Controlling my Thoughts

I recently finished memorizing the book of Philippians. It is a really good book with lots of inspirational verses for hard times. Paul is in prison in Rome for his faith, and probably had to wear a face mask ( unless he was eating, of course), so his comments about “rejoicing always” are not written from a perspective of comfort. I think the verse that has impacted me the most in the book is Philippians 4:8.

Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell (think about, meditate on) on these things.

It is so easy to think about current events most of the time, and make myself depressed, but choosing what I think about is one of the most important disciplines in life. Paul starts this verse with the word “finally”. It isn’t the last thing he writes in the book, but it is a summary statement of all that he has written. Verses like this are hard for me to memorize perfectly because of the long list of words, but Paul certainly gives some options besides the bad, the depressing, the disappointing, the stupid, and the confusing. His list include words like honorable, lovely, worthy of praise.

This verse is an admonition by Paul, something we can choose to do or ignore. I have identified all of the commandments given to us in Paul’s writings and made a list of them. I rearrange them periodically according to my perceived importance of them in my life at the time . Right now this verse is at the top of the list, “dwell on these things,” “think positive.”

It is easier to obey this command if I have identified some options of what to set my mind on when I wander into the negative. Here is a list of the lovely things in my life that make me a happy camper when I choose to think about them;

I love to fish so I enjoy thinking about upcoming fishing events and trips. Instead of the news I watch YouTube videos of how to catch various species of fish. It is so much fun and puts me in a really good mood.

I am restoring a 1969 Mustang with one of my grandsons, and I go out and work on it at all times of the day. I was working on it at 9:00 pm last night, and I enjoy visualizing what it is going to look like when we are finished, what is the next thing to do, and how are we going to do it. I spend time almost every night, at least for a few minutes, looking at online catalogs of parts, and watching YouTube videos of various restoration techniques. It isn’t hard for me to make a mental switch in my head to the Mustang project if I get off on the election or COVID, if you were watching me from a distance you would be able to tell when the switch happened, I would smile.

I teach or preach at our church seven times each week so I think about what I am going to say and how to make it clear, how to teach in a way that holds people’s attention, and reviewing the content for accuracy and truth. I can literally spend hours non-stop on this thinking topic. Spending time mentally preparing while I am doing other things gets me all excited about the ministry I have, and the influence I can have for God in other people’s lives. Not much else gives me more joy than teaching the Bible and thinking about teaching.

But the most positive thing that I think about is eternity. I visualize for long periods of time what it will look like, what I will be doing, what it will be like to have a body like that of Jesus, and on and on. My imagination is capable of creating almost any scenario, and the more I do it the wilder they become, and it is so much fun.

Well, as the song in the “Sound of Music” goes, “here is a list of my favorite things,” at least a few. There isn’t any excuse for me being down in the dumps over circumstances when I have so many positive things to dwell on.

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