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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Master's Mind - Book Review

The Master's Mind: The Art of Reshaping Your Thoughts

In fact, the Master has a whole different list of attributes in mind for us: hope, strength, beauty, joy, love, creativity, freedom, power, peace, patience, goodness, laughter, organization, effectiveness, and purpose.

Between the flesh, the world, and the Devil, we don't know what to think, and, therefore, our lives are filled with hurt, pain, and regret.

Jesus died to save us from our sins and set us free. He made a way for our souls to be rescued from our enemies.

It's time to return to the Master's Mind.

In approximately AD 31, Jesus Christ of Nazareth was asked the seemingly impossible question: "What is the greatest commandment of God?" Jesus simply replied, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength."

If we can master our minds and bring our thoughts into alignment with the Lord's will and perspective, the rest of our lives will follow suit.

Praise the Lord that He has told us who He is, who we are in the light of Him, and what we have been placed on this earth to do.

God does the rescuing and the saving. Our job is to steward what He has given us.

What we think determines our action. Martin Luther King Jr. determined that he would not rest until all people were viewed as God intended - equal. Mother Teresa determined that the poor would not be forgotten. Our Lord Jesus Christ walked His entire life on earth with a focus on completely obeying His heavenly Father, including the determination to end up on the cross to save us from our sins, as we see in this passage from Luke: "When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).

The Bible tells us of an ancient high-ranking official who made a personal choice that would dictate the rest of his life and effectiveness. His name was Naaman, and he was a Syrian army commander who had leprosy, a terrible skin disease. Knowing that he was desperate for healing, his little servant girl told him of a prophet in Israel who could heal him by God's power. Figuring that it was worth a shot, Naaman went to see the prophet Elisha. Elisha sent a messenger to tell Naaman that he would be healed if he washed seven times in the Jordan River.

Naaman was furious. He believed that the prophet was simply going to "call upon the name of the LORD his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure" him (2 Kings 5:11). When things didn't go the way he thought they should, he stormed off in a rage.

His attendant hurried after him and convinced him to reconsider. Sure, washing seven times was unorthodox, but what if it could heal him?

He relented - and came out healed from leprosy.

Naaman's false assumptions, ignorant thoughts, and prideful heart almost cost him his healing. What are we believing today that is keeping us from God's best?

It's true of God: Isaiah 14:24 tells us, "The LORD of hosts has sworn: As I have planned, so shall it be, and as I have purposed, so shall it stand."

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (Acts 17:26)

Before the New York firefighters and police officers ran into the collapsing Twin Towers on the fateful day of 9/11, they thought about it. Their heroic choice to risk their lives to protect others from a burning building was the result of truly stunning thoughts: Their job is to rescue others and put them before themselves. They would not let fear dictate their response.

"The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasures produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks." (Luke 6:45)

Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who was explaining that our characters and beliefs determine the lives we live. Doing one thing on the outside doesn't make up for thinking another on the inside.

And when it comes to matters of faith, we spend the majority of our energy on sin management, completely avoiding the core issues. We'll never experience transformation until we address the thoughts at the root of our problems.

Bad thinking is dangerous. Wrong thinking can keeps us ineffective, wasting time on things that aren't important instead of living the lives God has for us.

Paul wrote in Romans about the distorted thinking common to humans and the consequences it brings. Since our sin nature is rooted in how we think our thoughts continue to be the primary block between us and God.

Jesus spoke about lust being equated with adultery.

Adam and Eve were the best of us: unadulterated humanity, good, pure, and perfect. But the day they ate the fruit that God told them not to eat, all of that changed. With their rebellion, sin entered the world and chaos was unleashed.

If you do not know the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love He demonstrated on the cross by dying for your sins, now is the time to engage with that truth.

God knows our plight. He knows we are hopelessly lost. When Adam and Eve threw away our birth right, He launched a redemption plan. The plan came to fruition approximately two thousand years ago, when God entered humanity and joined us where we were, in all our messiness. Doing all that we could not do, the God-man, Jesus Christ, offered up His perfect life - not only to satisfy our debt sin, but also to trade with us, the lost, so that we might be found and set free. We acknowledge that He is the King and His way is right. We offer open rights in which He can dwell by the power of His Holy Spirit so that we are never alone - not now, not ever.

"The most important thing about us is not what we do, but who and whose we are in Christ."

All He asks is that we stop fighting and let Him do what He does best - be our Savior and King. Paul the apostle wrote, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God" ((Romans 5:1-2).

By definition, grace is "undeserved favor." Grace isn't earned; rather, it's given out of the goodness of someone else's heart.

Grace even cuts at the heart of the oldest and greatest of sin: pride. The same sin that caused the fall of Lucifer stirs in our souls. Once grace takes hold again, we experience peace.

God is working in us, and we can have faith in that process. But we also need to be aware of the biggest enemy of them all: the Devil.

The Devil is real, and he's a bad guy. He introduced the sin that brought down our world, he's a bully who picks on us every day, and he doesn't fight fair.

Listen to the apostle Peter: "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith" (1 Peter 5:8-9).

Sin takes us from where we should be to where we should not be. Sin ruins our thoughts and poisons our hearts.

Sin is godlessness.

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Therefore, God will never lead someone to sin; doing so goes against His very nature. He will test believers by putting them through difficult training that will strengthen them and reveal their current conditions (like a refiner's fire).

Satan seeks to harm.

God's intention is always for believers to emerge from a trial better than when they started, either in strength or in knowledge. He promises that every situation will have a way out - an escape hatch that can be utilized through obedience.

As we've seen, the Bible says that Jesus was tempted, yet was without sin. It also says, "In your anger do not sin" (Ephesians 4:26 NIV).

Acting on sin is temptation.

Praise the Lord that He is with us and that the Holy Spirit is helping us navigate all of this!

Nebuchadnezzar made a name for himself as a warrior king. He won the famous battle of Carchemish against the Egyptians the year he was called to throne. He fused his alliance with the Medes by marriage and expanded his territory by military force until he controlled much of the Middle East and all the trade routes across Mesopotamia.

He was so impressive that Saddam Hussein sought to claim his reincarnated personality. Hussein named one of his guard divisions after the ancient king and began rebuilding ancient Babylon in his honor, inscribing on the bricks, "To king Nebuchadnezzar in the reign of Hussein."

This great and powerful king lost his mind.

God leveled Nebuchadnezzar for pride and arrogance, and once that was done, he lifted his hand immediately and miraculously. Nevertheless, his story reminds us that even the might fall sometimes, and no mind is invulnerable.

Everybody remembers Mister Rogers' Neighbor right? But did you know that it aired from 1968 to 2001, produced 895 episodes, and earned four Emmy awards?

There's a reason that a Presbyterian reverend from Pennsylvania received the coveted Peabody Award, the Ralph Lowell Award, more than forty honorary degrees, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He wanted to use children's imaginations as God intended them - to think through new perspectives.

You and I are precious - and so is every human on earth.

On the day Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they sold their souls to the Enemy.

Jesus Christ needed to come to set us free. We are free to become what He created us to be and not be forced into the mold of our enemies.

Our Master paid for us.

Even if we are free, we still need a Savior. We are still designed for relationship with God as our Father. We are still built for His glory. We are not our own.

We long to worship.

Christianity needs to be a thriving relationship with God filled with the Holy Spirit and all the incredible blessings He has given us. We need to be so filled up that the Holy Spirit forces out evil.

Jesus said that the Holy Spirit gives us "living water."

Paul says that we have been raised with Christ, which means we are a new creation, born again with all the sin of our lives dead and gone.

Transformation always begins in our thoughts.

When Jesus told His listeners to "repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:2), He did not simply mean "feel terrible for your wickedness now that I'm here." Repent doesn't only mean to turn away but to change one's mind and start agreeing with God.

Jesus Christ is the One who can set us free, not just when we get to heaven, but increasingly so right here on earth.

God will hold us accountable for how we manage our minds and handle our hearts.

One of the precious tools God has provided is supernatural protection for His children. The apostle Paul called it the armor of God in Ephesians 6:11-18.

Lance Hahn is the senior pastor of Bridgeway Christian Church in Rocklin, California. His first book, How to live in fear mastering the Art of Freaking Out, Chronicles his personal struggles with panic disorders and offers tools for thriving through fear. A popular speaker who enjoys writing, Lance is a husband to Suzi and father to two daughters.