Do you think good thoughts?
Can we be honest for a minute? The craziness of the last year and a half has made some of us feel like our heads are in a vice--some days with the clamp getting tighter and tighter. If we are not careful, our thoughts take us to deep mine shafts where we are not meant to be!
Truth: many of us are held captive by our thinking.
Fact is, we have within our incredible God-given brains the capacity to think well, dream big and grow far beyond the mediocrity for which most of us have settled. Come on now.
Are you a good thinker, or better put, do you think well? Weak thinking leaves us vulnerable, makes us easily influenced by external pressures and can tear us right down. How about you? Are you easily influenced? If so, toward the good and right? Or by the world and its pressures and priorities? Hmmm . . . requires a little thought, doesn't it?
What do you give priority to in your mind? Do you manage your thoughts or do they manage you?
Paul said, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will...__________________ (look it up and complete Romans 12.2. feeling lazy? it is at the bottom of this)1
If you are to win in this life, an interview with self may be in order to help you see yourself clearly. What sorts of thoughts are yours? About what would you say you spend most of your time thinking?
What thoughts do you have that are pleasing to God? _____________________________________________________
Which thoughts are not?_____________________________________________________
Do your thoughts control you or do you control your thoughts? Is it even possible to 'rein in' thoughts of worry or fear or lust, or secondary thoughts like prejudice, jealousy, or envy? I believe it is. In 2 Corinthians 10.5, Paul says "we are taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ . . ." It seems to me then it must be possible!
Ask God to renew your mind, to make it like new ... to clean and refresh it. Then dwell on God's Word; you will find that verses you have read and studied will run through your mind, just when you need them! It might be you who needs a lifeline, then again, it could be your daughter's teammate or your colleague on the east coast . . . and the inspiration of a particular scripture verse rings in your mind to lend encouragement . . . sweet!
Even so, some thoughts are difficult to banish, so I find it more productive, even more realistic, to replace them. Picture your mind like the shelves in a pantry lined with Campbell's soup cans. Imagine the red and white Campbell soup labels-'fear got you in its grip? Take down the can of 'Cream of Fear'- your fearful anxious thoughts- and replace with the 'Trust in God' can. Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.2 We have to replace errant thinking with truth.
"Ugh, why am I so stupid? It seems like I can't do anything right!" your mind reels. Replace that thought with 'I am fearfully and wonderfully made...God formed me in my mother's womb.'3 Do you find yourself being harsh and critical of others--often those closest to you? How about replacing the 'Can of Criticism' for love believes all things, bears all things, and gives the benefit of the doubt.4'
'Okay, okay,' you say, 'negative thinking is not really my problem.... I just don't think I am growing too much as an individual. Since I _________, I don't find ways to stretch my mind. I am a lazy thinker. Well then, besides getting yourself into God's Word, and letting it get into you, you might consider a couple more things:
>learn to ask questions. Instead of just seeing everything from your limited perspective, you will begin to see life from the eyes of others. [Perhaps it is the reason James wrote, 'be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger5] Asking questions gives you a valuable portal for understanding and a reason to think beyond yourself.
For instance, I remember a time I was standing on the sideline of Dylan's soccer game, chatting with an attorney, a spectator dad whose son had already graduated, and wasn't even on the field. Instead of just sticking to 'safe' conversation, he said something that gave me an opening, and I took it. 'So are you a man of faith?' And from there, this fellow imparted his thinking on Jesus being God's Son, hoping that would seal his eternal fate. 'However,' he said, 'as I see it, prayer doesn't really change things.' For the moment, I nodded and smiled, and asked another question.
When you ask questions, your conversant will usually turn and query you as well, affording you a great opportunity to share something vital--especially why your faith is important to you.
Funny thing, as Dave and I walked off the field that day, he remarked how stimulating the conversation had been and asked me a little about my faith. Hmmm. My response? Oh well, of course I told him why I absolutely believe prayer changes things----Because why? Because he asked me and I had something of value to say.
These things I bear in mind - the song: Morning by Morning, Pat Barrett:
Let’s become great thinkers,
1 - for the blank: Romans 12.2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
2 - Proverbs 3.5-6, NLT
3 - from Psalm 139
4 - 1 Corinthians 14.4-7
5 - James 1.19