Hi, this is Noel and I am going to begin this Lesson with a story....
(You can either read the Lesson or watch the video. To take notes either print out the Lesson, follow along in the book, or use a separate piece of paper to write out the answers to the questions below.)
As I dove into the pool, I remember being nervous about jumping into the water with these monsters. It was the beginning of my second year of High School and this was my first varsity water polo game.
I had watched the varsity play the previous year while I was on the junior team and marveled at how fast and powerful they were. But after diving in and taking my position in the game, I was amazed how big they were. As the game progressed I had trouble keeping up with my man and was getting pushed around the pool.
Then at half-time, the coach pulled me aside and said, "You are just as big and fast as anyone out there. Now get back in there and don't let anyone get past you." I remember looking at the other players, then looking at myself and being surprised that my coach might be right.
Between my first and second year of High School, I had a dramatic growth spurt in which I gained 20 pounds and several inches of height. My second year sprint times were greatly improved and I had much more overall strength. But I had not updated my thinking.
After half-time I took the coach's advice and, to my surprise, I discovered that I was just as fast and just as powerful as anyone out there. For the rest of the game, no one got past me.
What was different in the second half? Had I suddenly become stronger and faster? No, the only thing that changed was my thinking.
The battle is won or lost in your mind. That may be why God tells us that our transformation begins in our mind:
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (NASB)
How We Think Effects How We feel
Even if we are not aware of it, we are always thinking. And our thoughts effect us in profound ways. You may be surprised to hear that our thoughts move our feelings. Consider the following examples.
Let us suppose a group of people are trapped in an elevator. You would think they would leave the elevator having a similar feeling since they all experienced the same crisis. But that is not how it works.
About a fourth of the people will leave the elevator angry. The whole time they are trapped they are thinking about how they have been inconvenienced. They worry about being late for an appointment and they want to know why the building doesn't maintain their elevators properly.
A fourth will leave the elevator anxious. The whole time they are trapped they are thinking about the safety issues. What if the cable breaks and they plunge down to the basement or what if they run out of oxygen? They rehearse in their mind all of the dangers and so they become anxious.
A fourth will leave excited. While they are trapped, they are planning who they will call to tell about the man who was freaking out or the lady who was so mad. For them, the experience is material to entertain their friends.
The last fourth don't give it much thought. They just wait patiently. They aren't thinking about the inconvenience or safety issues and they don't even mention it to anyone. It is just not that important. They leave the elevator unaffected.
All of these people were trapped on an elevator. But what they were thinking about determined how they ended up feeling.
Now consider how you would feel if you lost your job.
If you tell yourself, "They have no right to fire me," you will be angry. If you say "I am such a loser, I can't do anything right," you will feel sad.
But if you say, "Well, this isn't the time I would have chosen, but I have been wanting to try something else and now I can," you will feel nervous, but excited for the chance for change.
It is likely that you will cycle through all these thoughts and that is why you feel like a mess--cycling through anger, sadness, excitement, and fear.
Example of Fred
For the final example, let's say we go to a party and I introduce you to Fred. As Fred talks to you, he looks over your shoulder and across the room. At that point, your feelings will be determined by how you interpret his behavior.
If you say to yourself, "Fred is so rude," you will be irritated. If you say, "I bore everyone," you will feel sad. If you say, "Fred seems socially awkward, I wonder if he is shy," you will probably feel some compassion for his discomfort.
People who are continually angry, tend to interpret the events around them as personal insults. Those who are determined to be depressed, see the events around them as evidence of their failure. Neither tune in to the possibility that Fred might be rude or shy due to his own pain.
Skill Time: Help with Step 2 Finding Lessons
Out of the 4 steps in devotional Bible study the 2nd Step, Finding Lessons, takes the most practice before you feel comfortable with it.
To help you learn to find lessons, the video above includes a "Bride Video" segment that is about half way through the video. Watch that segment and write down what can be learned from that experience in the space below. If you have difficulty, try thinking about the experience from different people's points of view and write down what they might have learned.
What can you learn from the "Bride Video?"
When you have trouble finding a Lesson in a passage, try looking at it from different points of view. It is easy to get stuck in one perspective and that minimizes the Lessons that occur to you. Look at the passage below (which is just the 1st half of John 3:16) from several different points of view and write down what you can learn from it.
John 3:16a For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son" (NASB)
Step 2: Lessons ~ What can you learn from the passage?
Watch the video or check the answers below to compare what you get with what we get from the passage.
This lesson has been longer than most because of the "Bride Video" segment. Next time, Denise will talk about tuning into your thinking and I'll give more help with Step 2: Finding Lessons.
If you are stuck, reply to this email and ask a question.
Skill Time: Bride Video -- What can you learn?
Don't use a high platform without a guard rail
Try not to have ceremony so close to water
Make sure my shoes aren't slippery
I should practice my steps before the wedding day
Skill Time: Help with finding the lessons
Lessons: From God the Father's Perspective
When you love somebody, often that involves sacrifice
Lessons: From the World's Perspective
God loves us so much that He would give His most cherished possession
Lessons: From God the Son's Perspective
When God loves somebody, He wants you to love them like He loves them