But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your mind and in your heart so that you can do it.
As a child, I remembering this saying all to well—Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. We all know too well the power of words. Words can either encourage or words can tear down. All too often, we humans use words to hurt others and to talk down to ourselves. Words are powerful and this is why the bible tells us that the power of life and death is in the tongue (Proverbs 18:21). What we speak out is a reflection of our heart. With the tongue, we bless the Lord and Father but curse our fellow-man who have been made in His very image. Out of the same mouth comes blessing and cursing and this should not be so (James 3:9-10).
Dr. Daniel Amen and Dr. Caroline Leaf have studied the brain for many years. They too have seen the effects of words (thoughts) on the brain. Negative thoughts usually come out of our mouth as negative words which affect us internally and externally. Every thought we have produces a chemical that has an effect on the brain and the body. Negative thoughts produce chemicals that cause negative effects to our body such as slower thought processes, problems with memory, heart racing, constipation, headaches, muscle tension, chest pain, vomiting, and diarrhea. Over time these negative thoughts cause the tree-like neurons of the brain to be dingy and dark-looking. Dr. Amen has found through his study of the brain that negative thoughts contribute to cerebellar dysfunction causing balance instability. Changing our thought process from a negative one to a positive faith-based one actually changes the neurons of the brain back to a tree-like state where information flows freely from one area to the other. Our thoughts matter!
We do not have to think or meditate on every thought that pops into our head. We can choose our thoughts and what we meditate on. It is our choice. We can choose to think on things that produce fear and anxiety or we can choose to think on things that bring peace. God gave us free will. We can choose life or death with our thoughts and words. We can choose to meditate on bad things happening in the future or we can believe what God has said, which is “he knows the plans he has for us and it is to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future”. If you look back over your life at all the things you have worried about, I bet you would find the things you worried about did not come true. By worrying, you have missed out on the joy you could have had that day. Sad but true. So what are we to do? How do we fight the battle of our thoughts?
We must surrender our thoughts or take them captive and lead them to obedience of Christ. We must be willing to believe God and His Word over every lie of the enemy. Our thoughts lie. I may believe I am worthless, but the Word of God says that I was fearfully and wonderfully made. A lie is a stronghold or belief that does not line up with the Word of God. A stronghold is torn down by believing the Word of God (Jeremiah 23:29–Is not My word like a fire (that consumes all that cannot endure the test),” says the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks the (most stubborn) rock (in pieces)? Our weapons are not of this world but have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretense that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:4-5). Taking something captive is an aggressive move not passive. We are in a battle!
Proverbs 16:24 Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the mind and healing to the body. Another bible translation of Proverbs 16:24, says that pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. The battle is in our minds and choosing what we are thinking on is so important. I like what Dr. Amen has developed as a tool to help us deal with these Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTs. He says we must learn to kill the ANTs that are causing us anxiety and often times depression. He gives examples of different types of Automatic Negative Thoughts or ANTs–Fortune telling, Mind Reading, Guilt Beatings, Blame, and Labeling (www.amenclinics.com/blog/number-one-habit-develop-order-feel-positive/).
Fortune telling is the thought pattern that predicts the worst or always thinks something bad is going to happen. Mind reading is the thought pattern that you know what someone else is thinking. This is a very common practice and a major cause of why relationships get into trouble. Guilt beatings or condemning thoughts are thoughts that shame us. They are thoughts like I should, ought or must. Blame is blaming someone else for your problem or could be blaming yourself for everything. Both make you a victim unable to change your situation. Labeling is the thought process of thinking of ourselves or others in a negative way. Remember words do hurt.
Dr. Amen recommends writing down the negative thoughts and begin to talk back to them. This is exactly what Jesus did in the desert when the devil came to tempt Him. He spoke back to the devil the Word of God. Killing the ANTs is what I believe is taking captive the thoughts that cause us to be anxious, angry, sad, or depressed. It is not true that we can’t control our thoughts. We can disciple our minds to think differently with the help of the Holy Spirit and by doing so be transformed by the renewing of our minds. It is a lie from Satan that we can’t shut off our minds. We can choose our thoughts and think on things that are good. Dr. Amen recommends asking ourselves 4 questions that he learned through his friend Katie Byron in her book called Loving What Is. Here are the 4 questions:
“Is this thought true?
Can I absolutely know that it is true?
How do I react when I think that thought?
How would I feel is I did not have this thought? Or how would I feel if I didn’t have the thought?”
I will add another question:
Does this thought line up with the Word of God?
The Word of God is active and alive and is mighty in breaking down strongholds. We are not without help. Believer’s in Christ have the help of the Holy Spirit who leads us into all truth. The fruit of the Holy Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit so we can choose our thoughts and discipline our minds to think differently. The key is being willing to yield to the help of the Holy Spirit and a desire to know God. (After all) the Kingdom of God is not a matter of (getting the) food and drink(one likes), but instead it is righteousness ( that state which makes a person acceptable to God, and (heart) peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17). I don’t know about you but I want peace in my mind, heart, and body. I chose to believe the Word of God and my life has been transformed from a fearful and worried person to one who has complete peace knowing that Her Heavenly Father is faithful and good. The road to health begins in the mind. A transformed mind is a transformed life!