Thornleigh Seventh-day Adventist Church (Sydney, Australia)

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Pastor's Piece - Thinking

by Dr Alex Currie


In 1902 James Allen published a paper entitled 'As A Man Thinketh,' which commences with these words:

Mind is the Master power that moulds 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.

Allan penned some interesting lines such as 'A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.'  Again he penned 'Every action and feeling is preceded by a thought.'  He also penned 'As the physically weak man can make himself strong by careful and patient training, so the man of weak thoughts, can make them strong by exercising himself in right thinking.'  A final quote says; 'Every man is where he is by the law of his being; the thoughts which he has built into his character have brought him there, and in the arrangement of his life there is no element of chance, but all is the result of a law which cannot err.'

The wise man wrote 'as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.'   James Allen took the title of his paper from this scriptural reference, Proverbs 23:7.   Solomon also wrote 'The wise have eyes in their head, but fools walk in darkness...' Ecclesiastes 2:14 NRSV  We all have eyes but do we see positively?

One of my work roles is in Christian Counselling.  Many  human problems arise from faulty thinking.   One study on parenting showed that 85% of talk in our homes is negative which has a tremendous effect on how children see themselves.  Negative thinking habits include an intolerance of others, thinking poorly about one's self, a constant need for approval, the idea that you will never be good enough, why persevere, and the belief you'll never be successful because you are always a failure.    If we are to develop healthy attitudes and emotional resilience in our children we must eliminate negative thinking and behaviour.  In fact research demonstrates that a healthy balance in developing vitalized relationships is a ratio of five (positives) to one (negative).  In many situations this statistic is reversed! What's your ratio?

So when you see emotional resilience demonstrated say such things as "I liked what I saw and heard.  You did not become angry in that difficult situation."  Or perhaps, "Having self control is a wonderful skill to have and you really demonstrated that then."  After a test the child completes you may say "You didn't become too nervous before the exam, you appeared to relax and take it in your stride.  Such an attitude will enable you to succeed not only in exams but in life."  Again, 'You didn't let that early failure stop you from persevering and really trying.  I like that attitude - great stuff!"

Perfectionists tend to be negative.   Don't let them spoil your day.   When Fanny Crosby was a child, although she was blind she wrote:

'Oh, what a happy child I am although I cannot see.
I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't
To weep and sigh because I'm blind, I cannot and I won't

What a resolve for a child of eight!   What an attitude!  She demonstrated emotional resilience.

Paul encountered many challenges in life but could write 'If God is for us, who can be against us?' Romans 8:31  Now that's positive thinking!  

Healthy thinking patterns lead to creative thinking.   In 1974, my wife and four boys spent a wonderful  weekend in Canton, Ohio tubing down the snow covered hills having family fun.  Years before, a humble janitor in that city, Murray Spangler, had a contract cleaning a local department store.   Murray suffered health problems each time he swept up the dust and dirt.  All through the dusting, sweeping process, he coughed and wheezed!  Instead of thinking negatively, he thought positively.  Perhaps there was a better way of getting rid of the dirt and dust.  Could he invent something that would suck the dirt up?  He invented a crude machine that today we call a vacuum cleaner.  But he was on a poor salary and couldn't fund the manufacturing of this invention.  He contacted an old friend, H. W Hoover who funded the project; so was launched the Hoover Vacuum Cleaners.  For years vacuuming floors was called 'hoovering.' 

Even woodpeckers succeed by using their heads - let's use the minds we've been given to God's glory by thinking in a positive framework and mindset.

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