“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he,” said the wise King Solomon nearly 3000 years ago. James Allen picked up on this phrase and noticed how true it still was in his day, prompting him to pen some astute observations in his book As A Man Thinketh.
This is not an academic book, nor is it a self-help book. Mr. Allen states his rationale for writing on the opening pages: “This little volume (the result of meditation and experience) is not intended as an exhaustive treatise on the much-written-upon subject of the power of thought. It is suggestive rather than explanatory, its object being to stimulate men and women to the discovery and perception of the truth that—‘They themselves are makers of themselves.’”
Just as the biblical book of Proverbs contains short observations that are intended to cause the reader to contemplate the outcome of particular life choices and thought patterns, Mr. Allen does the same thing for a contemporary audience. Although you could breeze through this short book quite quickly, I strongly urge you to take your time to ponder just how powerfully your patterns of thought contribute to your everyday actions.
Metacognition is a psychological term meaning to think about what you think about. As A Man Thinketh will definitely stimulate some productive metacognition of your own.
Shalom is the Hebrew word for peace. Some of the best definitions of shalom include ideas of completeness, soundness, and wholeness. One Jewish rabbi commented that when you say “Shalom” to someone, you’re really saying, “may you be full of well-being.” Or another way of thinking of shalom is—nothing missing, nothing broken.
Some have tried to describe shalom as the absence of conflict, but that’s not quite accurate. On the verge of going into the Promised Land to fight their enemies, God commanded Aaron to speak a blessing of peace of the people (Numbers 6:24-26). And just before Jesus said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,” He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9-10).
Shalom is not controlled by outward circumstances. Shalom is a deep-seated, rock-solid, unshakable assurance that I am in God’s hand.
Isaiah describes how we live in shalom like this—
You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind—both its inclination and its character—is stayed on You, because he commits himself to You, leans on You, and hopes confidently in You. (Isaiah 26:3)
How do we do keep our mind stayed on God? The Apostle Paul says, “We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). Psychologists call this process metacognition: when we think about what we’re thinking about. It’s being aware of our anxious thoughts that are robbing us of shalom and then talking back to them.
What often robs us of peace is listening to ourselves instead of talking to ourselves!
Someone once asked evangelist Smith Wigglesworth, “Smith, how do you feel?” He replied, “I never ask Smith how I feel. I tell him how he feels!” Exactly right!
Why do we make our thoughts obedient to Jesus? Because one of the titles given to Jesus before He was born was Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and Jesus assures us that His peace is unlike anything we can ever find in earthly things (John 14:27, 16:33).
God’s peace is always there, but our divided minds keep us from experiencing His peace. So Isaiah tells us to keep our mind steadfast on God’s goodness, and Paul says the same thing—Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. (Philippians 4:6-7)
I want to encourage you to practice what the Bible calls capturing your thoughts—or what psychologists call metacognition. Ask yourself, “Why am I thinking that?” Capture those thoughts and make them obedient to Christ. Don’t let your worrisome thoughts rob you of God’s shalom.
Join me this Sunday as we take a closer look at the “shalom cycle,” including the things that can derail it.
Psychologists call it metacognition when we think about what we’re thinking about. The Bible calls it capturing every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Sometimes it takes reversing our thinking.
The devil has a singular agenda: He wants to steal joy from your life, he wants to kill any hope you have for the future, and he wants your end to be utter destruction.
Jesus has a singular agenda for you too: I have come that you might have abundant life.
Try reversing your thinking. Try thinking about your thinking a different way.
The devil says, “Life has no purpose.” God says, “I created you on purpose.”
The devil says, “You’re nothing special.” God says, “You’re one-of-a-kind.”
The devil says, “God remembers you blew it.” God says, “I’ve forgotten everything I’ve forgiven.”
The devil says, “This life is all there is.” God says, “You can’t even imagine what’s coming next!”
The devil says, “You’ll never find true love.” God says, “I love you so much that I died for you.”
Reverse your thinking to listen to what God says. Then you will be able to reverse today was the absolute worst day ever to today was a good day!
I love having Oswald Chambers walk alongside me as I study the Bible. He is like a wise, insightful friend pointing out, “Did you see that? Did you notice what God is doing here? What do you think that means for you?” In Our Portrait In Genesis, Chambers walks with us through the first book of the Bible.
Previously I reviewed Not Knowing Where by Oswald Chambers, which looks specifically at the life of Abraham in Genesis 12-25. In Our Portrait, Chambers turns his attention to the other notable people in Genesis.
As he looks at Adam, Eve, Cain, Able, Noah, and the other patriarchs, Chambers is constantly pointing out the lessons we can learn from their lives and apply to our lives. Because of his training in psychology, Chambers is so skilled at knowing what was going on in the minds of these biblical examples, and then helping us examine our own thinking along the same lines.
Our Portrait and Not Knowing Where are tremendously helpful commentaries to read as you work your way through the book of Genesis. As always, you can’t go wrong picking up an Oswald Chambers book!