Thursday, January 15, 2009

I change my mind

How do we begin to change and take on the new life we have in Christ after we receive Him? What is the first thing we should do? What role does the Spirit play in this life-long process of renovation?

The mind acts as the entry point for our way forward to Christ-likeness. The mind is such a powerful thing. Paul urges us to be "transformed by the renewing of our minds" in Romans 12. What does this mean? How does it work? We must begin by thinking correctly and logically about God and His Word. According to Dallas Willard, this leads to loving God. This way of thinking involves the filling of our minds with the truths of scripture and dwelling (i.e., meditating, studying, wrestling, and questioning) on the content and message of it.

I believe Paul gives some general direction, or a framework, in Philippians 4:8-9 for how we can begin to put this into daily practice and take our first step forward. I throw verse 9 in there because “thought” is supposed to be connected to action in Hebrew thinking. Here are some of the first nitty-gritty activities I would do.
Step #1 – Examine thoughts for an hour, a day, or a week. How? Keep a journal to keep track of thoughts throughout the day (or start a blog to do it!). I would try and write as many of my thoughts throughout the day down on paper. If images affect us as much as Dallas suggests, we need to jot down what we are watching and what kinds of things we are seeing in a day (e.g., TV shows, pictures, magazines, etc.).

Step #2 – After compiling a list of thoughts and images do some dissecting of those thoughts. Question what thoughts certain images, from TV to magazines, bring to your mind or how they make you feel and write them down. Question why they brought those feelings up or made you think that way? Take notice of the times of day, or day of the week that you had certain thoughts and write those down. Maybe all of this will lead to the discovery of a pattern for when you are most susceptible to sinful thinking and acting.

Step #3 – Come up with a plan of how you will try and avoid certain thoughts or images that would be sinful or hinder your relationship with Christ. The plans made here would be different for each person, but would center on the idea of being proactive in our spiritual formation and taking back our minds for the good they were intended for.

I’m a visually oriented learner and so I like to surround myself with pictures and images of Bible stories and characters. If I can see scripture or get an image of it in my head I’ll remember it forever. I love the icons of the Orthodox Church! I don’t pray to them, but I have found them to be a very helpful tool in the transformation of my mind. They bring scripture alive to me (the same goes for stained-glass windows) in a beautiful way. On the other side, because I am so affected by images, I have to be extremely careful and guard what I see.
Any thoughts?

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