Thursday, February 7, 2019


My wife and I went to Elena's, a Mexican restaurant in our town of Liberty Hill, Texas. We often go in mid afternoon to avoid the rush, but about that time of day they clean the eating area of the restaurant to get ready for the evening customers. When they do this, they ask customers who come then to eat in the Cantina, the bar. 

The Cantina is usually quiet in the afternoon, and there is little or no alcohol around. Furthermore, when we are in the Cantina, I can ask the waitress to change the music to Mariachi, which I particularly like. Elena has told the waitresses they have to change the music for me and my wife. 

Now, I would never go into a stand alone bar to eat, even if there was good food there, which there usually is not at bars. But, the situation at Elena's does not give me any issues, and I do not feel I am associating with anything evil.

But, if some Fundamental Baptist, or other denomination, pastor rolled by and saw my wife and I sitting in Elena's Cantina eating, they would instantly have Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs) about us. This is because many Bible believing Christians are camping on Mount Sinai. They have a law code, usually compiled by their pastor and his legalistic friends, which they use to condemn other Christians of evil and exalt themselves as splendid law keepers.

The greatest evil, and the most deadly harm, is done AFTER evil thoughts have germinated, and they eventually bear their fruit in self-righteous words. Indeed, behind every murder is a history if evil thinking. When we give way to this, the day comes when we react to everything we see with an automatic mental response of suspicion and condemnation.

Even the disciples did this, those great men who eventually became the Apostles of the Early Church.

John 4:4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?
12  Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:
18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.
20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

They wondered that he should talk with a woman, and especially with a Samaritan woman. It was considered by the Jews indecorous to talk with a woman in public, and the rabbis held that to talk with such an inferior creature was beneath the dignity of a doctor of the law. It is also possible that the woman had a bad reputation which was so well known that the disciples knew about her. The thoughts of the disciples clearly were that what Jesus was doing was not socially approved. The one thing we can say for them, unlike many legalizers today, is that they kept their mouths shut.

But, the context of the narrative makes it clear the disciples had a serious case of Automatic Negative Thoughts.

I have come, recently, to the conclusion that I have somewhat of a problem with ANT. While I will at one time restrain my thoughts and resist the temptation to jump to conclusions, some things I see or read cause me to at once develop a sudden negative mind set. I do not like this in myself, and we in our home intend to work on this vigorously in the future. So often we have sudden negative thoughts which we could not prove were valid if we had to.

The age we live in, in our present American culture, is cynical and morose. There is a spirit of meanness and suspicion in people. I invite you to join me as we try to live above this legalistic and hateful culture. Let us destroy the devil of Automatic Negative Thoughts that infects us so easily.

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

How are the ANTS destroying your life and walk with Jesus Christ?
Disclaimer: Dr. Amen's comment about what God should have told Eve.