Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Christmas Story

One of our Mind Change Moment readers, Toni  LaGatta, shared this story with us and we wanted to share it with all of you. Thanks to Toni for letting us pass this along.  It is a bit longer than our usual posts but well worth your time. Merry Christmas and may God bless you in the New Year.

Christmas of 1979 will always be very special to me. I was a single mom with two boys, 4 and 7. I worked in Kissimmee, Florida, as a dental assistant, making $110 a week. Our 1973 Chevy worked most of the time, and through a special program I had managed to move into a small three bedroom house. It was our first Christmas in our new home, and I was wondering how I could make it special for the kids. I couldn’t afford to go home to Virginia where my family was, and none of them could afford to come to Florida. I had been divorced a few years and the kids’ dad lived in Texas. It was going to be just the three of us for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Maximum Choice, Minimum Meaning?

Jonathan Sacks, writing in his new book, Not in God’s Name, says we are living in a century that “has left us with a maximum of choice and a minimum of meaning.”  That is a powerful, although sad, description of what it is a like in a world that is increasingly secularized.
One tech website says they identified 3,997 different smart phone models available in the world today.  With TVs you can pick a 24-inch flat screen or go up to 110 inches or land somewhere in between with dozens of brands to choose from. If you are into music you can use iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, Sirius/XM radio and dozens of other means.  We could go on, ad infinitum, but that is enough to make the point: A maximum of choice.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Completely Different, Upside Down Way

Slowly consider Paul’s words from Philippians 2:
5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in very nature God,
   did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;

Monday, November 9, 2015

When a Little Thing becomes a Big Thing

I have been watching college football since at least 1959 , but I am afraid I have taken only small amounts of wisdom away from this diversion. However, viewing a significant game this past Saturday, I heard an analyst make this comment about a certain well-executed play: “That’s a little thing, but little things can become big things.” He proved to be prophetic as what looked like a little thing, did, in fact, become a big thing that played a role in a big win.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Power to Encage

This week’s “moment” comes from Sheila. The title is not a misprint.

We all have times when we feel overwhelmed. It may seem our thoughts and worries and fears are buzzing all around us, dive bombing and looping in our minds. We feel our heads being jerked here and there, making it difficult to focus, to decide which of these assailants to go after first. Our anxiety builds and crescendos and we feel totally out of control and at the mercy of the battle going on in our minds.

Let me suggest an analogy that might help you to pull out of the fog and get more direction and focus.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

To Live Is...

I am teaching an online class on Philippians (and you will hear me talk more about it). In preparing for this week, I spent time meditating on 1:21. “ For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” In the class we will closely examine the context, but whatever the context, certain things are true.

Sunday, October 18, 2015


Sometimes I have been brought to a needed mind change because of something I read in the Scriptures, sometimes because of something another person does that inspires me, but also, sometimes because I hear about what others are going through. In the latter case, I usually see that others are facing, with faith, a situation far more challenging than my own.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Low Battery; Please Charge!

Please don’t think I am complaining, but so much of my life in this era is spent making sure that any number of devices get recharged. There is my cell phone, my Kindle, my Bluetooth headsets, my Chromebook (which I am using to type this), my electric shaver, the cordless house phones, and, because of my MS and at the top of my list, electric mobility devices (usually known as scooters or powerchairs) that keep me moving from point A to point B.  

Sunday, October 4, 2015


I have been profiting from Guy Hammond’s new book, intriguingly titled Tempt-Away. After a clever introduction, Guy quickly gets down to business and gives practical counsel on facing and responding to temptations. I’m not sure I can remember another book I’ve read with this purpose, but this one will help many.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

The Perfect Gift

This week's moment comes from Sheila, as will be obvious.

Our family draws names for Christmas every year (only 87 shopping days left). Then we try to figure out the best $30 gift we can buy—hopefully one that will be just right for the intended person. No socks, ties, or fruit cakes allowed!

When we open our gifts, we, of course, want to know who they are from. We take turns unwrapping so we can enjoy each other’s gifts. After all, Christmas is certainly not a time to be focused on ourselves.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The Sunny Side

After the Cohen brothers’ cult classic, “O Brother Where Art Thou,” was released in the year 2000, my wife and I quickly became fans of the music sound track released with the film. More broadly, we found ourselves becoming bluegrass enthusiasts and passed that CD on to my parents.

It was not long before we heard back from my mother that she was playing it nearly every day and had a special fondness for the Carter family song, sung on the album by the Whites, called “Keep on the Sunny Side.”

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Mom's Mind

Since this is the first "Moment" you have received in a while you might like an explanation. From time to time over the last few years we have missed a few weeks that were unannounced, so when an out-of-town trip at the beginning of August made it difficult to get something out, it did not seem to be a problem.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rock of Ages

In the great majority of films depicting church services of the past one or two hundred years, I have noticed that the song of choice is usually “Rock of Ages.” It has a decidedly old-fashion sound to it, seems to communicate some nostalgic irrelevancy, and I suspect you seldom hear it in contemporary churches.

However, the idea of God being our rock is a biblical message particularly found in the Psalms. There are many references like this one:

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2 (NIV)

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Finish Line Faith

For many years Randy McKean advocated for a publishing ministry I led in Boston. I will always appreciate his support. Now he has written his own inspiring book titled Radical Faith.
One of his chapters is on “Finish Line Faith” and he points out that biblical faith is faith that finishes. Of course, we must have beginnings and often we only have beginnings because of faith. It takes faith to launch into new waters.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Control Tower

My long-time friend Gordon Ferguson has just released a new edition of his book, The Power of Spiritual Thinking, in which he has an added several new chapters. One of those deals with “doubting your doubts,” and in it I was struck by this quote:

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Political or an Apolitical Move

Two weeks ago I wrote these lines :

“Here is my thinking: The Kingdom of God changes the way we think about everything or at least it should. It should change the way I think about my multiple sclerosis, my possessions, my relationships, my anxieties, my citizenship, and my enemies. The list goes on and on.”

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to practice my own words.   I listened to a radio news report on how the presidential campaign in the United States is getting cranked up (for an election that is still 16 months away!). 

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Attitude Shirts and the Kingdom Life

You have seen them around. Sometimes they are called “attitude shirts.” They openly broadcast to the world what not everybody verbalizes but what an awful lot of people have going on inside them. Search Google or Bing Images or sample a few of these:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

For They Will See God

 Recently, I have found my thinking evolving about one of Jesus’ Beatitudes, his Kingdom Attitudes. And it is this one: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

I think many of us read that and think, “they will see God…some day...in heaven”  Years ago I thought that. And then my study of the Beatitudes convinced me they are all about the kingdom coming now.  And then, I think a lot of us just don’t really think about what “see God” means. We just hear the beatitude as an encouragement to keep our hearts pure or to let God keep purifying our hearts.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Changing the Way We Think about Everything

This is Monday morning, Memorial Day in the United States. As you have probably seen we posted a special Memorial Day weekend article a couple of days ago and several have made some thoughtful comments about it. This is a bit of an unusual topic for this blog and some may wonder if it is really appropriate.

Here is my thinking: The Kingdom of God changes the way we think about everything or at least it should. It should change the way I think about my multiple sclerosis, my possessions, my relationships, my anxieties, my citizenship, and my enemies. The list goes on and on.

In none of these cases should I be squeezed into the world’s mold or go with the flow, but in all cases, my mind should be transformed by the mind of Jesus. Will that sometimes—even many times—make me an alien and stranger in this world? Absolutely. But that is the way of Jesus, and the only way for us to shine like stars in the universe.

As the discussion continues on the original post I would encourage you to follow it and to enter in, but, of course, in the Spirit of Jesus, keep it kind and respectful. Please do not add comments to this post, but go back to the first post. God bless.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Some Uncommon Memorial Day Thoughts

This Memorial Day Weekend we reprint some appropriate thoughts from another writer:

On this Memorial Day, what if we not only remember American soldiers but all the soldiers around the world who have lost their lives? And not only soldiers, but all the innocent civilians caught and killed as well? What if we remember that we are all mothers, fathers, husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, family, and friends? That we are more family than strangers? What if we took our identity seriously, that we are all made in the image of God? What if we renew our “us vs. them” mindset to instead think “we are like them, and they are like us”?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

I Should Have Known

When I went out for a morning prayer "walk" around my neighborhood this last week and prayed some specific prayers, I felt quite surrendered. I did not think I was in any sense giving a demand to God or requiring him to do anything my way (as if that would have worked any way). At the same time, I probably thought I had at least some idea how he might chose to get things done. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

US Becoming a Lot Less Christian

I expect many of you have seen this headline all over the Internet today. The famous Pew Research firm released the results of 35,000 interviews with Americans and discovered that the number of people in United States identifying themselves as Christians could be said to have dropped nearly 9% between 2007 and 2014. I guess the sky is falling!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cruise Control

I live in a small Tennessee city outside of Nashville where cars have been manufactured by GM for the last twenty-five years. My friend, Chris, has worked in that plant as an engineer since it first opened. The job brought him here so he could become a follower of Jesus. I'm not sure anyone told the corporate office in Detroit about that part.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Don’t Give Way to Fear

Sometimes unbelievers are known to say, “Isn’t it convenient that Christians come up with this God who says what they always wanted to hear.” I suppose they are thinking about all the promises that God will love us and provide for us. What they are surely forgetting is that the God who speaks to us in the Scriptures and through Jesus says a lot of things that we don’t really want to hear and quite a number of things that scare our pants off.

Friday, April 17, 2015


Here are some thoughts I first shared with you six years ago. Recently, I found myself needing them. Maybe some of you might need them, also.

I am going to share with you one of the most important words you will ever hear. The word is “stop.” To paraphrase Ecclesiastes, there is a time to go and a time to stop.

Most of the important mind changing moments in my life came only after I stopped. Most of the times when I got up to go after something and went with some clarity and impact were times after I had first stopped.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Play YourTrump Card

 What follows are thoughts I first posted seven years ago, but I find I need a reminder and maybe some of you do as well.

According to The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, here is the definition of a trump card: “the suit designated as having precedence over the others. In general, it is something capable of making a decisive difference when used at the right moment” as in ‘The prosecutor played her trump card by calling a surprise witness.’”

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Spiritual Battle

King David writes:
For I hear the slander of many;
There is terror on every side.
They conspire against me
And plot to take my life.

But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say “You are my God, my times are in your hands.”

I have come to understand that my enemies are just as real as those that David had. They are those powers of this dark world and the spiritual forces of evil that Paul describes in Ephesians. They are not called “powers” for no reason. They are strong and they are to be reckoned with. They conspire against us and want to ruin our lives. This is not paranoia; it is just facing the facts.

Monday, March 23, 2015

“Forgiving Ourselves”: Just a Matter of Semantics?

Somewhere along the line, most of us have heard the expression, “I don’t think we really disagree, but it’s just a matter of semantics.” In fact, most of us have probably used a phrase much like this. Our point seems to be that we may be saying the same thing, but just using different terminology. Ironically, in making this statement, we are probably not even using the word semantics correctly. But let’s not get too pedantic.

The fact is that sometimes we can “quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers” (1 Timothy 1:7). However, there are times when a healthy discussion about the terminology we are using may be valuable, or even more than that.

Monday, March 16, 2015

It Takes More than Right Thoughts

If you have read my book Mind Change you know how strongly I believe in the importance of replacing the wrong thoughts with the right ones. Thoughts are powerful. Words and concepts lodged in our brain make a difference. But there is a passage in the New Testament book of Hebrews that reminds us that thoughts and words are not enough.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Lift with Your Faith

This week’s post comes from Sheila

Have you ever lifted something heavy and told yourself, “Lift with your legs! Lift with your legs” and then yell out, “Oh! I hurt my back”? Just telling ourselves to “lift with our legs” doesn’t mean that we will necessarily do it.

In life situations I tell myself, “Rely on God! Rely on God!” and then I proceed to rely on myself. I said the right thing to myself, but myself didn’t listen. And when I rely upon myself, I end up ushering in anxiety and fear and faithlessness without even realizing.

Monday, March 2, 2015

This Far, but No Farther

 In describing his sovereignty to Job, God reminds Job that he can say to the sea: 'This far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt' (Job 38:11).

It is interesting that many people try turning the tables and say to God: “This far you may come, and no father; here is where what you will receive from me must halt.” Maybe they aren’t quite so brash about it but that is the underlying spirit.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visualization Gone Wrong

This week we feature a different kind of piece that my creative wife recently published on her blog, My Bucket of Sand. 
-----    -----
Some people use visualization techniques to help them relax and not be anxious.

(Peaceful, new-age music is playing in the background): “Picture yourself standing in a field of vibrant green grass. In your mind’s eye, look up at the blue sky and billowy white clouds. Now cast your eyes below at the shimmering lake of water, mirroring the sky. Hear the burbles and gurgles of the nearby brook, etc.”

Monday, February 16, 2015


Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 )

Maybe you are one of those tough people who handles life’s most powerful blows like the whole experience is just another day at the office. Maybe you don’t need encouragement. And you certainly don’t need comfort. Maybe for you, needing comfort is for sissies.

But I doubt it.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Raising the Bar

She is in her mid-seventies, is legally blind, walks unsteadily with a cane, has a myriad of medical problems and is an encouragement powerhouse. She is to encouragement what LaBron James is to basketball and what Peyton Manning is to football and what the widow at the temple is to giving. She sets the pace and raises the bar.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Death, Be Not Proud

This week, once again, I and many people I know felt the sting of death in particularly shocking ways. Many who read this column felt personally the death of a child, so precious and with many years seemingly ahead, and so loved and cherished by parents and grandparents who mean much to us.  Nearly the same group was stunned by the sudden and unanticipated death of a vibrant disciple of Jesus who had been serving him for decades and was still vigorously having an impact for him.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Straw to Gold

This week Sheila shares with us something from her blog that I found very helpful. At the end of her post I will reference a longer article I wrote this week.

Do you remember the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about the miller’s daughter who was commanded by the king to spin straw into gold?

It occurs to me that life often gives us straw in the form of financial problems, health challenges, relationship difficulties, or life-jarring grief. A person of faith says, “This is happening to me, so I need to make something out of it that will encourage other people. I need to spin the straw into gold. I can’t let it be wasted.”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Dawn Wall

Before you read this post it will help if you could click on the following link and take a look at the Dawn Wall that is part of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Dawn Wall.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Heart

Today you must deal with certain realities that include: circumstances, your health, your energy level, your mood, the state of various relationships, others’ attitudes toward you, consequences of others' decisions, maybe certain hints about the future, and perhaps some unexpected curve ball that was just thrown your way.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Happy New Year?

2015 has begun. We are nearly a week into it. Many friends have told you they hope it will be a happy one. The newness will soon wear off, but you will keep hoping that it will be just that kind of year. But will it?