Unlearning to Ride a Bike

Destin at Smarter Every Day desires to get just that—smarter every day—and then share what he’s learning with others.

In one of his videos he introduces the viewer to a bicycle that you cannot ride. He’s an engineer and one of the welders (who are also geniuses) where he works played a trick on him. He had designed a bike that when you turn the handle bars to the left the wheel goes right. And when you turn the handle bars to the right the wheel goes left.

Think about that for a second.

Now you’re probably thinking: “So I could jump on that bike and just learn how to turn the handles in the opposite direction. No problem.”

Problem. Just watch the video by clicking on this link here. Destin couldn’t ride it. He said, “My thinking was in a rut.” He shares his revelation that knowledge (which he had) does not equal understanding (that comes from experience that uses the knowledge successfully).

He started riding the bike every day and after doing this for eight months one day something clicked and he was able to ride it. But he says any minor distraction would set his brain back to its old way of thinking.

Later he tries to ride a normal bike again. At first he couldn’t do it. But twenty minutes into his attempts something got triggered in his brain and he was able to ride again. You can see it happening in the video.

Some things are not as easy as riding a bike. Unlearning so we can learn something new is difficult. He leaves us with what he learned which is that “truth is truth” and we look at the world with a bias whether we realize it or not.

The people in Jesus’ day did too. They thought the “together” people were the ones that could get in on the things of God. But Jesus came along and told them that wasn’t the case. The poor in spirit, the ones who are sad, the meek, the ones who want to see things set right, the ones who show mercy, the perfectionists who drive everyone including themselves crazy, the peacemakers who always have one side upset at them for not taking sides, those who get pummeled for standing up for what is right, and the ones who get ridiculed for following Jesus…all these were “blessed.” They could get in on the things of God too.

To the ones on the inside this was like trying to ride a backwards bike. It didn’t fit. You had to be rich or powerful or popular to be blessed by God. Even the disciples thought so. (see Mark 10:26)

But some believed Jesus. They got on the bike and started pedaling. They fell. They didn’t get it right away. But they opened their minds to the possibility that what they had thought was true might actually be backwards.

And when they did an entire kingdom opened before their eyes.

Destin says that once you have a rigid way of thinking in your head you cannot change it. I almost agree. I think you can change but it isn’t easy. I think it is difficult to change. Especially if you think you are always right.

But if you are secure enough to dialogue and listen and ask questions of others who may see things a little differently from you…well…you might just learn something new.

You may get a little smarter every day.

You may open your circles to people you previously kept out.

And you may find yourself riding gracefully into a new way of life.

Question: How can you learn to unlearn some things today?

The First Words You Need to Hear

First words are critical. Just ask any novelist or screenplay writer. J.J. Abrams was on Jimmy Kimmel Live before the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Kimmel wanted to see if he could get a scoop on some inside information about the movie so he asked Abrams to give him just one thing. He asked for the first spoken word in the film.

With anticipation mounting Abrams said “Ready?” and then leaned in towards Kimmel and said… “This.” There you have it. It doesn’t tell you much other than the fact that we are interested in first words. Of course, after you see the movie you find that the complete sentence is “This will begin to make things right.” Some think it is an insult aimed at the first three prequels. Who knows? But we do know that first words often tell us something significant.

They do in Mathew’s gospel. The rabbis believed that when the last of the prophets had died God’s Spirit had vanished from Israel. They believed they were allowed to hear the bath-qol which means “echo” or “daughter of the voice.” But they had not heard directly from God.

That all changes when Jesus comes to be baptized by John in the Jordan. The heavens open, the Spirit of God descends like a dove and comes to a resting place on Jesus and then the silence from heaven is broken.

What comes next is the Father’s voice. In the great movie that answers all the questions about manhood anyone would ever need to ask—Fight Club—Tyler Durden says “Our fathers were our models for God, if our fathers bailed, what does that tell you about God?’”

Many can relate. If the words you heard from a father or mother or sibling or schoolmates or neighbors or co-workers were negative words and negative words were the normative words for you, chances are those are the words you imagine God saying to you.

Religion has not helped the matter. Many groups have relied on guilt and shame to hopefully keep people in line. Grace is seen as something that, if taught, would send people to a life of license. And so we hear stern words and critical words from authority figures early in our lives and maybe even later and we think those are the same words from God.

People in the first century no doubt faced the same. Jesus himself would be confronted with his own doubters. He would know opposition. He would hear the detractors. He would feel the breath of his accusers on his neck. What he needed were strong words from his Father. And that is what he gets. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.”

Want to know what sustained Jesus in his difficult days? He was the Beloved. He was loved by the Father. The Father was pleased with him. He never spent one moment unsure of God’s love for him. His identity was this: “I am one loved by the Father.”

That identity would strengthen him and sustain him. The first words from God when he broke the silence of heaven were words of love. That’s what Jesus needed to hear.

And they are the words you need to hear. What the Father said to Jesus at his baptism he says to you at yours. He says, “You are my beloved son or daughter. And I am well pleased with you.”

That is who you are. You are God’s beloved. That is your identity. You need only believe it. And that may be the largest part of faith you need to deal with today. As Brennan Manning said often: “I am utterly convinced that on judgment day, the Lord Jesus will ask one question and only one question: Did you believe that I loved you?”

Hear the Father saying to you: “You are my Beloved. I am well pleased with you.” This will begin to make things right.

Question: What words do you hear the Father speaking to you?

Do This if You Want a Better 2016

Only a few days into the New Year. Many have made resolutions. But what happens in January may be forgotten by March:

  • Gyms gain new members that will all but disappear by then.
  • Books longing to be read will be stacked in order to be read but not touched within weeks.
  • Procrastination that was vowed to be left in 2015 will have to wait.

What is it you wanted to do differently in this year from years past? And how is it you want to be different in this year from years past?

Maybe the most difficult thing for any of us is change. And the place change starts is in our thinking. Dallas Willard has said “The ultimate freedom we have as human beings is the power to select what we will allow our minds to dwell upon.”

How we think matters. And so thinking differently this year from how you thought last year is the starting place for whatever changes you want to see in your life.

For instance, many people will want to lose weight in the new year. Until you think differently about food it will be difficult to accomplish. Your ideas about food have to change. So you begin to think about food as fuel. You think of the options in front of you as either good fuel or sludge. You’d never want to put pure sludge down your gas tank, would you? Then why would you want to put it in you?

When you see food options that are full of bad calories, saturated fats, and processed “who knows what?” you find it easier to make healthier choices. Then you think about portions. And when your thinking changes your weight will too.

Or maybe you are tired of feeling negative about things. You can choose to think differently. Here’s an example. How many people have you heard complain about their Christmas break being over and having to go back to work? (Maybe it was yourself you heard?)

Change your thinking. Think about how great it was that you could have some time off with your family or how you were fortunate enough to be able to give and exchange gifts. And then think about how blessed you are to have a job you can go to. Talk to someone who has lost their job and see how well complaining about yours sits with them.

How we think matters. When we think better we live better. Thinking is the act of holding up a thought or idea or image and determining if it is true or is not true in light of what else we know to be true around us.

Thinking is especially needed when we think about God. This is why Jesus said we are to love God with our minds as well as our heart and soul and strength. Satan’s attack against us is in our thoughts about God. He will have us think wrong thoughts about God so that we doubt his care for us and go searching for other ways to fill our emptiness.

On every level change starts with how we think. The Apostle Paul taught to “Demolish strongholds… against the knowledge of God… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Can you do that in 2016? Take captive every thought. Don’t let your thoughts attack you. You grab them and hold them up and inspect them. Then make them obedient to Christ and what he has thought. He is the greatest thinker to have ever lived.

Want to do differently this year? Think differently.

Want to be different this year? Think differently.

Give some thought to your thinking. Exercise your greatest freedom and decide what you will think on.

Question: What are of your life do you need to “think differently” in this year?