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Serious Minded

Serious Minded

One Head is Better Than Two

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The cliché “Two heads are better than one” intimates that it is better to get advice or opinions from another person when one is uncertain about something. Often, after a horrific incident has occurred, the news will interview “experts” or a panel of “experts” in hopes of getting some explanation as to why the heinous crime happened in the first place.

Those experts may give statistics or have background information on the victimizer and then, through deductive reasoning, psychological evaluations, and theorems, come up with a variety of reasons as to why the egregious act happened. Even with an educated and astute “expert panel” do their best to fill in the blanks, the human mind still wants to understand how someone could commit such a crime. And as important and useful as they may be, we often want something more, something higher than those evaluations and explanations to bring us the peace we so desire. I know that I do and when I do, I turn my questions to God, seeking His thoughts and His wisdom.

During my years of being mentored, prior to opening up my practice of mental health mentoring through the knowledge of God and scriptural text, my mentor shared with me, after I had asked her what she thought about a particular challenge I was having, that it didn’t matter what she was thinking, and that she was not in the practice or habit of sharing opinions. She added that she doesn’t carry opinions on anything, just the knowledge of what she has learned of God.

She further elucidated by giving me an example that remains with me as an invaluable concept regarding this subject. She taught me that the word “pinion” meant “the outer part of a bird’s wings” and that the letter “o” before the word “pinion,” as a play on words, could also be looked at as a zero. She concluded that opinions have zero wings to take flight. In other words, opinions have no credibility. (Similarly, I know an English professor who borrows Terry Cole-Whittaker’s book title and tells her students, “What you think of me is none of my business,” although she adds, “What you learn from me is.”)

My mentor then went on to say that leading someone to higher thinking is the best counsel to offer rather than telling someone what to do whereby robbing him or her of an opportunity to strive for the answers through praying and pondering. She also forewarned me that when someone offers a human opinion or mere conjecture, he or she could easily influence someone in a direction that God had not intended that person to go. This became a standard rule which I implement in my own practice, to recall that opinions are pace! As I usually do in all areas of my life, I decided to look up citations in scriptural text to support and reinforce my mentor’s wise counsel.

I discovered in Proverbs 18:2 that expressing opinions could make one look foolish for it is written, “A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV). In Isaiah 2:22, the prophet said, “Stop regarding man in whose nostrils is breath, for of what account is he?” (ESV) Namely, we put the credibility in man’s counsel.

That wise comment from Isaiah prompted me to think about how many billions of dollars are made annually in self-help concepts. When someone becomes famous, beats the odds, or has reached a high level of success, people want to know how that person did it and what the formula is. Some authors have devised a step-by-step method claiming that, if those steps are taken, then success will follow.

I am not suggesting that those kinds of stories be withheld—they can be motivating, useful, and even inspiring—but I am suggesting that each of us has our own individual path, and even if we were to try to follow another person’s path exactly, many variables would alter the journey and eventually the results. As Athos tells D’Artagnan in Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, “In general, people only ask for advice that they may not follow it; or, if they should follow it, that they may have somebody to blame for having given it.”1 We must each find our own path in our own way.

Someone once asked me why he had not yet manifested the success he had been fervently praying about for years. He explained that a man who had never played the lottery before won millions when he played it the first time. I didn’t suggest that he go look for a self-help book on How to Win a Lottery For first Timers and follow it step-by-step! Rather, I reminded him that it would be more efficacious to focus on his work and not become distracted with what others are or are not doing, to remain in steadfast prayer, trusting God would bestow His wisdom and insight as to the direction of his purpose.

He then asked me how he could discern between his thoughts and God’s. So, I referred him to Isaiah 55:8, “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (NIV).

Traveling the same thought pattern day in and day out can not only quickly become mundane, but it can also lead us to feeling unsatisfied, longing for something greater than we were told we could ever achieve. However, traveling on the highway of thinking, listening to God-Mindedness, the Head above all others, will elevate thought and open up new opportunities. It is more than possible, it is likely, by God’s wisdom to experience and manifest greatness.

In 1 Chronicles 29:11, it is written, “Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all” (NIV).  “As head over all”— if one does in fact accept that and believe it, one will experience the wisdom and knowledge of God with great understanding!

But how?

In the gospel of John 8:47, it is written, “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God” (ESV). Hearing God means that one must be familiar with Him, His ways, and His voice. Becoming familiar with someone requires spending time with that person to get to know him or her. It is the same with God.

Simply put, to hear God means to know God, and to know God means you will hear God.

I heard this profound Bible teacher once say that most people do so much talking to God that they are “down-right rude,” that we need to listen more to God if we are to get to know Him.

After having listened to (no pun intended) the professor’s sagacity, I decided to try it. I practiced remaining still and just listening. It took a while to settle in and remain poised and serene in prayer, but once I did, the inner voice of reason, insight, wisdom, and acumen became clearer and clearer. The more I prayed with humbleness and receptivity, the more I was led to what turned out to be healthy and uplifting decisions and experiences.

I have always been a fan of reading a psalm a day, and Psalm 139 is primarily dedicated to God’s omniscience or All-knowing. The idea of God knowing all our thoughts, not barring where we are each moment and never separating Himself from us, makes it clear why the author of Chronicles said that God is the “exalted head above all.”

Asking God, who knows it all, is far better than asking someone who is a know-it-all but in fact knows very little. Joseph Joubert, an essayist wrote, “Those who never retract their opinions love themselves more than they love truth.”2

By asking God, even if you must wait for the answer, the result will be the truth, without human infiltration. However, asking God directly may for some at first seem odd, yet if the Bible clearly instructs us and encourages us to ask God for wisdom then surely it must be a most useful idea.

In James 1:5, James said, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God…” and James continues in 3:17 with, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”

Is it possible that because we cannot see God that it is easier to lean on a person for counsel, direction, and understanding? Is it possible that we have forsaken the Creator and in place of Him we have set-up man, God’s creation, to be relied upon?

Maybe if we could see God, meet him for lunch, and converse with Him, or even email Him questions, we may be inclined to turn more to Him for answers than to family, friends, and others. I am in no way proposing that we do not receive useful information and most needed support from others, but I am submitting that there is no wisdom wiser than God’s! And He wants to share His wisdom with those who seek Him as an answer to their needs!

In Proverbs 21:30 the words of God are, “No wisdom, no understanding, and no advice [can stand up] against the LORD.”

It stands to perfect reason why when one is seeking answers, asking for God’s wisdom is the way to go! His wisdom is unadulterated, absolute, impartial, unbiased, and nondiscriminatory. As Albert Einstein said, “Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions which differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are incapable of forming such opinions.”


ESV-English Standard Version

NIV-New International Version

1 Dumas, Alexandre. The Three Musketeers. Bantam Books: Toronto, 1984. 300.

2 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Joseph-Joubert

The Ring of Truth

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What does a ring of truth sound like? This phrase derived from the idea that a bell that rings true is a bell that rings at a correct note. A note is a pitch of sound. If that sound does not vibrate correctly, it is called “off pitch” or “off key,” meaning the note is either flat or sharp and therefore must be adjusted.

I used to play an acoustic guitar, and before I played any song I had to tune my guitar. There are many ways to tune a guitar, especially now with instrumental tuning apps. Before tuning a guitar or any other instrument can be accomplished, you must match each chord or key with the note you want your instrument to imitate.

For example, on an acoustic guitar, there are 6 open strings: E-A-D-G-B-E. The idea is to get each string name to the proper note name. The result will be a guitar in perfect tune! The rest is left up to the musician to play the perfect melody.

I correlate the idea of fine-tuning an instrument to fine-tuning our mouths; our choice of words and how one might sound when he or she is talking. A negative form of speech is equal to an ill-tuned instrument, and a positive form of speech is equal to a tuned instrument.

Is it possible that speech can reflect perfect pitch?

In the letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul said in 4:29, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (ESV). So, the speaker and the listener are both blessed by mellifluous tones. If notes are played in harmony, we can enjoy the symphonious melody!

So how can people tune-up their mouths?

In the gospel of Matthew, 7:24, it is written, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (NIV). Now that’s a solid idea!

Whose words is Matthew talking about? God’s words! In order to emulate them, one must be willing and ready to study His word and become familiar to how it sounds and listen. And then, most importantly, practice!

When I played my guitar, practice was most essential for my progress. I would play one piece repeatedly until it was flawless; however, when it came time for me to speak, my mouth was not nearly as fine-tuned as my guitar. That would take a lot more practice on my part. In fact, when I was a teenager, my mom would say to me, “Watch your tone with me, young lady! That language you choose is very unattractive yet you sing beautifully. It just doesn’t make any sense. You should talk like you sing!”

Well, she was right! I spoke off-key, and my tone of voice was not in alignment with harmony!

In 2 Corinthians 6:15, the apostle Paul wrote, “What harmony is there between Christ and Belial?” (NIV)

Eventually, when my mouth got me into enough trouble, I had to make some radical changes! It was time for me to get in tune with God’s language, the language of Love. I knew that Love would not sound like an out-of-tune instrument.

One of the first ideas I worked with was in Jeremiah 1:9, “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put my words in your mouth’” (ESV). In Proverbs 10:31,“The mouth of the righteous brings forth wisdom, but the perverse tongue will be cut off” (ESV).

In wanting to keep my tongue (well yeah!) as well as sounding harmonious, I turned my ears to God’s mouth and listened. I began unifying His words and my thoughts. Then, I learned to appreciate their eloquence. With more and more practice (and still practicing!) of tuning my speech to His words, my tone of voice changed, and I soon found that my speech sounded like tones of Love!

Sadly, with the language of today, disharmony and adverse language have become the norm. Unfortunately, abhorrent language appears on TV shows and radio talk shows, and in everyday common language.

I doubt that anyone who has tickets to a concert, or any musical event for that matter, would be satisfied if the musicians’ instruments were out of tune and the singers were off-key. So then why do we accept disharmony in speech? And how does that contribute to elevating thought and uplifting humanity?

It couldn’t! It doesn’t! Unmelodious language leads to less rectification.

If we chose to fine-tune our speech to reflect and imitate Love, there would be more harmony added to the world. Then, people would have a ring of truth to whatever they say!

 

ESV-English Standard Version

NIV-The Holy Bible, New International Version. Nashville: HarperCollins, 2011. Online.

Walkers & Talkers

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Have you ever noticed anyone pacing while conversing on his or her cell phone?

I was recently at my favorite café, enjoying my decaf latte. The man next to me paced while conversing on his cell phone.

When his conversation ended, he went back to his seat, read the morning newspaper, and sipped his coffee until his phone rang again. He answered the call, got up, and began pacing once again.

Memorial Day

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Memorial Day, or what was once known as Decoration Day, is a time to demonstrate gratitude for the ones who fell in battle while serving the United States of America.

Originating from the Civil War, Decoration Day was based upon the idea that people would honor fallen soldiers by decorating their graves with flowers.

General John Logan, who was the national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, officially proclaimed May 5, 1868, Decoration Day.

Easter

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The Day of the Resurrected Christ

In the gospel of Luke, it is written in Chapter 9: 23-24, “Then he told all of them, ‘If anyone wants to come with me, he must deny himself, pick up his cross every day, and follow me continuously, because whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it’” (ISV).1

Easter is a time when Christians celebrate the resurrected Christ. And though bunnies are very cute, that is not what Easter is all about. In fact, is Easter even about Jesus?

Bulimia

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Divine Approval

I used to believe that food was my source of comfort and joy. That was until I found myself addicted to food and then it manifested into bulimia.

Bulimia is characterized by overeating, bouts of binging and purging. It preoccupies thought and distorts one’s self-image into a grave concept. Bulimia is a very serious mental health disorder that requires a drastic change in thought in order to manage it and heal it.

Limits or Limitations

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“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign

Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind

Do this, don’t do that.

Can’t you read the sign?”

–Five Man Electrical Band

 

Why all the signs telling us what to do? Well, I suppose that somebody has to, or we would be living in chaos, but who are those somebodies deciding what the limits are?

Happy Valentines Day!

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The facts vary as to how many Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged annually. The estimate ranges from 150 million to 1 billion! And that’s second to Christmas cards!

Either way, that’s a lot of well-intentioned love-thoughts sent out.

So how did all this Valentine’s Day hoopla begin? Much to our surprise, it turns out Valentine’s Day is tied to wolves! But how?

Texting

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Paying Attention Or Paying the Price?

 

“Each day in the United States, over 8 people are killed and 1,161 injured in crashes that are reported to involve a distracted driver.”1 Distractions while driving include eating, daydreaming, taking your hands off the wheel, and, one that has been buzzing since its invention, using a cell phone.

The Armor of God

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Ephesians 6:10-20 (ESV)

The Whole Armor of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19 and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.”

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