Friday, December 2, 2022

Devotionals for the Heart: How to free your mind from negative thoughts

Captive Thoughts
A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson

“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 NIV

My mother died 22 years ago, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Yesterday, while driving, I realized that I was descending into a grief spiral and depression. I didn’t want to go there. I started thinking of ways to stop the spiral. My brain searched for ways to meet the command I had given it.

Soon, four Bible verses and some literary quotes blazed into my mind.

The first one was Proverbs 23:7 (KJV). It says, “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” So many of our negative perspectives are like jails and our minds are prisoners of our thoughts.

A second verse that quickly pierced my thought stream was 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV). 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.”

We can fight with and win release from stinking thinking.

The third arrow of light that pierced the enveloping darkness around me was written by Napoleon Hill in his book Think and Grow Rich. He said, “The individual must control his deepest perceptions of himself lest he be overwhelmed by the forces of negativism and defeat in those around him.”

My soul, defying the gravitational pull of despair, began to soar again.

The point here is that God has given us strong minds. Almost everyone experiences fleeting thoughts of fear, malice, insufficiency and/or ideas that are incongruent with the bedrock principles that inform and guide our lives. Those thoughts are fleeting because they just don’t fit. Those that linger and become delusions or fantasies must be handled much more aggressively. 

They must be combatted, vigorously.

Reasoning and discussion will not suffice. Like weeds in a garden, those thoughts must be met with destructive intent. The emotional constructs that underlie our lusts and weaknesses must meet the wrecking balls of faith, conviction and submission. The deconstruction of sinful thoughts is combat. If there are survivors, they must become captors, prisoners of war. They must be confined, reeducated and redirected. We do this by our knowledge of Christ, His will and His word.

The fourth beacon of light God brought to my memory was 2 Timothy 1:7 (NIV), “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.” In preparation for those inevitably challenging moments, we must fill our memories with positivity, optimism and words of assurance.

Courage is not the absence of fear. It is the willingness to persevere with mission focus, even in the face of fear. Such as these examples from the Bible: Noah built a ship before it had ever rained. Moses faced the most formidable king and army of his era with a simple wooden staff. Joshua led his army with the bold assurance from God that he would not fail. David’s flaws and sins were evident to his entire kingdom, yet his humility and ultimate submission to God became his life plan and legacy. He was a man after God’s own heart. 

Whether you are a man, woman, boy or girl, you too can achieve, overcome, thrive and become legendary in your sphere of influence. A spark, a match, a flame, a flashlight or torch of faith and optimism can alter the flow of depression, negativity and self-doubt.

Please accept two more powerful cliches that helped me. Both are from Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the holocaust in Germany. In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, he said, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves…Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

You still have the power of choice. Choose life!

Let’s Pray:

Dear God,

Please bless the people reading these words today. Bless them with spiritual faith and fiber. Let Your Light shine into their darkness and cause their souls to soar, just like you did for me. If they are happy and already soaring, bless them with an opportunity to let the light that you have loaned to them, shine into someone else’s life.

In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.

Song of Reflection: “Choose Life” by Big Tent Revival. Listen to this song here.

Author Bio:

Chaplain Paul Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.

Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.

He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.

You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address,

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