“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8
My little dog Itsy is quiet. She rarely makes a noise. I have wondered what actually goes through her little doggy head. Our humans minds are always thinking something. Even those who are quiet, quiet people may tend to think more. We humans often battle with negative thinking. We may not speak out the thoughts but we are thinking things that are not in line with God. Our negative thinking even when not spoken is harmful to ourselves. For negative thinking often contributes to depression, anxiety, sleep issues, behavior problems and relational conflicts.
Much of modern day behavioral therapy conducted by liscensed counselor focuses on changing negative thought patterns and thinking. This is what these professionals are trained to do. It takes work and time. But even before we had modern day counselors and therapist God gave us his wisdom. For the Bible already lined out for us what we should and should not be thinking. The Bible gave us tools for retraining our minds thousands of years before we had modern day mental health professionals.
I myself have had to work extensively to retrain my mind and thinking. I continue to work in this area. For part of becoming more like Christ is retraining my mind to think more like Christ. This is a lifetime practice for us Christians. So how do we change our thinking?
I like to think of our thinking as a game of baseball. Let’s say our good thoughts are like a good hit or a home run. While our negative thoughts are like a fly ball. When playing baseball the pitcher throws the batter a pitch. The hitter then attempts to hit the ball. When we are engaging in life it is like being thrown a pitch. Our minds will instinctively form a thought in response just like a batter will attempt to hit the baseball. Most of the time the response is subconscious. It is instinctual. We sometime get a hit. We think the correct thing in line with Christ. But we also often hit a fly ball. I like to think of our negative and harmful thinking as these fly balls.
The first step is being about to recognize what is a hit and what is a fly ball. We as the batter often struggle to tell the difference, especially if it is close to the line. This is why we have a uppire in baseball and this is why we often need counseling, pastoral care and Christian community in our lives. For they can help us better understand what is a fly ball and what is a hit. But once the fly ball is hit what then? The ball was not a hit but we still need to collect the ball. We need to identify what went wrong in the batting process so that we can improve and not continue to hit a fly or miss the ball completely. Just as a batter practices hitting the baseball we as humans have to practice identifying our thoughts and checking whether they are in line with Christ.
I often have to write things out. I will write out the thought. Recognize it as being in line with Christ or not. If the thought is in line with Christ, I then write out the correct thinking and go as far as to give the scriptural reference for why it is the correct thought. The more I do this the more the correct thinking becomes the new habit. As I go about my day and life throws me a curve ball the more likely I am to get a hit and less likely to strike out. Yet I am not perfect so I still strike out sometimes and I rest in God’s grace for the times I fail.
“We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5
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