Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Watching Over

Your Heart

“Watch over your heart with all diligence,

for from it flow the springs of life.”

(Proverbs

4:23)

Are You Being Controlled By Your Mind?

Have you ever felt jealous of someone else's relationship with God? They seem to just 'get it'. It seems God answers them almost the moment after they have prayed, yet you feel you struggle and wrestle through every step? I am sure we all have experienced this from time to time - even those who make you jealous! We can all relate to Cain's experience; it is quite possible that he did not have any idea why God did not take pleasure in his gift. What we are seeing in this account of Cain and Abel, is a mind under the influence of the knowledge of good and evil - a mind set on the things of the flesh. A mind influenced by the knowledge of good and evil does not necessarily look bad on the outside. There are a lot of atheists who do a lot of good. It was Cain's idea to bring an offering to God, in the first place. It was Cain who initiated the sacrifice. Yet it also seems there was an attitude - or the beginning of an attitude - that caused him not to think carefully about what he was going to offer (See previous post). Whatever was going on in his mind, the result was a gift that did not please God. Cain now had a decision to make as to how he would respond. The best choice would have been to ask God what was wrong; what turned his good intention into a flop? Repentance flows from understanding. Understanding comes from seeing a situation or event though the frame of the character of God. (See Proverbs 9:10) Frames Have you ever noticed how some picture frames just make a picture come alive? How other frames somehow make the picture look flat? Or some even detract from the picture completely, so that all you see is the frame? Good frames highlight key colours in the photograph, or piece of art, drawing your eye into the picture. They bring out the beauty, essence, and feel of the image. Somehow you don't even notice the frame; it is one with the artwork, the beauty is in the entire effect. In the same way, our mind sets frames around that which we see. If your fame is your agenda, that frame will detract your eye from the picture. All you will see is what is lacking, what is not as you want it to be. It is almost as if there is no picture at all. All you notice is the frame of your desire, and perhaps your own personal map overlaying the original picture, showing you how to get what you want. If your fame is disappointment, bitterness, or resentment, the picture will always look flat, dull, and lifeless, maybe even disturbing. Again, you will see what you don't have, what is wrong, how everything is always against you. On the other hand, if your frame is God's character, the picture becomes an intriguing mystery. Your eye will be drawn to the colours of grace, lovingkindness, faithfulness, goodness. Even if the picture initially looks dark and disturbing, you will still find the colours of grace, lovingkindness, faithfulness, and goodness, if you look for them. The secret to abiding in God’s peace, is to always make sure your picture of reality is first set in the frame of what God has said about Himself.  To ensure that the picture is not distorted, it must be secured within the frame with the firm assurance that everything God has said about Himself is true and trustworthy. A Lesson in Science One of the Laws of Nature is known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The site ReligiouslyIncorrect.Com states this law as : “Both the creating of complex order, and the maintaining of complex order, always require huge amounts of intelligently applied energy, energy that must be continually re-applied if complex order is to be maintained." This definition is central to the frames through which you view life, or 'reality'. If you do not "intelligently apply energy" to actively select the frame of God's character through which to view reality, your frame will default to a frame packaged with the knowledge of good and evil. The frames packaged with knowledge of good and evil, are frames of your agenda, which include frames of bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, distrust, self-pity, as well as “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) . It takes energy - much energy - to purposely select the frame of God's character. The Working of Our Mind Cain was viewing his life through a frame of his agenda. When the sacrifice did not go the way he planned it, his anger was aroused and his facial expression began to mirror what was happening within him. Cain's anger began to take control over his mind and body, to the place where it could be seen in his face. This was not a fleeting expression as he wrestled to control his thoughts and emotions. If it was, God would not have questioned him. Our thoughts are influenced by the frame through which we view life. These thoughts then arouse our emotions, and as they do, our emotions exert stronger influence on our thoughts, which further inflame our emotions… Before you know it, you have thoughts and emotions out of control and controlling you. Our thoughts are a form of energy, energy that produces either life or death. Proverbs tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. (See Proverbs 18:21)  Jesus tells us that the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. (See Matthew 6:45) The heart is the place from which your thoughts originate. Our thoughts arouse our emotions, which influence our thoughts and our frames, which further inflame our emotions, until we have a category 5 storm that causes devastation wherever it goes. God's Kingdom is a the place of 'complex order'. It is the place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It takes "huge amounts of intelligently applied energy, energy that must be continually re-applied" to maintain our place of 'complex order'. This is not something we can do on our own. If it was only our own thoughts with which we wrestled, controlling them would be hard enough, but our thoughts are not only our own. What appears as our thoughts, may also originate from Holy Spirit or the powers of darkness. Thought Control Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5, to “take every thought captive...”  Have you ever thought about what this really means? When I first learnt about this verse and tried to apply it, I became completely overwhelmed and discouraged. I have what feels like a million conscious thoughts a second, how on earth do I take every thought captive?! Even if I spent all day only examining my thoughts, I would not be able to examine them all - how do I do this and still conduct a normal life of work and relationship? Later I discovered that the Greek word for "thoughts" could also mean "perception."  Now this makes it more doable, not so? Take your perceptions captive ... This would speak of our frames. But the Greek word does not only mean perception or individual thoughts, but it can also refer to the mind itself. Take your mind captive...   To what?  To the obedience of Christ. And what is the obedience of Christ? Is Paul calling us to some form of unreachable perfection? As you read through the Gospels, what does the mind of Christ look like? What would you say was uppermost in His mind at all times? Would you not agree that it was probably love for His Father and love for His neighbour? Would you not agree that His main focus and motivation was love; a love that was shaped by the love of His Father? And so, would you then not agree that a mind captive to the obedience of Christ, is a mind captive to love; love for the Father and love for our neighbour? As with his parents, if Cain’s mind had been set on love, love for God and love for his brother, things could have been very different for him. Very different from what they ultimately turned out to be. What fills your mind? What preoccupies your mind? Your life experience is the outworking of that which fills your mind. What usually fills your mind when you are alone with your unfocused, unguided, and uncontrolled thoughts? What is the most common under-current of those thoughts? Paul tells us to take our minds captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) , and to  be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) . This is done one perception at a time, one frame at a time, as we teach and train the gate-keeper of our minds and develop new habits. This is not easy and it requires much energy, but we are not left to our own abilities. God tells us in His Word, that if we entwine ourselves in Him, we will “rise up on wings as eagles. “ We will “run and not grow weary,” we will “walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) . I guarantee you that if diligently pursued, this will be a life-changing journey.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next
Focus    on Purpose
If I have faith to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing
© Focus On Purpose July 2017

Watching Over

Your Heart

“Watch over your heart with all

diligence, for from it flow the

springs of life.”

(Proverbs 4:23)

Are You Being Controlled By Your Mind?

Have you ever felt jealous of someone else's relationship with God? They seem to just 'get it'. It seems God answers them almost the moment after they have prayed, yet you feel you struggle and wrestle through every step? I am sure we all have experienced this from time to time - even those who make you jealous! We can all relate to Cain's experience; it is quite possible that he did not have any idea why God did not take pleasure in his gift. What we are seeing in this account of Cain and Abel, is a mind under the influence of the knowledge of good and evil - a mind set on the things of the flesh. A mind influenced by the knowledge of good and evil does not necessarily look bad on the outside. There are a lot of atheists who do a lot of good. It was Cain's idea to bring an offering to God, in the first place. It was Cain who initiated the sacrifice. Yet it also seems there was an attitude - or the beginning of an attitude - that caused him not to think carefully about what he was going to offer (See previous post). Whatever was going on in his mind, the result was a gift that did not please God. Cain now had a decision to make as to how he would respond. The best choice would have been to ask God what was wrong; what turned his good intention into a flop? Repentance flows from understanding. Understanding comes from seeing a situation or event though the frame of the character of God. (See Proverbs 9:10) Frames Have you ever noticed how some picture frames just make a picture come alive? How other frames somehow make the picture look flat? Or some even detract from the picture completely, so that all you see is the frame? Good frames highlight key colours in the photograph, or piece of art, drawing your eye into the picture. They bring out the beauty, essence, and feel of the image. Somehow you don't even notice the frame; it is one with the artwork, the beauty is in the entire effect. In the same way, our mind sets frames around that which we see. If your fame is your agenda, that frame will detract your eye from the picture. All you will see is what is lacking, what is not as you want it to be. It is almost as if there is no picture at all. All you notice is the frame of your desire, and perhaps your own personal map overlaying the original picture, showing you how to get what you want. If your fame is disappointment, bitterness, or resentment, the picture will always look flat, dull, and lifeless, maybe even disturbing. Again, you will see what you don't have, what is wrong, how everything is always against you. On the other hand, if your frame is God's character, the picture becomes an intriguing mystery. Your eye will be drawn to the colours of grace, lovingkindness, faithfulness, goodness. Even if the picture initially looks dark and disturbing, you will still find the colours of grace, lovingkindness, faithfulness, and goodness, if you look for them. The secret to abiding in God’s peace, is to always make sure your picture of reality is first set in the frame of what God has said about Himself.  To ensure that the picture is not distorted, it must be secured within the frame with the firm assurance that everything God has said about Himself is true and trustworthy. A Lesson in Science One of the Laws of Nature is known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The site ReligiouslyIncorrect.Com states this law as : “Both the creating of complex order, and the maintaining of complex order, always require huge amounts of intelligently applied energy, energy that must be continually re-applied if complex order is to be maintained." This definition is central to the frames through which you view life, or 'reality'. If you do not "intelligently apply energy" to actively select the frame of God's character through which to view reality, your frame will default to a frame packaged with the knowledge of good and evil. The frames packaged with knowledge of good and evil, are frames of your agenda, which include frames of bitterness, anger, resentment, disappointment, hopelessness, fear, distrust, self- pity, as well as “lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life" (1 John 2:16) . It takes energy - much energy - to purposely select the frame of God's character. The Working of Our Mind Cain was viewing his life through a frame of his agenda. When the sacrifice did not go the way he planned it, his anger was aroused and his facial expression began to mirror what was happening within him. Cain's anger began to take control over his mind and body, to the place where it could be seen in his face. This was not a fleeting expression as he wrestled to control his thoughts and emotions. If it was, God would not have questioned him. Our thoughts are influenced by the frame through which we view life. These thoughts then arouse our emotions, and as they do, our emotions exert stronger influence on our thoughts, which further inflame our emotions… Before you know it, you have thoughts and emotions out of control and controlling you. Our thoughts are a form of energy, energy that produces either life or death. Proverbs tells us that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”. (See Proverbs 18:21)  Jesus tells us that the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. (See Matthew 6:45) The heart is the place from which your thoughts originate. Our thoughts arouse our emotions, which influence our thoughts and our frames, which further inflame our emotions, until we have a category 5 storm that causes devastation wherever it goes. God's Kingdom is a the place of 'complex order'. It is the place of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. It takes "huge amounts of intelligently applied energy, energy that must be continually re-applied" to maintain our place of 'complex order'. This is not something we can do on our own. If it was only our own thoughts with which we wrestled, controlling them would be hard enough, but our thoughts are not only our own. What appears as our thoughts, may also originate from Holy Spirit or the powers of darkness. Thought Control Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:5, to “take every thought captive...”  Have you ever thought about what this really means? When I first learnt about this verse and tried to apply it, I became completely overwhelmed and discouraged. I have what feels like a million conscious thoughts a second, how on earth do I take every thought captive?! Even if I spent all day only examining my thoughts, I would not be able to examine them all - how do I do this and still conduct a normal life of work and relationship? Later I discovered that the Greek word for "thoughts" could also mean "perception."  Now this makes it more doable, not so? Take your perceptions captive ... This would speak of our frames. But the Greek word does not only mean perception or individual thoughts, but it can also refer to the mind itself. Take your mind captive...   To what?  To the obedience of Christ. And what is the obedience of Christ? Is Paul calling us to some form of unreachable perfection? As you read through the Gospels, what does the mind of Christ look like? What would you say was uppermost in His mind at all times? Would you not agree that it was probably love for His Father and love for His neighbour? Would you not agree that His main focus and motivation was love; a love that was shaped by the love of His Father? And so, would you then not agree that a mind captive to the obedience of Christ, is a mind captive to love; love for the Father and love for our neighbour? As with his parents, if Cain’s mind had been set on love, love for God and love for his brother, things could have been very different for him. Very different from what they ultimately turned out to be. What fills your mind? What preoccupies your mind? Your life experience is the outworking of that which fills your mind. What usually fills your mind when you are alone with your unfocused, unguided, and uncontrolled thoughts? What is the most common under-current of those thoughts? Paul tells us to take our minds captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5) , and to  be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2) . This is done one perception at a time, one frame at a time, as we teach and train the gate- keeper of our minds and develop new habits. This is not easy and it requires much energy, but we are not left to our own abilities. God tells us in His Word, that if we entwine ourselves in Him, we will “rise up on wings as eagles. “ We will “run and not grow weary,” we will “walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40:31) . I guarantee you that if diligently pursued, this will be a life-changing journey.
As you touch or hover over each picture in the four small squares above, they will be magnified in the main square. This demonstrates what happens in our minds; what we focus on becomes enlarged in our minds, to the exclusion of other things. When we get to see a larger frame, and see how the smaller parts fit together, our understanding often shifts.
Prev Next