Fix your thoughts

Published 2:14 pm Saturday, August 20, 2016

by Andrew Book

I am not a fan of television news. I don’t like the networks or the cable news channels. I am an equal opportunity avoider of both the “liberal” channels like CNN and the “conservative” ones like Fox News. The reason I don’t watch the news is because watching the news gives me no control over what junk is pumped into my mind in the name of “news.”

The average newscast, as best I remember from my former days as a news-watcher, consists of 18 minutes on the worst things going on in the world/community, 10 minutes of commercials, and a final, 2-minute “uplifting story” at the end, right before they roll the credits.

Now, we live in a world where bad things happen, and it is important to know about some of those bad things so we can respond to them.

We need to know that people are facing massive flooding in Louisiana and that there is an ongoing war in Syria, but hearing about how bad the world is can become addicting, and if our focus is on the bad, it can turn us from people who know we are charged with being a blessing to the world to the kind of person who can only watch with paralyzed horror at a parade of atrocities that CNN, Fox News or NBC marches in front of our faces.

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise” (Philippians 4:8).

It turns out that what we focus our thoughts on has a major impact on the way we live our lives. What we allow to march across the television screen in front of our eyes has an incredibly profound impact on what we are thinking about. That’s why I don’t watch the news.

Instead, I scan my Twitter feed (which is filled with news agencies) for stories of people countering the pain and hurt of our world with good. You could do the same thing by scanning a newspaper or a news website. The news clips I have focused on out of Louisiana have been stories of people risking themselves to rescue others, or people packing up supplies to help those in need. After seeing those stories, I both know what is going on and am encouraged that people — including me — can be a part of the solution.

Those stories are not going to headline on CNN (maybe they are worried you will turn the TV off and go do something to help someone!), but they are going to be the stories that I fix my thoughts on. Those stories push me to be a better person. That is the kind of news I need in my life!

Today, I hope you will think about where you are focusing your thoughts. Is your attention on something that will shape you into somebody who looks a little more like Jesus, the one who taught us how to love?

Or, are you caught in a cycle of bad news that paralyzes you and leaves you eager to learn all the sordid details while not pushing you to lead a life that makes a difference? Fix your eyes on those things that will inspire you and see what a change that makes!

If you are looking for some good and inspiring news, you are welcome to join us at Courtland United Methodist Church this Sunday as we continue a series of “mission moments” talking about the needs in our community and how we can impact them.

This week we are focusing on hunger and food ministries. The head of our mission team, Steve Clark, will be tag-teaming with Jean Stephenson from Southampton County Social Services to talk about how we are making a difference and what more needs to be done.

Come hear something inspiring!

ANDREW BOOK is the pastor of Courtland United Methodist Church. He can be contacted at 653-2240 or