We are preparing for our Fall yard sale here at Malaga. It's a big job, for my friend Sara, who sorts, arranges, dispenses with and shows off, various items that are donated from someone's treasure house of memories. most of us have more "stuff" than we need, want,or will use, Why in the world do we hold on to the stuff we do????? I remember when my mother died, we knew she was a "saver" and always said it was because of having lived through the Great Depression all those many years ago. And save she did...string, empty jewelry size boxes, broken glasses and cups. Some of the items I remembered from my childhood when we used them on a regular basis and I realized that for Mom, memories were attached to each and every item. There is a parallel for us in the spiritual realm. We have "stuff" stored up in our subconscious mind, attached to some memory from the past. Some is good stuff...some is bad, some quite disastrous. Psychologists tell us that our perceptions of life are pretty well set by the age of four. Pre-school years for many of us, years we would have spent at home with mom. If that is true, and I have no reason to doubt it's truth, it makes clear to me that God's original plan for family is the best one around. In Jewish families of old, betrothed couples came together after they had spent a number of years preparing a home, the boy, physically building the home on a piece of his father's land, the girl, in her home making household items for use in the home he was building. When they were finally married, they were to spend the first year together in their new home, no work for him, no going to war, limited visiting with family, because they were to "bond" together before a baby came on the scene . Leave and cleave, the two become one, whatever terminology you want to use, but God knows how important family is.It's the central unit of society and the newly weds need time to get to really know each other and children need mom and dad's influence, love and security to properly develop emotionally as well as spiritually. This is where "stuff" comes in. Because we are part of a fallen human race, and by nature sinners, (unusual word for today isn't it) we frequently "perceive' wrong about what goes on around us. But the security and love of family usually allows us to sort out our feelings. But, not always, and sometimes those wrong perceptions lead us to wrong attitudes and conclusions about other people and next thing we know, we have a GRUDGE! Imagine that.! God's Word strongly teaches about forgiveness, because unforgiveness leads to bitterness and grudges, and those attitudes show up in how we think, talk, and act. Have you ever heard the saying, "he/she needs an attitude adjustment?" I'll bet you have! How many people do you know that fit that category...probably too many. Most of those attitudes can be traced back to those early years of bad perceptions, and accumulating stuff that we just don't want to let go of, even though we know they are "hanging us up" emotionally. Next time we'll talk more about letting go.
Monday, September 14, 2009
I wonder how deeply we believe and trust down in our inner man, until we have "risked" greatly and God has worked for us...I wonder. I suspect the kind of faith we maintain and exhibit is from a comfortable place in our comfortable home, without any danger or risk...is that faith and trust true Biblical faith???? The faith I am talking about emerges when we step out of the boat, and risk. We risk looking like a fool, or being laughed at, or ignored or treated as if you don't even exist, or have no credibility with the observer. The kind of risk I am talking about says to "self" "I will risk all, no matter what"...as did Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3: 8-30. Read it at your leisure.
Did you ever put "risk taking" in the context of identity with Christ? Identity with the cross? Jesus said this: "anyone who would follow me must deny himself, take up his cross (in Luke, 'daily'), and follow me"...Matt 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23. What is He saying? Every expositor I have read agree...He is telling us we must be willing to give control, our right to run our own lives, over to Him. Read Romans 12:1-2 a few times, try reading it in different versions, really think about the words. We sign on to serve Christ on a voluntary basis, in total commitment. We give Him the right to live through us, for Him to manage our lives from that point on. Our life becomes His life and He begins to make the changes in our thinking processes that are necessary for us to be godly. As we risk, and change, He can begin to use us for His glory! Did you ever hear the story of what a bondslave was? In Roman times, slaves were bought on the open market, usually for a specific time period, then they were set free. At times, a slave would be so well treated and liked being a servant/slave to the master and voluntarily decide to stay with him. This made the master responsible for the slave for the slaves lifetime. As a sign to the world of this arrangement, the slave would have a hole put in his ear and a gold earring put in place. He then worked as a servant to the master because he wanted to. There was a certain amount of risk in this arrangement for both parties.
We Christians are unaccustomed to "seeking counsel" from God, whether we want to admit it or not. We LIKE running our own lives and making our decisions as we see fit. We may think about Scripture and does it directly address the issue we are contemplating? Do we make the time to sit before the Lord, talk to Him and then LISTEN...probably not. And should we think we might have heard from Him, do we play a mind game with ourselves because God "couldn't possibly have said THAT"...we are afraid to risk!
God is not a hard taskmaster...He never expects more than He knows we can deliver, because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He wants to "stretch" us, enlarge our faith and trust. Risk...step out, He is totally trustworthy. The experience initially may be positive or it may be negative, we might get hurt feelings, be misunderstood, verbally abused, ridiculed or put down...all experiences that wound and make scars...and make change in us. I know, I've been there.You don't work with inmates, CO's, civilian staff, family members and ex-prisoners for nearly 30 years and not go through all of the above many, many times. But that risk taking is how God grows us up...the hurts become learning experiences at the hand of a faithful God, worked out to our individual benefit and growth. It didn't always seem like it at the time but I learned to "lean into Him" when I didn't understand and eventually, when my emotions were under control, He could give me the understanding of the hurt.
Wounds and scars, inflicted for the furtherance of the Gospel, will be "counted" on Judgment Day. He won't care about trophies, awards, citations, metals. placques or applause...He holds out to us His nail-pierced hands to look at our battle wounds and scars, received because of Him. Those wounds and His bind us together.
We don't seem to understand that the only way a world can be redeemed is through self-sacrifice...HIS AND OURS! The great Oswald Chambers said this: "Like Christ, we are to be broken bread and poured out wine for a dying world. The problem is, we object to the "fingers" God uses to crush and break us."
Sunday, September 13, 2009
We rarely have a problem remembering to get our yearly physical checkups do we? But do we ever think of a spiritual checkup? Probably not...we usually tend to think "we're ok"...here are a few questions to ask yourself from time to time, just to check...
1. If you are questioning your faith, quit it, and question your doubts instead. Keep in mind, God's promises are sure, 2 Corinthians 1:20 says "all the promises of God, in Him are yea and amen."
2. Don't be a "lone ranger" Christian. The Old Testament is made up of stories of God's people, the Epistles written to congregations, why? Because He wants us to RELATE, not isolate!
3. Guard your thought life. Isaiah 26:3 tells us "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on Thee." Stay focused on God's Word and His promises and your thoughts will be fixed as well. Learn to "manage" your mind God's way.
4. The last thing you have on your mind as you fall asleep, will be in your mind as you wake...hymns, verses, parts of your prayer list...mull them over and over in your mind as you fall asleep.
5. Get rid of ANYTHING that distracts you from the Lord or His Word. What do you read, watch on TV, hang out with, or most of all, worship. That's right, worship. Anything or anybody that gets more of our time and/or attention is an idol and is being worshipped. Computers are becoming idols today, with face book, twitter, etc., we spend an awfully lot of time in front of the computer. Give God His due!
6. Be careful of attitudes. We can disapprove of someone's actions and not be rude or arrogant to the person...our attitude toward one who is not living right can make or break the outcome. We all know the saying, "hate the sin but not the sinner."
7. Be sure of what you believe and don't be afraid to share it. Paul wasn't "ashamed of the Gospel", and we should not be either.
8. Be careful of judging others, not that you should not at times, but make a careful judgment. Remember, Jesus said "judge righteous judgment"... John 7:24, be careful not to condemn and careful what standard you are using as a "yardstick." Jesus also said as WE judge, so shall we BE judged.
9. Forgive those who wrong you or speak badly about you. Not easy at all, but important to growth. If you are going to carry a grudge, your mind will become "occupied" with the offender...to your detriment.
ONLY A PERSON WITH THE MIND OF CHRIST CAN TRULY OVERCOME THE SINS OF THE FLESH AND LIVE ACCORDING TO THE SPIRIT!
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
We were talking about our minds, and who and what we think about most. With most people now days, it's self...unfortunate but true. If you belong to the Lord, He REQUIRES you to think about and put, Him first. Romans 12:1-2 says it all..."I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, it's your reasonable service. And, be not conformed to this world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind that you may prove what is that good, perfect, and acceptable will of God. " He wants us to be aware of him and thinking His thoughts all the time. I read a comment recently to this effect: "Father, I want to spend the day with You!" What a wonderful mindset...that would definitely make HIM #1 in your book! It is not in our nature to deny self, even in prayer our minds wander. It doesn't need to be said that it takes discipline to keep focused on our relationship with Him. But, it's worth it because when you are fucused on Him, perception changes, we see the bigger picture as we take on the mind of Christ. Serving Him becomes a very pleasurable thought and we can look for ways to be like Him as we interact with others. It becomes easier to forgive some infraction against us or some slight. We find that things that use to drive us up the wall and under the paper, no longer do. Why? Because we consider the other persons point of view. Have you ever carried a grudge? We all have but truth be told, we don't have to. A grudge comes about because we don't want to forgive and put the infraction "away." We want to hold it close to us, rehearsing it over and over in our minds as it gets bigger and bigger. Most of us have the idea that to forgive is to agree with the offender...but it isn't. Forgiving, between you an the Lord, relieves you of carrying the burden, puts it on God's shoulders and SHOULD clear your conscience. I say should because once again we rehearse the problem instead of leaving it with the Lord and focusing on Him and His Word. Memorizing Scripture really helps with the process of forgiving...turn it over to Him and refocus on a verse of Scripture. Next thing you know, your mindset has changed, and so have you. Forgiveness is the key to a life of ABIDING. It is impossible to carry around a bunch of nasty emotional baggage and abide in Christ at the same time. Think about it and I think you'll see my point.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I am no longer young...I am in my 70's, and to be honest, don't care to be young. I am continually set back on my heels by the self-serving attitudes of those under 50. Unfortunately, even among Christians.
I can't say all, but the majority to be sure. I suppose because I have spent so many years counseling and teaching inmates, learning to understand how their thought processes work, and why, I have developed a "need to know" attitude about how and why we ALL think. For over 25 years I have taught a class in emotional healing from a Christian perspective. Lining up thinking patterns with Scripture absolutely fascinates me. And when I discovered, thanks to J. Gordon Henry that our minds are NOT born again when we are, I was REALLY fascinated. Surely God made a provision for healing for our minds! Well of course He did and it's right in HIs Word..."be renewed in the attitude of your mind," Eph 4:23 and "let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,"Phil 2:5, and "for who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ." I Cor 2:16 and many other verses.
- OK, that is all well and good, but now the question becomes HOW...the best way I can describe the process is to refer you to John 15, commonly called, the Abiding chapter. A simple explanation of the term "abide" is this: settle down and make yourself at home"...make yourself comfortable with the Lord, by reading, and reading, and reading His Word, reading it and memorizing it and as you memorize, meditate on it, take it apart, think about the phrases, look up definitions of words. Another good thing to help in this renewing process is to read the same passage in a different version and compare what you read. Do you journal???? Write down you thoughts and ideas? You should...it's a wonderful exercise and you remember more of what you read when you write down what you are learning. You will find that as you abide, you perception of things begins to change...you are beginning to see things from God's point of view because you are "taking on" His understanding, (mind).