25 years ago, I was recording my first album in Bryant, Arkansas.  Arkansas?  I know.  It’s not exactly the music capital of the world, but it was a cheaper place to get studio time.  We had three days to record 10 songs.  If you’re not familiar with music recording, you might think that you just hit the record button, play the song once, and your done, but it’s not that easy.  Roughly, we spent 12-16 hours in the studio each day setting up equipment, tweaking audio levels, and doing multiple takes to get the very best performance.  The majority of the time is spent listening to and mixing what you just played to make sure you get it just the way you want it.  It really is a tedious process that requires a lot of energy and patience.  After each recording session, you’re pretty worn out physically and mentally.

After the second day of recording, I just wanted to go back to the hotel and take a nap, but the other guys were a little more restless.  They wanted to go out and blow off steam, whatever that means.  Anyway, I hit the sack.  I must have been really tired because I fell asleep pretty fast.  It was that deep sleep that is referred to as “REM sleep”.   REM sleep is where you do most of your dreaming.  Well, I wasn’t just dreaming I was having a nightmare, apparently a very vivid one.  When my band mates returned Bruce, the drummer, thought it would be funny to jump on me while I slept.  MISTAKE!!!  As soon as Bruce landed on me, I went ballistic and freaked out.   Things got real.  The most horrific part of the dream and Bruce’s belly buster on my back must have happened at the same time.  What happened next would never be forgotten, and I’m pretty sure that Bruce never jumped on anyone while they were sleeping again.

Before you get too excited, no one was seriously injured in the incident.  I’m just making sure because you seemed tense.  Just take a deep breath and I’ll continue.

As soon as Bruce landed on me, I immediately threw him across the room.  Yes, across the room super hero style.  I’m not sure where he landed after shot putting him across the room, because I was still a little out of it, somewhere between the dream world and reality.  Meanwhile, I’m still on the bed screaming and swinging at my dream attackers.  When I came to, Bruce and Eric were sitting on the floor in bewilderment wondering what in the world just happened.  It didn’t take long for the mood to change from horrific to hilarious, once everybody calmed down, but my friends learned a valuable lesson that day.  Don’t mess with Robby when he’s sleeping!  Fortunately, my wife and daughter haven’t had to witness that kind of reaction, but they are very careful about how they wake me up.

It’s amazing how the body defends itself involuntarily, like when your eyelids close if the eye is threatened, or if a buddy jumps on you in your sleep.  The body is designed to defend itself against foreign invaders.  Its natural barriers include the skin, mucous membranes, tears, earwax, mucus, and stomach acid.  Yuck!  Also, the normal flow of urine washes out microorganisms that enter the urinary tract.  The immune system uses white blood cells and antibodies to identify and eliminate organisms that get through the body’s natural barriers.

While there are many biological threats, diseases, or conditions that we really don’t have any control over or didn’t do anything directly to cause them, there is a lot we can do to stay healthy, like eating the right foods, drinking enough water, exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, eliminating stress and toxic substances, etc.  It’s all about making healthy choices, says the fat guy whose overweight.  But, I am back in training and watching what I eat!  I have declared war on my fat.

There is another threat that we have to contend with, a toxic threat to our overall well-being: mind, body, and spirit.  It’s called sin.  Unlike our body’s involuntary defenses, defeating or resisting sin requires a more voluntary response, a choice.  But, God has given us an eternal defense system, our conscience.

“An educated, sensitive conscience is God’s monitor. It alerts us to the moral quality of what we do or plan to do, forbids lawlessness and irresponsibility, and makes us feel guilt, shame, and fear of the future retribution that it tells us we deserve, when we allow ourselves to defy its restraints.”  J.I. Packer

God may have created the conscience, but it’s not necessarily involuntary or automatic in its defense against sin.  It has to be educated, trained, and disciplined for defense.  Since we were created with a free will, we can educate or train our conscience however we see fit.  It’s sensitivity settings are under our control.  There are some people that seem to have no “moral compass” at all.  A “moral compass” is a person’s ability to judge what is right and wrong and act accordingly.  If I say, “I can’t in good conscience do this or that”, I have decided that there is something wrong with “this or that”.  So the big question is, what is right or wrong? What am I basing it on?  Our decisions about what is right or wrong is usually based on a variety of external influencers, like parents, friends, culture, experience, exposure, religion, opinion, and so on.  Basically, we can take our pick.  But, for a follower of Jesus or a believer in the God of the Bible, our moral compass is supposed to be based on what God thinks or desires.  So, what does God want or expect us to do?  The only way to find that out is to read and study the Bible.  It is one of our greatest weapons and defense in our war with sin.  (Read Ephesians 6:10-20)

“Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”  1 Peter 1:13-16 NIV

God wants us to “Be holy, because HE is holy”, to be godly, to be obedient, and to have minds that are alert and sober.  Holiness and godliness require training and discipline.  If we want to be able defend ourselves against sin, we have to be prepared.  We have to build our defenses.  Our defense against sin begins in the mind, so our conscience is our first line of defense.  Thoughts aren’t necessarily sinful.  It’s what they can lead to that’s dangerous.  The Bible has tons of verses on the importance and benefits of training our minds.  Here are a couple of verses to think about this week.

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  James 1:13-15 NIV

“For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh.  For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, brining every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ, and being ready to punish all disobedience once your obedience is fulfilled.”  2 Corinthians 10:3-6 NIV

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 NIV

Hope you have a great week!

Love y’all!

Robby Morris
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management
Andrews UMC