Episode 60: Our Minds in Christ- Kept or Unkept?

Peace to Live By Episode 60: Our Minds in Christ- Kept or Unkept? - Daniel Litton
(Tap or right-click link to download broadcast)

[Transcript may not match broadcasted sermon word for word]

       This past October I was in Los Angeles getting in some vacation time and I visited The RMS Queen Mary, an ocean-liner which is docked along Long Beach, CA. I had decided to visit the ship based on the recommendation of a friend from work, and I really wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew it was a historic cruise-liner, but I really didn’t know much beyond that. I did know that there were numerous reports that it was haunted. At least, that’s what people had been telling me. In fact, I would later learn that it is believed to be one of the most haunted places in the world. But, I really wasn’t interested in that aspect of it. I was interested in the history of it.

       Nonetheless, I recall getting out of the rental car and seeing the ship fixed there in the harbor, and my, what a site it was to see! It almost looked like the RMS Titanic sitting there. The only noticeable difference was the fact that this ship had three smokestacks versus the Titanic’s four. But anyway, I did feel like I was looking at the Titanic. And then when I got on the ship, I was amazed at the similarities it had to the Titanic. In many places, it looked just like the pictures and movies we have seen about the ship. It was a really amazing experience being able to walk around an ocean-liner that so closely resembled the famous one which was built not too many years before. I will post some pictures on the website so you can see them (see at bottom).

       I recall getting off the elevator at the Promenade Deck, which was the main deck of the ship—where all the shops and restaurants were. I walked through the Observation Bar Lounge, which and it had a Western style to it (which is right up my ally). This took you out onto the bow of the ship. And, my, it was a fascinating site. I walked all the way to the very front of the ship, to the tip where you would expect to see Jack and Rose standing there. Then, I turned around and looked up toward the bridge. The view was amazing. It was a really beautiful ship. This front section had been well-kept, and looked almost new in places.

       But going back inside to meet up with the tour group, we stood there, again, on the Promenade Deck and waited for the tour to begin. First, the tour went to an abandoned swimming pool down inside the ship. Standing atop the balcony there, we all looked down at the pool. It was dark and dreary, and looked unkept. The tour guide pointed out how there was a touch of water in the bottom of the pool. He said the existence of this water was unexplained. He told us about the history of the room, and how it is believed that there are ghosts that occupy the pool area.

       After leaving the pool room, the tour made its way down a large freight elevator into what at one time was a boiler room. We were going down as far as we could go into the ship, and this is where it really began to feel erie. It was a very large room from what I could feel and tell, for it was very dark. You really could not see anything past the tour-guide’s light. And he talked about how the boiler room was haunted and all of that. And it undoubtedly was, for a couple of times I felt some feeling of dread when I was down there. This happened once when I got right off the elevator, and then a little later on the platform which overlooked the room.

       Back up on the Promenade Deck, I continued to make my way around the ship. There were the salons, and they still looked the period of the ship. There were also three restaurants on the liner, two of which I tried, and they were quite the treat. In fact, I had one of the best cups of coffee I've ever had in my life at the cafe there on the starboard side of the ship. I asked the waitress what kind of coffee was served and she come back to the tablet with a bag of Douwe Egberts, which I learned is a Dutch coffee. Anyway, it was very good. And the restaurant there reminded me of the tea room that I used to eat at as a child in downtown Columbus at the Lazarus Department Store. In fact, a lot of the indoor architecture reminded me of that department store. Makes sense since it was from the same era. Lots of solid workmanship.

       Along the port side of the ship, on the Sports Deck (which is the very top deck), there the lifeboats were, still hanging there and it appeared they never had been used. At the front was the Bridge, where the Captain would have been and where all the old-fashioned controls were that used to operate the liner. It was a large room, and it even had the watertight door panel hanging on the wall, to the right after walking in on the port side. You can imagine it lighting up when the doors were closed. And after making my way through the Bridge, on the other side were beautiful views: great views of the front of the ship, the starboard side, the smokestacks looking down toward the back, and even Long Beach across the water.

       Probably my favorite part of the ship was at the stern. It was a wide-open deck space, again, very similar to Titanic with the rounded rail along the back. This part of the liner also was in very good condition. And there were different levels and staircases were you could stand and look off the back of the ship. The rear faced directly out toward the Pacific Ocean, and was a great view. Turning around, you could walk down into the Isolation Ward, which, as the name suggests, was where sick passengers would have been taken during a voyage to prevent disease from spreading. As this part was vintage and nearly untouched, it looked identical to the old photo of it they had there on the wall.

       Back upstairs on the starboard Sun Deck, there were places to sit down and look at the views. There were tables there and benches. It was a great place to just sit down and relax. Everything felt just right, and it seemed there was nothing to be concerned about in the world. It was a good time just to focus on the present, to focus on ‘now,’ and to let your mind be calm and let go of anything weighing it down. And the ship was stunning at night. I recall leaving my room and going up on the Sun Deck and sitting there along the water. The time spent there was very calm and tranquil, and, looking inland, you could even see the fireworks from Disneyland way off in the distance.

       I suppose a great ocean-liner such as this, old and grand in nature, and full of history, can parallel with our own personal growth in our lives. There are parts of our character, our minds, that are in good shape, parts that are well kept. Some areas we've spent a lot of time on, whether with our emotional health, internal self-discipline, and casting down wrong thinking patterns in our minds. Yet, just like with the ship, there are parts that have been abandoned, parts that need quite a lot of work, areas that are unkept. These are the areas of our minds that we have done little work on, and really, could use much more work. We've been kind of negligent in this or that area, and we know it. We want to make improvement, but we never seem to find the time to do so.

       There’s no doubt that people often realize they have issues inside themselves, but a lot of times they aren’t sure how to resolve them. They know they are there, but their not really sure what is at the root, or heart, of them. These issues are like the old, abandoned and unkept parts of the ship. These are the places people don't want to go. And some people don’t even realize they have problems, but they need to realize it. But it doesn’t do us any good when we just patch the rust of the problem, only for it to come back later in time. We must get at the root of underlying problems if we want to have success and victory over them. We can’t just lock up our problems in our own Isolation Ward in the back of our minds, never to deal with them.

       Today, I want us to examine some different aspects of our thinking and some underlying problems that may be present within our minds, as Christians. I will identify some potential issues, but also provide some good things that can be done to better our minds and lives.

       The Word of God tells us, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2, ESV). I don’t think a lot of Christians think about what this verse is stating. Many folks believe that you have the Bible, and then you also have a certain, ‘natural’ way that things work (which is really the way the world thinks). Typically, they take both ways into account, and apply to their lives the way that they think best fits their needs. Like, for instance, the world might say we should get vengeance on a person, while the Bible clearly tells us not to get vengeance on anyone. But, we who really want to follow Jesus should never mix both ways into our actions. We should never intermix the ways of the world with the ways of God. We should always have the Bible filter out what we think and do, and make it have first place above everything.

       When we allow our minds to become too unkept, depression can often set in. Really, depression is the result of a lot of bad thinking. It can come upon you when you aren't keeping proper watch of the thoughts in your mind. You have entertained wrong, incorrect thoughts when you become depressed. You have either been focusing on the wrong things, or you have let an outward circumstance or a series of circumstances to bother you to the point that you no longer feel like doing anything much at all. Sometimes people are wanting something in life, and they don't get it, and then they become depressed. This is because they are unwilling to accept God's timing versus their own will and timing. And if we seek the wrong thing and obtain it, this can cause us to become depressed because the thing we have obtained brought death to us instead of life.

       The good news is that anyone can change his or her mind, change the way he or she thinks. It may be difficult because of the strongholds in your mind, but it can be accomplished. And it will take time. There is no quick fix, no way to immediately solve the problem. Bad habits take time to purge from our system. And God understands that, and isn’t standing over us demanding perfection from the get-go. He will work with us as we seek to eliminate bad habits, wrong thought patterns, from our minds. Paul said we are to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5, ESV).

       In looking at our minds, as Christians, from a ‘big picture’ perspective, there is an overall mind that we want to develop. The Apostle Paul called it the Mind of Christ. As a matter of fact, he told the Corinthians that they already had been given this new mind (see 1 Corinthians 2:16). It is important for us to take all of the areas of our mind and bring them into obedience to Christ. That is, we don't want to have any thoughts we are thinking or enjoying which Jesus would not approve of. And constantly thinking about negative things will keep you downcast and will cause you to get upset over time. And when there is a lot of negativity in our minds, this often shows forth in our speech and actions. And people will notice you are unhappy and bothered about something.

       We should cast down any thoughts that make us worry or have anxiety. If its a thought that is bothering us, we don’t have to think about it. The Apostle Peter told us we are to cast all our cares on God because he cares for us and wants to deal with them himself instead of letting us deal with them (see 1 Peter 5:7, ESV). You can choose not to think about something by casting it on God. Instead, think about good and positive things. When we have healthy thoughts, when we are thinking thoughts that are good for us to think, we are happier in our daily lives. And you don't have to always be thinking about something. You can choose to just focus on the present, what is in front of you. The movie screen in your mind doesn't always have to be playing something. Instead, we can focus on now, on what is in front of us.

       One problem often for us is that Satan puts thoughts inside our minds that are bothering to us, and of which may be disturbing. Once we think the thought, we have to make a choice to not think about whatever it is. It is when we choose to think about the negative or evil thought, that we allow it cause us problems, to bother us. James has told us, “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:7, 8, ESV). By resisting Satan and staying close to God, we can keep our minds in a better position.

       We have to understand that we have our true definition of who we are based in Christ. Because of who Christ is, we are who we are. He is the one who died for us, made us right with God, and gave us new life. He made us new creations in himself, as the Apostle Paul stated, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Corinthians 5:17-18, ESV). And God gave us his Holy Spirit by whom we live out our lives. Who we really are is defined by who we are in Christ, and not who we think we are, that is, how we see ourselves, or in the way others may see us in this world. We may think this or that about ourselves, and others may think this or that, but all that really matters is what Jesus thinks about us—how he sees us.

       Once we have accepted ourselves, accepted who we are, having a proper perspective in our minds, then we can receive the blessings that God wants to give us. We will appreciate the gifts that God wants to give us, and accept them gladly. But some people believe that because they have done wrong things in the past, or because they haven’t acted perfectly, that God won’t reward them. And that’s not true. God doesn’t hold past sins over the heads of believers. When we repent of a sin, he forgives us and remembers it no more (see Hebrews 8:12). But some people don’t believe that, and so they carry around past sins in their minds. They carry them around as an extra cross to bear. They think about them frequently.

       Sometimes God wants to help us in our lives, but we won’t let him. We don’t see and accept his help, again, because of unbelief in our minds. Unbelief is a big problem that crops up in people’s minds. If we don’t believe that God is on our side, that he wants to help us, and wants to give us good things, then, we cut-off God’s power. He can’t help us with our problems because we don’t believe he wants to, or even that he will. We may have thrown up a quick prayer about something, or even prayed quite a lot time about it, but have seen no success. And we probably didn’t even realize it, but the reason we didn’t see success in our situation is because we didn’t believe in the first place. In our minds, and probably with our mouths, we prevented the good that God wanted to do for us.

       Recall Philippians 1:6, and I know we read it a lot. But you need to really think about it: “I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (ESV). This is a hopeful verse. When we start to make progress in our minds, we shouldn’t focus on how far we still need to go, or how high the mountain is, but we need to focus on how far we have already come. If you focus on how far you still have to go, that’s a negative focus, and it will discourage you. If you think about it too much, you may even quit trying and give up your battle altogether. But we have to begin somewhere. We need to take those first baby steps toward improvement, and then we will actually start to see positive change.

       We need to see everything we have in our lives as a gift from God. We need to be thankful—to have a thankful mindset. The reality is, we don’t deserve anything in this life that we have. We all have sinned against God, and really deserve to be separated from him. But God sent Jesus into the world, and he died for our sins, rose again, and made us right with God. The Apostle Paul noted, “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, ESV). God has give us the gift of his Son. Truly, everything that we have in life is a gift from God.

       We must learn to love ourselves so that we will want to keep improving ourselves, to improve our minds, so that we keep forging ahead. Remember, again, we are new creations in Christ. We have all that we need to make ourselves better. We have the Holy Spirit inside us, God himself, and his power will work through us if we allow it to. And we have the Word of God, which is sharper than any two-edged sword, and definitely has power behind it. When we speak the Word of God over our lives, we see more and more successes and victories. We should use Scripture to fight against attacks from the devil, to defeat temptations as they come to us. And we should use the Word of God to better ourselves by casting down wrong thoughts, forgetting the past, and moving forward.

        In conclusion today, perhaps you’ve been considering all that I have been saying about the mind, and about how we can better ourselves—having better thinking within ourselves. Perhaps you realize you have issues that need to be corrected, and you want to correct those problems. I want you to realize today if your not a Christians that even though God loves you, you still need to come into a personal relationship with him to be truly free from your issues. God showed his love for everyone by having Jesus die on the cross of all sins of all time. But because each of us are born with a sin-nature, we have to accept Jesus' perfect sacrifice on the cross for forgiveness of sins, and to be truly set free from sin. You see, Jesus can make you free today. He died on a cross, some 2,000 years ago, and he rose from the dead by God's power so that anyone can be forgiven and set free from sin.

       God is here today to take the weight of your sins and failures off of your shoulders, to give you a new mind. By believing in Jesus for the forgiveness of the wrongs you did, you can be made to be at peace with God. He will forgive any and every offense for anyone who comes to him in agreement with him. There's no need to continue living with the weight of your sin on your shoulders. There's no need to live with regret. God can lift that burden off of you, and you can be made right with him today. Not only will you be in right relationship with him, but he also freely gives eternal life to whoever will believe in him. There will be no hell in the future for those who accept Jesus. There is no more condemnation for them. They are free: free to live and have a new life. You can have the mind of Christ.

       If you would like to accept Jesus today as your personal Lord and Savior, then just follow my lead in this simple prayer:

God, I have screwed up in my life. I have sinned against you, and against others. I have not lived up to your righteous standard. But I understand that through Jesus I can have forgiveness for my sins, that the weight can come off my shoulders. I want to accept Jesus' sacrifice on my behalf, and I believe that he rose from the dead. I turn from willingly doing wrong today, and count Jesus as my Lord. Please, change my life and make me new. In Jesus' name, Amen.

-Daniel Litton

The Queen Mary - 20
The Queen Mary - 69
The Queen Mary - 107
The Queen Mary - 101
The Queen Mary - 99