Renewed Lives

    Apr 12, 2015

    Passage: Romans 12:2

    Preacher: William (Tex) Culton

    Detail:

    My younger brother by 14 years is a policeman. He is greatly affected by the news concerning the apparently unnecessary police shootings we have all heard about and seen on the news. It seems as though something is released in the men who in the routine of their jobs become something other than what they were moments before.

    Has that ever happened to you? Something happens and suddenly you are off to the races emotionally. And after the incident you try to understand what went awry and you feel bad, however your explanations and your promises to yourself to not let it happen again are never enough to block those surges of adrenaline that send you into the emotional stratosphere.

    I know men who can go from a mild displeasure to rage in a Nano-second, and think that that is just the way they are and there is really no way to change…(Repressed anger gives a man a feeling of safety. It is like having reserve energy or ammunition).

    Understanding the mind has been a challenge that we have faced since we first took the serpents advice over that of God. We will reason against the ideas we believe God revealed to us, and when we get into trouble (relationally, politically, legally) our excuse is: “We’re only human”. Hey, it’s a good excuse if you believe that there is really no changing human nature, and that our belief that we were created in the image of God is just an ego trip that has no other foundation than wishful thinking. We’re only human! So were the apostles; so was Paul when he wrote to the Romans and the Ephesians, and so was Solomon when he was about to assume the throne of Israel, and so was Thomas when he was finally convinced that Jesus was resurrected and wasn’t simply a ghost!

    Today’s scripture was chosen to enlighten the first value we as a church have adopted through our session; “Renewed Lives!” This means a relationship with Jesus
    Christ changes people from the inside out, resulting in lives that model Christ and make a difference.

    We believe that the life offered to us through the church community begins with a renewal of our minds that is made possible through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and our Savior.

    RENEWAL OF OUR MINDS…..

    We’re always working on this aren’t we? We do it a little bit at a time and we usually do it through different disciplines…. We will commit to a Classics Course, or Yoga, or Read through the Bible in a year, or attend a self-help group or anger management or computer programming…..

    What it amounts to is little more than gaining some knowledge about something that seldom leads to any lasting change in the way we are and relate to the world. What we are trying to do is get the world to see us differently. But know this, you aren’t going to change the world’s opinion of you. You can’t! [No matter how much good Bill Clinton does in his life, he’ll always be remembered for his sexual improprieties] But you can accept god’s opinion of you; if you are willing to give up control of your life and accept yourself as God accepts you.   AND HERE IS WHAT GOD’S OPINION OF YOU IS. God loves you so much that God sent his only son to die for you so that you might have a life that is eternal and not one that is conformed to this world where survival is the bottom line! Whenever Paul or Peter or any of the Gospel writers relates that Christ came to save sinners, or gave his life up for as us an offering to God. It is not a put down to humanity or an understanding that God demands blood for our forgiveness. It is an honest appraisal of humanity and what it takes to convince us not only of our own barbarian tendencies and the power of our sin but of the length and breadth and height and depth of God’s LOVE of us God’s children.

    I think that this is what is meant by the “renewal of your mind.” It is not brainwashing, or learning a bunch of new rules (although there are lots of rules that assist Christians in making the right choices that are often hard to make), or walking the straight and narrow (no matter how religious that sounds).

    The renewal of our minds comes by accepting a concept of humanity that has been handed down through the ages by those who sincerely seek the best for all of God’s creation. That concept holds, that left to our own devices, no matter what we say or try or no matter what wonderful philosophy we hold, we will end up doing only what is advantageous for us (selfishly) and reason that we had no other choice.

    The Bible says that we don’t have a choice. Sin is a given that enters every human life, and it will make our choices for us and convince us that we are making them ourselves. God has told us through Jesus that we can break free of knee jerk reactions to perceived danger; that we can know the truth and the truth can make us free. To me that means we can be free to choose how we will act and react to life as it happens to us and through us. But we must accept the TRUTH….that every one of us will sin and fall short of the glory of God. Every one of us is in need of forgiveness and therefore renewal.  We don’t have to do this at the cost of self-esteem. We can love ourselves as God loves us, HONESTLY, and in that love fearlessly assess how our minds work and let God’s love begin to free us from our fears and our unforgiven sins (By this I mean the perceptions we have of ourselves that cripple our ability to love and be loved freely.)

    Solomon sought wisdom from God because he was just a child when he assumed the throne. You may not agree with me, but I feel that most of our decisions are made out of or in reaction to childhood perceptions of ourselves and the world. Perceptions that were formed before we could reason. It is those very perceptions that God can clarify for us.  

    It isn’t mind over matter, it is Love over fear. It is surrender to vulnerable love. It is forgoing conformation to the world and consecrating your lives to God and allowing that feelings are not only powerful, but can be understood and overcome.

    We have a therapist who has had an office in our building for years. She has offered to hold a workshop for us in understanding the mind/brain and how we can overcome habits that we thought were permanent. I’ll be announcing the workshops that will take place before the summer…..I believe in therapy because it can enlighten us to those places we hide even from ourselves

    Lord deliver me from my fear!