Day 2 – “whatever things are true”

Phil 4:8 (NKJV) Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.


Paul admonishes us in Philippians 4:8 to meditate on “whatever things are true.”

The Greek word used in this verse is alethes and is defined as “2. loving the truth, speaking the truth, truthful,” which seems to me is very directed around my words – those words I think and those I speak.  Hopefully they are always in that order (think then speak) and hopefully some of the words I think don’t ever make it to the “spoken” category!

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus…

Luke 6:45 (NKJV)
45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

Webster’s Dictionary defines “true” as:

1a : steadfast, loyal b : honest, just c archaic : truthful
2a (1) : being in accordance with the actual state of affairs <true description> (2) : conformable to an essential reality (3) : fully realized or fulfilled <dreams come true> b : ideal, essential c : being that which is the case rather than what is manifest or assumed <the true dimension of the problem> d : consistent <true to character>

So what’s in my heart? If I take a peek inside, do I find those characteristics that line up with Webster’s definition of steadfast, loyal, honest, just, ideal, essential, and consistent?  Does that describe what’s going on in my heart?

Are the words I speak – I’m supposed meditate on them first – in accordance with the actual state of affairs?

Do I make any assumptions? Am I speaking from first hand knowledge and not “something I heard” or am I filling in the blanks as I go?

Can I factually verify what I say (and meditate on)?

In Joshua 22:10-34 the tribes of Israel were really quick to judge the tribes of Ruben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh for building an altar. Israel didn’t get the facts first. They thought those two and a half tribes were building the altar in order to sacrifice there and the rest of Israel took up an offense because the LORD had strictly commanded ALL of Israel to worship where He had established the tabernacle.

In reality, the tribes of Ruben, Gad and half-tribe of Manasseh, which were separated from the rest of Israel by the Jordan, didn’t want future generations to be accused of not being part of Israel, so they built an altar in that place as a remembrance – a memorial – a tribute to their lineage and heritage for future generations.

It’s so important for me to “get the facts” before I make assumptions, before I take up an offense – even a holy offense.

Usually, when I take up an offense, even a holy offense, it is based and rooted in some sort of selfish motive, ultimately. It may take me a little digging to uncover that motive, but most of the time Father reveals the wickedness in my own heart as only He can (Jer 17:9), even when I think it’s justified. I often don’t really have to look very hard at all to see how I personally benefit from my perceived resolution of the offense I’ve taken up.

Even notice the phrase, “… take up an offense…”. No one can put and offense on me; no one can give me an offense; I have to take it. I have to pick it up. I have to carry it. “I… I… I…” – that is an amazing indicator of a selfish, prideful attitude somewhere in the mix.

… whatever things are true…” That’s a pretty good filter for what I choose to meditate on today.

Running After Papa (and renewing my mind)

Renewing My Mind – Day 1

Well, The Great Experiment starts today.  If you didn’t read last week’s post, then you may not know about my next 30 days.  It’s worth a quick gander…

Based on Rom 12:2 and Phil 4:8, I am intentionally soaking and immersing myself in “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy…”  I am choosing to fill my mind with those things and meditate on those things.

This means that for the next 30 days, I am purposing to avoid all public media, news, television shows, movies, newspapers… etc.  Instead, I am going to specifically focus on every free moment to seek His face, breathe His Presence, and rest in His Arms through the Word, worship, reading and writing and any other avenue He places before me.

Phil 4:8 will be my mind’s guide for the next 30 days.

I am not sure where it will lead, but I am sure of His promise – that I will be transformed.  As the New Century Version puts it: “… Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect…

All I really want, is to want more of Him.  That’s my only goal.  That’s my only request of Him is to come out of this with a renewed passion for Him.

I plan to update the website daily – documenting my journey…

Running After Papa…

In Man's DNA (Rom 2:15)

15 They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right. (Romans 2:15 NLT)

I’ve been contemplating (on and off again) the role of the mind in our transformation. I’ve written about it a few times on this site about the mind being the control center and such. I recently heard a teaching that the “gates of hell” could possibly be the mind itself.

I think this verse lends itself to confirming the importance of the mind. All too often, we’re asked as Christians to turn off our mind in order to walk in Faith. I don’t believe that accurate. I believe God built into the DNA of mankind His truth. This passage adds credence to that thought.

I’m still processing it. It certainly adds weight for me to “renew my mind” (Rom 12:2).

Still chewing on it…

The Mind of Christ

I Cor 2:10-13 (NIV)
The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us. 13 This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.

Good grief. I have never thought about this. Check out verse 11 again… “…no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God…” and verse 12, “…we have…the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand…”

For example, I may be close to my wife. I may be the closest human being alive to her. I know her better than anyone, but I cannot read her mind. (No jokes please – yes it’s true that no man can read a woman’s mind). Only her spirit, knows what she is thinking. My spirit is only privy to my thoughts. My spirit cannot read anyone else’s thoughts, no matter what we see on TV.

Given that chain of logic, only God’s thoughts could be known by Him were it not part of His plan to deposit a part of His Spirit into each of us who have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. When we make that profession of faith, and die to our selves, we get a filling of His Spirit whereby He can make known to us His thoughts!

Now when I read “ have the mind of Christ…” just a few verses later (v16) it takes on a whole new meaning.

Living Sacrifice

Romans 12:1-2 (Amplified Bible)
1 I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship.
2 Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].

I’m floored again at the connection between the flesh, the soul (inclusive of the mind), and the spirit. My “decisive dedication” of all my body – flesh and mind – is worship. The word translated spiritual, is logikos which is much more related to the mind and to reason and logic. No wonder verse 12 is about the renewing of my mind as the key to transformation. (See “The Command Center” and “Battleground of the Soul” to get the whole chain of thought…)

Obviously, this is important.

Action Item: Detail “renewing” my mind.  What does that look like?  Is there a scriptural recipie for it?

My Environment…

Romans 8:5-8 (ESV) 5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. 7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

OK. To continue my last post, Paul continues to stress the importance of the mind in the battle of the soul. It seems a bit to me like the age old question: “What came first the chicken or the egg?” in trying to understand how the mind and the flesh interact.  Does the flesh direct the mind or does the mind direct the flesh?

Verse 5 is fairly specific. As we live, so we set our mind. It’s either on carnal things or Spiritual things, and ultimately death or life. It sounds like what I put myself around, I will eventually set my mind to. Perhaps therein lies the battle plan of the enemy. No one can argue that our culture and – worse yet – our children, are bombarded with TONS more images, words, implications, blood, death, hate, (fill in the blank) that we were. We are constantly stimulated with sights, sounds, images, smells, whatever, in a very media-rich environment.

Have you ever noticed how hard it is to just be still and quiet? “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalms 46:10). This is why its SO important for community, for fellowship, for “iron sharpening” – as we’re doing here.

Paul lays it all out there. “Death” or “Life and peace.” While it seems like a no brainer, the question becomes what am I surrounding myself with physically? On what am I setting my mind?

I choose life. I choose peace. I choose righteousness.

It’s time to evaluate my environment. It’s time to get still.  (Tried to embed Reuben Morgan’s “Still”)

Still – Reuben Morgan

The Command Center

Continuing the the thought of the last post is where Paul picks up in Romans 8.

Remember, I posed the question of why Jesus added the “mind” to the greatest commandment (Mark 12:30), when God himself gave the command (Deut 6:5) without the identification of the “mind”.  Read what Paul has to say about it…

Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) “5 Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. 6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.

No wonder Jesus thought it was important.  The mind is the command center of the spiritual battlefront between our spirit (controlled by the Holy Spirit) and our flesh (controlled by the enemy). Wikipedia defines the command center as:

A command center is a central place for carrying out orders and for supervising tasks, also known as a headquarters, or HQ.

Whoever controls the mind, controls the battle.  Note: We can lose a battle, but we’ve already won the war. (Thank you God!) No wonder Paul writes a few chapters later in 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 NIV).

So the question becomes, if the mind is the command center and the key to victory, how do I send in reinforcements (to continue the war metaphor)? Verse 6 says by “… letting the Spirit control our mind…,” but what does that look like?

How does one renew the mind? Is it back to what God’s been saying to me over the last several, seemingly unrelated, journal entries? Thus the beauty of journaling… to be able to go back and see how God is speaking in themes… then BAM! He ties it all together. Cool.  Very cool.

Is it back to the spiritual disciplines? Are Romans 12:2 and 1 Cor 9:24-47 related in this way?

Battleground of the soul

I have known for some time that we are made up of three “parts”: the spirit, the soul, and the flesh.  Additionally, the soul appears to be further divided into three parts: the mind, the will, and the emotions.

The spirit-man is what gets saved when we surrender our will to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. The spirit IS saved. The soul IS BEING saved and the flesh is the enemies. It’s like the good guys vs. the bad guys (spiritually) all the time in our lives. Jesus has our spirits, the devil has our flesh and they are battling for the soul – the mind, the will, the emotions.

Romans 7 makes it very clear that the remnant of sin from our sin nature is very alive an well in our flesh (Romans 7:18).

Romans 7:22-25 (ESV) 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

It’s like the soul is Hell’s Gate (Lord of the Rings reference). The spirit man is Gandalf, Aragorn and the Fellowship, while the flesh is Sauron’s army of Orc’s. The assault is non-stop. The attack is relentless. Legions and legions of orcs and darkness continually bombard the soul. The mind wants to do one thing, but the flesh wants to do another. (Romans 7:14-20)

I find it interesting that Paul says, “… I myself serve the law of God with my mind…” How does one do that? It the mind – that part of the soul – more closely aligned with the spirit?

The Greek word used for mind, nous, in this passage means “1b reason in the narrower sense, as the capacity for spiritual truth, the higher powers of the soul, the faculty of perceiving divine things, of recognizing goodness and of hating evil.”

Jesus said (Mark 12:30) “30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” It’s interesting that Jesus inserted the word “mind.” The original version (Deut 6:5) only has “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

Why does Jesus add “mind” to the list? I think it’s important. I think it goes back to spiritual discipline. Practicing and exercising those spiritual disciplines to have my spirit (and my mind?) stronger than my flesh (and my emotions?). All the spiritual disciplines involve the mind and exercise the will. Pretty soon, I’ll have my flesh outnumbered!