home > Pastor’s Desk > 2022 > January 7 > THINK

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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AMAZING ACCESS

Anyone who has attended a large event such as the recent Will Graham Outreach event that was held at the Launceston Silverdome would be familiar with the varying levels of access that are provided to staff and volunteers associated with this type of event. The security system used included identification in the form of different coloured shirts, prayer volunteer cards, and all access cards that permitted access to the entire venue with no questions asked by security personnel. This is like the access level that God has to our lives. Being omnipresent, He has unhindered access to every aspect of our lives. He knows our innermost thoughts, sees all that we do, hears all that we say. God has the ultimate ‘all access’ card.

WHY FINDING TRUTH MATTERS

How can we determine whether a claim is true or false? Some people think there are different kinds of truth — my truth, their truth, and your truth. But how do they know that their assessment of truth is true? After all, their assessment – that there is my/their/your truth might just be based on their truth rather than the truth. Truth has certain qualities that distinguishes it from what is false-
 Truth corresponds to reality.
 Truth is verifiable (that is, if it is true, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is falsifiable (that is, if it is false, it can be evidentially shown to be so).
 Truth is sometimes testable (that is, claims that are experiential can be tested by experience – including scientific claims, historic claims, and existential claims).
We have good reasons for the believing that the Bible is true because it is the divinely inspired, reliable and authoritative Word of God which has been superintendedly preserved by the Holy Spirit (read more about this).

THE 5 MOST IMPORTANT YEARS OF ANYONE’S LIFE

Parents, Kids Church leaders, and Christian school teachers should be intentional about shaping children to be fully devoted followers of Christ who have reasons for believing Christianity is true – which shapes them into virtuous contributors to society and to find their role in God’s Kingdom. This will be one of the necessary and indispensable means for the Church to fulfil the Great Commission of Christ.

TIME- YOU CAN’T CONTROL IT – BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT

We live in a fast paced world. We expect things to happen quickly. None of us like to be kept waiting. Even when we order something online we expect it delivered straight away. Some of us having to work two or even three jobs just to be able to pay the bills. We describe ourselves as time-poor. Yet, we all get twenty-four-hours in a day. Sixty-minutes in an hour. And sixty-seconds in a minute. Most of us need to adjust how we see, understand, and treat our time. This will involve, what will be for some, adopting a foreign and largely unaccustomed view of time that involves worship, sabbath, and deepening relationships. From this biblical perspective we will come to see time as a gift from God, not a curse, or source of frustration. Within this gift of time God teaches us how to worship in those times when it is difficult to do so. Rather than thinking this divine gift of time is ours to do with what ever we want, God uses this gift to teach us that we should gift it back to Him beginning with (but not limited to) treating Sunday as a sabbath to come together to recommit our hearts, voices, minds, and presence with God’s people, back to God. God gives us passing time to learn to deepen relationships – especially with our kin, and our friends. Time is meant for relationship building. 

I AM WHO I AM BUT I AM NOT WHO I USED TO BE BUT I AM NOT YET WHO I WILL BE

One of the greatest lies that the would-be enemy of all our souls attempts to perpetuate is that we are what we are and we can never change. This lie is whispered into the ears of many people’s invisible ears so imperceptibly that they actually think it originated with them. “You were born this way – and you can never change”, “This is who you really are – and you can never change”, “There’s no hope of anything ever changing for better – so you might as well just kill yourself” and so on. But these sly alien voices inside the heads of the vulnerable are lies. People can change. People do change. Some circumstances were always going to be temporary and were always going to change. I know this is true because I am living proof. I am who I am but I am not who I used to be and I am not yet who I will be.

WHO DOES THIS EPHESIANS FELLA THINK HE IS?!

It may well still be the best-selling book of all time – and continues year-by-year to be so – but certainly is not the best-read of our current times! If there was ever any doubt about this, the events this week in Hobart, at St. Mary’s (Catholic) College Girl’s School, should remove all doubt! A furore erupted over the news that the prescribed Scripture reading for the year-end graduation celebration, which incorporated a Mass, was “Wives submit to your husbands” taken from Ephesians. Callers into ABC radio’s breakfast program decried this assault against women – especially young, vulnerable girls. One caller, responding to the news that the text being used was a citation from Ephesians, denounced Ephesians and apparently demanded, “Just who does this Ephesians bloke think he is?!” Another caller stated, “Why are they quoting ancient Roman philosophers in the twenty-first century?!” And yet another caller somehow linked all religious wars to passages like this one in the Bible! He remarked, “I’m an atheist. All wars are started by those who are religious! No war was ever started by atheists!” (Perhaps he had never heard of Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, Vladimir Putin, who were collectively responsible for the deaths of over 20,000,000?) This furore led to the Archbishop conceding that the Ephesians passage did not have to be used at the graduation ceremony. But this furore has highlighted just how unaware many Tasmanians are about what the Bible is, what is actually says, and why it says it. And I am now about to correct this deficiency.  

THE LORD IS MY ROCK

Of the many tributes paid to her majesty, Queen Elizabeth II, was the often noted reflection that during her reign the world underwent a series of rapid changes that were dramatic and unprecedented in human history. There were technological inventions that revolutionised the way people could access international travel options enabling them to be virtually anywhere in the world within a matter of hours. New forms of communication emerged with the development of a global satellite communications network enabling people to watch Neil Armstrong take his one giant leap Live on their black-and-white TV screens (as I did in the corridors of Corio Primary School in 1969). Space exploration, the stuff previously just in the realm of science fiction writers, became a reality with manned and unmanned voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. But the past one hundred years have also been a time of great upheaval with empires crumbling, governments toppled, wars waged, genocides committed, pandemics raging, nations birthed, rulers assassinated, and massive refugee movements from oppressive Islamic and Communist regimes. Added to this has been the demise of professional journalism and the rise of internet-citizen-journalism where it is now common for TV News reports to feature footage taken from someone’s cell-phone which was posted on social media rather than the more expensive option of sending their own film crew there. And while we’re mentioning the internet, let’s not forget to mention – the internet. This alone has possibly been the most monumental change in the way people communicate, work, learn, and shop. But while it was noted that the Queen had witnessed all of these many changes, it was also noted that the Queen herself was an unchanging constant during all these upheavals who brought about a sense of stability, peace and reassurance. To millions of people around the world, she was their rock in a world of turmoil and change. Yet this was only possible because she herself had an immovable, dependable rock upon which she had built her life.

WHO BUILDS A CITY ON A HILL?

home > Pastor's Desk > 2022 > October 7th > Who Builds A City On A HillFor those who don’t know, I was born in Geelong, and have always been fan of the Geelong Football Club. But I’m not just a fan, I’m a paid-up member of the Club. In fact, I’m a student...

5 INDISPENSABLE GUIDELINES FOR NEW PARENTS

This is not for everyone. If you are already a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my other more abstract Pastor’s Desk articles. If you are not a parent and have no intention of ever being a parent, this is not for you. Instead of reading this I suggest you read one of my more weighty articles on FindingTruthMatters.org. If you are not yet a parent and one day hope to become a parent, this is for you. Find a quiet place, take the next six minutes thirteen seconds and use the reading of this article as an investment into your future parenting strategies. I did not invent these guidelines. Like many parents who have also discovered the value of these guidelines, once discovered, they seem obvious. These successful parents probably grew up with own parents who inculcated these guidelines almost intuitively. However, my suspicion is that this is becoming increasingly rarer. As with all true guidelines they are adaptable, flexible, and are not a guarantee of parental success — but if ignored they become the point in the mathematical problem solving where you can see you made an error in your working out. In other words, while these guidelines may not guarantee success, if ignored their neglect almost certainly leads to frustration and disappointment. Here are five indispensable guidelines for every prospective new parent.

WHAT WOULD IT TAKE FOR ATHEIST & MAGICIAN PENN JILLETTE TO BECOME A CHRISTIAN?

I’ve been praying for Penn Jillette for some time now. It began when I first heard him ridicule the Bible and Christianity. My fascination with Penn (and Teller), and other world-class magicians, has been due to my pursuit to develop my craft of preaching. There are a lot of similarities between preachers and magicians (just as there is also a lot similarities between solo musicians and preachers). I seek to learn from magicians about how to keep an audience’s attention, how to tell a story, and how to make a point by employing the element of surprise. But there are some significant differences between what magicians do and what preachers do though. A magician is deliberately deceptive. A preacher is striving to uphold truth in an honest way.