The Apostle Paul in the first century A.D. said that if we get “turned on” by Jesus, we are New Creations. If you are all you want to be and if the principles you live by bring exuberance to your life, if you and God are on the best of terms – you may not be too interested in this book. On the other hand, if you paused on those “ifs,” you may wish to join this journey. A one-size-fits-all approach to God doesn’t work. We comprehend God through the filters of our experience. Religious seed get planted in different kinds of soil.
What’s wrong with the way things are? Read, view, or listen to the media. We get all kinds of reports on the way things are. Corruption based on greed or the use of power to exploit appears to shape many of our leaders. Relationships between people include all kinds of abuse and ways to take advantage of each other. Are the principles by which we live important? Where do they come from? What are the principles by which you live? Are they working for you? Are the principles that shape our culture making our society a better one in which to live?
BE NEW describes a great way to live. It is a way to cultivate moral intuitions
and to check behaviors that may be degrading. It connects moral stirrings to meaningful actions – morals with moral sources. It is more than moralistic deism. Integrity, accountability, justice, and caring permeate a culture when grounded in a solid framework and represented by those who walk their talk.
The American icon, Steve Jobs – the Apple man – left a huge footprint. After his death, his Stanford University address was widely quoted. These words from Jobs to students provide a challenge appropriate for your journey through this book.You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. The dots you encounter in life will eventually connect. Believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leaves you off the well-worn path. And that will make all the difference.
If you see your life as a journey in progress, finding the important “dots” and making constructive connections with the dots you find is very important. What “dots” are in your baseline? What is your frame of reference?
The mind imposes a frame on new exposure to make it “make sense.” What is the frame of reference for your life right now?
Your view of God, your self-image, your sense of purpose, the direction in which you are aimed, the language you use, your openness to new exposure, the degree to which you can perceive reality is shaped by your frame of reference.
Your Living Dialog™ experience can help you to review and refine your frame of reference. It can help you to connect the dots you meet in your life.
Getting you to join something is not our purpose. Our purpose is to reinforce your connection with God. From that, we believe you will experience a continuing transformation that makes us better, happier, and more productive citizens in God’s Kingdom. A megachurch pastor1 reminds us that it is not the structures of organized religion, or theological systems, or rules and regulations that make us citizens of God’s Kingdom – it is a relationship with God known often in still small voices.
Science – philosophy – religion/theology – good bedfellows? To hear it from many in academia, the media, and from many religious institutions and “spokespersons,” you would think not. On the other hand, if each seeks TRUTH, that is, real Truth, ultimate Truth, why not learn from one another? Why not engage in some sort of meaningful dialog? Living Dialog™ is a means to discover God’s Truth. There is no difference between God’s Truth and ultimate Truth. If we seek to “Live in Dialog,” we must listen to and try to understand the truth found by every honest searcher for that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
We must learn all we can from what science can teach us about the cosmos, the quantum world, and the lives we live in those arenas. We agree with scientists who, in their respective searches, find the cosmic order possessed of an elegant simplicity that also self-organizes into an enormous variety of complex states, “including those that have the quality of consciousness, and can in turn reflect upon the very cosmic order that has produced them.”2
The order of the cosmos is organized complexity from which, “The universe derives its openness and permits the existence of human beings with free will.”3 We must not miss how remarkable it is that we human beings are equipped to break the codes and unlock the secrets of nature.
Our brains help us to hunt, avoid predators, and to avoid falling objects. They also help us to understand electromagnetism, the structure of the atom and the gene. Our brains evolve to meet specific needs at different times of our lives. The brain of the early child is marvelously prepared to learn.
The young child’s capacity to embrace language, even multiple languages, is incredible. In National Geographic, David Dobbs describes the adolescent brain as an “exquisitely sensitive, highly adaptable creature wired almost perfectly for the job of moving from the safety of home into the complicated world outside.” As we develop, our brains gain white matter as a form of insulation in which the wiring gets upgraded but less responsive to change.
Our brains process that to which we attach meaning.
• We are meaning-making beings.
• Maps constructed by our brains translate our experience into meaning.
• Our brains are designed to enable us to develop and to live purposefully.
Psychologist Michael Shermer 4 describes our brains as “belief engines” that naturally “look for and find patterns” and then infuse them with meaning. These meaningful patterns form beliefs that shape our understanding of reality. Our brains tend to seek out information that confirms our beliefs.
Recap of what we say about the brain in BE NEW
• Our brains map the cultural mores to which we are exposed.
• That map is modified based on that to which we expose our brains.
• Our memories create a story that defines our identity.
• The emotion we associate with our experiences and our memories of them reinforces the importance our brains attach to them.
• Positive experiences such as love, exposure to beauty, and satisfying work, are rewarded in the pleasure system of our brains.
• Anticipation of such experiences enhances the pleasure.
• Our brains seek meaning, perhaps even a spiritual yearning.
• Our behavior can be guided by this sense of meaning in our brains.
• “We develop very strong feelings about morality. We develop very strong feelings about what we believe is right and what we believe is wrong.” When we act on the behavior we believe in, we feel better.
• Our brains enable us to imagine the mental states of others.
• The “higher functions” that our brains take care of include: making decisions, loving, and learning.
• Genetic conditioning and the environment influence how we behave.
• Making choices is influenced by the brain’s information storehouse that is scanned to direct our decisions.
• We encode our brains with a worldview that becomes the yardstick by which the brain determines what is true.
• Neural habits generate bias. Confronting opposites re-positions bias.
• Rewards and their anticipation play an important role in deciding what is of greatest value to us.
• The reward and pleasure system can be hijacked. Addiction distorts this highly beneficial function of the brain.
• Using willpower to delay rewards cools hot impulses for something better.
• Our minds are receptive to principles and habits that condition them.
The above is a sample of the way we approach what it means to BE NEW. The graphic below is a map of where we go from what you read above.
Living Dialog™ opens gates that enable us to BE NEW. Being NEW conditions our brains to be in alignment with God. That alignment allows the Mind of Christ to permeate our minds. God-shaped principles shape our lives. God-shaped lives shape the culture in which we live.
The church historian Martin Marty defined worldview as a lens for interpreting the world. The scholar Nancy Pearcey has said that a worldview is a mental map that tells us how to navigate. What is our lens for interpreting the world—our mental map that tells us how to navigate?
Our society is in transition from its roots in a Judeo-Christian worldview to one shaped by relativism and atheism. This leads to a culture in which the principles we live by are up for grabs.
The Judeo-Christian influence has been “de-leveraged.”
To “re-leverage” the Judeo-Christian influence calls for a worldview in which we use our heads to engage God’s Truth.
• It calls us to integrate God’s timeless messages with what we learn from powerful space telescopes and neuron tracking technology.
• It connects personal faith with real-world principles for living today.
• It is a worldview that challenges those in positions to influence policies and practices in our culture to do so in ways that align with God’s purpose for the creation.
What is the basis for the moral life to which you aspire?
• Is it primarily self-interest?
• Is it what brings the least pain and the most pleasure?
What is the true North of your moral compass?
Belief in gods is found worldwide in human history. They take many shapes. We worship cars, people, celebrity, and in some sad cases, even ourselves. God with a capital “G” ranks way up there with many.
For many, the God worshipped doesn’t quite measure up to the Big God we need. The God we affirm is the God who is beyond category – the Ultimate. To live in the universe of the Ultimate is a huge step from trying to live in the world of the God of our making and our convenience.
God installed the equipment in us to make decisions that support our survival.God also aligns us with the purpose for living in a way that brings the bliss for which we were made.
Being a new creation means:I am accepted. I am secure. I am significant.
I am the salt of the earth. I am the light of the world.
I am a temple of the Holy Spirit.
My mind is aligned with the Mind of Christ.
BE NEW ends with a description of seven principles for living connected with God. These principles are represented in the tree image below.
BE NEW in various drafts was read by many who gave us feedback. Samples of that feedback are noted below.
• This is a heady book. It is also a reference that could be used through out your life. I particularly enjoyed the section on the ” mind and the brain”
• If there is a way to find a conduit to get this in to some college programs you may be helping to restore our society to the right path.
• I loved the four-year-old definitions of love and the tech support sequence.
• Follow Your Bliss was great.
• It is a masterful piece in many ways. It is quite brilliant and certainly thought provoking. Although you note that it may be of special interest to young adults I find it as useful to staid folk of all ages!
• We are a new generation we live in a different landscape with conflicting behaviors that challenge our need to sift and sort what will be useful, what will give meaning to our life and to the lives of those we influence in direct and subtle ways.
• I find that students are much more receptive to leaders like yourself who speak from personal experience out in the field. Students want concrete answers through substantive examples depicting real-life choices regarding how to be effective and successful on the one hand, while being ethical on the other hand. Oftentimes, students do not see how in this competitive world, they can be both at the same time.
• The subject of Mind is very powerful and may be the most important foundation for this book.
• The 7 principles tie it all together quite nicely and make it accessible and provide the “payoff” for engaging in dialog process.
1 Bill Hybel
2 Paul Davies (mathematical physicist) – The Mind of God
3 Paul Davies
4 Michael Shermer – The Believing Brain