I was talking to my daughter Melodie the other day about how the things we let consume our minds during our waking hours can also consume our minds when we sleep. Not only do they consume our minds - they can affect our behaviors and thought processes as well. I recently started watching a TV series on Netflix. There are many seasons of the program available and I had never even seen season one, so that’s where I began. If you have never done that, I don’t recommend it as a pastime. I enjoy good dramatic mysteries with unexpected plots and the show had a lot of those. It also had a lot of gruesome murder, anger, and swearing. I watched most of season one and started to feel somewhat addicted, but had other things to do (like go to bed and sleep), so I reluctantly turned it off. My dreams that night were disturbing and I woke up frequently, which was upsetting.
I also noticed the next few days I had a very short, hot, temper, which is unusual for me - It is out of character for me to become really angry really quickly and that bothered me deeply.
I found I was looking forward to watching more of the program, but at the same time I sensed it was not a healthy thing for me to do. Fortunately, I was too busy for a few days in a row and didn’t get back to it. In the meantime, I read Romans 8. Verses 5-8 struck me:
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”
God spoke to me through those verses. I realized in that six-hour stint of TV watching, I was not taking a break from my busy schedule and enjoying mindless pleasure as I thought I was; instead, I was saturating my mind with things which were not Godly and my thought processes were affected greatly by doing that. The thing was - the pull was so strong - I really wanted to keep on watching until I had seen every program in every season of that show.
I think sometimes we fills our lives with so much stuff that is ungodly and unspiritual we reach the point where those things no longer consciously trouble us. We become so accustomed to evil its shock value diminishes, and that is not healthy for anyone, although it is prevalent in society. It is especially harmful if you are a person who wants to have your mind set on what the Spirit desires (Romans 8). It’s part of what it means to be living in this world but not being of this world. There are things I have to say “no” to; no matter how much I might want to do them or might want to make excuses for them. I don’t like the results I see in my life when I fill my mind with evil, yet sometimes I do it anyway. Such is the pull.
The third time I woke up the other night, I was afraid and very sad. My mind was going crazy, filled with all the most horrifying thoughts about things that could happen to my family and friends. I had to get it under control and so I started to pray - all I could say was, “Help me, God. Please help me.” As I prayed that over and over, forcing every dark thought away, I started to relax and one of my favorite verses came to mind:
Philippians 4:8, “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.”
Think about such things.
If you read all of Philippians 4 you will see thinking about such things brings peace. Whatever I saturate my mind with can control who I am. Have you ever tried not listening to anything but songs which worship and praise God for awhile? I am not saying people should only listen to music with Christian lyrics and I am not saying people cannot watch TV programs, but I do know we have to be careful with our minds.
If you find yourself mentally following a path which is bad for you - it might be time to take a break from the worldly things you want to do and think about most and replace them with things which are right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. You can find those things in the Bible, in songs, in the fellowship of other Christian believers, in prayer - I know you know what to do.
The question is -could you do that for a day? Saturate your life with good? How about a week? A month? A year? It takes discipline for sure. The payoff, however, is great.
Happy, peaceful New Year beloved friends