There are two books that sit on my library shelves that are a part of my past history. I leave them there as reminders of a struggle I had in my past life. One is, “Think And Grow Rich” and the other is “Psycho-Cybernetics”. I read these books while I was still in the formative years of becoming who I am today. “Think And Grow Rich” was written by Napoleon Hill and “Psycho-Cybernetics” was written by Maxwell Maltz. I studied “Think And Grow Rich”, not because I wanted to get rich, but because the author gave ten principles for your thought life if you wanted to reach where you wanted to go. “Psycho-Cybernetics” taught that the human brain was a machine [Cybernetics means a man-made machine] and all you had to do to be successful was to program the machine [your brain]. Both books taught that success came through successful thinking. As I look back on those years, I am made aware of how close I came to shipwreck and the shoals of human thinking.

A scripture that changed my course was “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he”. [Proverbs 23:7] It was not an overnight change that happened to me, but I became aware that the Bible itself gave me the key to how I should think.

So, I ask questions that I asked myself. “What is it that I think about? What determines what I think? How much influence do the things happening around me affect my thinking? Can I control what I am thinking about? Does the Bible give me any direction in regarding my thinking”?

Jesus tells a story in Luke about this very thing. There was a rich man whose abundance of crops overwhelmed his storage capacity. So, he said within himself ‘what shall I do’? [Luke 12:16] The man was talking to himself. “He said within himself…”. He was thinking in a secular way. What God may have wanted him to do did not enter his mind. He merely consulted with himself. I am prone to do the same thing. I talk to myself as to what I think I should do, and God never enters into the picture. My thoughts are strictly within me.

Part of this problem is my imagination. I have the ability to form mental images of objects that are not yet in reality. This can be good, but it can also be bad. I have the power to produce the end results of a situation that is not yet known. It leads to fear and anxiety and produces negative actions in my life, all because of my imagination. Paul has an interesting word here that has a great affect on a part of my thinking process. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh…we cast down imaginations of every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and we bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. [2 Corinthians 10:3-5]

Ponder what Paul is saying, it is extremely challenging. We are told to eliminate all imaginations that do not exalt Jesus Christ. I try to imagine what that looks like in today’s culture. Imaginations that produce fear are controlling so many today. Not only imaginations, but he is telling us to bring every thought into captivity until they are obedient to Christ. Paul is telling me to bring all my thoughts under His control. This is a challenge for our thinking. Fear and false imaginations should not control my thoughts.

This brings up the question, “can I really control my thoughts”? Listen again to Paul; “…whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, if there be any praise, think on these things” [Philippians 4:8] Again, I ponder these words. At the time of writing these words, Paul was in a Roman prison. He could be indulging in self pity and negative thinking, but he teaches the people in Philippi to keep their thinking on the right things. Can we do that?

This can be illustrated as we observe Job working his way through a very difficult time; “…He knows the way I take and when He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His path; I have kept His ways and not turned aside”. [Job 23: 10-11] This shows the integrity that Job had in God, even though he did not understand his circumstances. That is integrity and integrity is a part of our thought life. Integrity keeps me true to what I believe. What you see on the outside is who I am on the inside. It is all a part of my thought life.

Once again, I look to the Apostle Paul for what he says regarding my thoughts; “I urge you brethren by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your service of worship. And be not conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you prove what the will of God is, that which is good acceptable and perfect”.
What is a “renewed mind”? The Bible speaks of a carnal mind, one that is ruled by our fallen nature. It tends to be selfish and is ruled by my lower nature. However, the “renewed mind” is a product of God. When He comes to live in me through conversion, His nature begins to show itself through my way of life and the way I think. My thoughts and thinking should be like a spring in the desert, an oasis where I can be refreshed. But for many people their minds, and thus their thoughts, are troubled which is reflected through their actions. My thoughts will keep me awake at night and will control my actions. Angry people are the result of troubled minds. Their thoughts become like dynamite that explodes through their actions.

Why did I not follow the teachings of “Think And Grow Rich” and “Psycho-Cybernetics”? At the time I was meeting on a regular basis with a group of men that had started to attend the church I pastored. I was on the verge of buying into their “thinking”. I always have had a private place where I can retreat, and in that privacy I can “think”. It was on one of those occasions that the Spirit of God led me to realize that there is a “secular mind” and where it will lead, and there is a “spiritual mind” and where it will lead. It was there that I determined the promises of God would be the source of my thought life and not the writings of man. Yes, the brain is a powerful organ. I call it “the King of my body”. It rules. However, the mind is separate, and I wanted my mind and what I think to be based on what God says and not on what man says.

It is a challenge to live in today’s world and keep your thoughts based on the Word of God. Joseph did this in his world. Read Genesis 37-50 and try to find negative thinking in his life. God seeks people today who can live in this decadent society and keep their thoughts and actions fixed on God and His Word.
The books? They still set on my shelf as a reminder of what I almost became.

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