Right thinking leads to right living

Published on October 22, 2021

“I’ll pay anyone twenty dollars to memorize the Lord’s Prayer and Psalm 23.” Our family of six was sitting around the dinner table, having a conversation about the lost art of memorization, and Derek threw out a challenge with a clear reward. 

One girl spoke for the crowd. “I don’t understand why we can’t just Google it when we need it.” Our daughters are obviously of the digital generation, and they had a point. 

We can now search for anything at any time and get an answer of some kind. But there is something about truth being woven into our minds and hearts to call on if ever we need it. We talked about prisoners of war and how they’ve depended on Scripture memorized as a child to carry them through horrific situations. 

Apparently none of our girls plan to be prisoners of war, so the example didn’t quite convince them. We resorted to the trusted parenting approach—bribery. We used what was important to them: cold, hard cash. 

A timely prayer

Perhaps not the purest motive but an end result we could all agree on. I considered how many times the words “Give us this day our daily bread” had popped into my head in the last few years. 

In a time when it has felt impossible to count on anything—income, health, plans—I’ve had to ask God to give me what I need for today. I had those words from the Lord’s Prayer to recall because they were embedded in my brain. I could then quickly remind my heart and mind of what they say when I felt afraid. 

Over and over I’ve stood at the sink washing dishes, remembering that God has answered my prayer to give me what I need for today. “Give us this day our daily bread.” Thank you, Lord, for today’s supply. Food in the cupboards, patience (mostly) for my children, a husband who repeatedly shows up in the middle of the drudgery and the stress. I have what I need. 

The prayer is there to remind me and helps me move on to the next task of the moment for the day. He gave me what I needed, so my job is to do what is required of me. Just for today. He has given me my portion even though I tend to get ahead of myself and him. 

Those words bring me back to the moment and ask me to take responsibility with the bread he has provided. Then off I go to make that hard phone call or pay the bills I’ve been avoiding, because right thinking leads to right living. 

Renewing the mind

Our minds are meant to settle on things that are different from what our news feeds, our social media feeds, or even our self-talk offer. We do things like memorize Scripture, so we have something good within us to draw from. 

Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (NIV). When I marinate in the things that are right, my mind changes. As our understanding of the brain grows, we find this concept of renewing the mind is confirmed by science. 

The way and the frequency with which we think about things impacts our behaviors. When we process only what is stressful and bad, we lose the ability to think quickly or be creative. The more we focus on the negative, the more synapses and neurons are created in those familiar ruts, which push us back to a negative thought process.  

In other words, we create patterns reinforcing that we see what we’re looking for. The more we seek out goodness and the more we look for the positive, the easier it will be for our brains to identify what is good. The promise after Philippians 4:8 is that if we fill our minds with the things of God’s goodness, we will have peace. 

Eugene Peterson paraphrased Philippians 4:9 in The Message: “Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” 

Well, that sounds delightful and like all the things I want—to be in God’s most excellent harmonies. Thinking on the things God tells us leads to good practice, the kind of practice that puts us in harmony with his work in this world. That sounds like we are moving toward what is right and just and good. 

Taken from Seeking out Goodness by Alexandra Kuykendall. Copyright © 2021. Used by permission of Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group www.bakerpublishinggroup.com.

Consider a few extra resources:

Freedom in Christ—a more enjoyable way to live

Power of a praying parent

Determine my steps: Pause, look, consider, and rest in the Lord

Live perfectly imperfect

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Alexandra Kuykendall

Alexandra Kuykendall is the author of Loving My Actual Life, Loving My Actual Christmas, Loving My Actual Neighbor, and The Artist’s Daughter and the cohost of The Open Door Sisterhood podcast.  A popular writer and speaker for moms around the country, Alexandra has been featured on Good Morning America and Focus on the Family‘s daily broadcast. She lives in Denver, Colorado, with her husband, Derek, and their four daughters.  To read more, pre-order my new book Seeking Out Goodness today!

Read more about Alexandra

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