PRACTICE RESURRECTION…IN YOUR THINKING!
April 19, 2015
The blooms have dropped off the lilies and the chocolate Cadbury eggs are starting to fossilize. Easter is but a distant memory.
But could it be that Easter is not just a day nor even a season…but rather a lifestyle? Could it be that resurrection is more than just a belief we voice in a creed? Could it be that resurrection is, as the famed Kentucky author, poet and farmer Wendell Berry puts it, something to be practiced?
If we would meet the risen Christ, then we must learn to practice his resurrected presence on a daily basis—in our relating, in our giving, in our witnessing, in our dying and, yes, in our thinking.
Most certainly the Apostle Paul was on a first-name basis with Jesus his risen Lord. Consider these words of the Apostle Paul in his letter to the Philippians:
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.
This morning I want us to ponder what our lives and our faith would be like if we learned to practice resurrection in our thinking.
SOME RANDOM STUFF TO THINK ABOUT…
Did you know that the average person has 10,000 separate thoughts each day? That works out to be 3.5 million thoughts a year. If you live to be 75, you will have over 26 million different thoughts.
Already most of you have had over 2,000 separate thoughts since you got out of bed this morning. You’ll probably have another 8,000 before you hit the sack tonight. Then you’ll start all over again tomorrow.
Every one of those 10,000 thoughts represents a choice you make, a decision to think about this, and not about that. Suppose someone gave you $10,000 this morning and said, “Spend it any way you like as long as you spend it all before you go to bed tonight.” You’d be careful how you spent it, wouldn’t you? I’ll bet you’d sit down and take inventory of what you could do with that much money.
How sad that we devote so much time to how we spend our money and so little time to how we spend our thoughts. How sad that one seems so important and the other so trivial.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Beware of what you set your mind on because that you surely will become.”
Norman Vincent Peale preached, “Change your thoughts and you change the world.”
Henry Ford gave that truth a different spin when he declared, “Thinking is the hardest work in the world, which is probably why so few people engage in it.”
Country singer David Ball lamented, “I’ve got a thinking problem—she’s always on my mind!”
Legendary golfer Arnold Palmer had this saying on a plaque in his office:
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win but think you can’t,
It’s almost certain you won’t.
Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster
But sooner or later, the one who wins
Is the one who thinks he can.
Yes, we are what we think. God gave us 10,000 thoughts today. What do we do with them? How do we practice resurrection thinking?
RESURRECTION THINKING IS…
Well, Paul reminds us that Resurrection thinking is:
Moral – we focus on that which is true, right and pure.
Instead of dwelling on what’s in it for me, we dwell on what’s in it for God and my neighbor. We don’t scheme and connive and do unto others then run.
We find more to do with our time than leering and lusting and envying. We stay committed to taking a higher, and narrower road.
Elaine Bergh related to me this week about how she had accidentally left her cell phone on top of her car as she ran some errands last week. She was panicked. After calling it most of the afternoon and then early evening, finally someone picked up. Someone had found her phone near the L & S Diner and had turned it in there. He or she could have conspired to sell the phone and make a few bucks, but instead they thought of doing the true thing, the right thing, the pure thing.
Resurrection thinking is also
Magnanimous – we focus on that which is noble and admirable. We dwell on big-heartedness, not tight-fistedness. We contemplate possibilities for making life better for others and then follow through.
Last Saturday morning Valerie, Allison and I were eating at the Waffle House in Waynesboro. It’s my favorite breakfast joint. I get the All-Star special—waffle, bacon, scrambled eggs and grits. Best coffee in the world! It’s good!
Well, we finished dining and I asked the server for the check. She leaned over and quietly whispered, “There is no check. Someone took care of it.” “Really,” I replied, “Who?” She said in a whisper, “He would kill me if I told you…but it’s that gentleman sitting at the counter. Every Saturday morning he comes in, has breakfast, then pays anonymously for the meals of some other persons also.”
I later watched him leave with a smile on his face, then drive off in his Ford F-150. What a nice, generous gesture!
Resurrection thinking is moral, magnanimous and…
Magnificent – we focus on that which is lovely, excellent and praiseworthy.
I remember one particular Monday spring morning at my former church in Lynchburg. I arrived to work at my customary time around 7:45 am. It was going to be a particularly busy day as we were making preparations for a funeral that week.
As I turned the key in my office door, Barbara, one of the day care workers, passed me in the hallway. Stifling a yawn, I greeted her with, “Well, Barbara, another day, another dollar!” Without batting an eyelid, in her usual, cheerful manner, she smiled replied, “And ain’t it a blessing!” Then she rushed back into her room full of energetic children.
I stood there a moment and thought about Barbara. There was a faithful Christian saint if there ever was one. She had already been there with those kids since 6 am, just as she did every morning. The children absolutely adored her as she did them.
When she got off in the evening, she spent the rest of the day caring for her disabled husband- a construction worker whose truck had been hit by a train at a railway crossing, leaving his arm mangled and his mind feeble. She also had her elderly mother living with her, making constant demands on her time.
In my opinion, Barbara had very little to be so upbeat about. And yet, she saw magnificence in that that day, and every day, while I saw only the mundane.
I remember going back outside in the church courtyard, and simply standing there for a while, gazing at the sunlight streaming down through the kaleidoscope of colors emerging on the trees and in the flower beds, framed by the blue sky above.
And I remember thinking to myself, “This is the day the Lord has made, and Barbara has reminded me to open my self-centered eyes to rejoice and be glad in it!”
Resurrection thinking is moral, magnanimous and magnificent. Such thinking has the power to change our lives and our world. How does it happen?
RESURRECTION THINKING BEGINS…
When we place ourselves closer to God.
We pay attention to God through listening to and obeying his Word. His Word provides a foundation and a compass for our lives. It is a lamp unto our feet and light unto our path.
We pay attention to God through prayer…daily conversation with our Maker—not just talking, but also listening for the impulses of his Spirit to guide us.
Through drawing closer to our Lord, we see our daily circumstances through a different set of lenses. We are able to deal with the struggles while rejoicing in the victories.
But having said that, resurrection thinking also begins
When we distance ourselves from negative people and negative situations.
So often we allow ourselves to be surrounded and permeated by toxic folk and their narcissistic worlds.
Now sometimes it’s out of our control. We are forced to work alongside or go to school or live next door to persons who have “buzz kill” tattooed to their foreheads. They enjoy percolating negativity and poisoning everyone else’s coffee with it as well.
But then we also find ourselves willfully befriending negative people, joining in and enjoying the hayride down into the gutter—gossiping, hating, tearing down. My daddy used to call it becoming herdbound.
We become whom we associate with. Their snarkiness, their cynicism rubs off on us. We begin to only see the bad in everything. And the Christ in us is no longer recognizable.
There’s an old yarn about fellow named Oliver who had a down-in-the-mouth neighbor named Jed. Every morning they’d meet out at the mailbox. “Nice, sunny day, isn’t it, Jed?” “Nope, sun’s gonna burn up my tomatoes!” Or, “Nice rain we had last night, Jed?” “I suppose so, but I’m gonna have to mow the grass today.”
One day Oliver figured out a way to get a positive comment out of Jed. He invited Jed to go duck hunting. And he brought along a special dog.
While out on the lake, a duck flew over. BLAM! Jed picked him off. Suddenly the dog jumped up out of the boat, walked across the water, fetched the duck, walked back on top of the water, hopped in the boat, and plopped the duck down at Jed’s feet.
Oliver knew that after 10 years he was finally going to get his poor-mouthed neighbor to say something good and positive! “Hey Jed, what do you make of that dog?”
“Sorry dog can’t swim!
Maybe Oliver should have just thrown Jed under the boat! What do you think?
Finally, brothers and sisters, Paul writes, 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.
What would your life and faith be like if you practiced such resurrection in your thinking?
Could it be that it is time to ask Christ to change your mind?