued to keep an eye on the severity of the storms headed our way. I am thankful for the selfless team effort my wife exemplified. I am once again reminded of the beauty of a marriage where both people are attempting to pursue Christ together. Sometimes there is need for one person to persevere when the other slacks. Thank you, Lord, for my wife.

Day 30: We have completed the 30-day prayer devotional. Through the last 10 days of the journal we missed reading the book each day, but we found ourselves disciplined to spend the time praying together even without the devotional. One of the final prayer points from this final day was, “Thank God for helping you establish the pattern of praying together regularly.” This journey has benefited us by helping us establish regular prayer together each day. The habit has been set. I am thankful to the Lord for my wife, the one with whom I can pray each day.

Here are some tips I learned through the prayer journey with Two Hearts Praying as One, in no particular order:

  1. As men, we are called to lead in our marriage. Although every marriage relationship looks a little different, men need to be the ones to lead their family by example, in encouragement, and in prayer.
  2. Find the time of day that works best for you. This could look different for each couple.
  3. Read through Scripture and pray the passage out loud. This builds oneness with each other and with God’s Word.
  4. Build oneness through holding hands during your prayer.
  5. Spend enough time talking about joys, fears, problems, and accomplishments in life before you pray. Make sure you are on the same page with your wife.
  6. It’s okay to use help for your routine. Two Hearts Praying as One was great for us. It forced us into a normal routine with biblically-centered conversation before we went before the throne. It is okay to pray together without the aid of a prayer journal or devotional, but every once in a while it is helpful to use the aid.
  7. Don’t forget to whom you are talking. It helps me to picture myself bowing before the throne with Jesus’ hand on my shoulder as we talk to God seated on the throne.
  8. Pray even when in disagreement. Usually men just need to admit their pride and step away from the argument. This is an opportunity to humble yourself, apologize, demonstrate forgiveness, and be the leader.
  9. Having your own personal, thriving relationship with Jesus is crucial to leading your wife in prayer. That’s just part of leadership.
  10. When you miss a day, just accept God’s grace anew, seek forgiveness, and start again. There’s no shame in this game.

If you’d like to make a habit of praying with your spouse but need help getting started, why not join us for FamilyLife’s Oneness Prayer Challenge? We’ll deliver Scripture and prayer prompts to your inbox or your phone for 30 days for you and your spouse to go through together. Sign up today!

Copyright © 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

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Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Tips for Making your Relationship Last (Tip #3)

Strengthening your marriage relationship does not have to be complicated or expensive. Throwing money at problems rarely brings the desired result. For instance, getting counseling just to say that you are “in counseling” is not going to save your marriage or solve any problems. You must do the work – not just when times are bad, but along the way to keep the relationship alive and moving forward in health.

The next few posts will consist of a few tips to keep your relationships going strong.

[TIP #3] Talk about more than the chores

Talking is important and required for communication to happen.  (not rocket science, huh?)  Just talking, however,  is not necessarily equivalent to communicating.

Most couples think they are communicating when they are merely delegating responsibilities necessary to take care of their household.

Being cordial and polite to one another in conversation is a good idea and helpful to do, but it cannot be the only type of talking between the two of you.  What you talk about is just, if not more, important than how you talk to one another.  Couples who are the most content in their relationship spend time discussing their fears, their hopes, and their dreams.  These couples are doing better because they are using verbal communication to learn one another more intimately.

Talking about “who you are” as individuals and “who you are” as a couple helps spouses understand themselves and their partners better.  Through doing this, you can define your family’s purpose and mission in life – which brings a sense of “us” that may have been lacking.  Another benefit of this type of communication is that it creates a “team” feeling in the couple as they face life together.

According to an article on the Gottman relationship blog entitled “Create Shared Meaning with a Culture Covenant”, writing a “culture covenant” (written list of values as a couple and family) is among the most effective ways to create shared meaning in a marriage.  The authors, David and Constantino Khalaf, define family culture as “the unspoken rules and ways of interacting with each other that shape interpersonal dynamics.”

“All families and couples have a culture, whether or not it is intentionally crafted.” – David and Constantino Khalaf

Below is a sample of the covenant tents listed in the article:

  • We value vulnerability. It’s okay to express the full range of emotions.
  • We help each other laugh at least once a day. And we help each other cry—if it seems we’re bottling something up—as needed.
  • We acknowledge that personal growth means change, and we never want to stop getting to know each other.
  • We want to serve others. We pour into our relationship so that we have the energy to pour out.
  • We yield to each other. No one gets the final say all the time.

-To read the entire article, click here- 

Knowing what legacy you want to leave before you even have children will guarantee you pass on what you intend.  But don’t worry… if you have children already, it is never too late to instill purpose in your marriage and in your children.  If your children have already left the home, focus on your grandchildren or on how you can best help your kids succeed in life.  Whatever the case may be for you, defining “who you are” as a couple and dreaming together will only bring you closer to the relational and emotional intimacy you are seeking.


Some of the ideas from this post came from this article:

Healing your Marriage, Recovery Corner

How Can My Counselor Get My Husband To Repent?

Excellent article by Leslie Vernick.  This is a common theme in couples counseling, especially in those couples whom I work with where pornography or infidelity is an issue.  Please read the entire article, it is worth the time…


Question: My husband and I have been separated for 2 months now. How can our marital counselor start my husband down a road of true repentance? What are the actionable steps he needs to take?

Answer: This is probably one of the most frequent types of questions that I receive from women desperate to change their husband. “How can I or someone else, get my spouse down the road of repentance?”

Friend, that is not yours or anyone else’s work to do. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict someone and the one who has sinned must take the steps of repentance.

If it were possible for another person to get someone to take the steps of true repentance, we would think Jesus would be our role model. Yet, we see during the Last Supper, Jesus showed his disciples, including Judas, the full extent of his love. He knew Judas was about to betray him, told him he knew he was going to do it, and yet, Judas did not repent. He did not turn away from what he was about to do (John 13).

A Biblical example of someone who did display some of the fruit of true repentance was Zacchaeus (Luke 19). Zacchaeus was the chief tax collector. He loved money and had no problem extorting his fellow Jews for more tax money than was owed to fill up his own coffers. He is described as a very rich, but unpopular man.

When Jesus invited himself to Zacchaeus’ house for lunch that day, something in this man’s heart changed. We hear it when he says, “Lord, I will give half my wealth to the poor and if I have cheated people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much.” These action steps indicate that Zacchaeus’ heart had been changed. He no longer loved his money the most anymore. He loved Jesus. We can see what happened by the way he handled his money and his desire to make restitution to those he took advantage of.

True repentance cannot be coerced or taught. If your husband is genuinely repentant, then he already has started down the path and with accountability and help he can make real changes. If he hasn’t repented yet, no one can create the steps that will take him there. Consequences may open his eyes to the results of his sin, but he still must personally change directions (which is the definition of repentance).

So I’m going to answer another question you didn’t ask. What does genuine or true repentance look like if it’s indeed happening? We all know people who say they have repented but there is no fruit or evidence of that reality in their lives.

Paul discusses this process in Ephesians 4 when he describes the changes that genuine repentance brings. He says, “throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.” And then he goes into specific situations.

For example, he says, “If you are a thief, quit stealing.” That is the first evidence of a change. The person STOPS doing what he was doing that was damaging to him or to you or to your relationship. He puts it off.

Secondly, Paul tells the thief something else. He goes on and says, “Instead, use your hands for good hard work.” You see a thief’s heart is one that takes what he wants with no regard for the people he harms. Now he is to take responsibility for his own needs by working instead of stealing from others.

Paul doesn’t stop there. He adds something else. He says, “Then give generously to others in need.” You see Paul says that transformation doesn’t just occur in outward actions, but in inward motives. The thief was to be transformed inwardly from a taker to a giver.

So if we take this model, of course, we want to see the sinful behavior stopped. We want to see responsibility assumed for one’s self, and we want to see a character transformation and new behaviors begin to develop.

Now we know this transformation is a process. It doesn’t occur in a moment. But what “evidence” do we see over time that this is happening?  What “fruits”are we looking for? Here are some things I look for without making a specific checklist.

  1. We see the person desiring to gain greater self-awareness. He begins to take responsibility for himself and asked himself why do I do what I do – without blaming other people or external situations for his own actions or feelings.  As he does this he begins to “put off” or stop himself from reacting or doing what he’s always done in the past. He self-corrects and gains self-control (one of the fruits of the Spirit).

2. We see him now open and willing to receive feedback from others. For example, when you notice he ’s slipping into some old behaviors, you can kindly tell him and he’s grateful, rather than angry or resentful.  It’s still up to him to “put off” those old behaviors, but he’s consistently practicing.

3. We see him willing to be accountable to a small group of trusted men to help him make the changes to his life he desires to make. Major life change never happens without accountability and support. How could Paul encourage the thief? Because he knew him. He understood what was happening in his heart and life and therefore he could speak into it.

So is your husband actively putting off the old thinking and habits and learning to respond in new ways by putting on new ways of thinking, feeling and behaving?

Are you observing a consistent change in his character as he now displays more humility instead of pride? Is there gratitude rather than entitlement, diligence rather than laziness, and compassion for others rather than impatience and anger? Is he becoming more God-centered rather than continuing to be self-centered and self-focused?  Is he willing to take responsibility for the pain he’s caused and no longer expects amnesty, but rather he is looking to make amends to those he’s harmed?

There is no exact list but you do want to see this kind of progression both internally and externally so that you are seeing the FRUIT of genuine repentance. Click To Tweet

Friends, when you have seen genuine repentance, what are some of the fruit you have noticed coming forth from a person?  

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Healthy Marriages, Relationship Tips

Tips for Making your Relationship Last (Tip #2)

Strengthening your marriage relationship does not have to be complicated or expensive. Throwing money at problems rarely brings the desired result. For instance, getting counseling just to say that you are “in counseling” is not going to save your marriage or solve any problems. You must do the work – not just when times are bad, but along the way to keep the relationship alive and moving forward in health.

The next few posts will consist of a few tips to keep your relationships going strong.

[TIP #2] Fight Fairly.

Knowing how to fight is just as important as knowing how to resolve conflict.  When fighting with your spouse (and yes, this is normal behavior for married people) you need to be aware of why your are fighting.  If your goal, in the fight, is to win – you have already lost.  The goal in fighting should be to understand one another and not necessarily to agree.  It is okay to disagree in marriage.  At times you will have to agree to disagree on certain specific topics.

You do not need to agree on everything to have a fulfilling and happy marriage.

A common misconception is that a person must “agree” with your viewpoint in order to “understand” you.  This belief is steeped in bad thought.  Why do I need to agree with someone to understand them?  Consider this example:  John is convinced that coffee should be consumed black, without cream or sweetener.  Susie, on the other hand, doggedly asserts that “coffee is just not coffee without cream and sugar.”  Which one is right?  Which one is wrong?

Surprisingly, the answer is both are right and both are wrong.  In this example, we are discussing preferences – not moral truths.  [Telling the truth vs. lies, for example].  If a person only feels affirmed and “heard” if another person “agrees” with their point of view; then that person will likely feel rejected by anyone who disagrees with them – potentially about anything.

Yes, this is an extreme example, but purposefully so.  This dynamic exists in all relationships, and is the subject matter of many a discussion in my work with couples.  In our attempt to persuade our partner to our point of view, we may stoop to name calling and the hurling of insults to “convince” them of our “rightness.”  In the end, we are merely submitting to our own pride and carnal natures when we allow this to happen.

How can this be dynamic be avoided or minimized in our relationships?  Here is one strategy:

Sit down with your significant other and devise your “rules of war.”  Talk about what can and cannot be said in a disagreement.  Literally, devise your “rules for fair fighting,” and commit to following them.  Below is a sample list of “rules for fair fighting.”

  1. No name calling

  2. No interrupting

  3. No blaming or making accusations

  4. No cussing

  5. No yelling

  6. No sarcasm or “witty” insults

  7. No defending of your actions

  8. No generalizations (“you always…”  or “you never…”)

  9. No physical, emotional, or verbal intimidating gestures/actions/threats

  10. No walking out without rescheduling a time to “finish” or follow up on the argument


According to John Gottman, PhD, and founder of the Gottman Institute, 69% of conflict in marriage goes unresolved.  It is not whether or not couples have conflict that is important; rather, it is how they handle conflict that determines the quality of their relationships.

The people who have stable, happy relationships are much gentler with one another than people who have unhappy relationships or break up.” – John Gottman

Ephesians 4:31-32 speaks to how we should treat one another in relationships:

31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Start here: Choose to treat your spouse better than you want to be treated.  Approach them with love and tenderness in all conversations; even the “loud” ones.

A great resource to consider in learning how to covey love to your spouse is the classic from Gary Chapman: The Five Love Languages.  His website offers a free version of the assessment to determine your spouses and your love language.

The 5 Love Languages


Some of the ideas from this post came from this article: