Friday, June 12, 2009

Thinking About Thinking

When our four children were growing up, and especially during their teen years, we encouraged them to learn to think for themselves. At times the effort seemed boring and repetitious. Especially when I frequently quoted the lines “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.”

But looking back, I think this well-intentioned effort was worthwhile. Our thoughts do shape us. In today’s world, some other relevant questions are not just: “What’s on your mind?” but also, “What’s on your phone?” “What’s on your laptop, your PDA, or your desktop computer?” The input, what we deliberately fill our minds with; the memory banks, what we store in our minds; and the daily renewal of our minds and hearts—these are all practices that we must pay attention to in order to become authentic followers and disciples of Jesus.

Disciples learn how to manage their minds by learning how to think effectively. For 21st century followers of Jesus, these personal mind management practices will also extend to how we manage our electronic brains, internet pages, avatars, and more.

Mother Janet Stuart, challenged her sisters to “Think glorious thoughts of God and serve Him with a quiet mind” (Life and Letters of Janet Erskine Stuart, by Maud Monahan, page 307).

As Frank Laubach writes: “A clean mind is good--but not good enough. It isn’t enough to cleanse the mind of evil thoughts, though that is essential. An empty mind will not stay empty or clean! Jesus’ strange parable about a devil which left a man’s mind and came back with seven more devils was exactly to the point.

“The demons found the man’s mind cleaned and a vacuum, so they rushed in. The only way to keep out demonic ideas is to have the mind full of “a good treasure” of thoughts, vital, burning thoughts, big enough to fill the mind and heart.

“That is why Paul was speaking a truth he got straight from Jesus when he said: ‘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).”

“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse” (The Message).

(Prayer, The Mightiest Force in the World, Fleming H. Revell Company, Westwood, New Jersey, 1946, pages 94-95).