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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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Follow Me AS I FOLLOW JESUS

We all walk a path in life that is set before us. We start with very little experience and knowledge about the purpose of our life and the world beyond us. All of humanity experiences joy, wisdom, strength, weakness, suffering and hardship, especially those who are “contending for the faith”. Knowing Jesus is a very special part of this life journey.

A CERTAIN GOD

We can be reasonably certain about many things. In fact, without this certainty about life, none of us could function. We can be certain that tonight the sun will ‘set’. Tomorrow the sun will ‘rise’. After the February 28th it will be February 29th. This year there will be international unrest and much political instability in many parts of the world. In the coming months global warming will be identified by politicians as the source of floods and wildfires. Several high profile international celebrities will die this year. Archaeologists will make a discovery that will require some aspects of history to be rewritten. And you will certainly have one of the most memorable moments in your life in the coming days. You see, there are clearly some things we can be quite certain about. However, there are some aspects about our future that we cannot be certain about, yet in those moments we can be certain about what we should do.

LOW COST LIVING

Turn on any TV or radio news lately and there’s bound to be a story about the current “cost of living crisis”. We all feel it. Initially most people accepted the widespread price-rises were caused by 2020-21 pandemic lockdowns. But whatever the reasons for the rapid price hikes over the past two years, every time we go to the supermarket we feel it again. While governments are striving to curb the impact of this cost of living crisis, there remains a way to enjoy low cost living. The key to this is recognising that the most valuable things in life are literally priceless. The path to enjoying low-cost living is to be found in Christ, and what He taught — and it begins with treasure.

How To Know Jesus Better

It’s a scary thought to realise that the Jesus we have been told about and worship may not really be known to us at all. We can ‘know’ about someone or something, but not really know them. In Christian circles it’s often referred to as head knowledge not heart knowledge.

Knowing Christ Better

As a church, this year’s theme is coming closer to Christ by getting to know Him better. I feel that I am “the least qualified person” to tell anyone how this is done — but someone else has already claimed this distinction – the apostle Paul. After decades of hearing directly from Christ, seeing extraordinary miracles, being taken to heaven temporarily, planting churches across the Roman Empire, he could still say I would give anything to really know Christ – even if it meant suffering like He did! (Phil. 3:7-10). Therefore, I could say: If you do this or that, you will then know Christ better – but in my view, it’s not as easy as that! How we develop our relationship with Christ is shaped by several factors including our personality, our life experiences, our physical health and fitness, and our relationships with others (especially our parents and particularly our father). In fact, I believe that there is a relationship between how we have learned to build relationships with others (and notably how we have learned to relate to those who are closest to us) and how we then proceed to have a relationship with God. Even though I have expressed my lack of qualifications in telling anyone how to have a closer relationship with Christ, I still can, like one hungry beggar to another hungry beggar, offer you a few of the morsels of food that I’ve been able to find.

SOME PEOPLE HAVE AMAZING BUTS

I know of several people with amazing buts. There’s Jo’, Mo’, Sam, Esther, Jerry, and others. Each of these people were gifted by God with an amazing but that changed there life and the course of human history. Sometimes these gifts came with a …then, or …God, or …the LORD. When it comes to the size of things, a but is a relatively small thing (in Greek it can be just two letters: de) but it can have huge implications and enormously great blessings for multitudes. I hope to show you how this was the case with each of the people I have chosen as samples, and then show you how God is your God of buts.

OPEN

What does the word ‘open’ mean to you? Like language itself, it is like any word in which the meaning only comes from the context in which it is used. I can think of at least 12 different understandings of this word, some of which I will point out, most I will not, and one that I focus on because it is prophetically important for where we are at as a church at this crucial time.

ONE THING I HAVE TO SAY

​I’m always amazed at the really cool events I’d organised for my kids to experience, so that they might have happy memories – but now they don’t remember it except the random comment someone made in the car trip on the way there or what snack was eaten. Conversely, if you make a mistake, well that one is remembered! Once I drove Andrew’s car and just lightly hit something so it ended up with an annoying 2cm scratch. The mistake is (still) there in full view to anyone who looks. Is Andrew going to remember this above the years of my devotion to him? (Not likely, but some people do remember the wrong for way too long!) If you had the choice, what one thing would you want to be remembered for? What one thing would you want your family to remember? It’s not often going to be the thing you have in mind.

‘Famous last words’ comes from the hope that you’ll be remembered for them. If you were given the privilege of being able to articulate as the important thing to say, to be remembered by all, what would it be? Would it be a reflection on your love toward someone? Would it be a directive on how to have the best life? Would it be that you wished you had done something? Someone once mused, ‘would your dying words be that you’d wished you’d spent just one more day in the office’? (Not likely.)

AT THE END OF THIS YEAR I WILL RECOUNT 12 WONDERFUL THINGS (An Explication of Psalm 9)

This is my last end-of-year Pastor’s Desk post. When the head of our Live-stream ministry, Sari, asked me what I was thankful for this year, my immediate answer was obvious and predictable. But since then, I have considered that I also have eleven other things for which I am grateful to GOD for. In this last ever end-of-year Pastor’s Desk please indulge as I share my heartfelt thanks to God and for those God has used to bless me this year.

HE WAS BORN A KING

The king who reigned over Judea when Jesus was born was Herod the Great. Herod had no legitimate claim to the throne of Israel. He was from an Idumean noble family who supported the Roman occupation of Palestine. As a reward he was appointed by the Roman Senate as the King of Judea. Despite his attempts to curry favour with the Jews, including several major public works programs (including completing the temple reconstruction) he was still largely unpopular among the Jews. Little wonder then that when the Magi arrived in Jerusalem with their large retinue and requested to view the birth of the prophesied King of the Jews, Herod was emotionally threatened by this revelation. Herod immediately ordered an enquiry from the chief priests and religious scribes.