Archive for August, 2009

It’s Time For Change…

thumbnail        Norman Vincent Peale said “Change your thoughts and you change the world.” The truth is that most people change very little therefore according to the philosophy of Peale neither does their world. I believe true change only comes when are hearts and minds are given to God and only He can change our thoughts and desires when we surrender our self-will to Him.

       There is actually a physiological component of our brain that has a direct impact on what we perceive as truth. It is called the reticular activating system (RAS), located at the core of the brain stem. This grouping of nerves actually functions as a selective mechanism allowing only those items through to our consciousness that we deem valuable. For example, if you are focusing on an intense conversation in a crowded place this mechanism will screen out other conversations and noises. People who live near the airport will not be as aware of the overhead airplane noise as someone who is visiting. If you purchase a Toyota, you will notice the other cars like yours while driving down the road but will be oblivious to the other makes and models. As we place value on thoughts and ideas our mind will call our attention to those things while screening out tons of other items that might otherwise get our attention. What a living torture it would be if everything that came our way penetrated our conscious thoughts. We truly are fearfully and wonderfully made.

          Peale was certainly on to something when he realized the power of changing one’s thoughts. The brain is really the world’s first personal computer and the old computer programming adage “garbage in, garbage out” still rings true. Early in my career I studied a great deal of the positive thinking material. They all stressed the power behind a positive mental attitude. As a Christian I have discovered that the real secret to life lies in having a positive spiritual attitude. Spiritual things are supernatural. Mental assent in and of itself relies only on the natural realm and will never lead anyone to true satisfaction. However, if we place value on the things of God, such as His word, and we turn our hearts and minds toward Him He will bless us with His presence and provide for us all that we need to be contented followers. As we feed our value system with what God values we will be aware of the truth that surrounds us everywhere we go. His word will prove itself to be true.

          Truly what the world needs is change. It’s not a change based upon political views or opinions of mankind but the transforming knowledge  that can only come by knowing the Creator of the universe. It’s a supernatural change that results in loving God with all our heart, mind and strength and loving our neighbors as ourselves. What a wonderful change it is! Change your thoughts toward God and change the world.

Signs from God…

detour          I believe it was Oswald Chambers who said, the greatest crisis we will ever face is to overcome our self will (paraphrase). After giving much thought to what constitutes self will I’ve come to respect what an enormous problem it is for all of us. In this problem we can discover the immense importance of spiritual growth. Romans 6:6 states “knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin;”

          Questions:If our old self was crucified, then why do we still struggle? If the body of sin might be done away with, then why do we still feel oppressed by sin? Why does fear occasionally grip us? Where is the peace that passes all understanding?

          I would like to take a stab at helping us all to better understand these things but first we need to realize that much effort is required of us.  It’s not an effort to overcome these obstacles to faith by some strength of our own but an effort to pursue God, regularly and constantly. An essential clue is given to us in the first two words of the scripture verse, “knowing this”.  Spiritual health tip number one; do we know that our old self was crucified? How can we know? Well first we know because God’s word says so and we need to believe it. Secondly, we need to remember those points of God’s grace in our lives when He has evidenced the fact of overcoming sin to us. When we aren’t spiritually present before Him these things become distant and we cannot see clearly. (More proof of our need to remain or return quickly to His presence). 

          As I stated before this  is an on-going task of pursuing God to remain in His presence. Matt.6:33 tells us to “…seek first His kingdom”. This advice comes in the midst of reminding us not to have anxiety over issues of life. Romans 6:13 encourages us “…present yourselves as those alive from the dead”. All of these verses connected together add up to training or discipline for each of us. We must have God’s formula for facing life so ingrained in our minds that we instantly recognize sin for what it is and the fact that it has no power over us other than what  we give it. Sometimes it is sin while other times it is temptation or attack that when handled incorrectly will lead to sin.

          If we “…consider ourselves dead to sin…” (Romans 6:11), because we know we were crucified (vs.6) and we present ourselves to Him (vs.13), then we have the escape route or detour from sin that God has given us and no longer do we need to be anxious over anything (Matt.6:34). We must implore self examination as every circumstance arises. Maybe it is the little irritants that make you think it’s just because you’re having a bad hair day when in actuality you just might be under the attack of the flesh or the enemy. It’s our self will that keeps us plowing straight ahead when we should be taking note of the spiritual detour sign just ahead. If the storm is approaching and our windshield is fogged up we can barely see how to navigate.

Scripture passages taken from the NASB version.        Oswald Chambers source: “My Utmost for His Highest”

Connect the dots…

winkyandyou-head07          Winky Dink I’m genuinely amazed at the Internet and the information that we have at our disposal. I have often recalled a TV show that was aired when I was about 5 or 6 years old called “Winky Dink and You”. Hardly anyone I’ve talked to seems to remember it but I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. During the show kids would be instructed to place their magic screen (a rectangular piece of clear vinyl) on the TV screen and instructions followed for connecting dots by means of magic crayons to complete a message or picture that tied into the current episode plot of Winky Dink and various characters. By clicking on the link provided above (Winky Dink) you can get a glimpse of what the show looked like.

          I found the clip by using Google and was instantly transported back in time to when I was a child. The thought of ever seeing Winky Dink or the clip of the show was the farthest thing from my mind but it was right there for the viewing. I even remember the time when I forgot to use the “magic screen” and drew right on the TV screen. Mom and Dad were not quite as enamored with the program after that as I was.

          The show aired from 1953 to 1957 when it was decided that the radiation from the TV set was probably not a good thing for kids to be embracing. That started me thinking about the technological advances of our lifetime and how technology in and of itself is neutral but the applications can be either good or bad. The advent of television was new and exciting in those days. There were times when people tuned in to see the test pattern just in case something might be aired. To think about the billions of hours that have been spent viewing the “tube” is mind boggling. Just like everything else that has come along, too much of a good thing can have bad consequences.

          Back in those days we only had three stations to choose from and they weren’t on 100% of the time. Now we have hundreds to choose from and it seems difficult to find good wholesome entertainment or intellectual stimulation. Some programming is down right distasteful and or sinful. In all honesty everyone needs to to choose what we  expose ourselves to wisely. It is important for us to realize the impact that TV programming has on society. Things that were far beyond acceptable years ago have become the norm of today. Are we really more enlightened? Has social behavior benefited from all of the forms of liberalism or have we entered the new dark ages?

          Parents……..please think about the images that your children are being bombarded with. Considered the amount of time they are spending electronically. Maybe it’s time for us to connect the dots once again and see how the picture takes shape. Winky was taken off the air to safeguard the physical health of children. What dangers lurk in the technology of today if not used responsibly?

          “Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Prov. 22:6 NASB

Economic chaos, then and now…

gd40          Recently I viewed some tapes of the “Great Depression” and found some staggering differences between then and now.  Imagine looking for work all day and then coming home to find no food for dinner. Times were tough, unemployment reached 25% in some areas and for the first time in the history of our country the government was faced with having to provide for the masses. The average person did not blame the government for their circumstances but took personal responsibility. The challenges of life were physical but people had a spirit of hope. As for the immigrants, they so respected freedom that life in America even under trying times was superior to life elsewhere under oppression. They faced the physical dangers of poverty but managed to keep faith.

          In sharp contrast to the Great Depression Americans today are more fearful about losing their lifestyle than their life. We have lost the sense of the precious nature of freedom and cannot relate to living under oppression. I know that there are those among us that are in severe circumstances and I in no way want to diminsh the reality of their suffering, however the majority of the country is either suffering as a result of bad decisions or more likely to be worried about losing their toys rather than their evening meal. Unlike the the woes of 1929 the government does have programs in place to help those who are out of work and destitute. (I am not advocating the expertise of the current government but rather that which was put into place as a result of the previous depression, such as  medicare, social security, unemployment insurance, FDIC insurance and so on).

  joblessmen        Those who weathered the Great Depression did so with the belief that America promised an abundant life of material wealth and the freedom to enjoy their success. “The American Dream” was alive and well in the minds of the people and it was a healthy time for our country.  A new age of industrial strength was born and the United States became the most formidable power ever known in the history of the world. Prosperity abounded interrupted only by slight economic recessions until we came to the longest economic upswing in our history. The baby boomer generation ushered in a level of prosperity un-precedented by any other time. Perhaps too much of a good thing wasn’t in our best interest.

          You know what happens when a child eats too much candy, they get sick. During the good times our appetite for self-gratification grew exponentially. We filled our lives with so much clutter there was little time left for contemplation. Our insatiable desire for pleasure coupled with the fast pace of the electronic information age has caused Americans to trade depth for breadth. If there is a silver lining in going through such times it lies in the opportunity we have to live differently. We can re-evaluate what is really important and make adjustments to live simpler and more meaningful lives. Those who fail to see the needed adjustments are doomed to repeat the same failures and are in danger of never really having eternal security. “For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself”? (Luke 9:25) NASB

          If our values change as a society then some of the inequities might change as well. If we stop paying ball players millions of dollars maybe we can afford to pay policeman, fireman, teachers and pastors an amount above the poverty scale. If we stop the insane selfish lawsuits that plague our society then the price of an aspirin in our hospitals might be far less than the fifty dollar price tag we now have to pay. If we value each other higher than we do a tree we might have more cooperation for saving the environment. Our society increasingly becomes more impersonal. It’s time to take the words of Jesus to heart, “…Love your neighbors as yourself.” (Matt.19:19) NASB  The looming danger of the “Great Depression” was the loss of physical life, the impending danger of our current time is the loss of our souls.