Posted in contemplative prayer, discernment, john macarthur, mind, renew the mind, speaking in tongues, transformation

"Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind"

The title of this blog essay is a quote from John MacArthur in the New Testament Commentary, First Corinthians. It refers to the verse below.

Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. (1 Corinthians 14: 13-19)

Even in Corinth during the early church, believers had a tendency to lust after the more showy Spiritual gifts, particularly tongues. Tongues were actual languages believers could spontaneously utter, not having studied or having any knowledge of the language at all, yet could speak it perfectly. This was a sign to unbelievers, a fulfillment of a prophecy given in the Old Testament. (Isaiah 28:11).

However today, tongues are seen to be a babbling gibberish that comes directly from heaven and falls out of the mouth, (to the edification of no one) thereby bypassing the mind. However this is not correct.

“Spirituality involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind.”

There are many spiritual activities today that directly exclude the mind. Contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) excludes the mind. How can this be? We are told to contemplate the Lord, (2 Corinthians 3:18, Psalm 48:9), so contemplation is good. We are told to pray, (Matthew 6:9-13), so prayer is good. How can both terms together not be doubly good? In the words of the inimitable Inigo Montoya,

THIS is how the unstable twist truth to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:16). Putting together two commonly understood words but using them in a different way than is commonly understood is a bible twist. For example, praying mindlessly. Putting words together that are commonly understood but creating a different context for them through continued spiritual activity is another way that the truth is twisted. For example, babbling mindlessly.

So the “modern version” of tongues bypasses the mind, and contemplative prayer bypasses the mind, and neither are valid spiritual activities grounded in biblical truth. Another activity where the mind is bypassed is what the Southern Baptist Convention calls a ‘private prayer language‘ AKA modern gibberish tongues uttered in the closet while praying. The notion is that when a person prays, God will sometimes utter gibberish that the speaker knows not the meaning of but is a direct communication between the Spirit indwelling the person and Jesus up above. Private prayer languages were explained (or attempted to be explained) back in 2006 when the SBC originally banned potential applicant missionaries if they confessed to speaking in glossolalia either public or private:

IMB board of trustees chairman Tom Hatley said that during candidate interviews, those who practiced a private prayer language gave differing explanations of it, varying from an angelic language to a “revelatory” gift of the Holy Spirit.

Thinking is what
clicks ON the Light

So, they don’t really know what it is, only that they do it. All the more reason to refuse to accept it. Unfortunately last week the SBC re-accepted the applications of potential missionaries who pray in gibberish. Sad. Tongues being gibberish isn’t supported by the Bible, the transformation of the biblical gift of tongues from a known language to today’s gibberish in modern times isn’t supported by the Bible, either. Possessing a Spiritual Gift and only using it for personal use isn’t supported by the Bible. Employing a Spiritual gift through the heart or body only and not the mind also, isn’t supported by the Bible. A Christian’s walk uses the mind AND the heart.

Let’s see what the Bible says about the mind.

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).

and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, (Ephesians 4:23).

Gill’s Exposition explains that after salvation/justification, the “progress and carrying on the work of renovation, the renewing of them day by day in the spirit of their minds,” i.e renewing the mind obviously includes the mind.

but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. (Romans 7:23)

Gill’s again, says that “the new nature in us, the principle of grace wrought in his mind, is called the law of it, because it was the governing principle there;” Our transformation begins in the mind.

The heart is transformed, surely, but the governing principle is the mind. The new mind is equivalent to the new inner self. We have the mind of Christ. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Whenever you encounter an activity that exults in the fact that the mind is emptied, bypassed, marginalized, or in any way not fully engaged, it is a wrong activity. Because God’s transformation of us begins in the mind, bypassing the mind is actually choosing to bypass His sanctifying efforts in us. Not only will we not increase in sanctification through contemplative prayer, speaking in gibbering tongues, uttering private prayer languages, walking prayer circles or labyrinths, chanting mantras, barking holy laughter, doing “holy” yoga, seeking visions in trances, any of that which denies the mind is actually denying the mind of Christ. These activities exalt the self because you are indulging the fleshly mind. (Colossians 2:18).

Back to the title, which is a quote from John MacArthur. The Bible shows us that sanctification involves more than the mind, but it never excludes the mind. Beware of activities that sound spiritual, but aren’t. You will know they aren’t healthy for you if they exclude the mind.

His mind is too precious to waste.

Posted in discern, holy spirit, jesus, mind, philip, study, understanding

Do you understand what you are reading?

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” This is a desert place. And he rose and went. And there was an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure. He had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning, seated in his chariot, and he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot. So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet and asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.” (Acts 8:26-31)

Above, The Monteleone Chariot is an Etruscan chariot dated to ca. 530 BC. It was originally uncovered at Monteleone di Spoleto and is currently part of the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Though about 300 ancient chariots are known to still exist, only six are reasonably complete, and the Monteleone chariot is the best-preserved. Wikimedia Commons

The above is a tremendous passage, full of meaning and worthy of lengthy study. I’ll mention a few things that caught my eye, but the central lesson at this moment, is this:

The mind versus the heart. Then versus now.

Philip was going along and heard a word from the Spirit. Philip obeyed Him. We have the closed canon now but we obey the Spirit-inspired word.

Here was a eunuch reading the text of the word of God. (Isaiah 53). Philip saw him and was directed to the eunuch by the Spirit. Philip obeyed, more than that, Philip ran. Today we don’t obey, or if we do, we don’t hasten to do so.

When Philip arrived at the chariot, he heard the eunuch reading Isaiah. Philip recognized:
–it was the word of God the eunuch was reading, and
–where within the word of God the eunuch was reading from.

Today, biblical illiteracy abounds so that some people don’t even recognize the word of God when it is spoken, or believe that non-words of God are from Him when they’re not.

Philip asked the Eunuch if he understood what he was reading. This is the key thought in this essay today.

“Do you understand what you are reading?”

Manet, The Reader, 1851.

In today’s world, people don’t ask that. They ask, “How did you feel about what you read?” Or, “How did it make you feel?” It’s considered rude and intolerant to ask a person if they understand. The word for understand in the context used is from Strong’s word concordance, “I am taking in knowledge, come to know, learn; aor: I ascertained, realized.”

People get huffy if they’re asked if they understand. You can just see the reaction, either verbal or mental- “What do you mean, understand? I’m not an idiot. Maybe YOU don’t understand!”

In addition, look at the Eunuch’s reaction. Philip didn’t know the Eunuch. He didn’t work for several years to establish a relationship with the Eunuch before talking of Godly things. He didn’t seek to meet the Eunuch’s felt needs. He didn’t make the Eunuch comfortable. He didn’t give him a donut. He simply asked him if he understood it. The Eunuch’s reaction wasn’t huffy or prideful. The Eunuch responded humbly,

“How can I, unless someone guides me?”

Today’s Christianity is all about experience and feelings. This is thanks to Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, and Joel Osteen, among others in the purpose-driven, seeker sensitive, word/faith movements. Osteen in particular is known for what Osteen calls a ministry of encouragement, but unlike Barnabas’ ministry of encouragement in persevering the Lord through the scriptures, Osteen is simply in the pop psychology biz in making people feel good about themselves through the heart. Osteen doesn’t make people even feel good about Jesus, he strives to make people feel good about themselves, turning their mind away from Him and focusing their feelings on themselves.

The Eunuch provides a good example of a man humbly submitting to the Spirit. He admitted his biblical inexperience and his need for a teacher. He acted on his need by inviting Philip up to the chariot.

Understanding the scriptures always leads to a positive action, either obedience, or salvation, or witnessing (Woman at the Well) or ministry. In this case, we see that the Eunuch was baptized immediately.

Lambert Sustris (1515–1591) The Baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch
by the Deacon Philip

The bible is replete with verses that tell us to learn with our mind. Our minds are being renewed, (Romans 12:2.) Difficulties in understanding parables such as in Matthew 13:11-13, and symbols, such as in Revelation 17:9, call for a mind with wisdom, says the verse. We need to understand with our mind, before we decide how we feel about it with our heart. And even at that juncture, feelings are often murky and misleading. Yet so many of today’s bible studies involve circumventing the mind and going straight to feelings, based on experience. And you see where that has gotten us.

The next time you’re in a bible study group, ask the question that Philip did, “Do you understand what you are reading?” If you don’t want to go that far, then ask “Do I understand what I am reading?” That’s a good question to ask anyway. Don’t let the discussion revolve around feelings launched by questions such as “How do you feel about that?” with responses given through personal experiences, therefore coming to a conclusion that is what the verse means.(I.E., ‘I experienced it, therefore it is true.’)

Luke 24:45 says that when Jesus appeared to His disciples post-crucifixion, “Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures”. He called the men of Emmaus foolish and slow of heart for not understanding.

How you feel about what you read is of no real consequence. Feelings are temporal, ephemeral, and often faulty. Why, even God allows the wicked to rest in a feeling of security. (Job 24:23). The security they feel is unprofitable for them because it is a false feeling. Don’t trust feelings about scripture, but seek to know, to understand, to comprehend. Feelings aren’t bad, but we learn the word of God through our mind. It is study which renews your mind. After that, you gain more and more clarity.

We all have the same guide that the Eunuch had, and in fact that Philip had: the Holy Spirit. He guides us into all truth. (John 16:13). We must study personally and also study under a guide or a teacher or a pastor so the scriptures will become understandable to us. Do you understand what you are reading? Ask the Spirit to deliver wisdom to you, He will do so without reproach. (James 1:5).

Posted in faith, mind, reality tv

Famous for being famous, some live unreal life on reality tv

I like reality tv cooking competitions. I don’t watch cooking shows, because I don’t really want to improve my cooking. I need to, but since I live alone, I can easily silence the critic. What I like about these kind of competitions is that I enjoy watching how people behave. The various competitions on other channels incite behavior that is too lustful or vicious. But on a cooking contest on Food Network, you have to be somewhat appealing anyway, if you are to get your own cooking show or have people buy your cookbook, or eat in your restaurant.
For some years now I’ve been watching Masterchef and Next Food Network Star and Chopped. I like that there is no swearing and very little of the worst parts of the culture (though it is creeping in now with many chefs praising their same-sex partner, or seeing the plethora of tattoos…).

But even in these innocuous shows there has been a recent and precipitous downward slide. I noticed this most starkly on the show that premiered this week, “The Next Food Network Star.” (TNFNS). It is season nine of this venerable competition. The premise is, the multi-week competition is a vetting process to unearth raw talent, and the last one standing gets their own show on the network. Who doesn’t like the story of the starlet sitting at a stool at the local drugstore in Hollywood and being discovered? Who doesn’t like the notion overall of discovering treasure? Of turning over a geode to discover the gem inside?

The thought that someone like me could find fulfillment in their dream of sharing their talent with the world is one that is universally shared, I think. The vetting process of TNFNS is one that transforms the roughness of the person into a talent that will yield something worthwhile- good food and time well spent with a nice person (on tv).

I was disappointed this week when the show premiered to see that there was a contestant that had already appeared on Chopped. Danushka Lysek. This seemed somehow…cheating. Then in researching further, I found out that MOST of the contestants on TNFNS had already appeared in other cooking shows, reality competitions, and/or television shows on other networks.

  • Chris Hodgson was on the Great Food Truck Race.
  • Viet Pham was on Extreme Chef.
  • Stacy Poon-Kinney was on Restaurant Impossible.
  • Connie “Lovely” Jackson was on season 6 of Gordon Ramsay’s H-ll’s Kitchen.
  • Russell Jackson was on Iron Chef America.
  • Nikki Dinki is a food blogger and youtuber but has appeared on The Sopranos as Bibi in the episode Johnny Cakes.
  • Rodney Henry was on Paula Deen, Down Home with the Neelys, Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Chopped.
  • Danushka Lysek, was on 24-Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped, The Bachelor, Models Edition Fear Factor VH1’s Supergroup, Fear Factor and now on TNFNS. (source & source)

So the upshot is, 66% of the contestants have had time on television, and 58% of them on previous cooking reality shows on the same network. Ugh. This is not seeking raw talent for a new show, it is recycling, regifting, and reusing. By any stretch of the imagination, this is bait & switch.

Let’s take a look at the contestant named Danushka, though. The fakery of reality tv is not my main point. It is this: for a large section of the population, the unreal life as presented on reality tv HAS BECOME their life.

Danushka has flitted from show to show, making a life career out of being on tv for the no good reason other than she wants to be on tv. A permanent dweller on reality TV, as it were.

Wikipedia explains this penchant, it is the phenomenon of being famous for being famous, epitomized in the model and celebrity Paris Hilton. “Critics also suggest that Hilton epitomizes the title of famous for being famous; she is an example of the modern phenomenon of the “celebutante”, the celebrity who rises to fame not because of their talent or work but because of their inherited wealth and controversial lifestyle.”

Was there such a thing as a celbutante in eras past? I believe not.

The term ‘celebutante‘ is also explained, “Famous for being famous, or famous for nothing, in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason such as acting, music, writing, politics, or modeling, or who achieves fame through association with a true celebrity. The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities. It was coined by historian and social theorist Daniel J. Boorstin. In his book, he defined the celebrity as “a person who is known for his well-knownness”. He further argued that the graphic revolution in journalism and other forms of communication had severed fame from greatness, and that this severance hastened the decay of fame into mere notoriety. “

You’re great, (Lincoln), you’re famous, (Coco Chanel), you’re notorious, (Charles Manson), you’re celebutante (Kim Kardashian). Decay was a good term to use in the decline of whom we exalt in culture. It is actually not just a slide into decline, but is a see-saw, with today’s version of celebrity disappearing from life into into the gaping maw of reality tv.

I’ve said many times on the blog that the media in general and the news media in particular is front and center on the war for your mind. It is the theatre of ideas, and what is presented to us is absorbed into our mind, and it transforms the mind. When we repeatedly see an idea presented as truth, we begin to believe it. If you doubt this process, just think back to Genesis 3 in the garden, and satan’s persistence in introducing poisonous ideas into the mind of Eve. It’s like for many people, reality tv is more real than life, and for some of those, constantly being ON reality tv IS their life. And if they are not, they are thinking about it. They have lost their grip on reality.

“Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.” (Isaiah 5:14)

This lure of television (or movies) is so palpable that it was spoofed in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory- the 1971 version. In that movie we get Mike Teavee, a boy who does nothing but watch television and thus, whose reality has been skewed by TV to the point that he always thinks he is on tv, and finally becomes a character who lives inside one, rather than a boy living in the world. And he’s happy about it.

The old black and white show, Twilight Zone, made a statement on this theme, too. It was in an episode called, “The 16-Millimeter Shrine”. In this episode, Ida Lupino played an aging, former movie star who lives and dreams in the past, constantly watching her old movies alone in her room. At the end, she walks into the movie, to forever dwell in the made-up world of film.

She dropped the scarf on celluloid but her manager found it on the floor in front of the screen as he watched her blow a kiss and turn to go up the stairs, forever to live in a made-up world.

Advertising executives, Political campaign managers, and Hollywood spend an inordinate amount of money to change your mind. Media has an incredible pull on the mind. For those who pooh-pooh that your behavior can change over time to be transformed to whatever reality it wishes to present, then why do they spend so much money attempting to do just that? We are influenced by what we see. According to an article in the American Psychological Association, “Vance Packard’s 1957 book, ‘The Hidden Persuaders,’ revealed how advertising agencies used psychologists and other behavioral scientists to probe deep into consumers’ minds and build advertising campaigns based on what they found there.”

I think ‘the hidden persuaders’ is a terrific title. It is very apt.

As a matter of fact, many ads are not simply to try and change your behavior from using one brand over another, but make covert and overt promises that if you use their brand you will become like the people they show you using it. “What’s really critical is to identify the beliefs ads should target, says Dr. Fishbein, PhD,” in an article looking at psychology and the bran and how it is manipulated in advertising.” [emphasis mine]

The cultural claim to your mind is big business and has been for over a century. “There are very many advertisements that do not pay. One man has roughly estimated that seventy-five per cent of all advertisements do not pay; yet the other twenty-five per cent pay so well that there is scarcely a business man who is willing to stand idly by and allow his competitors to do the advertising,” noted Walter D. Scott, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Northwestern University, in The Atlantic– in 1904. Fishbein continued,

“The struggle has been too fierce for any but the strongest. The inefficient advertisers are gradually being eliminated, and the survival of the fittest seems to be a law of advertising as it is of everything else that develops. The leaders of the profession feel that their work has grown till it is beyond their control and comprehension. They have been successful, and hardly know how it has all come about.”

He noted the influence of psychology upon advertising, even at that early date-

“The best thought of the advertising world finds expression in the advertising journals and in the addresses delivered by various experts at gatherings of professional advertisers. In 1895 in one of the leading advertising journals appeared the following editorial: “Probably when we are a little more enlightened, the advertisement writer, like the teacher, will study psychology. For, however diverse their occupations may at first sight appear, the advertisement writer and the teacher have one great object in common—to influence the human mind. The teacher has a scientific foundation for his work in that direction, but the advertisement writer is really also a psychologist. Human nature is a great factor in advertising success; and he who writes advertisements without reference to it is apt to find that he has reckoned without his host.”

The advertising of then has morphed into the Reality TV of today- advertising a better life, better people, an entirely new world that is yours for the taking…if you but walk into the TV (metaphorically speaking).

In the magazine Publicity in 1901, we read a quote, “But the future must needs be full of better methods than these to make advertising advance with the same rapidity as it has during the latter part of the last century. And this will come through a closer knowledge of the psychological composition of the mind. The so-called ‘students of human nature’ will then be called successful psychologists, and the successful advertisers will be likewise termed psychological advertisers. The mere mention of psychological terms, habit, self, conception, discrimination, association, memory, imagination and perception, reason, emotion, instinct and will, should create a flood of new thought that should appeal to every advanced consumer of advertising space.”


“…habit, self, conception, discrimination, association, memory, imagination and perception, reason, emotion, instinct and will…” pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it? This sums up an identity. The reality TV of today is branding us with a new identity, and blurring the lines of what is real and what is not.

The culture (that is to say, satan) wants to grab your mind. Jesus, once He elects you, claims your mind also. It is all about the mind. The struggle is not against flesh, but is in the mind, for your identity and youru reality.

“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)

The mind is the key to Christian life. Rewiring of the brain the mind is the key to Christian life, therefore its corruption in the believer is what satan seeks most.

For a non-believer, things are more dire, because satan already has your brain. (Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:17). If they absorb enough of the culture, their brain begins to accept that this is what life is. And if they absorb even more, their heart wants what the brain “knows” is real life, and soon they become a recycled person bouncing from ‘reality’ show to ‘reality’ show, thinking that you’re really doing something with your life. An empty mind (devoid of the Holy Spirit) will be filled with the things of satan and will see life through his lens. It really IS all about the mind.

For the believer, remember,

–We capture every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5)
–We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
–And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
–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 2:2)
“…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;” (Ephesians 4:23)

God is busy renewing the believers’ mind. He rewires it! He re-knits the synapses of our mind into His likeness, to be conformed to Him and away from the dark wiring of satan’s futility, but each time we allow something gross from the culture into it, we are untying the wires He knit together. Or at least polluting them so they work less efficiently.

It is so sad to see the pull of satan suck people into his vortex through the unreality of reality tv and other false media presentations. It is evident that some people live there permanently now. But that is what happens to the Gentiles who walk in futility of the mind. But the reality is Christ. (Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 11:1)