Journey to Oz–2

June 1, 2007 by · 3 Comments 

How cool is this?!?

I don’t know about you, but I read and reread your comments several times. And I noticed some themes developing. Words like faith, believe, truth, weakness, Holy Spirit, God in me, trust

As I’ve pondered, I keep coming back to what Sandra said, “I determined that I need to reprogram my brain.” I’m not an expert in psychology, but I do believe that the brain is the starting point for a discussion of courage. Someone really smart once said something like “We are as we think” (or “As we think, so we are”). I believe that’s true.[1]

In Romans 12, Paul says:

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Through Paul, God is talking about the fact that his people will have “reprogrammed brains”.

So, how in the world do we reprogram our brains? Good question, isn’t it? I know that there are a lot of quick answers to this—answers we’ve learned in church… Stuff like—read the Bible, go to church, take a class, serve in a ministry, go on a missions trip, pray.

These are good. I like them. However, I think they are premature answers at this point. Jumping ahead to actions doesn’t always lead to a “renewing of the mind”. It may seem good—feel right—but it doesn’t get to the root issue of what you believe deep down.

So here’s what I propose. I propose that the first step in renewing your mind is this:


What does this mean? It means that you actually believe what the Bible says. This seems pretty basic, doesn’t it? But it’s not as easy as we might pretend it is. Over the last 18 months, I have been challenged to really believe what God says—and it is often times different than I had thought in the past.

Let me explain what I mean. I wrote last week that I often feel “brainless, heartless, and gutless.” I then take those feelings and conclude that I am “brainless, heartless, and gutless” (can you relate?). I begin to believe that is my identity.

When I see myself this way, I feel like I must remedy these shortcomings—I must change my identity— by changing the things I do. So I get busy. I work on gaining knowledge, being loving, and doing brave things. Sometimes I feel like I’m making progress… But most of the time, I find myself back where I started. More tired, more discouraged than I was before (in fact, I usually feel more brainless, heartless, and gutless!”).

Here’s the problem with this strategy: I am focused on the wrong thing. I was focused on what I do rather than who I am. The issue isn’t actions, it is identity.

And the TRUTH—if I really dare to believe it—is that I have a new identity. Paul talks about this a lot…

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Jesus actually “lives in me” and I’m “in Christ” and I’m “a new creation”. In fact, because I’m in Christ and he’s in me, I actually have his brain, his heart, and his courage! I don’t renew my mind– I get Jesus’! I don’t make myself a new creation, God does!

The question is: Do I believe this?… Do you believe this?

If you answered “yes” then that opens the door the some incredible and amazing truth you will be thrilled to discover. Truth that will launch us into courage like never before.

Questions to ponder (or ignore—that’s cool too):

1) What do you think it means to be “in Christ” or to have Christ “live in you”

2) How are you a “new creation”? What has changed? What hasn’t?

3) Are there things in the Bible about your identity that you find hard to believe? What? Why?

4) What are some things you thought were true, but have changed your mind about?

This idea of “truth” is vital—but don’t take my word for it. Jesus said that “the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

Probably means that this is a good place to start…


Grace and peace,


[1] That reminds me of the best high school yearbook entry I’ve ever seen—you know, the places where the seniors can write something profound or meaningful under their picture. In my brother’s yearbook, Dennis Pagliangna (I have no clue how to write his name) had this:

To be is to do. (Aristotle)

To do is to be (Plato)

To be do be do. (Sinatra)

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3 Responses to “Journey to Oz–2”
  1. John Koehler says:

    Sometimes it takes a guy like Sinatra to remind us not to take ourselves so seriously! Hey, come on. God loves us, we’re gonna get to hang with him after we die, and between now and then, we get to love each other and carry on like complete fools. What could be better. Fools for Christ, fools for each other, Fools for Life. New creations are we all, we cut off our legs, but he makes us tall…

  2. rickkva says:

    This is a great point Doug. No matter how hard I try to be different, I will always return to who I believe myself to be in my heart of hearts.

    Lets say for example that I have difficulty in behaving selfishly (and I do!). I am frustrated by my selfish behavior so I make a commitment to God, self and others that I will cease acting selfishly and will go out of my way to do unselfish acts to people around me for the next week or two. My thinking is that I will change who I am by DOING something different. Even if I am successful for awhile in consistently being unselfish, I start to fail right about the time that I start feeling good about myself (pride in my efforts).

    The problem is that even when I am DOING the right thing (being unselfish) I still believe myself to be selfish at my core being. I always revert to who I truly believe myself to be.

    I have been taught since a young man (in church) that I am a sinner. “You have been saved by grace, young man. You are covered by the righteousness of Christ, but inside you are still a loathsome wretched sinner. That is why you still have trouble with temptation and fail.”

    How can I live differently from who I believe myself to be on the inside?

  3. Katie says:

    Okay, I know I’m turning my paper in after the teacher already announced that time’s up….but….this topic hits close to home. It’s not that I have a hard time believing what God says is true about me…it’s that I have trouble remembering it. I find myself running so fast, worrying so much, struggling with guilt over not being a better Mom or wife or employee or friend or sister or daughter (see? I told you I struggle!) that it’s easy to get caught up in my own loud whirlwind and forget the still, small voice that whispers. “It is done,” and “I am sufficient,” and “Your faith has healed you,” and…. “You have been chosen.” Those are the things I know are true, and yet fail to remember far too often. THanks for a few moments to remember.

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