Take Every Thought Captive

Will Wilder #2: The Lost Staff of Wonders by Raymond Arroyo.  This is the second book in the Wilder series, and I blogged about the first one here.  The third book comes out in paperback in March 2020.

Will Wilder Book 2Amazon Link

Synopsis (from Goodreads): Twelve-year-old Will Wilder is back to protect the town of Perilous Falls from another ancient evil the fearsome demon, Amon.  When the storied Staff of Moses responsible for summoning the plagues of ancient Egypt vanishes from the museum in Perilous Falls, Will Wilder is suspect number one. Desperate to prove his innocence and stop the thief from unleashing terrors upon the town of Perilous Falls, Will must use his supernatural gift to locate the beast but it’s nowhere to be found.  As the river runs with blood, sharp-toothed frogs surround his home, and clouds of swarming gnats choke the streets, Will must rely on his supernatural ability, everything he learned from his training, and help from his friends, siblings, and Great-Aunt Lucille to find the missing staff and unmask the hidden evil before time runs out for all of them.

Discussion with child:  This book had me thinking a lot about self-control of our emotions and our thoughts. This was not the central theme of the book, but it was there a few times.  The demon, Amon, would say something to manipulate Will’s emotions and thoughts. Sometimes someone from the Brethren was there to remind Will to control his anger. This was not solely for fear of his actions, but so Will’s thoughts would remain clear about the situation.

This struck me because it didn’t matter what the demon said to Will, whether it was true or not, Will was expected to control his thoughts and emotions.  I think this is a critical concept to revisit with children often.  That no matter was is said or done to them, they are in charge of their thoughts and emotions.

Our society is one where we can share every thought or idea we have with the world via social media. Many times these are hurtful, mean, ugly, and awful concepts that can spark a lot of outrage.  When this happens, those that respond in anger are considered justified in their response. Sometimes it seems the adverse reaction is regarded as a virtuous act.

I always understood that we should have self-control over our actions, including what we say.  Our actions and words affect other people, and therefore, we need to control them.  The bible discusses a lot about self-control.  I never extended the concept of self-control to thoughts or emotions. To me, thoughts and emotions were always an appropriate response to a situation.  However, my actions were to be controlled, and my ability in this was the only thing that mattered.

Then I read:

2 Cor 10:3-5 – For, although we are in the flesh, we do not battle according to the flesh, for the weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses.  We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ . . .

Our battle is not solely with our actions (the flesh), but also within our minds.  Our thoughts are not necessarily our own, and we need to “take every thought captive” and argue with the “knowledge of God” against our thoughts.  This is not the only bible verse to suggest taking control of our minds.  Romans 12:2 tells us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds so we can discern God.  James 1:2-8 also suggests that we have the ability to control our thoughts and emotions as he tells us to “consider it all joy” and mentions the ills of having “two minds”.

These verses suggest that not all of our thoughts or emotions are true.  I shouldn’t just focus on self-control of my actions, but also in having the thoughts and emotions in the first place. For some reason, this was a shocking revelation for me.

If the spontaneous thoughts or emotions I have are not true, then where do I direct my thoughts when I have a negative internal response?

When Jesus was tempted three times in the desert by the devil, his response was to say,  “It is written . . .” and then he quoted the bible. We should direct our thoughts to God’s word.  I started doing this by writing down or memorizing verses that counteracted my common negative thoughts or emotions.  For me, I focused on passages about joy, peace, and hope.  Now when anything sparks a negative internal response, I take my thoughts captive and direct them to the written word of God. St. Paul tells us in Philippians chapter 4:4-9 that:

we should be kind to ALL.

have no anxiety about ANYTHING

to THINK about things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and praise worthy

If we do this, “then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” He focuses on our hearts and minds, not our actions. To me, this was a profoundly radical new way to go about my day and completely counterculture to our current society.

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