Tag Archives: transformation

Mind Control

Driving through construction zones or around large cities always produces a dilemma for me. I know that if I drive the posted reduced speed limit I will block traffic behind me and be the recipient of some crude gestures or the victim of some impatient driver’s tail riding or lane cutting. So I usually “go with the flow” of traffic around me. Illegal? Yes. Serious? Probably not. Morally wrong? Probably. It demonstrates how easy it is to be squeezed into the world’s mold, whether it be in driving or decision making or morality.

That’s why I’m fascinated by what Paul wrote to the Romans: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) Do not adapt to the whims and wishes of this age. Paul pleads with us to transform our attitudes and the way we live – literally to undergo a metamorphosis. Instead of being thermometers which reflect the temperature of our surroundings, we are to be thermostats and set the temperature. And Paul states that this metamorphosis a two step process.

First, we renew our minds. We are to think differently. Long before science discovered it Paul recognized that what enters the mind radically affects our speech and behavior. As Leslie Holmes suggests (1), we suffer from ATTITUDINOSCLEROSIS. You’ve heard of arteriosclerosis, a chronic disease in which thickening and hardening of the arterial walls interferes with blood circulation. It’s sometimes called “hardening of the arteries.” Attitudinosclerosis is a chronic disease of the human spirit in which the thickening and hardening of our mind interferes with the Holy Spirit’s circulation within us. So Paul wants us to delete the old files within our brain and set up some new ones. Think differently; think like Christ. Fill these new files with Christ’s thoughts and words. Change our attitude about and approach to life. Fill our minds with Christ’s mind, our hearts with Christ’s heart. Be obedient to Him.

And when we do that, the second step in the process happens naturally – we will test and approve God’s will! Ever wonder how to discover God’s will? Living in obedience to Him we discover more of His will and we learn that his will is good and pleasing; it is the best thing for us! Our future provides a proving ground.

A caterpillar knows nothing about the higher regions; but she spins her cocoon anyway; and the butterfly proves the good and pleasing life.

Obeying Christ provides wings for our souls, and sets us free to fly into a whole new life!

So Paul wants us to test God! Prove Him! As an old hymn eloquently states it: “But we never can prove the delights of his love Until all on the alter we lay; For the favor He shows. And the joy He bestows, Are for them who will trust and obey.”

It comes down to obedience. What is your attitude for obedience? Is it, “God, you can have everything but __________.” “God, you can have everything but my anger? My temper? My moodiness? My money? My time? My family? My sex drive? My need to be in control?” What are you still withholding? What decision have you not yet pegged down? What temptation have you not yet fled? “But we never can prove the delights of his love Until all on the alter we lay.” “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

(1) Audio Sermon – http://w.reidchurch.org/look_and_listen/default.asp …         Manuscript -page=sermons&cArchive=2009https://www.preaching.com/sermons/attitudes-attitudinosclerosis/

An Inside Job

Everyday I take some pills. Some are vitamins and some are prescriptions. I don’t know how they get into and go through my system. I do not feel them doing anything. Yet I seldom ask “Why should I take these pills – I don’t feel any different?” Why? Because the state of my health assures me they are working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

Similarly I eat meals everyday. I have some understanding of how they get into and go through my system. But unless I overeat I do not feel them doing anything. And I can’t tell you what I ate for lunch July 21 or dinner April 3 or even lunch last Monday. Yet I never ask “Why should I eat these meals- I don’t feel any different and I don’t remember them anyway?” Why? Because when I have strength to get up each morning I know the food is working inside my body. It’s an inside job.

I also read the Bible with great regularity (I confess I do not do it everyday, much to my own disappointment. And there’s no one to blame but myself.) Sometimes as I read I am not inspired, am not moved, and learn nothing new; I do not sense anything happening. Yet it’s been many years since I’ve asked “Why should I read the Bible so often – so often I don’t feel any different? And I don’t remember what I’ve read.” Why? Because the Bible assures me that God’s Word always does something inside me. It’s an inside job.

Consider Psalm 119. “How can a young person stay on the path of purity? By living according to your word.” (9) I” have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. “(11) “Your statutes are my delight; they are my counselors.” (24) “I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have preserved my life.” (93) “I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes.” (99) “I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts.” (100) “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth! I gain understanding from your precepts; therefore I hate every wrong path. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” (103-105)

Consider Isaiah 55:10-11. “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

Consider Hebrews 4:12-13. “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword,it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

I am convinced that every time I read the Bible the Holy Spirit goes to work in me – even if I am totally unaware of what He is doing. It’s an inside job. John Piper put it beautifully: “I spend this much time on Bible memory because I believe in the power of the indwelling Word of God to solve a thousand problems before they happen, and to heal a thousand wounds after they happen, and to kill a thousand sins in the moment of temptation, and to sweeten a thousand days with the ‘drippings of the honeycomb.’ (“When I Don’t Desire God”, 123)

I will continue to read the Bible. But not to be inspired or moved, or to learn something new or with the hope that I will experience some great feeling. Any of these dynamics are but bonuses. Rather, I will read knowing that God will go to work on and in me. He will increase my spiritual health and strengthen my faith. He will continue to transform me into the image of Jesus. It’s an inside job I can live with. In fact, I cannot live without it.



Why I Like Road Construction

I live in Michigan. As some have said, we have 2 seasons – winter and road construction!

That’s because the winters, with all the plowing and salting, lead to potholes and road deterioration. Deterioration leads to road repair and construction. To be honest, I complain, probably too frequently, about the inconvenience of the construction. Yet I’ve come to realize I do like the construction. Why? First, because I always like the new, improved completed road. But also because it reminds me of a biblical truth: our lives are always under construction.

This means that we will experience nasty potholes, brokenness, pain, repairs, and detours. None of us relish such times. Yet I believe we need to value them. My faith has taught me that such times are the growth times of my life. My faith reminds me that God has loving control over our lives. Think about King David. He shares a great insight in Psalm 31:15: “My times are in your hands; deliver me from the hands of my enemies, from those who pursue me.” “My times are in your hands.” David was convinced that far from being removed from the events of his life, God was, in fact, intimately involved in them. ‘Times’ are events that we do not plan – they just occur; they are the potholes, brokenness, pain, repairs, and detours – those critical moments or events in our life which we did not create but which ultimately determine the course of our life. David was turning over the resolution of these times, these events, to God. “I entrust my life to your sovereign disposition. It’s up to you what becomes of me. And that’s okay!”  I love how David put it: ‘My times – Your hands.”

Now we cannot control the ‘times’ of our lives but we can control our response to them. ‘My times – Your hands.” As Leslie Brandt paraphrases Psalm 31: “There is no place to go, nothing to cling to. I can only come back to You and cast myself on Your loving mercy. You are my God…From this point on I will dedicate my hours and my days into Your loving hands. I seek only Your guidance and strength to carry out Your purposes. Restore me, O God, to your program and design for my life.” ‘My times – Your hands.”

What would it mean for you to affirm this conviction? ‘My times – Your hands.” How would it change your response to this current ‘time’ in your life? Can you say with Paul, who wrote Timothy (2 Tim. 1:12): “…I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day?” ‘My times – Your hands.” Can you, in the depths of your soul, share the conviction of the Heidelberg Catechism that “I trust in (God) so completely that I have no doubt that he will provide me with all things necessary for body and soul; that Moreover, whatever adversity he sends upon me in this troubled life he will turn to my good, for he is able to do it, being almighty God, and is determined to do it, being a faithful Father?” Are you absolutely convinced of “The almighty and ever-present power of God whereby he still upholds, as it were by his own hand, heaven and earth together with all creatures, and rules in such a way that leaves and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and unfruitful years, food and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, and everything else, come to us not by chance but by his fatherly hand?”  ‘My times – Your hands.” Do you believe that?

Think of Jesus. On the cross, breathing His last, He quoted Ps. 31:5 – “…Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father into your hands I commit my spirit.’” As Jesus placed himself in God’s hands, so we must place ourselves in Jesus’ hands. As God said (Is. 43:13) “No one can deliver you out of my hand” so Jesus said (John 10:27-30): My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Think about Jesus’ hands.

In his hands ordinary drinking water turns into the most expensive of wines. In his hands handicaps become stepping-stones to the miracles of God. In his hands 5 loaves and two fish can feed a multitude. In his hands storms are but channels of safe passage and paths to peace. In his hands those soiled with sin are cleansed. In his hands lame legs leap for joy. In his hands deaf ears become avenues of sound. In his hands blind eyes become corridors of light. In his hands death becomes but a prelude to life. Jesus’ hands make all the difference. ‘My times – Your hands.” We can embrace the words of Paul (Rom. 8:28 MSG), “That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”

I do complain, probably too frequently, about the inconvenience of the construction in my life. But that’s my humanness. In my heart, I like road construction. It reminds me that God is at work – He’s truly not finished with me yet. He loves me enough to do the necessary repair and construction. And I have a hunch I’ll like the new, improved completed construction!