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Posts Tagged ‘mind’

Oil painting by Jonathan Queen

Oil painting by Jonathan Queen

Double mindedness sounds bad. It has varying meanings. In scripture, it seems to be more of a split mind, where one’s affinity or affiliation has two masters. But in the secular world, the emphasis is more on wavering (an inability to make up one’s mind) or a half-hearted attempt at something. Am I guilty of not just one, but both?

Come close to the one true God, and He will draw close to you. Wash your hands; you have dirtied them in sin. Cleanse your heart, because your mind is split down the middle, your love for God on one side and selfish pursuits on the other. [James 4:8, The Voice]

I am really growing to love the new Voice translation which has both an artistic element and a creative way of expressive the nuances of a passage. For this reason, my heart was struck heavily by this verse in James.

My own heart, carrying within it [still], those secrets, is fueling the split of my mind so that my love and dedication to God is being watered down by my selfish wants and wannabe.

Coming from the Greek word, dipsuchos, it can also mean “double-souled.” And suddenly the reality of this state clicks in. I invited the Christ Spirit to dwell within but I confess, I still want things to go my way. I have relegated the Spirit to a friendly helper, and standby magician, a comforter in times of stress, but have I surrendered the way to Spirit?

And here comes the wavering: surely, it’s time to really let go. Decide. Give God full rein, not half. Give Spirit freedom to reveal the intended me. This me would not be so quick to judge or lie or inflate my own importance. This me would not crave esteem and distinction. For all that would come from the soul of Spirit, the breath of God.

Verse 10 (also in the Voice) says, “Lay yourself bare, facedown to the ground, in humility before the Lord; and He will lift your head . . . ” More traditional translations say, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” Not lifted to fame, but lifted in newness of a life, a singleness of purpose, a singleness of mind, a singleness of soul.

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Photo from Flickzzz

A two-part requirement is implicated in the advice of Phil 4:8 — First I must recognize what is true, virtuous and lovely while I consciously decide to “think on these things.” I must choose to move my mind there. And secondly I must put what I know into practice.

Philippians 4:8-9
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

This is one of those core messages from scripture, a bare bones instruction that can be followed and if, I could exercise such a truth, my world would be better.

This lesson is taught in secular circles as well. My daughter struggles with emotional swings that are fueled by her raging thoughts, sometimes from her difficult past before we adopted her and sometimes from her daily struggles. In any event, these mind games steal her sleep, her well-being, and her confidence. The process of moving the mind to another place is a discipline she is trying to learn, but it’s a slow kind of progress, the two steps forward and one step back kind of schlep through life.

But am I any different just because I understand it better? I do a lot of replays in my mind and I find my mind pulling up old scripts all the time. The holidays are often the worst: “Why does Christmas cheer depend on me?” “Why am I always placating everyone else?” “Why do I end up doing all the cooking, wrapping, cleaning, and planning?” “Can’t anyone help me pick up some pieces of the weight of our responsibilities?” “Will we always struggle financially?” “I don’t want to be poor again.”

Every one of these inner questions is laden with stories and history and images that can replay forever, if I allow them to start. They go from some sort of righteous indignation through a variety of pity parties to fear. It’s a sad, downward spiral. These are the gifts of an undisciplined mind.

And so, I must choose to set these thoughts, and others aside for a time when they can be addressed in the safety of my inner counselor, when my connection to Spirit is strong and lush. Not before.

Another trouble begins however if I don’t remember the second part: the practice of what I know. This is the part that supports my inner health so I’m not just putting my mind and my head in the sand forever. It is the practice of what I know that gives me the ability to move my mind both to AND from the harder elements of life on this earth.

Writing and praying and reading, these are three of the key disciplines in my life.

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Who wants to be held captive? Just the idea of it makes me want to run the other way. Like most people of our culture, this sounds like the opposite of freedom. Ah, it’s another paradox of the faith: captivity is freedom in the realm of Christ.

II Corinthians 10:5
[Inasmuch as we] refute arguments and theories and reasonings and every proud and lofty thing that sets itself up against the [true] knowledge of God; and we lead every thought and purpose away captive into the obedience of Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed One) . . . [Amplified]

I remember visiting a church once and being totally turned off. The message was about the “mind” and all its evils. The mind was the whole problem, he said. The mind caused every sin and every mistake. The mind was to blame. Both Mike and I walked out of there to never return. At that time, we equated the mind with intelligence, creativity, and logic, not evil.

But now, I think I have a clearer understanding of the mind’s role in my faith. The mind is the initiator of all things: both good and bad. The spark of an idea comes from the mind. Christ dwells in the mind as well, but without a whip. The mind must be tamed with love.

To bring the mind into captivity is to harness the thoughts that may initiate the wrong direction, a poorly conceived plan and unintended consequences.

The mind is where resentments can grow unfettered. The mind is where “Pete and Repeat” live: they go over and over the words someone said to me or what I should have said back or worse, reminding me of what I did or said that hurt others. Pete and Repeat live in a cesspool of words and feelings.

There are two possible solutions. One is to use the Jesus duct and to allow that cesspool to drain periodically. If not, it gets so full, eventually, one way or another, that stuff starts building a home in the heart and coming out of the mouth. The second solution is to put those thoughts and words and feelings into captivity first, before they get too powerful, too sullen, too belligerent, too stubborn to remain corralled.

My picture of such a thing is a corral with little delinquents running around, hurting each other with name calling, punching and the like. And there is Jesus walking among them, laying a hand here or there, touching a head, or blowing away the hurt like a mom does for her little baby who fell down. He sits in the middle of the muck and slowly, their curiosity gets the better of them and they come closer and closer, to listen, to touch, to be healed, and to be renewed.

This captivity is a place where broken things are made whole again.

I yield.

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Among the synonyms for “sacred” are words like cherished, revered, guarded, sanctified, and holy. Do I cherish the body I have? Do I treat it reverently? Do I really care about it? And what about the bodies of others? Do I cherish them, the sacred others?

I Corinthians 3:17
If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.

On Facebook I have a friend, Tracey Tiernan, who has started a group called “Flipping the Switch” (She writes, “It seems like my pursuit of being healthy is like a switch in my brain that is either flipped off or on.”)

Isn’t our view of ourselves and others the same way? Flipping a switch is a clever way of calling for a choice. Or, in poker, revealing a hand. It’s time to lay the cards on the table and go with what we have. Use what we have. Honor what we have. Cherish what we have.

Like many people, I am in denial about the state of my body. I can justify putting my health and my body on the back burner because “I’m so busy.” Oh, it’s holy to pray every day. And it’s beneficial to others and to me to write every day. It nourishes the brain to read every day. It nurtures the soul to study the Word every day. But, what am I doing for this body?

Oh yeah, I’m feeding it all right. Good for me: I take vitamins and minerals. And then I go out for a latte and a donut (a munchkin, because it disappears before I can think about it). I pop chocolate. I ride when I could walk. I sit when I could stand. I sleep as little as possible. I drink about one glass of water a day and the rest is tea and coffee (pat on the back, I’ve given up soda and aspartame). I eat in my car, at my desk, and sitting at a computer. I cook with a microwave. Is this cherishing behavior?

My body is a microcosm of God’s world. The parable about planting and then leaving a vineyard in the care of servants while the Master goes on a journey also applies to the body [Matthew 21:33-41]. I am the caretaker for my body. It has been entrusted to me in this 3D world.

I want to accept who I am IN this body. I am mind, soul AND body. Lord forgive me for treating this temple so casually as though it doesn’t matter. It does matter. You are within. And it really is time to flip that switch.

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When people say, “it’s all in your head,” that’s more true than not. The mind is at the core of who we are. The mind is quite mystical and unpredictable. The mind thrives within, not just in the head, but also in the heart, the gut, and the soul.

Romans 8:6
Now the mind of the flesh [which is sense and reason without the Holy Spirit] is death [death that comprises all the miseries arising from sin, both here and hereafter]. But the mind of the [Holy] Spirit is life and [soul] peace [both now and forever].
[Amplified]

The mind is also a lover. The question is with whom or what? The mind can be seduced. The mind can be fooled. The mind can be capricious (changing from one behavior to another). The mind can be a slut or a saint.

Joyce Meyer has an entire video series on the “Battlefield of the Mind” but sometimes I think it’s a little more like “speed dating.” Going from one thing/person to another, the mind is looking for the current fit, the “feel good,” the curious, the challenging, or the appealing.

Thank God the Spirit is patient.

It is in the mind that the story of Hosea and Gomer is truly played out on a regular basis. Gomer, the prostitute, who breaks covenant with her prophet husband, and yet, he forgives her again and again.

My mind is too much like Gomer. I am linked by promise to the Spirit, and yet I stray. Each year, I stray less and less. As my mind becomes more submissive, by choice, to the loving Spirit, the relationship strengthens. My mind is becoming more content.

God is teaching me how to feed my mind with prayer, scripture, music, reading, nature’s beauty, koinonia relationships, love, hope, rest, and solitude. When I feed my mind well, I am not so hungry for the “next new thing.” When I am disciplined and consistent, my mind experiences peace.

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As soon as the Bible mentions “body parts,” everyone’s mind goes right to sex. And yes, there is a lot to be said about sex and its abuses. But there are other misused body parts that do equal damage to the soul. . .

Romans 6:13
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness.

The tongue is the number one culprit in my life. This is the body part that is constantly leaning toward wickedness and does much damage. If I could keep my words corralled and dedicated to God, what a difference it would make. Instead, my mouth goes into 3rd gear while my mind is still in “park.” I have actually warned people that I think out loud. I hear my out loud thoughts and then massage the ideas. In a brainstorming session, I can be a true asset: Blurt Out Brown.

But this type of talking can do harm when it turns into gossip. I can’t even say it’s always malicious gossip. It’s the constant telling and retelling of a story where I might have been on the short end. And unconsciously, every time I tell that story, the perpetrator gets more stupid and I am more wrongly maligned. The listener nods and “tsk-tsks” and I feel vindicated to tell the story again. Oh shame.

There are other abuses of the tongue: cattiness, sarcasm, complaint, crudeness, name-calling, and lies (to name a few).

As I think about it more, it’s clear the tongue is but a slave to another, more secret master: the mind. It is the mind that fans the flame and directs the tongue to speak, to answer, or to attack. The mind is the “first responder.”

I love the fact that I have an active mind. I am relatively smart and I can process a lot of data. I am creative and I am facile. But this same mind that has served me well has also spent a lot of time on the “dark side.” It’s time to flood my mind with the light.

I confess my sinful tongue and ask forgiveness for the damage it has done. Oh Lord, Guard my mouth this day. Show me how to offer my words to you before they leave my mouth.

Sensitize my mind to the sacred other that I might not inflict my wounds. Hold my judging thoughts and sift them before they can take root. Take the memories I have used to justify my resentments or anger toward others.

Take my life and let it be consecrated to you.

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Why is peace so elusive? Positionally, I should be good. And I certainly have faith in God. But peace of heart and mind eludes me more often than not.

Romans 5:1
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . .

What challenges my peace? I think it’s my over committed mind. I fill my days with so much activity, how can I expect to experience peace with God? I’m so good at “doing” while I’m terrible at “not doing.” I mean purposefully choosing to be quiet, to be still, to commune with the Holy Spirit.

I used to go away for a long weekend to All Saints Convent, just to be still. But I confess, the first day, I usually slept most of the time. My mind tends to be like a light switch: on or off. And when it’s off, I crash.

Oh I know that “peace with God” is not just being still. It has to do with relationship. That I am not in an adversarial relationship with God because of my faith in Jesus who opened the door to the inner sanctuary. But, all the same, how often do I really walk deeply into that sanctuary?

Having access to a place is one thing but actually using the ticket to go in is another.

It’s like going to the health club … or rather, not going. I paid the money up front and I was given cart blanche to use the facilities anytime. And I started out great but eventually, I lost my momentum. Other new activities take away my time. And soon, I’ve disconnected from both the routine and the desire to go.

Theoretical “peace with God” is useless. It’s experiential “peace with God” that can enhance my daily life. Oh heart, seek peace and dwell there.

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