Guarding Our Thoughts

What do you like to read? What do you like to watch? To listen to? These are things I have been working hard at paying attention to. Why?

Because I know how my my mind can be, and is, influenced by what my eyes see and my ears hear. I know how dark my thoughts can get. I also know how full of life and grace my thoughts can get.

I know I am driven by my thoughts, so I am working hard at what I let into my mind.

A few years ago, my wife and I got interested in a series on Hulu. We watched the first couple seasons, and we enjoying the story line. One day, we both looked at each other and acknowledged we did not feel well…it was like there was a weight on our minds holding us back. We stopped watching that show, and also canceled Hulu so we weren’t tempted.

Our older kids are in middle school, almost high school. I cannot believe how fast they are growing up! There are times they’ll say, “Daddy, listen to this song I like.” When I listen to it, I notice I like the beat, I like to music. But what gets me is the lyrics. I don’t ever forbid them from listening to the music, we do talk about the power of lyrics. 

That’s the thing I would encourage us to focus on. We may not ever think about the lyrics. We may not ever think about the little joke. We may think nothing of that particular book. We may not ever think about the comments, the expressions, the style of reporting. But all of this helps shape how we think and, therefore, how we live.

We are what we think. We act as we think.

The challenge I have for me, and all of us, is to guard our thoughts. Guard our peace. Guard our joy and hope. Otherwise, we can find ourselves in a frame of mind contrary to who we really want to be.These thoughts will not happen all at once. But slowly, consistently, steadily, we find ourselves, over time, being influenced and changed because of what we allow in our minds.

I fail constantly. But I am working hard at remembering, and living out, Paul’s exhortation to the Philippian Church:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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 things.” ~‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:4-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Published by Ryan Stratton

Ryan Stratton is a pastor in the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. He serves with his wife, Amanda, along with their children. He writes about life, faith, and leadership through his blog.

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