Renewing the Mind

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

—Rom. 12:2

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.

—Phil. 4:8

“When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’  When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there.  And the final condition of that person is worse than the first.  That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

—Mt. 12:43-45

Willie Nelson (b. 1933), a musician and activist said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.”  But how could we do this?  Norman Vincent Peale (1898–1993), a minister wrote, “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”  Much of what we think will help shape the world.  Buddha (563 BC/480 BC–483 BC/400 BC), an ascetic and sage said, “We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think.  Where the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.” Having pure thoughts are an exceptional blessing.

Dominant Thoughts

Henry David Thoreau (1817––1862), a philosopher and abolitionist wrote, “As a single footstep will not make a path on earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind.  To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again.  To make a deep mental path we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”  Peace Pilgrim (1908–1981), a non-denominational spiritual teacher said, “I don’t eat junk foods and I don’t think junk thoughts.”  Inevitable there are thoughts that build up minds up and those that pull them down.  So focus on elevating the way you live, and use good thoughts to inspire people.

By centering your thoughts positively you’ll be able to reap numerous rewards.  People are able to bless others by the good deeds they do.  So let your focus, be clear.  In speech be positive by elevating others by what you say.  Let the things you do be positive, for every good work is beneficial in God’s kingdom.  You should create heaven right where you live by sharing love on earth.

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Help Others

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

—Rom. 12:9-13

An Indian spiritual leader Sai Baba (1835–1918) wrote, “Love one another and help others to rise to the higher levels, simply be pouring out love.  Love is infectious and the greatest healing energy.”  Saint Augustine (354–430 AD), a Christian theologian asked, “What does love look like?  It has the hands to help others.  It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.  It has eyes to see misery and want.  It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrow of men.  That is what love looks like.”  Christians do honor God when they embrace the afflicted.  Hebrews 6:10 was clear that God is just.  He doesn’t forget the work and love you show him, as you help his people.

Purpose of Life

A French-German theologian Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) wrote, “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  John Wooden (1910–2010), a basketball player agreed with Schweitzer and elaborated when he said, “Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”  Galatians 5:13 assured us as brothers and sisters we’re called to be free.  This verse explained people mustn’t use this freedom to indulge in the flesh, but rather to serve one another humbly in love.

John 12:26 stated that whoever serves Christ must follow him.  For wherever he is his servant will also be.  The Father will honor those who follow him.  Ellen G. White (1827–1915), a Christian pioneer wrote, “A Christian reveals true humility by showing the gentleness of Christ, by being always ready to help others, by speaking kind words and performing unselfish acts, which elevate and ennoble the most sacred message that has come to our world.”  White’s observation reminded believers of the verse in Romans 12:11 that exhorts us never to lack in zeal, but to keep our spiritual fervor in serving the Lord.  People do so by serving others.

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Commonalities of Religions

Most major religions have a doctrine

A set of principles and teachings

And stories based on myths

About gods, and spiritual events

 

These faith traditions focus on experiences

Describing what their followers ponder in sacred texts

About God, gods, angels, or other Divine beings

Believers are known for their places of worship

Whether in a Church, Temple, or Synagogue

Where activities are coordinated

 

Religious leaders provide instructions

About how believers should live holy lives

And ways for its members to practice their faith

Members follow rituals of spiritual significance

Often with prayer, fasting, and feasts

But religious holidays are for festivals

Where there are blessings of deities

And celebrating the lives of saints and gurus

 

“Divine Providence, let us embrace the underlying teachings of religion – of love and mindfulness.  Help us to respect all faith traditions, and realize there are different ways to encounter God.”

Amen

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Blessings of Vocations

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it.

—Gen. 2:15

To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it.’  “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”

—Gen. 3:17

Each person should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.

—1 Cor. 7:20

Vocation comes from the Latin word ‘vocare’ or ‘voice’ which means to follow ‘the voice of God’, or to do what we’re called to do.  Viktor E. Frankl (1905–1997), an Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist wrote, “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment.   Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.”  It should therefore be for us to pursue this divine purpose in life.

A Divine Calling

Wendell Berry (b. 1934), a novelist and environmental activist said, “The old and honourable idea of ‘vocation’ is simply that we each are called, by God, or by our gifts, or by our preference, to a kind of good work for which we are particularly fitted.”  This call could take a variety of forms.  But what exactly does this mean?  A showman and businessman P.T. Barnum (1810-1891) wrote, “Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited for his particular genius, he cannot succeed.  I am glad to believe that the majority of persons do find their right vocation.”  We’re reminded in the Scripture people are blessed with a variety of talents.  Some of them are great while others small, but it’s for us to use our gift or gifts wisely.

A person could find a worthwhile vocation in the national service.  Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch Catholic priest said, “Peacemaking is a full-time vocation that includes each member of God’s people.”  Rick Warren (b. 1954), an evangelical Christian pastor saw the benefit of military service.  He wrote, “Well, in the first place, military service, they don’t call it service for nothing.  You are actually serving your country.  And it is a worthy and valid vocation.”  So a divine calling could take many forms.

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