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Thinking without prayer, without the Holy Spirit, without obedience, without love, will puff up and destroy (1 Cor. 8:1). But thinking under the mighty hand of God, thinking soaked in prayer, thinking carried by the Holy Spirit, thinking tethered to the Bible, thinking in pursuit of more reasons to praise and proclaim the glories of God, thinking in service of love–such thinking is indispensable in a life of fullest praise to God. (John Piper, Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God)
Teaching ourselves to think, and engaging our minds regularly is a discipline in life. The importance, I believe is that God has given us minds (as he has given us bodies) that can reason higher and deeper than any of his other creations. He has allowed us to think deeply, so that we might understand Him more fully. However, I believe that mind is similar to the muscles in our bodies. Our minds are made up of neural pathways. Without getting all crazy, and scientific, the neural pathways are forged when we learn something new. The more that we do, or use that information, the deeper the pathway becomes, and the more connections it makes to other pathways. The deeper and more connected the pathway, the more fluent we become in using that skill or information. So, just like our muscles, if we don’t exercise our minds they may atrophy as well :)!
In today’s world we are bombarded with information. There is nothing we can’t find out via internet. We accept beliefs of this world, because we haven’t fully thought through or deepened our understanding of the things of God. And, I believe that truly to live out a Christian worldview, one needs to know and understand not only the things of God through His word, but the things of the world, and where they come from. We need to be educated about the things currently happening in our world so that we can look to God’s word and what He says about those things. All of this requires exercising our minds, so that they will know how to think critically when it is necessary.
As a teacher, I truly believe that everyone can learn. I know (as a Special Ed. teacher) that learning can be harder for some than for others. However, where ever you are starting from, the mind is one of God’s most precious gifts to us…so let’s talk about some practical ways to use it.
Duh…you say! Well, I mean more than just reading a happy little novel. I don’t think those are wrong, or bad, and they do often cause a great deal of thinking (I have read both Little Bee and The Help in the last 6 months). Fiction causes you to use your imagination and make sense of non-literal language. But, I do believe that we need to be reading more than just make-believe stories. I think that as believers we need to read books that challenge our thinking on theology, and current events. It helps keep your mind working, deepening those neural pathways, and making sense of what you believe.
Here are a couple of my go-to authors (all but Malcom Gladwell are Christians):
- John Piper
- Kevin DeYoung
- Mark Driscoll
- Malcom Gladwell
- Timothy Kellar
- John McArthur
- D.A. Carson
Obviously I love writing. The reason I like writing is it forces you to condense your thoughts, and make some sort of sense of what floats around in your mind. It is a synthesis of what those neural pathways! It also gives you something to go back to later on, to look at where you were, and what God was teaching you at certain times in life. Writing forces you to process what you are thinking about, and I think that is super valuable.
Here are some ideas of how to write:
- Private Blog (that never gets read by anyone but you)
- Notes (short ones) in a notebook
Staying up on Current Events.
God’s word speaks to the world and culture around us. He has given us all that we need for life and Godliness IN THIS WORLD. However, in order to accurately view the world, or respond to it with God’s world, we need to know what is going on in it! News sources are the best way to do that! Here are some that I think give a good picture of what the world believes, and what happens day to day.
- FOX NEWS
- E! News
- Time Magazine
- National Geographic
**I am sure that you think I am crazy to list People and E! News, but if you want to understand the culture you live in…these are absolute experts on it!**
Listening to Podcasts, Discussions, Debates.
There are thousands of these, but it is always good to hear people discussing certain issues making points that support their beliefs. It helps you to process where you fall, and which lines of logic make the most sense!
There are tons of Podcasts on iTunes, and I like the round table discussions at the Gospel Coalition’s website!
There is great understanding when you know the history behind a certain place, or event. When you are reading about a person, place or event, look up it’s history. It often gives you great insight into things that are happening currently.
What do you think? What helps get your brain working???
Lord, I pray that You would help us to use our minds well. To seek deeper understanding of both your word, and the world around us. I pray that in so doing, we would not become puffed up, but that as we study more, we would be more enthralled by who You are, and more desirous to share Your truth with a lonely, sinful world. Sharpen our minds, that we might judge rightly. Thank you for giving us the ability to think, help us to use it well, and to glorify You with it!