What we pay attention to has a profound impact on us…

Okay, that’s not rocket science. But it turns out that it is brain science. The idea that we creatures of body, soul and spirit need constant reforming is nothing new. Curt Thompson (M.D.) is is helping me understand a bit more about how that continual reforming happens in his book The Soul of Shame.

Consider the following that is a sliver of the chapter The Integrated Mind (I’ve inserted the texts he refers to).

“This way of comprehending the healthy development of the mind reminds us of the Genesis narrative which declares that we mysteriously hewn creatures are both dust and breath;…”

“then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.” (‭‭Genesis‬ ‭2:7‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

“we are inseparably embodied and relational. Furthermore, this feature of integration is reflected in the psalmist’s plea that God would give him an undivided heart,…”
“Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭86:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

“… and God’s deep desire to do so while transforming hardened, disintegrated hearts into flexible, connected ones…”

“And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh,” (‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭11:19‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

…”The notion that my mind comprises different parts that function well only when brought together in harmony and only with assistance from someone outside of myself is but one metaphor the writers of Scripture offer, a poetic expression of our embodied neural circuitry operating in an integrated fashion.” (Thompson, The Soul of Shame, p. 46)

Earlier he noted that what we’re paying attention is key to what we become.

If the first thing I hear each morning  is the 5:30 news and the first thing I read is my Twitter feed or a newspaper, it’s no wonder I have difficulty keeping God in front of me (to borrow from Willard). 

Willard tells us to train our hearts and minds.

Personal Scripture reading, prayer and disciple making conversations are ways that I pay attention to God.

Aim at Heaven y’all!

In this paying attention, I see God renew my mind.

Thanks be to God!

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding

The importance of three words is almost incalculable…

“When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”‭‭John‬ ‭19:30‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The finished work enables me to press on in my unfinished work!!

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:12-14‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/php.3.12-14.esv

http://bible.com/59/jhn.19.30.esv

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding

Press on the path!


Keep going, trusting that He is working in you!

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (‭‭Philippians‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Even when there seems too much struggle, press forward. Row!
http://bible.com/59/php.1.6.esv

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding

Learning to lean on and trust God through the constant waves of life is a key fruit of being a disciple of Jesus.


“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭73:23-26‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Some of the best moments for me in this season of life are when I am with one of my grandsons. My concern for them is not just to protect them from danger, but to watch over their experience so that they will learn and grow. God sends us into events and watches over us that we may grow.

Our prayer for our grandsons is that they learn to trust God. Spurgeon said it is more important for children to learn to trust God, more important than love is trust. I resonate with that, I need to Continually develop trust.

Let us learn to trust in our the steadfast God. His love for us is more consistent, more caring, truly, – yes, that’s the right word – truly unconditional. 

Though the waves keep coming, even the rough ones among the rocks, He is with us.

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding

Thinking about love and hate the day after Charlottesville’s tragic events.

Have you ever been on the blunt end of being hated? Being hated is an incredibly damaging and impactful thing. In our world today, I’m sure many of us have felt it at some point, to some degree or another.

It makes you turn inward or, perhaps, away from the hater and even from others. 

Perhaps, the hated person turns to others who have felt the same hate, thus creating a group who has felt hated. Then, in a cauldron of emotions, they foster more hate, largely it would seem, to make themselves feel accepted by other haters. 

Then after a while, hating turns into something deeper. It becomes an aspect of one’s identity. 

The ‘hated,’ turned ‘hater’ embraces symbols of their brand of hatred. In today’s culture this is not just a lapel pin, an emblem on a necklace or a bracelet, it is often ink in the canvas of one’s skin or a flag carried down a street or planted in one’s lawn to provoke others. Thus deepening the identity connection in a more practical and significant manner. Identity is an extremely important aspect to who we are, who we associate with and who we love, or hate.

The tragic events here in Charlottesville yesterday are a sad symbol of hated haters gathering together to face off against others hated haters. In the name of free speech, or of justice, or these or those rights, or, well… the blank may be filled in. Where is the dialogue? Where is the conversation? It’s certainly not in the media. They have ALL CHOSEN SIDES.

I have felt hate. I have found myself hated while abroad because I am an American, deep, angry hate. I have felt hate because I was not X but was in a place only for those who were X. I have even been called a hater (and will likely be called such again) on this very blog and elsewhere because I refused to tow a certain party line. I know the emotions that one feels when the target of such. Emotions demand decisions. One decides to love just as one decides to hate. It is possible to decide to respond in love.

A wise pastor once told the story of being a hater against those who oppressed him and others. He was an oppressed person himself as a member of a weak ethnic group who was moved around by a much stronger government. Uprooted by the oppressor, he had to make a new life elsewhere, because he was part of the hated other. 

Then he realized that Jesus told him to *love his enemy.*

So he does. He decided to obey and to love instead of hate. He was hated for that too.

There was a shortage of love in the several block peremeter around the statue yesterday when we were in downtown Charlottesville and saw this parade of hate.


Today there’s a shortage of love among the political commentators who are responding the to shortage of love coming from the White House. There are a lot of people deciding to hate today. 

Jesus commanded love. As He died, He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

That was love.

May our hearts learn to forgive and love rather than perpetuate more hate, hating and haters.

Love, it’s a decision that can overcome hate. Consider Jesus:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” ‭‭(Matthew‬ ‭5:43-45‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Yes, we must stand against evil. No, I’m not naive enough to think these haters minds will be changed. They are deeply stained with hate, especially in the formation they arrived in. They marched wearing helmets, bearing shields and carrying sticks just the right size for close quarter conflict. Their hate wanted a fight, and they got one. Pepper spray could be smelled where we stood just one block away. We could see the altercations begin. Their hate was hungry and it was fed. Was the response to such hate the wise and prudent answer?

When we feel the need to respond, we should do so, but without matching evil with evil, hate with hate.

Rather, meet hate with love.

Pray for your enemy, for those who hate, that they may meet Love, in the person of Jesus who came to bring peace. This is what scores of people did in several churches yesterday. Indeed, perhaps their love, shown in prayer was more important than we will ever know. Because the parade of hate we watched walk into the hotspot was early. The demonstration was declared unlawful and the protests began to disburse. Had this chain of events not happened and the cauldron of hate boiled hotter, even more lives may have been lost and more injuries happened. 

Indeed, we may surmise that the prayers in those churches and among the rest of us, in homes, cars or on the streets nearby were answered with a quicker dispersal than may have been.

The loss of three lives and the serious injuries of many others notwithstanding, for their families we all should pray, those who can, should reach out. But one thing I’d bet is that those three souls would now want love and reconciliation to be the result of their tragic and senseless deaths. 

May a reminder to love be a legacy from yesterday.

As He died, He said “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

Decide to love.

We can begin loving, very practically by refusing to hate and admonish on social media.

Share love instead. Hopefully it will be more infectious than hate.

2 Comments

Filed under seeking understanding

Dependent Jesus?

Jesus, the Son of God, the Second Person of the Trinity, worked in humility. His will, as He explicitly stated was to do His Father’s will. Consider this quote from John 5.

“”I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.”‭‭John‬ ‭5:30‬ ‭

Within the whole chapter this is a theme from which we may take an important reminder. If Jesus remained connected to His Father so as to do the Father’s will, how can we possibly presume to work apart from Him.

Yet we do.

Rather, let us run to sit with Him so that He may guide our thought, word and deed. So that, my words and deeds are acceptable to God, in His will.

This is how Paul can say

“Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:1‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Let us be dependent on the Father.

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding

Emerging from this cave…

I realized yesterday that I had begun to drift. It’s like I was in a cave.

​​
This morning it was harder than usual to hit the pavement and swim the laps. But I headed out, 


I walked farther than usual and swam harder afterward. I knew that the link between body, mind and spirit is essential to moving forward in my personal discipleship. As I walked, harder than usual, I focused on prayer of praise. I focused on giving God glory as I pushed forward. Then I jumped on the M’Cheyene train and there God was asking rhetorical questions of Job and the human counselors who surrounded him. God was essentially asking which of them was God. I praised Him for the reminder that He is God, sovereign and just, mercy and kind, and holy. 

I knew had allows  urgent challenges to put my focus on earth…


But as I focused on Him, he lifted my gaze…


I felt the wind filling the sails and thanked God, for He has lifted my focus to Himself, rather than the earth. How great, I was reminded, is our God!

Then I read today’s Psalm, 63.

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭63:1-8‬ ‭ESV‬‬

http://bible.com/59/psa.63.1-8.esv

Run to Him. Stay close to Him daily, so that when you do realize you’ve drifted, it won’t be so far to row.

“Aim at Heaven!”

Leave a comment

Filed under seeking understanding