think about such things

think about such things coverby Tim Howington

I am a thinker.  Or at least I think I am.  Descartes says, “I think therefore I am”, so I guess I am.  I am an engineer at heart, my degree is in computer science engineering (linear thinker, problem solver, logical and sequential).  But I am also a bit of a philosopher (love to engage with the abstract and essential life questions like- who am I, where did I come from, where am I going).  That combination of engineering and philosophy puts me in a spot to ponder a variety of issues and then come up with some practical solutions.

I love the Bible and theology because it holds real insight to the real issues of the world.  I always find it amusing when people discount the Bible as relevant because in my experience it is the only thing that makes sense in real life.  I am a self-proclaimed practical theologian which basically means that the part of theology I enjoy is the application of our theological studies in the real world.

But when a problem gets beyond my ability to solve (and that happens more than I care to admit) I begin to freeze.  My thoughts become cloudy and even though I keep pondering the situation, if I am unable to come up with a solution my mind begins to panic. My strength of thinking transitions to be my worst nightmare.  I now begin to think through the consequences (real and imagined).  Unless I begin to focus on truth, I can allow my mind to take me to places that I have no business going.  And I begin to lose the battle.

The key to winning the battle for the mind has to do with what we allow our minds to focus on. If we focus on our problems, then we will plant seeds of anxiety that will grow into a real sense of hopelessness. If we focus on what God can do, then our minds will begin to experience contentment. Now I know that our thoughts may not pay the light bill or get us that promotion or fix that fractured relationship.  But thinking about the right things keeps our hearts with the right perspective, which affects our attitudes, which allows us to struggle well in times of adversity.

What should we be thinking about? 

Think about Worthy Things

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” Philippians 4:8

When my son was in grade school, he studied the life of Johnny Appleseed.  Johnny planted apple seeds that produced apple trees.  In a similar way, the believer plants spiritual seeds that produce spiritual perspectives that guide us along the way.

Listen to Paul’s list of seeds to plant in the gardens of our minds. He gives a great list of things that we should focus our thoughts on. I have rearranged the order to spell the word PLANTER. These categories of thoughts could help you make some progress in your thinking. Memorize the acronym and work systematically through the list till you are thinking rightly. When you catch yourself thinking of unworthy things you should try to shift gears to thoughts that are:

P-ure and Praiseworthy
L-ovely
A-dmirable
N-oble
T-rue
E-xcellent
R-ight

As I was working through this section, it occurs to me, that each of these thoughts that I need to be planting in my mind, ultimately describe our Heavenly Father.  He is pure and praiseworthy.  He is lovely.  He is admirable. He is noble.  He is true.  He is excellent.  He is right.  And while there are other things in this world that are worthy to focus our mind’s attention on, our God who spoke the universe into place and daily shows His meticulous providence towards us, He should be the major focus of our minds during our times of need.

Meditation Exercise

meditation exerciseWiki How defines “meditation” in a Christian context. In a secular context, meditation is associated with emptying the mind and relaxing the body. On the other hand, meditating on the Word of God—or any other form of Christian meditation—requires you to concentrate and think deeply on God’s truth.

In the following devotional we have developed an 8-day Bible study looking at each of the words from Philippians 4:8. In your devotional time, focus on one word at a time in the context of the verse. Mediation is a relatively foreign concept for us in the West.

Click Here to see the devotional

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