With Problems Come Opportunities ~ Part One

Switching Gears to a Deeper Faith: Resist “Self-Talk”; Switch Gears to “God-Talk”

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self,
which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires . . . and to put on the new self,
created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” 
Ephesians 4:22-24

Problems have a way of sucking hope from our perspective and can weaken the faith of even the hardiest believer.  To make matters worse, our responses to problems can complicate them even further.  Even so, I have come to appreciate that with problems come opportunities for spiritual growth that could not be accomplished in any other way.

Some examples of responses to problems that can take us down the “old self” path all too quickly are:

“I don’t have to put up with that!” 
“It’s MY way or the highway!”   
“I’m just not feelin’ it any more . . . I want out! “

Actually, the problem is not with any of those “old self” responses–they happen!  We get into trouble when we continue the “conversation” with ourselves, feeding our anger, frustration or what-have-you.  Years ago a friend of mine made this observation, “If you find yourself talking to yourself for any amount of time–you’re probably sinning!  She was so right!

In the Counseling Room, we refer to the process of “putting off” our old selfish attitudes and behaviors and “putting on” attitudes and actions more honoring to Christ as, “switching gears.”  As we reflect on various Scriptures (appropriate to the special needs of each Client) much time is spent talking about the difference between “self-talk” and “God-talk” when it comes to dealing with problems.

  • “Self-talk” refers to when we get upset and have that intense conversation in our head about what we “should” have said, how “unfair”  someone is and . . . well, I think you can take it from there!
  • “God-talk” takes place when we realize we have embarked on the “self-talk” path and decide to “switch gears” by bringing God into the conversation–“God-talk” is PRAYER.

“Self-talk” almost always leads to sin and the downward spiral of spiritual darkness that overwhelms us.  The miraculous thing about “God-talk” is that when we focus on God in the midst of dealing with problems and disappointments, HOPE lights the way to move us forward.  As we spend time reflecting on the Scriptures we recognize our need for God’s help in the process of “switching gears.”  The warning in James 4:1,2b &3 speaks of the war within the human heart:

What causes fights and quarrels among you?
Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 
You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive,
because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

So how do we switch from “self-talk” to “God-talk?”

  1. When you catch yourself talking to yourself–take a deep breath and STOP!
  2. Reflect on the “conversation” you have been having with yourself as you turn to God, knowing He is fully aware of what has just occurred.  Embarrassed?  Tell Him without making excuses for yourself–repent!
  3. Then thank Him for His love and mercy granted you through His Son . . . thank Him that He is in charge and will bring blessing out of whatever challenge you are facing.
  4. Ask Him for the wisdom you lack as you look to the Scriptures for guidance.
  5. Commit each day to the Lord as you follow the Spirit’s lead.

 The Apostle Paul wrote to warn his friends in Ephesus of the danger they were in as, “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” (4:14)

God used Paul to nurture the body of Christ toward a robustness of a faith lived well:

“Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ.” 

God wants no less for you and me.  To be run by our “old selves” makes us vulnerable to all sorts of evil that can compound our problems.  To trust God by talking to Him about every aspect of your life in the “newness” of Christ, is to grow a faith worthy of His Name.  Also, it is to take advantage of growing through the trials of adversity . . . indeed, taking advantage of the opportunities afforded us in the midst of trouble, is one of the hallmarks of a mature faith.  I like the way The Message presents the benefits of “switching gears” as we learn to consistently walk and talk with God in Colossians 2:2,3,

I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch with everything there is to know of God.
Then you will have minds confident and at rest, focused on Christ, God’s great mystery.
All the richest treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded in that mystery and nowhere else.

All to His Glory!


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