Mind Control

The Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences did a brain scan study that discovered something interesting. By studying brain patterns, scientist could determine what decisions participants were going to make seven seconds before they made it. In essence scientists discovered the the unconscious mind makes decisions before your conscious mind even realizes it. This left them questioning, “Do we have a freewill?”

Many in the ministry get apprehensive at the mention of psychology. Understandably there are some whacky pop-psychology trends out there, but I think it’s dangerous to completely disregard psychology in our churches. It’s important to understand how the brain works, in fact I think the Bible implores us to consider the habits of the mind.

Romans 12:1-2 tells us, Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

It’s our mind that does the transforming of our actions. The world around us shapes us a certain way, the RENEWING of it transforms us. If there is integrity in the study mentioned above, it’s true: our mind controls us, we don’t control it. No one wants to believe this, especially in this world of free choice and choosing your own way. We are all slaves to something. Whatever masters us, that is what shapes our unconscious mind. When we become a sacrifice and a slave to Jesus, He shapes our minds that transforms our actions to His good, acceptable and perfect will.

Don’t misunderstand, we are responsible for our actions, but our actions are responses of the unconscious mind. What then is guiding your unconscious mind? Do we really have control over our minds, or are our actions a product of our mind’s control? Freewill is more of an illusion than we want to believe. Comparing Romans 12 and the scientific study, it would seem our minds transform us more than we transform our minds. What will you allow yourself to be transformed by?  -jason

 

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Do Not Feed The Animals

There is something about feeding animals that is appealing to people, especially young children. Whether it’s Henry the dog, Squish the rabbit, Crystal the fish or Richard the goat, the kids love giving them treats. Maybe there’s a control aspect to it.

In researching goats, one website talks about taming a kid. Raisins, they say, is the key to taming the goats on their farm. Richard is fond of raisins. Squish comes running to the edge of her cage to get a carrot or some lettuce from the kids. Henry gets treats for the kids in exchange for a command. With food you can tame, train and get the attention of animals, perhaps it is a form of control. What happens when you lose control?

What we feed will become bigger and stronger. If properly trained, there shouldn’t be a problem, shouldn’t be. When it comes to animals, it’s good practice to always understand that they are still animals. In fact, it’s good practice to always remember, we are still animals too.

There’s a Native American parable you may have heard before:

A grandfather is talking with his grandson and he says there are two wolves inside of us which are always at battle.

One is a good wolf which represents things like kindness, bravery, and love. The other is a bad wolf, which represents things like greed, hatred, and fear.

The grandson stops and thinks about it for a second then he looks up at his grandfather and says, “Grandfather, which one wins?”

The grandfather quietly replies, “The one you feed.”

The animal you feed will tend to come back for more. The more you feed it, not only the stronger it gets, the more comfortable it gets.

Romans 13 talks about the things of the flesh and the things of the spirit:

“13 Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14 But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”

This verse alerts us that salvation is near, the Lord’s judgement is upon the earth and we must live according the ways of Jesus Christ, according to the things of the Spirit.

To add to that thought, Galatians 5:17 says: “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.”

In essence, don’t feed the flesh. In doing so you starve the spirit. I’ve been feeding my flesh all too much for all too long. Over the years I have made efforts to stop feeding the flesh and giving nourishment to the spirit. There are so many subtle treats in life that sabotage. I want to prepare for Christ’s return. I’m tired of feeding the flesh. I want the spirit to grow stronger and have the control.

For this reason, I am planning a break or fast from social media. In so many ways it feeds the flesh and distracts from the spirit. This is not something I am promoting to anyone, but it’s something I personally want to do. Perhaps there are other things you might need to consider. What feeds the flesh and starves the spirit? The kingdom of the Lord is upon us. Don’t feed the animals, the animals within us. – jason

Tuning Out the Beeps

It’s about 4:30am and I am awaken by an intermittent beep coming from downstairs. As I try to pretend it’s not there, my mind shifts into gear.

Certainly it’s a smoke detector. Battery needs to be replaced. Which one? I think there’s only one left that requires 9-volt. Must be in the office. Do we have a 9-volt battery? I remember seeing one the other day when I was looking for AA batteries. Where was that?

Well, there’s no use trying to go back to sleep, even though I know I could use it.

Hearing the beep reminded me of being a hospital chaplain. Much of my time was spent in the Emergency Room. Each patient had a monitor connected to them and throughout the day there are alarms going off on random monitors. At first I freaked out a little. Are they dying? Should I call someone? Can’t they hear it??? Casually a staff member would walk by and push a button and may or may not look in on the patient. Sometimes it would take minutes before someone would come by. After awhile I realized you get used to it. You barely hear the beep when you are around it so much.

I’ve been to people’s homes where the smoke detector beeps for days, maybe even weeks. They just didn’t get around to changing the battery. They learn to live with the beep.

In our lives we all have “beeps”. Different people will call it what they want, but I am certain it is the voice of the Lord. The Lord speaks wisdom and caution through the Holy scriptures in divine revelation by his Spirit. The Spirit convicts. These are the “beeps” that believers and unbelievers alike turn a deaf ear to. Consider Proverbs 1:23-33:

If you turn at my reproof,
behold, I will pour out my spirit to you;
    I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused to listen,
    have stretched out my hand and no one has heeded,
because you have ignored all my counsel
    and would have none of my reproof…
…but whoever listens to me will dwell secure
    and will be at ease, without dread of disaster.”

If instead of a beep from the smoke detector, it was a full on alarm, I would have jumped out of bed immediately. In the ER there are certain alarms that would cause everyone to rush over to the patient. Beeps are there to warn us before things get bad. It tells us that there is a potential for disaster, something is not quite right.

Don’t take lightly the “beeps” that are there to warn you. Change the battery, check your pulse, whatever it is, the beeps are important. Do not wait for disaster to arrive. -jason

 

Temper, Temper

When I saw Emily pull into the parking lot I walked out to help unload the kids, especially because it was a little rainy. Just as she was about to pull into a stall, a car zoomed in through the adjacent parking stall into the stall that Emily was about to park. Emily slammed her brakes to avoid a collision. I looked over at the driver and shook my head. Immediately he rolled down his window:

“What? Why you shaking your head?”

I looked over at him and said something along the lines of, “I feel very disappointed in the way you have decided to operate your vehicle.” Certainly, it was along those lines, translate that how you feel best.

The blood was boiling inside of me. I had so many more things to tell this guy. Then I remembered my kids were in the van. What would I be teaching my kids. So I walked past his car and went toward our van.

“Yeah, walk away, brah! Keep walking!” I turned around as he stood at his open car door. Again, so many things I want to say. Instead, I stop, turn and say, “You’re not worth it.”

This seems to anger him more. “Brah, I got to the stall first, too bad!”

At this point my thoughts are overflowing a bit so I turn back toward him and say, “BRAH, you not supposed to drive through the stalls! You’re gonna to cause an accident. Learn how to drive.” I turn back to get my kids. He muttered some other things that were indiscernible and went on his way.

As my family and I walk past the restaurant he was in, he stared me down with the look of fury. I looked at him and again just shook my head and went on my way.

A little over a week after this incident I was sitting in the Emergency Room at Queen’s. I see the same guy there with his son. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure. As we sit there and I try to catch glances of him to confirm with my memory, his son stands up. About ten years old, he stands in the middle of the waiting room and starts shadow boxing. He turns toward his dad and moves toward him continuing his fight with the air. His dad says, “Ho, son, you so violent.” The boy responds, “Not as violent as you, at least I don’t throw rocks at cars.” He quickly grabs his son close to him and whispers, “Shhh…don’t talk about that.” Yup, this has to be the same guy.

Anger was fueling the both of us. My behavior and his, both driven by anger, it was not good. I’m thankful that the Lord reminded me that my kids were there and I had to be an example for them. I know that is from the Lord because that is not something I would have decided on my own. I realize anger has controlled me in the past.

Anger is not the problem, really it comes down to the ability to temper anger. Emily will be pleased to hear me say that emotions are not bad. Emotions help us react to the world around us, it’s our bodies alert system. Anger is just one of those. It’ helps us to identify wrong and right, injustices and measures our expectations.

Proverbs 14:29 says:
“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.”

It doesn’t say anger is bad altogether, but it does say to be SLOW to anger.

Ephesians 4:26-27 says:

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

Anger will be there, temper it so you are not lead to sin, deal with it before the day ends lest it manifest and provide the devil with a handle on you.

It’s when our anger turns to rage. Working in the elementary school I surprised by so much anger and rage at such young ages. It’ impacting our society. It turns everything inward where anger turns to rage.

Emotions are a god thing when they are tempered. Even anger. When our emotions are left unchecked and unrefined we lose control and contribute to an untempered culture.

-jason