Present Perfect Chapter 4

I don’t know about you, but last week was a blur. I didn’t do as well as I would have liked at practicing the presence of God moment by moment. I’m not beating myself up because those moments are gone. The moment I am in right now is the one I’m enjoying and being reminded of the great love of God and His kindness to me! I hope you will do the same!

Chapter 4 is entitled Single-Mindedness. In it Boyd explains our predicament in a way that is very helpful. When we are born, and our brain is developing, everything we are exposed to is building our awareness of and influences our interpretation of our world. Our parents, our culture, the media, our friends, our varied experiences play a part in the programming of our brains. Boyd writes, “Unless you’ve taken intentional steps to change, the way you presently experience yourself and the world around you was mostly chosen for you, not by you.” Most likely this programming didn’t include the awareness of God and His love being present moment by moment. This brain function void of God is called the flesh mindset. It is what keeps us from enjoying the life that is truly Life that God intends for us.

The thing is, we aren’t even aware of this! Our brain runs on auto-pilot on the software which was programmed into it unbeknownst to us!  Boyd says, “To the extent that the way we experience ourselves and the world is determined by our flesh – mind-set, we live as semiconscious slaves to whomever or whatever programmed us.” Oh wow!!! Read that again. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live that way!

Now, when we become followers of Christ we are forgiven of our sins and are given a new nature instead of our former sinful nature. We are “in principle set free to enjoy God’s abundant Life.” The thing is, we have to do something about that programmed flesh – mind-set. It just doesn’t disappear into thin air. “Our brain continues to operate with the same autopilot programs it inherited before we surrendered.” That is the challenge of the Christian life. Not living from the flesh mindset but living by the new mindset of Christ which we have access to in God’s Word and through the Spirit of Christ who now lives in us! God will never force us to think a certain way. We choose to follow Him moment by moment which is why this practice is so vital to our lives!

Boyd then talks about double-mindedness which is knowing what we should do, how we should live, but doing and living otherwise. “As we noted in chapter 2, what we consciously believe has little impact on the operation of our flesh mind . . . Once activated, our automatic programming bypasses our conscious awareness – including all the things we consciously believe. This is why acquiring information in and of itself isn’t able to bring about lasting transformation. The truest and most insightful information in the world won’t change us so long as our moment-by-moment experience of our self and interaction with the world is dictated by our programmed flesh-mind. We’ll simply become a slightly more informed slave to whomever or whatever programmed us.”

Boyd explains that this is why:                                                                                                         ~we can know we’re loved by God yet feel unloved                                                                   ~we can be forgiven of being greedy but still spend too much money on ourselves     ~people can know adultery is wrong but find themselves cheating on their spouse

Boyd doesn’t say this, but this is why I believe that Christians have the reputation of being hypocrites. We are loved and forgiven by God and we know the truth, but we are still living by the preprogrammed flesh mindset. We haven’t reprogrammed our brains and this is done moment by moment day after day for the rest of our lives.

Boyd says, “No amount of resolutions, sermons, Bible studies, self-help books, or conferences will rectify this situation if they just provide us with more information. There is only one thing to be done, as James says, and that is to submit ourselves to God – not just intellectually, theoretically, or abstractly, but truly. Which means, submitting ourselves in the now – for the only actual life we have to submit is the one we have this moment.”

The answer to double-mindedness is to become single-minded! The way we do that is to live our life “against the backdrop of God’s ever-present love, moment-by-moment . . . .”

We can do this! If you can chew gum and walk, you can do this! If you can talk on the phone while you wash dishes, you can do this! If you can listen to the news while fixing dinner, you can do this! It’s not that we stop what we’re doing, but that we’re mindful of the presence of Christ in all we do!

Boyd gives three ways to practice this. One is committing each task we do to God. It’s one of the most reliable ways to “stay awake to God’s presence and ensure our thoughts remain captive to Christ. . . . As you engage in any task, commit to doing it for God. It helps to vocalize your thoughts and intentions. As you carry out your task, you might say things like, ‘I offer this task up to you Lord’ or ‘This present moment is all that matters, and I offer it up to you.”

Another exercise is to think in terms of “We”.  I think most of us talk to ourselves in one way or another. This practice transforms that behavior. Boyd quotes Frank Laubach, “Instead of talking to yourself, form the habit of talking to Christ . . . . Make all thought a conversation with the Lord.” Even when reading a book, “keep a running conversation with Him about the pages you are reading.”

Boyd says, “No aspect of our flesh – mind-set is more deeply embedded in our consciousness than our proclivity to be self-absorbed. Our fallen ‘I’ is at the center of the universe. Cultivating the habit of thinking as a conversation with God rather than merely talking to ourselves is thus challenging to say the least. Ask God to help you think of creative reminders. For example, before reading a book you might insert little sticky notes throughout the book that say things like, ‘Remember, Jesus longs to read this book with you.’ With persistence, you’ll find that over time thinking in terms of ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ gradually becomes more natural, which indicates that your very identity is being shaped in relation to God rather than merely in relation to yourself.”

I can’t wait to try these this week!

Once again, I’ll close this post with Boyd’s prayer:

“Ever-present and ever-loving God, we confess that we have often been conformed to the pattern of this world instead of being conformed to the image of your Son. Free us to be wholly yours in this moment and in every moment.”

Amen

 

 

 

 

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