You don’t have to choose between faith and common sense

I went to the theater yesterday to see the new Star Wars movie (loved it, by the way), but I noticed something. A lot of people didn’t come into the theater until after the previews had started, and there were even some trickling in after the movie had begun. I was close enough to overhear some of them talking, and one particular couple muttered to themselves that they should have come earlier.

That kind of made me chuckle. I mean, it’s only the most anticipated movie of the year–maybe the decade. And, sure, Wichita isn’t like the crazy big cities that sell out movies, but it’s common sense to expect that it’ll be busy.

Just struck me as funny how often we don’t think about a situation before we jump into it and find ourselves over our heads.

night-television-tv-theme-machinesToday’s verse is Romans 12:2.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

I think some people believe that you either think or you live by faith, but I’ve discovered that they aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have faith and still think about a situation.

The movie theater is a lame example, but it works. You can go to a newly released (highly anticipated movie) with a few minutes before it starts and pray that you find a parking place and a seat, but wouldn’t it be better to think about it beforehand and leave a little earlier to get there in time?

God didn’t give us a brain just so we’d have it. We don’t have the ability to think just as some random accident. We’re supposed to use our brains to make wise choices.

Granted, we don’t always do that. Sometimes we do dumb stuff, and it’s those moments where we need to learn how to accept the consequences of our choices.

You don’t have to choose between faith and common sense. Think about your next step before you take it. The key is thinking about life, the universe, and everything the same way that God does. Read the Bible and see how God sees things, and let the truth transform the way you think. That’s when your thinking matches up with God’s wisdom, that’s where faith and common sense intersect.

Trying to make faith make sense outside of God’s way of thinking will bring nothing but confusion and frustration. You can’t make God fit with any religion or set of rules. You can’t explain the Bible using mythology or politically correct idiom.

But even after you’ve let God change the way you think, you still have to choose to think. We’re supposed to live by faith, but that doesn’t mean turning your brain off.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Transformation is a choice

At the beginning of a New Year, everyone wants to be a new person. People want new habits, new scales, new everything because they are trying to be new people, whether through diet and exercise or style changes or clothes changes. How many people do you know who have started resolutions to change the way they look?

But it isn’t losing weight that will make you a new person. Changing your clothing style or the church you attend (or its frequency) won’t make you a new person. Maybe your clothes or your weight can make you look like a new person, but to truly change you into a new person you need to change something deeper than your shirt.

You need to change your perspective on life. You need to change the way you think.

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Sunrise on Jamaica Beach, Galveston, TX

Today’s verse is Romans 12:2.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

You have two choices when it comes to determining how you’re going to think. You can either think about the world and everything in it the way that God has said, or you don’t. There’s no middle ground. And there’s no shortcut either.

There’s no magic switch that makes this easier for you to accomplish. Actually, it isn’t even something you can do. It’s a choice you make, and God is the one who does the rest. That’s what makes this so difficult.

Look at the verse. You can copy the behaviors of the world or you can let God transform you. Those are choices, and those choses are yours.

If you want to be a new person, you have to let God transform your mind from what it is to what He wants it to be. You have to let Him change the way you think. That’s the only way it works. Otherwise, you will stay the same inside, whether you change on the outside or not.

If all you do is change your outside, it’s like putting clean clothes on after you’ve rolled around in the mud. Your clothes look nice, but what’s under it is filthy.

This choice, between the world’s transforming power or God’s transforming power, is something we need to settle in our minds before we even get out of bed in the morning. We have to decide which one is going to hold sway in our lives. Are we going to listen to the world? Or are we going to listen to God?

On the surface, the answer is easy. God all the way, right? That’s the best answer. And if you’re a Christ follower, you know it. But knowing it and living it are two separate things. And usually no matter how good my intentions are to listen to God, I still get sidetracked because thinking the way the world thinks is so much easier.

Letting God transform my life is a process. He started it when I was seven years old, and He’s not even close to finishing with me. It’s a long, painful process because I hold on to the perspectives that the world has taught me, and He keeps telling me that I need to let them go.

Changing the way you think is impossible if you keep filling your head with the status quo of the world. That’s why we need to get to know God. We need to be reading our Bibles. We need to be praying and having conversations with God. However you work your relationship with God, you need to do it, you need to fill your life and your mind with Him, because the more of Him that is in your life, the less of the world can get in.

So before you walk out your door this morning, decide who you’re going to let transform you. The world will try. The world will never stop trying. But the world’s “transformation” is more of a ‘deformation.” There’s nothing the world has changed that has been better for it.

But God? God can take the broken and the hurting and put them back together again. He can heal hearts. He can change lives. He can right wrongs. But it all starts with a choice, and it’s a choice we have to make.

Butterfly on a rock in a stream

Choosing to change the way you think

Going with the flow is easy. Blending into a crowd is easy. Just dress the same as everyone else, talk the same as everyone else, walk the same as everyone else, and you won’t stand out at all. But do we really want to live our lives as carbon copies of each other? Is that what we were supposed to do? Is that how we were supposed to live?
We weren’t intended to blend into the scenery. We were all created unique, with specific and obvious differences to make us stand out. So why do we feel like we have to fit in to the stereotypical roles the world has created? We can choose what is right. Or we can choose what is wrong. And the first step in living a life that truly represents who you actually are as an individual is choosing to change the way you think.
Did you realize that you have command over that? Did you realize you can change the way you think? That you’re not trapped in the vicious cycle of the same kind of thinking as everyone else in the world? I think our society has lost this fact. People like Copernicus and Galileo, Newton and Da Vinci, Edison and Einstein, George Washington Carver and Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs — they thought outside the box. They made the decision to think differently than everyone else around them, and they changed the world.
Butterfly on a rock in a stream

Butterfly on a rock in a steam - Glen Eyrie, Colorado Springs, CO

What’s interesting to me is how people think they can be unique and individual by copying each other. It’s common in the culture we live in. People think they’re expressing their individuality by following a fad or dressing like other people who feel the same way they do, but all they’re doing is copying someone else.

The only way to truly live a life that expresses who you are is to be honest about who you are, to yourself and to God. Today’s verse is Romans 12:2.
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
If you want to be a new person, one who is 100% you and no one else, you have to change the way you think about everything. You have to change the way you view life. You have to change the way you view people. You have to change the way you view eternity. You have to change the way you view tragedy and death and sadness and trials and unhappiness. You have to change the way you view success and failure. You can’t just look at everything the world says is good and agree. You can’t look at everything the world says is bad and agree.
You have to view your life like God views it.
Some people might say that choosing to change your thinking to be like God’s is just trying to copy God instead of being yourself. Read the verse again. It doesn’t say that God will change you to be like Him if you change the way you think. It says that God will transform you into a new person. Not a copy of Himself.
If He wanted copies of Himself, He would have created them.  But He didn’t. He created us. And He did it for a reason.
At the end of the day, we all have a choice. We can either choose to follow the trends and popular opinion of the culture we live in. Or we can choose to change our thinking to be what God has declared in Scripture. Both choices have consequences, but only one will transform you into a new person.

Cogito ergo sum (yup, that’s Latin)

Rene Descartes is the one who first said, “I think, therefore I am” (Latin: “Cogito ergo sum . . . bet you were wondering what it meant, right?). And its original philosophical intention was to prove someone’s existence by the mere fact that they might doubt their existence. This funny little statement became the basis for Western philosophy.

I’m not much of a philosopher, at least not by the popular definition of the term. I do love wisdom, but I don’t like to sit around debating stuff. But Descartes’s statement came to mind this morning when I read today’s Bible verse.

Romans 12:2

2 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Any Christians out there who are frustrated that you can’t find God’s will for your life? Are you losing patience with God and with the Bible because it doesn’t speak to you?

Here’s the first thing you need to do:

Ask God to change the way you think.

Sounds silly, doesn’t it? But the way you think determines who you are. It determines how you react to tragedy. It determines how you react to frustration. It determines how you react to success. “I think, therefore I am.”

Our thought processes shape us in so many ways, and where we learn those thought processes will determine how beneficial (or how damaging) they can be.

If you allow the world to shape the way you make decisions, you will think like someone who doesn’t know Christ. You will worry about things you can’t control. You will choose paths that will bring you the most material gain even thought you may sacrifice your soul for them. You will hurt people to get what you want. Even Christians can live like this, but if you are a Christian living your live by making decisions like someone in the world, you will drag the name of Christ through the mud.

But if you allow God to change the way you think — if you take Scripture seriously and bring it into your life and trust it — you will start making decisions like someone who believes God can do anything.

If you change the way you think, everything else will change too. Life will seem more positive because you will realize that even the negatives have a purpose in God’s plan. You will stop seeing the people around you as obstacles or opponents and like people who need God as much as you do. You will be a happier person.

And then, once your thinking has changed, God will reveal His will. But only after your thinking has changed. If you don’t change your thinking, if you don’t change from being a world-centered believer to a Word-centered believer, you won’t be interested in what God has for you anyway.

“I think, therefore I am” was originally intended to prove a person’s existence. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. I’m not a philosopher so I can’t debate that. But what it also means to me is that as you think, so you are. Your thinking will determine the person you become. So I want to make sure that I’m thinking right.