Practical help for controlling your thoughts by Stanley Charles, InTouch Ministries

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Many times when I listen to a sermon, or read something really inspirational, I immediately think of sharing it with someone. Today is one of those days and I have chosen to share some insights from Pastor Stanley Charles of InTouch Ministries. Hope you find it useful!

Let me start with one of his quotes: “Unseen thoughts produce visible consequences in your life.”

We just cannot escape the reality of our thoughts. Hence the reason it is so important to master our thoughts and control them always. Once we are alive we would think, but we are not to be held captive to our thoughts. We can save ourselves from doing and saying things that we would regret, if only we can learn to control our thoughts.

Here are six questions, given by Pastor Charles, that we can ask ourselves, to help us practice healthy thinking. Remember, our mind is a control tower.

1. Where will these thoughts lead me?

2. Will these thoughts get me where I want to go?

3. Are these thoughts scripturally acceptable?

4. Will these thoughts build me up or tear me down?

5. Could I share these thoughts with someone else?

6. Where did these thoughts originate?

I find these questions solid and very useful for helping anyone build healthy thinking habits. If you think of yourself as a failure, you would find all sorts of excuses to keep you from rising after falling.

If you think of others as individuals who are of less value than you, then it would be easy for you to hurt others, whether with your words or your actions. If you think that God’s word is not true, you would live your life with no consideration of consequences or the impact of your decisions on others.

Don’t be fooled. Your mind is indeed your control tower.

Practice asking the questions above and see yourself soar in your thoughts and in your life.

Your greatness can come from your failures

At the time we are experiencing them, the world does not deal kindly with failures, weaknesses and moments of personal struggles; those times when we feel like we have lost our way, we have lost our shine and our spirit is broken. But when we persevere and rise from the ashes, then everyone wants to hear our story; we often forget that these struggles often birth greatness. Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, is the greatest example of someone who has persevere through His struggle. He never sinned but his struggle was real. He refused to give up on the promises of His father, even after being tempted to do so. As a result, He eventually gained the victory over the musically talented, but destructive, Lucifer, who was now working against his dream to see all men experience true freedom. Many men have passed on, leaving a legacy of getting back up after failure and persevering to the finishing line. Some were able to rise after several failures. They learnt that their failure was only a catalyst, a lesson, and embraced it not with shame and regret, but gratefulness. They understood what it meant to give thanks for everything, even for their failures, for it was during these times that their lives were deeply shaken to the core and after much pain and personal sacrifice, they were able to present fruits of gold and silver.

I suggest you get excited about getting up after you have fallen and look over yonder to the distance, whether you see it or not, there is a ray of hope beckoning you to keep pressing forward towards the finishing line. God sent his Son to give you and I hope, hope after Adam and Eve sinned, hope that would take us out of fear and bondage, hope that would pull us away from our poor self image and help us to understand that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, for a purpose. As a we embrace this hope, we would unlock our true potential and shine, so that our heavenly father can be glorified. It is a hope that can only be found in Jesus and it enables us to have the correct perspective about our failures and our weaknesses, and about our future. It is a hope that gives us the strength to see our dreams become reality.

Psalm 139:14 – My new favourite verse

Last Sunday, my son led family devotions. For us leading family devotions is no big thing, we would normally share a passage that has been a blessing to us, a lesson learnt, or just something in the bible we found amazing and wanted to explore more with the rest of the family.

He read from Psalm 139 wrapping it up by quoting the last two verses. We had such a sweet moment discussing that Psalm that I decided to go back and feed a bit more on it, this time with my daughter. So at nights we began reading the Psalm again.

There is so much in this Psalm but I must just take this moment to say that when we arrived at verse 14, all heaven broke loose. That verse just put a skip in our step, a flicker of light in our eyes and a cool inner feeling of peace that made us feel that we were ready for bed and ready to face what is to come.

I decided to share that special verse with you. It says, “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made, marvelous are thy works and that my soul knoweth right well.” I just love the old English style in which it is written.

Some verses just hit the spot when you least expect it. I felt a little dry and my friend, when I read this verse, all my dry places was immediately flooded. If we had decided to just say good night and dive under the covers, we would’ve missed this golden moment with God’s word.

I am going to praise God just knowing that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am his masterpiece, I am his special creation, I am of such great worth to Almighty God that it just makes me want to run to the top of the mountain and shout it out so the world could hear. God continues to do amazing, marvelous, out-of-this-world things that astonishes us daily. He is really incomparable.

What a verse! Definitely the kind of verse that would change a dull moment to joy. I admit, some part of the Bible can seem boring but there is always that verse to keep you smiling, to keep you going, to keep you joyful.

We are human but God provides the means for us to think above our human tendencies.

The Book of Genesis provides a great entrance to God and His intention for His creation.   It never gets old no matter how many times I read it. 

The stories of Abraham and Sarah reminds us of the importance of trusting God.   Stay with me as I quickly point out a few things: 

Genesis 12:3 shares with us a promise made by God to Abraham: “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shall be a blessing”. Then Chapter 15 speaks more of this promise.  Verses 3 & 4 says:  “And Abram said, Behold to me thou hast given no seed: and , lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the Lord came unto him saying, this shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir.” 

Sadly, Abraham Got anxious and had sex with his Maid on the prompting of his wife.  Maybe he thought he was helping God fulfill his will.  His human thinking however, only created problems.   This was not the seed God promised to Abraham.  God intended for this seed to come from Abraham and his wife.    

God had to instruct Abraham again, this time clearly indicating that Sarah would have a child.  And you know what? Sarah did have a child as promised.    Skip down to chapter 21 and what do we read? “And the Lord visited Sarah as he said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken.” 

When coming to God’s promises and his plan for our lives, we often think we need to speed up things and we give into the pressures around us, but our fleshy mistakes only create havoc in our lives and it is never worth it.  Sometimes the pressures to stray from God’s promise can come from a family member and when it does it becomes tricky.   It is comforting to know, however, that God strengthens us to resist any pressure, it does not matter where them come from. 

In Chapter 20, it speaks of Abraham journeying to the South and staying in a city called Gerar.   Abraham told the King, Abimelech, that Sarah was his Sister.  He was afraid that if he confessed her to be his wife, they would kill him and take her.  He feared that they had no respect for God and would do as they please. 

Abraham’s lie did not help one bit, it created problems for the King’s household.   Abraham had to confess and allow God to fix the situation. 

Our natural mind has to be daily trained to think in the spiritual.  God already promised Abraham a seed, he knew it was not the child he had with his Maid and he knew the seed would come from Sarah.   But, here he is fearing death.   Didn’t Abraham realize he needed to be alive for God’s purpose to be executed? 

I am happy that even though we are bent towards doing our own thing, we have the means to resist and give in to God’s plan for our lives. 

Because you are different does not mean you need to give in.

There are many people struggling with the desire to become intimately involved with the same sex. Finally, many of them give in, thinking that this is who they are meant to be and they need to be free by “coming out of their closet”. This mentality is supported by lots of people in society today and it is really difficult for someone to resist when those “same-sex” urges are experienced.

I believe the stories of those who finally gave in, are glamorised, while the stories of those who don’t are often suppressed and not shared.

The reality is however, it boils down to a choice, to respect and believe that God’s standards are different from society’s standards or to reject those standards for society’s standards. Some choose to respect and honour God’s way and so they choose to resist the urge and the temptation to be with another of their kind. Today, there are beautiful stories of such successes.

Don’t be overwhelmed with the fashion to give in, there is another option. Ask yourself “What would Jesus Do?”. Ask him that question directly and sincerely tune in for his answer. You would be amazed of the power of his words and the overwhelming love he has for you. Consider that the one who created you may have a different plan for your life, even with your “differences”. Consider!

Someone is encouraged to pursue their dreams because of you

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No one likes to be around hypocrites and that is a given. But often we look at others, forgetting to look in the Mirror. When we say one thing and our behaviour depicts something else, it creates confusion in the minds of others. It is always better to let people see you rather than hear you; unfortunately or fortunately, what they see is evidence of who you really are.
I know of many persons who have been discouraged from doing good because they have been disappointed by someone they once looked up to.
Students look up to teachers and are often baffled by their conduct. It causes them to re-evaluate the values they were taught, to question whether or not there are folks who really believe these values and live by them. Some Parents create deep rifts between themselves and their children, because they choose to discipline their children for certain acts they themselves are guilty of committing. Some spouses treat their wives or husbands badly, while they pretend to be angels on the outside, seeking to fool others into believing that all is well.
It happens at church as well, church leaders forget that it is ok to admit to weaknesses and failures and instead, attempt to live hiding behind a mask, one that forces them to pretend to be who they are not. Usually, it is only a matter of time that the high expectations of others are shattered.
Bosses pretend to listen, to care and to be fair, while deep down they are not sincerely interested in your well-being. You are not valued beyond what you can do.
These are all realities that exists in your world and in my world. Many of us have been disappointed by someone in our lifetime or have disappointed someone in their lifetime.
Let us remember that there is always someone looking up to us, observing us, respecting and valuing our advice and guidance. It therefore means that our actions and behaviours can either hinder someone from pursuing their purpose, or propel them to move full speed ahead.
I do believe we should not blame anyone for the situations and conditions we find ourselves in, but if we are to be honest, some of our greatest blows come from people who disappointed us in life.
Remember, someone is watching the way you live and is being encouraged to pursue their dreams, to persevere through a difficult period in their life, or to change.
This should cause us to think a lot deeper, before we act.

Morne Gazo, situated in the Parish of St. David. Has a great hiking trail with a lovely view at the top.

Your kids deserve more than “Because I say so”.

I really don’t think the words “Because I say so” works. Not from what I have experienced. Maybe years ago, but, children these days? They require more from us, explanations, answers and reasons why they should obey or choose wisely. In fact, they need to be able to define what is “wise” as well.

Some of us may think that there are times when those words do apply, as the required explanations are too complexed for our child’s consumption. I get that feeling, I totally do. In those times I have found it better so say why I cannot explain, rather than “Because I say so”. You see there is merit in acting real as parents, there is merit in acting human. Sometimes, we do not have the answers and that’s okay.

I am not a bully mom, neither are my children growing to be kids; they are growing to be adults who can think and make sound decisions, communicate effectively and demonstrate other necessary skills and the intelligence to be successful in all spheres.

My role therefore is to speak to my kids in a manner that would educate them and build their confidence in facing life’s touch questions. “Because I say so” may be seen as an escape for parents who are too busy to sit and explain or too scared to touch the unpleasant. Parenting is about toughening up and facing our responsibilities head on. If we don’t know what to say, seek guidance first, pray, prepare thoroughly, but don’t take the escape route. It would not hurt to say to your child, “I cannot explain to you now, but I promise to do so before the day ends; I need you to trust me on this”.

Children accept our sincere attempts to respect them, value them and to teach them and they connect much better with us when they are able to perceive us as normal humans with lacks and weaknesses but also with experience and wisdom, seeking to lead them the best way we know how.

Here is a bonus tip. The more you spend quality time with your kids, the easier it becomes to discuss uncomfortable topics with them.