Take Captive

Romans 12:2 “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.”

We have a choice to allow God to change the way we think. If we pay attention, we realize choices shape a lot of our life, even more than circumstances. We are a byproduct of our past but we're not a prisoner of our past. Choices have consequences so if we change our mind, we can change our world.

Stinking thinking is a hindrance. Is there an area where you could use a fresh start? Most of us can say yes to that question. But, before you change your location or your job, change your thinking. The next thing after saying “Yes” to Jesus is to change how you see yourself, how you see your problems, and how you see God.

So, if mindset matters, what are some things you need to be aware of that will help you reset?

  1. Thoughts direct your life.

Proverbs 4:23 (TEV) instructs us to be careful how we think because our life is shaped by our thoughts. How often do you sabotage yourself? Outside of your conversations you have with God, what are the conversations you have with yourself? As you think, you will be. The problem is in your mind.

  1. Struggles happen in your mind.

The mental battle is continuous. Depression, stress, addiction, fear, anxiety, jealousy, resentment low esteem, lies from the devil – these are all mental battles. There is always a battle in your brain. Paul was gut-level honest about his own struggle in Romans 7:22-23 (LB), “I love to do God’s will so far as my new nature is concerned; but there is something else deep within me, in my lower nature, that is at war with my mind and wins the fight and makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. In my mind I want to be God’s willing servant, but instead I find myself still enslaved to sin.” The battle is intense because your mind is your greatest asset. It matters.  

  1. The mind is where God’s Spirit works.

When we come to belief in Jesus and what He did for us, we invite Jesus into our hearts. The heart is a symbol for the brain. Ephesians 4:22 (CEV) is worth memorizing – “You were told that your foolish desires will destroy you and that you must give up your old way of life with all its bad habits. Let the Spirit change your way of thinking.” When Satan suggests an idea into your mind, we call it temptation. When God suggests an idea into your mind, it is inspiration. Romans 8:6 (NCV) let’s us know that where our thinking is controlled by sinful self, there is death but where it is controlled by the Spirit, there is life and peace.

Nothing is going to change until you change the way you think. When you change your thinking, you can change your life and when you change the way you look at things, the things that you’re looking at will begin to change.

What can you do to transform your mind? One way is to feed your mind with good thoughts. Feed your faith and starve your doubts. Philippians 4:8 shows us how to do that. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Does this verse describe the majority of your thoughts? We have to train our thoughts to do this. We have to choose. We need to monitor what we are taking in, - watching, reading, listening to. What's on your mental diet? 

In John 8:31-32, Jesus tells us if we continue to obey his teaching, we are truly his followers. Then we will know the truth and the truth will set us free. He also says if we continue in His word, we're His followers. Would Jesus say you are truly one of his followers? We need to choose every day to feed our mind with good thoughts and choose to free our thoughts from destructive thoughts. Destructive thoughts can be from our old nature that is contradictory to God’s way for us, it can be lies we have believed and held onto, and they can come from the world we live in.

How serious are you about transforming your life? Mindset matters. Investment in changing your mind in order to change your world is worth every effort.  


You've Got the Power!

I love this quote from Henry David Thoreau, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.” Another way I like to think of it is that if something is of value to you, the cost of that thing is worth it. Whether it costs you time, money, emotion – it is worth that investment.

The vast majority of the things that happen to us result from the choices we have made, the actions we have taken, the words we have uttered, or the attitudes we have exhibited. They flow from our own actions and choices, not circumstances that are beyond our control. Consequently, if we could somehow learn to approach life’s biggest challenges with a positive mindset instead of a negative one – with wisdom instead of imprudent behavior – even the worst experiences in life could end up contributing to our success.

Because it is mostly your choices that have gotten you where you are today, I have great news for you! Based on choices you make today and going forward, you have the power to shape your life to affect your future. You can change direction and move toward a different destination if you want. You have the ability to shape the rest of your life. If you are willing to pay the price today, make the changes, work on changing your focus, and invest in your dream, you can enjoy the benefits of your sacrifice tomorrow. More investment and sacrifice today means greater benefits later. Success. Simple.

We talked about Newton’s Third Law of Motion in an earlier blog and podcast. Some people are smart enough and charming enough to fool the people around them and seemingly get by without paying the price, but ultimately, there is no way around it. If you have the rare ability to charm your way into certain places, you may be tempted to think you can bypass the Third Law of Motion. Never forget that you may be able to fool people – maybe all of the time – but you cannot fool life. The laws of nature are firmly established. Just as the land is programmed to reproduce the seeds that are planted in it, so life is programmed to give you back an equal and opposite dosage of what you have put into it. Your success will be in direct proportion to the effort you put forth and the price you are willing to pay to obtain the success you achieve. Controlling your thinking is imperative. If your life is directed by the mechanics of your subconscious rather than your deliberate choices, you are not controlling your own thinking. You must be willing to replace old ways of thinking with new ways of thinking. Identify and deal with those recurring thoughts that are depleting your mental energy and hindering you from pursuing better things. Build relationships that will help you change. Explore new ideas. Think positively in order to give yourself a fighting chance to achieve your goals. Break out of the entrapment of limited thinking so you can see beyond the horizon. Employ personal vision. The person who can keep their eyes peeled on the prize will find ways around problems and will make progress toward their desired destination. Be willing to do what it takes. All things are possible for one who refuses to focus on the bitter parts of life, focusing instead on life’s possibilities.

When all is said and done, action is essential to success. Act on the things you have discovered and take initial steps to implement the thoughts you have entertained as you have read Mindset Matters. If you haven’t bought the book yet, make sure to get a copy at davemartin.org, amazon.com, or anywhere books are sold. Remember. Change your mind. Change your world.


Go For It!

I had a friend who started a gluten-free diet with his wife to try and isolate some health issues. In the end, the diet did not do anything special for him but it did help his wife. Going on the diet did not yield great benefits for him, but my friend had nothing to lose and much to gain.

In the same way, I want to encourage you to try the things I have been sharing with you the past few weeks. You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Put into action the things you have learned from these principles and I know you will see results and benefits. Try them! You have nothing to lose. Commit to work in your everyday life so you can experience firsthand just how powerful your own thought processes can be and how strongly your thinking can affect every aspect of your life.

To further assist you on your journey, I encourage you to search your heart, be completely honest with yourself, and identify the one thing that you want more than anything else in life. Identify this primary driving motivation – that one thing that floats your boat and quivers your liver more than anything else – and write it down in one phrase or one sentence so you can use it as a launching pad for a short-term trial of these principles. If you could achieve one thing before you die, what is it that you would achieve? Focus on this phrase or sentence for four weeks. Read it a few times in the morning and the evening and all the in-between moments when you have time to focus for a minute or two. Say it out loud during the course of your day. Do this every day for at least four weeks. (If you haven’t read my book Make That, Break That on habits, you can buy it today at davemartin.org!)

I am not the author of this concept. In Deuteronomy 6:7-9, after God had given the Israelites His law, He gave them this piece of wisdom, “Impress (these laws and truths) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.” God designed and created the human mind and knows how He designed it to work. He set us up for success! We just have to do what He told us to do.

Without even realizing it, a person becomes what they think. They drift toward those things. My four-week challenge will help you take the initial steps toward a mindset shift. It will get your focus off the negative and onto those real desires of your heart, what I believe is most probably your actual purpose in life or a contributing goal to that purpose. You will begin to see ways that you can make it a reality as you dwell on this phrase or sentence. You will begin to understand your own capacity to create success for yourself and see your own potential for sharing in the world’s abundance that God has provided and set before us. I believe if you commit to this challenge daily for the next 28 days, that you will have a new habit that will completely revolutionize you as a person and set you on a course that can alter the outcome of your life.

The goal of this exercise is to help you stop thinking like everyone around you – narrowly and for the short-term. Catch yourself every time you start drowning in the mundane and repetitive problems of day-to-day life that deplete all of your thinking time, leaving no time to consider nobler things. What I want for you is that you learn to formulate a mental picture of your strongest personal goal so it can begin to dominate your thinking, impact your planning, alter your actions, and change your life. It will take time to unlearn old patterns but do not give up! Take control of your mind. Let it only think about the things that you teach it to think about and only consider the data that you program into it.

I go into more detail regarding this process in Chapter 7 of my book Mindset Matters. It’s one of the best ways to invest in yourself, and in your future. Do this for yourself today. It is truly Success Made Simple.


Mediocrity vs. Exceptionalism

When I was in school, many years ago… I remember studying Sir Isaac Newton. Specifically, I remember Newton’s Third Law of Motion. Simply stated, when one body exerts a force on another body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body. In other words, for every action, there is an opposite and equal reaction. This principle is seen in our everyday life when we walk across the floor. As we walk, our body pushes against the floor and the floor pushes back, propelling us forward across the room.

This fixed principle of nature does not apply solely to the physical aspects of life; this law also applies to many of the unseen and non-physical parts of life. To achieve your goals, you also have to push down against the realities that constrain you. Whether talking about physical momentum or life momentum, you cannot propel yourself upward without pushing downward.

Your success in life will be directly proportional to the effort you exert toward the achievement of that success. The obstacles that you encounter in life are there to provide you with the forward momentum you need to achieve great things for yourself, but you must learn to push against these obstacles in order to gain momentum from them by utilizing the opposite force they were designed to create for you.

Remember, anything worthwhile is readily available to the one who will embrace it and is willing to pay the price to attain it. Every great achievement is protected by a high wall of hard work, sacrifice, risk, and delayed gratification. Each person succeeds or fails according to his or her own capacity to visualize where they are going with their life, to force themselves to do what is necessary to begin and compete their journey. Vision alone won’t guarantee success.

Are you ready to break out of the rut of mediocrity and rise to a level of exceptionalism that distinguishes you from 96% of the population? There are things you can do to propel yourself forward. I talk about them in chapter 6 of Mindset Matters. There are ways we can learn to control our thoughts, attitude, limited thinking, wastefulness of resources, and mental laziness. Check out this chapter in Mindset Matters. If you can change your thinking, you can change your world.


Connect to Your Destiny

I have found in my research and study that, no matter what a person’s belief system is, most agree that our thoughts shape our life and destiny. There is a clear connection between thinking and behavior and, a person’s behavior is always connected to the outcome of that person’s life.

Those who believe in God, believe that our origins are in Him, and because our lives have their origins in God, our lives also have real purpose. We were created for a reason, with forethought and intentionality. We came from somewhere and we are definitely going somewhere. However, in spite of our origins and God’s specific plan, the fact remains that we hold the keys to our own destiny.

Colleen Moore has a website where she shares information, advice, and positive perspective. One story that caught my eye was about a man named Michael. Michael was one who could easily get under your skin. He was too nice, too happy, and too good. He always found a way to see the positive in every situation, even if it was a negative situation or conversation. Michael was asked by one of his coworkers, “How can you be so positive all the time?” Michael explained that his attitude was a choice. He had learned that both good and bad are going to happen, but that he had the power to choose whether he would be a positive person or a negative person regardless of circumstances. He decided he did not want to waste his life waiting for things to change so he adopted the mindset to be positive every day.

Sometime after this conversation, the lady who had asked Michael about his consistently upbeat demeanor decided to follow up and see how he was doing. It turned out Michael had been severely injured in an accident. He had fallen sixty feet from a communications tower. He had endured eighteen hours of surgery and a lengthy stay in an ICU. He survived the fall, but was destined to live the rest of his life with discomfort and limited mobility. When she was able to connect face to face with Michael, she asked how he was. His response? “If I were any better, I’d be twins.” Then he offered to show her his scars!

As they talked about the accident, he told her that when he was laying on the ground, his first thought went to his soon-to-be-born daughter. His second thought was that he had two choices: he could choose to live, or he could choose to die. He told her that the paramedics were great, successfully getting him to the hospital and encouraging him on the way, but when they wheeled him into emergency and he saw the expressions on the faces of the doctors and nurses. That’s when he got really scared. He could see in their eyes, “He’s a dead man.” As the nurse was excitedly interviewing him to prep him for surgery, she asked if he was allergic to anything. He responded with “yes” and the room got quiet as everyone listened for what he was allergic to. He took a deep breath in that moment and said, “Gravity”. Then, over their laughter, he told them, “I am choosing to live. Operate on me as if I am alive, not dead.” Michael pulled through - seriously wounded from the accident - but fully alive in every sense of the word and fully convinced that his choices made the difference between life and death.

In Matthew 8:13 (NASB), Jesus stated, “It shall be done for you as you have believed.” This tells me that there is a fixed law in God’s creation. It says beliefs lead to aftereffects, and thoughts lead to outcomes. Therefore, we can build our lives on this law. We can “bank” on this law just like we bank on the outcome of gravity! Make your choice today. People who comprehend the connection between their thinking and their behavior, their beliefs and the outcome of their lives will taste the ultimate life.


Invest in Yourself

Today I want to talk about the principle of sowing and reaping. Have you ever heard the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out?” Being aware of our choices and making sure we watch, listen, read and talk to people who feed our vision and goals is time well spent.

Think of it this way - the human mind is a lot like farmland. It is fertile and capable of producing an abundant harvest. Both the human mind and farmland will embrace what is planted and both will exponentially reproduce what has been planted. So my question to you is, what are you planting in your mind? Are you planting life or are you planting mediocrity and eventual defeat?

The mind, as is the rest of the body and your soul, are fearfully and wonderfully made. It is capable of amazing things. However, we have control over what we are planting in our amazing mind and we need to be aware that what we plant matters. Galatians 6:7 validates the theory, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.” Another way to say it is, that the life of a person will become precisely the outgrowth of what has been sown - by others as well as each individual sower. Each person must ultimately be responsible for everything his or her mind absorbs, retains, and reproduces.

Considering the story of Romeo and Juliet is worthwhile at this point. Do you know the story? Feuding families, boy from one and girl from another fall in desperate love with each other. But, “knowing” their families would never consent to their union, they decide to secretly marry. However, before they can coordinate their getaway, Juliet’s father arranges for her to marry another. Yikes! What to do! Instead of rethinking what they were doing and why they were doing it, instead of considering the potential cost to this relationship and actually talking to their fathers with the friar’s help to see if an agreement could be reached, they decide to pretend to die?! And then they actually die? Each of their decisions set in motion a series of events that led to the outcome of the story. A person’s thinking leads to certain predictable results. Romeo and Juliet were raised in an environment of hatred and manipulation, enmity and intrigue. Nothing good could have come from all the violence, hatred, lying and deception that dominated the families’ thinking and existence. The ideas and views planted in their minds bore an abhorrent harvest.

Your mind will reproduce the seeds you plant. You will reap what you sow after you sow it, and you will reap more than you sow. There is work in the process of sowing, so don’t think you will reap an immediate harvest. An investment of time and resources is required. And, you are worth it! Make choices today that will pay off in exponential ways in your future. You will end up where you end up in life because that is where you want to be. If you hope to do great things with your life, you need to start appreciating the force of your own mind. You have within you what is needed to go almost anywhere and do almost anything and be just about anything you could possibly want to be. But just as that seed planted in the farmland is small, so are the deposits you make in your mind on a daily basis. As those seeds take root, develop and mature, the results will be manifested in time.

Get to know the power of your own mind. There are mysteries in this process that are worthy of your exploration.


The Secret to Your Ultimate Life

I have discovered that hard work is not the key to success. It is most certainly a factor but it is not the key. Intelligence also does not determine success. Some of the most successful people are not necessarily the most intelligent. The foundational key is vision. Vision undergirds a person’s special qualities and causes their strengths to work together in a way that can help them succeed.

This reminds me of my friend James. It is really a cool story and remarkable in its own way. However, it demonstrates how most people function in life. James’ father had a close friend that he grew up with. The two friends got married around the same time and as things worked out, one of them had a girl and one of them had a boy not too long after they each married. As these two friends, let’s call them Bobby and Nelson, met occasionally and spent time together, their young children played together, took naps together, and were as close as if they were family. Bobby eventually joined the Air Force and moved away. He would come back occasionally to visit his parents in the town where Nelson still lived, but they eventually lost contact as Bobby traveled and moved around. One tragic day, Bobby’s family was notified that he’d been declared deceased sometime after he’d been stationed in Vietnam. However, his family still visited Bobby’s parents.

My friend James (Nelson’s son) happened to reconnect with Bobby’s daughter one summer when she was visiting her grandparents. In getting acquainted, and through conversations with Nelson, they discovered they had known each other as young children. As they found time to hang out together, Bobby’s daughter invited James to meet at the beach where she and her mom planned to rent a house and stay the weekend. Bobby’s widow was dating again and the gentleman offered to let James stay in his hotel room. The arrangement was that the gentleman would leave the door unlocked and James could slip in when the beach party was over and have a place to stay the night. However, James forgot the room number. Picture this, a teenager, late at night at a motel trying to find an unlocked door. Oh dear.

They had a remarkable set up. James and Bobby’s daughter seemed destined to reconnect. Not only did they reconnect, but actually enjoyed spending time together enough that they would arrange the overnight beach outing. But in the end, James is searching for his place to stay in the middle of the night trying not to get arrested! He did find an unlocked door, crawled into bed in the dark and hoped it was the right room! So, this is the point. So many people travel through life this way. They may have an amazing opportunity, but without vision and goals to achieve that vision, they are jiggling handles on doors with unknown occupants, hoping something meaningful will open up to them. Every momentous decision in their lives is a shot in the dark. They’re just feeling their way through the darkness hoping they somehow magically stumble across the pot of gold that could suddenly make their lives better.

People who succeed are driven by something invisible. They are driven by a dream, a vision that calls for self-denial, self-control, and self-discipline. Vision is the motivation of a successful person’s life and goals are all the tiny steps that a person must take to achieve that passion within their heart. People reach their destinies by reaching their goals, and achieving goals is a clear indication that they are making progress toward those destinies. As you set goals and follow through on those goals, they will lead you to the places you want to go.

The secret to the ultimate life isn’t really a secret at all; it’s just something we rarely consider. It’s about the presence or absence of a vision in your life and the thoughts (goals) that either give rise to a budding vision or destroy that vision before it can grow. It’s about mindset. We eventually become what we think, and we eventually achieve what we think about in our hearts and in our minds. If we are setting goals that are fashioned toward achieving a vision, the passion of our hearts, we are driven toward success and a future that we can be fulfilled by.

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