Where Are You Living?

Are you living mostly in the past, the present or the future? When I was asked this question, I realized that I had never thought about it or taken the time to analyze where my thoughts were focused most of the time. I realized for the first time that I spent much of my time replaying things from the past, especially at night before going to sleep. I would re-live events from that day or from days before. I also realized I spent a lot of my time worrying about the future, and I would come up with all kinds of “what ifs.” I spent the least amount of my thinking time enjoying the present. I could enjoy the present for a moment, but then into my mind would pop something someone had done to me that was hurtful, and I would run with it. My thoughts would be consumed by those hurtful memories, and when I would finally catch myself, I would have to consciously work my way out of the dark place to regain my peace of mind.

We live our lives in our minds, first with our thoughts, then living out what we are thinking. Isaiah 26: 3 says, “You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind {both its inclination and its character} is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You.” (Amplified Version) There are so many things that go on in any given day for most people. Our lives are so busy. Our society has us pushed to our physical and mental limits. It’s difficult to keep our minds on God with so many other things demanding our attention.

When it comes to thinking about our future, many of us worry about what may be ahead, especially in times of economic turmoil like today. It’s easy to live in fear. But Jeremiah 29:11 gives us this promise from God: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (New King James) Do you know that we can trust God even in a recession? We can rest on what His word teaches us instead of what the world tells us to believe. In Matthew 6:25 and 30-33, Jesus Himself speaks to us: “Therefore I tell you, stop being perpetually uneasy (anxious and worried) about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink; or about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life greater {in quality} than food, and the body {far above and more excellent} than clothing? But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and green and tomorrow is tossed into the furnace, will He not much more surely clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry and be anxious, saying, what are we going to have to eat? Or, what are we going to have to drink? Or, what are we going to have to wear? For the Gentiles (heathen) wish for and crave and diligently seek all these things, and your heavenly Father knows well that you need them all. But seek (aim at and strive after) first of all His Kingdom and His righteousness (His way of doing and being right) and then all these things taken together will be given you besides.” (Amplified Version)

For some people, it is difficult to live in the present because the present is so miserable. Perhaps you are facing health issues, or financial challenges, or problems in a relationship, or any of the countless trials we face. I know from personal experience how hopeless life can seem at times. But I have learned that our attitude plays an important role in overcoming times of difficulty. Maintaining a positive outlook and attitude helps us to maintain our faith in the Lord as He helps us make it through the trial. I have good friends who encourage me when I have a bad attitude, and I try to do the same for them. It’s important to have a good support group around us. But in tough times it definitely takes determination and the power of the Holy Spirit to help us be calm and positive. It is imperative that we keep our eyes and minds meditating on God’s Word for support and help.

There are times when I struggle to stay in peace. I quote the scriptures but quickly fall out of peace, then feel guilty because I couldn’t get the Word to work for me. “I must be doing something wrong,” I think, because I know God’s word does not return void, and it is powerful to accomplish much for me. Well, I learned some interesting things from Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian whose specialty is the human brain. In her book, Who Switched Off My Brain? Controlling Toxic Thoughts and Emotions, she describes the anatomy of a thought and the influence it has over emotions and attitudes. Understanding how this all works helps us learn to control and change our thought life so that we can change our resulting behaviors. Dr. Caroline says, “Don’t let a thought come into your mind without recognizing if it’s a good thought or a bad thought. If it’s a bad thought, throw it out and replace this with a good thought.” For years I would apply the scripture, “Take captive every thought that exalts itself above the knowledge of God,” but I wasn’t getting results until I realized that the negative thought that I threw out must be replaced with something positive. It is important to know that we really can and must control what comes into our minds.

I have also learned that traumatic experiences can produce powerful holds on our mind and adverse reactions in our body because the mind is held up or bound up by the traumatic experience. A powerful hold takes time and help from others to break free of, but above all we must seek the Lord’s help and face the matter so we can come to live in freedom and victory. The trauma will keep you living in the past and will cause you to be fearful of the future, preventing you from enjoying the present, today, now, which God intends for us to experience and enjoy. When we fail to live in the present, we miss opportunities to impact those around us who may need our encouragement and support.

I wish I had heard Dr. Caroline Leaf’s message years ago. In fact, it would be great for parents to study, learn and teach to their young children and teens, and it would also be a great Home School learning project. I want to end by quoting from Dr. Caroline’s book: “Behavior starts with a thought. Thoughts stimulate emotions, which then result in attitude, and finally produce behavior.” I wish every believer would get a copy of Dr. Caroline’s book and DVD. She gives a clear biblical perspective on the mind and thoughts and how our thoughts affect us emotionally, spiritually and physically. I highly recommend getting her materials. You will never think the same again. (www.drleaf.net)

Try discovering where you live your life the most; in the past, the present or the future. In Matthew 6:35 our Lord Jesus Christ teaches us, “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” (New American Standard) If you’re not living mostly in the present, begin today to make the necessary mental and spiritual adjustments.

Let’s pray:

Dear Father,

In the daily challenges of life, we need Your help and understanding to know what our part is in changing our life and perspectives. Thank you, Father, that You created such an amazing part of us, the human brain, and that You care about what we are thinking. Help us to glorify You in our thoughts and in our actions, this day and every day.

In Jesus’ Precious Name,

Amen

2 Comments on “Where Are You Living?”

  1. tera  |  January 13, 2009 7:54 am

    wow i am so excited to read and get some of dr.caroline’s materials.I have struggled in this area for sometime now and would love a real good understanding on what’s really going on inside of me.when we know we can take the necessary moves to change..thank you lord for introducing me to this site…..god bless everyone tera canada

  2. fred scutt  |  March 14, 2009 5:15 am

    have benefited greatly from reading caroline leafs book ,who swithed off my brain and would recommend it to anyone interested in controlling their thought life.
    you can also watch two sessions with joyce meyer and dr caroline on http://www.joyce meyer.org giving more understanding of how our thougt life affects us and our general well being


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