Improve your mind

Isaac Watts, the famous hymn writer calls us to be intentional about improving our minds.

…every son and daughter of Adam has a most important concern in the affairs of the life to come, and therefore it is a matter of the highest moment, for everyone to understand, to judge, and to reason right about the things of religion. It is vain for any to say, we have no leisure time for it. The daily intervals of time, and vacancies from necessary labour, together with the one day in seven in the Christian world, allows sufficient time for this, if men would but apply themselves to it with half so much zeal and diligence as they do to the trifles and amusements of this life, and it would turn to infinitely better account.
 
Thus it appears to be the necessary duty and the interest of every person living, to improve his understanding, to inform his judgment, to treasure up useful knowledge, and to acquire the skill of good reasoning, as far as his station capacity and circumstances furnish him as his station, capacity, with proper means for it. Our mistakes in judgment may plunge us into much folly and guilt in practice. By acting without thought or reason, we dishonor the God that made us reasonable creatures, we often become injurious to our neighbors, kindred, or friends, and we bring sin and misery upon ourselves; for we are accountable to God, our judge, for every part of our irregular and mistaken conduct, where he hath given us sufficient advantages to guard against those mistakes.”

 
~ Isaac Watts, The Improvement of the Mind, (1837).
[emphasis added]

Thinking, in order to love God more…

I’ve recently been immersed in the book THINK, The Life of the Mind and the Love of God, by John Piper (Crossway, 2010). It is hard to set down! He answers so many of my questions about reading, thinking and their role in loving and serving God. He does at times use those trademark (long) descriptive propositions, but carefully (and usually exegetically) presents each part of the proposition revealing the whole thing to be truly profound and helpful.

In this book, Piper suggests that loving God with the mind meansthat our thinking is wholly engaged to do all it can to awaken and express the heartfelt fullness of treasuring God above all things. (p. 19).

At the head of chapter one he quotes puritan Thomas Goodwin:

Indeed, thoughts and affections are sibi mutuo causae — the mutual causes of each other; “Whilst I mused, the fire burned” (Psalm 39:3); so that thoughts are the bellows that kindle and inflame affections; and then if they are inflamed, they cause thoughts to boil; therefore men newly converted to God, having new and strong affections, can with more pleasure think of God than any.

As he ends chapter two (on Jonathan Edwards’ contributions), Piper rightly observes, What an amazing example of ‘both-and’ — strong emotions for the glory of God based on clear biblical views of the truth of God. This is the very effect of Piper’s book on me so far.

It is a gourmet bit of writing, rich with biblical sweetness and much nutrition for the mind and soul. I’ll have to share more with you soon…

pdb