Scott Bryant

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Mind Over Matter

We’ve all heard the phrase, “Mind over matter”. It’s often used to encourage someone to take their focus off the pain being caused by some physical challenge and push forward as they refocus their mind on something else. I’d like to wash this phrase in the Word of God and let Colossians 3 bring it to a whole new level.

In fact, here are three words for your journey today that truly give us the courage to live a life that is even capable of having a “mind over matter” outlook in our 21st century life.

#1: SET

This first word is found in verse 2:

“Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.”

In the Greek, the word is zēteite and means “to seek or strive for earnestly”. Here’s what’s interesting. There isn’t a one of us who doesn’t naturally do this. We all strive earnestly for what we desire most. That’s the problem. By nature, what we desire most is sin. We want to find something on earth to fulfill our deepest desires. To be loved. To be respected. To belong. Desires that are only going to be met in Jesus Christ, but our culture tells us otherwise. And it does so continuously.

Our media-saturated society has enabled us to earnestly strive for our greatest desires in epic proportions. Not only can we push a button and satisfy our flesh, we can promote our flesh. We’ve all watched the little toddler who does something funny or cute and then receives the applause or laughter of everyone in the room. What does he do next? He looks around and sees that his behavior was appreciated, so he does it again. Today we have generations doing exactly this. We have set our mind on receiving the applause of our world, and we keep on performing or practicing whatever will receive it.

Our young people are taught that performing well on the athletic field or on the public stage is what truly matters. They watch us snap pictures of them and post them with great joy for the world to see. And while there is nothing wrong with scoring a touchdown, or singing a solo at the school concert, the question is whether they are being taught that earthly achievement is not what we are called to prioritize as followers of Christ. They are watching their parents, their grandparents, to see how to live a life of “mind over matter”. Not just pushing through the pain to gain new muscles, trophies, or awards. They need to see in our daily journey that we are willing to SET our minds on things above. To prioritize the eternal over the earthly. Or better yet, letting our “MINDSET” on the Eternal radically change how we live in the earthly.

Every decision of our practical life should be evidence that we are earnestly striving to “Set our mind on things above.” To pursue our love for Christ over the applause of our culture.

#2: GET

Since I grew up in the Midwest, I tend to pronounce this word, “Git”. But no matter how you say it, this word represents our next ruthless challenge. If our first goal is to “Set our mind on things above”, the next and continual challenge will be to “Get rid of things below.” Things that naturally creep in and become our life.  We find this in verse 5 where Paul says:

“Put to death whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.”

And then in verse 8:

“But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.”

It’s not by coincidence that these are explicit lists that accurately portray many of the things we naturally set our mind and life on in our generation today. Turns out no matter whether you are living in the 1st century culture or the 21st century, our human hearts are easily deceived by the same card tricks that the devil plays in every generation.

The saint isn’t perfect but is committed to the journey of perfection. A journey that is only possible by God’s Grace. The next generation already knows that we aren’t perfect. The closer they are to us, the more they know just how human we are. They need to see us be willing to “Get rid of things below” on a regular basis. To confess our sin when it enters in. To repent of our rebellious habits that come out in our words and actions. They are watching not for perfection, but for lives that are willing to SET, GET, and last but not least…

#3: LET

The power of God’s Word is ready to permeate our life to truly have a “mind over matter” perspective, but we can choose to keep it out. To settle for the earthly things that feel good for a few days, months, or even years. We must choose to “Let the peace and Word of Christ rule in our hearts.

We read these powerful words in verses 15-17:

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.”

Our world hungers for peace. Peace in our homes. Peace in our community. World peace where we all just get along. But contrary to many bumper stickers, mankind is incapable of popular words like: “Co-Exist” or “Be-Kind or “World Peace” until we submit to the Prince of Peace. To come under His rule and demonstrate it with speech that is marked by thankfulness to Him. This only happens as we have God’s Word saturating our minds in a world that is trying to boil our brains in false teaching. Teaching that places man at the center of the universe, instead of the One True God.

As we let our mind be invaded by His Kingdom, our mindset will begin to focus on what matters. And it isn’t matter. It’s Eternal. 

Augustine once said, “No one longs for eternal, incorruptible, and immortal life, unless he be wearied of this temporal, corruptible, and mortal life”.

Are you there yet? Are you tired of focusing your mind on what the world says matters? Then let today begin a new season where you commit to life a life of “mind over matter” as you SET- GET- LET:

#1:  Set your mind on things above!

#2:  Get rid of things below!

#3:  Let the peace and Word of Christ rule in your heart!

As the church of Jesus Christ commits to this type of “mind over matter” living, we will unveil to our world what a face, a family, a church looks like that is committed to revealing God’s Glory to the world, instead of our own.

“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18

Are You Leaving a 12 Stone Legacy?

 “Are you Leaving a 12 Stone Legacy?”

Our little Levi Courage turns 3 years old this week. While each of our children have smiles that warm our hearts, Levi has a smile you won’t soon forget. Why?  Well, besides the fact that he’s already a cute little guy, he happens to also be missing his front teeth. They were the casualties of being an energetic little boy and a needed dental surgery. His priceless smile is a daily reminder to his mother and I of how important it is to let the joy of the Lord be our strength as his parents, so his smile can endure eternally as He courageously learns to journey with Jesus.

We gave Levi Courage his name not just for his sake, but for ours. We knew that for Levi and each of his siblings to be courageous for the Lord in their generation, we would need to first be courageous in ours. Daily keeping before us that our children need much more than earthly provision. They need eternal vision. Vision that our God says must be passed on from generation to generation.

One of the most powerful examples we see in Scripture of God commanding us to leave a lasting legacy is found in Joshua 4. The Israelites have just gone on their “Jordan Journey”. A journey of faith through a river that was running at flood stage until God dried it up in response to their faith. Knowing how quickly they would forget about His miraculous provision for them, God told them to capture the moment. Not with a picture or video, but with rocks. He had them pick up “12 Stones” from the middle of the Jordan River and take them over to the riverbank and build an altar. A generational pile of rocks that would prompt generational questions as we see in verses 21-24:

“He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ For the LORD your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The LORD your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the LORD is powerful and so that you might always fear the LORD your God.”

In 2017 the American Culture & Faith Institute did a study to find out how many professing believers were connecting their beliefs with their behavior in what they called an “Integrated Disciple.”  The results were mind-blowing.  The younger an adult is, the less likely they are to have a biblical worldview. Among adults 18 to 29 years old – commonly referred to as Millennials – just 4% were Integrated Disciples. The number rose to 7% among those in the 30-to-49 age bracket; doubled to 15% among the 50-to-64-year old’s; and peaked at 17% among those 65 or older. (www.culturefaith.com)

It has been well said that faith is not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spite of consequence. Our children and grandchildren will face great consequence in their generation if they journey by faith in Jesus Christ. They will be ridiculed and even persecuted. While it was culturally acceptable to be a Christian when we were growing up, it is now very culturally unacceptable and even dangerous to even say the name of Jesus, or even more, live a life of holy faithfulness to His teachings.

 If there is hope of our children and grandchildren being faithful in their generation, they will need to see the faithful footprints that we leave in ours. They need us to take time to pass on our “12 Stones”. Not perfect stones, but stones that point back to the perfect power of our Almighty God that we experienced as we obeyed Him in our lifetime. They need to see real lives that are submitted to the one Real God.  This will take time. Time that we are used to spending on ourselves. For legacy stones are passed on in relationship as we invest our time and life in others.

First in our family, then in our church, and then overflowing into our world.   

When we read Hebrews 11, the great “faith chapter” of Scripture, we see examples of this. Each person mentioned there did something because they believed God. Their faith wasn’t a passive feeling; it was an active force. I’m especially moved when I read about the example of Moses. In our time that promotes a form of Christianity that gives you popularity and prosperity notice the example of Moses in his generation:

“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter.  He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (v. 24-26)

Living faith always leads to courageous action. A life of even choosing “disgrace for the sake of Christ” over the cultural treasures that we are told to pursue over our lifetime.

To the unbeliever, the heap of twelve stones in Joshua’s generation was simply another stone pile; but to a believing Israelite, it was a constant reminder that Jehovah was his or her God, working His wonders on behalf of His people. The pile was designed to serve a double purpose—that of impressing the pagan nation around them with a sense of the power of God who parted the Jordan River, while at the same time teaching an important lesson to the young and rising Israelites of the next generation.

In a time when each generation is increasingly losing a fear of God, it is imperative that we pass on to them a legacy of our ‘twelve stones’:

  • 12 Stones that we have picked up from our life that gives testimony to the importance of fearing the Lord God.
  • 12 Stones that will encourage and equip the next generation to be faithful, even when they don’t feel like it.
  • 12 Stones that only we can pass on from our life experience of God’s faithfulness.
  • 12 Stones that will give practical guidance in their life’s decisions.
  • 12 Stones that will display God’s power and might to the next generation.
  • 12 Stones that will be missing in the foundation of their tomorrow if we don’t give them today.

These are the stones that will enable the innocent smiles of our children today to courageously stand firm for Jesus tomorrow. Yes, they will need to be faithful themselves. But let’s leave them a strong foundation of courageous faith to build from.  

Application

Take some time to write down or record with audio or video your “12 Stones”. Then prayerfully find time to share your testimony with the next generation. First, with your own children and grandchildren.  Then, with maybe a young family that could be encouraged by your faith. Remember, it’s not about your lifetime achievements, its about your lifetime testimony of God’s Eternal Achievements.  It will take some work but leaving a 12 Stone Legacy is well worth it.

Here are some questions to help guide you as you record your “12 Stone Legacy”:

  • How has God been faithful to you?
  • How have you seen God’s Word impact your life in the 21st century?
    • In Marriage
    • In Parenting
    • In Work
    • In Temptation
    • In Money
    • In Friendship
    • In Church
    • In Crisis
    • In defining your Life-Purpose
  • When did you experience God’s grace in a big way?
  • How have you watched Satan try to trap you?
  • How have you learned to avoid those traps?
  • Why serve God when it seems like no one else is?
  • What one thing would you want the next generation to know about the importance of serving God?

“Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation,  now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

I Peter 2:1-5