Sunday, March 31, 2024

Seeking Wholeness Summary 4

How do you "take every thought captive"?

Take Every Thought Captive

Worship: Great Work by Brian Courtney Wilson


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 experiences.  This is for educational purposes not medical advice.

This lesson captures major elements from the following Bible studies:


  • Introduction
  • Defining Wholeness
  • Where Do Our Thoughts Come From?
  • Negative thoughts
  • Psalms 42 Solutions
  • What Are Intrusive Thoughts?
  • Intrusive Thoughts is Not a Thought Problem
  • Stopping Intrusive Thoughts
  • Getting in the Presence of God


  • 2 Corinthians 10: 3-5
  • Psalms 42:1-5
  • James 3:4-5
  • Job 12:7-10
  • James 4:8


2 Corinthians 10: 3-5

3 For though we live in the flesh, we do not wage war according to the flesh. 4 The weapons of our warfare are not the weapons of the world. Instead, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We tear down arguments and every presumption set up against the knowledge of God; and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

  1. Destroy argument…stronghold
  2. Take every thought captive

Story: opera singer

You will never hear another person's voice more than you hear your own.

Be intentional about the way that you talk to yourself.


What did the voices in your head say?

  • I’m stupid
  • I’m a mistake
  • I’m a burden
  • I am worthless
  • I am not allowed to make mistakes
  • “If these people would only like me…then I’d be OK”
  • I don’t have the right to experience joy or pleasure
  • I don’t have the right to assert myself and say what I think and feel
  • I don’t have a right to feel
  • I'm too fat
  • I'm too thin
  • I'm too short
  • I always say the wrong thing
  • They won't like me if they know I _____
  • If only I was ____ life would be easier
  • I don't have the right to speak up
  • I don't have the right to feel this way
  • I’m only valued based on
  • my intelligence
  • what I do
  • My appearance
  • … Not for who I am

Source of Our Voices

The foundation

Early life in early experiences

  • Childhood experiences
  • Family dynamics
  • Cultural identity

Key life events

Failures and achievements

  • Personal relationships
  • Educational milestones
  • Career

Forward view

Goals and aspirations

  • future objectives
  • What kind of legacy do you want to leave behind?
  • How do you want to impact the lives of others?

Take every thought captive.

Defining Wholeness

Wholeness is about being _______ healthy

  • spiritually
  • emotionally
  • mentally

Free from oppression of

  • Our past
  • Bad thinking
  • Strongholds
  • The enemy

We’re talking about

  • dealing with life’s current stresses
  • being healed from experiences/wounds of the past

We’re promised eternal life

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

Through this 3.5 year series we have identified traits that we defined as the goal for wholeness

Traits of Wholeness

  1. Authenticity
  2. Honesty
  3. Kindness
  4. Behavior not influenced by external approval / validation
  5. Living by values and principles
  6. Setting Boundaries
  7. Taking ownership of your responsibilities
  8. Living with purpose and passion
  9. Optimism
  10. Confidence
  11. Not losing control of your emotions
  12. Free from addictions
  13. Addressing Conflict with truth and love
  14. Vulnerability
  15. Not critical or Judgemental
  16. Not jealous of others
  17. Forgive those who have wronged you in the past
  18. Know that you’re worthy of receiving love
  19. Not afraid to fail
  20. Able to manage irrational fear, worry, and anxiety
  21. Selfless encounters with others
  22. Not manipulating others trying to control their actions
  23. You care about how others feel
  24. Patient
  25. Don’t give into peer/social pressure
  26. Can communicate without antagonizing others
  27. Recognize, manage, and take responsibility for your own thoughts and feelings
  28. Slow to anger
  29. Ability to maturely express your wants, needs and desires
  30. Can listen without reacting
  31. Can respect others without having to change them
  32. Can function well… Alone or with others
  33. Able to take responsibility for our own destiny in life
  34. Able to maintain a non-anxious presence in the midst of anxiety and stress
  35. Able to ask for what they need want or prefer clearly, directly and honestly
  36. Has the capacity to resolve conflict maturely
  37. Being led by the Spirit

Where Do Our Thoughts Come From?

We have 8,000 to 18,000 thoughts a day.  

Brain gets input from:

  • Our senses
  • Our memory
  • Other people's words and actions
  • Our gut

The source of our thoughts

Where do our thoughts come from?

Thoughts can “come from”

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

“You cannot keep birds from flying over your head but you can keep them from building a nest in your hair.” You can’t keep the Devil from suggesting thoughts, but you can choose not to dwell or act on them.”

– Martin Luther


A trigger is an external stimulation  that activates an internal memory and brings it to our conscious mind.

  • A comment
  • A song
  • A smell
  • A movie
  • A facial expression
  • A person
  • An animal
  • A situation
  • A TV show


When you get a thought you can

  • Accept it
  • Deny it
  • Control it

Negative thoughts

Do you remember negative experiences or positive experiences more?

Comments from coworkers

  • in your review
  • social media
  • strangers in public
  • Interactions while driving

Negative thoughts have more impact because

  • we pay more attention to them
  • they are a threat to our survival
  • they have created a disruption in your brain

The more traumatic incidents you’ve been through, the more negative thoughts you will have in your head.

Experiment: told patients about a medical procedure

  • 70% success rate… People liked it
  • 30% failure rate… People didn’t like it
  • When they told 70% group to think of it as 30% failure… They didn’t like it
  • When they told the failure group that they could think of it at 70% success… They still didn’t like it

It takes work to stay positive

Types of negative thinking


You see yourself as the cause of all the bad things happening in your life


When you focus on the negative information and ignore positive information

Inner Critic

We all have scripts that we rehearse in our minds that make us feel trapped.

We tell ourselves…

  • I don’t look like a model… There’s nothing attractive about me
  • I never went to college… I’m stupid
  • I gave in to that temptation again… I am a terrible person
  • …God hates me
  • I’m not married… I’m  incomplete
  • I can’t rebuild an engine … I’m not a real man

Self Judgment

You need to separate what you did from who you are

You are not

  • your past
  • what you do
  • What you have
  • What you can control
  • What others think of you

You are what God thinks you are

God sees you with the finished product in mind

Psalms 42 Solutions

Talk to Yourself Positively

Psalms 42:1-5

1 For the music director. A Maskil of the sons of Korah. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 I remember these things and pour out my soul within me. For I used to go over with the multitude and walk them to the house of God, With a voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude celebrating a festival. 5 Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me? Wait for God, for I will again praise Him For the help of His presence, my God.

  1. Acknowledge the Problem
  2. Don’t Deny Reality
  3. Name Your Problem
  4. Talk to Yourself Positively
  5. Focus on God Instead of Yourself

We will focus on talking to yourself positively

“ We must talk to ourselves instead of letting ourselves talk to us. Most of your unhappiness in life is due to the fact that you are listening to yourself instead of talking to yourself“

– Book: Spiritual Depression

Benefits of Self Talk

Studies have shown the following results from self talk…

Improves cognitive performance

  • Such as concentration and visual processing.
  • Rather than making you crazy, self-talk can make you intellectually more competent.

More Confidence

  • Those who engage in self-talk display more confidence

Less Anxiety

  • Those who engage in self-talk experience less anxiety

Better Decision Making

  • Allows you to Make decisions more objectively while staying rooted in your true self

Emotional regulation

  • Widens your perspective and helps you see opportunities
  • Speaking of yourself in the third person can help you manage negative emotions by creating distance.

Increases your focus and motivation

  • It gives you your own coach

Makes You More Optimistic

  • Change the world from hostile to hospitable


Reading Aloud Helps Brain Performance

Research shows that self-talk may help the brain perform better. In experiments designed to measure cognitive performance, participants read instructions and then do the task. Some participants read their instructions silently, others out loud. Results generally show that reading aloud helps us sustain concentration and improves our performance.

Boost Sports Performance

Research shows that self-talk may help the brain perform better.

Researchers have found that encouraging self-talk boosts performance across a range of athletics, from tennis to surfing and more.


Try talking to yourself on video or in a mirror

Change Your Speaking To Change Your Attitude

James 3:4-5

4Look at the ships too: though they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are nevertheless directed by a very small rudder wherever the inclination of the pilot determines. 5 So also the tongue is a small part of the body, and yet it boasts of great things.

Don't use your mouth as a thermometer, reading the temperature of your current condition, allow God's word to turn your mouth into a thermostat, which changes the temperature of your life by confessing what God says.

Talk to yourself

Your mouth can override your thoughts

  • “ I love people because Christ loved me first“
  • “ God is on my side“
  • “ God is going to work for my good“

I get to take care of my mother-in-law.

Add “...Yet”

If your inner critic says “I can’t do it”

… Add “yet”


  • I have done hard things before
  • God hasn’t let me down

Talk to Yourself Positively in Third Person

Psalms 42:5a

5 Why are you in despair, my soul? And why are you restless within me?

Grocery Store Dad


  • your own name
  • the pronoun “you“
  • “My soul”

when talking to yourself

This activate the self distance mechanism

Studies show that this increases performance and lowers shame

Research: Calming Down

Research shows that talking to yourself in the third-person can be a particularly effective way to calm yourself down.

Say What God Says

Whatever God says about us, we can say about ourselves with confidence, boldness and courage of God said it

God Says

I Can Say

I love you with an everlasting love

I am loved deeply

I have removed your sins as far as the east is from the west

I am completely forgiven for my sins

I welcome you into my family…

1 Peter 2:10

I am totally accepted by God

What Are Intrusive Thoughts?

Intrusive thoughts are unwanted thoughts that can pop into your head 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.

“ what if I stand up and start screaming in this quiet auditorium “

“what if I accidentally press the gas pedal and ran over a pedestrian“

Thoughts that you don’t

  • want to do
  • plan to do

It goes against your morals and desires

It’s normal to have unwanted thoughts that intrude into your awareness.  

  • they are unwanted because they are objectionable in someway


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

The term ruminate means to run a thought over and over in your mind

Typical ruminations

  • “why do I always get the short end of the stick“
  • “why can’t I be happy like everyone else“

Anxious ruminations:

  • Thinking about how you could’ve handled the situation differently
  • Worrying about what type of impression you left
  • What did that person mean by that?

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“

What are the common types of intrusive thoughts?

  • Sexual (this is not referring to desirable sinful thoughts)
  • Harm, injury, and aggression towards someone else or yourself
  • Contamination
  • Doubt about decisions you’ve made
  • Religious thoughts
    • Violating religious or moral codes
    • Blaspheme the Holy Spirit
  • Fears about something happening to you or someone else


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

The Unforgivable Sin

The unforgivable sin is knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah, but denying Him because of your hardened heart.  

Intrusive Thoughts is Not a Thought Problem

When Is it an Issue?

Research to determine 94% of people experience occasional intrusive thoughts

Approximately 1% of the population experience clinically significant stress and anxiety associated with their intrusive thoughts

It’s not the experience of having the thought that is the issue, but the relationship with the thought

What makes it clinical

  • How one relates to them
  • How hard one tries not to have them
  • What having the thought means to you
  • The experience of having a thought

Not a Thought Problem

We shouldn’t think of intrusive thoughts as a thought problem.  

  • It’s a behavior problem

The goal of stopping intrusive thoughts is not to stop the thoughts but to stop the behaviors that you were doing because of them.  

  • Stop trying to answer the question that you are trying to answer.  
  • Stop trying to solve the problems you’re trying to solve

When we solve the behavior problem… We break the cycle.  

The content of the thought is not the problem that you are experiencing.  

Stopping Intrusive Thoughts

Desiring God Strategy

Be careful not to make too much of thoughts that enter your mind. It seems to me that Satan’s main strategy for ruining people is by deceiving them, either by seeding destructive thoughts in their minds, or by influencing us to deal with our thoughts in a destructive way. Besides Satan, our own fleshly nature can do the same thing — can send thoughts into our mind.

This means that the presence of a thought in your mind is not necessarily a mark of your own identity in Christ. That’s important to realize. It’s not necessarily a mark of your new nature in Jesus. It’s an alien thought. An enemy has done this, you might say — either your old self or Satan.


  1. View it as a minor harassment. It’s not an atom bomb. Treat it more like an annoying fly that you need to swat. Get it out of your face — swat it. It is not the end of the world.

  1. Say to the thought, “No. No. That’s not what I think, Mr. Thought. You can get out of here. I renounce you.”

  1. Turn your mind, then, to an alternative truth that is you, that’s based in Scripture.

  1. Ask God to liberate you from this harassment.

Take your confidence from Philippians 4:6–7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” — and this is key — “will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Don’t Accept the thought: Cognitive Defusion

Cognitive fusion is accepting every thought that passes through your mind.

  • It’s when you think something, and you just believe it.

We need to learn to notice our thoughts without accepting them

I am having the thought that…

“I am having thought that I am stupid“ versus “I am stupid“

Cognitive Defusion Exercise

  • Notice all the thoughts to come to your mind
  • Add in front of it “I’m having the thought that…“
  • Now add “I noticed that I am having the thought that…“
  • Notice what other thoughts are popping up

“I’m having the thought that I am awkward “

Thoughts And emotions are experiences that you are having…

They aren’t necessarily reality

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.

Getting in the Presence of God

Elijah the Prophet

  • Elijah called down fire
  • Defeated 900 prophets of Baal and Asherah
  • Jezebel said she was going to kill him
  • Ran
  • Wanted to die
  • God came to Him
  • He immediately obeyed

What made Elijah regain the confidence to go back?

  • Elijah talked to God
  • Elijah got in the presence of God

You Are Closer to Your Problem Than Your God

Your problem is bigger because you’re closer to it

Elisha didn’t go outside for

  • Earthquake
  • fire

Elijah only responded when he heard the wind…the still small voice

Elijah knew that the gentle blowing …the still small voice…was the voice of  God

You want to get to a point where you are that familiar with God‘s voice.

  • So much so that the shaking of the earth can’t move you.
  • So much so that the fires don’t concern you.
  • So much so that the threats of people don’t phase you
  • So much so that the opinions of people don’t influence your decisions

You want to get to a point where we aren’t moved by our own negative self talk

You need to get closer to God

You Have to Pursue God

Some of you say God doesn’t talk to me like that

What are you doing about it?

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

Are you pursuing God?

Story: searching for God

  • Found Him in my quiet time
  • Intentional pursuit

I’m hearing that there’s a deeper level

Presenter: Michael Leadon


Take Every Thought Captive

Negative Self-Talk

Positive Self-Talk

Intrusive Thoughts - Part 1

Dealing With Rumination

Intrusive Thoughts - Part 2

Intrusive Thoughts - Part 3

The story you tell yourself: understanding your narrative identity

Dr. tracy marks


I will show up as who God called me to be.

You spend most of your life and your head

I’m Ok

Life Guidelines

Sins came from thoughts.

Narrative Identity

Think Positive

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.

Your Thoughts Impact Your Health/Life

Your thoughts instantaneously impact your 10 trillion cells.  

Whenever you make a choice, something changes inside of your brain.  

  • 75 to 90% of illnesses come from our thought life
  • Thinking about traumatic things that happened and people that we don’t forgive damage our mind.  
  • The food that you eat and chemicals impact your brain as well

Your thoughts when you go to sleep impact the creation of the 100 million cells you create every night

Your body responds the same way to negative thoughts as it does to a physical threat like viruses, Covid or flu, measles or an injury.  

  • It stimulates the same response in your immune system.  


Study of Pentecostals

Pentecostals are 3 times more likely than any other Christian group to experience major depression.

Pentecostals known for

  • Health and wealth
  • Name it and claim it

They studied 2800 people over 6 months.  

The rate of depression among the control group was 1.7% whereas the rate of depression among Pentecostals was 5.4%.

Their theory was that depressed people  are more attracted to the Pentecostals' promises of physical and spiritual healing and materialism

— based on the Vanderbilt university study

My theory is that the prosperity doctrine is also attractive to those who:

  • Want to be in control of their lives
  • (you don’t have to wait on God)
  • Self worth is in their accomplishments and material possessions

When you live with unrealistic expectations, and they don’t happen… You come crashing down

Exposure Therapy

exposure and response therapy allows for a new behavior in the brain.  

This is a solution to rumination and intrusive thoughts that involves a psychologist

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