Monday, January 27, 2014

Thoughts, Imaginations and Strongholds (Habits)

Why this blog?


Last week, for four evenings, (From 23rd January to 26th January), I watched Rev Sam Chelladurai's live webcast, of his special Tamil outdoor meetings held at Valliyoor. This blog, is inspired by one topic, from the third day of this meeting.


Who is Rev Sam Chelladurai?




Rev Sam Chelladurai is the Senior Pastor of the Apostolic Fellowship Tabernacle (AFT) Church in Chennai. Check here to know more about Pastor Sam and follow the other links there to know more about AFT. From time to time I watch him in God TV (in English), Subsandesh (in English with Hindi Translation) and DD Podigai (in Tamil). On Sunday evenings, when possible, I watch him, live over the webcast, from AFT.

Thoughts


It is estimated that every day we have about 50,000 thoughts. (Rev Sam quoted a lower figure.) Thoughts can originate from within us and can also come to us from our environment. 

When we try to influence others, we try to create thoughts in them, that we desire for them to have. How often have you had mental dialogues between you, and with some one you are trying to influence. All the thoughts exchanged in this mental dialogue only happens in your mind and does not influence the other person. Based up on the thoughts running in this mental dialogues emotions may be roused within you and corresponding physical changes may happen in your body. Check the word 'psych' in free dictionary.

Words are the tools that transfer a thought from one person to another. Hence what we speak and hear are important. When does someone else's thought become our own. When we talk about it. Matthew 6:31 shows this with "... take no thought, saying ...". As long as we only hear and not speak about it, we have not owned that thought. The moment we speak in favor of it, we start to own that thought.

In 2 Corinthians 10:5, The Bible talks about "... bringing every thought into captivity ...". To me, this means that, I have authority over every thought, that comes to my mind, and that I can do 'something' about it. Philippians 4:8 says "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things". This tells me that I can 'choose' what I should actively think about.

Essentially, you can decide what thoughts to retain, and what thoughts to reject. Depending upon the thoughts that influence your mind, your mind will start seeing things, or forming a mental picture of things or imagine.


Imaginations


When we want to do something specific, we first think about them. That is, there are some initial thoughts. Then, when we study more about it, we add more thoughts. As more and more thoughts are added, the clearer form of what we want to do, takes shape in our mind. We now start to see, envision what we want to do. Essentially the thoughts retained give us a mental picture or image of what we want to come about. Without thoughts there can be no imaginations, and imaginations are needed before corresponding actions can take place.

Imaginations could have been formed, because of controlled thoughts that we used. Most often, we form many imaginations, based on external uncontrolled thoughts, that come to us from our external circumstances. If we did not have controlled thoughts, then we will have uncontrolled imaginations. 2 Corinthians 10:5 talks about "Casting down imaginations ...", which to me means, I can 'do something' about the imaginations, that have entered into my mind. Most often these imaginations, accumulate over a life time. We have many prejudices, which we have absorbed in childhood, and many have never been examined, to cast them out.

Seeeing the influence, TV had over my life, many years ago, I stopped watching movies and serials, as they did not add anything positive to my life. Whenever advertisements come, I mute them, so that the words there would not stir up my emotions.

Strongholds


2 Corinthians 10:4 talks about "... pulling down strongholds".  Earlier we had seen about "bringing into captivity" and "casting down". Pulling down needs much more efforts than captivity or casting down. A stronghold is something very strong, and it is built up over a period of time. Something that is built up over a period of time becomes more and more strong over a period of time and it will need much greater effort do pull it down. That is what habits are. Some practice does not become a habit when done very few times. When the same practice is repeated over and over and over again then it becomes a habit.

Habits can be a good habit or a bad habit. Good habits contribute some thing good to us and need to be cultivated. But, bad habits are some thing that we do over and over again, over which we normally may not have control.

The habit of smoking may start with simple thoughts about how cool smoking is. Then the thoughts move in the direction of just trying once. Then it goes in the direction of trying some more time, and eventually a time will come when it would have become a habit. In the early stages you had control over smoking. At a later date smoking will have control over you.

Different stages


Normally we classify cancer as having four stages. When we are adopting something at the thought level then it is in stage one. When it moves into imaginations then it is in stage two. When it has become habit forming then it is in stage three.

The Bible says, that God has given us the ability to examine our thoughts, and reject any thoughts that is not beneficial to us. Only good thoughts should be allowed to go into imaginations and later on into becoming a habit. A musician by repeated practice trains to play good music and once practiced can play well without any effort.

What was Rev Sam's larger message about?


Rev Sam's larger message, was about how our imaginations and habits prevent us from being masters of our life. Fears built up by wrong thought patterns prevent us from going out of the boundaries that we have set for ourselves. We need to examine our thought patterns to see where we limit ourselves, and find ways to overcome the limitations that we have set for ourselves. His message was that The Bible teaches that you have authority over your life and that by transforming your thoughts you can transform you life and lead a better quality life.

In DD Podigai, Rev Sam has a  program called வெற்றியும் வாழ்வும் (Victory and Life) five days a week. I think about a year back they had completed more than 1,000 episodes. Because of his simple messages, AFT membership overflows, and they have 4 church services every Sunday and yet they are still not able to accommodate all who attend.


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