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THINK

The Lord declared through the prophet Isaiah that His thoughts were not like our thoughts and that God’s thoughts were infinitely higher than ours (Isa. 55:8-9). This tells us two profoundly important things. Firstly, the omniscient (all-knowing) God thinks. He has thoughts. Secondly, even though we are created in the image of God, our ability to think is somewhat impaired. We are unable to think in the way we were all designed to. This is why even really really smart people can end up believing and expounding really really silly things. Our thinking — even from our best thinkers — is impaired by three factors. However, there are two once-well-known, but now-little-known, facts that should give everyone who would like to think more deeply and clearly great insight how to do so.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the LORD.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are My ways higher than your ways
and My thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

THE IMPAIRMENTS TO THINKING

When the devilish serpent enticed the man and the woman with the lie that no harm would come to them from rebelling against their Creator, the Lord of Love, by eating the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Gen. 2:17) which the Lord of Love had forbidden for them to do, they soon discovered that they had been lied to. Rather than increasing in god-like knowledge as the devilish-serpent had promised, the man and the woman immediately felt duped and ashamed. When the Lord of Love turned up in the Garden of Eden at the usual time to walk with His image bearers (in the cool of the day, Gen. 3:8) the man and the woman hid themselves. This sad episode reveals that mankind’s ability to think was impaired in these three ways: (i) the acquisition of knowledge; (ii) the management of distractions; and, (iii) spiritual blindness.

The simple believes everything,
but the prudent gives thought to his steps.
Proverbs 14:15

1. The Acquisition of Knowledge –   Pride was at the root of mankind’s Fall from innocence. The stain of sin on the human soul oozes pride into every response we fallen humans make – especially when it comes to being taught (Prov. 15:5). God has ordained that we acquire knowledge by being taught – especially by a teacher – and especially by our parent/s (Prov. 5:13; 7:24). There is a lot of knowledge that can only be delivered by a teacher. But all too often we are impaired from receiving this knowledge because of our pride. Knowledge can also be acquired from experiences – especially learning from our mistakes. Yet too often instead of learning from our mistakes we often look for someone else to blame for them instead. This was immediately obvious when God confronted the two occupants of the Eden and both of them blamed someone else for their mistake (Gen. 3:11-13). 

“…Paul points out, Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves.’ but also ‘as wise as serpents’. He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head.”
“Mere Christianity”, C.S. Lewis, 2017:77.

If you want to think more deeply and clearly, you’ll need knowledge. Keep reading to learn how.

 

2. Distraction Management –   The Fall has robbed mankind of the ability to pay attention and focus on what (and who) truly matters. Perhaps today, more than any other time in human history, we are blighted by constant distractions (Jer. 29:19).  We rarely welcome quiet and stillness to allow our minds to reflect, ponder, and consider things that matter (Psalm 46:10). Instead, we fill our spaces with activity, noise, visual over-stimulation and amusements. (By the way, to think, means to muse. When an “a” is placed in front of words like muse it negates (makes it opposite) that word. Thus, to be a-mused is to “stop thinking”.) 

¶ And now, O sons, listen to me,
and be attentive to the words of my mouth.
Proverbs 7:24

If you want to think more deeply and clearly, you’ll need to be able to manage your distractions and train yourself to stay focused. Keep reading to discover how.

¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20

3. Spiritual Blindness –   After the Fall of mankind’s parents from innocence there was an ironic description of what happened to them when the text states, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Gen. 3:7a). Yet, in reality, they became spiritually blind! 

In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Second Corinthians 4:4

Mankind’s ability to think clearly and deeply about spiritual matters is now impaired due to our spiritual blindness. The apostle Paul in writing to the Romans in the opening chapter of his epistle states even though “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Rom. 1:19) they refuse to acknowledge or see it even though this “[has] been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world” (Rom. 1:20). This helps us to understand why so many people deny reality and fail to accept the truth about the God of the Bible being the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Judge.

[Jesus said] This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
Matthew 13:13

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains.
John 9:41

If anyone wants to think more deeply and clearly, they’ll need to be healed of their spiritual blindness. Keep reading to discover how.

 

HOW GOD HAS ENABLED US TO ONCE AGAIN BE ABLE TO THINK DEEP AND CLEARLY

I do not want anyone to think that I am suggesting that in order to be a Christian, or even a good person, you have to be a genius thinker. Not at all. But neither do I want people to think that being or becoming a Christian means embracing irrational (silly) thinking. We are meant to love God with all of our hearts and minds (Matt. 22:37). C.S. Lewis went on to say in Mere Christianity that thinking was a ‘cardinal virtue’. “The word ‘cardinal’ has nothing to do with ‘Cardinals’ in the Roman Church. It comes from a Latin word meaning ‘the hinge of a door’. These were called ‘cardinal’ virtues because they are, as we should say, ‘pivotal’” (pg. 76). Lewis calls thinking “prudence”. He echoes the Apostle Paul’s comments in First Corinthians 14:20 when he writes, “He [God] wants us to be simple, single-minded, affectionate, and teachable, as good children are; but He also wants every bit of intelligence we have to be alert at its job, and in first-class fighting trim” (pg. 77). 

¶ Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
First Corinthians 14:20

The good news is that even if you did not do very well at school, or have always struggled to read a book, or find life too hectic to be able to take time to think clearly and deeply, God has done two great things that can help enable you to improve how you think.

In his outstanding book, Person of Interest, former atheist and cold-case homicide detective, J. Warner Wallace, graphically documents a major turning point in world history when the trickle of philosophy, art, music, literature, and education suddenly became a torrent. His book documents how even world religious thought all point to the same of ‘person of interest’, which the fuse all points to.  

From J. Warner Wallace's book,

From J. Warner Wallace’s book, “Person of Interest” – https://coldcasechristianity.com/person-of-interest-by-j-warner-wallace/

 

1. JESUS

The first thing that God has done to begin to reverse the thinking impairment of mankind’s Fall from Innocence was sending and incarnating His Son into our world. Jesus was the most intelligent, wise, insightful person who has ever walked the planet. He was unimpaired by a lack of knowledge. He knew (and knows) everything (John 1:48; 2:24-25; 6:61, 64). He was unimpaired by pride (Matt. 11:29). He was prepared to listen to the teaching of other and engage with them (Luke 2:46). He was unimpaired by any distraction and gave His full attention to what really mattered (eg. John 4:7-26). And He was unimpaired by spiritual blindness because He was “without sin” (John 8:46).

J. Warner Wallace does an outstanding job detailing how that it was only after Jesus came that knowledge exploded wherever the gospel went. The knowledge of Jesus revolutionised the study of science, mathematics, philosophy, literature — and even other world religions (which each modified their beliefs in some ways to accommodate what Jesus taught!). The arrival of Jesus on the scene did one cataclysmic thing: He exposed the lie and revealed the truth. To put that a different way, He shed light where there had only ever been darkness.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it...He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through Him.
John 1:4-5, 7

The “light” that Jesus shed was not just restricted to religious or philosophical ideas. Wallace documents the rate of scientific discoveries and concludes that the light that Christ shed into the enlightened hearts of His followers dramatically led an exponential rise in scientific research and discoveries.

From J. Warner Wallace's book,

From J. Warner Wallace’s book, “Person of Interest”. How Christ influenced scientific discoveries (pg. 181)

And in case you think that this might just be a coincidence, Wallace asks the same question and states, “But instead, Jesus appeared just before the growth curve began. Was this a coincidence or was Jesus somehow a catalyst? The incremental steps in the curve may provide us with a few clues” (Wallace, J. Warner. Person of Interest (p. 181. Zondervan, Kindle Edition) and goes on to show why this was no mere coincidence. Here’s what we should learn from this: Spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer and the light of His truth will shine increasingly brighter in your heart enabling you to ‘see’ things you may not ever seen or understood before. This is how you can begin to think deeper and more clearly.

¶ So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed Him,
If you abide in My Word, you are truly My disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

 

2. THE HOLY SPIRIT

The second thing that God has done to begin to reverse the thinking impairment of mankind’s Fall from Innocence was the sending of the Holy Spirit into the world from the first day of Pentecost after Jesus physically rose from the dead.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper,
to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,
because it neither sees Him nor knows Him.
You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17

Jesus said that after He would return to His Father He would send the Holy Spirit who would teach followers “all things” (John 14:26) because the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of truth” (John 15:26) who lead Christ’s followers into “all truth” (John 16:13). The very things that impair our ability to think are the very things that the Holy Spirit works into the mind and soul of Christ followers. These include: humility (a readiness to admit and own mistakes and confess them); teachability (the Spirit-filled believer is open to being taught and strives to learn from others – even from the writings of Christ followers who lived long ago); and, prayerfulness (the Spirit will lead the child of God into times of quiet reflection, stillness, and grant him or her an ability to meditate or concentrate well). Here’s what we should learn from this: Spend time with Jesus in His Word and in prayer and the Holy Spirit of truth will increasingly shape and enable you to step away from life distractions and all its noise into a quiet place where things you may not ever seen or understood before now become clearer. This is how you can begin to think deeper and more clearly. I close with the Apostle Paul’s injunction to Timothy-

Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything.
Second Timothy 2:7

 

Your Pastor,

Andrew

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

1 Comment

  1. LYDIA

    Thank you Pastor Andrew…

    Reply

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THE PRODIGAL FATHER

 Does anyone know what the word prodigal means? Perhaps most people assume that it means: “wanderer”, or “rebel”, or perhaps even “backslider” or that it only applies to sons. This seems to be based on the story that Jesus told in Luke 15 to which most Bible Publishers assign the division title – The Parable of the Prodigal Son. But the word prodigal does not occur in this parable. Interestingly, there are three lead characters in this shocking and famous parable: the father and his two sons. One of these was genuinely ‘prodigal’, and, as Tim Keller points out, it was neither son! To appreciate what Keller means we might need to take another look at what the word prodigal actually means. It comes from the verb prodigious which means remarkably great in extent, size, or degree (New Oxford American Dictionary). It is a word often used to describe an author who regularly writes books – John Grisham is a prodigious author. A prodigal person is therefore, prolific, extravagant, excessive, and, lavish. Keller points out that even though most people ascribe this to the wayward son in the parable, it is more appropriately a designation for the lead character in the story, the father!

SUPER SUCCESSFUL CHRISTIANS

Spare a thought for those people who are often overlooked by churches—and if they are Christians—they frequently struggle to even find a suitable church where they can deepen their relationship with Christ. Often we think of those who struggle with life as those who are “down and out” and blighted by impoverishment, or destitution, or ill-health, or family breakdown, or poor mental health. But surprisingly, even those who are seen as super-successful because of their wealth, social stature, public acclaim or amazing achievements, are actually struggling with loneliness, emptiness, and poor mental health — even if they are a Christian. These super-successful Christians are CEOs of large companies, or world-class or national sporting champions, or internationally renowned performing artists, or A-lister actors, or media personalities, or highly sought after professionals such as surgeons or barristers. They often pay a high price for their success, including, long work hours, constant stress, public criticism, extended time away from their families, fierce competition, and strained marriages. These pressures are exacerbated by their constant travel associated with their work which also makes them vulnerable to exhaustion and extraordinary temptations. This is why these super-successful Christians need to join the kind of church that can provide them with the kind of support, counsel, and accountability that every Christian needs. Here’s how a church can become this kind of church.

MAKING CHURCH A WELCOMING HOME

For many people, making a decision to attend a church is a significant and potentially daunting decision. As they come through the front door they are entering an unfamiliar environment. It is also an environment that may be associated with preconceived ideas of what the expectations and rules of the church community may be. These people probably will not know anybody and they might have concerns that relate to their previous or current lifestyle. For those of us who are regular church attendees, it is possible that we may not fully appreciate the challenges a new attendee may be facing. When we can relate to these concerns, I believe we are better equipped to provide a warm and patient “welcome” to what we hope will become their new church home.

LOVE IN ACTION

Physical illnesses and stressful events are endemic in our society. They can be likened to the thorns that cause both pain and damage. It doesn’t take much for them to impact a person’s life in ways that they did not expect. I believe that we can become more resilient as followers of Jesus by applying an appropriate solution to a known problem. I believe that an appropriate and important part of the solution is for us to show love the way that Jesus demonstrated love during His ministry on earth.

THE TOOLS OF REMEMBERING

I like to think I have a pretty good memory.  I like to think I’m organised.  Generally, I am – I don’t double book appointments, I keep track of what I’m doing and when, I mostly turn up on time. But, on reflection, I’m not so sure this means I have a good memory.

TRUTH vs SOMETHING BIG AND HAIRY

“You were lying in your bed, you were feeling kind of sleepy.
But you couldn’t close your eyes because the room was getting creepy.
Were those eyeballs in the closet? Was that Godzilla in the hall?
There was something big and hairy casting shadows on the wall.
Now your heart is beating like a drum, your skin is getting clammy.
There’s a hundred tiny monsters jumping right into your jammies”!

These are lyrics from a song on the very first Veggie Tales video every made. The title of the song?  “God is bigger than the Boogie Man”. Junior Asparagus was lying in bed frightened, and Bob the Tomato and Larry the Cucumber appeared to tell him that he doesn’t have to be scared of the imaginary monsters because, “God is the bigger.” My childhood night-time fears weren’t so much about big and hairy monsters, aka boogie men, or Godzilla in the hall. My fears were house fires – our home burning down, and “burglars” or “robbers”. But I certainly identify with lying in bed, my heart beating like a drum, my skin getting clammy, my imagination in overdrive.

CLOSING THE DEAL

In 1871, the American evangelist, Dwight (“DL”) Moody was preaching to huge crowds each night in Chicago. At the end of each message he would give an appeal for people to either respond immediately to the gospel message he had just presented, or at least go home and consider it. But on Sunday October 8th, 1871, a huge fire broke out in Chicago. It burned through the city for days and became known as The Great Chicago Fire. Around 10,000 people were homeless as a result, and hundreds of people lost their lives. Moody was heart-broken when he realised that many of the people who had died were the people who had attended that Sunday night meeting where he had urged them to consider accepting Christ. His deep grief over this tragedy led him to make a vow that he would never again merely urge people to simply consider accepting Christ. From now on, he vowed, he would plead with all those he preached to – to immediately turn away from their sins and turn to the Saviour. DL Moody committed his life and ministry as an evangelist to be someone who would always strive to close the deal because he was now aware—more than ever—that people’s eternal destinies were in jeopardy! 

BUILDING A MOODY CHURCH

The three things that make the Christian life exciting and enthralling are the same three things that enable a believer to develop a closer relationship with God. The combination of these supernatural gifts gives the child of God an awareness that there is more, much more, to this world than we can see, touch, taste or feel. When the Christian’s faith is grounded and buttressed in God’s Word, godly prayer, and God’s house he or she flourishes. But there are forces at play that are determined to stop the believer from reaching their spiritual destiny. While we might think these enemy forces only use the fiery darts of doubt to hinder the believer’s journey to glory, there is something that they successfully use far more often: our mood. This is why, for any church to be successful, it must discover how to build moody church.

PRAYING PRAYERS

The amazing thing about prayer, is that nearly everyone does it – but hardly anyone thinks they do it well. If you visit any Christian bookstore you will notice that the largest display of books is about prayer. And it’s not just Christian bookstores where you’ll find books on prayer. Regular bookstores also sell a wide range of books on prayer (even if they do classify them as books on ‘meditation’!). One of the most frequently searched questions on Google is, “How to pray” (which then points enquirers to over 2.3 billion web pages answering their question). But in all of human history – and two thousand years before anyone but one had ever heard of Google – there was just One person who was supremely qualified to answer this question. And fortunately for those of us who really want to know the answer to this question (without having to peruse more than 2.3 billion web pages!) He gave us the answer.

WHY SOME BELIEVE

Why is it that two people can look at exactly the same evidence and can come to completely different conclusions about it? Even more puzzling is how two equally qualified scientific experts can look at the same data and utterly disagree about what it means. This happens many times in court cases where the prosecution will call their “expert witness” to give his or her professional opinion to verify that the defendant is guilty only to have the defence to present their “expert witness” who gives his or her professional opinion as to why the prosecution’s expert witness was wrong and to prove that defendant is innocent! This at least illustrates why it is not always the quality of the evidence that leads a person to accept or reject a claim. This especially apply to the claims that Jesus Christ made. Of the four accounts in the New Testament written about His life, three of them were written by eye-witnesses and the other one (Luke’s) was written by someone who interviewed many eye-witnesses. It is with interest that we turn to the last one to be John’s Gospel, where he describes dramatic proofs that Jesus was who He claimed to be. Yet despite these otherwise inexplicable proofs that at times thousands of people witnessed, many still wouldn’t believe. But it seems among those who did believe they all had one thing in common.