Fixing the Mind

Good morning. It is Friday, October 2, 2015.

Today’s word of the day is peripeteia. This noun means, “a sudden turn of events or an unexpected reversal, especially in a literary work.” The last month for the Texas Rangers has certainly been a peripeteia!

Today is Name Your Car Day. While I don’t refer to it often, my Hyundai Sonata is named Amadeus.

So the Texas Rangers won last night, beating the Angels 5-3. This accomplished two things. It eliminated the Angels from contention for the division championship, and it clinched at least a Wild Card spot for the Rangers. Their magic number to win the division is now 1. Houston remains in the second Wild Card spot by 1 game. The Twins and the Angels are tied, 1 game behind the Astros. There are three games left, and anything could happen between those three teams.

The Red Sox finally lost to the Evil Empire, giving the EE a playoff spot and their 10,000th win. The thing is, the Sox were playing some secondary players in the game, which is fine, since the game really didn’t matter to them. They did pretty well, too, in my opinion. The score was 4-1, which is a respectable baseball score. As far as standings go, there is a three-way tie for fourth place in the AL East (or last place, if you want to look at it that way) between the Sox, the O’s, and the Rays. Again, with three games remaining, anything could happen. The Sox close out their season with the Indians. Baltimore finishes the season against NY, who wants to have home field advantage for the WC game. Tampa finishes against Toronto, who is fighting with KC for the best record in the AL, which would give them home field advantage for all AL playoff series.

Yesterday was another pretty heavy day at work, but I left at 4:30, because Thursday is Christi’s Huddle night. As I meditated on yesterday morning’s devotion, it occurred to me that I was, once again, guilty of allowing people and circumstances to steal my joy. As a result of that, I had a pretty good day, yesterday, maintaining a joy in the Lord that I am not always able to maintain. The verses from yesterday spoke to me frequently, throughout the day. I hope to continue that trend today, especially in the face of impending overtime, this evening.

Tomorrow will be our last Saturday worship service, as Sunday mornings will begin next weekend, when we are in Mexico.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Heart Aflame)

but they mixed with the nations and learned to do as they did.
They served their idols, which became a snare to them.

Psalm 106:35-36

” . . . we are more inclined to follow the example of the bad than of the good. . . . nothing is more dangerous than associating with the ungodly; because, being more prone to follow the vice than virtue, it cannot but be, that the more conversant we are with corruption, the more widely it will spread.” (p 276)

Calvin goes on to say that the utmost care and caution are necessary, for he knows that we must associate with such people in our lives. How would we be salt in the earth, otherwise? This is why we must take care to be deeply entrenched in the Word and prayer.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In this section, Timothy Keller begins looking at three stages of meditation described by John Owen, British theologian, in his book, The Grace and Duty of Being Spiritually Minded. To begin with, Owen makes a distinction between meditation, Bible study, and prayer.

It is distinguished from the study of the word, wherein our principal aim is to learn the truth, or to declare it unto others; and so also from prayer, whereof God himself is the immediate object. But . . . meditation . . . is the affecting of our own hearts and minds with love, delight, and [humility].

Owen’s first stage is what he calls fixing the thoughts, “selecting and getting a clear view of a truth from the Bible.”

By solemn or stated meditation, I intend [first] the thoughts of some subject spiritual and divine, with the fixing, forcing, and ordering of our thoughts about it. . . . [It is] the actual exercise of the mind, in its thoughts, meditations, and desires, about things spiritual and heavenly. . . . They mind them by fixing their thoughts and meditations upon them.

Keller goes on to describe and illustrate several methods of getting “such a clear view of a text.” The first is to read a biblical text deliberately, asking ourselves four questions:

  • What does this teach me about God and his character?
  • About human nature, character, and behavior?
  • About Christ and his salvation?
  • About the church, or life in the people of God?

As an example, Keller leads us to John 2:13-22, where Jesus drives the money changers out of the temple.

The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.

What can we learn about God from this text? “We might see that God cannot be taken lightly, that he is holy. In his presence, his ‘house,’ it matters how we live.

What can we learn about ourselves from this passage? “It might strike us how important it is to concentrate on him during worship, and not daydream about other affairs.”

What about Christ and salvation? “Jesus is not only predicting his resurrection here, but he is also claiming that he is the ultimate temple, the bridge over the chasm between God and humankind.”

And what about the Church, God’s people? “We see how important it is to learn the Scripture, even though it may take time and patience to understand and rejoice in its teaching.”

We will continue later with other methods and examples of meditation, based on Scripture passages.

Father, as I continue to learn about meditation and prayer, I pray for the discipline to take passages of Scripture and ponder them in these various ways. I tend to rush through reading, and even thinking about passages, largely because I have read them so many times. Help me to slow down, to stop and ponder, even passages that I have had memorized since I was very young. Take these truths and implant them in my heart!

I pray for this day, that our travel to and from work will be safe and smooth. I pray for Christi’s day, that it will be a good day, without stress. Show your joy to her and help her be a beacon of light in the darkness. I pray that same for my work day. Help me to maintain the joy that I know in you; make it truth in my life. May I display your kingdom in all kinds of circumstances. I pray that we might not have to work terribly late, this evening.

I also pray for the rest of our family. For Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama, may you show grace and love to them today, drawing them to your light and peace.

May you bring comfort to the community in Oregon, shattered by the senseless violence of yesterday. In light of this and other troubling circumstances in the world, I say . . .

Come, Lord Jesus!

The first stage of meditation, and possibly the most difficult in our culture, is fixing the mind. May we be able to successfully fix our minds on Christ and his truths.

Grace and peace, friends.

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