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Midweek Devotionals

Published weekly on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays.

Deep Thoughts Wed 9/24/14

Robert Chen

Here goes ...

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers and sisters, 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 thingsWhatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

No one would know this but in 1902 a man named James Allen wrote an essay entitled, "As a Man Thinketh." 

Now you are asking yourself two questions: "What is 'thinketh'?" The answer: 'thinketh' is (archaic) third-person singular simple present indicative form of think. The next question -- more a remark -- once you got 'thinketh' is: "I didn't know males think?" Let me say it, hahaha.

The title of the essay actually comes from the Bible, Proverbs 23:7,  "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."

The essay opens with the following statement-poem:

Mind is the Master power that molds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: —
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.

There are other quotes that give insight about the power and influence of our thought life, like this one:

"The soul attracts that which it secretly harbors, that which it loves, and also that which it fears. It reaches the height of its cherished aspirations. It falls to the level of its unchastened desires – and circumstances are the means by which the soul receives its own."

{I got the information from the Wikipedia entry on "As a Man Thinketh":}

The truth of Proverbs 23:7 is reinforced in the New Testament, in Philippians 4:8-9.

Our habits of thought really do shape who we become. The internal reality of our thought life manifests itself in our external lives. We might deceive ourselves and others for a time, but eventually that internal reality of our loves, fears, lusts, and longings play themselves out when we are given the external opportunity.

When we hear news of someone who committed abhorrent acts, the perpetrator's neighbors almost always say something like, "But he seemed like such a nice guy." But when the police and investigators search the person's house, they find evidence that "niceness" was an appearance and that what drove the person's reality was a fantasy life full of images, videos, and scenarios that were dark and disturbing.

This type of dark or negative fantasying provided the internal condition that gave rise to the external act. 

I use the word 'fantasize' deliberately because of the word's accuracy of description. To fantasize = def. "to indulge in daydreaming about something desired; to imagine (something that one wants to happen)."

To be human is to fantasize. To be human is to imagine what one wants. To be human is to think of outcomes. To be human is to ponder possibilities. To be human is to inhabit a mental world full of dreams and/or nightmares, of angels or demons, of God or God's absence. We cannot escape this human condition. Nor do we want to escape from it. Because our ability to fantasize or daydream means we can dream about God too.

As with all powerful gifts, like intelligence and influence, we can use our fantasizing either for evil or for good. So the relevant questions: How will you fantasize? How will you daydream? What will you ponder in your heart? What will you think about? Will you ponder or imagine things all by yourself? Or, will you invite Someone else to join you?

When Paul wrote those words in Philippians 4:8-9, he was well aware of the power of our thought life. "As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7).

In the inner places, in the secret places -- like a mother's womb -- we are formed and shaped to become who we will eventually become. The process of our becoming either Christ-like or devil-like is an ongoing process which we cannot stop. Which process are you choosing? Which mental world do you want to inhabit? Is the Lord there in that world? Does your mental world have truth, nobility, righteousness, purity, loveliness, excellence, praiseworthiness? If it does, then think about such things.

Let's pray: Father, part of our deep healing involves the healing of our fantasy life. We repent of all fantasizing that we know is not of You. We pray for our mental well-being. The things we think about. The things we hope for. The things we see as possible outcomes. Sanctify these things we ponder and play over in our minds. We invite you as our co-partner in our ponderings and daydreaming. We will no longer see ourselves alone in our mental world. We will always see you as our dialogue partner, as our friend, as our guide. Help us, O Lord. In Jesus' name, Amen.