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26. Crooked Thinking

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Command Center—Part 2



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Crooked Thinking


When the great Indonesian earthquake struck under the ocean off the coast of Sumatra on December 26, 2004, the ocean retreated from the beaches, leaving thousands of fish flapping on the sand.Can you imagine the natural reaction offamilies who earned their living from fishing?There were huge fish for the taking right before their eyes!Hundreds of people ran to the beach.  But one man looked from his window and immediately saw the danger.He commanded his wife and children to run to the hills.He himself ran to the beach, frantically waving his armsand shouting, “A tsunami is coming!Run immediately to higher ground!”Waves up to a hundredfeet (thirtymeters) high swept the coasts of fourteencountries, killing as many as 228,000 people,[1] but allthe inhabitants of that village were saved.Why?Because one informed man saw the danger that theircrooked thinking presented.




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One man proclaimed the truth. And the truth acted upon saved the lives of hundreds of villagers.


In our lives, danger lurks around us and within us.Our safety lies in straight thinking.Thinking is a function of the human brain.How does the brain think?[2]


The human brain traffics in thoughts.This is done by means of electro-chemical impulses. A situation presents itself, and a memory search reviews how the organism usually responds to these stimuli and considers the available options.Theseare forwarded to the control center in the frontal lobe.Here the brain assesses options based on one’sknowledge and value system and chooses a course of action.Positive thoughts reveal themselves in positive words and acts. These, in turn, produce positive long-range outcomes.


Let’s review the tsunami story and discover what it tells us about truth and crooked thinking.

  • When a crisis occurs, our brain memory searches to find the best option.In the Indonesian village, many ran to the sea bottom to gather fish.They did not have the key knowledge about the danger of bare ocean floors and tsunamis.They were not informed.But o4e was doing gathering fish, it must be right to do.
  • The festive crowd on the beach expressed a value system based on the importance of immediately available food and immediately available merchandise in what seemed to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.The hero of the story valued human life.First he ordered his wife and family to higher ground.Then he showed his highest value of self-sacrificing love and service to others—valuing everyone else’s lives above his own—as he rushed into the place of danger to warn the rest of the villagers.
  • The man’s straight-thinking mind understood the relationship between cause and effect.There was a cause for the retreat of the ocean from the land, and it would bring an inevitable effect in a wave of destruction, which would destroy everything in its path.
  • His brain was thinking straight because it was biologically healthy, and it was not cluttered or confused. What would have happened if he had been drunk, high on drugs, or if he was sleepy, having spent half the previous night socializing with friends at the bar?His mental functions likely would not have had the clarity necessary to save the lives of hundreds of his fellow villagers.


The frontal lobe is the sentinel at the gate, guarding the citadel of the mind, and is located just behind the forehead in the upper brain.If the sentinel is sleeping at its post, then feelings, instincts, and urges based in the lower brain will predominate over reason and inaccurate choices will be made.


In the world today, millions live in abject slavery to anxiety, depression, addictions, and marital discord because they don’t know the truth.They aren’t thinking straight.They believe lies.So, what



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Are there practical steps that we can take to prevent warped thinking and to help us think accurately and wisely?



is crooked thinking? What kinds of crooked thinking exist? And how can we base my thinking on truth?



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Rational mental processing decoding and interpreting information and events. Reasoning from cause to effect. We are not puppets to be manipulated by people and circumstances.  Thoughts – positive or negative- cause feelings and influence behavior.




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Crooked thinking is believing false information and untruths and allowing these to shape our lives.



Distorted thinking about health        

The following five points are expressions of crooked thinking about our health.As you read them, see if you can identify any flaw in each point.

  • My genes are my destiny.If my parents were alcoholics,then I will be an alcoholic.If my mother, sisters, and aunts had breast cancer, I am doomed to get it too. What is the flaw?
  • If I have Type 2 Diabetes, I am predestined to be a diabetic the rest of my life. Diabetes can be managed, but it cannot be cured. What is the flaw?
  • Since Alzheimer’s runs in my family, there is nothing I can do to prevent it.What is the flaw?
  • I can live whichever way I want to—eating what I want to, drinking alcoholic beverages, drinking soda pop instead of water, going to bed late, not exercising.It won’t affect me.What is the flaw?
  • Emotions just are.I can’t control my emotions. What is the flaw?


All the above are not true. Like most lies, they may be based on a grain of truth, but they are expressions of deluded thinking.The truth is that I cannot change my genes, but it may be possible to throw the switch by my lifestyle and turn the bad genes off and the good genes on.Straight thinking says, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.”[3]


Ten kinds of crooked thinking




Let’s review ten kinds of distorted or twisted thinking. For a fuller description, we recommend Neil Nedley’s book, The Lost Art of Thinking.[4]



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1. Groupthink



An illustration of groupthinkis events and attitudes leading up to the sinking of the Titanic on April 14–15, 1912.One symptom of groupthink is Overestimation of the Group.The Titanic was the largest passenger ship of its time and considered to be unsinkable. It was viewed as the safest ship afloat. Based on these myths, it carried only twenty lifeboats, enough for only half the passengers. Another symptom of groupthinkthatcontributed to the disaster was Closed-mindedness. Warnings of icebergs from the SS California, another ship in the area, were ignored on the Titanic because of feelings of invulnerability. Result—the death of 1,517 of the 2,223 people on board.


In groupthink,each member of the group attempts to conform his or her opinions to what they believe to be the consensus of the group.Harmony has come to be more important than critical appraisal. Groupthinkusually includes an incomplete survey of alternatives and objectives, and a selective bias in processing the information at hand.The decision makers are a close, cohesive group that does not want dissenting opinion.



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2. All or Nothing thinking



Linda made a New Year’s resolution to go on a diet and successfully lost eight pounds. She was doing well until her cousin’s wedding with its three-day celebration. Linda told herselfthat she would count calories and limit what and how much she would eat. The rich food for the event was attractiveand tempting.Linda could not resist. She blew it and gorged herself during the whole festivity.She had been on a good diet plan, but that weekend the self-control cycle was broken. Guilt set in when she went home.Now her negative self-talk began.“What’s the use of trying?”“If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it at all.” Her diet was over. This was all-or-nothing thinking—crooked thinking.


“I don’t have time to clean the whole house right, so I won’t do anything.” “I don’t have time to pay all the bills and bring all my accounting up to date, so why begin?” Wrong thinking! Working on accounts even fifteen minutes a day would be better than nothing. Cleaning one corner of clutter in the garage would be better than leaving it all cluttered.


All-or-nothing thinkers want perfection, and if they can’t perform perfectly, they may give up, have guilt feelings, fall into depression, orin some cases may even consider suicide. A better plan could have been for Linda to forgive herself, start thinking positively, and begin a new,livable lifestyle change that could be more flexible and more easily followed. She also could do positive self-talk. Linda did not need to fight the battle alone. She could seek God’s help with her choices. God was interested in herdiet. She could claimHis promise, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”[5]



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3. Over-generalizing



Judy says, “I got aD on the examination.I’ll never be able to finish this course.I’m just dumb.This test proves it. Ihave such bad panic attacks when I take tests.I’m going to drop out of school.” Wait a minute!Distorted thinking! We call this magnification. One or even several low scores on tests do not prove that Judy isdumb.She exaggerated her failure.She was telling herself a lie. What can Judy do about her low grade on the examination? She should talk to her teacher, ask for advice on how to study for class, and claim the Bible promise, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally.”[6]The proverb says, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”


Negative overgeneralization can contribute to failure to succeed, stress, hopelessness, and even depression.Positive self-talk andstraight thinkingis needed. “OK, I didn’t do well on that test, but I’ll study hard, get someone in class to study with, or read a book on improving my study skills, andI’ll do better the next time!”


Thomas Edison worked on the railroad as a youth, and when his experiments started a small fire in the baggage car, the angry conductor slapped him and threw him and his scientific apparatus off the train at the next station. The blows to his head, as well as with a bout of scarlet fever, left him deaf in one ear and 80 percent deaf in the other. His dreams were doomed!Right? Wrong!He became perhaps the greatest inventor of modern times.He invented the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, and the motion picture camera.By the time of his death he had received 1,093 patents.


The Bible story of the report of the ten spies[7] illustrates the twoover-generalizing delusions of magnification and minimization.They reported, “The cities we saw had walls up to heaven, and we were like grasshoppers.”Was this a true and accurate report? Caleb and Joshuasaw that they could conquer the Promised Land with God’s intervention.



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4. Selectively screen out part of the picture



“Rather than looking through the mental filter of a pessimist or pure optimist, the goal

should be ‘realistic optimism’ where you always expect the best but prepare for the worst.”[8][TL1]


Often people focus on minor aspects of a situation and selectively filter out what they don’t want to believe.


“Mary, that was a delicious dinner!”“Not really,” Mary responded, “I over-baked theentree.” Mary has two problems.First, she refused to accept a sincere compliment of a guest. Second, she focused on the negative while mentally filtering out all the positives.


Your son has painted his first picture, and it has a small blotch on it.Doyou focus on the minor aspect of the blotch or see the accomplishment of a budding artist?


When you have filtered thinking, you focus on the negatives and not the positives.When you see a rose, do you see the thorns instead of the beauty of the flower?


Some do not accept positive appreciation and reply with a negative statement.Doyou know anyone with this habit?Learn to accept compliments and say, “Thank you!” Selective or filtered negative thinking is pessimism, which indicates poor self-concept and may lead to health risks, more doctor visits,and poor mental health.


To develop optimism: Start today to record each day that you say only positive things, without any verbal negative or critical remarks.Try to see how many days you can speak positively all day long. Your goal isto be positive for fourteen sequential days without saying anything critical or negative about anyone or anything.If you slip into criticism or negativity, you start over until you finally reach your goal of fourteenstraight days free of negative comments. As you practice saying positive things,you become more aware of your inner thoughts. The critical habit can be broken.




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5. Mind reading


“Oh, I know what she is thinking.”Do I really? When dealing with people we don’t know, only about 25 percent of mind-reading assumptions are correct.[9]Dr. Ickes suggests that individuals may become pretty good at reading what lovers and friends are thinking, but they are still wrong a significant number of times.Men and women mindread about equally well, even though people oftenbelieve a woman’s intuition enables her to read minds better.[10]


When there is mind reading, “you assume that people arereacting negatively to you when there is no definite evidence of this.”[11]Check your mind reading by asking, Am I sure I’m correct?or ask the person, “What are you thinking?” Don’t just assume your mind reading is correct.


In mind reading, a lot of assumptions are made, and the individual may be unable to distinguish between what is certain and what is a belief.Common assertions are:“They are talking about me”; “They don’t like me”; “I’m not good enough for their job.” Some think they have a talent of being a good mind-reader, but if their thoughts are shared with others, much harm can be done by their misreading and crooked thinking.


“If through inaccurate mind reading we expect someone to be rude or unfair and treat them as such, they may recognize our assumptions and treat us as we expect—even if this is not their normal way of doing things. If we are not careful, inaccurate mind reading can lead to negative self-fulfilling prophecies.”[12]




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6. Fortune telling




“Suzy, you’re never going to amount to anything!You’re going to be just like your mother!”


Oh, really?Does the speaker know what the future of Suzy is going to be?Maybe the speaker is angry and is revealing his mental state rather than giving an accurate picture of who Suzy will be in twenty or thirty years.If the speaker were wise,he would realize it would be better if he encouraged Suzy to become all she could be rather than prophesying her downfall.


Mom is tired of helping her daughter with homework every night and verbally explodes, “You are a Dumb Dora and lazy. You will fail your grade and have to do it over again.” The truth about Dora was that she had learning disabilities and actually was doing the very best she could and often couldn’t read thestory because tears were in her eyes.Her mother’s fortune telling pained her throughout her life.


Maddie has a mammogram taken and the results are positive, indicating possible breast cancer. After the biopsy, she waits for results. Her fortune-telling mind says, It’s breast cancer. She panics but gets ahold of herself and decides, I can’t thinkthis way.It’s bad for my health.I will not worry about this now, and if the worst happens,God will help me. The lab report finally comes in. No cancer. No problem.


In fortune telling the speaker is predicting that something bad will happen, and he imagines theworst. This is calledcatastrophic thinking. Some fear that “the sky is falling.”This contributesto anxiety,unnecessary fear, and mental stress. It is harmful to health.


How can fortunetellers help themselves?Do self-talk. Tell the truth.I really don’t know the end result. I will think the best andwait to see what happens. God will continue to guide me.Then be active. Jogor pull weeds. Go for a brisk walk. Attend an exercise class.Clean the house. Play the piano.Divert your thoughts to positive, optimisticthinking.




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7. Personalizing


Distortion 7:Personalizing

JoAnn listened to the sermon in church. At the conclusion of the service, she waited until the others had shaken hands with the pastor,then approached him. “Pastor Brown, I was deeply hurt when you spoke about people who are angry and speak cutting words to others.You looked right at me, and I know you were talking about me.”The truth was that Pastor Brown scarcely knew who JoAnn was, and the idea of telling her faults in public was the furthest thought from his mind.Jo Ann thought the pastor was revealing her secrets in public. She was offended. That was crooked thinking.


Wes tellsthis story. “One day while I was studying for my doctorate, I passed my good friend on the sidewalk.‘Hey, Dan!’The response was only silence as Dan walked right on by.My thoughts were,He ignored me! Is he upset with me? Did I do something wrong?All these ideas came to my mind.Now, was I thinking straight, or was that crooked thinking? In the evening I saw Dan again.‘Hey Dan. I said hi to you this morning.’‘What?’ he answered.‘I didn’t see you.’Since communication is crucial for good relationships, we talked about the morning incident. I needed to understand. And then I heard the rest of the story.


“That morning Dan had received the news that he had failed his board examination for licensure as a physician. His mind was in a fog. He actually needed someone to encourage him and pray for him. He was ready to give up on the career of medicine after five years of intensive study. I realized that the incident was a God thing and that it had happened so that I could be a support and an encouragement to Dan. Weprayed through the crisis together. Some weeks later,just before Dan went to take the board exam again, I knelt and prayed with him. This time he passed. Today Dan is a department chairman in the School of Medicine at the same university where he studied. Dan is doing an amazing job in his work of teaching residents in his medical specialty.”





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8. Labeling


Ana was a long-time friend of Millie’s.She had come from the former Czechoslovakia.One day Millie greeted her and asked how she was.Ana answered, “I’m stupid.”Millie answered, “You’re not stupid.”But Ana continued, “My husband says I’m stupid.My daughter says I’m stupid.So I’m stupid.” Millie stroked her finger across Ana’s forehead and said, “Wipe that from your mind.You are a smart person! You are not stupid.You are the King’s daughter.You are intelligent.”Ana was an accomplished homemaker, painted her own house, was a good cook, enjoyed regularly reading her Bible, and was fluent in Czech and English.But the unkind labeling by her husband and grown daughter had convinced her that she was stupid.


Psalms has good counsel for correcting crooked thinking.Psalm 139:13–17 (NLT) says,


You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. . . . You saw me before I was born.Every day of my life was recorded in your book.Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.They cannot be numbered!


In ancient times, parents often labeled their children. Rebecca named her second-born twin Jacob, which meant “deceiver.”He lived up to the label.But after twenty yearsof exile from his angry brother who wanted to kill him, he spent a night wrestling with the Angel.At that time God renamed him Israel, meaning“Prince of God.” He became a new person and lived up to new positive expectations.


The Bible dedicates only two verses to Jabez.[13]His mother named himJabez, meaning“he will cause pain,”because she suffered a painful childbirth.But “Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your handwould be with me. . .that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.”This historical figure rejected his childhood labeling and triumphed over it.The Good Book records that Jabez“was more honorable than his brothers.





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9. Infatuated/emotional/impulsive thinking


Infatuation has been described as temporary insanity.Yet emotions can be healthy and useful if they are evaluated on the basis of reason and the teachings of the Bible.


A young man becomes infatuated with the attractive physical features of a pretty classmate.But as desirable as these might be, what about her otherqualitiesthat would contribute to a happy, long-term relationship? What about her temperament? Can she handle stresses without falling apart?Will she make a good mother? Can she keep an attractive and orderly home?Will she be able to overcome the difficulties and crises that married life always brings?


Deep emotional attachment with someone of the opposite sex is wonderful.Couples looking forward to marriage will feel romantic emotions and experience the magic moments of love.Beware, though: there is a world of difference between the foolish youth described in Proverbs 6–7 who is seduced by the dress and allurements of a wily woman and the wise young man who falls in love with a wholesome woman—body, mind, soul, emotions—and makes a lifetime commitment in marriage.To fall in love with a woman’spretty face without adequate consideration of other aspects of her life and character is crooked thinking. To avoid crooked thinking, look beyond the present hormones, impulses, and feelings.Balance these with knowledge, good sense, and wisdom from God.



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Popular delusions


Some popular manifestations of deluded thinking include . . .

  • If it feels good, do it! If it tastes good, eat it!
  • Money will make you happy.
  • It is necessary for you to be appreciated and loved “by almost everyone for almost everything you do.”[14][TL2]
  • A person “should be thoroughly competent, adequate, and virtually all respects[TL3] [15]
  • You should be a “super woman” or a “super man.”
  • If everyone believes something, it must be true.
  • Blaming a specific ethnic group for the troubles of society.




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Ten kinds of crooked thinking




An exampleof this last point wasKristallnacht, literally meaning “crystal night” or the “night of broken glass.”On the nights of November 9 and 10, 1938, Hitler’s government blamed the ills of their society on one particular ethnic group and gave free rein to the breaking of shop windows and ransacking homes and places of assembly of this minority group.


Can you see the common theme of distorted thinking?There may be a grain of truth in it, but it separates this partial truth from a broader, accurate perspective. Twisted thinking harms emotional, spiritual, social, and physical well-being.


One manifestation of distorted thinking can be over-reliance on the truthfulness of the mass media. A relatively small group of owners of the media who have their own agendas can shape the thoughts of billions. Slanted and planted innuendo can be mixed in with reporting the news. The spin, twist, or importance that the networks and media companies giveto news events may promote a particular political or ideological point of view.Lies, lies, lies.The Good Book speaks of “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”[16]


Straight thinking versus mirage thinking

Seeing is believing, right?Are you sure?Appearances can be deceiving.Samuel Baker tells of a regiment of soldiers dying of thirst in the Arabian Desert.In the distance the soldiers thought they saw water, but the Arab guide warned that it was only a mirage.An argument ensued.The guide was killed.The whole regiment rushed toward the water.Mile after mile, the mirage led the thirsty troops deeper into the desert.Too late, the parched soldiers realized the truth.They died pursuing a fantasy.[17]


What are you searching for?Are you chasing a mirage in the desert?What would you like to pursue?[18]



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Graphic of a mirage





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Four things in life of eternal value worth pursuing, truth, freedom, love, walking the talk

  1. Truth
  2. 2. Freedom
  3. 3. Love
  4. 4. Walking the talk
  5. Truth
  6. Freedom
  7. Love
  8. Walking the talk



TRUTH. You would like accurate, undistorted truth. If this is so, then you will need to look for truth in reliable places, including the Bible.


FREEDOM. You want to be free to pursue the truth. You want freedom from mind-altering substances. You want to be more than a robot or a puppet with someone else pulling the strings. In your heart of hearts you want true information. Truth restores our power of choice and frees us.


LOVE. This means altruistic, agape love. Agape is the Greek word used in the New Testament Scriptures to refer to self-sacrificing love—love that is more interested in giving than receiving. The opposite of agape love is selfishness—that means being so bound up in myself that I can’t hear someone else’s cry for help. Hoarded blessings turn into stagnant pools, but shared blessings are like a bubbling brook. Agape love is the God kind of love. “God so loved . . . that He gave . . .” He gave His Son as the ultimate love sacrifice. “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”[19]


WALKING THE TALK. You want happiness? The Sacred Source tells us: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”[20] Who will find this fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore? “He who walks uprightly, and works righteousness, and speaks the truth in his heart . . . He who does these things shall never be moved.”[21] It is not enough to have Truth, Freedom, and Love as ideals. We need to walk the talk and show that these ideals work in our personal daily lives.


True truthis based on eternal realities that you can trust more than the things your eyes see, your hands touch, your ears hear, or your heart feels.The things thatyou can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch may deceive and fail you in the end.But Jesus, the Ten Commandments, and the Bible are ultimate truth.[22]They will never fail us.They are true Truth.They are the never-failing sources of Truth, Freedom, Love,and Walking the Talk.



Text Box: “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free”<br />
John 8:32 (ESV)<br />




Straight thinking in the last days of earth’s history

The Bible foretells that in the crisis days just before Jesus’ second coming, almost everybody will buy into lies, lies,lies. Theywill receivea “strong delusion, that they should believe the lie.”[23]


One writer states, “None but those who have fortified the mind with the truths of the Bible will stand through the last great conflict. To every soul will come the searching test: Shall I obey God rather than men?”[24]


Babylon is a word thatin Hebrew means “confusion.”[25]Satan, our mortal enemy,creates confusion and deception. Followers of Satan, the great deceiver, will believe whatever he insinuates if it sounds good and makes them feel good.But there will be a group of people who will think straight.They will hear“the voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. . . . The crooked places shall be made straight . . . [and] the glory of the Lord shall be revealed.’ ”[26]


These statements show the importance of searching the Bible for truth and teaching our children what is truth so that our families willnot be deceived with the lies of the enemy of our souls. Bible prophecies must be studied now, so that when eventsunfold we will make wise choicesand enjoy eternal rewards. Truth will be victorious in the end, in this last battle between good and evil—between crooked thinking and straight thinking.


Cosmic thinkingversus crooked thinking

We need a higher level of thinking than the cognitive distortions we’ve outlined in this chapter.The Bible says:“Set your mind on things above.” Yes, infinitely above and beyond us . . .



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Astronomers now believe, based on data from the Hubble Telescope, that there are some 200 billion galaxies in theobservable universe.[27]One of these galaxies is called the Milky Way Galaxy and it contains 100-400 billion stars.[28]In the fringes of the western spiral arm of the Milky Way,halfway out from the center, on the inner edge of the Orion-Cygnus Arm,there is a medium-size star we call the sun.In orbit around it are eight planets.The third one out from this star we call planet Earth. On this planet now live seven billion people.Somewhere on this planet’s surface is the house I live in with my family.But small as I may be,God takes notice of little me and my problems. And this God loves me! He sees the sparrow when it falls and even knows the number of the hairs on my head.


True cosmic thinking is this:somewhere among the billions of galaxies, stars, and planets,there is a place where God sits enthroned.He loves you. He has made a way so that when the conflict with falsehood and deceit is over, He can take you and your family to live with Him in His home for all eternity. This is true Truth.


The day Truth died—but it still lives!



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He had lived for ceaseless ages visiting countless worlds that He had created. Trillions of creatures adored Him, knelt before Him, and did His every bidding.Everybody loved Him—everyone,that is, except the fallen angels and the creatures on one rebel planet.Even though He had created human beings in His own image, after His own likeness, they rebelled against Him and His commandments.He could have left the millions there to the fate they had chosen, but He chose instead to ransom them and give them a second chance.


So He came to the rebel planet, was born in poverty in a manger.The ruling king heard about Him and tried to kill Him shortly after His birth.He came to this rebel planet to show people the truth that God loved them.But most religious people didn’t want to hear truth.They preferred to believe lies.


He was arrested on false charges, and false witnesses spoke lies to try to convict Him.When He was arraigned before the Roman governor in an open-air trial attended by a rabbleof thousands crying, “Crucify Him!” He said,“I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.”[29]


The governor was well schooled in Greek philosophy,and one of the major disciplines of study dealt with the question, How do we know truth?The governor said to the prisoner, “What is truth?”He happened to be in the presence of Truth with a capital T.He was talking to Truth personified, the One who was Truth.But the governor didn’t wait to hear the answer to his own question, and he ultimately surrendered the Truth to be crucified on a cross between two thieves.Truth was on the cross in the middle, meaning that He was the greatest criminal of the three.


When one of the criminals recognized who He was and asked to be saved in His coming kingdom, Jesus answered, “Truly, truly I say unto you today, you will be with Me in paradise.”[30]


God loved us rebels so much that when the planet went wrong, He sent His only Son to earth to die to buy us back from the captivity of sin.He would have sent Jesus if you or I had been the only one deceived and lost.The question is, “Am I willing to give up the lies and the fears that plague me without and within and accept the only Truth that can make me free? Can I trust my problems and anxieties into the hands that were nailed to Calvary’s cross and trust Him as the ultimate solution to my distorted thinking?”


On that sad day almost two thousand years ago, we human beings killed the Truth.But three days later,Truth was resurrected.Truth went to heaven, andTruth is coming back to get all those who love Truth more than life itself. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”[31]The faithful will enter through the gates into the heavenly city.But “whoever loves and practices a lie”[32] will be barred eternally from His presence.


These times demand of us clear thinking.Surrounding us on every side is the Babylon of confused thinking.We are caught up in the greatest battle ever fought—the battle of the mind. You and I are the ones who get to choose where we stand in the Great Controversy between Truth and Deception.




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Which side do you want to be on, straight thinking or crooked thinking?





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Lord, help me to identify when I have been judgmental, critical, and have believed lies about others and myself. And forgive me for my own crooked thinking. Help me to search for truth. You have said in the Bible that I can have the “mind of Christ.” That is what I want. You have promised that in an age of lies and calculated brain-washing, “The crooked places shall be made straight, and the rough places smooth.’”[1] Fulfill this in me. Amen.





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1. What did this chapter say to you personally?

2. What are some manifestations of crooked thinking found in advertisements, newspapers, TV, politics and religion?





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3. When people are critical and judgmental, could they be crooked thinkers? Discuss with someone.

4. What are these Bible texts saying to you?

            “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You” (Isaiah 26:3).

            “We have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16).






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Personal Reflection

1. Over the centuries there have been men, women, and even children who chose death rather than to lie or compromise truth. Do I love truth enough to stand up for it?

2. What is an example of crooked thinking that has upset you?






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3. Am I an optimistic or a pessimistic person? Since being pessimistic promotes health risk factors, how can I overcome being pessimistic and become a more optimistic, healthy person?



Family Reflect/Discuss



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1. ___ I will evaluate my thinking processes and try to identify where I am guilty of distorted thinking.

2. ___ Since crooked thinking affects relationships, I will try to avoid making statements that are untrue and may hurt others.

3. ___ I will pray that God will help me to think straight to share truth with others.







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  1. Do you think some children have crooked thinking when they say:“I can’t do it.”“You’re mean to me.”“You’re the only parent in our town who won’t let their children watch that TV program.”





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2. Show your children in what ways they may be doing crooked thinking. Make this a teachable moment by helping them identify other crooked thinking statements people make.

3. Parents may also have distorted, crooked thinking. What comes to your mind?





“Finally, brothers, 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.”[33]




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[1]. “Earthquake information for 2004,” US Geological Survey, July 30, 2010,

[2]. In “Command Center I—Exciting Discoveries About the Brain,” chapter 6 in book 1 of this series, the concept of brain anatomy was introduced. The dimension of the effect on the brain of addictions was amplified in the Freedom presentation. Because correct thinking is indispensable for wholistic healing, this present chapter deals with various dimensions of crooked thinking that dominate in the world around us.

[3]. Galatians 6:7.

[4]. Neil Nedley, The Lost Art of Thinking. Ardmore, OK: Nedley Publishing, 2011. The authors express appreciation to Dr. Nedley for his presentations on the general concept of distorted thinking. Part of this chapter is based on his framework, although most of the illustrations are our own.

[5]. Philippians 4:13.

[6]. James 1:5.

[7]. Numbers 13, 14.

[8]. Nedley, Lost Art of Thinking, 51.

[9]. Ibid., 63.

[10]. William Ickes, Everyday Mind Reading: Understanding What Other People Think and Feel. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 2003.

[11]. Nedley, Lost Art of Thinking, 372.

[12]. Ibid., 64.

[13]. 1 Chronicles 4:9–10, emphasis supplied.

[14]. Albert Ellis, Ph.D.,and Robert A. Harper, Ph.D., A Guide to Rational Living. (Hollywood, CA: Wilshire Book Co., 1970), 185.

[15]. IbidEllis, Ibid., 97.

[16]. 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

[17]. Adapted from Erwin Lutzer in Moody Monthly, September 1984, 92.

[18]. We are indebted to Neil Nedley for identifying these four concepts.

[19]. Colossians 3:14, ESV.

[20]. Psalms 16:11.

[21]. Psalms 15:2, 5 (emphasis supplied).

[22]. There are three sources of ultimate Truth. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). The Bible is truth. “Your word is truth” (John 17:17). The Ten Commandments are truth. “Your law is truth” (Psalm 119:142). NUMBERING SHOULD ADJUST BELOW

[23]. 2 Thessalonians 2:11.

[24]. Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, 593–594, emphasis supplied.

[25]. Babylon gets its name from “Babel,” where God confused the language of the people. The Babylonians, however, stated that in their language Babylon meant “gate of the gods.”

[26]. Isaiah 40:3–5, emphasis supplied.

[27]. “How many known galaxies are there?” in “Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer,” blog by the astronomy department at Cornell University,

[28]. “How many stars are there in our Galaxy (Milky Way)?” in “Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer,”

[29]. John 18:37.

[30]. Paraphrase of Luke 23:43.

[31]. John 14:6.

[32]. Revelation 22:15.

[33]. Philippians 4:8, NIV, emphasis supplied.

 [TL1]The endnote cites pp. 51-53, but this only one sentence. I recommend citing only the page on which the quote appears.

 [TL2]Could not verify this quote

 [TL3]In the 1975 online edition, this is not the wording. Perhaps this is how the 1970 edition reads?


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