The Positive Filter

…not the king. 9 In him, you see, all the full measure of divinity has taken up bodily residence. 10 What’s more, you are fulfilled in him, since he’s the head of all rule and authority.

The only one who has right thinking all of the time is God. And we can begin to know what God knows and think like God thinks because of Jesus. In Jesus, God becomes human, and Jesus takes on all of God’s way of thinking. So, like Jesus, we just have to live close to God all the time.

Well, how do we find God? We don’t have to find God because he is already there with us wherever we are. Through Jesus, the Kingdom of God is here. Put it this way.

People are seeking all different ways to get ahead in life. Negative ways like trying to manipulate or attack other people. Positive ways like trying to be kind and mindful.

But, none of this works if it is human-powered.

The negative is human beings allowing themselves to be Satan-influenced and using manipulation and evil thinking as a result. This isn’t going to work because God is stronger and defeats this way of thinking in the long run.

And the positive, without God, isn’t enough. You can try to be as kind and mindful as possible, but if this is under your own power you will fail. You will be overwhelmed in the long run. No one is strong enough to save themselves.

But not if we are living with God. God is always where we are. We need the supernatural power of God to live a good life where our thinking is in line with God’s thinking. Where we have the “mind of Christ” as the Bible says. Well, we can have all of this because where we are is the doorway to heaven. We just need to be mindful of this. We need to pay attention. Watch out! In a good way, keeping our mind on Jesus. Like the old song. “I woke up this morning with my mind set on Jesus…”

That’s what this means. What’s more, you are fulfilled in him, since he’s the head of all rule and authority.

To be fulfilled in him means we are full of him. Nowhere is this more important than our thinking! When our thinking matches the thinking of those who dwell with God in the heavens, starting with Jesus, then we know everything is going to be just fine for us here on earth. Then we know we lack nothing because we have access to the heavenly blessings now. Then we know we need not fear evil. No human being, not Satan himself has the power we have because Jesus is the head and we are fulfilled in him.

This is the life available to us right now. God is where we are.


What does it mean to you to be “full of God?”

negative filters

There are two prominent negative filters that affect the lives of people today.

One negative filter is to consider yourself a victim. Whatever is happening to you that is negative is the result of people and circumstances outside of yourself harming you. You are never responsible for anything negative that affects you. It is always someone else’s fault.

The other negative filter is related to what used to be called neurosis. Anything negative that happens to you must somehow be your fault. The filter you live your life through is how often you mess up, you’re no good and there isn’t anything you can do with the fact that you are a failure.

Both of these philosophies of life that we impose on our thinking are extremely harmful. The more dangerous filter is victimhood. If you are alway right and anything bad that happens to you is because of people and circumstances outside of yourself, there is little that can be done to change this way of thinking. Negative life experiences can’t have anything to do with you in the first place and you will not seek healing from living this lie.

Emotional and spiritual health begin with recognizing that regardless of people and circumstances outside of myself, if I am an adult who does not have physical brain damage or chemical imbalance, then I am fully responsible for the attitudes and actions in my life that follow. While I am not able to control much of what happens to me, I am in control of how I respond. If it is always someone else to blame when things go wrong in my life, then I will become the kind of person who cannot take responsibility. Then I am lost.

Neurotic thinking is different. A person who is thinking it is always my fault is much more likely to seek help. Neurosis can be successfully addressed when a person realizes there is possibility for change through healing from traumas that helped to bring about this type of negative filter in the first place.


Have you had occasions to use either of these negative ways of thinking? 

Deceptive language

“Hollow trickery” is when language is being used to manipulate us, when people use language on purpose to try to make us anxious and on the edge where it is difficult for us to be our best true selves.

Almost all conversation currently occurring in the public square of media, politics, government, and education is using manipulative and anxiety-producing language in this way.

Human beings will use philosophy and human trickery to try to dominate others. Why? This is the influence of Satan and his lies. This is what the Bible means by the phrase, “elements of the world,” as Satan still has free reign in our world to tempt and use lies to try to influence us.

So, what if the words that occupy my thinking are mainly negative and what if I am being bombarded with manipulative and anxiety-producing language? Well, the filter that you run your thoughts through will have a large influence over your well being.


What are some examples of manipulative and anxiety-producing language a person whom you voted for, for President, used during a campaign?


How’s it going?

What’s happening?

How are you?

How are you doing?

What’s up?

Or an abbreviated version of that.


There are so many ways to acknowledge another person and the state of their life at the present moment. These are mainly used as informal greetings.

Or we might greet someone this way.

How are you feeling?

But, when it comes to our overall well being there is one thing that overrules all these other states of being. It is not about feelings, it is thinking.

What occupies our minds has more to do with our health and well being than anything else. The question of critical importance for every one of us is this. At this moment in time in your existence…

“How are you thinking?”

But, no one goes around saying, “How are you thinking?” do they?

Well maybe we should. What is on our mind affects our emotional and spiritual health, which in turn affect our physical health, more than anything else we do.

How am I thinking, indeed.

Colossians 2

8 Watch out that nobody uses philosophy and hollow trickery to take you captive!

The word that the Bible is using for “takes you captive” is originally the picture of conquering armies taking the defeated people back to their countries as slaves. To take you captive is to control you against your will.

Well what is philosophy and hollow trickery?

Philosophy means literally, “Love of words.” A philosophy has to do with the words that occupy your thinking. We all have a philosophy of life, a view of the world that we use as a filter for our thinking.

Christianity is a worldview based on the model and teaching of Jesus. Jesus introduced radical teachings into world history, such as:

“Love your enemy”

(“Love”= will the good of another and work for it in your range of influence)

“No revenge”

“The greatest of you is servant to all”

Jesus lived all of these out, and gave the ultimate teaching through his death on the cross. Giving his life for the sake of his enemies.

No one else comes close. Mohammed didn’t do any of this. Neither did Buddha. Neither did Confucius. Only Jesus.

Of course there is that whole resurrection thing, but that’s for another day…


There is no philosophy or worldview that comes close to explaining reality better than Christianity.


King Jesus is the one who leads to the goal of living with him now and forever. The way we do this is we open ourselves to receive what Jesus has to give us. We learn from him how to expand God’s Kingdom by expanding our trust in him in our own kingdom, the range of our influence. We are built up by Jesus brick by brick, where we learn more and more what we need is Jesus, not something else. We always need more of him.

How will I know if I am on the right track to the true treasure, life with Jesus now and forever? How will I know if I have truly discovered the right map?

I will know by the kind of person I am becoming. Moving forward and making progress in living the life of thanksgiving. I will know when my life overflows with thanksgiving. With gratitude.

Again as Paul writes, “So, then, just as you received King Jesus as Lord, you must continue your journey in him. You must put down healthy roots in him, being built up brick by brick in him, and established strongly in the faith, just as you were taught, with overflowing thankfulness.

Overflowing thankfulness is attractive to others. As a way of life, it is unusual. This attractive and unusual life we are invited into brick by brick will draw others to Jesus who is at the center. It’s kind of the point of the whole Christian life in the first place.


What you think of evangelism do you think of people who are overflowing with gratitude and are glad to be with you?


Treasure stories…

I love treasure stories…Treasure Island and the Indiana Jones movies come to mind. Treasure stories contain similar plots.

There is an ancient map that needs to be deciphered.

If it is correct, the heroes are richer than their wildest dreams.

But, there are always problems.

Some will doubt the map will exist.

Some will say the treasure seekers are reading the map wrong or they are charlatans.

There is always danger in the pursuit of the treasure.

Rival treasure hunters threaten to get there first.

But we know how the story should end.

The heroes get the treasure and return safely home.

Consider my favorite treasure story, the movie, National Treasure. Full of fascinating Colonial American History, this story has what all good treasure stories have.

There is an ancient map.

This one being printed on the back of the Declaration of Independence.

If they can just decipher the map they would be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

With treasure stories there are always problems.

In National Treasure they said there was no treasure and the guy nobody believed is actually the hero’s dad, who lost his reputation and was outcast by his belief in the treasure.

In National Treasure there are the dangers in the pursuit of the treasure with rivals threatening to get there first.

But we know how the story should end.

Sure enough, in National Treasure, the hero played by Nicholas Cage, Benjamin Franklin Gates finds the treasure, vindicates his dad’s reputation, defeats the bad guys, and gets safely home.

Now think of what Paul is writing in Colossians.

In chapter one 26-27 he says:

26 This word declares the mystery that was kept secret from past ages and generations, but now has been unveiled to God’s holy people. 27 God’s intention was to make known to them just what rich glory this mystery contains, out there among the nations. And this is the key: the king, living within you as the hope of glory!

Here Paul is speaking of a secret plan that has laid hidden for centuries. Now, Paul is in possession of the map, and is inviting as many people as possible to come with him to find the treasure.


What are your favorite treasure stories?

The Secret Plan…

You see, I’d like you to know just what a struggle I am having on behalf of yourselves, and the family in Laodicea, and all the people who don’t know me by sight. I want their hearts to be encouraged as they’re brought together in love.

It appears Paul isn’t writing to the Colossians only. This letter is meant for new Christians in Lodicea, too. This is a community only nine miles away. Paul is writing to those who have met him and the new believers he hasn’t met.

He continues.

I want them to experience all the wealth of definite understanding, and to come to the knowledge of God’s mystery – the Messiah, the king! He is the place where you’ll find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I’m saying this so that nobody will deceive you with plausible words. Though I’m away from you in person, you see, I am present with you in the spirit, and I’m celebrating as I keep an eye on your good order, and the solidity of your faith in the king.  So, then, just as you received King Jesus as Lord, you must continue your journey in him. You must put down healthy roots in him, being built up brick by brick in him, and established strongly in the faith, just as you were taught, with overflowing thankfulness.

So, here it is. Another treasure story! And King Jesus is in the middle of all of it!

NT Wright points this out:

Jesus is the secret plan.

Jesus, himself is the treasure.

Jesus is the one ‘in whom’ they will be able to ward off danger;

Jesus is the one ‘in whom’ they must find their way to the goal.

Let’s look at each in turn.

First, King Jesus is the secret plan. No one could have predicted that God would bring in his rule over all of creation by using a man who suffers the punishment and execution reserved for the most notorious outlaws and rebels by the Romans, and then come back to life again there days later.

But, it did happen in just that way and Paul and others came to understand it did make sense.


If Hollywood was in charge of how God would bring in his rule what would it look like?

Start with Jesus…

I want them to experience all the wealth of definite understanding, and to come to the knowledge of God’s mystery – the Messiah, the king! He is the place where you’ll find all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Humans have always been seeking spiritual experiences to somehow gain wisdom and knowledge to live by. But, with Jesus it is just the opposite.

Start with Jesus and his being the center of all that exists and then know Jesus himself is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge. He is the treasure revealed. Put Jesus at the center of your life and the world makes sense. Jesus is all you need.


Start with Jesus and out of him will flow experiences, wisdom and knowledge.


There may only be two choices left for us as a nation.

The first choice is to continue to worship the human will as supreme in itself and continue to reap a life of consumerism, celebrity, entertainment, and distraction, along with increased monstrosity. In other words, “Each has turned to his own way.”

Or, second, at least the Christians of this nation like you and me, start living our faith as more than a hobby, arranging and rearranging our lives to be soaked in God and the ways of God. Where we no longer keep our faith in a box among our other boxes of family life, friendship, work, political life, hobbies and entertainment… Our faith life is not a baseball card collection, no, we are being used by God to make our world different. Now, there will be pushback if Christians ever get around to treating their faith as anything but a hobby,  but if we do start living out the model and teachings of Jesus everywhere and with everything we’ve got, the pushback won’t matter, the world will become different.

After all, we do have a choice.


Another result of leaving out any consideration of something out there greater than the personal choices we make, greater than simply the individual’s right to do what ever I think is right…Well, we see all too clearly what we are reaping as a result.

David Bentley Hart says it this way. “If there really is no transcendent source of the good to which the will is naturally drawn, but only that of the will to decide what ends it desires- by which to create and determine itself for itself, then no human project can be said to be inherently irrational, or inherently abominable…our freedom from obsolete constraints, natural or moral, can lead toward monstrosity.”

Let me quote another thinker of our day. Listen to his words and think about what they say about our culture today.

“I believed in God when I was a kid but I gave up on that because everyone else gave up on it…

I realized and I was told by advertising that I just needed to do my thing and to fulfill my needs, and my needs got more and more dramatic…

Who cares?

What difference does it make?

Who’s anyone to tell me what I did was wrong?

Who said I was wrong?

I was just doing what our culture tells us to do. Just act on whatever you feel…

So what separates me from someone who does much better? Not a lot…

If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then, then what’s the point of trying to modify your behavior to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway…


Can’t I set my own rules?

Who owns me?

I own myself.”

These words seem a pretty reasonable description of today’s cultural climate. Act on my feelings? Do my own thing? Fulfill my needs? Who are you to tell me I am wrong?

Well, these are not the words of a famous academic philosopher. These words are from an interview with Jeffery Dahmer. He is the serial killer from Wisconsin who raped and killed 15 young men, along with eating some of them. 

Now our brains will instantly go into the excuses mode and try to find a million reasons why the Jeffery Dahmers’ of our society have nothing to do with the way our society functions as a whole today. We have learned this from the experts of media and our education system. We have learned that someone like Jeffery Dahmer, a monster,  has nothing to do with almost a complete collapse of any conversation about meaning and purpose, good and evil, right and wrong in the public square today. These issues of meaning, purpose, and morality are reserved exclusively to the private realm, and don’t you dare try to bring them up anywhere else.

Oh, we have freedom of religion in our country, but only if we treat our religion as a hobby. As long as it’s just something we do like root for the Dodgers or collect model airplanes then we can talk about religion in the public square. But, don’t dare publicly discuss meaning and purpose, don’t dare question the goodness or evil of worldviews and philosophies, don’t dare question someone else’s right to choose their own way of life.

No, the problem with Jeffery Dahmer is he was insane. Well, maybe, but the jury didn’t think so. He was sent to prison.

Well the problem is gun control. No, Jeffery Dahmer didn’t use any guns.

Well, the problem is poverty…Nope he was pretty well off.

Well the problem is…All right, brain. Just stop. Stop it!

Of course mental health, poverty, gun violence and violence in general are all real issues we will continue to address. Rightfully so.

But stop thinking the answers lie with thinking about these issues together for the purpose of finding human solutions to address them. Not if you have a secular worldview, a view of the world that doesn’t need God, or at least that doesn’t need to even think about God and his ways in the public realm. Without God and his ways, you will fail. Stop thinking things are going to get better when the only sacred thing we have left is human will itself, the right to choose what we think is right, when right or wrong is only what the courts say it is or people in power say it is. Things will definitely not get better.


Mind, Body, Spirit. Mental heath, physical health….What’s missing here? 

Each has turned

 In America, choice itself has become our god. We worship freedom of choice. We worship the individual will to make choices for ourselves.  The words of Isaiah the prophet are haunting in this day and age.

“Each has turned to his own way.”

We call this “freedom.”

As author David Bentley Hart has written about freedom today,

“Freedom is the power of choice rather than the ends the individual might choose.

The power of choosing itself is liberty…

Neither God, then, nor nature, nor reason provides the measure of an act’s true liberty, for an act is free only because it might be done in defiance of all three…

We have a pronounced tendency in society at large less to judge the laudability of particular choices by reference to the worthiness of their objects than to judge objects worthy solely because they have been chosen.”

In other words, the only thing sacred is to choose whatever I want as an individual, regardless of what impact this will have on my life or society at large.

“Each has turned to it’s own way.”

For my parent’s generation it was different. They still had a grand story that believed in right and wrong, good and evil, and sacrificing for the sake of others. They followed the grand story of Jesus and his ways, or at least they were haunted by it enough to stake their claim on the story.

The results are in. My parent’s generation overcame the great Depression of the 30’s,  and then saved the world from unfathomable evil in the 40’s in WW 2. Well, that took three and a half years. This generation, sometimes called the Builders or the “Greatest” generation, believed in something bigger than themselves. Now, like all human beings, my parent’s generation had many flaws and failures, probably no greater than not passing on the grand story to my generation, the Baby Boomers, who cut our teeth in the 50’s and came of age in the 60’s. Somehow, we lost the sense of the grand story, we lost a big enough drama to bring us a sense of meaning and purpose that would last and cause us to thrive. We were called the “Me” generation.

Is it shocking to discover that my generation, the one who followed, the “Baby Boomers” would have a price to pay for the loss of a grand sense of meaning and purpose in our lives? Well, what do you think?

More and more for my generation, it is the freedom to choose to do what I want that became the ultimate good. The freedom to buy more and more, the freedom to tune in or tune out, the freedom to do my own thing. And when my will becomes supreme over the will of the source of all creation, there is a terrible price to pay. And we are paying it.

Just one example, Baby Boomers are diagnosed with 10 times more severe depression per capita than my parent’s generation.

And the generations that follow mine are rampant with a loss of meaning and purpose that addictions and consumerism continues to try to fill. The will to choose is now supreme, regardless of how this affects society in general.

Hart says two things happen as a result of individual choice itself being supreme. First we become a society of consumers.

“We give in to a fairly banal kind of liberty, no more- though no less- significant than a consumer’s freedom to choose among the different kinds of bread, shoes, televisions, political parties, or religions.”

“When one considers our culture’s devotion to acquisition, celebrity, distraction, and therapy, it is hard not to think perhaps our vision as a people has narrowed to the smaller preoccupations and desires of individual selves, and that our whole political, social, and economic existence is oriented toward that reality.”

Yes, we are better in one way because we don’t have the miseries of our ancestors and we can gratefully embrace the triviality of media, social media, and shopping.

This consumerism and distracting ourselves because we have lost any sense of meaning and purpose is one result of choice itself being supreme.


What are ways we distract ourselves today?

But there is more. We don’t exist unless our transcendent source is good. Our source makes it possible for us to flourish. And because of consciousness, we can discover what is good. We can be naturally drawn to the source of good. We can choose to follow the good God. And human beings have done just that. Humans have worshiped the transcendent source in one way or another since the beginning of humans. Human beings have made choices in the way they live as a result of seeking the will of the source. And over this time the human will has been drawn to discover more and more who this God is.

About 4000 years ago, some humans beings began to discover the true source. At least that is what I think! God begins revealing himself to his people, Israel, and they are given the choice to worship and follow him, or not. They make good choices when their will is subject to God’s will. He reveals his will in his law, most clearly in the Ten Commandments. Ten guideposts for human beings to flourish. But God’s people use their wills most often to reject his ways. Like one of God’s prophet’s, Isaiah, said, “Each has turned to his own way.” This brings destruction to God’s people, so instead of restoring the world to God’s blessing, hope seems lost.

Then, 2000 years ago in the Middle East, in the little town of Bethlehem, hope becomes eternal. Something amazing takes place. The transcendent source of the universe, the source of all that exists, reveals himself in one human being, Jesus. And this human being flourishes and lives life according to the will of the source, whom he calls his “Father.”

And it was revealed that Jesus himself is the source, as Paul says, “For in him all Fullness was pleased to take up dwelling.”

And so the source of all existence not only revealed himself, but gave all human beings purpose and meaning in their lives. As our wills are drawn to that which is good, it is revealed that the path for our choices in life, what is right and good, is to follow the model and teachings of Jesus. As we trust in Jesus, and choose to follow in his ways, we flourish. And when we, the assembly of the people of God birthed through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, use our wills to serve his will, our neighbors flourish. The world itself transforms for good. Our purpose is to seek the good of God and seek the good of our neighbor.

This sounds like a beautiful picture doesn’t it? A grand story that the transcendent source of all that exists reveals himself for all to see and is Fullness itself. Tragically, this grand story, which the transcendent source of all that exists lives out in our world, is no longer the story of our society.


We all have a view of the world that influences choices we make. Why are the model and teachings of Jesus so dynamic when they are actually lived out?