Discover how to be free from being controlled by those ugly emotions like depression, anger, worry, condemnation, doubt, and confusion! Derek Wilder releases a study guide that will help build your knowledge of the Word while teaching you to apply the principles directly to your thought life. With dozens of thought-provoking questions you will discover truths from God's Word that breathes freedom into your life. Using a 5 lesson format this guide is great Bible study groups, devotional time and Sunday school classes. The study guide provides space for you to answer each question, beneficial for individual or group study. Changing Your Mind Study Guide includes: (1) Dozens of life giving questions (2) Answers in the back to check your work individually or utilize as a facilitator’s guide (3) FREE access to the Changing Your Mind Video Series and (4) Transcripts of each of the videos for your convenience. Let Derek show you how you can take control of your thoughts and emotions now!
Chapter 1: What's on the Inside
A 13 year Navy Seal veteran discovers that who he really is has nothing to do with what’s on the outside of his uniform, but “whose on the inside” that counts!
Chapter 2: Saber Rattling
A high school bully threatens the use of power while his victim learns how to stand up for himself and not walk in fear of what “might happen” anymore.
Chapter 3: Flaming Arrows
The enemy loves to lob his invisible “flaming arrows” at us by creating unhealthy emotions like worry, doubt or fear which lead to unhealthy thoughts and actions. Learn how to dowse those flaming arrows with the Truth of God’s Word so you can experience a life of true Freedom!
Chapter 4: What Cooks the Fish
From the icy waters off the Alaskan Coast to the intense heat of rugged Pennsylvania steel mills, we’ll learn how fire transforms not only raw fish or scrap metal into something good for us, but how God Word does the same thing in our lives.
Chapter 5: Misbehaving Boys
This chapter helps us get rid of the “should” statements we put on each other and helps us understand the underlying reasons others act the way they do, therefore creating an environment of empathy and compassion instead of condemnation.
Matthew 28:18 (NIV) gives us a very clear mission statement. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
In this process of making disciples, in the last decade or so, I’ve spent trying to figure out “what does that mean”? What, exactly, does that mean to grow someone up in Christ? A lot of you have been in church all your life, and have been down the path of knowing that when you get saved there are some things you do, and you ask: “how do you do that, how do you make disciples?” What kind of things do we hear in church about how to make disciples? Let’s list a few…
After you get baptized, then what?
- Go to Sunday School class
- Go to church
- Read the Bible
We’ve heard these for years, haven’t we? And yet an interesting thing occurs—because some of you have done all this. You go to church every week, pray, read the Bible, but sometimes nothing really happens.
Some of you know people who go to church, pray, and read the Bible, and you know there’s been an amazing transformation in their life. But then you know other people who go to church, pray, and read the Bible, and yet you really don’t see much transformation at all. In fact you really don’t see much difference in them now compared to before they were a Christian. Would you agree with that?
So, what’s the difference? Jesus, in the book of Luke gives us a glimpse of what that difference might be. So, we’re going to turn to Luke, chapter six, in The Message.
The Message is a paraphrased version of the Bible, but I love how it lays it out here what Jesus said.
Luke 6:43-45 says that you don’t get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree. The health of the apple tells the health of the tree. You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It’s who you are, not what you say and do that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.
A few years ago I grasped the part that says; “It’s who you are, not what you say and do that counts,” and I thought: that is a very different approach to a “church life” where we have this concept that says, “It is what I do that counts.” I thought that everything about religion was about what I do. In Sunday school class, it seemed like that’s what was taught to me: to do right and not to do wrong. And yet we hear Jesus saying, “No, wait…it’s different than that.”
It’s kind of like a tree, and you have these apples, and the health of these apples tell you about the health of the tree. In other words, what’s inside the tree creates the fruit of that tree, or what comes out of the tree. He’s not talking about the tree; he’s talking about our lives; so what does he mean by that? So what does he mean when he says, “The inside of the tree brims over into these apples?” What is the tree?
So, what’s inside of us? What is our core? Let’s think about exactly what is inside of our self. What are the things inside of ourselves that we deal with on a daily basis?
Our thoughts, our emotions, our feelings, and our spirit. Our spirit is what is going on to Heaven someday. So, we get this glimpse again of what Jesus is talking about. He’s saying; “It’s not what you say and do that counts; it’s this stuff that’s inside of you that counts.” And then Jesus says that it “brims over.” I love that. It brims over into the apples, and what are apples? They’re fruit. And what is the fruit? Our actions. In Luke 6, it says that your “true being brims over into your true words and deeds.”
You see, religion for a long time has been about what we “do.” Jesus came and said it isn’t about the “do,” it’s about “being.”
But sometimes it seems like my feelings come immediately. In other words…there’s not a thought, they just “burst into me.” Have you ever felt like they just “burst into you?” Most of us have spent our life not really knowing the difference, and it does feel like that at times.
Let’s say, for instance, that you have a one-year-old boy at home. It’s about 10:30 or 11:00 p.m. at night, and you’re exhausted. You have a little boy and you’ve finally gotten him to bed, so you can finally have a few minutes of rest and relaxation before you go to bed. For me it's ESPN; for you it’s probably something else. So, you finally get to sit down on the couch, and now your one-year-old boy comes walking out of his room towards you. At that moment, what are you thinking?
(Responses from the crowd are next to the puzzle pieces)
Thought: What is your thought?
- Why is he up? He should be in bed.
- What’s it going to take to get you to stay in bed?
Emotion: Now, what are you feeling at this point?
Action: What do you do? (Not what my dad did; he was a military guy who raised me 30 some years ago. You can probably guess what my dad did.)
- You pick him up and take him back to bed.
- You tell him; “Stay in bed.”
We all know what a paddle looks like, from an early age, right?
Now, let’s say the exact same thing happens: you’re exhausted, sitting on the couch, and this little boy walks out…and there is only one difference. This is the first time you’ve ever seen your little boy walk. His first steps! Now, what are you thinking?
- Wow, he can walk!
What are you feeling?
What do you do? (your action)
- Hug him, get out the camera and videotape.
Was it the boy who did something different? No, both nights he did the exact same thing.
But what caused this change in action? What caused this change in feeling? Only one thing;
You decided to think something different, didn’t you? Your thought changed, and when the thought changed, the feeling changed, and when the feeling changed, the action changed.
So now the question is this: “Where in the world do those thoughts come from?” We have these thoughts that come at us every day, and we get to choose where we head with them. The stimuli occur, but where do the thoughts originate from?
My daughter, Kylene, came into my bedroom pretty late one night. I was in bed and when she came in she was crying.
She walked in, had tears coming down her face, and so I asked, “Kylene, what’s wrong?”
And she replied; “I can’t go to sleep!”
So I said; “What are you thinking?”
“Dad, I’m worried about my swim meet this weekend, and I’ve got a history test tomorrow, and I think my friend, Kristi, doesn’t like me anymore. I just can’t go to sleep.”
So we talked about those things for a while, and wrote a few of them down, and began to talk through them. After that she went back to bed, and she went to sleep in about ten minutes.
Has anyone here ever had that happen? You’re tired, you’re exhausted, but it’s ten or eleven o’clock at night and you can’t go to sleep! You wonder, what is up with that? It’s like all these thoughts are coming into your head and attacking you, and you can’t get rid of them. Anybody been there? Okay, well that’s what Kylene was going through. So here we were at breakfast the next morning and I asked her a simple question, “Where did those thoughts come from?”
Now, it’s important to know how an eleven-year-old’s mind works. There is a normal answer that comes out of an eleven-year-old when you ask a question like that.
“I don’t know,” Kylene replied.
Some of us have had eleven-year-olds around us before.
So I said, “Let’s just make up some things. Were you trying to create those thoughts in your head?”
And Kylene answered, “No, I was trying to get rid of those thoughts; I wasn’t trying to create them.”
So then I asked, “Well then, what about God?”
“Dad, why would God give me those thoughts? Why would God put thoughts like that in my head and make me feel so bad?”
So I said, “Okay, Kylene, then who’s left?”
Her comment was interesting. She said, “Well, if you’re trying to tell me that it’s Satan, you’re going to have to show me that in your Bible.”
So I did. We turned to Ephesians 6:15-16: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the power, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Isn’t that kind of what it feels like? Let’s say you draw a circle on a paper with a little smiley face on it, and let’s say that you now draw some arrows aiming at the head on the paper. Isn’t that what it feels like at ten or eleven o’clock at night when the worry or concern, or fear comes in? Isn’t that what it’s like? Ephesians tells us it’s a battle between darkness and light. Some of us have read novels where there’s this demon in the corner, but maybe that’s not what it really is. Maybe the battle, this very real spiritual battle, is right there in our mind. It’s like the enemy is shooting arrows at our brain. We’re not wanting to create these thoughts, but the arrows keep coming.
So, if we’re not creating these thoughts, how do we know if they’re coming from God or Satan?
Galatians 5:22-23 tells us this: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control; against such things there is no law.” So God says, “Okay, if it’s coming from me (God) it is going to lead to these things.”
So, let’s talk about peace for a second. First, let’s define peace. Is it a thought, a feeling, or an action? It’s a feeling isn’t it? How do we know? First of all, you don’t “do” peace. Okay, maybe in the 1970’s you did, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. You don’t “do” joy either…you feel joy. So, we feel peace. Now, where does peace come from, God or Satan? It comes from God. So, if we’re feeling peace, we’re thinking something that’s true, because God is Truth. In contrast, John 8:44 tells us that Satan is the “Father of lies.” Now, right above the verses in Galatians 5:22 are verses 19-21. Now the deeds of the flesh are evident: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, and the list goes on.
So now let’s say that we’re overcome with strife, worry or anxiety. If this is going on in our life, what are we thinking? Where are those thoughts coming from? They have to be coming from Satan. You and I know that if we are at peace, our actions are going to be very different than if we’re in the middle of strife. So this helps us identify when we are thinking something that is true, and when we are thinking something that’s a lie. We know which thought is true and which is a lie by the “fruit” it produces.
Now we know whether we are thinking something that is true, or something that is a lie. However, the next question is pretty simple. How do we stay over on the “truth” side, and not on the “lie” side of the page? Paul gives us a great insight into this in Romans 12:2, he says this: “Be transformed by renewing your mind.” That’s a pretty strong word – transformed – and it kind of goes back to Matthew 28:19 where Jesus says, “Go and make disciples.” He tells us that discipleship is really about this transformation process; it really is about what we think. It’s about what goes on in our minds that leads us to our actions.
Not too long ago, when my daughter, Courtney, was about 11, she walked down this path with me. I arrived home from work one day and my wife, Jennie, said, “You deal with her,” as Courtney stomped down the hallway.
So I said, “Courtney, come here.”She came into my den, and I simply asked, “What’s going on?”
“I’m mad!” she replied.
“You’re mad. Well, what are you thinking?”
And she replied just like how every other eleven-year-old responds when you ask a question: “I don’t know.”
“Well, you’ve got to be thinking something, so what are you thinking?”
She said, “I’ll never get my spelling words right.”
“Is that true?”
“Yes, it’s true, or I wouldn’t have said it!”
Now, did I think that was true? No, absolutely not. So I asked Courtney, “How long is never?”
Courtney replied, “Oh, a hundred years or so, probably.”
“So, you don’t think you’ll get your spelling words right in a hundred years?”
“Well, maybe,” she replied, “if I practice.”
“Well how long do you think?”
“Oh, maybe a couple of days…if I practice.”
“Ok, so you will practice them for a couple of days?”
“Yeah, probably a couple of days.”
So, what does Courtney do? She skips out of my room. Skips right past Jennie, and Jennie comes stomping into my room.
“What did you do to her? She’s fine now!” Jennie replies angrily.
So, what did I ask Jennie? “What are you thinking?” No, I didn’t ask her that…I’m just kidding.
Okay, so we see the path Courtney went down, and it looks something like this:
- She identified the unhealthy emotion, and in her case it was anger.
- She then identified the unhealthy thought, or the lie. In other words, if what she’s thinking creates this “outburst of anger,” then we know the thought has to be a lie.
- And then all we did was change this thought that was a lie into the truth.
- So after we identify the thought that is true, what does Paul tell us to do with that truth? Be transformed by “renewing.”
So, it’s not a matter of, “Oh, I got it…it’s over.” Renewing is the process of renewing over and over and over. Drowning ourselves in what’s true.
Philippians 4:8 gives us an insight into what this is all about. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble…think about such things.” And as we look at that verse, it kind of takes on a new meaning and a light that it didn’t have before.
Summary of Courtney’s four steps:
Step 1: Identified the unhealthy emotion.
Step 2: Identified the thought causing the emotion – the lie.
Step 3: Identified the truth.
Step 4: Renew…renew…renew.
I was giving this talk to a group of people about two months ago when I asked if anybody had recently experienced any unhealthy emotions like those we had just discussed.
A guy, probably in his mid-50’s, raised his hand and said, “I’ve got one extreme frustration.”
I said, “Hold on a second,” and I wrote down “extreme frustration” on a whiteboard. “What are you thinking?” I asked.
He replied, “I don’t know what I’m thinking, but there is this lady at work who is driving me absolutely nuts! You see, she is the most selfish person I have ever met, and she’s been this way ever since I’ve been at this job. She drives me crazy. I don’t even want to be around her.”
So, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s just call her Sarah.
So I asked, “Do you think Sarah should be selfish?”
“Well no, Sarah should not be selfish,” he replied.
So I wrote on the board: “Sarah should not be selfish.”
So now the question for you is whether “Sarah should NOT be selfish” is true? What do you think?
For the guy in the group, this thought was creating extreme frustration, outbursts of anger, and internal rage. Where does that come from? God or Satan? It comes from Satan. Galatians 5:19-23 tells us that. So, what does this thought have to be? It has to be a lie. Now we’re in the same mindset Courtney was when I asked, “Is that true?” And she said, “Yes it’s true or I wouldn’t have said it.”
Let me ask this question: Everyone here has a Sarah in their life, don’t they? They might not be named Sarah, but you have a selfish Sarah. So what I want to know is this: Why is Sarah so selfish? We’ll list the reasons here.
(Responses from the crowd are next to the puzzle pieces.)
- Reason 1: She is an only child.
- Reason 2: Maybe there were some circumstances of her life that caused this.
When I was 8 or 9 years old, every year at Christmas and during the summer, we would have a little boy that we would “quasi adopt” from the Soldiers and Sailors’ home in Knightstown, Indiana. They allow the foster-children to go and stay with families, so during the summer and at Christmas, Bobby Horn would come and stay with our family. I was ten, my brother was 8, and Bobby was between us, so would have been 9 years old. At Christmas time, when Bobby would come and stay with us, we would give Bobby presents. Well, what did Bobby do with those presents as soon as he would open them? He’d go hide them. Well, of course he’d go and hide them, because if he didn’t hide them at the foster home, all the other boys in the home where he’d been growing up would steal his stuff. But Bobby looked awfully selfish to me when I was ten. I would judge him for taking all his stuff and hoarding it. But the circumstances in his life created something else that was going on that I just didn’t understand.
Okay, what else?
Why else is your “Sarah” selfish?
- Reason 3: Maybe a “sense of entitlement,” born into a rich family.
What about this one? Or maybe Sarah just never grew up; maybe she’s just immature. You know how 2-year-olds are; they’re just innately selfish, because they’re busy figuring out their world. Sometimes we just don’t grow out of that. Maybe it’s just as simple as that.
Alright, we don’t know for sure why Sarah is so selfish, but we know there are reasons. Now, if all these things are true, or even one of them, should Sarah be selfish or not? Yes, she should be. The reality of life says that, based on her maturity level, based on her circumstances, based on how she grew up, based on where she’s at in life, she could logically be selfish.
So, let’s write that down “Sarah should be selfish.”
Here’s the question: If you think about that statement, “Sarah should be selfish,” how do you change? What happens inside of you? What happens to the “extreme frustration?”
It starts to go away, doesn’t it…you’re not as frustrated anymore. So, what are some of the emotions or feelings you might have when you start thinking this way?
- Compassion. Sympathy. Kindness
Wow, that sounds very familiar to Galatians 5:22-23, “the fruit of the spirit,” doesn’t it? In other words, we are confident the thought, “Sarah should be selfish,” is true, because the result of this thought is compassion, kindness, sympathy and empathy.
This individual, the man who was in this group a couple of months ago, and who allowed me to share this story, looked at the statement, “Sarah should be selfish,” and you could just see the emotion release, because for the first time in his life he realized he might have a way out of all this extreme frustration that had been holding him in bondage at his work. His wife was sitting next to him with this great big grin.
I said “What’s going on?”
And she said, “Maybe now he can come home from work and not take it out on me every night! Maybe there’s that potential now.”
So now imagine it’s tomorrow, and what are we going to want to think? Remember, we’re just human. We’re going to want to go right back to the unhealthy thoughts and emotions…bam! That’s why the next step, the fourth step, is so important. It’s Renewing…we have to keep putting these true thoughts into our head.
Now, Biblically, how does this make sense that Sarah should be selfish? How do we connect that with the Bible? I mean, doesn’t the Bible tell us not to be selfish? The following passage is out of The Message. I’m going to add Sarah’s name in the verse so you can see how this works:
Romans 14 says, “Welcome with open arms fellow believers (Sarah) who don’t (doesn’t) see things the way you do. And don’t jump all over them (her) every time they (she) do (does) or say(s) something you don’t agree with, even when it seems that they (she) are (is) strong in opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they (Sarah) have (has) their (her) own history to deal with. Treat them (her) gently.”
So, we do see this. But wait, doesn’t the Bible say we shouldn’t be selfish? Yes, the Bible says; “Derek, you shouldn’t be selfish.” But you know what the Bible doesn’t say? It’s this: “Derek, you should make Sarah not be selfish.” Ouch, big difference.
And so now, over the last decade of going through this process, I find that it’s just amazing to see people’s lives change when they take just a simple thought that they thought was “not a big deal” and change it to something that’s true. I get to watch that transformation go right through them and it’s absolutely wonderful. That’s what Paul is talking about in Romans 12. And when Jesus says in Matthew 28:19, “Go, make disciples,” we now can see what that’s like, how transformation really does occur. We see where those battle lines are between darkness and light. And we realize that sometimes it’s just a thought that changes everything.