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Day 18: It Starts Inside

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A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 6:45

I used to be a very sarcastic person. I can remember a time in college when literally everything I said was a dig. My sister, called me out on it, “You’re just mean,” she said.

Why was I so ‘mean’? How had I allowed myself to slip into such a hurtful pattern that was causing destruction in my relationships? I hadn’t framed it that way. I thought it was fun and people were just too sensitive.

Doing the next right thing in thought it crucial to living a life of abundance and peace. Jesus gives stern caution to His followers in about the importance of monitoring your heart.

You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:27-28

He also speaks of murder starting with anger and calling your brother “A fool.” Was my sarcasm as bad a murder? Is a passing thought of sexual impropriety adultery? I don’t think that was His point.

First, you can relax. We all have thoughts of anger and sex and _(fill in the blank) and that does not mean you are a murderer or an adulterer. My friend Angela Sanders, meditation teacher and owner of Mindful Mindz, says this about thinking, “You have to simply be aware of your thinking. Start to notice it. Catch it. Don’t judge it. Just be more choosy with what you latch on to.”

It’s a process of becoming more aware of what your monkey brain is automatically thinking versus what you are deliberately thinking. There is a statistic that we have between 50,000-70,000 thoughts per day which is 35-48 thoughts per minute! And approximately 98% of them are exactly the same as the thoughts we had the day before.

So if you dwell on the same negative thought patterns day after day after day, you can imagine where those thoughts will take you. From Anger to Murder. From Lust to Adultery.

OR on the flip side you can start to become more aware of how wild your mind is in its natural unchecked state and start substituting your thoughts for HIGHER thoughts. You can start to train your mind and then it will begin to steer your life in a new direction.

But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27

What does that mean? Does Paul want us to beat ourselves? Like they talk about in the Davinci Code? Not at all. Remember everything that seems on the surface to be an external command is really an internal suggestion. Always aim for internal.

Disciplining your body then is not lifting weights and limiting carbs, it’s exercising discipline in your thinking and monitoring the direction of your heart. Paul continues his teaching on self-discipline in your heart and mind later on in the New Testament to Timothy.

In 1 Timothy 4: 7-8 we read, Do not waste time arguing over godless ideas and old wives’ tales. Instead, train yourself to be godly. Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.

How did I get out of a sarcastic pattern? I wish I could say I took deliberate measure to correct it but I didn’t. What I did do was but for the Grace of God. My dad was sick with cancer, I came home over the summer and started attending my parent’s new church. I reconnected. God spoke to me so profoundly that summer that my entire life changed. And with it, the sarcasm melted away.

Change can be deliberate or come by the Grace of God or both. It can be a moment of clarity where you know that something has to change. It can be a medical diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, a milestone birthday, a day just like any other. Be open and receptive. Start noticing more often that your circumstances are largely created by your choices and your inner world. The externals are just an expression of that inner reality.

For today make it a point to monitor your thinking. Start to become aware of what you are dwelling on. How do you know? Your feelings will be a clear compass to trace backwards to your thoughts. If you’re generally depressed or sarcastic or anxious or negative, trace it back to the thinking that is causing those feelings. If you are generally feeling happy, content, abundant then you can be sure that your thoughts are also creating those feelings too.

To be physically fit requires a daily commitment to exercise and a discipline to eating well. To be spiritually fit requires a daily commitment to exercise discipline in your thoughts and in matters of the heart. Remember it is the little foxes that spoil the vine. There are no big deals. Big deals are made up of a million little deals. Choose wisely in the little details.

Day 18 Lenten Love Prayer:

I am starting to make the connection between my inner world and my outer experiences. It’s freeing to know that I can stop trying to control and fix everything outside of me and start with the awareness that it is the matters of the heart and mind where I can make the biggest change. Help me to be more aware of my negative thinking. Help me to see it for what it is, not sinful, just undisciplined. Help me to detach from those thoughts that don’t serve the higher purpose You have called me to, and let them leave my mind as quickly as they came. I am willing to be open to practicing meditation and becoming more aware of my thoughts. I will practice exercising self-discipline in my mind and heart everyday. I will have faith that as I do this my outer world will change too. Thank you for sharing the secrets of the kingdom with me today. Your ways are higher than mine and now I understand that I have been focusing too long on the outside and will focus more on my inner reality. Thank you for your patience and love for me as I continue to grow.

Day 18 Scripture:

Psalm 1: 2-3

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
meditating on it day and night.
3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.