Altered State of Mind

Last week I talked about making a very important choice, a choice that will affect the rest of your life, but what happens afterwards? How do I go about living my life? So often we are able to make the choice, but we continue to live our lives as they were. This isn’t me saying we should all become hermit people only reading the bible every moment of the day, not a bad thing just basically impossible if you have to drive and interact with people, what I am saying is that we become changed people. A relationship with God isn’t some checklist to complete, that isn’t a relationship. We are in relationship with so many people, friends, family, co-workers; but the most important relationship we have is with our creator. When we spend time with these people in our life, we make an effort to connect with them, that’s what God wants for us. When we make the effort to connect with him, our outlook is altered.

I love looking at the different disciples in the bible and how Jesus altered not only their state of mind, but their entire way of living. To fisherman he said to drop their nets and follow him. To a tax collector he said to turn from his ways and follow him for the rest of his days. Over and over again we see people throughout the scriptures that chose Christ and never lived the same again. I think the same needs to be true for us. I’m not saying to quit your job or walk away from the people in your life, but I am saying that our minds need to be re-directed. You’d be amazed at how much a simple thought can change your outlook for a day. Ever been cut off while driving or have a bad experience at a restaurant? It’s so easy in situations like that to lose control or have that taint the rest of your day. What about when someone says something to hurt you or you experience a hard loss of someone close to you? We are faced with so many decisions to make, and making the choice to live with an altered state of mind can be the hardest. Just look at the rich young ruler in the bible. This was a man who spoke with Christ and saw the power he had, but when he was asked to sell all his belongings and follow Christ, he couldn’t let go. He fades away in scripture, we don’t even know his name, because it didn’t matter. He never left a legacy. Cue the Frozen music, we need to learn to let it go. We need to let go of our own desires and wants and follow Christ, daily. Only then can we truly live with an altered state of mind and will leave a legacy.

Seek Him daily.  

This is the number one when following after Christ, we need to make an effort each day to seek what he has in store for us today. This looks different for everyone. For me, I wake up and look at the verse of the day on my iPhone, pray in the shower, and find time in the day to read and journal. Not very complicated is it? It doesn’t have to be complicated, it has to be authentic. The way you pursue something makes all the difference. If I were to not care about my girlfriend and what is going on with her life, the relationship wouldn’t go anywhere. Instead I make an effort to know her more and more each day. The same is true with God, we need to make our search authentic, trying to know him more and grow with him. Last night at Vert (My church home of Daystars’ youth group) I asked my students in small group what it looks like for them to search God. It was so awesome to see all the different ways they connect, it wasn’t complicated or some big show, it was simple things like, I read a bit before I sleep, I pray during my day, I listen to worship music in the car; simple. You need to find out what works for you, and pursue that relationship each and every day.

Be in community.

Small groups have changed my life. I was talking with one of the guys that led a student small group when we were in high school. It was so good to share about how much that group changed both of our lives, we shared memories of fun and experiencing difficult times together. It truly was one of the best things to happen in my life. Whenever anyone asks me how they can grow deeper in their faith and have accountability with it, small group is always what I tell them to do, it gives you a space to open up about struggles and do life together. One of my favorite TV shows is Community, it’s a show where seven people from all walks of life meet at a community college and become so close. I love the show because its’ funny, clever, and it shows how important it is to have people around you to support you. The same is true for us, we need people around us, and small groups allow for you to grow and see the world through the eyes of others. Just like Christ had with his twelve disciples, we need a community of believers around us to lift us up and build each other up.  

Live differently.

This is the one that brings it together. In order for change to happen, we must be willing to change. We may have to make sacrifices in order to achieve this, just like the rich young ruler, we may have to let go. We’ve seen what happens when we don’t from our buddy the rich young ruler, but when we do choose to let go, everything changes. What we focus our minds on affects our way of living. For me, I love movies, but sometimes I have to choose not to watch something because I don’t want my focus to be on something that will only hurt me in the long run. I have filters on my computer so I don’t have unrestricted access to the internet. We live in a world where blurred lines are all around us. We have things like Playboy saying they will no longer have nude women in them they will only have them in underwear, that makes it better right? (That is filled with sarcasm) Absolutely not, it still objectifies women. We make excuses to party and lose all sense we hold because it’s the weekend. We make excuses as to how negative things in the world don’t affect us, but the truth is that it is killing us. We should be in this world and not of it. We need to guard our eyes from playboy and those Victoria’s Secret commercials. We need to understand that there is an issue with getting completely drunk and losing all sense. We need to stop making excuses and take ownership, and change our minds. 2 Timothy 2:19 b says, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” Are we going to be able to do this every time? Of course not! We are a fallen people, but we are saved by grace. We need to make an effort to focus on Christ, and all the things of this world will fade away. We need to live differently, altering our mind to focus on Christ and not momentary pleasures.

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The first choice is deciding to have a relationship with Christ. The second is being determined to live with an altered state of mind. In a world filled with blurred lines and people around us saying that we can do whatever makes us feel good, we need to rise above what the world’s standard is. What we choose to focus our minds on, our heart will follow. So guard your mind, dwell on the word that brings life. Make the decision to seek Christ daily, to be in community, and to live differently in this world. You are a light in a world surrounded in darkness, show others love and choose to be in a relationship with the one who gives life.

Live with an altered state of mind.

-Joshua Thomas

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