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David Dealy: Transforming The Mind, Romans 12:2

May 3, 2022

Audio Recording

As we first turned away from God in our thoughts, so it is in our thoughts that the first movements toward the renovation of the heart occur. Thoughts are the place where we can and must begin to change. There the light of God first begins to move upon us through the word of Christ, and there the divine Spirit begins to direct our will to more and more thoughts tha can provide the basis for choosing to realign ourselves with God and his way.

Renovation of the Heart
David Dealy: Transforming The Mind, Romans 12:2
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Sermon Transcript:

:00 You're listening to a live recording from Westside church in bend, Oregon. Thanks for joining us.

00:06 So let's set off this chain reaction, this like leave Twitter moment. So there was like this movement leave Twitter and people were doing it for all kinds of reasons. But I read this article in the New York times. It's by column this Pamela Paul, that was super interesting. it's an whole titled goodbye to you. and here's what she says about this Twitter moment. She says, yes, we know the discourse on Twitter is vial. Yes. We know that people who are delightful in real life, metamorph into, on line reactionary, trolls and virtue, single, signaling vigilantes. Yes. The social media landscape is populated by basement dwellers and Russian bots. Yes, everyone is terrible on Twitter. She says, but I left for a different reason. I left because I am terrible on Twitter. I may not be the only one, but Twitter me is petty insecure, desperate to please angry narcissistic and needy.

01:19 She ends her article with this thought. Is it possible that on Twitter, we all become the worst version of ourselves. Now I don't have any reason to believe that Pamela Paul is a Jesus follower and the likelihood that she's been tuning into west side kind of tracking our formation series is low to very low possibility. Pamela, if you're watching welcome, we're so glad you're here. but she is speaking to something that we are leaning into. And that is that as human beings, we are formed. We are shaped. We are cultivated by the things around us, what we set in front of us, what we consume, the environments we enter into, they shape us last week. pastor Bo started off, this new series on spiritual formation. And now that that phrase spiritual formation might be, unknown to you. But if you grow up in the church, there's a very similar idea.

02:21 It's called sanctification a very similar to spiritual formation. And is this idea that the time we say yes to Jesus, when we make the decision to say yes to Jesus, we enter into a journey, a process where we hold up, the person of Christ, the word of God and the holy spirit, it to be the thing that shapes us and forms us into Christlike people. That is the process of spiritual formation. It's a process we enter into. And quite frankly, we're swimming upstream. We are swimming upstream. There are a lot of forces that shape and cultivate and form non Christlikeness in us. That's what our friend Pamela is talking about. She was shaped. She could tell the kind of person she was things. She said, her attitude, her, her being was being formed in this specific environment. And so she chose to get out, shut that off and get out.

03:29 And what we wanna talk about today is just as Twitter can be an example of forming us into hyper opinionated and petty narcissistic people. We can reverse that we can change trajectory. It's called the way of Jesus. And it is a way we enter into and be formed into Christ likeness. And that is the journey we go on with Jesus that at the end of our lives, day after day, week after week, month after month of setting our eyes on in Jesus, that we become more gracious. We become radically forgiving. We become, uncompromisingly gracious, just patient joyful, even peacekeepers. Some of that sounds like me some of the time, a lot of it sounds like me not often. And this is the process I enter into that as I pursue after Jesus, these things are actually formed in me. I become more Christlike. So for the next five weeks, we are looking at some of these areas that we will be shaped and formed in here at the church.

04:40 we're still arting today with the transforming of our mind, the way we think the way we think about ourselves, the way we think about God and how that shapes the way we think about the world around us, then we're gonna talk about our will our character, and then our bodies, our social dimension, and finally our soul, how our soul is full warmed into Christ likeness. And I wanna say this it, this takes time and intention. It takes time and intention to walk in the way of Jesus. It must be purposeful today. We're focusing on the transformation of our minds. Second, only to scripture, the guiding kind of focus of this series is Dallas. Willard's classical book renovation of the heart. If you haven't read it, I suggest it it's weighty. It's a bit academic, but it is like a gold mind of thoughts on spiritual formation here is Willard's definition of the spiritual formation of our thinking. He says the intention to be formed is to have the great God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ as a constant presence in our minds, a constant presence in our minds, Crowding out every other false idea or destructive image, all misinformation about God and every crooked inference or belief.

06:13 It happens when we invite Jesus to be present in our minds and our thinking. And if what scripture says about the tendency to be shaped in our thinking is true. And we get conformed by all of these forces around us. And it's so clear that the New York times can write an article telling us this is happening in real time. Then we should take seriously What God says about us, what he says about himself, right?

06:45 Dallas Willard says one of the most important ways that we allow Jesus to be present in our thoughts in our minds to take up some head space and push out the non Jesus stuff. One of the most important ways we do that is taking seriously God's word. He says the most obvious thing we can do is to draw certain key portions of scripture into our minds and make them a part of the permanent fixture of our thoughts. Think it's like the pillars that hold up a cathedral. There are few things that keep that thing standing. There's a lot of decoration, a lot of beauty and space, but there are a few things that hold it up. And Willard is saying, what are the pillars that are holding up your thinking? He says, this is a primary discipline for the thought life Centering on God's word, letting it it be a permanent fixture in our thoughts. If we're gonna correct our thoughts into the way of Jesus, we need to take seriously and chew on chew on what God says about himself, the world and us Romans 12, two says this do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Now, when I hear someone say Romans 12, two says,

08:14 Wow, my attention span volume, like interest all go down. Just so I'm just being really honest. I'm a pastor, you guys, and this is true. I grew up every, almost every Sunday in the church. I went to a Christian high school. I went to a Christian college and I've been in basically around ministry in some way, shape or form my entire professional life. So when someone says Romans 12, two says, heard it it's stitched on pillows. It's a, on the posters in the hallway. It's on that guy's bumper sticker who just cut me off, like who cares, who cares? And what I, what I wanna say to you is like scripture can, and as we're thinking, processing our thinking scripture can be like the billboards on the highway as we are cruising through life, like saw it, not sure what it said. Think there was a hotel involved, moving on. I got places to be. We blow through these things. And so today we're gonna to pause and we're gonna chew a little bit. Eugene Peterson says that we should treat scripture like a dog, treats a bone. We should chew on it over and over and over until we get into the marrow. That's on the inside of it. Break that sucker over open. There's good stuff in there, but we gotta chew. We gotta learn how to chew.

09:44 So today, as we chew on Romans 12, two, we're gonna pull out two specific words in, in this piece of pasture, pasture passage, it says, do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Let's pull out conformed and transformed. What does it mean? Let's chew on it? What does it mean to be conformed? What does it mean too? Conformed? The word picture is like the dunes in the Des. They're so passive. They're so passive. The sand just shows up. It has no intention or direction. And the wind moves the dunes every day into a new shape, into a new space they're shifting constantly. And the sand doesn't do anything about it. That is to be conformed as this passive posture. And I wanna tell you guys, if, if we take this seriously, our role in the world right now, we gotta be honest that the American church has been passive for so long. We have taken a passive posture. Hold on. Well, I'll be there. I'll be there Sunday. I hope Steve's funny. I hope Evan's inspirational, Ben. We don't worry about Ben. he's kidding. I love Ben.

11:10 We take a, this passive posture, which means not just that we just sit there, but we are being shaped. We are, the forces are moving and we are cultivated informed by something. Conforming is allowing all of these other things to shape and form my thinking. My being my body, my engagement transformed is not a passive word. Transformed is an active, engaged word. Think of the, the transit law, Atlantic carriers, those giant ships that leave from from long distances. And they set out and they don't say, as they come outta the Harbor, we'll see where this one ends up and once see where the ocean takes us today. They're gonna get a bunch of stuff. No, they set off and they have a destination and they have a trajectory. And every day they are moving, it is moving for a purpose to get to where they have set their trajectory to take them. It is an enga engaged, active word. Don't be conformed to the patterns of the world. Don't be passive and, and let yourself be shaped by all these other things. Engage church, turn on power up, engage to be Christlike. This is the journey. This is what we all walk into when we say yes to Jesus.

12:38 So we're going to, practice this engagement, this, this transformation of our minds. We're gonna practice it this morning in two pieces of scripture. All right. Isaiah 64 8 says he says this, and we're what we're doing with is, is we're gonna take what the word says, and we're gonna chew on it together, right? We're gonna be, active, engaged in the transformational process. We're gonna engage with it and just talk about what comes up as we chew on this. And then we'll look at another piece of scripture that is meant to inform the way we think about this passage. All right. So here we go. Isaiah, 64 8 says this yet. You Lord are our father. We are the clay. You are the Potter. We are all the work of your hand. If you've been around Jesus stuff for very long, you've probably heard this. You've seen it stitch somewhere. It's a popular one. One of the things I love about the Bible is it can be so complex and so simple at exactly the same time. And it should, it is meant to mess with us. It's meant to turn soil, to break things up and turn it over to be cultivated.

13:56 And Isaiah starts with this little phrase. He says, Lord, you are our father stop. Father language is tricky. Father language is tricky.

14:13 Maybe you grew up in, in a home where FA to you brings up feelings of delight of love. Maybe you'd say my dad was so kind. He was so good. He was so present. My dad was my best friend. I hear people say that dad was my best friend. That was that's beautiful. It is awesome. It's how it should be. And I will say that is the, my minority of people's experience. I know because I sit with you guys, we process this together. And as you get into any one's story, the father role is, is so central to the way we see and think about ourselves. So most people would say, father means fine. Okay? Hardworking career focused provider, Not bad things, but is that it? And then in the worst cases, Father's like a really abusive word. It's a harmful word. It means mean spirited. Can you see if we just would let ourselves chew on these tiny little moments in scripture and explore what is happening in my head? When I read these things, if I actually don't pass it on the highway, but I chew it like a bone. What do I think about what this says,

15:42 Lord, you are our father. Is that good? Is that a good thing? Are you a good father? Are you like that guy? What does it mean? We need to chew it. Isaiah continues on. And he, he says, we're clay and God's the Potter. Well, he's forming us. That's cute. It's a cute idea. I feel like a lump of clay. Some days just show up, But Clay's a very passive thing, right? It doesn't fight the doesn't argue with the Potter. If you sprinkled a little Imago day, like image of God on that clay or, or better yet, like see us Lewis in, lion witch in the wardrobe, Aslan breathes on these stone statues and turns out they're actually beans. And with thoughts and feelings, if that was the clay and that's us, We would ask for sure, does this guy know what he is doing? Is this an experience putter are, are, is this like an ashtray or a teacup situation? Like, what are we talking about with my life here? Do I trust you? Are you good? Are you good? You guys, that is a central question of this journey. That should, if you let it be implanted, as we process who we are, who God is, what is going on in the world is God good is a central question to the human experience. It's so central. That is the first question we encounter in scripture

17:16 In Genesis. God has created this, this garden. And he walks in the cool of the night with Adam and Eve. It is this picture of just perfect presence and relationship, so accessible, so good. And it says that Satan enters the picture. And when you hear sat and I don't want you to think of Pitchfork in the, the horns in the red jumpsuit and like the weird beard that's flush that we made that we made that up. Okay. That's that's not Satan. It is the word Satan. And it means the accuser, The accuser steps into the garden. He deals in ideas. He deals in thoughts. He's not a warrior king that comes to fight for territory. This isn't Thor with his hammer who comes to battle God, he's a voice who asks is God really good? He doesn't say God's bad. He just asks is God really good? Did he really say that about you?

18:31 Hmm

18:33 He's probably holding something back. I bet. He's trying to trick you Guys at the center of like our world and being in spiritual life is a battle for what we believe about the character of God and who we are. What will we, what will we allow to shape that way of thinking? That idea is God good? Cuz it just, it is. We sang it just a second ago. Your love is a firm foundation. I'll build my life upon. Will you? If he's good, do you believe he's good? So how do we know? What can we do when Isaiah says, Lord, you're our father. Father's tricky is a good father and we're the clay and you're shaping us. Do I trust the Potter? Quite honestly, Is God good. Willard, Dallas Willard would implore us to keep reading Because scripture says that God was not content for us to just wrestle through these questions. Wasn't content to be far off and let us flounder. It says he moved into the neighborhood That Jesus moved into the neighborhood. Jesus moved to bend. And this question of his God, good Jesus answers. And he answers us in a story

20:07 In Luke chapter 15, Jesus is setting out to Teach us to set our thinking on that important question is God good? And he says, he tells us a story, which I love about Jesus. I love that he didn't go into theology. He told us a story. I'm not gonna read it to you, cuz I want you to hear it. And if you need to close your eyes, close your eyes. I'm just gonna tell you a story shortly. Your Bible, has the header on this portion of scripture, Luke 15, it says the story of the lost son. But that was added later. It's not the story of a lost son. It's not even the story of two sons. It's a story of a very good father. It says this. It says that one son came to his father one day and he says, I wish you were dead. I wish you were dead. Cause if you were dead, I could have all the stuff that's coming to me when you actually do die. I wish I could just have my inheritance. Right, right now. And in the, for some reason we don't understand, the father says, okay, it's cheers. Half of all, I own cheers. And the son takes it peace out. And he goes to Vegas

21:39 And he has a great time. Women, Alcohol, every pleasure front row seat said every circ day, sole He withholds nothing from himself. Every pleasure, every desire, everything. And it says that he burns through everything. His father had given him. And at that moment, a Fama, a drought comes to Vegas surprise And The sun ends up in the fields working. He's working with pigs and that's significant. He's working with pigs. See pigs in, in Hebrew culture was the most vile animal. It's dirty. It's unedible it represents UN cleanliness, ungodliness. It is like the lowest of the low. You can't even own pigs. And here he is living with them. He's so hungry.

22:44 He would eat the pig's food if they would let him. But they won't. And this idea pops in his head. Well, my dad's his successful guy and the guys who work for him, they get three meals a day. I'm just gonna go back and he won't let me in the house, but he'll gimme a job. I bet. So he practices his speech, dad. I'm so sorry. Really messed up here. blew everything and just wanna work for you. And so he he's walking the road home and he he's practicing his speech. And maybe one of the most important pieces of scripture, Jesus tells us who God is In this story. It says that the father, While his son was a long way off, His father saw him. And he ran to him. This, the picture of this father sitting on his porch. Was it a month? Was it a year? Was it many years? We don't know. Father's waiting, watching the horizon line For any sign. And he, while he's a long way off, he doesn't wait for him to get there. And grovel, he runs to him and he throws arms around him and he kisses his face

24:11 And the son starts his speech. Hey, I'm sorry. I messed up. And it says, father didn't even hear him. Here's his words. Cuz he was already yelling to the crew back at home, fire up the barbecue, get the music going. We're gonna party. We're gonna party. It says he puts a ring back on his finger, which is this representation of restoration That he's back in the family. He, he hasn't lost anything. He's right where he was first when he was born into that family. He's right back in that spot again. And they party and they party. And it's such a good party that the second brother Who has been working all day in the field, he hears music And he is on his way back. And, and he sees one of the guys, the crew and he's like, what's going on?

25:00 He

25:00 Said, oh your brother's back. Who Your brother? No. And it says, the brother, second brother is angry, righteous, anger. And he stomps back to the house and he won't even go in. He's so angry And says that the father knowing his son is outside, leaves the party. And he will walks out to him. He says, son, come in. And the brother says, what Are you thinking? This guy, This guy who blew all of our stuff, who soiled our name? Who threw it in your face? The, this guy you're throwing a party for him. I do everything around here. I do everything for you. You never threw a party for me. The father says to him, Son, you don't understand. There's a bigger picture here. I love you. You and everything I have is yours. And you are with me always, but your brother was dead And now he's alive. He was lost and he's come home. And why this story is so important. You guys It's cuz Jesus is telling us who God is. That question of, is he good? He tells us who he is. So as you go into your week, this week in your marriage, in your parenting, in your work with your neighbors, every part of your being has to filter through this story. When you are far gone and, and done the worst and lost everything and been flippant toward who God is, he runs, he is running to meet you.

27:08 And in your worst times where you are self righteous punk, he leaves and comes to you and invites you back. And we are both those things you guys in the same day, all the time. And he is gracious. And he said, as he's good. So then what will we believe? What will we think of this father? Let's pray.

27:36 God, thank you for your word. I believe it is alive. And if we treat it as a living breathing thing that wants to talk to us, God, it will treat hands, form every, every part of us. And so I pray for my brothers and sisters in this room and those listening, Lord God, with the truth of your pursuit of your beloved, you call us your bride, that you are just infatuated with us. You love so deeply with the truth of that up. Every other part of us, Lord, the way we see ourselves as sons and daughters of this good, generous kind forgiving father. And as we do that, Lord, would we be the presence of those things to everyone around us for your glory in Jesus name? Amen.