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January 15, 2008



Thank you, Jim, for not caving to the world's pressure. What refreshment comes when you "refute those who contradict" and "exhort in sound doctrine." It does not seem like there are many voices crying in the wilderness to "repent." Isn't it interesting that Paul encouraged Timothy, in his time, to preach the word-- to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction! Paul was accutely aware of the battle for truth. And now the time has come when men will not endure sound doctrine. People, in droves (including many who profess to know Christ)are swarming to have their ears tickled, and are accumulating for themselves the kind of teachers that line up with their own desires. Millions are turning aside to myths, yet claiming to want to know God. People say that they are about truth, but no one can really be about truth if they define truth by what they want to hear! If we truly want God's message, God's truth, we have to be willing to listen to God, to submit to Him. He gets to tell us, even when what He says doesn't match what we want to hear. This "Secret" group is masquerading its selfishness with spiritual hype. So, keep standing for the things that really matter!


There are also numerous passages which point to the impotence of man's thoughts to change anything. Ultimately, Solomon, Job, Paul, David, Jonah and...-oh yea-Jesus all declare God's will the incontrevertible determinant of every outcome.

Jesus statement is a case in point: "Which of you, by worrying about it, can change even a hair upon your head?" [paraphrase]

Given this, the "power of positive thinking" to "change" anything--save one's own attitude--is...um...DUMB!!

Alex Marshall

I'm going to play devil's advocate here for a minute. Its said in economics that monetary policy (ie. the Fed) cannot effect things in the long-run but can effect them in the short-run. In other words, its a matter of targeting- if they target a long-term change, they're ineffective, but short-term (six months to a year) they can effect, which ultimately results in a change in the long-term.

Can we make a similar assessment here- our positive thinking may not change anything if we target the world (my mood isn't going to change the weather, for instance). But, as AC said, it can change our own attitudes. So if we target our attitude, can that result in a more tangible change that ultimately does produce change in the world?

Jim Fleming

Is this what you are suggesting? A more positive attitude will create a better world? Check out part 2 of this series and then try this on for size: When men are disgusted by what is disgusting in God's sight and approve the things that are good in God's sight, that's when we are moving in the right direction.


Alex, a positive attitude can be helpful socially, but does not appear to be of any benefit spiritually. We "think" that thoughts lead to actions which become habits that reveal character which produces destiny. That sure sounds logical and seems to describe what we observe in self and others. As Proverbs 23:7 says "as he thinks within himself, so he is." However, the "he" spoken of is a "selfish man." In fact, when I searched for the keyword "think" on Biblegateway.com, every reference was negative. I'm not sure what to make of this: Don't believe everything you think?

Alex Marshall

Well... not suggesting it as in arguing for it, but throwing out the idea to see what people think.

That being said, definitely agree with your perspective, Jim. Looking from God's perspective would definitely be preferable to anything we might muster on our own.

To mrs- I'll agree that we can't believe everything we think, especially if our thoughts are uniformed or speculation (case and point, me in philosophy class half the time!). But lets explore the "positive attitude" thing a bit more. Now, obviously a superficial "happiness" doesn't count for much, but a genuine positive outlook on things seems like it might have some benefits. We can keep this in the context of a Christian (to avoid other issues) and say we have a genuine positive outlook on the things of God. So first, does that kind of an attitude have any merit? And then, the question I'm really trying to explore, how much is such an attitude influenced by our thinking? In other words, do we internally shape such an attitude, or is it the result of something external?


Alex, attitude can involve thinking, feeling, and behavior. My thinking (based on education and observation) is that there are several influences on our attitude, including genetics, hormones, events, personality, mental health, and responses from others. Obviously, genetic influences come first: people with Downs Syndrome often display a good attitude. Our attitudes often fluctuate depending on circumstances. From a personal, Christian perspective, my attitude is affected by my nearness to God. As time with Him increases, my attitude improves. I don't have to think about it, and it's not external; it's a reflection of my present relationship with Him.

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