Thursdays With Oswald—Grow Like A Lily

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Grow Like A Lily

     Jesus declares it to be unreasonable for the disciple to be careful of all that the natural man says we must be careful over [Matthew 6:26-32]. … Jesus does not use the illustration of the birds and the flowers by accident, He uses it purposely in order to show the utter unreasonableness from His standpoint of being so anxious about the means of living. …

     Imagine a lily hauling itself out of its pot and saying, “I don’t think I look exactly right here.” The lily’s duty is to obey the law of its life where it is placed by the gardener. “Watch your life with God,” says Jesus, “see that that is right and you will grow as the lily.” We are all inclined to say, “I should be all right if only I were somewhere else.” There is only one way to develop spiritually, and that is by concentrating on God. …  

     How are you to grow in the knowledge of God? By remaining where you are, and by remembering that your Father knows where are you are and the circumstances you are in. Keep concentrated on Him and you will grow spiritually as the lily. 

From Studies In The Sermon On The Mount

Don’t think for one moment that God doesn’t see where you are. Don’t think He doesn’t care about you. He knows precisely where you are, and He knows precisely what He is doing. 

If you want to grow, don’t worry about your circumstances or your setting. Keep concentrated on God and let Him grow you as only He can. 

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading from today…

“The mind may be compared to a garden, which it is as necessary to cultivate as any plot of earth, if order and beauty are to be manifested through it. … Ideas, as well as flowers, in order to attain their full beauty, must be kept free from encumbering influences, whatever tends to weaken or degrade or detract from planned perfection.” —Joyce Mayhew

“I thank my Master that He does not say to the sinner, ‘Come half way and meet Me,’ but He comes ‘where he is.’” —Charles Spurgeon

“On the basis of grace as taught in the Word of God, when God forgives a man, He trusts him as though he had never sinned. God did not have mental reservations about any of us when we became His children by faith. When God forgives a man, He doesn’t think, ‘I will have to watch this fellow because he has a bad record.’ No, He starts with him again as though he had just been created and as if there had been no past at all! That is the basis of our Christian assurance—and God wants us to be happy in it.” —A.W. Tozer

Always keep in contact with those books and those people that enlarge your horizon and make it possible for you to stretch yourself mentally.” —Oswald Chambers

Thursdays With Oswald—New Healthy Habits

Oswald ChambersThis is a periodic series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

New Healthy Habits

When the Spirit of God brings a Word of God to us, are we going to wake up and lay hold [Ephesians 5:14-18] of it, or remain in the condition St. Augustine was in—“a little more worldliness; a little less intensity”? … When God tells us to do a thing He empowers us to do it, only we must do the doing. … All we need is grit and gumption and reliance on the Holy Spirit. We must bring the same determined energy to the revelations in God’s Book as we bring to earthly professions. Most of us leave the sweat of brain outside when we come to deal with the Bible. …

When in your soul’s vision you see clearly what God wants, let me advise you to do something physical immediately. If you accompany a moral or spiritual decision with a physical effort you give the necessary initiative to form the new habit. …

How are we going to find out the will of God? “God will communicate it to us.” He will not. His will is there all the time, but we have to discover it by being renewed in our minds, by taking heed to His Word and obeying it. If we are not going to be “conformed to this world; but transformed,” we must use our brains. God does the spiritual, powerful part we cannot do; but we have to work it out, and as we do the obeying we prove… “what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” [Romans 12:1-2].

From The Moral Foundations Of Life

Everything we need to form new, healthy, God-pleasing habits has already been given to us in the Bible. Now we need to put our brains and our bodies to work—

God’s Word + Holy Spirit revelation + Concentration + Physical obedience = 

New God-honoring habits

14 Quotes From “Beyond IQ”

Beyond IQI found Beyond IQ by Garth Sundem to be engaging because of both the research he presents, and the engaging exercises he incorporates to make the research applicable to us. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Here are some of the quotes I especially appreciated.

“First, here’s why insight can be difficult: it requires a paradoxical mix of experience with openness. Usually, experience leads to set-in-stone ways of doing things. Typically, openness is only present when you’re forced by inexperience to remain available in your search for solutions. Experience mixed with openness is a rare cocktail. … Rather than opening your mind to insight, [John] Kounios and [Mark] Jung-Beeman show that if you want insight, the best thing you can do is to close it. A closed mind shows up on an fMRI as activation of the anterior cingulate cortex, your brain’s home of inhibiting distraction. It’s as if your ACC is a pair of noise-canceling headphones, and with these headphones in place you’re more able to hear your brain’s quiet, insightful whispers.” 

“Science has known that during sleep the brain’s hippocampus—the structure responsible for encoding new memories—replays the day’s experiences from short-term storage and filters them into the neocortex, where experiences are integrated into… ‘pre-existing knowledge representations.’ Insight is the novel connection of knowledge, and sleep knocks knowledge into new configurations.”

“[Robert] Sternberg and his frequent collaborator, Richard Wagner, showed that situational judgment tests…designed to measure practical intelligence are a much better predictor then IQ of job performance in business managers, bank managers, and graduate students. IQ doesn’t lead to success. Practical intelligence does.” 

“The language of problem-solving is: initial state, constraints, operations, and goal state. … [Richard] Mayer says that the most striking feature of people who successfully solve real-world problems is the time they spend studying the initial state and the constraints—the extra time they spend clarifying the problem.”

“University of California-San Bernardino researcher James Kaufman knows the recipe for creativity. It’s equal parts intrinsic motivation, experience, and something he calls low personal inhibition. Intrinsic motivation is pretty self-explanatory, but beware of the danger of ‘replacing intrinsic motivation and a natural curiosity with external rewards,’ says Kaufman. If a parent wants a child to become a creative pianist, the parent should encourage interest in the piano but not incentivize this interest with ice cream. Creativity blooms in fields you’re drawn to, not in fields into which you’re pushed. … Kaufman’s research has shown that creative people are hard workers with background knowledge and expertise in their creative domains. ‘It’s the “learn the rules so you can break them” approach,’ he says.” 

“Dean Keith Simonton of UC Davis found that the nineteenth-century scientists who wrote the most-cited papers also wrote the least-cited papers. … The more scientific papers or sonatas or sonnets a person writes, the greater chance that one or more will be especially creative.”

“In any kind of cognitive activity you have two kinds of things going on. You have intelligence, but there’s also learning and skill and knowledge based on practice. The more the second develops, the less important the first becomes. … Even more importantly, we’ve shown that with enough practice and hard work, you can actually change the neurophysiology of the brain. For example, practice can encourage the brain to grow greater myelin coating on neurons. Thus our behaviors become literally hard-wired. Developing expertise literally makes certain thought patterns more efficient than others.” —Paul Feltovich 

“Florida State researcher K. Anders Ericcson shows that it’s not only experience that creates expertise but a step-by-step method of sculpting experience that he calls deliberate practice. To Ericsson, famous for his theory that 10,000 hours of practice creates expertise in any field, the four-step path to expertise includes performing your skill, monitoring your performance, evaluating your success, and figuring out how to do it better next time. Completing only the first step—performing the skill itself—leads to automated, low-level, rote performance in which you perform the skill the same way every time. Monitoring, evaluating, and adjusting your skill allows you to modify it after every pass, helping skill evolved toward expertise.”

“The more you use your brain, the longer you’ll be able to use it. … People with ‘cognitively protected’ brains were those who challenge themselves through a lifestyle that included reading, writing, attending lectures, and doing word puzzles—in other words, they followed a self-imposed regimen of cognitive involvement. … Cognitive involvement is only one tine of a three-pronged approach to brain health in later life. The second tine is a healthy body. … In fact, your cardiovascular health in middle age is even more important for your later brain health than the same risk factors in old age itself. … The third tine: social interaction. … Nothing forces the brain to work like interacting with other brains.” 

“Moral reasoning and wisdom are linked. Specifically (and this is kind of cool albeit technical), for those who possess strong moral reasoning, wisdom increases with age. If you have lower moral reasoning, you gain no wisdom as you get older. So if you want wisdom later, train your moral reasoning now.”

“Wisdom requires thought and action without yourself in mind, and sociologist Monika Ardelt of the University of Florida shows that selflessness is also the best predictor of successful aging. In fact, the wisdom born of selflessness beats out physical health, income, socioeconomic status, physical environment, and even social relationships in predicting life satisfaction in old age.”

“Pressure…sits like a lead weight in your working memory, claiming space that could otherwise hold useful information. And because working memory is a mainline to general intelligence, space claimed by pressure makes you measurably dumber. … Pressure flips a mental switch from implicit to explicit thought, making you apply a layer of analysis to things that should be automatic. … Chronic pressure can make you chronically prioritize the quick rewards of drugs and alcohol while discounting their long-term risk. … So beware. Stress plugs your working memory, analysis paralysis forces you to try to use it anyway, and your dopamine circuits cry for a quick, risky solution.”

“Students with high emotional intelligence (EI) have lower rates of drug use and teachers with high EI get more support from their principals. Employees with high EI have higher job performance, especially when their IQ is low (implying that emotional intelligence can help compensate for low general intelligence—and also that these skills are distinct). EI is even implicated in resilience—the more EI you have, the higher your chances of bouncing back after trauma or negative life events.” 

“If IQ is the strength of the bulb in your lighthouse, willpower is the lens that focuses it into a beam.”

Links & Quotes

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Some good reading (and watching) from today…

GREAT NEWS! The FBI rescued 168 child victims of sex trafficking.

John Maxwell talks about the value of concentration.

“Don’t fornicate with your body. Worship with your body. The Apostle Paul even says that the body is a temple, that is, a place of worship. The body is a place for meeting God, not prostitutes. This doesn’t mean sex is bad. It means that sex is precious. Too precious to be treated cheaply. God means that we put it in a very secure and sacred place—marriage. There it becomes the expression of the love between Christ and the church. It shows the glory of the intensity of God’s love for His people. It becomes worship. ‘Glorify God in your body.’ And not doing sex outside marriage also shows the preciousness of what it stands for. So chastity is worship.” —John Piper, commenting on 1 Corinthians 6:18-20

Here’s a piece of advice: admit it when you mess up. Don’t lie or plead ignorance. Don’t try to make yourself out to be a victim. And above all, don’t throw your wife (or anyone else) under the bus. If you did it, own it. Any other choice will lead you into deeper problems than you already have, both in the here and now and the hereafter.” Read more from Mark Atteberry in his post The IRS Scandal: Eden Revisited.

[VIDEO] …speaking of the IRS scandal, Rep. Trey Gowdy grills IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

Some fascinating statistics that show a stable marriage leads to better performance in school for kids, and more stable employment options after school: How Churches Can Bridge The Marriage Divide.

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