Transformed Thinking

I realize it has been some time since I last posted here. Recently I finished reading the book “Winning the War in Your Mind” by Craig Groeschel. I found this to be a great book, especially for this time in my life.

One of the things I have noticed, lately, is how we keep our focus on the negative, and our hope in things people do/create. We all know how challenging 2020 was, for many, and 2021 has shaped up to be 2020 2.0 for many as well. Through all of this, it has been heartbreaking to witness people, especially Christians, go down the trap of living into the negativity.

Yes, there is so much going on in the world. There is so much we do need to be concerned about, but what should we focus on?
Now I am not suggesting that we think positive about every situation to try and make it better. I am suggesting that we focus on the One who gives us the hope. The reality is, when we focus on God, we are more able to see what God is doing and how God is inviting us to participate and be part of the solution. This means we “discipline” our minds to focus on the reality of the ultimate hope and joy. The worst thing in life is never the last thing. So what does this kind of thinking do?

For one thing, we keep our focus and attention on the author of life rather than the life we see and experience with limited vision. Our limited vision and understanding of the world, gives us a skewed version of reality and we end up forming opinions and mindsets without trying to seek the bigger picture.

One of the challenges we face today is we are bombarded with all sorts of media, each one telling a slightly different version of the story. What this is doing is causing us to be numb to the amount of information readily available, and we become more and more cynical which leads us to a place of despair thinking things will not get any better.

But, when we focus our attention on Jesus Christ, we begin to see the incredible goodness and glory of God working all around us, through us, in us, even through those people we do not like. As we keep our minds open to the workings of God going on, we can see our hearts beginning to be reformed and becoming softer and more loving to those we are around. Our conversations with people become more and more loving. Our lives are lived out with more joy, all because the glory and working of God is shining in and through our lives because our focus is on God.

Back to the book I mentioned above. Craig speaks about how we can focus our attention and eyes on God each day. It does take discipline on our part, but with the help of God through Jesus Christ who empowers us with the Holy Spirit, our lives will be transformed and we will be able to live into and live out the mind of Christ.

All this really takes is a transformed paradigm that says, “the world is messed up, people are broken…but GOD is working and is doing incredible work.” Take time to think about how this would change our lives if we focused on Christ rather than what’s wrong.

Remember these words from the Apostle Paul from Philippians chapter 4:

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”‭‭ (Philippians‬ ‭4:4-9‬ ‭NIV)‬‬

Explaining Reasons

Mark 10:10-12 “Inside the house, the disciples asked him again about this. He said to them, “Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if a wife divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.”

So, this week’s scripture focus from Mark 10:1-16 has been challenging. Possibly because this passage can bring up many feelings from many different people. I know I had some feelings come up as I am studying this passage and praying over this passage before the Sunday I preach on it. But, I think this is part of the point of scripture. We are not meant to be comfortable in our thinking or our lives. We are supposed to be challenged and dig deeper in to understanding so our lives reflect the life of Jesus Christ.

Jesus has said some vary definite statements to answer the Pharisees’ question about divorce. His disciples were with him and did not seem to understand what he said or even why he said what he did. I love how Jesus takes the time to explain to His disciples what he is teaching to the crowds.

I know when I tell my kids something, they may not understand why. It is important to help them understand so they can develop their minds and reasoning skills. Taking time to explain helps because it is something that will help them understand why they are doing what they’re doing.

It is challenging to me when people do not explain to me what’s going on. How do you feel when things are not explained to you?

A challenge we have for today is to look for opportunities to help those around us to understand by explaining. Helping their reasoning skills is important. Jesus did this for His disciples, and we can do the same thing. This is something I am working on daily.

Control

James 3:2-3 CEB “We all make mistakes often, but those who don’t make mistakes with their words have reached full maturity. Like a bridled horse, they can control themselves entirely. When we bridle horses and put bits in their mouths to lead them wherever we want, we can control their whole bodies.”

I love the illustration James uses here about horses being controlled with a small bit. Isn’t it amazing how just a small instrument can control the direction of a large animal like a horse. It seems as if something larger might be needed; but a bit in the mouth of a horse is enough to control the animal.

James is comparing the way horses are controlled with a bit to humans who control their tongue (what they say). He even says that those who can control their words have reached full maturity, perfection. Is this possible to attain? It is easy to think that all we have to do is watch what we say. But there is more.

When we bridle a horse, the way the horse thinks has drastically changed. The animal doesn’t need to fight instincts to do what the person wants. Instead it grows to trust the person and know direction will be examined. I believe the same is true for people. It is not as much as what we say, or what we don’t say. It is about how our faith guides us and directs our actions, words and thoughts. Our thoughts are what come out of our mouth.

Jesus said it is not what goes into a person that defiles him; but rather what comes out. So, the bridle we should allow God to use in our lives in not necessarily on our mouths, but in our minds. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “capture every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

Our direction is driven by our minds on so many levels. If we can control our thoughts, then our words will not be an issue. If we can control our words, then we can live up to the high standard we speak about. If we control our actions, then people will see our faith and the grace of God at work and alive in us.

Is it possible to attain perfection? With the grace of God, anything is possible. Today, we have the challenge to control what we say by allowing God to “bit” our minds so our thoughts comes from a new and higher direction. What we say shows what we think. What we think is a product of how we are allowing the grace of God to move in and through our lives.

Lord, Guide me today. Help me think about what you think about. Help me love others and say what needs to be said out of love. Amen.

Old vs. New Part 1

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Ephesians 4:17-19 So I’m telling you this, and I insist on it in the Lord: you shouldn’t live your life like the Gentiles anymore. They base their lives on pointless thinking, and they are in the dark in their reasoning. They are disconnected from God’s life because of their ignorance and their closed hearts. They are people who lack all sense of right and wrong, and who have turned themselves over to doing whatever feels good and to practicing every sort of corruption along with greed. 

The rest of chapter 4, Paul is talking about attitudes and lifestyles that cause division among believers. Today, we look at the first thing that Paul wants to address: pointless thinking. How many times do we go through our day and look back only to realize we spent the majority of our time thinking about things that really did not matter or had no consequential effect to what went on throughout the day? Where does your mind go when you want to be right? Where does my mind go when I think that my way is not wrong?

We can keep this mindset; but what will happen is that we end up allowing these thoughts, these paradigms to control, not only our thinking, but our actions and attitudes about other people. Paul is addressing the difference life can make in Jesus Christ. As I read through Galatians, last month, it dawned on me that we are completely free in Jesus Christ and we do not have to let our minds and other people control how we act and what we think. We are free to be the people God calls us to be. We are free to love, free to give, free to serve, free to forgive, free to empower people, and the list goes on and on.

This is the difference between the “old way of life” and the “new way of life.” We do not need to allow pointless thinking, which actually drives us away from loving God and loving other people, to control our lives. When we keep our eyes and heart on Jesus Christ, we can see the true beauty and the redemption that God is doing today, in and through us.

Pointless thinking means that we spend so much time thinking about things that are wrong that we can forget to look at the things that are good. We do not need to live in any kind of fear or control, except through the control of love, which actually gives us even more freedom. Disconnection happens when we forget to see how God is moving in other people’s lives.

How can you, how can I, allow the Gospel of Jesus Christ is change and shape us to live a life that is “worthy” of our calling and bring people to faith in Christ because of our actions and words?

#TheGospelChangesUs