Saturday, August 6, 2022

Intrusive Thoughts - Part 1


How do we combat those pesky negative thoughts that keep running through our heads?

~~Watch the Video~~

  • Introduction
  • Traits of Wholeness
  • What Are Intrusive Thoughts / Ruminations?
  • Where Do Our Thoughts Come From?
  • Causes of Our Thoughts
  • Strategies to Conquer Intrusive Thoughts
    • Seek Towards the Kingdom Instead of the World
    • Seek the Truth
    • Get Into Nature
    • Listen to a Sermon
    • Prayer
    • Quiet Time
    • Make Time to Ponder
    • Write Your Thoughts Down
    • Don’t Focus on the Negative Thoughts
    • Distract Yourself
    • Change Your Thoughts
    • Try to See Their Side of the Story
  • Remember Who God Is


  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-6
  • Matthew 6:22-23
  • James 1:13-15
  • 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
  • Matthew 6:24-27
  • Philippians 4:8
  • Job 12:7-10
  • Philippians 4:6-7
  • James 4:8
  • Philippians 4:8
  • James 4:7
  • Matthew 7:12


2 Corinthians 10:3-6

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not wage battle according to the flesh, 4 for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. 5 We are destroying arguments and all arrogance raised against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ, 6 and we are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

Notice that it says to take our thoughts captive

Why doesn’t God command us to stop thinking bad thoughts?

Thoughts Against the Knowledge of God

Spiritual warfare in the mind

We shouldn’t  entertain thoughts about ourselves that

  • God doesn’t think about us
  • Are contrary to our purpose
  • Set us up for failure

You are not Your Thoughts

Have you ever thought about doing something that you would never actually do?

Can you have a thought that doesn’t reflect who you are?

Example: hitting a bicyclist

You don’t necessarily have control over your thoughts

You don’t need to judge them

You are only responsible for his actions

You are not your thoughts


Sometimes we can’t stop thinking about something

  • Traumatic incident
  • Relationship
  • Work situation
  • Political situation
  • Traffic jam
  • Family members conspiring against us

It can cause us to:

  • Be anxious and distressed
  • Overreact
  • yesterday‘s issues look bigger
  • tomorrow’s issues look more important
  • Undervaluing the significance of what is happening today and how we can change things

“I’m not sure where the thought comes from… But I know where it takes me”

it took me to a place in my life that I was deep in depression

Paul said “rejoice in the Lord always and again I say rejoice“.

“Well you can say it as much as you want Paul… But I’m feeling sad right now”

  –Steve Furtick

Sometimes we can’t control our thoughts

Sometimes we can’t control our feelings

Today we will talk about how to take these thoughts captive


Today we’ll look at

  • Where these thoughts come from
  • What causes them
  • What to do about it

Traits of Wholeness


Neither myself nor any of the participants are licensed clinical professionals.  These are opinions that we believe to be inspired by the Holy Spirit and/or personal life experience and are not medical advice.

We are in our series called Seeking Wholeness

How can we be  _______ healthy

  • spiritually
  • emotionally
  • mentally

Dealing with life’s current stresses and also being healed from experiences/wounds of the past

We’re not just supposed to have eternal life

  • We’re supposed to have: joy, peace, patience, and self control here on earth

Learning not just what The Word instructs us to do, but learning how to implement it in our lives

Traits of Wholeness

  • Authenticity
  • Honesty
  • Kindness
  • Not seeking external approval / validation
  • Living by values and principles
  • Setting Boundaries
  • Taking ownership of your responsibilities
  • Living with purpose and passion
  • Optimism
  • Confidence
  • Healthy relationships with others
  • Not losing control of your emotions
  • Free from addictions
  • Addressing Conflict with truth and love
  • Vulnerability
  • Not critical or Judgemental
  • Not jealous
  • Genuinely applaud the success of others
  • Forgive those who have wronged you in the past
  • Know that you’re worthy of receiving love
  • Not afraid to fail
  • Able to manage irrational fear, worry, and anxiety
  • Selfless encounters with others
  • Not manipulating others trying to control their actions/reactions
  • You care about how others feel - empathy
  • Patient
  • Don’t give into peer/social pressure
  • Can communicate directly
  • Don’t take responsibility for other people's emotions
  • Take responsibility for your own emotions
  • Slow to anger
  • Ability to maturely express your wants, needs and desires
  • Being led by the Spirit

Just being aware of your issues without having a plan to manage them, can lead to greater anxiety

We don’t just want awareness,

  •  We want to be empowered to deal with and overcome the problems.  

Having a sense of control gives you hope.  

We need to become aware and empowered to manage that which we have become aware of.

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that can pop into our heads without warning, at any time. They're often repetitive – with the same kind of thought cropping up again and again – and they can be disturbing or even distressing.

They have

  • no purpose
  • no basis in reality

and are perceived as unacceptable


Ruminations are thoughts/problems/issues that get stuck in our head. The thoughts are typically perceived as “unacceptable“.

The process of continuously thinking about the same thoughts, which tend to be sad or dark, is called rumination.

Example: Postpartum rumination

Not Pondering

Some people like to ponder.

  • Coping mechanism

they are able to turn it off

We are concerned with when your thoughts are:

  • uncontrollable
  • persistent
  • negative

rumination is most common just before bed and when you awaken -  especially in the middle of the night. It can also appear when you have “downtime“.  

Positive or Negative Causes

both positive and negative affects;

  • most problematic ruminations were negative in valance

Some people have negative ruminations in response to positive emotional states

  • When things are going well, they start waiting for the other shoe to drop


common reasons for rumination include:

  • belief that you’ll gain insight into your life or a problem
  • having a history of emotional or physical trauma
  • facing ongoing stressors that can’t be controlled
  • possessing certain personality characteristics,
    • Perfectionism
    • Neuroticism
    • Excessive focus on one’s relationships with others.

—American Psychological Association

Where Do Our Thoughts Come From?

We need to judge our thoughts

Where do our thoughts come from?

Thoughts can “come from”

  • Satan
  • Ourselves
  • Flesh
    • Brain
    • Heart
  • God

Example: Jesus told Peter

  • Flesh and blood did not reveal this
  • Get behind me Satan

We’ll examine how to tell where the thought came from.


Satan can influence our thoughts by things outside of us

Satan uses outside influences to trigger the thought in you.  

Example: Satan tempted Jesus

  • Bread - Limitations of His flesh
  • Mammon - give Him wealth and power
  • Pride - prove you are who you say you are

A thought that was influenced by Satan will appeal to your flesh

Matthew 6:22-23 

22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then, if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 “But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. So if the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

Satan appeals to the desire that is within you

  • Sex
  • Finances
  • Food

Coming into Agreement With the Thought

The lie becomes powerful when we come into agreement with it

What makes a lie powerful is… Our “yes “

Our vote to believe the lie is what makes the lie powerful


Sinful Desires / Your Flesh

James 1:13-15

13 No one is to say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust. 15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it has run its course, brings forth death.

The sinful thoughts came from within you

Good Desires

2 Corinthians 9:7-8

7 Each one must do just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that, always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

E.g. marriage


A thought of conviction was from God

Not guilt or shame

conviction that leads to repentance


  • Biblical Revelation
  • Prophecies that come to pass
  • Thoughts exalting Christ (John 6:44)

Causes of Intrusive Thoughts / Ruminations

Problem Solving

Your brain is trying to find solutions to a problem

  • World events/politics/cultural
  • Philosophical issues
  • Changing a person

How can I change this person‘s mind?


Trying to Control the Uncontrollable

Inner Critic

Inner critic

dwelling on our past

  • Mistakes
  • Flaws
  • weaknesses

trying to protect us or unhelpful cognitive styles.

Inner Narcissist/Judge

dwelling on others

  • Mistakes
  • Flaws
  • Weaknesses

 - to feel in control or powerful

  • Thinking about how somebody did you wrong
  • Thinking about how you are better than someone or they are worse than you

Feeling Unsafe

Adult in the present or the future


People may feel unsafe about an upcoming event

  • A trip somewhere
  • Giving a speech
  • Driving in a big city

Trauma Triggers

A sight, smell sound makes you feel unsafe

  • “ I feel unsafe therefore something bad must be getting ready to happen“

Physical Need / Craving

People who are malnourished

Eating disorders


Craving - dependent on something to alleviate feelings of Distress

  • Addiction
  • Person

Unfiled Information

This information doesn’t fit into your brains categories/schema

Stoplight Example 

What are the different states a stoplight can be in?

  • stoplight flashing


change the schema to fit the memory

  • Stoplights have more than 3 states


Change the memory to fit the schema

  • Light was broken
  • Mis-remembered

Understand information based on current knowledge

Example: unreturned text

  • Has Sally changed?
  • I was wrong about Sally
  • Sally is trustworthy except when … (accommodate)
  • Go get new information - talk to Sally (accommodate)
  • Sally dropped her phone in the toilet


Whatever you have anxiety about will be the theme of your intrusive thoughts.  

You get anxious when you want something really badly

We often compulsively think about the things we fear the most, and often our greatest fears are attached to our greatest desires.  

If you have idolized something… You may have intrusive thoughts about not getting it

  • Marriage
  • Sex


If you have idolize sexual pleasure… You may have unwanted sexual thoughts when you are talking to an attractive person

If you have idolize sexual purity… You may have intrusive thoughts about being cheated on …because that’s your worst fear…

If you think sex is the unforgivable sin… you will think about all kinds of sexual things out of fear that you will cut yourself off from God


put God above everything else

Strategies to Conquer Intrusive Thoughts

How to manage intrusive thoughts

Seek Towards the Kingdom Instead of the World

Matthew 6:24-27

24“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth [mammon].

25“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is life not more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the sky, that they do not sow, nor reap, nor gather crops into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more important than they? 27And which of you by worrying can add a single day to his life’s span?

Jesus’s promise of not worrying only applies if you chose God over wealth/mammon

  • If your life goals are focused on God

If you have worldly goals you will be stressed and anxious

Orient your life around Kingdom goals

How many of the things that you ruminate about are related to God’s Kingdom?

How many of your life goals are related to the Kingdom?

Define your life priorities

What has God called you to do?

What people, places and experiences are important to you?  

Ask yourself… Is this worth my energy?

What do you need to be happy?

  • That person’s opinion
  • A certain lifestyle
  • Good grades
  • A certain position

Are you worrying about things that aren’t important to God?

Seek the Truth

Philippians 4:8

8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Not feelings or assumptions

Are you ruminating over truth or speculation?

Am I using cognitive distortions

  • Mind reading
  • Come up with 3 alternatives
  • Personalization
  • I must mean I’m stupid
  • It’s because I’m black
  • Magnification
  • You blow something out of proportion
  • Look at the facts
  • How much will this matter tomorrow, in a week, and six months
  • Catastrophizing
  • Expecting the worst possible outcome


  • Look for three alternate explanations of why something might be happening
  • Address them with love for clarification

Maybe they were having a bad day or were in pain

Get Into Nature

Job 12:7-10

7“But just ask the animals, and have them teach you;

And the birds of the sky, and have them tell you.

8“Or speak to the earth, and have it teach you;

And have the fish of the sea tell you.

9“Who among all these does not know

That the hand of the LORD has done this,

10In whose hand is the life of every living thing,

And the breath of all mankind?

Stanford Study

90 min walk in nature vs urban

Reduced neural activity in brain area linked to

  • mental illness
  • depression

Participants who went on a 90-min walk through a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and showed reduced neural activity in an area of the brain linked to risk for mental illness compared with those who walked through an urban environment.

Urbanization has many benefits, but it also is associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness. This suggestion is supported by a growing body of correlational and experimental evidence, which raises a further question: what mechanism(s) link decreased nature experience to the development of mental illness? One such mechanism might be the impact of nature exposure on rumination, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses. We show in healthy participants that a brief nature experience, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported rumination or neural activity.

Example: me in pandemic

Listen to a Sermon

Steven Furtick


Philippians 4:6-7

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and pleading with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Take it to God in prayer

Prayer Heals Your Brain

Pray about it - Furtick

Quiet Time

James 4:8

 8Come close to God and He will come close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

Spend Time with God for depression - Daniel Song

Make Time to Ponder

  • In your Quiet Time

If you can’t stop worrying, set a specific time to think about things

  • Set a specific time to worry

Write Your Thoughts Down

Example: I keep a notebook in front of me while I work

Your brain recognizes that he doesn’t have to devote is current thinking processing towards the issue

Change Your Thoughts

Change Your Self Talk - TikTok doctor

Think of Something Else - rabbi

Remember Who God Is

The enemy causes you to focus on the wrong world

Instead of focusing on the Kingdom of God

We pursue the Kingdom of the world

He wants you to focus on

  • Fear
  • Status
  • Likes and followers
  • Financial issues
  • The person who disrespected us
  • Our careers
  • The latest news
  • The next health threat
  • The next bubble
  • The next hot crypto currency
  • The latest church scandal
  • The housewives of Bethlehem

He wants to keep your focus in this world

He wants to keep your priorities here on earth

Peter was walking on water …it was a miracle

…he was walking on water

…while he had his eyes on Jesus

But as soon as he focused on the wind

… he started to sink

As soon as he gave the storm his attention

… the miraculous stopped

He forgot that Jesus was there

He forgot he was a fisherman…

He forgot…he could swim

Peter could swim

The enemy wants us so focused on the wind and the storm that we forget who we are

So focused on the problems of this world that we lose our focus on Jesus

We forget what He got us through in the past

We forget where He brought us from

We forget … that we learned how to swim

…you can swim

…you can swim

Remember who you are

All things are possible to those who believe

Keep your eyes on Jesus

Remember who God is

Instructor: Michael Leadon


15 Tips to Stop Ruminating and Get out of Your Head

Doc Snipes

The war in your head

Bill Johnson teacher

Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation

Gregory N. BratmanJ. Paul HamiltonKevin S. HahnGretchen C. DailyJames J. Gross

How I got rid of Obsessive anxious thinking and painful Rumination

Bignoknow Noah Thomas

The struggle switch by Dr. Russ Harris

People in pain network

When your thoughts attack

Steven Furtick

God will help you stop intrusive, unwanted sexual thoughts if you

Apply gods

Cleaning Up Your Mental Mess

Caroline Leaf

How to know if a thought was from God, yourself, or Satan (Parts 1,2,3)

How to Stop Ruminating: 10 Tips to Stop Repetitive Thoughts (

No comments:

Post a Comment