November - December 2019

Written by Norm Henry
From his column A Sound Mind

As a psychologist, I have been privileged to offer help to many persons with amazing stories, in difficult situations, and (some) with really confused thinking. If I was going to assist them, I needed to make sure my own mind was sound! Friends often asked, “How can you listen to all these problems each day?” My typical answer was, “I love helping people.” And it helps to really love the people to whom you minister. But listening to unhealthy thinking can impact our own thoughts. Many voices in our world reflect unsound, unhealthy beliefs, so here is a basic principle to keep in mind: who we listen to and what we read or watch impact the way we think. We are surrounded by voices seeking to direct our thinking in ways that may be far different from what God wants us to believe and do. So how do we hold onto healthy thought patterns?

Like others, I have studied and taught and preached God’s Word, even memorized some, and the Living Word certainly lives in me. Most of us know much of His Word and have knowledge about it, so this might sound ridiculously simple, but I have learned that I need to live in His Word to maintain a sound mind. I have needed to soak in His written Word until I hear from the “One who is truth.” I need His wisdom daily. So I seek to let Him speak through His Word. His thoughts are higher than our thoughts.

Several years ago, I was challenged to think of a life verse that would reflect the core of my heart. So God brought to mind a simple truth, “How great is the love the father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (I Jn. 3:1). God has used this simple scripture about His love to establish healthy thoughts about my relationship with Him. The result? A wonderful amazing journey together. My love for Him is my response to His love for me.

This is more than just letting God direct my life. It is a relationship.

But then came another life verse. “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). God is in loving control of me. And when I am not sure what I think, I typically seek His help. It's important to know what God thinks. Listening to Him through the Scriptures allows me to be quiet so I can hear. He often needs to correct my thinking.

This is more than just letting God direct my life, it is strengthening a relationship. So, I added another life verse: “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:10). I want to know Him more! Relationships can always grow more intimate. And for the amazing privilege of fellowship with Him, I am willing to share in His suffering. I still am not sure I understand fully what becoming like Christ in His death means, but I am committed to following Him—even into suffering. And I do believe in the resurrection!

At this point, I thought I was done with life verses, but helping people can be difficult, maybe even frustrating. So I added number four: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2). Just thinking about the “joy set before Him” encourages me, but keeping my focus on Him is critical for healthy living. Looking at others too much can cause us to lose direction.

Okay, one last life verse: “And we who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). This verse gives me hope that the Lord will continue to change me more and more into His image. I really want to be more like Him.

So, my hope is that rather than allowing the messages or situations around you to affect your thinking, you will find peace, direction, and become more like our Savior as you “Let the message of Christ dwell in you richly.”

All scriptures NIV.

Dr. Norm Henry has served the Church of the Nazarene in numerous capacities as both psychologist and minister.

 

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