Well here I am seventeen hours later and back in November 9th for the second time. (Yes, I realize that I am a bit behind on posting this.) I am hanging out in the Denver airport, watching the snow fall! So I am experiencing both a time warp and a weather warp—it never, ever snows in Okinawa. My sandal-clad feet are more-than-a- little chilly, and my scarf isn’t quite cutting it in the drafty outback of the commuter plane parking lot. It is at this point on a long trip that I am feeling groovy, and I am trying my best to convince my confused body clock that it really is 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Not really working for me at the moment. That’s probably enough about the adventures of airline travel. Let’s talk about something a lot more interesting.
Transformed by the Renewing of Your Mind
If you have little boys in your life, you probably are familiar with the popular toys called Transformers. Just in case you aren’t, they are cars and trucks and robot-things that can change into something completely different—therefore being of great use in fighting battles and winning races. We have a true Transformer in our life—and He is not a toy and He isn’t playing around. Christ, through His Spirit, desires to engage with us in a way that truly transforms our lives. So often, it is time reflecting on His word that is integral to transformation. Time with God, a quiet time, is always time that reaps eternal benefit. He loves us too much to leave us the sin-prone, struggling way that we are.
Romans 12:2 (NASB)
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect
I have always loved this verse, for lots of reasons—mainly because some days I am such a mess that I know I need God to change me. In this verse God is telling us that one of the primary roles of the Holy Spirit is to transform our lives through the process of renewing our thinking. I don’t know about you, but there are a lot of things that go through my mind that I would be much better off without! We are constantly bombarded with the crazy thinking of the world. Every day, our minds are exposed to and influenced by so many things, most of which are not the things of God.
The word for renew in the Greek language is anakainosis and it means to renovate. There are habits of our minds, emotional pathways, and things that we believe that are not true that need the renovating touch of God to set us right. When our thoughts begin to be free from what is not true, good, and right, our actions begin to follow suit, and our lives begin to transform.
Did you notice the “so that” in this verse? This phrase indicates that there is a reason, or a result that God has in mind: He wants us to prove what His will is. The wording of this statement never made much sense to me until I looked it up and discovered that the word “prove” means to test, approve, allow, discern, examine, and try. So what’s the point here? God wants for us to learn by doing, to discover in our real experience, to put it to the test and see that He is faithful and knows what He is doing. He wants us to know Him better and trust Him more by learning to know His will for us, to know His purpose for us and his pleasure in us. In essence, He is not playing around; He really wants us to know and experience His good and complete purpose for our real-girl lives.
Taking time to focus in on one verse and really explore what it means is one of the ways that the Holy Spirit gets truth and understanding into our sometimes-thick skulls. This is one of the things that we can do in our one-on-one time with God that will literally change our lives. This is one of the very practical ways that God writes His word on the tablet our our hearts in a way that becomes part of who we are, what we do, and how we think. When truth is inscribed on your heart, all that comes in and goes out is filtered by truth. This is the life-breathing power of God actively working in our lives that totally blows the doors off of the dry and sometimes hypocritical religious routines of playing church instead of walking with Christ in an active relationship.
One of the purposes of this blog is to share life and truth as well as to give practical how-to’s and strategies. So let’s cover a couple of practical tools you can use right now to enhance your time with God in His word.
1) Observation: What does the verse say? After you pray, asking God to teach you, read the verse slowly tracing out what it is actually saying. We have learned to skim and gloss over much of what we read. It is important to slow down sometimes and let God impress the simplicity of what the words say on our minds.
2) Definitions: When you stop to look up some of the words in the verse and discover the richness and texture of the original languages, depth and meaning multiply quickly. My favorite tool for this is e-Sword, a free, downloadable resource available online. When I start my Quiet Time, I usually go ahead and pull it up on my computer so I can easily look up words if I want to. The trick is to make it easy and available. So often if we have to stop what we are doing, we won’t do it. Know what I mean? Here is one of the definitions I looked up:
From G3326 and G3445; to transform (literally or figuratively “metamorphose”): – change, transfigure, transform.
3) Language: Learning to pay attention to some specifics of language adds to what we notice in our reading and listening. The phrase “so that” means that a result or conclusion is coming up, so look at what comes before the “so that.” So that indicates a cause and effect, and there is often something that we need to do before we experience the result. In the case of this verse, I will not know God’s will through my experience if I am molded to the world’s thinking and not available for the Holy Spirit to renew my thinking.
So here we have it, one real and true reason that personal time with God in His word is vitally important. Come back soon as I catch up and fill you in on how the conference went and we move on the learning to read scripture as a conversation with God.