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And UPGRADE'S Founder

   Dawn Wilson


Entries in Biblical Thinking (3)


Fears, Fears ... Go Away!

Dawn Wilson is the creator of Upgrade with Dawn. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she gets honest about her fears and how the Lord has encouraged her to confront them with His truth.

I argued with the Lord a bit.

“I’m not a fearful person; I know better than that.”

But the Lord pressed a few examples into my thoughts and I had to admit, I was filled with more fears than I thought.

When my children were small, I feared for their safety. Then they grew up and I found out—once a mama, always a mama—I still had fears for their safety. And I added my grandchildren to that fear list too! I was afraid of my husband’s safety in his many travels too.

Many fears have come, but I’ve suppressed them all rather than dealing with them biblically.

Then, this past January, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma. Talk about fears!

Somehow, that first day in the hospital, I kept repeating a verse I learned long ago: “Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you” (Psalm 56:3).

Still, my mantra from February through late April was pretty much, “Fears, fears… go away!”

All that time, my cancer treatment wasn’t working, and I became anxious and afraid.

Maybe I going to only live a year, I thought. I started downgrading my priorities list to something simpler and more manageable. What would I want to accomplish if I only had one year to live?

I started developing a plan, and the only time I cried was when I thought of leaving my family members.

Thankfully, in early May, my oncologist decided to upgrade my cancer treatment. He prescribed a super-expensive drug, which the Lord graciously covered for almost five months through a nonprofit grant.

But my fears that the drug wouldn’t work—or that it would tank my hemoglobin, one of the oncologist’s concerns—continued.

Beneath the surface ... subtle fears. But fears that still had a grip on my heart.

In many ways, I was trying to trust the Lord through all this. I chose to praise and worship Him. I wrote about my struggle on Facebook. I tried to be honest about how I was trying to overcome my fears; and many friends—I call them #TeamDawn—encouraged me.

  • "You're in God's grip."
  • "I'm praying God will completely heal you."
  • "Keep trusting!"

Most people praised me for being a good example. They recognized the battle, but also some of my victories in trusting God.

Yet the toxic thinking continued. Especially in the middle of the night when I couldn't sleep.

And then around Mother’s Day, one of my daughters-in-love, Tracy, gave me a book. Switch on Your Brain by cognitive neuroscientist, Dr. Caroline Leaf,* who is also a Christian. It's heavy-duty science, but fascinating to realize how science is catching up with the Bible!

The book affirmed me in all that I’ve taught for many years: As we think, so we come to believe, and so we choose. My ministry, Heart Choices Today, is built on that simple-yet-profound concept.

We build our thoughts, choices and habits based on what we’re thinking.

As I read the book, the Lord began to speak to me about my toxic thinking and the fears and anxieties that wouldn’t seem to go away no matter how I wished them to leave.

There was a lot at stake! And Dr. Leaf made a strong case:

She wrote that fear alone triggers more than 1,400 known physical and chemical responses in our bodies, activating more than 30 different hormones.

Left unchecked, toxic thoughts (like fear) create ideal conditions for illnesses.

I figured "unchecked" fears weren't going to help me battle my illness!

So I decided to do what the book recommended. I'm a writer, but I don't journal. Yet using Dr. Leaf's processyou'll have to get the book to read about that—I began a 21-Day Detox to confront my anxious thoughts and fears. I chose scriptures to study and I am memorizing key verses to make them a deeper part of my life—replacing toxic thinking with strengthening, biblical truth.

It's an ongoing process, but here are some things I've already discovered during my Detox from the scriptures I'm studying.

  1. Fear does not come from God (2 Timothy 1:7). It is a learned response.
  2. God gives me a spirit of power, love and a sound mind (also 2 Timothy 1:7). A sound mind is right thinking!
  3. It is possible to be in “bondage” to fear—or any other fleshly attitude (Romans 8:15). This verse is talking about fear we suffered before knowing Christ, but now we have a Heavenly Father, and the Spirit does not make us “slaves” to fears.
  4. God’s presence, strength and help allow us to not be fearful (Isaiah 41:10). He’s got a firm grip on me!
  5. Whenever we are afraid, we can choose to trust the Lord (Psalm 56:3-4). That was the only verse I could remember in the hospital in January—but it was enough!
  6. God will never leave or forsake me, and because of that, He wants me to be “strong and courageous” (Deuteronomy 31:6).
  7. I can cast all my burdens, including fearful times, on the Lord, and He will sustain me— strengthen, support and encourage me, and cheer me up! (Psalm 55:22).
  8. I don’t need to be afraid of bad news (but instead need to live in light of the “good news”); and when I think rightly, my heart will be firm and steady, not afraid (Psalm 112:7-8).
  9. I don’t need to be fearful or anxious about anything, but instead, I can pray about everything, with thanksgiving, and God will give me His peace… and He will then guard my heart and mind in Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
  10. Like a loving father with a trusting child, God holds my right hand; and He is the One who helps me (Isaiah 41:13).
  11. The peace Jesus gives us is not like the world’s concept of peace (John 14:27). Though some of the world’s solutions may work if they are based on biblical truth—whether they give God credit or not—Jesus’ peace is a gift from Him, and an answer to my fears.
  12. When fears and anxiety arise in me, I can turn to the Lord and His consolation (comforting) will restore my joy (Psalm 94:19).
  13. God expects/commands me to “be strong and courageous” and not afraid (Joshua 1:9)—because He is with me.
  14. God redeemed me and I am His. Like the children of Israel, I never need to fear that I am forgotten (Isaiah 43:1).
  15. Anxiety and fear is like a heavy weight in the emotions, but a “kind word” of encouragement from God (or others) can cheer the heart (Proverbs 12:25). (I am so thankful for my #TeamDawn prayer warriors and encouragers!)
  16. I don’t need to worry or fear about tomorrow (Matthew 6:34); I need to live in day-tight compartments. God is already in my tomorrows.
  17. I can cast (throw) all my fears and anxieties on the Lord, knowing He cares about me and what I’m going through (1 Peter 5:7).
  18. Even if I must walk through the darkest valley—the “shadow of death”—I do not need to fear, because God is and will be with me to protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4).
  19. The Lord is my light and salvation, my stronghold—whom (or what) shall I fear (Psalm 27:1).
  20. God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1); and verse 10 says, “Be still and know that I am God….” I am challenged to be still and know my “refuge more.”
  21. When I seek the Lord, He responds; and He wants to deliver me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).
  22. When I call out to God, He answers and He is with me in my troubles (Psalm 91:15), rescuing me and honoring me (for trusting Him).
  23. The Lord doesn’t want me to worry about the details of my life (Matthew 6:25), but He is concerned about those details. He will provide, but He wants me to know there is more to life than what’s going on with my body.
  24. I can be strong in the Lord and in His mighty power (Ephesians 6:10)—and He gives me the tools for standing strong (the Armor of God, vv. 11-18).
  25. I want the peace of Christ to rule in my heart (Colossians 3:15). I will subject my fears to His control and be thankful for His loving Lordship in my life.

Obviously, I’m going beyond the recommended 21-Day Detox. I want to continue building positive reinforcement thoughts into my life. I want right thinking, godly thinking about my fears, to become my new habit of life.

This is what Paul means when He writes of “renewing the mind” (Romans 12:2) instead of following the unhealthy “pattern” of this world. Scientists are finally beginning to see the brain as having "renewable" characteristics. Biblically, a renewed mind is a Word-founded, Spirit-controlled mind—and from our mind, our thoughts, come our beliefs, choices and habits.

It's the best way I know to make the fears go away ... or at least to confront them God's way.

Is fear a biggie in your life? Or is it something else? Begin now to replace toxic thinking with biblical thinking.

(*NOTE: You might want to read the book I recommended, Switch On Your Brain—there is also a workbook if you want that—to understand how the brain works from a scientific viewpoint, and rejoice that science is finally catching up with God’s truth about our thinking!)

Dawn Wilson, founder and President of Heart Choices Today, is a speaker and author, and the creator the blog, Upgrade with Dawn. She is a contracted researcher/reviewer for Revive Our Hearts, and a writer at (wiki posts) and She and her husband Bob live in Southern California and have two grown, married sons, three granddaughters and a rascally maltipoo, Roscoe.

Graphic adapted, courtesty of M. McKein at Pixabay.


What You Think Upon Grows

The simple messages of truth from Kolleen Lucariello's heart always challenge mine. In this Biblical Thinking UPGRADE, she asks us to examine the flow of our thoughts.

"After listening to a powerful message on my ability to overcome," Kolleen says, "I walked out of the Easter Sunday service, and within a matter of a few moments allowed a spirit of offense to overcome me."

Oh, how often I (Dawn) have felt a rush of negative emotions driving my thoughts, growing like weeds on steroids and leading to embarassment and regret. So what's the remedy?

Kolleen continues . . .

Looking back on the day, the offense was silly—and completely unnecessary, but the Lord used it in a powerful way to teach me a valuable lesson: what you think on grows.

Easter Sunday brought several visitors to our already large church, which is always a great thing. However, losing sight of the back of my husband’s head as we shuffled out among the crowd was not.

After he decided to follow our son-in-law to retrieve the grandkids without my knowledge, trying to find him in the midst of the large crowd was also not that great.

I tried to stand patiently and wait for his reappearance—truly, I did—but after several bumps, thumps and shoves in a very short amount of time, I began to feel heat rise from within me as my thoughts took a turn for the worst.

After an attempt to reach him on his phone failed, I wondered if I’d find him at the car; I did not, but what I did find was locked doors on a blustery-cold-snowy-twenty-degree day.

My thoughts began to grow aggravation. Quickly.

Standing outside the car, I called his phone one more time. He finally answered to discover, through a rather terse conversation, he’d best find his way to the car. NOW!

(Amazingly I was able to smile and sweetly greet people as they passed me in the parking lot. It appears all my snarkiness was reserved for Patrick).

When his head came into view, the intensity of my frustration grew; and when he asked, “Where did you go?” the thoughts I’d been holding inside came pouring out like the water shooting over a waterfall.

Where did I go? Where did YOU go is the better question!”

Once we were both safely in the car, the fit was able to find its form in a full-blown tirade.

The takedown was swift, and the outcome embarrassing when, in the midst of my tirade, I suddenly heard, “Hello? Hello? Hello?”

Glancing down I discovered I had somehow called a gas company! The poor lady on the other end was listening to the fruit my thoughts had grown: annoyance and irritation.

And she was able to feast upon them while we were exiting our Easter Sunday church service.


After wishing one another a Happy Easter, I decided it was best to apologize and then remain silent.

If we’re not careful, our thoughts can grow quite the outcome—in our lives as well as those around us.

A great example of this is found in 2 Samuel 13 where we find ourselves peering into the lives of Amnon, Tamar and Absalom, and the devastating aftermath uncontrolled thoughts can have.

As King David’s son, Amnon, thought about his fleshly desire for his half-sister, Tamar, lust grew. While his lustful thoughts grew, his cousin helped devise a scheme that planted deceptive thoughts. The result of his deceptive thoughts led to rape. Following her rape, her brother, Absalom, gave in to thoughts of revenge and murder.

Whatever you think on grows.

Paul must have recognized this when he told the Philippians to fix their “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” (Philippians 4:8, NLT).

Implanting this into our hearts may save us from embarrassment and heartache.

You upgrade your life when you:

1. Think differently!

Understand that while you “are human, you don’t wage war as humans do” (2 Corinthians 10:3, NLT).

2. Know the truth of God’s Word!

We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments” (2 Corinthians 10:4, NLT).

3. Capture your Thoughts!

“We break down every thought and proud thing that puts itself up against the wisdom of God. We take hold of every thought and make it obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, NLT).

May 31 is designated: Whatever You Think Upon Grows Day.

What fruit are you growing? Grow something good!

Kolleen Lucariello, #TheABCGirl, is the author of the devotional book, The ABC's of Who God Says I Am. Kolleen and her high school sweetheart, Pat, reside in Central New York. She’s a mother of three married children and Mimi to five beautiful grandkids. She desires to help others find their identity in Christ – one letter at a time. Find out more about Kolleen at her website.

Graphics adapted, courtesy of Anemone123 and Geralt at Pixabay.


A Woman after God's Own MIND

Nali Hilderman delights in helping women become confident, Biblically-solid women of God. In this Spiritual Life UPGRADE, she offers an interesting twist on a familiar scripture.

“While it is easy for us as women to desire to be a woman after God’s own heart, and much Christian literature is directed toward this notion,” Nali said, “I suggest that the foremost way to pursue this is first to become a woman after God’s own mind!”

As a woman who encourages biblical thinking, I (Dawn) appreciate Nali’s perspective. God can only transform us as we align our thoughts with His.

Nali continues . . .

Many of us have probably heard the oft-quoted phrase from scripture that David was a man “after God’s own heart, one who would carry out God’s will” (Acts 13:22). If you’re anything like me, you’d love for that to be your epitaph—what a high and laudable attribute! 

We want to "carry out God's will," but how, exactly, do we do that?

Romans 12:2 says that it is the transformation and renewing of our mind that helps us to know and do the will of God.

There are two key areas where women need to be “after God’s own mind”: the first is in His thoughts towards ourselves, and the second is in His thoughts towards the world around us. 

If we focus on guarding and girding our minds in these two areas, I believe it will lead us straight to the heart of God and we will become women ready to carry out God’s will.

1. We have to change the way we think that God thinks of us as His daughters. 

We must look at how God, through the person of Jesus Christ, interacts with women in the gospels and remember that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). 

Scripture says there is no condemnation for those of us in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1) and that His thoughts for us are greater than the grains of sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18).  If we are followers of Christ and have accepted his atoning work on the cross then we are found in Him and are co-heirs of the Promise (Romans 8:16-17)! 

If we could truly know and understand His mind toward us, then a radical and profound transformation would begin in our lives.

Take some time today to reflect on whether you’re thinking God’s thoughts towards you as reflected in His Word, or if your thoughts align more with the Enemy.

2. We need to change the way we think regarding the world around us

Paul says God is reconciling the world to Himself through the person and work of Jesus. We are His ambassadors and have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Scripture also says “we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10). 

Sisters, we are called of God to join Him in the work of bringing Christ’s redemption to this world. Let us learn and be intentional about the areas where we can get involved. We have exciting work to do! 

Wherever your specific sphere of influence is today, ask yourself if you are an ambassador for Christ and His work of reconciliation in that sphere. 

As we continue to pursue changes in these two areas of our mind, we will continue to find the renewal of our hearts and become more like the Lord.

As you consider whether you are a woman after God’s mind, which thoughts need to change? Thoughts toward yourself, or thoughts toward the world?

Nali Hilderman is a professor of American history at San Diego Christian College and Director of the college’s Dr. Henry Morris Leadership Program. She studies women’s history and Christian theology, trying to make sense of how to be a confident, successful Christian woman who does not buy into the secular feminist mentality. She attends Journey Community Church in La Mesa, CA.

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at