Keys to Capturing Thoughts: The Right Checklist

What if a checklist for roping sick cattle consisted of the following items?

  • Mount for riding: Pig
  • Rope: Braided spaghetti
  • Saddle: Pillow

With a checklist like this, the rider may be well fed and comfortable if he or she is able to actually able to stay on the pig; however, the chances of successfully roping cattle who are in need of treatment would be…

Well…

Not likely to succeed!

But what if the checklist looked like this?

  • Mount for riding: Rope horse
  • Rope: Lariat
  • Saddle: Roping saddle

In all likelihood, a checklist like this would help to increase the rate of success for the rider who is heading out to cow pasture, because this checklist clearly lays out the standard items that are required to help ensure a successful day or roping.  Just throwing together a random list of items – while funny to put down on paper and amusing to picture in one’s mind – will only result in frustration and failure in the cattle pasture.

Ensuring the right ingredients at the outset – before a person heads out to the field – can go a long way to alleviating failure and ensuring success.

In much the same way, ensuring that the thoughts that I fix my mind on…the ideas that I set my attention on…the concepts that I concentrate on…the brainwaves that I allow to settle and take root in my thought life…

Line up with the checklist that God has placed in His Word…

Will go a long way to keeping my thought life healthy and under control which should result in less stray, dangerous thoughts that need to be rounded up and ousted.

Curious about what this checklist of the mind is?

Philippians 4:8 puts it like this…

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.

From this comes the following checklist for the thoughts of my mind…

Checklist for the Thoughts of My Mind

Is this thought true? Is it based on what is real, factual, truthful, conforming to reality?  Or is it about what I think or fear might happen or what I wish would have never happened?

Is this thought noble?  Is it based on what is honest, full of dignity, respectful, wise, and grand?  Or is it based on that which is deceptive, dishonorable, shameful?

Is this thought right?  Is it based on what is just, upright, faultless, approved by God?  Or does it fall into the realms of that which is wrong, not innocent, not pleasing to God?

Is this thought pure?  Is it clean, unspotted, faultless, free of evil?  Or is it dirty, spotted and defiled?

Is this thought lovely?  Is it pleasing (like a bouquet of flowers) friendly towards the truths of God? Or is it a thought that stinks and is repulsive?

Is this thought admirable?  Are these thoughts uplifting and full of good will to others?  Or are they full of malicious intent, unfavorable, bitterness, rage and anger?

Is this thought excellent?  Is this thought morally good, upright and honorable?  Or is it lacking in goodness and is more dishonorable in nature?

Is this thought praiseworthy?  Is this thought worthy of commendation…would it receive a standing ovation?  Or is a thought that is better left hidden from sight?

(Note:  To help understand the fuller definition of these words, I used Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament and Thayer’s Greek Lexicon found on the website blueletterbible.org)

This checklist from Philippians 4:8 helps me to define which thoughts should have the right to take up space in my mind and which ones need to be given the boot.  It identifies which ones should be allowed to take root and grow, and which ones need to recognized as a noxious weed and uprooted…

Which, in turn, brings about thoughts that are…

True.

Noble.

Right.

Pure.

Lovely.

Admirable.

Excellent.

Praiseworthy.

Having this checklist in hand and in mind, helps me to keep my mind uncluttered and free of those thoughts which have the potential to create chaos.  I don’t waste my mental energy because I can keep the door shut on those thoughts that waste time because they aren’t even true, may not happen, they can’t be changed or they are better left in the garbage.

Instead, I can direct the resources of my mental capacity to constructive pursuits and ideas…

That result in peace of mind…

That benefit others…

That bring glory to God.

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.  Philippians 4:8