Saturday, December 5, 2015

Renewed Thinking for a New Year

One of the early indicators that revival and reformation are coming to the Church is when we begin to realize God is renewing the way we think. Each new season requires an adjustment in our thinking in order to move us forward into a fresh expression Kingdom life and revelation.

As we approach the threshold of 2016 the Lord is inviting us to take inventory of our thoughts to help align our thinking with His heart and Kingdom purpose.  Normally, I calendar a time at the end of each year to process these things with the Lord before the New Year comes, but this year an event took place that began that process a month early.

When the Paris terrorist attacks occurred our daughter, Anna, was completing a month-long teaching trip that began in Morocco and ended in Paris. She was part of a team helping people learn how to become storytellers. On the day of the attack, Anna had walked through the very neighborhood the terrorists first struck only hours before. When Anna and her team heard the first reports of the attack they gathered together in an apartment only a quarter of a mile from the café that experienced the first assault. The nation of France went into lock down.  The borders were closed. Anna was scheduled to fly home the next day. Her return home did not look like it would happen.

Jan and I knew nothing of what was taking place in Paris.  We received a cryptic text message from Anna saying, “I am OK.  We are all together. Safe.” I immediately went to a European news outlet to find out what was happening and watched the developing story as it continued to unfold.

When we first heard the news, Jan and I began to pray.  We also took our initial thoughts captive and submitted them to the good God who loved our daughter and in whose hands she was held.  Anna and her friends remained safe throughout the night and the next morning were able find a taxi driver willing to take them to the airport traveling along the deserted and fearful streets of Paris. They made it to the airport in time to board their return flight home.  Anna’s text message sent from the seat of her return flight brought us great relief.

The attacks in Paris caused me to pause and reorder my thinking for the coming year earlier than normal. I believe the Lord had a purpose in this earlier review of my thoughts. As a result, I came away with several points of reordered thinking I feel were not only words for me, but for the larger Church as we consider how to represent the Lord to our families, our nation and the larger global community in the coming year.

Thoughts to Reorder Our Thinking for the New Year

Taking the higher road of faith in seasons of intense cultural stress will always seem foolish to those on a descent into fear.

The higher road of Kingdom thinking is always up – up and above our current understanding of reality. The road of descent into despair and over-reaction is an easier road to take because it is navigated downward by human emotion and logic without the uplifting effect of the Spirit’s wisdom.  The higher road will require faith to navigate because it is paved with things not yet seen with the natural eye. Those who are descending may call you a fool for following this higher path of faith, but in the end its destination will be your testimony of God’s faithfulness.

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

An image of goodness has the power to displace an image of sorrow.

Today, take a break and turn from the images of sorrow and the overwhelming struggles taking place in culture. I had to do this with the repeated images of horror I was seeing from Paris. Reset you sight to heaven where you now sit with Christ at the right hand of the Father.  This is your current reality and God’s preferred future for each broken person and every painful situation you will encounter in the coming year.

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” (Colossians 3:2)

Forgiveness is the highest form of spiritual warfare.

Jesus was sent to set the captives free.  He died and rose again to offer all of humanity the gift of forgiveness.  Forgiveness is the starting point of all He does in our lives. Without forgiveness a new beginning is not possible.

Every new thing God does in our lives can trace its beginning back to an original work of forgiveness.  As you consider the possibilities of 2016 make sure you have allowed that work of forgiveness to have its way in each of your relationships. This will be a fight, but well worth the effort. You will know you have forgiven when you no longer desire to punish the offenders in your life.

“So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

A captive thought can no longer move with unrestrained freedom.

Every thought we entertain requires the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A thought not submitted to His Lordship will represent another kingdom and its failed disposition for the affairs of life.  Jan and I had to repeatedly take our thoughts captive because our distance from Paris did not allow us to help our daughter in any tangible way.  In these moments of disconnect it is easy to feel helpless and grow desperate.

Do not allow any thought to linger without requiring its submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. As this process of Lordship deepens in your life you will begin to evaluate your thoughts with the mind of Christ. This renewed thinking will bring freedom and peace.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 10:5)

Hope is always present in each and every circumstance of life.

The fear currently invading the minds of our culture wants to invade the thinking of the Church. Fear comes when hope is absent. Our hope is not anchored in political resolutions or the temporary alignment of earthly kingdoms.  Our hope is secure in heaven beyond the influence of earthly matters.  Our faith is a tether to that anchor.  Each time we choose faith in response to fear we will feel the tug on that line reminding us we are not flailing about in life unattached to something eternal. We are always secure in Christ no matter what takes place in this life.

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” (Hebrews 6:19)

Our minds are being filled with an increasing display of images fueled by despair and grief.  I saw a lot of those images coming from Paris as I waited and prayed for my daughter to return home.  In that personal drama, I discovered once again the power of prayer, worship and words of hope. These spiritual disciplines have the ability to transform how we see the events of this life and give up hope in times of uncertainty. 

The power of reordered thinking allows us to see this life from heaven’s perspective. That is the perspective of reformation and revival. God has a distinct impact planned for our lives to make in the coming year. That impact will be traced back to how we allowed ourselves to think.

Our cooperation with the Spirit as a renewed thinker will yield supernatural results in 2016. Get ready! The goodness of God is coming in force to displace the works of darkness. The reality of this goodness requires a renewed mind to believe in its possibility.

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