Archive for September, 2010

A Slap in the Face

September 29, 2010

“I have spoken openly to the world,”  Jesus replied.  “I always  taught in the synagogues or at the temple, where all the Jews come together.  I said nothing in secret.  Why question me?  Ask those who heard me.  Surely they know what I said.”

When Jesus said this, one of the officials nearby struck Him in the face.  “Is this the way you answer the high priest?”  he demanded.

“If I said something wrong,”  Jesus replied,  “testify to what is wrong.  But if I spoke the truth, why did you strike me?”  John 18:20-23.

Jesus reminds His accusers that pretty much everything He’s ever said has been reported back to them via someone.  They couldn’t catch Him out with some rumor because He spoke in the public places to the people where the pros and cons of what He taught could be discussed openly.  If He had not done so, they wouldn’t have had any interest in Him anyway because, most likely, they wouldn’t know about Him.  In fact, the reason they did know of Him at all is because He worked miracles, drew large crowds and generally stood out from the other self-proclaimed teachers or “messiahs” by not claiming anything about Himself.  Instead, He demonstrated who He was, what He could do and what He believed by example, being active in society and speaking openly.

Through His answer, Jesus reminds the priests and others present that they cannot convict Him through questioning Him alone for He had the right not to answer their questions at all.  Both His rebuke of the one who struck Him and reply to the high priest shows that He knew the law quite well.  The law was written to protect everyone, of course, but since all Scripture testifies about Jesus, I’m thinking the guidelines set up by Moses for trials and judging a person’s innocence or guilt also worked in His favor here.  He was innocent of their accusations, they couldn’t get two witnesses to agree on anything, which is a requirement of the law—which knocked their case out the door and should have set Him free.

The guidelines in the Law forbid this kind of trial, and that means this one had to be a railroad job and the Jews would be ignoring their own zeal for it by trampling on Jesus’ rights.  Their claims of devotion to Moses were proved false.  A trial of a heretic had to be conducted in daylight with all the elders present in by the city gate where the public could watch while going in and out.  There was no chance here for Jesus to call witnesses in His defense, which also went against the Law.  Jesus reminds them that before they can convict Him at all, by the Mosaic Law, they have to call all the witnesses to testify—both for and against.  He wasn’t given that chance due the timing of it.

The prevailing modern attitude about Jesus’ trial and crucifixion does lean towards it being unfair, but since we have built up a bunch of religious myths around it, we many times forget to think about the whole picture.  I’m not a detail warrior exactly, but, as the saying goes, “the devil is in the details,” meaning the real work and sweat comes from the little pieces being put together as opposed to the big picture they eventually create.  The details of Christ’s trial, as recorded in the canonical gospels, show a railroad job of the first order.

Why these powerful men were so opposed to Jesus is still a mystery to me.  The gospels don’t show Him ever attempting or even speaking about taking over the government, nor do they show Him talking about overthrowing the Romans.  So why the fuss?

Hebrews 12:3 Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

For sin to be shown as exceedingly foolish, Jesus had suffer at the hands of sinful men.  Oh, not men perceived as “sinful” by popular opinion, but those who’s reputations were above reproach by human standards yet harboring heart sin—pride of place, power-hungry, power-mongering, oppressive and God-less people.  Our Master refused to avoid the suffering set before Him, for the promise of the sheer joy awaiting Him at the end of His ordeal.  You and I are afraid of losing what little we have of value; He lost it all, though He owned it all.

“That’s all very well for Him to do this, ‘cuz He’s God’s Son and didn’t have kids to feed or bills to pay,”  someone might argue,  “but I’ve worked hard for what I have and I don’t see why God would want me to lose it.”

Or,  “What kind of God promises blessing then just gives us trouble upon trouble?”

Both good questions.

The problem with the answer (one answer for both) is that it requires a paradigm shift in our thinking.  Jesus warned us unless we were willing to lose all to follow Him, we could not be His disciples.  In other words, we have to lay our houses, kids, big screen TV, cars, bills, jobs/careers and even our self-image on the alter of the cross to follow Him.  In doing so we don’t stop taking care of them or being concerned about them, we just grow a different attitude about their value in comparison to what it means to follow Jesus.

Back to the text.

The man who struck Jesus did so unjustly.  Any Jew had a right to face his/her accusers and challenge their accusations.  His assertion that the priests and rulers already knew what He had been doing or said wasn’t disrespect but making them aware He knew about their spies.  Plus He wasn’t going to give them any more words they could twist than necessary for them to use against Him; He knew He didn’t need to for they would make it happen anyway.

There’s no record of what the man’s reaction was to Jesus’ rebuke for striking Him, but I bet He backed away.  He knew the law, knew that by Mosaic law he could be punished for his act, though in that context, with those men around him, I doubt He had any fears of this.  John records it as he saw it, probably never taking his eyes off Jesus.  If Jesus was a blasphemer, the law required Him to be stoned to death on the temple steps, not crucified.  Up until the verdict, however, no violence could be done to Him by that same law.

He submitted Himself to mockery and spitting, beatings and injustice for our sake.  He did it as an example we should follow; to encourage us to run the race with perseverance and determination.  Those who followed on His heels suffered much the same fate.

Last point before I publish this:  Jesus spoke openly to the world and hid nothing, though He rarely explained the parables to the masses.  He made sure everything that could be reported about Him left His accusers with nothing to say when the brought Him to trial.  In other words, they might twist what He said, but they surely couldn’t convict Him based on the content; and herein lies a great lesson for us as followers of Christ.  Our Master taught in parables in order to prevent those who might have bad reactions to the truth from gaining any ammunition for persecution, yet He instructed us,  “What you have heard in secret, shout from the rooftops…” (Jonny V’s paraphrase).  We are to be open about the truth of Jesus, while at the same time being wise as serpents, harmless as doves and not throwing our pearls before swine (swine in Scripture were a meat the heathen or apostates ate, which in this context is a symbol for teachings).

The writer of Hebrews spoke to them of this in 10:32-39 where he reminds them they were insulted in public, faced their possessions and property being confiscated, persecuted, and why?  They knew they had better and lasting possessions. Though these believers were scorned for their faith in an unseen, crucified and mysteriously “risen” savior, they stood firm, though some were losing heart.  But the writer goes on to say to them and, thus, to us,  So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.  For in just a very little while,  “He who is coming will come and will not delay.  But my righteous one will live by faith.  And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.”  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved.  10:35-39.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Hebrews 12:1, 2.

Advertisements

The Sin of Temptation

September 20, 2010

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet without sin. Hebrew 4:15

When tempted, no one should say,  “God is tempting me.”  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14

Temptation is not sin.  Being tempted does not mean we have sinned.

The thought has been rolling around in my head for a few months now concerning the contrast between these two.  Sin is the act of separating ourselves from God by refusing to conform to His character, which in action means we choose to live outside His thinking and way of being.  How does that look practically?  Well, I think it’s pretty simple to understand that sin is anything which extracts God from the equation.  For instance:  Eating the fruit from the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil resulted in sin not because the fruit itself had magical properties but for the attitude and act of going against God’s command.  Yet if Eve had walked away from the temptation without touching or eating the fruit, she would not have been guilty of sin.  The temptation to sin was not her sin but sin tempting her trying to inspire desire, and that’s an important distinction, to my way of thinking.

If Jesus was tempted in every way we are yet without sin, then the temptation itself is not our sin but sin itself attempting to raise our interest and subsequent fall.  Sin isn’t just breaking the Law or the Basic Ten, but denial of God’s character in either refusing to let Him be God or choosing a method outside the boundaries He set for creation.  For most of my life I saw sin as something I did wrong when in actuality it signifies a state being wrong in both thinking and action.

For instance, we all complain about the hypocrites in the church, and we should, they’re ruining Jesus’ reputation in the world.  What we forget is that we have sin we don’t bring out into the light either just like those we criticize as the worst kind of impostors.  Not only that but our attitude toward sinners who are all hypocrites to one degree or another keeps their mouths shut about their struggles with sin because they know they will be crucified in public opinion if ever they attempt to be honest about their sin.  So we develop a language by which we admit we are sinners but never admit the actual sin we are guilty of committing—in the end it means nothing but lip service to our reality in Christ.

Too many of us live in quiet desperation since we believe our current state of sin as impossible to confess yet feeling we need help to overcome it.  Some of us feel that if we are even tempted, we have sinned; and this is the issue I’m trying to address here.  Just because we are tempted by a sin does not mean we have sinned.  James says about it is because we let our desires carry us away that we get led into sin.

Jesus, however, gets it.  He understands us and wrote so much hope in the Scriptures to help us cope with the frustration, hopelessness and despair.  Consider Psalm 103:8-14:

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him; for He knows how we are formed, He remembers that we are dust.

What an awesome God we serve.  Since this is the attitude God has toward all sinners who serve Him, what should our attitude be towards those we know have either fallen or struggle with sin?

Who Knows the Fickle Heart?

September 16, 2010

“The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

“I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:9, 10.

The LORD calls our hearts “deceitful and beyond cure” as a means of setting up His next question:  “Who can understand it?”, one He answers in the very next sentence.  He searches the heart and mind for the truth of who we are behind our masks of self-righteousness or social normality.  He sees in to the depths of who we are and knows us despite our claims to the contrary.  Many times we fix our inner eyes on an image of who we want to be rather than acknowledging or even recognizing who we really are.  That very choice or attitude sets us up for self-deception and quite a bit of heartache.

I guess what caught my attention here was the fact God focused on the heart and mind then told us He rewarded us according to our conduct.  Putting those two areas together—thought as a form of action—seemed kind of incongruous to me because I’ve always separated them.  But if He searches our hearts and minds to reward us according to our deeds, then our thoughts and motives are weighed as actions not mere phantoms of thought.  This tells me Jesus wasn’t the first of the prophets to declare the thoughts of our hearts as subject to judgment, which means it has never just been about external actions with God but what motivates them.

The only one who can sort through our psyche and understand it at all is God.  We don’t seem to grasp our own make up.  I’ve watched the trends in psychology only about 30 years now (since I took nursing and caught the bug for it) and I must say that the changes in our methods or theories has changed, while not drastically, pretty constantly.  It’s almost as if we can point to the number of schools teaching psychology which exist as equal the amount of theories on the subject.  I know that’s not accurate, but it seems to me the means of grappling with the human mind vary widely and depend on the background or political leanings of those doing the research.  In other words, bias seems to be rampant in the interpretation of the facts or pseudo facts available.

I believe only God has the ability to sort the real from fake, the truth from fantasy, the fact from fiction.  Humans, as a general rule, hate the idea of sin—the very notion sets some people’s feet itching to run and others it simply ignites a fire under their desire to exterminate all proponents of the subject.  The more I study the Bible, Its stories and teachings, and human nature with its fickle-hearted attempts at reason, peace and prosperity, the more convinced I become sin is the only plausible explanation for what’s thrown a monkey wrench into the machinations of human relationships.

It almost seems too easy to explain away our penchant for self-destruction, domination of others and wholesale sense of privilege.  I know I’m sounding cynical, but it truly is more about being realistic in regards to human history.  We’re fascinated by the  macabre, obsessed with youth and most of us boarder on becoming hoarders to one degree or another.  Our fear of the future drives our need to accumulate, while our sense of self-importance (that which makes our needs more valuable than someone else’s) drives us to greed, positions of power and, for most, a sense of futile hopelessness that we will never get more than a taste of the good life.

Dog eat dog describes much of the business world.  Very rarely will I see a business that works for the welfare of others.  Usually competition takes us in the direction of eliminating any threat to our income, which then directs our efforts to stomp out those who would keep us from being top dog.  This attitude, of course, isn’t limited to businesses since I’ve seen charities and churches of all religions do it to other organizations within their own sphere of work.

Our sense of what is wicked and what is merely kinda’ bad differs from God’s version quite a bit.  We see the punishment for Adam’s sin of eating the fruit as almost over the top, God sees it as wickedness in action.  Our version points out those who spend their time in evil pursuits such as murder, embezzlement, rape, kidnapping, you know, everything we see in action movies.  God’s version of wicked points towards an attitude of the heart which separates us from Him.  In other words, if we feel the need to hide our motives or actions from Him, we stand convicted of wickedness.  Anything that goes against God’s character is wicked, evil and sinful.

I know those who try to separate the words down to different meanings, but the verse above comes right on the heels of the contrast between righteousness and sin.  Trust in ourselves (man) is rejection of God.  The act of rejecting God for something or someone else is evil, wickedness and sin.   Jesus claimed the pagans ran after money, clothing and food and water in their lost condition for they worried about all these things.  We, as His disciples, weren’t to worry about any of them.  Jeremiah 17 takes us a step further by making it a wicked act period to depend on humans for our answers.

God searches the heart and minds of those who claim to serve Him.  I won’t be afraid of this because I know I’m a sinner saved by His grace.  Yet, neither will I deny that I have fears which exclude Him as the solution.  I crave solutions to various situations and will grasp sometimes at almost anything to find an answer which gets me out of them.  God wants us to rely on Him—even when it seems there’s nothing but pain in the forecast.  Our attitude must reflect that of Job,  “Though He slay me, yet will I serve Him!”

The promise made to those who depend on God for everything is peace, supply and hope in the worst times imaginable because we are connected to the source of life.

A Matter of Trust

September 10, 2010

This is what the LORD says:  “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the LORD.  He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.  He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in Him.  He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.  Who can understand it?

“I, the LORD, search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”  Jeremiah 17:5-10.

Poignant in its simplicity, but I intend to expand on it anyway.

I’ve talked about trusting in man’s methods before so I’ll do my best not repeat myself.  However, there are a few differences here that stand out within the same subjects.  For instance, the man who depends on flesh for his strength is combined with one whose heart turns away from the Lord.  What we depend on for our strength to stand through trials or adversity will be our god, and in that dependence our heart turns away from the LORD.  Anything or anyone we use as our main source of strength or happiness beside God becomes our anchor/foundation and thus a god.  We don’t see it as turning away from Him, but He does, which implies rejecting His methods, teachings and lifestyle.

The curse for such people who depend on everything but God is compared to a dry bush in the wastelands.  No water, which means no nourishment from the soil, which means eventual death and becoming a husk.  The reason?  Well, the more I think about it the more I don’t think God is actually doing anything specific to them, rather when we move from fertile places where food and water are abundant (i.e. God’s heart), we move into a desert.  The further we move away from God’s heart and purpose for us, the further we get from security, life and any sense of happiness with ourselves.

As for those people who find a sense of happiness and contentment without God, I say that anyone who practices the mores or values of heaven will be rewarded—meaning whether they acknowledge God as Lord or not.  A person who adheres to God’s commands without knowing Him, acknowledges Him as Lord anyway—if not formally, at least in practical performance.  If the boundaries of marriage laid down by our God are respected by those who reject Him as their overt spiritual authority, they still acknowledge His way as supreme for success in a marriage relationship.

Yet their dependence is on themselves for their overall existence, which means they will reach a point where they meet the wasteland.

Those who depend on the Lord, however, either remain in the fertile land where He provides or move back to it.  So when the harsh times arrive, they have nothing to worry about for they know where to find comfort and help.  Not so with those who depend on themselves, for they can never control the weather, other people or circumstances brought on by the concurrent choices of many other people, for all their boasting about being in control of their own destiny.

I think the significant phrase above, though, is “he will not see prosperity when it comes” because it points us to what the real problem is:  spiritual vision.  Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.  Revelation—or “vision” as the KJV puts it—opens up the scope of human insight to contrasting mores.  Without being able to shine a light on a subject, the truth cannot be seen in stark relief against what is beside it.  Spiritual blindness ruins our insight into what is solid and what is imaginary.  We get fixated on something to the point that we ignore everything else.  Ever heard someone pray,  “Lord, provide *____*”, then watched them turn right around and ignore the opportunity to receive it because they obsessed on something they thought would answer the prayer instead of waiting on God?

What is prosperity anyway?  What does it mean to be happy and content?  What makes us feel like we matter and have everything we want?

And I saw that labor and all achievement spring from man’s envy of his neighbor.  This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.  Ecclesiastes 4:4.  Solomon nails the problem right on the head.  Humans are notoriously dissatisfied with what they have once they see the new *____* available.  We don’t seem to be able to share anything as a general rule for what we accomplish works as a means of “bettering” our lives but really only makes it more complicated and involved.  One person invents the latest flat screen TV and another, who has a perfectly good unit at home, begins to see how much better this type of TV would  be, so he works or goes in debt to buy one.  Though the invention is not only cool but phenomenal, from my perspective, it’s hardly vital to our lives.

So what makes us happy in the end?

To know we matter, have our needs met and have something worthwhile to do while we live.

Green leaves on a tree imply health and stability; water close by suggests an ample supply for the future.  Heat implies normal pressure and trouble, drought, disaster.  Now if this is what God promises us when we depend on Him, why would we do anything else?  The reason is we want life on our own terms, conditions and with the addendum written by us.  The problem here isn’t that flat screen or the job or who we marry but how deceptive our hearts become when we base our lives on a value system not fixed with God’s seal of approval.

Fruit, in God’s eyes, isn’t necessarily wealth for He owns it all and rains His blessings on the just and unjust alike.  So those who are fruitful are?…

We deceive ourselves so often into believing that accomplishment gives us value, then soon realize how fleeting such value is—a mere 15 minutes of fame for inventing or building or creating such and such.  Only historians, artisans in the field and a few enthusiasts remember most of the original inventors of the TV or movies.  The information is out there for people to find but they don’t care, and thus don’t remember.

There is no remembrance of men of old and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow.  Ecclesiastes 1:11.

Humans are desperate to matter, to leave a legacy which will not fade away nor be forgotten.  Our short lifespans, however, defeat this wish most emphatically.  One of the rewards of eternity is being remembered.  A man works long hours providing for his family and retirement, sacrificing time with the wife and children in order to provide a comfortable and secure lifestyle, only to lose them in the end.  He put the cart before the horse, valued the temporary wealth over those who made him happiest.  This is complete foolishness yet common practice.

I’ve heard the arguments fathers give their children,  “I’m working my butt off so you don’t have to…” or to their wives,  “Just a few more years, honey, and we can take that trip to…”  Fill in the blanks.  The most priceless gift we are given is “now” the moment we live in.  Tomorrow is never ours for our existence is simply too unpredictable to be certain.

In the NT Jesus cursed a fig tree which had leaves but didn’t bear any fruit.  No danger of that with the person who hopes God, who makes Him his refuge and comfort in times of trouble.  Those who depend on the Lord will bear fruit in season and out of season because they are connected to the source of life.

Self-imposed Worship

September 2, 2010

Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.  Colossians 2:23.

If you look at the list of things Paul calls useless, you’ll see they basically outline self-help/self-improvement methods.  I can see how going to a seminar might jump start a person’s awareness of the need to adjust and change, yet the methodology for the Christian is not focused on a program or business plan styled change of ourselves.  Rather our method is to conform to the mind of Christ.  As a person thinks, so they will live; as a person believes, so they will be.  Any one of us must go through certain processes for a choice to be made.  The speed with which we hit the goal will depend on how often we’ve made the choice, as in the more we choose a certain sequence or path, the faster we will move through it, until it becomes an un-thought out habit and we will claim it is natural to our make up.  The only interruption to this, of course, is to change how we think about the subjects or issues at hand.

Methods abound from every religion known to human kind.  It would seem that asceticism is out according to this passage.  Not that there’s anything necessarily wrong with being ascetic it’s just not effective when it comes to pulling our attention in the right direction.  We humans always go for the newest method of kicking bad habits, changing our defeatist attitude for a winning one and generally paying homage to any kind self-help/self-improvement courses by putting out hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for a weekend personal cheerleader.  Most ascetics tend toward isolation from the common practices of other people, in order that they might avoid the temptation of following them.  To most of us those who go monastic or become hermits for the sake of wisdom or enlightenment appear at the very least special, if not downright holy.

Asceticism on the other hand pulls our attention away from self-improvement to self-denial and “wisdom”.  Whether we recognize it or not this mindset is just the other side of the same coin, which Paul calls here in Colossians 2 “self-imposed worship”  and claims it lacks any ability to help us at all.  He also calls it “false humility” followed by treating the body harsh—inferring there is no reason for such treatment.

Those who practice such  ethics indeed worry more about themselves than they do about God, for where the eye is focused will be where the highest value is placed.  When we worry so much about our own purity, perfection and standing before God, we aren’t looking to Him for the answer nor trusting Him with the solution.  Instead we run after any solution that seems viable to our limited understanding, which in the end is like using a water diet to solve a weight problem—it might work but the body is depleted of solid nutrition in the meantime and other far worse problems surface—like starvation or anemia.

Christians who look for any solution to their sin problem other than God set themselves up for failure in the long run and run the risk of becoming their own god.  Anything which replaces God as the source of solution becomes a god; and the same can be said for anyone.  I’m guilty of falling into this for I look to human reasoning to deliver me from bad habits, loneliness and a host of other issues that crop up.  The goal, according to Paul, is to restrain sensual indulgence, a thing self-imposed worship, false humility and harsh treatment of the body have no power over.

What is the method of choice, then, for restraining sensual indulgence?

A change of heart that only God can bring about.  The whole thing comes down to submission to God’s will, purpose for us and His teaching.  He is right, anyone who disagrees with Him is wrong.  But does simply acknowledging that God is right change our minds about how to act or think?  Not really.  The real change comes in submitting to the way He thinks about stuff—like relationships, for example.

So how does trying to change ourselves equal self-imposed worship or false humility?

Easy.  When we are more focused on our change than we are on God, we are not focused on God.  To have the mind of Christ in us we have to be filled with a vision of Him, our minds have to focused on Him instead of our failures or efforts toward self-improvement and our thought-life must take on His processes.  Anything else is merely human effort trying to imitate the mind of God, which is false humility since we cannot accomplish what He alone can do.  I believe Martin Luther said once,  “There are some people who become so humble they’re proud of it.”  In other words, outward humility holds no value for those who truly want peace of mind and contentment of the heart because we take the credit for ourselves.

Yet a life lived outside of the common travails and joys of relationship is not going to discover wisdom or enlightenment because the only place God has placed it is in the midst of the body of Christ.  God is a relational God, so His church is a relational group of people.  Outside of this reality there can be no true wisdom for it subtracts the very fire of testing that any said wisdom might bring about.  Where are we tried to our breaking point?  In the midst of other believers and the common interactions with humanity in general.  What our minds are filled with will be what we do; again, what we have as the core of our thinking will dictate how we act.

If we want the mind of Christ, He has to be the center of our thinking, the essence of what makes us tick.  The only way for this to happen is if His thoughts fill up our minds to the exclusion of all other thoughts.  This means our lives are lived in harmony with His will only when our minds are fully convinced of His truth.  How we think about relationships will dictate how we approach them, deal with them and treat others.  How we think about business will dictate how we conduct it on a daily basis.  If we believe in our core that we solve our own problems by ourselves, any claims to trust in God for our outcome is a lie and we will conduct our daily routine as we always have—nothing will change.

But if we believe only the attitude of Christ can conquer our worry, stress, bring about happiness, contentment and fulfillment, then we will live with His teachings about such things at the center of our thoughts and conform them to His mind as taught by the Scriptures.  The depth of our change depends on how deep we allow God to go with us.