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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SUPER NATURAL CHRISTIANITY

The early Christians were sensitive to the voice of God. Ananias, who prayed for the newly converted Saul of Tarsus, was told by the Spirit where to find Saul, what to say to him, and why it was important for him to do so (Acts 9:10-18). Sometimes followers of Christ are misled to believe that they need to “learn” how to hear the voice of God. There is no example of this need anywhere in Scripture. But there are, however, injunctions to seek the Lord (Deut. 4:29; 1Chron. 16:11; Ps. 34:10; 105:3-4; Isa. 51:1; 55:6; Matt. 6:33; 7:7). 

It was John Calvin who wrote in his commentary on Ephesians that the reasons believers today do not experience the divinely supernatural, as it seems the early Christians did, was the lack of desire. This is what I now want to both remind you of and encourage you to do: seek God. Seek Him. Be open to Him. Pray that you might pray effectively. Ask God to confirm His Word in the hearts of those who need a supernatural encounter with God that might lead to their conversion. And then, be still (Ps. 46:10).

DEEPER SPIRITUALITY

I don’t normally share like this so please excuse me for being a bit more personal than I am normally in these Pastor’s Desks. Last Sunday morning I awoke with a strong sense that I needed to incorporate the vision of Ezekiel’s Temple as a framework for us to think about our year ahead in my sermon for that day. I had to re-jig my presentation (which as you might be aware involves a bit more work than they way most other preachers do their slides). This is why I arrived at church a little later than I normally comfortable in doing. I was particularly gripped by this divine vision given to Ezekiel of the Holy Spirit’s outpouring in the New Covenant with Christ Himself being the Temple-Source (John 2:19-21). While I was preaching to our church community (in-person and online) I was also preaching to myself. As a result, Kim and I continued  in prayer and fasting for the rest of our Sunday. I now want to invite you to consider again Ezekiel’s picture of the Spirit-filled Christian life as the map for going deeper with God.

WHAT CHILD IS THIS?

The grace and the truth expressed in the classic Christmas Carols brings great joy to this preacher who strives to produce biblically and theologically informed followers of Christ. It’s one the reasons why this preacher also serves as a gate-keeper over the songs that use at Legana because I know that most of my sermons are long forgotten soon after they are preached yet what we sing on a Sunday rings in our hearts for years to come. This is no doubt why singing, music, hymns, has always been integral to Christian worship (Eph. 5:19). The consolation that us forgettable preachers have though is that most good song-writers were, and are, biblically/theologically informed by faithful preachers. May the magnitude of what we sing this Advent grip our hearts, enlighten our souls and fill us each with joy inexpressible. Merry Christmas.

THE ART OF COMFORT

Pastors come in different varieties which is why the term pastoral conjures different ideas in the minds of different people. A pastor is like the hand that is placed in the glove of a ministry position which then leads to that glove taking a certain shape of the pastor’s strengths, abilities, and spiritual gifts. Over time, if the partnership between a pastor and a congregation endures, that pastor will also be shaped by the needs and demands of those whom God has called them to shepherd. And if both that pastor and that congregation are particularly blessed by God, the breadth of the needs and demands of a growing congregation will be attended to by pastors rather than the unrealistic expectation of them being met be a pastor. But there are times when a pastor is called upon by the broader community to care for that broader community in those times of severe adversity resulting from some tragedy. Floods, bush-fires, transport disasters (air/sea/road), military incidents, famine, are just some broader community demands for pastoring that come to mind as examples. More often than not, the type of person that God equips to enter these tragedies is one who has been shaped by God through having to deal with their own tragedies. In these instances the pastoral glove takes the shape of a chaplain. A chaplain’s principal function is comfort. In writing to the Corinthians after a particularly painful series of events, the tragedy-seasoned apostle Paul was able to comfort those he was ministering to because he himself had been the beneficiary of comfort from God through others.

IS THERE ANYTHING DIFFERENT ABOUT BEING UNIQUE?

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WHO CARES?

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WHAT FILLS YOUR HEART, MIND, AND SOUL?

God has made humans to engage their hearts, minds, and souls with music. Bach discovered this; but, Cobain did not. It is why music has played a central role in Christianity — in its discipleship of believers, and in its facility to bring God’s people together in worship each Lord’s Day. Musical songs teach biblical truth and theologically educate believers about the God. Sacred music stirs and lifts the soul and not just for the fleeting moment, but in a way that actually nourishes the soul by filling it with a lingering sense of God’s presence. This is why bring, joyful, upbeat Christian worship songs are so important for the discipleship and sustenance of the believer. As a preacher I am deeply appreciative of the complementary role that our musical worship plays in promoting the truth of God’s Word, and I hope you are too. 

It’s Complicated

home > Pastor's Desk > 2021 > November 19th > It's Complicated Sometimes the obvious is little difficult to recognise. That’s why you might not have recognised that over the last few decades we have been transitioning out of our old world into the new...

WHEN CULTURE BEGINS TO ZIG IT MAY BE TIME FOR CHRISTIANS TO ZAG

LESSONS FROM THE LIFE OF DANIEL
¶ But Daniel resolved that he would not defile himself with the king’s food, or with the wine that he drank. Therefore he asked the chief of the eunuchs to allow him not to defile himself.  And God gave Daniel favour and compassion in the sight of the chief of the eunuchs
Daniel 1:8-9
Daniel’s world had been turned upside down. As a young well-to-do Jewish boy who grew up in a highly regarded family with parents who took their devotion to Yahweh seriously, he too would have expected that all of his training would have led him to follow in his father’s and Grandfather’s footsteps in the service of the King’s royal court. Even as a young man in his early teenage years he would have expected to one day take a wife and pass the baton of his knowledge and privilege to his son too. But then his world began to be shaken. The early stages of the disruption began when he was not yet a teen and a very upset and tearful young man from Anathoth, not too much older than himself, stood on the temple steps and denounced the wickedness of the King of Judah. Daniel would have remembered hearing this teenage prophet call the King and the people of Judah to repentance before the Lord’s wrath came upon them. This virgin prophet warned of the destruction of the temple and the invasion of the world’s most vile people — the Babylonians. The disruptions from this highly emotional priest-prophet continued until he was barred from entering the city, but undaunted, he wrote his prophecies out and his secretary, Baruch, deliver them in his stead. Despite the scorn, mocking, and eventual imprisonment, Daniel witnessed the tenacity of the one who came to be known as “ the Weeping Prophet” and some seventy years after Jerusalem was indeed destroyed by Babylonian forces (just as the prophet had foretold), Daniel referred to his copy of the now late prophet’s words and turned them into a …

CREATIVE CONTROL

One of the things that attracts many people to the coast is the the sight and sound of waves breaking on the shore, particularly after a period of bad weather. Ocean waves represent energy that has been transferred from air moving across the air/sea interface as wind blows. The longer and stronger the wind blows, the greater the energy transfer and the greater the size of the waves. Beginning as small wind waves, the waves grow and transform into swell that can travel thousands of nautical miles across ocean basins. On reaching the shallow water of a coastline the energy moving through the water transforms into steeper breaking waves that release this energy as they break on the shore. Having worked on ships, I have always found the formation processes and the way that waves move interesting. They obey physical laws. Their height and period and velocity can be predicted, based on the speed and duration of the wind. They can steal energy from nearby waves. They can change direction and bend around headlands. Waves, like people, can build and can destroy.