The “Brave New World” of the 21st Century requires a “Brave New Discipleship” strategy.

Five Mental Power-Moves for Life Transformation

Posted on: November 29, 2016

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RE-THINK YOUR WAY TO SPIRITUAL RENEWAL

As you, know if you have been reading this blog for any length of time, I believe Romans 12:2 is a MegaVerse, giving us vital information for our spiritual growth:

“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.”

This passage tells us that our lives can be living proof of the fact that God’s will is good and acceptable and perfect, but only if our lives are transformed. And if our lives are to be transformed, our minds must be renewed. Therefore, mental renewal is the key to life transformation.

A “mental power-move” is a move from one way of thinking about an issue to another way of thinking, a change in perspective so powerful that it can help bring about transformation in our lives. To that end, I want to suggest five mental power-moves we need to make in our spiritual perspective to help renew our minds and transform our lives:

  1. From temporal to eternal

This life isn’t about this life. It’s about the next life. And while Christians are always to help make this world a better place in which to live, we must do so while playing by heaven’s rules, not by earth’s. As C. S. Lewis said, “if you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were precisely those who thought most of the next.”

If we try to live the Christian life by earth’s rules, we will be continuously perplexed and discouraged.

Imagine if you thought you were playing a basketball game, but all the other players were playing by soccer rules and the referees were refereeing according to soccer rules. You would be confused, frustrated and defeated.

If someone whispered in your ear that you should be playing soccer and not basketball, a light would go on. Your entire perspective toward the game would change. You would understand the actions of the other players, the decisions of the referees. You could begin to play soccer and enjoy the success of playing the right game.

The same is true in the Christian life.  We’re living the Christian life by earth’s rules, and the Holy Spirit comes along and whispers in our ear that we are playing by temporal rules.  We need to play by eternal rules.   As long as we are playing by earth’s rules, God will seem arbitrary, puzzling and unfair. But if we begin playing by heaven’s rules, things will begin to make sense. Living life with an eternal perspective is essential to a meaningful and satisfying Christian life.

  1. From the American Dream to spiritual warfare

It is instinctive to want to pursue the American Dream. We want to get a good education, get a good job, marry well, by a nice house, have nice children, have fun vacations, build a significant retirement account, and die at a ripe old age, without pain, with our doting children gathered around our bed.

Christians add to this the idea of being moral people, going to church, giving money to evangelistic and humanitarian concerns, and doing “good” with our lives as much as possible. And, having added these good things to the Dream, we begin to pursue the Dream while asking God to bless us.  It seems natural and self-evident.  What else would be do?

When God doesn’t bless us, we wonder why! Doesn’t he love us? Doesn’t he care that we’re suffering?

However, life is not a waltz, it’s a war. It is not a playground, it’s a battlefield! God does not promise us the American Dream; he promises us spiritual warfare (Ephesians 6:12-13).

If we have the perspective that we can pursue the “Christian American Dream” and that God should bless us as we do, it may often seem that we are singled out for failure. It may seem that the Christian life is working for others, but it isn’t working for us. Not only does God not bless our efforts consistently, but it may often seem that He has joined the other side!

However, if we accept the perspective that life is a spiritual war, then we will not be surprised when we feel as though we are on a battlefield. The fact is, we are. Understanding that fact will orient us to right attitudes and actions.

  1. From self to others

The Lord has created us to be Three Musketeers, not Lone Rangers. God exists as the Trinity. In a way that transcends our understanding, He is singular yet plural. Three and yet one.  He has created us in His image. We are individuals, but He wants us to live in community, reflecting the Trinity, although imperfectly.

For that reason, He calls us to live for others, not merely ourselves. Loving Him and loving others are the two great commandments (Matthew 22:37-40).

In America, however, we are taught to “look out for #1!” If we look out for #1 primarily, then we look at other people either as assets to help us get what we want, or liabilities keeping us from what we want. We tend to use the former and resent the latter. This results in loneliness and isolation.

If we reorient our perspective from being a Lone Ranger to being a Three Musketeer, we reflect the God who created us, and we get our needs met in a context of harmony with others, fulling us more than pure individualism ever could.

  1. From control to submission

It is natural to want to control people, possessions and circumstances so that we get what we want. We may lavish affection or withhold it, employ anger or appeal for pity, suggest courses of action or remain silent, all in an attempt to get others to do what we want.

There is even an impulse to want to control God so that we get what we want.  We can attempt to live such a good life that we think God owes us, that we deserve to have God bless us.  Timothy Keller writes that we may use religion to stay on the throne of our lives, trying to put God in the position of having to bless us because we are so righteous. (Hidden Christmas, p. 71).

Of course, this will not work, and the Christian life will only work as we lay down our subtle forms of manipulation and self-delusion, both toward others and toward God.  We must admit that God is God, and we must submit to Him rather than trying to manipulate/control Him, and then serve the Lord by serving others.

  1. From performance to rest.

On the other hand, it is not uncommon for Christians to feel that we have to earn the approval of others and of God. When we do, we often live in a subtle or even subconscious fear. We may fear that we have to earn the approval of our boss or coworkers, our family, other churchgoers, and even God.

Many of the decisions we make and the way we act may be motivated by a fear of what will happen to us if others don’t do what we want or need, if God doesn’t do what we want or need.

When we accept that God loves us infinitely and unconditionally, that we don’t have to earn our acceptance with God, that all we need is God’s grace and that we can have it in spite of our failures, then we can enter a level of “rest” that God offers.  We can move from performance to rest with God, and being secure in Him, forego having to please others to get our needs met.  We trust God and Him alone.

As we make these five mental power-moves, changing our spiritual perspective, we can find ourselves getting freer and freer in our relationship with God and others, capable of more peace and joy, capable of greater meaning and satisfaction, and capable of greater impact in others’ lives.


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