Staying Focus: Video Lesson

Back in the beginning of October, I wrote a post about what God had been convicting me of in August and September of this year.  I was encouraged to try to do a video series about what God’s been teaching me, there is something great about getting to hear tone of voice and see a person’s disposition that I believe was missing from my writing.  Writing and words can seem so harsh, and that’s not what I desire to convey here – a harsh message of truth without the love and encouragement of Christ.

 

Bible verses mentioned in video:

“Set your mind and keep focused habitually on the things above (the heavenly things), not things that are on the earth (which have only temporal value).”  Colossians 3:2 (AMP)

“Blessed [fortunate, prosperous, and favored by God] is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked [following their advice and example],

Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit [down to rest] in the seat of [b]scoffers (ridiculers).

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And on His law [His precepts and teachings] he [habitually] meditates day and night.
 
And he will be like a tree firmly planted [and fed] by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season;
Its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers [and comes to maturity].

 
The wicked [those who live in disobedience to God’s law] are not so,
But they are like the chaff [worthless and without substance] which the wind blows away.
 
Therefore the wicked will not stand [unpunished] in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
 
For the Lord knows and fully approves the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked shall perish.”  Psalm 1:1-5 (AMP)

Let your eyes look directly ahead [toward the path of moral courage]
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you [toward the path of integrity].”  Proverbs 4:25 (AMP)

“For those who are living according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh [which gratify the body], but those who are living according to the Spirit, [set their minds on] the things of the Spirit [His will and purpose].”  Romans 8:5 (AMP)

“Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable andworthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely andbrings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thinkcontinually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart].”  Philippians 4:8 (AMP)

“You will keep in perfect and constant peace the one whose mind is steadfast [that is, committed and focused on You—in both inclination and character],

Because he trusts and takes refuge in You [with hope and confident expectation].”  Isaiah 26:3 (AMP)

I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you [who are willing to learn] with My eye upon you.”  Psalm 32:8 (AMP)

The [intrinsically] good woman ( text says man) produces what is good and honorable and moral out of the good treasure[stored] in his heart; and the [intrinsically] evil woman (man)produces what is wicked and depraved out of the evil [in his heart]; for her mouth speaks from the overflow of her heart.”  Luke 6:45 (AMP)

How blessed and favored by God are those whose way is blameless [those with personal integrity, the upright, the guileless],
Who walk in the law [and who are guided by the precepts and revealed will] of the Lord.”  Psalm 119:1 (AMP)

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10 thoughts on “Staying Focus: Video Lesson

  1. lol… No, Staying “Focus” is also grammatically correct.

    That phrase is used in a biblical sense of keeping yourself on a specific path, looking forward to a goal – an END goal specifically. It’s like you’re traveling, and you’re staying on your route. Whereas your suggestion, Staying “FocusED” could mean just keeping your attention directed towards anything in general, with lots of different applications, this phrase narrows it down to a sense that you’re traveling on a journey. This title is more biblical and specific in a deeper meaning than merely “staying focused,” although that is part of it, too.

    Thanks for the suggestion though.

  2. I think the concept of the mental discipline you mentioned is incredibly important, as shown by your excellent selection of scriptures. It seems that even conservative churches are very affected by the postmodern focus on emotions. Not only is there an over-focus on emotion, but there is a tendency to over-value the pleasant emotions. An action that leads to emotional discomfort is usually discouraged, even if it is a good and biblical action. Rebuke, submission, discipline… there are a lot of things that are either ignored or weakened as a result. Feelings are very important, but they can’t take the place of our minds.

    The Jewish people used the word “heart” to refer to the mind, or sometimes the entire spirit of a man… but never used it to refer only to emotions. Many people know that already, but it is easy to forget that when we are reading scripture. Look at Proverbs 3:5-6 and read it with that fact in mind. To me, it really starts to sound very similar to the point behind Romans 12:2.

    Renewing our minds, forsaking our ways to follow his ways, setting our minds on the things of the spirit, repenting and confessing our sins…. putting all this stuff together starts to show just how consistent and coherent God’s message has been at all times.

    Of course this is about a focus on God’s ways as we learn from His word, as opposed to a focus on a goal that God may have for us (which is what it seemed you were focused on). Still, I’m sure you’d agree that we will do poorly at selecting goals that please Him if we don’t understand his ways.

    For example, we might decide to have a goal to love a specific person better. We can rely on what we know about love (mostly what we learned from culture), or we can read I Corinthinans 13 (which is very good, but is a generalization) and do much better. Jesus said that “on these two laws (love God and love neighbor) hang all the law and the prophets. If we focus on how God illustrates love through all of those scriptures, we will learn so much more and be more effective lovers.

    It will be easier to set our minds on the things of the Spirit if we let those passages penetrate us. The downside is that we will start to understand how diffferent God’s examples of love are from the common, emotionalized, cultural ideas of love. It doesn’t really get any easier, we just have an opportunity to get better at it, and be closer to how God wants us to do it.

  3. It seems that even conservative churches are very affected by the postmodern focus on emotions.

    About time. Ignoring emotions leads to all kinds of misery and trouble. Focusing on emotions does not mean, however, becoming enslaved by them, but understanding their proper, extremely important role in our lives, and guiding them toward wellness and/or God (in the religious context).

    Rebuke, submission, discipline… there are a lot of things that are either ignored or weakened as a result.

    All the above are based on emotions. It is crucial to understand what those emotions are, where they come from, and where they take us, so that, for example, we would know that rebuke, discipline and submission should be rooted in and guided by selfless love rather than a selfish desire to control others. Too often supposedly godly actions are anything but, as they express selfish or even evil desires of individual people and groups. But knowing emotions behind them makes it possible to discern where they originate and where they may lead us.

    Feelings are very important, but they can’t take the place of our minds.

    Feelings are part of our minds. Creating an artificial divide between feelings and minds is a mistake that leads to all kinds of trouble (like, for example, elevating crippled “reason” — i.e., loveless or even cruelty-based rules of conduct imposed on others — above all else and calling it “duty” or some other good-sounding phrase).

    The Jewish people used the word “heart” to refer to the mind, or sometimes the entire spirit of a man… but never used it to refer only to emotions.

    Because the spirit is so much more, but emotions are its central part. There is no spirit without emotions. There is no humanity without emotions. Quite possibly, there is no God without emotions — because if it wasn’t for emotions, we would have no inkling of the divine within ourselves and without, nor any desire to search for and follow it.

    Renewing our minds, forsaking our ways to follow his ways, setting our minds on the things of the spirit, repenting and confessing our sins…. putting all this stuff together starts to show just how consistent and coherent God’s message has been at all times.

    And that message appeals to — you guessed it — our emotions. If we did not possess them, or were unable to act on them, we would not understand God’s message nor follow it.

    Emotions are not our enemy or something dangerous to be scolded and/or avoided. On the contrary: we must get to know them as well as we possibly can to understand ourselves, others, and God’s message.

    Not understanding our emotions is what’s scary and/or confusing. This ignorance — supported by various so-called “rational” schools of thought, usually secular but not only, that see emotions as something inferior — also makes us vulnerable to being at their mercy, instead of helping us understand them better and guide them in an effective and positive way.

    So it’s about time the churches recognized the importance of emotions. Unfortunately, that recognition is going to be only as good as the individuals running them (the churches, not emotions — although you can bet that emotions are running the individuals running the churches; we can only hope those are emotions appropriate to the task, rooted in wisdom and selfless love, and not self-aggrandizement or other sinful sentiments).

  4. Rebuke, submission, discipline… there are a lot of things that are either ignored or weakened as a result.

    All the above are based on emotions. It is crucial to understand what those emotions are, where they come from, and where they take us, so that, for example, we would know that rebuke, discipline and submission should be rooted in and guided by selfless love rather than a selfish desire to control others. Too often supposedly godly actions are anything but, as they express selfish or even evil desires of individual people and groups. But knowing emotions behind them makes it possible to discern where they originate and where they may lead us.”

    Marigold, Object of Contempt was right in his description of the church being far too focused on emotions – particularly on whimsical emotions that can lead to women (and men) making terrible decisions for their families. The emphasis is far more on what makes you FEEL GOOD and “happy” than what is GOOD for you, for your family, for your husband and your children. The emphasis USED to be on duty and sacrifice – not to the point of where the mom is a martyr, but to a healthy point of where the wife did what was needed out of discipline (her mind choosing to, overriding any emotions that she “felt” like not doing it).

    Rebuke, submission, and discipline should not be focused around a person’s emotions at all, that is and could be a very dangerous road if people rebuked out of anger, revenge, or trying to feel better about their own selves. You’re right that a rebuke, submission, and having discipline should come from the love we have inside us, but that is a little different than mere feelings in my opinion. Feelings can be a good indicator that something is right or wrong, but our minds have to rise above mere feelings constantly, and rely rather on a sense of duty and sacrifice, regardless of our emotions in the moment. Emotions and feelings are often misleading!! So allowing them to keep us on a path of following God can be extremely dangerous. I believe this is what Object of Contempt was saying.

    Sometimes we don’t “feeeel” like doing something, but we choose to do it anyway out of a sense of duty to our God, family, community, or a sense of submission to God and obeying His commands for us. We may not FEEL like responding to someone insulting and mocking us with gentleness and restraint, but you can bet that that is what God wants and desires from us when dealing with someone spiritually wounding who is allowing themselves to run around wounding others out of their hurt.

    Hopefully this helps you understand where I think his comment was coming from… I agree with you that we should try to understand our emotions – especially the negative ones we feel because it’s often pointing to a heart issue that we have within our spirits.

  5. Maigold,

    I really have absolutely *no* desire to stifle and vilify emotions. There is a difference between the truth of a situation, and the emotion that is our response to it. We can be deceived if we don’t acknowledge that emotions affect our perception. It is not particularly wise to stuff our emotions. I think, rather, that introspection is able to help us know if we are being sensible. I happen to be a very sensitive person, with strong emotions. I have been forced often to hide them — not least of all because I a man.

    I think our mind and emotions are both part of our spirits. I think that emotions are a lot like the sensory and motor nerves, while the mind corresponds more to the actual brain. That is a weak metaphor, and not entirely accurate, but it shows both as being incredibly important, inseparable, and different in purpose.

    As far as the church is concerned, there are still churches that treat emotions as a hassle ar best. I think that is a lousy representation of what God gave us emotions for, as well as a theft of the relational blessings that come from emotions that are instructed by God’s word. I have been in churches like that. I think they used to be far more numerous in the past, but that is only based on my experience, nothing objective.

    These days it is more common to find churches that have put emotion at the center of most everything. Even conservative churches (and I’m talking in terms of doctrinal stance, not liturgy or denomination) make the mistake of thinking that the worship is good if it created an emotional “glow”. It is incredibly common to mistake our feelings for the leading of the Holy Spirit.

    What Dragonfly said was a very good description of what I was thinking, but with a focus on the more practical aspects. Your remark about control stings somewhat because I’ve been dealing with a *lot* of control foisted on me. The astonishing thing that I have learned is that the control was motivated by emotions of fear, vindictiveness, or superiority more than anything reasoned or Godly.

    The church I’ve been attending lately has 2 or 3 men who are trying to shoehorn me back into that kind of emotionalized church culture. It makes them very uncomfortable to have a man in their midst believe, for example, that forgiveness should not be automatic (we often *should* overlook a wrong suffered, though). The effort to re-enculturate me has become very controlling (I feel it in a somewhat exaggerated way because of long-term emotional abuse that is on-going). They have made my situation worse by dismissing me and invalidating me with my abuser in the room. They don’t do this out of malice, but it is still a very wrong thing they’ve done. They are convinced they are being loving. Their emotional orientation has prevented them from having insight, or even having an accurate, sensible perception.

    The one thing I have going for me is that, as a result of childhood abuse, I began to believe that I was as worthless as I’d been told I was. When anyone believes that, it shows in every action. I was a target for bullying and contempt from kids, teachers, whomever. It reinforced my beliefs. But… it’s hard to fight the tears here… God had his eye on me.

    He gave me the knowledge that He thought I was worth dying for. Words backed up with action. I have learned that there are innumerable people who will slough their emotional crap on anyone who looks vulnerable. And, I am used to being disrespected, unpopular, ignored. For Christs’ sake, I am willing to buck the culture and be despised, not because I think I deserve it, but because He is worthy. Emotionally, that makes very little sense.

    It is emotionally satisfying in a strange way, though. A couple Sundays back when one of those guys were pounding on me, it hurt when he told me (without much knowledge about me) I was hard hearted, and implied that I should find another church. But I wasn’t shaken because I know who I believe in. Emotions matter a lot to me. So does the truth. I want my emotions to flow according to the truth.

    Eh.. I did it again. I really can be long winded. 😉

  6. Marigold,

    I think I missed a major point, probably your main point.

    I have heard sermons and read books that either implied, or directly stated, that God speaks to our hearts, but our intellects often get in the way. This is a common belief. And you seem to hold it. When I mention Rom 12:2 which says to be transformed by renewing our minds, you responded by saying that the message appeals to our emotions. So I want to briefly (I hope) address that idea.

    I think the Rom 12:2 message is about changing our thoughts, beliefs, and especially our perception, so that we can walk in God”s ways. Now, he specifically refers to renewing our mind, but I don’t think that means it’s the only part of us that needs to be renewed. Emotions are certainly part of that.

    The impetus for the statement is that we all start out walking in the world’s ways. The only way to see what needs to change is to discover what we believe that is actually a lie. This obviously includes emotional stuff. Leaving old beliefs behind often means leaving people behind that won’t tolerate the “new you”. That has a huge emotional effect. It hurts. Do we allow that emotional desire to be close to those people to detour us from walking in what we know are God’s ways? Hopefully not. It’s amhard question every time the situation arises.

    Interestingly, that verse implies that our mind is the problem and the the tool for healing at the same time. If we think that God is going to bypass our minds and speak directly to/through our feelings, then it would seem to ignore the way God has told us to go — and the way He has historically moved people.

    So, I don’t think my feelings are “the real me”. And I also don’t believe that our mind our our emotions are more core to our being than the other. That seems sort of like choosing to only use one leg or the other. I think that when we learn something to be true, we know how to feel about it so that our emotions are pleasing to God. Our mind is the tool we have for learning that.

    And to those people who would teach that we must (not) feel a certain way, or that we should avoid feeling things… Please, renew your minds to learn *His* ways. His ways allow for all the emotions.

  7. “I think the Rom 12:2 message is about changing our thoughts, beliefs, and especially our perception, so that we can walk in God”s ways. Now, he specifically refers to renewing our mind, but I don’t think that means it’s the only part of us that needs to be renewed. Emotions are certainly part of that.”

    ^^That is so true, Object of Contempt! You’re right that the renewing of our minds to become more like that of Christ Jesus is also in accordance with taking every thought captive and aligning it in Truth.

    So if I have emotions that make me feel like something is true, when it actually isn’t, that can be extremely misleading. Feeling depressed, feeling worthless, giving in to feeling despair or hopelessness due to my situation – all these things come from emotions over-riding God’s truth in our life. That’s not to say that sometimes feelings can’t be coming from real things and valid situations!! It’s perfectly normal to feel depressed at times due to horrible circumstances, but healing and getting out of that depression before it becomes a stronghold is ALSO important.

    There seems to need to be a major balance in our hearts and minds between our emotions and what we know is true.

    This again… this staying focused on God and His priority for our lives IS renewing of our *minds* so that we think like Him, react like Him, respond more like Him, talk like Him, and live daily like Him.

    We can’t do that without being in His word daily – that is the most important thing in your life – spending time in His word and in relationship with Him. If you’re not spending time with Him, how can following His will for your life be your purpose? Surely we’re lying to ourselves if we think that we’re living for Him, and yet aren’t carving out at least SOME time each day to spend it in His presence.

    If He is the most important person in our life, then we will find time to be with Him and seek His counsel – in everything, and take it seriously.

    If we are focusing on ANYTHING more than we allow ourselves to focus on Him, then we are enslaved to it. The Bible calls us slaves of Christ, so if we are in bondage to anything else – other people’s opinions on our life, other people’s words and actions, to constantly wondering what someone else is doing, to money or greed/materialism, porn, gossip about what someone else is doing, etc. If we are focusing on these things and giving time to them each day instead of giving time to God, then we most likely have a stronghold to which we are in bondage. And how many of those strongholds come from giving in to our emotions, or letting our thoughts and whims run amok in our minds?

    Just food for thought 🙂

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