Stinking Thinking

We all face many stresses each and every day.  These stresses range from the personal (issues with kids, marriage, health, finances, death of loved ones, conflicts with co-workers, bosses, etc.) to the external world such as all the tragedies we hear about in the 24/7 news cycle like shootings, wars, terrorism, ISIS, Boko Haram kidnappings, Ukraine, Syria, etc.  When I'm getting bombarded with all this loss, negativity and stress, I sometimes find it very easy to slip into a spiral of negative thoughts.  I start looking at everything as half-empty rather than half-full.  This can also lead me into a very selfish mode where all I can think of is me.  How can I cope? How can I protect and comfort myself from everything I'm facing?  I've heard this referred to as "stinking thinking".

I've found it very helpful in times like this (which if you think of it, all times are essentially like this) to intentionally think about all the things for which I'm thankful and grateful.  It's very difficult for me to feel angry and depressed while I'm recognizing some of the blessings in my life.  A smile usually comes to my face as I think about the gift of faith, the gift of Jesus, Lisa, my family, the community at God's Grace, rainbows, columbine blooming in the yard, the super moon a couple days ago, back-to-back birdies last week, climbing Lookout Mountain on my bike with Lisa a couple weeks ago, my vocation and the wonderful clients I serve. . .  Thankfully, the list goes on and on.

A couple of scripture passages I go back to time and again during bouts of stinking thinking are:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.  Eph 3:18-19

Another comforting passage is Phil 4:8-9:

Finally, brothers, 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.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put it into practice.  And the God of peace will be with you.

The footnote in my bible on this verse says that "what a person allows to occupy his mind will sooner or later determine his speech and his actions".  Lord, I pray that we can all put away our stinking thinking and find ways to focus on what is right, noble, pure, lovely and admirable.  Let us think about things that are excellent and praiseworthy.  Amen.

Brad Gauen

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