A New Filter

  • A New Filter
  • 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
  • Lyndol Loyd
  • November 16, 2020
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Capturing Rebellious Thoughts: Part 3

Good morning Church! We are in a message series entitled, “Capturing Rebellious Thoughts.” We believe that if you can change your thinking, you can change your life. We’re looking at the mind and the teaching of the apostle Paul.

We learned last week, if you don’t change the way you think, you can’t change the way you live. You can’t change what you do. Our thoughts matter. In fact, our key verse is from the apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. 4 The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. 5 We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Any thought that is inconsistent with the truth of God’s word, we grab it, we make it our prisoner. We are not a prisoner to the lies; the lies are prisoner to God’s word. We take ’em captive and make it obedient to Christ.

If you’ve been with us in previous weeks, we’ve talked about the power of the brain that our God created. For centuries, people thought the brain was essentially fixed after adolescence. We know now that’s not true, that the brain continues to evolve, and there’s something called neural pathways. The more we think a thought, the more we create a pathway in the brain. The more we think a thought, the easier it is to think. And that’s good news if we’re thinking on things that are true and good and pure and lovely and excellent and admirable and praiseworthy, as the apostle Paul would say.

The problem is, many of us are thinking on things that are not true. The easier it is to think on things that are not true, the more it compounds into more negative thoughts, and we think on those things even more so.

I wanna introduce another idea today that’s been helpful to me, and that is the idea of a COGNITIVE BIAS. A very simple definition is this: it’s a mistake in reasoning based on personal preferences or beliefs. When we have a cognitive bias, in other words, we’ve got a mental filter or a mental framework that is not necessarily accurate. Our wrong thought process or our wrong belief causes to make mistakes or errors in judgment.

What happens? If we have a wrong framework or wrong mental filters, it distorts or discolors how we see the world; therefore, we end up with a cognitive bias, making wrong decisions based on wrong assumptions. Because of personal beliefs that may not be true, we’re biased in a direction, and that can cause all sorts of troubles in our life.

That’s why different people respond in different ways to the exact same situation. Have you noticed that? The same situation, same environment, and yet, two totally different responses. It’s not the facts that are different. What is it? It’s the filter that’s different.

Let me say it again. It’s not the facts that are different; it’s the filter. For example, you might see this at your workplace. You might have a boss or supervisor that sits down with two different people and gives feedback in the exact same way, and the two different people respond totally differently to the feedback. The first person gets all offended. Well, who does he think he is, to come in here and tell me this and what. And you want some feedback? I’ll give him some feedback about the way he lives. Totally offended by the feedback.

Second person, same exact situation, same type of feedback. The next person says, thank you so much. You helped me see something in my performance that I didn’t know. Now I can get better. Same situation. It’s not the facts that are different; what is it? It’s the filter.

This can even impact our relationship to God. In fact, studies show that your relationship to an earthly father can often shape or color how you perceive your heavenly Father. In other words, those of you who were blessed with a good dad who was full of compassion and was involved in your life, you might easier see God as a good God full of compassion that cares about the details of your life as opposed to someone else who had an earthly father who maybe was distant or abusive or cold or demanding or judgmental or legalistic.

If you had an earthly father that was demanding and harsh or distant and abusive, it’s much more difficult to see your heavenly Father as loving and caring and involved. It’s not the facts that are different. It is the filter that’s different.

Last week, we talked about meditating on truth. This week, I wanna talk about another tool. Today I wanna talk about something called REFRAMING. Reframing is simply creating a different way of looking at a situation, person, or relationship by changing its meaning.

It’s a little bit like the kid that loved playing baseball and the kid just said, I am the greatest hitter who has ever lived. I am the greatest batter, and the kid went in his backyard, he picked up a ball, picked up his bat, threw the ball up in the air, swung as hard as he could, and he missed it, and he said, everybody misses once. I’m still the greatest hitter of all time. He picked up the ball a second time, threw it up in the air, swung, and he missed again. He said, I’m still the greatest batter who’s ever lived. He picked up the ball, threw it up a third time, and he swung, and he missed. He said, wow, I had no idea. I’m also the greatest pitcher who ever lived, ’cause I just struck out the greatest batter in the history of the world. I’m great at everything.

Reframing is simply changing the way we look at something by changing the meaning. It’s called cognitive restructuring, or if you’re simply like me, I call it thinking different.

Let me illustrate it this way. What kind of a day are we gonna have? Is it gonna be a great day, an average day, a pathetic day, what kinda day are we gonna have? The answer is, it depends on how we frame it. Some of you, you have a negative framework, a negative filter. This day’s gonna be bad. I hate being around these people. They’re all a pain in the you-know-what. I hate going to these things. It never works out. Every time I try to do something, I always fail. God’s not with me. Life’s bad, it’s gonna get worse.

What kinda day you gonna have? Depends on how you frame it. God is with me, God is good. I can sense his presence. I love being here. Some of these people are kinda weird, but I love to see the good in them. I’m gonna choose to believe the best wherever I go. What kinda day are you gonna have? Well, it depends on how you frame it.

What we need to understand is this, you can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. Let me say it again. You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it.

If there was anybody who was great at reframing, it was the apostle PAUL. In fact, if you know his story, he had a very strategic prayer plan. God, please help me go to Rome. If I can go to Rome and preach the gospel and reach the leaders in Rome, from there, we can spread the gospel all over the world. Finally, Paul got to go to Rome, but he didn’t get to go there to preach the gospel. Instead, he was in Rome as a prisoner, locked up in house arrest, chained to Roman guards, a new one every eight hours, and he was awaiting a possible execution. What he wanted was not what happened.

How did he frame the situation? Some of you, this is where you are right now. You thought to yourself, if I just get the degree, then I’ll get the job. You got the degree. The job you have is, you’re overqualified for in an entirely different field, and you’re like, God, where are you? You thought, I’m gonna marry my sweetheart. It’s gonna be amazing. You married your sweetheart; it went bad. God, where are you? You wake up at such and such age, and you thought, by this age, I knew I’d be here and I’d be doing this, but I’m here, and I’m doing this. I don’t understand it.

This is where Paul was. This is what I want, and this is what is happening. I wanted to preach the gospel, and I’m a prisoner. What kinda day are you gonna have? You can’t determine what happens to you, but you can determine how you frame it.

Let me show you what Paul could have said. He didn’t say it, but he could have said it. If he would have said it, this would have been in Philippians 1:12-13 in the NWV. What is the NWV? NWV stands for the New Whiner’s Version. This is what Paul could have said. Paul could have said this: Now, I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me really stinks. That’s what he could have said. It’s not what he said.

This is what Paul actually said, Philippians 1:12-13 , “Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ.”

You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it. I want you to know, what happened really started to advance the gospel. Let’s look at the next verse.

  1. 14 says this: “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

How do we live this out when our thoughts can often drift toward the negative, the critical, discouraging thoughts, self-defeating language? Let me give you three principles that help reframe relationships and situations.

  1. THANK GOD FOR WHAT DIDN’T HAPPEN Maybe something unpleasant did happen, but there are a lot of things that are worse that did not happen. I can thank God for what didn’t happen.

So, you didn’t get the project in on time, so you’re not gonna get your bonus. You know what? Thank God I didn’t lose my job. I still got my job. I’m still employed, I still have a job. Get in a car wreck, aw, this is gonna be a pain in the you-know-what. It’s gonna cost money, gonna take a lot of time. Well, thank God nobody got hurt, okay? Thank God for that. Airplane is delayed, again. Satan, I cast you out of all my flights. The plane is broken. I always tell myself this. When the plane is broken, I would rather be on the ground wanting to be up there than up in the sky in a broken plane, wanting to be down there. Sometimes, you just need to thank God for what didn’t happen.

  1. PRACTICE PRE-FRAMING YOUR FILTERS The next thing that you can do that I’m learning to do is this, is you practice pre-framing your filters. It determines how you see the world, who you feel, and often what you do. What I wanna do is I wanna choose the frame before the event. Instead of getting there and letting my default filter or my default frame, which is often negative, take over, causing me to interpret what otherwise might be positive as a negative, I wanna pre-frame it with the right frame. I’m choosing the frame ahead of time.

For example, when Joni and I knew that we were going to be moving to Lubbock we set out on the process of buying a home. The first two houses we tried to buy fell through for some crazy reasons. We found ourselves in a situation where we didn’t have time to make another trip from Orlando to Lubbock, but we still needed a house. Our realtor found a great looking house for us and sent us the information. He had a hunch that this was our house, but he told us that if we waited until we could come back to Lubbock to look at it that it would be sold. So he did a Facetime tour of the house for us. He drove up and down the street so we could see what the neighbor’s houses looked like. Ultimately, we decided to make an offer on the house even though we had never set foot in it.

On our drive from Orlando to Lubbock, Joni looks at Madeline and me and says, “Is anyone else feeling nervous about seeing our new house?” I looked at her and said, “No, I’m not nervous at all. We are going to love it. We are going to love everything about it because either way it is our new home.” And you know what, we did love it when we finally got to walk through it.

When things get tough, before they ever get tough, I tell myself, I am great under pressure. My God is with me. My God is for me. If my God is for me then who could ever be against me. I pre-frame it. Choose the frame ahead of time. You can’t control what happens to you, but you can control how you frame it.

  1. LOOK FOR GOD’S GOODNESS If you wanna see bad, you will find bad. If you wanna see negative, you will find things to be negative about. If you wanna be critical, you can pick apart any organization, any group, any person.

Or, on the other hand, you can choose to look for where God is working, and if you look for where God is working, you will see him working. You can choose to look for the good, and guess what? You’ll see the good. If you wanna look for the good in people, you can find good in people, and your attitude will change. Your perspective will change, because you will find what you’re looking for.

It’s interpreting your circumstances based on the truth of God’s word. A good counselor will tell you this. You determine the meaning of what happened to you. You determined the meaning.

It’s a lot like the difference between two types of birds. Take a vulture or a hummingbird. What do vultures find? Dead stuff. Carcasses, roadkill. Why? Because that’s what they’re looking for. What do hummingbirds find? Nectar and sweet things. Why? Because that’s what they’re looking for. You will find what you’re looking for.

Here’s the problem. So many people see the bad because you’re looking for the bad. If you look for God, you will find him. Where do we make the MISTAKE in our minds? It’s we often try to interpret God through our circumstances. If they are bad; therefore, God is bad. There’s another way to look at the world, and that is to interpret your circumstances through the goodness of God. Then you can recognize, even on what is a bad day, our God is still good.

Paul’s example is explicitly clear. We can choose to reframe our thoughts.A New Filter