The 4 Star Process

A first glance the white flowers in the picture to the left add beauty to the shrubbery.  After a closer look, a person can see the deceptive nature of its beauty.  The white flowers are actually part of a nuisance vine that clings to a host plant and drains it of its strength.

A similar process can subtly take root in our lives.  Something that seems harmless will attach itself to our daily routine.  Eventually it will blossom into a habit that saps us of our strength and robs us of our vitality.

Because our thoughts can become habits and habits have a way of controlling our lives, we need to bring them into our awareness.  A simple and effective way to do this is to follow the 4 Star Process that I try to practice.

1.  Self-awareness:  Become aware of what you are thinking by recording your thoughts.

2.  Think about the thought.  Is it catastrophic thinking?  This type of thinking is characterized by words such as:  always, never, should, and must.

3.  Action:  Many of our thoughts are part of an unconscious process.  Because this process causes us to act without consciously thinking, we need to practice disciplined thinking.  Use 4-G Thinking:  Eliminate thoughts of Grudges and Gossip, and embrace thoughts of Goodness and Grace.

4.  Rehearse:  Successful public events are often preceded by hours of private rehearsal.  Start and end your day by reviewing your potential Brain Drainers and Brain Boosters.

  • Brain Drainers:  Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.  Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.   But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice,  slander, and filthy language from your lips.  Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices  and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator (Colossians 3:5-10).
  • Brain Boosters:  Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble,  whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever  things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things (Philippians 4:8)

Here’s a question to keep you thinking:  What buds are about to blossom in your life?

Anosognosia

On December 31, 1974, I was living in Colorado Springs.  Even though that was several years ago, there were a couple of pieces of headline news on the last Tuesday of 1974 that caught my attention.

Since it was the middle of the football bowl season I was glued to my TV set, and I saw Nebraska beat Florida in the 41st Sugar Bowl.  As a baseball fan I paid attention to the news that free agent pitcher Catfish Hunter had signed a record $3.75 million contract to pitch for the NY Yankees for the next 5 years.

There was something else in the news that day, and it was anosognosia.  The best way to define anosognosia is to tell the story of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas.

While vacationing in the Bahamas, Douglas was hospitalized with a debilitating stroke that left him confined him to a wheelchair. Even though he was paralyzed, Douglas asserted he was fine and demanded to be checked out of the hospital. He went so far as to declare that reports of his paralysis were “a myth.”

To prove his point, Douglas invited news reporters to join him for a hike.  He even told the reporters that he had been kicking field goals with his paralyzed leg.  As a result of this strange behavior, Douglas was dismissed from his seat on the Supreme Court.

Anosognosia is a cognitive impairment that denies reality. People, like Justice Douglas, believe they are fine, but in reality they are sick or suffering from some sort of paralysis.

Many people suffer from anosognosia in the sense that they refuse to admit the truth about their spiritual condition.  Why is this?  It could be attributed to the cognitive dissonance that occurs whenever a person holds two cognitions (ideas, attitudes, beliefs, opinions) that are psychologically inconsistent.

When it comes to spiritual anosognosia, the inconsistent cognitions are: I am a good person, and I am a sinner.  How can a good person be a sinner and how can a sinner be a good person?

Mankind has struggled with this dilemma since the time of Adam and Eve.   The solution to this situation is Jesus Christ.  This faulty cognition is resolved with a simple admission:  I am not, nor have I ever been perfect.

Because none of us have ever measured up to God’s standard of perfection, we are in need of the salvation that is found in Jesus Christ.  The confession of our transgression allows us to embrace a new relationship:  Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence (2 Corinthians 5:17).

A new of way of living:  I hope this is enough to keep you thinking.

Absence of Proof?

William Cowper is a name that many people have never heard.  To be honest, the only I know is because he wrote some of my favorite hymns (There is a Fountain).  Cowper lived from 1731 to 1800, and he penned some words that I have found to be of interest:  The absence of proof is not proof of absence.

I think of Cowper’s words when I meet someone who asserts that the truth about God does not exist because, they say:   There is no proof that God does exist.

The person who takes this position believes a particular idea cannot exist because it has never been detected.  Anyone who would embrace this logic would have to have the omniscience of God because he would need to have the cognitive ability to know all there is no know about the universe—all ideas, concepts and science.

As an example, Pluto wasn’t discovered until about the time of Cowper’s death in 1800.  Would anyone be so naïve to say that Pluto didn’t exist until it was discovered?

Speaking of the word discovered, this speaks to the very heart of truth.  We need to realize that truth is not invented, it is discovered.  The truth of the existence of Pluto was present, but it was undiscovered until 1800.

Frank Turek has written about the nature of truth:

  • Truth is discovered, not invented. It exists independently of anyone’s knowledge of it. (Gravity existed prior to Newton)
  • Truth is transcultural; if something is true, it is true for all people, in all places, at all times (2+2=4)
  • Truth is unchanging even though our beliefs about truth change (When we began to believe the earth was round instead of flat, the truth about the earth didn’t change, only our belief about the earth changed.)
  • Beliefs cannot change a fact, no matter how sincerely they are held. (Someone can sincerely believe the world is flat, but that only makes the person sincerely mistaken.)
  • Truth is not affected by the attitude on the one professing it. (An arrogant person does not make the truth he professes false. A humble person does not make the error he professes true.)

Remember the words of Jesus?  He said:  You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.  Some people look at faith in God as being something that is restrictive.  I have found it to be much different:  It freed me from bondage, and it has helped me turn my life around.

I hope this gives you something to think about.

Forbes On Character

It was Malcolm Forbes who said:  You can judge the character of others by how they treat those who can do nothing to them or for them.

This is a difficult quote for me because it reminds of how little character I have had at some critical  junctures of my life.  In some of these instances, my treatment of people has been anything but a reflection of the Golden Rule.

I have often said that Christianity is a journey.  It is elusive in nature because we never really reach our destination of becoming more like Jesus.

As we move along this path of life, we would do well to heed the words of St. Francis of Assisi:

Lord make me an instrument of your peace,

Where there is hatred let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

And where there is sadness, joy.

O divine master grant that I may

Not so much seek to be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love

For it is in giving that we receive-

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.

And it’s in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

The words of this old Saint will keep me thinking for several days.  I hope they will occupy your mind as well.

A Sonic Bust

I just returned home from a meal that tickled my tongue and one that added to the clogging of my arteries.  Even though it isn’t a steady part of my diet, once in a while I just crave a burger from Sonic.

I’ve come to realize that any time food tastes really good, I should probably spit it out of my mouth.  I’ve also come to the sad realization that healthy doesn’t taste as good as its counterpart.

Back to Sonic—when my wife and I started to order, we noticed an evening special that consisted of 2 burgers, 2 drinks, and 2 sides for $7.99.

When the meal arrived it cost $9.02.  I politely asked how the price of the meal went from $7.99 to $9.02.  I was told that the sides had to be tater tots, and since I had asked for onion rings the price went to $9.02.

When I looked at the advertising insert a little closer, I noticed a little smudge on the lower left corner that was actually words.   Let qualify words; these were words so tiny I thought I was going to need the Hubble Telescope to read them.

After a few moments that led to strained and blood-shot eyes, I was able to discern the very fine print.  The special did require that my fine dining experience consist of tater tots and not onion rings.

As I ate my meal with grease dripping down my chin and staining my shirt, I decided I should take a little closer look at the advertising on the side of the Sonic.   My litigious mind noticed three signs:

Sign #1 spoke of their hotdogs that are made with 100% pure beef.  Hmmm, but what percent of the total hotdog is pure beef?

Sign #2 spoke of the many choices available when a drink is ordered.  Isn’t this the problem today?  Does a person really need 168,894 drink combinations to choose from?  Sometimes I feel like I’ve lost my way in a rainbow sherbet world, and I yearn for the simpler times of just chocolate and vanilla—too many distractions and not enough focus.

Sign #3 spoke of half price drinks from 2 to 4 PM.  Wouldn’t it more accurate to call it what it really is:  You’ve Already Had Too Much To Drink By This Time of Day Hour!? 

I realize this may not be typical of the articles I usually write, but please remember I’m writing under the influence of cholesterol.