Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Quit the stinking thinking!

Philippians 4:8-9

     And now, dear brothers and sisters let me say one more thing as I close this letter. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned from me and heard from me and saw me doing, and the God of peace will be with you.

     Paul is nearing the end of his letter to the Philippian church, and almost like a dying Father giving words of wisdom before he departs this life, Paul shares nourishing truths that will help fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord successfully live out their Christian faith. He had experienced both sides of the coin, and he knew what it would take to stay on the straight and narrow path of following Jesus Christ. He boiled everything down to thought processes.

     What we put into our mind determines what comes out in our words and actions. Have you ever noticed the power of our mind or the fact that we can conjure up a multitude of different scenarios and assumptions without any of them ever coming to fruition? We’re all guilty of accusing someone without all the details, or immediately jumping to wrong conclusions without all the complete facts. And who hasn’t allowed the movie screen in your head to play out the latest scene of death, doom and destruction before you ever hear the doctor’s test results?

     Where would we be if we lived in a world that didn’t allow negative, false-assuming thinking to rule our life? Think about how peaceful and surreal life would be if we only lived for the moment, never allowing negative thinking to overrule reality. We would sleep better, love purer, serve deeper and trust stronger. When we allow negative, false thinking to overwhelm our thought process, we become held hostage in a fantasy world of our own making where we are never free to accomplish our intended mission and calling from God.

     In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. We spent the next four years praying and believing for a miracle from God, while allowing doctors to poke, prod, and attempt to remove the ugly disease from her body. In 2009, she went on to receive her ultimate, perfect healing from the Lord and is now rejoicing with her Heavenly Father forever. Although I rejoice in the fact that she is no longer in pain or discomfort, I would be a liar if I didn’t admit that the last six months of her life was the most horrendous thing I had ever experienced. The Lord was gracious and merciful and carried me through that most difficult time, but I prefer to never have to go back to that dark period of my life or experience anything similar to that ever again.

     Two years after my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer, my dad was also diagnosed with the very same cancer.  He has endured different circumstances and treatments and is still alive today, continuing to serve the Lord. With the passing of my mother, I have taken the responsibility of looking after my father. He is doing very well, considering everything he has gone through, and continues to live on his own and care for himself.

     I give glory to God for each and every day that my father is still here with us, but I have to admit that there are days and moments where I allow fear and negative thinking to overwhelm me. At the slightest mention of an ache or pain, or the simple sound of a nagging cough, I am transported back to a time where I sat and watched my beloved mother wither and shrivel into someone that I could hardly recognize. If I allow myself to relive that scenario, in my mind, it’s not long before I place my father in that same circumstance. Do you understand what I’m saying here? When I do that, I am allowing past circumstances to dictate future scenarios.

     Only God knows the number of our days, and how we will spend the remainder of those days. It is unfair of me, or anyone else, to try to figure out what the future holds. Only God knows the future and we need to learn to trust Him to carry us through it, whatever it may be.

     It is a daily battle for me, to take my thoughts captive and think on things that are true, and lovely and right. My human mind wants to jump ahead and immediately assume the worst, but the Lord is teaching me otherwise. I have learned to recognize my negative behavior sooner, and I act accordingly. This verse immediately comes to my mind each time I’m faced with the decision to trust God or retreat into my negative fantasy world. When I find myself in that dilemma, I stop and ask myself a few questions: Is this thought that I’m thinking true and factual? Or is this thought something that I’ve conjured up in my mind? If I find that the latter is true, then I literally stop in my tracks and take that thought captive. I picture myself crumbling up that thought like one would crumble up a piece of paper, and throw it away. Often times, I have to physically occupy myself and my mind with another activity, so as to divert my attention away from my negative behavior. I know it may sound crazy, but if I want to be victorious in Christ and not allow the enemy of my soul to wreak havoc on my life, then I have to take drastic measures, in order to win the battle.

     Paul obviously understood this concept, which is why he wrote about it in the Bible. He knew that our sinful, human nature tries to overtake, overrule and overwhelm our spirit man, which is why he is giving us wonderful words of wisdom to overcome our human nature and go on to live a victorious life in Christ. It’s up to us whether to accept his wisdom or continue to live in defeat.

     Can you identify with today’s devotion? Do you allow your negative, false-reality to overwhelm your life? Take time to evaluate your thinking process and consider putting into practice some of the approaches I mentioned above. Most of all, ask God to help you change the way you think and what you allow to enter your mind, especially from outside sources such as: TV, computer, internet and movies.

Have a great day!  

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