Showing items filed under “Jeremy Shirley”
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Why is it when I want something to eat I never want to reach for broccoli or carrots?  Why is it that I’d rather run thru a drive-thru and eat a lousy McDonald’s cheeseburger or a taco from Taco Bell?  Don’t get too defensive of McDonald’s or Taco Bell, I love both of them too!  The reality is I’m drawn to junk food.  I can read all the nutritional facts of a Double Quarter Pounder with cheese but they just don’t quite scare me into eating my vegetables instead.  Funny thing about junk food, it’s addictive and nearly irresistible.  I’ve probably never once in my life described any vegetable that way.  I do like a good cucumber…slathered in ranch.  Never mind, the ranch alone rendered any positive comments I had for a vegetable worthless. 

You didn’t click this to read about my feelings for fast food, but I do think there is a significant correlation between our desires for junk food versus vegetables and our desire for entertainment versus the reading and studying of God’s Word.  There are some days where I can binge watch a show for hours on Netflix but I struggle to focus to read the Bible for any length of time.  The Bible references in multiple spots the illustration of God’s word being spiritual nourishment for us.   

John 6:35 – “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”

Matthew 4:4 - “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

1 Peter 2:2 – “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation.”

There are other verses you can find in Scripture that elude to our relationship with Christ being fulfilling and God’s word as our spiritual nourishment.  The point is, why is something that is so nourishing…like vegetables…sometimes less appealing?  Why is something that has almost no nutritional value, like a cheeseburger, more appealing?  Even further, why are entertainment options, like my late night Netflix binge sessions where I’m watching an old season of a show I’ve seen before, more appealing than time in the Word of God?

It’s interesting the world that we live in and how much science is now involved in marketing.  It’s not on accident that we are more likely to choose junk food and entertainment options over simply sitting and reading God’s word.  I don’t claim to be a scientist by any stretch but I do know from plenty of experience the appeal of junk food and entertainment.  Ultimately, there are similar aspects that drive us towards those things instead of that which is actually nourishing.  In the junk food/fast food industry, 3 things are king…salt, fat, and sugars.  If you’ve ever looked at the nutritional information on your favorite food from your favorite fast food joint or that favorite Little Debbie cake or chips you like to eat; you and I know they’re high in 1, if not 2 or 3 of those things.  Funny thing about salt, fat, and sugars is they are addictive to an extent.  Maybe it’s just me, but when I find something I like from the fast food restaurant or a snack item, I’ll go back to the same thing over and over again.  Why?  It’s really good.  While that’s true, it’s also because I’ve rewired my brain to be stimulated or to release chemicals that make me feel good.  That cheeseburger, as lousy as it may be nutritionally, tells my brain that it is yummy and tasty because of the greasy fat and salt content, and thus when I see that ad again, I want another cheeseburger because I remember how good it made me feel.  The same can be said for our entertainment choices.  People like to point at things like pornography and its addictive nature but in very similar ways we can binge watch TV shows, movies, play video games and in the process release chemicals in our brains that make us feel good.  That’s why pornography is addictive, but it’s also why other forms of entertainment are addictive.  That’s why back in the days before Netflix, you could watch 1 show a week when it came on television and now that we have unlimited access to multiple seasons of shows, we can’t stop watching.

The point isn’t as much to get everyone to eat their vegetables and stop watching TV as much as it is that you and I become more aware that we are constantly reprogramming our brains…for better or worse.  Once you reprogram your brain or wear a new path in your brain to pleasure or fulfillment, it’s hard not to go back to that place over and over again.  That’s why when you begin to understand how the brain functions you can begin to understand Romans 12:2 in a whole new light.  “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”  Most of us have heard this common verse but when we talk about being transformed by the renewal of our minds, we by default just think if I read the Bible more, if I memorize Scripture more, my mind will be renewed.  While that is definitely a valid point, many of us come up against the frustration that you just don’t have the desire to do so.  You know why?  It’s because you wore a different path in your brain to enjoyment, pleasure, fulfillment, and nourishment.  This is exactly why so many people struggle with dieting that leads to real lifestyle change.  They have a path they’ve wore in their brain that cheeseburgers are amazing.  For a time, you can diet and get healthier but eventually most of us fall off the wagon because our brains tell us cheeseburgers are amazing. 

If you really want to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, you have to face up to the fact that it’s a battle against your brain.  Until you realize that your brain doesn’t always think rationally, that it doesn’t always give you the correct information, that it doesn’t always have the right motives…you are fighting a losing battle.  That means that sometimes when you want to renew your mind, you’re not going to feel like it.  You’re not going to have the desire.  That just means you have to blaze a new path in your brain to pleasure.  That means that it may feel like work.  It’ll remind you of that last diet and exercise program you participated in.  Over time, if you stay the course, keeping in mind you have to reprogram your own brain, you too can find that Jesus is the bread of life and as He said “whoever comes to me shall not hunger.”  You too can choose the vegetables, spiritually speaking, and as crazy as it sounds, over time you’ll learn to love them!

Posted by Jeremy Shirley with
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From 1968 to 2001 a friendly voice entered many of our homes, welcoming us to his neighborhood. Mr. Rogers neighborhood was the place to be. Who wouldn’t want to live in Mr. Rogers neighborhood? Mr. Rogers with his sweater and sneakers welcomed every child that watched into his neighborhood. In a world where some of us have a neighbor who’s dog barks all night, who blows grass all over your car, who has loud parties or music playing late into the night, or the countless other ways people come up with to disturb us…Mr. Rogers presented the ideal neighbor. He had a calming voice, was friendly, welcoming, and kind to all he encountered. Unfortunately, Mr. Rogers is not our neighbor and he won’t be moving in anytime soon. For that very reason, some of us live a life of isolation, away from our neighbors. We arrive home, push the button to automatically open our garage doors, pull in, and disappear into our homes. What if God placed us in our neighborhood, in our communities for more than just to live there? What if He has always wanted you to be the neighborhood Mr. Rogers…a calming voice, friendly, welcoming, and kind?

When you begin to think about the cities, towns, suburban areas we live in now, they’re obviously very different from those that people lived in when the Bible was written. While different, they still had neighbors and God speaks to the who our neighbor is and how we should treat our neighbor.

Who is my neighbor?

The answer to that question lies in Luke 10, the story of the Good Samaritan. It’s a common story but it’s the response that catches us off guard when Jesus responds to this question. Ultimately after the man was beaten and left for dead, a priest and Levite both passed the man on the road and didn’t stop to help. It was the Samaritan who stopped to help the man. Jesus response to who acted as a neighbor…the one who stopped and showed mercy. There are a few things you can easily pull out to help us think about ourselves as good neighbors. First, we have to care for those we see who have needs. As you drive through your neighborhood, do you drive by a home of someone where you know their story and you know they need a friend? Do you drive by a home that is in disrepair or they just need a helping hand? That’s the concept of the Good Samaritan, they saw a need, stopped and helped. Second, you should care for those you don’t know and sometimes are very different from you. The Samaritan was about the last person you’d expect to stop and help in that culture. This is especially the case considering the Samaritan didn’t even know the man. Think about the countless people living in your neighborhood who live a very different life, some of which you haven’t met or ever interacted with. How can you care for those who are different and those you don’t even know yet? Lastly, we have to stop, inconvenience ourselves for the benefit of others. The Samaritan likely had somewhere to be…not only did he stop to help, but he got the guy to help and lodging with an innkeeper. He even went as far as to pay for his lodging and care. We’re all busy people, it’s one of the biggest excuses all of us use flippantly to get out of about anything we don’t want to do. When is the last time you stopped and inconvenienced yourself to help someone in your neighborhood?

How important are my neighbors?

You’re familiar with the Great Commandment…Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind…and love your neighbor as yourself. It’s that whole “Love God and Love People” we talk about quite often. So, when faced with the question of how important are our neighbors…outside of loving God, that’s the next most important thing. Actually in Galatians 5:14 it says the whole law is fulfilled in the command to love your neighbor as yourself. So the question for us is, if God has placed us in a neighborhood, surrounded by people with needs and we’re supposed to love our neighbor, second only to God…how do we love our neighbors? While the physical needs are more obvious as you see a bush that needs to be trimmed, tree limbs that fell in a storm, paint that needs to be touched up…it’s the spiritual needs of the countless people that live near you that are most important.

How are you going to love your neighbor? How are you going to be the Good Samaritan…the Mr. Rogers of your neighborhood who is the calming voice, friendly, welcoming, and kind person. As you begin to look for ways to be a good neighbor, consider joining us at 6:30 PM on May 16th at the Neighborhood Bible Study Interest Meeting. No commitment necessary, but come find out how you could begin to connect with your neighbors and to begin to meet their spiritual needs.

I’ll leave you with this familiar song, as you begin to consider who your neighbor is and what you might do for them:

It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor.

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

 

It's a neighborly day in this beauty wood,

A neighborly day for a beauty,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

 

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you!

I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,

Since we're together we might as well say,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,

Won't you please?

Please won't you be my neighbor?

© 1967, Fred M. Rogers

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