Volume. XXXV, No. 13
Sunday, 27 September 2020

From the Pastor’s Heart: Educate Your Mind (1)

William Dean Howells says in The Rise of Silas Lapham, “… civilization comes through literature now, especially in our country.  A Greek got his civilization by talking and looking, and in some measure a Parisian may still do it.  But we, who live remote from history and monuments, we must read or we must barbarise.” 


Since we were young, we were taught about manners, etiquette, or dress codes.  We have received school education for jobs and careers.  In work places, we gain more and more experiences and develop human relationships.  However, as Eliza Farrar advised her young female readers, “self-education begins where school education ends.”  In particular, once we join the work force, our primary focus is given to career developments and day-to-day problem-solving techniques.  In the meanwhile, we neglect to educate our minds.  In fact, many of us may have never thought of educating our minds.


It shows us our ignorance of our mind, its importance.


First, I need to talk about what I refer to by “mind.”  There are many words understood and translated as “mind” in the Bible.  They could be “heart,” “thought,” “intention,” or “mind.”  We can find many examples from the Bible, including Isaiah 26:3, “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee”; and Matthew 22:37 says, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  More or less, I refer to “mind” as “thoughts,” just for the sake of my talk today.   


Second, we are to be known by our thoughts/mind.  Proverbs 23:7 says, “as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.”  On a surface level, people may know and recognise us by our external images we have been able to cultivate by higher education, social hierarchy, wealth aggregation, high level skills and performances, enviable social networks, physical strength or beauty, and other appearances.  On a deeper level, we are known to them by our character and personality, which are deeply interconnected and interlocked with our thoughts.  However, the least educated and developed area in our personhood is the mind.  It is probably because the mind is invisible and hard to be measured.  At the same time, educating the mind requires hard work.


Third, we must recognize that we have not done enough to educate our mind.  There are two ways to educate and improve our mind.  One is a total dependence upon God.  It should be a matter of prayer that the Lord will help us to enlighten our mind.  The other is the means that God has allowed us to use to educate and improve our mind.  I dare not speak about the work of God in our souls, but I would like to speak about what we must do on our part to educate our mind.  I will discuss one of such means God has given us for our benefits shortly. 


Fourth, we must begin with a clear recognition that we are truly ignorant beings of ourselves.  Thus, we need to acquaint ourselves with our own ignorance, as Isaac Watts advised his readers in Improvement of the Mind (originally published in 1741).  He aptly said in the same treatise, “Impress your mind with a deep and painful sense of the low and imperfect degrees of your present knowledge.”  It is not to condemn us but to reassure us that “a well-trained mind is the result of application, not inborn genius.”  Watts assures us that “deep thinkers are not those born with ‘bright genius, a ready wit, and good parts.’”  He continues to say, “No matter how ignorant and ‘low’ a mind might be … the exercise of your own reason and judgment upon all you read … gives good sense … and affords your understanding the truest improvement.”  We may want to pay attention to the word “read” in his talk. 

Susan Wise Bauer clarifies Watt’s advice by adding a few explanatory comments to his words: “No matter how incomplete your education, you can learn how to read intelligently, think about your reading, and talk to a friend about what you’ve discovered.  You can educate yourself.  Sustained, serious reading is at the center of this self-education project.  Observation, reading, conversation, and attendance at lectures are all ways of self-teaching, as Isaac Watts goes on to tell us.  But he concludes that reading is the most important method of self-improvement.  Observation limits our learning to our immediate surroundings; conversation and attendance at lectures are valuable but expose us only to the views of a few nearby persons.  Reading alone allows us to reach out beyond the restrictions of time and space, to take part in what Mortimer Adler has called the ‘Great Conversation’ of ideas that began in ancient times and has continued unbroken to the present.  Reading makes us part of this Great Conversation, no matter where and when we pursue it” (The Well-Educated Mind, W. W. Norton & Company, New York, 16).  By now you must have noticed that I am interested in talking about “reading” as a means of educating our mind.


Thomas Jefferson (third president of USA) complained in an 1814 letter to John Adams (second president of USA): “Our post-revolutionary youth are born under happier times in their mother’s womb and bring it into the world ready-made.  The information of books is no longer necessary; and all knowledge which is not innate is in contempt or neglect at least.”  He moaned over the culture of a philosophy that exalts self-expression over reading.  It is interesting to see that even in his day, the early 19th century in America, long before the time of inventions such as electricity, telephones, radio, television, computers, smartphones, internet, or YouTube, people  already thought that reading requiring concentration was difficult and challenging. 


Most Christians today do not read books written by godly men and women in church history.  They do not read classical books that have influenced the mind of mankind over millennia.  If they read anything, the list of books is very much limited to their work-related books and journals, hobbies and interests, or casual and entertaining magazines or novels.  If some serious Christians are really reading, their choices are limited to so-called devotional books, commentaries, and a few favourite authors of today.  Such a lack of reading restricts our horizons and pinches our souls dangerously.  In addition to that, not all Christians read their Bible regularly either.  The end result of lack of reading is detrimental.  We glean wisdom from a few popular and favourite authors and preachers, or from the surroundings, including people and work experiences.  The worst case is that we educate ourselves with our own mind – imperfect, incomplete, corrupt, self-centred, and even dark.  It is no wonder that seasoned Christians who, even having spent decades in Christian churches, have not been able to renew their minds!  It is because they are their own teachers.


 A. W. Tozer says in one of his messages in Man: The Dwelling Place of God: “I have no doubt that the prayerful reading of some of the great spiritual classics of the centuries would destroy in us forever that constriction of soul which seems to be the earmark of modern evangelicalism” (“The Communion of Saints,” Chapter 19).


There are lots of things I want to share with you about reading good books in order to expand and enlarge your mind, to be able to see and understand more and bigger things. 



Your Pastor


More Lively Hope




  • Because our Service time now is the same as our neighbour Trinity Baptist’s, please DO NOT PARK on their side of the street.
  • Daylight Saving starts next Sunday, 4 Oct at 2:00 am. Please remember to set your clock one hour forward before retiring to bed on Saturday.
  • Reminder: If attending Sunday Service in-person, please contact Bro Edy Lok by Thursday to register your attendance.
  • All Hopefuls are encouraged to use your own devices to access Lively Hope, hymns & sermon outline. Paper copies are available to those without appropriate devices. Please share with family members.
  • Family members, please sit together & remain in allocated spaces (the blue spots in the Sanctuary). Avoid contact with attendees in other areas.
  • Parking & space allocations: Restrictions are in place for Sunday worship. Worshippers (Sanctuary), Sunday School children & guardians, please follow all signs regarding allowed parking areas & access to different areas in church.
  • Tithes & offerings - Bank details: 
    BSB No.: 015-257    Account No.: 2649 27547
    Please indicate if it is an offering, tithe or for a specific person or ministry.


Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence.
  • Church activities in the past week.
  • God’s mercy & protection from COVID-19 in South Australia.



  • Healing: Rev Mathews Abraham, Rev Pong Sen Yiew & others who are sick.
  • Holiday Bible Club – Speaker: Rev Kyle Graham; Sunday School Children.
  • IF Conference – Speaker: Rev Kyle Graham; all attendees.
  • COVID-19 pandemic – God’s continued guidance and protection for Australia & all who are affected.
  • Our church purity of doctrine & unity of fellowship.
  • Missions – IBPFM Missionaries worldwide.  




© Hope Bible-Presbyterian Church
14 Bedford Square, Colonel Light Gardens, South Australia 5041