Wednesday, May 11, 2011

“Remember This...”

There is an insane amount of amazing ways that God has designed our bodies and in particular our brains to work. Recently, I learned about one of those ways that in turn affects every aspect of our lives. At the base of our brain stem is a cluster of nerve cells called the reticular activating system (RAS). This enables us to deal with the constant and countless stimuli we encounter throughout each new day and our lifetime--think sights, sounds, smells. The RAS enables us to determine what needs to be noticed or should go unnoticed, a type of mental radar system.
In his book In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day, Pastor and author Mark Batterson explains how he first learned experientially about this amazing aspect of God’s design for our brains:

“I was writing and thinking about Lions so much that I started noticing Lions every place I looked. I noticed lion logos. I noticed how many T-shirts have lion designs. And I noticed lion statues in front of countless DC buildings. I’m sure they were there all along, but I hadn’t noticed them. Why? Because I wasn’t looking for them. I didn’t have a cognitive category for lions. So what happened? In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day created a category in my reticular activating system. I now notice lions wherever and wherever I see them.”

Now, this can be a life-changing truth for all of us if we allow it to be. This God-given design is relevant to how we spent the time we are given on planet earth.
Think about the people you know that you call a “prayer warrior”. It’s not so much that prayer changes things but that praying regularly and intensely to the Lord of Heaven and Earth changes you. God designed it to work that way when He uniquely created the human brain. In prayer, God is ultimately the one who does anything not simply a specific type of prayer. But isn’t crazy to think that the one whom we pray to also designed in us a mechanism that we would be able to utilize if trained in order to see Him at work concerning the things we seek Him about.

Please don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that having a Jesus Bobblehead on your car dashboard or that using a Rosary or even praying the “Prayer of Jabez” over and again is the answer to keeping Jesus and the things of the Lord on our minds. He is not a gimmick or a good-luck charm to be manipulated. Nor is He a media gimmick to be used as an agenda much like the billboard I saw years ago that had a artwork rendering of Mary nursing the baby Jesus while written beside it was the phrase “if it was good enough for Him, it’s good enough for our children”. Too bad that image stuck in my personal RAS after all these years...
Likewise, unfortunately there are other abuses of this mechanism in the Christian church today when people say things like, “the Lord has show me Favor and given me....(fill in the blank with any type of selfish agenda)”. Churches or church leaders walking all over people in order to get to their agenda because it’s what works(philosophy of pragmatism vs. servant heartedness).

This, I firmly believe is also why in Scripture we see direct or indirect challenges to keep the truths of the Lord always before us, in particular by what is on our minds and what we train our minds to be set upon. Our single combatant against the ungodly philosophies is God’s written Word and consequently our minds trained to be set upon it filtering the things we encounter. The reality here is what we are promised in Ephesians 2:10 to be transformed into the “workmanship” of doing the good we were created to do “in Christ Jesus”.

Below is a List of Scripture that reveal this connection between thinking and doing concerning the life of Faith in Christ. Most of them were incidentally written as passages given as a “charge” to the original hearers or readers:

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”
Deuteronomy 11:18-19

“I have set the Lord always before Me” Psalm 16:8

“and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” Matthew 28:20

“This is why I write these things when I am absent, that when I come i may not have to be harsh in my use of authority--the authority the Lord gave me for building you up, not for tearing you down” 2 Corinthians 12:10

“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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Philippians 4:8-9

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” Colossians 3:2


You see this truth about “remembering” yourself or who you are in classic books or movies or even in songs. It is a gift that God has given to us to be used, as with all things to know Christ and to make Him known.
So, whether you are like the author Chad Gibbs who utilized his “love” for SEC Football to point others to the grace of Christ, a teacher who sees life through the eyes of the learner and therefore enables them to truly learn, a singer/songwriter looking for that perfect song, a Pastor needing a new passion for sharing the word of God and leading a congregation toward God, a mother who changes the world one child at a time, or any other number of talents and abilities, I challenge you with this charge to REMEMBER this: the Love of God in Christ exists for you and for you to share. Set this blaring truth as forefront on your personal RAS and watch just how you begin to “see” the Love of God all around you at work in places you never imagined.
Begin in your own heart and mind to REMEMBER THIS or as Albert Camus stated, "In the midst of winter, I finally learned there was in me an invincible summer." Start also with the meaning of this poetic and timeless message of this song written by a married couple back in 1991...

“When you sing
The sound disappears
As it moves through the air
But the music still rings in you ears
When you laugh
The feelings release
And they soon fade away
But you know that the laughter was real
When you wish
You could capture this moment
And hold it inside

Remember this
Beyond this moment
The love of God exists
When the music fades
And your feelings change
You must remember this
When today becomes tomorrow
This is my only wish - remember this

When you hear
Each word ringing true,
As if written for you
Keep their meaning in your memory
When you know
Beyond any doubt
This is true love you found
Don't forget it when the passion fades
When you wish
You could capture this moment
And hold it inside

Remember this
Beyond this moment
The love of God exists
When the music fades
And your feelings change
You must remember this
When today becomes tomorrow
This is my only wish - remember this”


Lyrics to “Remember This by Out of the Grey written by Scott & Christine Dente’ and Charlie Peacock 1991

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