This blog grows out of my conviction that every aspect of our lives is sacred and is to be nurtured and celebrated as a good gift of God. Most of the posts will be the sorts of things you would expect from a historian and worldview teacher, but some are likely to be a bit surprising. Since God created all things good, including all aspects of human life, everything is interesting and important from the perspective of a biblical worldview. Everything under the Sun and under Heaven is thus fair game here. I hope you find it interesting and enjoyable.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

From Mind to Heart

Who you will be in five years is determined by the media you consume and who you associate with. These two areas are always either helping you move forward or holding you back because both shape our thinking about the world and about ourselves.

Media does this by putting images, words, and ideas into your mind. Electronic media in particular bombard us with images and information at a pace that does not allow us to think it through or analyze it. Instead, it embeds itself in our minds and from there into our memories, thus shaping our souls.

If you want to grow your mind and soul, pay careful attention to media. Reading is a particularly important tool for personal grown, since unlike other media, we read at our own pace, which allows us to ponder, reflect, meditate, think, and therefore to direct our intellectual growth more effectively than other media.

Because we are relational beings, the people we hang with may be the single most important factor in determining our self-image, our outlook on the world, and our values and priorities. They shape the mind and the soul even more powerfully than media.

Although it's difficult and potentially painful, you should also evaluate your associations if you're interested in personal growth. If the people around you are not helping you grow, you need to find people who will. This doesn’t mean abandoning your family or old friends, but you will need to consider carefully how much influence you want them to have over your life and adjust the time you spend with them accordingly.

Our words are also important. The things we hear ourselves say pass into our subconscious, which is programmed to take what we say seriously. For this reason, affirmations and verbal confessions are important tools for personal growth. If you doubt this, read the book of Proverbs and notice how much is said about the tongue and our words.

Our mind provides food for the soul as we spend time pondering ideas and allow them to captivate our attention, as we build meaningful relationships with other people, and as our words filter into our subconscious. Over time, these activities  will capture our imagination, shape our values and convictions, and inform our will to pursue those things that we truly value.

From there, the soul moves the heart, the center of our life. Probably the best way to discover our hearts is to ask ourselves what makes us sing, what makes us weep, what elevates our spirits. I suspect most people don’t know how to answer those questions, but they are worth pondering.

In the end, our hearts will be molded around the real values of our souls, whether for good or ill. As Christians our hearts are a battleground between what Paul calls the “flesh,” which refers to the on-going effects of original sin in our lives, and the Spirit. Our hearts are thus divided, which is why the Psalmist prays,  "unite my heart to fear your name." (Ps. 86:11)

So for New Year, I suggest you join me in resolving to cultivate our whole being, starting with our bodies and minds which will then shape our souls and hearts, and to do this out of the love of God; to strive to know and obey His commandments from the heart; and to find ways to live out our love of Him through the love of our neighbors in practical acts of service and in our professional lives.

Write down concrete goals in each of these areas, review them daily, and commit yourself to putting small, specific actions into your daily schedule to help you to achieve them. If you do, next New Year will find you much more the person you were meant to be, and you will have set a course for a much more successful and satisfying life.