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Changing Our Thinking!
by Christine Jones

    Jesus (said), “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with your entire mind”. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification. Matthew 22:37, Romans 14:19.

    C.B.Keogh began a twelve step recovery program back in 1956 called “GROW”, which is for people journeying through emotional or mental trauma of any kind. It is based on the widely known Alcoholics Anonymous principles. He believed that a true conversion of heart brought about a complete reorientation in our lives, because it reached down into our innermost thoughts, which puts God, and not us, at the center. When God is at the center of our lives, our thinking is able to change, because then, and only then, are we able to see ourselves from God’s perspective, and individuals with enormous value.

    An interesting development is that when we change our thinking, we are then able to change our behavior. When we think negatively, we act negatively. Some folk say they wake up “on the wrong side of the bed”, which explains their own moodiness, their reckless driving on the roads, their kicking the chair (or the cat!) out of their way or being angry at everyone who crosses them. Taken to an extreme, people who kill, rape, or assault others have almost always thought about it first. Often those people have considered the idea for many years, even decades, and eventually these negative thoughts result in tragedy. Aggression begins in the mind. Most vandals sit around sharing all their thoughts about how, and what, to damage, before they begin their destructive rampages.

    The opposite is true, however, if we begin to think kind, positive and genuinely caring thoughts about others. St. Paul advised us to do this when he said, “Whatever is noble...right…pure…lovely…admirable….excellent or praiseworthy….. think about such things “ (Philippians 4:8). When we habitually control our thinking to only allow helpful, uplifting, gentle thoughts about others to dwell in our mind, then we will begin to ACT more kindly to those people we meet. We will smile at the post deliverer without even being aware of it, and we will allow the rushing person to enter before us in the queue at the supermarket. Our behavior changes! The way most people will know we are thinking more positively is by our speech! Our tongues really do have incredible power! God’s word says that a soft word turns away wrath. That is so true. We will also genuinely feel positively helpful, and our own sense of worth will increase.

    Then the third amazing thing will begin to happen. Our RELATIONSHIPS will change! So many thousands of us want changes in our relationships, and pray and beg God to “do the miracle” for us, when very often we can DO the miracle ourselves, by changing our THINKING! Once our mindset changes, our attitudes and behavior imperceptibly change also. Finally, and often it takes a long time, people around us will begin to feel a little safer with us, or a little less threatened, or a little less hassled, or annoyed, etc. For example, when we think kindly, and act kindly, eventually the folk around us will come to the realization that we ARE kind! Once that realization has occurred within THEM, they will respond to us in a more positive way too, and so our relationships will develop, and grow, and change! The same is true for every possible attitude. It will affect our parenting skills, our animal-handling, our business acumen, our financial goals, and our dearest and nearest. Whilst we can never expect to achieve perfect relationships, or even improved relationships with everyone, we can always do our part. We cannot predict how other people may act, react or pro-act, but our own inner attitudes will certainly affect every relationship we have.

    Once our relationships begin to change, because our thinking, and thence our behavior, has changed, we will see our whole world begin to change! Then, and only then, will personal peace come. We are at peace with WHO we are, and we are able to live with a personal integrity which I believe is the peace of heart and mind which Jesus talks about.

    Can you see it? It is so true: WE ARE WHAT WE THINK.

    PRAYER: Create in me, O Lord, a clean heart. May the words of my mouth and the thoughts I allow to remain in my mind be ones which will be of the utmost support, help, and love towards myself and all I know. Show me ways to inspire, encourage, comfort and empower those I meet today, in ways which are honorable to your most holy name. Amen.

    TODAY: Start small. It is impossible to change everything at once, and discouragement can (and does!) creep in. Attempt one small change in your thinking. Choose one persistent, regular and nagging thought pattern which you would like to be free from. It may be that constant criticism of others which goes around in your head, a nagging doubt about your ability, or a rather regular angry feeling which only you may know about, but which surely does spill out to those around you. You may continually be ‘putting yourself down’ in your head. Just choose ONE thought pattern. Ask God to alert you whenever it pops into that mind of yours, and then disregard it. Crowd it out by choosing to think about something else, just for today. See how it goes. You might be really surprised at how often you slip up, but that is just fine. Then you know you’re on a life-changing winner!

    © Christine M. Jones
    Christine Jones is married to David. She has two adult children and precious grandchildren. She has worked for many years as a school teacher/librarian, and written children's material for several years in her 'spare time'. She loves nature, music and the theatre.

    John Mark Ministries
    drcmjones@optusnet.com.au