6 So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. 7 For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.
Romans chapter 8, verses 6-7; from the New Living Translation (NLT)
Recently I had a conversation with a fellow United Methodist clergy on Facebook. It was focused on a post this individual had made. It was surprisingly civil (up to this point)–still, I couldn’t help but think: What are they teaching now in United Methodist Seminaries? Here’s the screenshot of that comment:
This person compared understanding Scriptures to a 3-legged stool. The top is the Scriptures and the 3 legs are tradition, reason, and experience. Thus, without tradition, or reason, or experience, one cannot adequately understand Scripture. The primary (and often times “sole determining factor”) way to understand Scripture is through tradition, reason, and experience. Now, before you call me that dreaded “fundamentalist”, hear me out. We do not study the Scriptures in a vacuum. There are traditions. We all have experiences. And God created us to be able to reason, or think if you prefer.
But it seems that many of our clergy are using reason as the final determining factor. In other words, if it doesn’t make sense to us, or if the culture tells us something contrary, then we are free to change or ignore what the Bible clearly teaches. This is what many seminaries are teaching. Not all of them, mind you; but enough of them are and the result has been the dilution and devolution of the power of Scripture to guide us and form in us the life of Holiness demanded by God for His Image Bearers. Go back to the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool.
The writer is correct in stating that for a three-legged stool to be secure enough to sit on, it needs all three legs. And, by implication, those 3 legs need to be the same length. Otherwise it is unstable. But do not overlook the other implication–that Scripture (the seat of that three-legged stool) cannot safely support us until all three of those legs are the same length. In other words, Scripture is to be formed by OUR traditions, experiences, and reasoning.
Can I be frank with you? I know, my name is Randy. But I need to be FRANK with you this morning. Using the writer’s analogy of that three-legged stool, when those who are supposed to be our Spiritual Leaders are taught that human reasoning overrides the Scriptures and that we need to change our beliefs about anything in the Bible, then the result is the chaos and soon to follow destruction of the United Methodist, and any other church that follows the same primrose path. And to my fundamentalist friends, if you allow your traditions to determine your beliefs about the Bible, then your three-legged stool is just as unsteady.
Hear me out! Yes, reason, tradition, and experience are helpful tools when it comes to understanding Scripture! But they do not determine what is THE TRUTH! The Truth is set by the Bible for all matters of faith, life, and conduct. But none of them gives us the permission to change The Standard clearly set in The Bible! From my perspective, many seminary professors took a bite of that apple Satan offered Eve and Adam, and unlike Eve and Adam who recognized the shame and mistake, they “reason” that the apple is good, and that Satan was right. Is there any doubts now as to why the United Methodist Tribe is imploding? It looks like that three-legged stool analogy doesn’t work after all.
For my fellow United Methodists, I don’t have to tell you we are nothing but The Denominational version of the Titanic. If you are a United Methodist and don’t know what I’m talking about, “SHAME ON YOU! GET YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND!” Why? Because this problem isn’t going away. And we cannot remain true to our Wesleyan heritage as long as This Problem exists. They (meaning Progressives, or as I prefer to call them, ‘ProAgressives’) want–nay DESIRE–nay again–they are DETERMINED to throw out the Bible and our Orthodox faith like yesterday’s trash. They “know” more than what The Bible clearly says–and for more than the Saints who sought and fought to preserve the Orthodox Faith. In case you may not be familiar with the word Orthodox (because it is a big word like mahogany), perhaps these synonyms will help you understand it better.
Three of them in particular fit the bill to understand what I mean by the Orthodox Faith: authoritative, buttoned down, and by the numbers! But. . . there are those in this Tribe I have been a part of for over 66 years who are convinced (or should I say deceived) that the tried and proven truth about sexual ethic of the Bible is. . .well. . .just plain wrong. Jesus was all about the love, they claim. And they claim that only 2 genders, male and female, are way too restrictive for people to really be who they are. So, they’ve added 72 additional gender designations. Forget the science, forget the biology, and forget Genesis chapter 2. And forget how our stance on sexuality has been unchanged since 1972. It states that all people stand equally in need of God’s grace. However, the practice of homosexuality is incompatable with Christian teachings–i.e.–the orthodox faith. Homosexuality is not any worse than any other sin–but it is outside God’s design and thus it is a sin–along with that long litany of stuff that puts all of us outside of God’s Desgin.
And now to this past week–and it shows how far my beloved Tribe has wandered. According to our approved procedures and rules, no self avowed practicing homosexual can be licensed, commissioned, nor ordained. To assure fidelity to the Bible and our procedures, we have this group called The Board Of Ordained Ministry. Some call it the BOOM or BOM for short. In the most recent session of the Florida Annual Conference, their BOOM recommended 16 candidates to be commissioned on the path to full ordination. Of the 16, two admitted that they were self-avowed practicing homosexuals–clearly in violation of The Bible and our rules. However, the Florida BOOM approved them. But they still needed 3/4 of the ordained clergy to give final approval. And the stuff hit the fire.
What Bishop Ken Carter and the Florida BOOM did was to put all 16 candidates in a single vote. As a group, vote up or down. Now, in fairness, I do not know that the other 14 candidates met the requirements. However, we do know that 2 did not! And the resulting firestorm has been aimed at the 27.3% who voted against the 16 because Bishop Carter would not allow them to vote on the candidates one by one. 27.3% voted according to their ordination vows and the Bible, and now they are the villians. So, the 27.3% who acted in the same spirit as Joshua and Caleb (see the story of the 10 spies) are treated with great disdain and anger.
And a fellow blogger joins in the disdain and anger, Rev. Jim Harnish. You can read his blog here. Jim asserts that the orthodox faith is invalid because, well because we are such more enlightened. And during the eventual commissioning and ordaining service, Bishop Ken Carter apologized to that group with these words:
“I grieve the harm you have experienced. I am committed to the support of your callings … I would have gladly commissioned each of you, and gladly appointed each of you …“
Bishop Ken Carter
So, Bishop Carter would have gladly thrown away both the Bible and our Discipline. Whether that’s what he meant or not, this is exactly what he was saying and doing. And to my fellow Brother Jim I say that simply because you have changed your views about The Bible and our Discipline, a Discipline you promised you would faithfully follow when you were ordained, doesn’t mean you are right. I am grieved that you would allow culture to define your faith rather than allow God’s Word to Transform the culture. And thus, we see the 21st Century version of the Titanic raising her bow in preparation for sinking. I am not angry–I am sad–and I am disappointed that there are those who will abandon John Wesley’s passion to be people of “homo unius libri.” (a people of One Book!)
To candid, reasonable men, I am not afraid to lay open what have been the inmost thoughts of my heart. I have thought, I am a creature of a day, passing through life as an arrow through the air. I am a spirit come from God, and returning to God: just hovering over the great gulf; till, a few moments hence, I am no more seen; I drop into an unchangeable eternity! I want to know one thing the way to heaven; how to land safe on that happy shore. God Himself has condescended to teach the way; for this very end He came from heaven. He hath written it down in a book. O give me that book! At any price, give me the book of God! I have it: here is knowledge enough for me. Let me be “homo unius libri.”
John Wesley (June 17, 1706-March 2, 1791)
Footnote: Though I am saddened, maligned by others, accused of quitting and giving up–I am still praying and hopeful that this blight and disorder–this cancerous lie–can be put in it’s rightful place. Back to hell where it came from and where it belongs! Furthermore, I am confident that the Wesleyan desire for renewal and revival is not dead on this earth. The signs are everywhere. And if our leadership in the UMC doesn’t have a change of heart–it will happen with another people–NOT in the UMC!
I was thinking this morning–even though sometimes I shouldn’t. But I was. I was thinking about a lot of stuff–why was this happening, why wasn’t that happening, what’s wrong with the world? Then a sombering thought broke through: What’s wrong with me? Please, no comments from the peanut gallery–I was dead serious. What was to be my time with The Trio (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) was constantly being interupted by this plethera of thoughts. Finally The Spirit was able to get a word in edgewise in the midst of all this thoughts of mine; He said, “Give us permission, and we will help you get your focus back.”
Permission! I hit the breaks to all those other thoughts, stuffed them back into the closet where they belonged, and I gave my Permission to The Trio to take control. All it took to settle my gray matter down, was to give my Permission to The Holy Spirit to take control. And thus this morning’s musings about Permission. Whatever thoughts we have are there because we have given them Permission to be there. And whatever is in our heart? You guessed it! It’s there because we have given it Permission!
And just as quickly as we gave something else Permission to run wild in our heart and mind, we can give Permission to our Heavenly Father! Giving God Permission is quick–but not always easy. Giving God Permission to take over contradicts what we’ve been taught, what we believe, and how we see life. Those thoughts, ideas, and beliefs will cry out that you’ve been wounded by God. But you haven’t been wounded by God–only those thoughts, ideas, and beliefs that have set up shop in your mind and heart have been wounded. But you? You are being set free and liberated from the chaos and confusion that comes without God on the throne of your heart. I leave you this morning with these words about Permission–straight out of the Bible; the Old Testament even!
Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.
This morning, my mind was a wandering! I’ve noticed here lately that it wanders off more frequently–and sometimes it forgets to come home. And in the darkness before today’s dawn, The Spirit gently and softly confronted me about this. And even as I tried to focus in on the Spirit, my mind started wandering again. I tried all kinds of words to get my mind back, focused on Him–but it was still trying to wander off to a thousand and one things I needed to get done today. I was about to think it was hopeless–all my attempts to reign it back in failed. It was then I said something different and it helped me. Maybe if you have a wandering mind like I do it will help you.
Here is what I said: “I will stop wandering and keep focusing on Jesus. This is my decision for today. And I will begin every morning with this decision. And with God’s help, I will live into this decision! And instantly my wandering mind came home. Why was this so powerful for me? I surrendered my will and my inabilities to control my mind. When I surrendered, The Spirit stepped in and said, “I can handle this–I’ve just been waiting for you to me permission.”
I had to face the truth that I wasn’t able to control what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking “bad” things–I was thinking about other things–things I needed to do–things I didn’t do yesterday–things I needed to get done today. And my mind went wandering, chasing those things like a beagle chasing rabbits. My decision to admit my powerlessness opened the gates of Heaven–and two things happened. I was focused on and aware of my Companion, The Holy Spirit. And I now have clarity. I may or may not get everything done today–but I have the ONLY One to help me sort through what needs to be done today. I leave you with this:
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.
My “Oh Lord, It’s Monday” post talked about how Interruptions get in the way of life the way God intends. Well, guess what? A Monday can happen on a Tuesday…and it did to me. Sunday night Debbie, my wife, got that blessed “stomach bug”. I prayed for her to get over it quickly–but I didn’t pray for it to stay away from me. Another “Guess What?” for you this Thursday morning: Tuesday afternoon that “stomach bug”–I prefer the term “Spawn Of Satan”–hit me, too. I hope this isn’t too graphic for you–but my mouth revisited everything I had eaten the past 2 years, or so it seemed. About 2 hours later, Satan’s Spawn decided I needed to visit the Porcelain Altar again until it was sure absolutely nothing remained in my stomach.
And that got me to thinking–OK, so I’m one of the few who can get a lesson from a “stomach bug that’s really Satan’s Spawn”. The lesson is this: What The World Offers Us Comes Back On Us, And It’s Never Pleasant. The food I had enjoyed so much, that tasted so good the first time it was on my palate, tasted horrible the second time it was on my palate. (Again, I hope this wasn’t too graphic for the “delicate” folks out there.) That’s the nature of Sin! It always does!
Yet we go back to it again and again. The outcome is always the same. Progressives who teach that some sins are no longer sins bear proof of this axiom. People who live by their “insights” that parts of the Bible are wrong continue to be miserable. And so they blame us Orthodox folks for their misery–that if we would just accept their views, the misery would disappear.
Sin always tastes worse when it comes back up when we least need it to. That’s why God tells us to avoid it! Not to make us miserable–but to keep us from being miserable! How long will you and I keep going back to the Porcelain Altar regurgitating the effects of sin and keep believing one day it will taste as good the second time as it did the first time? Be confident of this–that Sin will always come back up on you. I’m not asking you to be honest with me–be honest to yourself! Think it through, people! Do you still need more convincing?
The man described as the wisest man ever, Solomon, tried to live his life outside of God’s design–in other words–in SIN! He wrote a book about it; we call it Ecclesiastes. And in the very first chapter, he lets us know what it’s like living without God’s guidance. He wrote in Verses 16 and 17–I said to myself, “I know more and I’m wiser than anyone before me in Jerusalem. I’ve stockpiled wisdom and knowledge.” What I’ve finally concluded is that so-called wisdom and knowledge are mindless and witless—nothing but spitting into the wind. I would say, “It’s like kneeling at the Porcelain Altar rehashing what I thought was good–but it ain’t!” For 2022, why not give up thinking that sin will ever taste good the second time around? And Solomon would agree with me–It’s never as good the second time as it was the first time!
Not a misprint–I said SIGHS of the time. I hear of lot of sighs around me. And for some time now–I’ve been SIGHING a lot.
I sigh when I hear people say we don’t need to talk about racism–though nearly every day I hear a racist statement or two or three or four…
I sigh when I hear people say that anyone younger than them “ain’t got a clue” about life–though they never try to teach…
I sigh when I hear people whine and complain that they are not getting their fair share of life–though they are unwilling to apply themselves to the challenges of life…
I sigh…when I hear employers complain they can’t find decent employees–though they regularly reject applications of people they think won’t fit in…
I sigh when I hear church folks wonder why people don’t come to their church, after all, they are a friendly church–though they take neither the time nor the effort to get to know others…
I sigh when I hear people complaining about the government–though they keep putting career politicians back in office…
I sigh when I hear people say that Democrats are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
I sigh when I hear people say that Republicans are the answer to our problems–though they have helped create those problems…
I sigh when I hear people complain about the culture–and that’s all they do: COMPLAIN…
I sigh when I hear people speak hate about other people today because of what other people did 175 years ago–as it they were the cause of poor decisions…
I sigh when I hear when folks point out the sins of others–why they ignore their own sin…
I sigh when I hear the researchers throwing out their fake science that is ruining so many lives–and vainly believe they are helping…
I sigh when I hear self-identified Christians say they want Jesus to come back right how–not thinking about all those who will not be ready for His Appearing…
I sigh when I hear me confess my sin–knowing I had the power of The Holy Spirit to successfully resist…
I sigh when I hear hate and anger catapulted at those who wear the badge–and don’t seem to care they are human beings who want nothing but to help others and keep us all safe…
I sigh when I hear nothing but silence–when it comes to the Truth of God and His Word…
What makes YOU sigh today? I could go on and on and on; and on some more about what makes me SIGH. But I am hit–and hit hard–by the Holy Spirit this morning. He asked me: “Randy, can you kindly tell me what all your SIGHING has accomplished? I mean other than made you feel sad, even an unhealthy bit of despair? After all, any amount of despair ain’t heathy for you.” So, I let that thought sink in a little bit. I refrained from that knee jerk reaction of: “I’m justified in this because that’s the way it is!” As His question marinated in my heart and mind, I finally answered Him: “It would be better for me, and my world, if I prayed instead of SIGHING!” And I could swear that I heard The Spirit say, “Mm-hmm.” Instead of SIGHING today, I’ll pray today, tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day, and the next, and the next… Will you join me in giving up SIGHING and replace it with PRAYING?
When I was on staff for The North Alabama Conference Center, I had this sign on the door to my office: “A Lack Of Planning On Your Part Does NOT Mean We Have A Crisis. It Means YOU Have A Problem!” The meaning is pretty obvious: When you are in the panic mode because you failed to make and follow a plan, do not expect me to join you in your panic. Planning is important. To borrow a term from Coach Nick Saban, there is a Process to follow.
We plan lots of things like careers, work, families,
and retirement. And we would never build
a home without first having a plan. But
what about the development of our spiritual life? If planning work, families, retirements, and
homes are important, why do so many spend so little time planning the
development of their spiritual life? Have
you heard this saying? When You
Fail To Plan, You Plan To Fail.
I want us to look at developing a plan, a blueprint of sorts for Building A Brand New You. I believe that God is on the move in our
culture for yet another Great Awakening, much like what God promised Israel
through Isaiah in Isaiah 43:19
For I am
about to do something new. See, I have
already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.
God promised this, they were in exile and things seemed hopeless. If we are honest, we feel the same way about
our culture—that things seem hopeless.
But I am convinced otherwise. I
see the signs in Africa, Southeast Asia and in Central and South America—and I
am seeing and sensing the same in our time and place. God is doing a new thing in our time, and we
need to position ourselves to see it. We
need a new blueprint for a new you. Every
blueprint has a beginning point, so I began thinking about where to start. I kept thinking and thinking and thinking,
but I just couldn’t figure out where to start this blue print.
I was thinking about a lot of different things as the first part of this blueprint—transformation of the heart, the importance of living out God’s word, faith, but the more I thought about it, nothing seem to fit. I did my usual walking and pacing as I was thinking. Now, I don’t know how other preachers arrive at their messages, but me, I don’t know how to explain it, other than to say it just feels right. I was doing all this thinking, and nothing felt right.
Finally, I said, “OK, God,
what are you thinking?” And I thought I
almost heard Him say, “Exactly!” Excuse
me? What do you mean by “Exactly”? Then it hit me, the Blueprint For A New You begins with A New Way Of Thinking! And our passage for today comes from Romans 12:1-2. Last week I shared it with you from The Message, but this week I want you
to hear it from The Passion Translation:
1] Beloved friends, what should be our proper response to God’s marvelous mercies? I encourage you to surrender yourselves to God to be his sacred, living sacrifices. And live in holiness, experiencing all that delights his heart. For this becomes your genuine expression of worship.
2] Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.
we think is more important than many may realize. It influences our perceptions and
our reactions—both positively and negatively.
And our thinking greatly shapes our daily actions. How many times after we did something that
defied common sense did we say, “What
was I thinking?” Anyone here other
than me who has ever said that? When
Debbie and I got married, I wanted to use that country song as we walked the
aisle. She wouldn’t let me.
our own answer to that question is: “I Wasn’t
Thinking!” Most of the time,
this is probably true. But open your
minds to another possible answer. Maybe,
just sometimes the answer is: “I was
thinking the wrong way.”
Case in point is found in Mark 6 when Jesus had been teaching most of the day. This was supposed to be a day for just the Disciples and Jesus. But then the crowd showed up, ruining their plans. This crowd had been there at least all afternoon long. I don’t think the disciples had a table set up with snacks, coffee and water, so they had been there most of the day without eating. The disciples know this, so in order to get their own time with Jesus, they tell Jesus, “The day is almost over. These people need to eat. Stop preaching and send them home.” But their little ploy to keep Jesus to themselves quickly unravels.
Jesus tells them, “OK, they do need to eat, so YOU give them something to eat.” Maybe Jesus doesn’t fully understand this situation. Almost immediately they reached a rare consensus: “It would take 8 months of our wages to buy that much bread. You want us to do that?” At first their thinking was: “Send them home”, and their second thinking was, “It would take 8 months of wages to buy that much bread.” The meaning of that statement is: “We don’t have enough money to feed them. So, let’s go back to our first statement: Send them home!”
Jesus the Teacher is persistent, so He asks another question: “Well,
how many loaves do you have?” There
must have been a look of shock on their faces because Jesus added, “Well, go on and see!” It seemed like Jesus wasn’t listening to
them. But they do what He says just to
prove THEY are right.
They take a very quick inventory. John’s Gospel says they found a young boy with a sack lunch. They come back with their report: “We have 5 loaves and 2 small fish.” Obviously this is not enough, so they are probably back to their first way of thinking: “OK Jesus, send them away.” But Jesus Doesn’t See This Situation The Way They See It. He tells them, “OK, everybody, I mean everybody have a seat. We are going to have a picnic. Sit in groups of 50 or 100. Oh, and save the leftovers.” Try to imagine, if you can, the look on the faces of the disciples. 5 loaves of bread? 2 small fish? A picnic?
with common sense would know this can’t feed all those people; 5000 men plus
women and children. I can just imagine
Matthew, who knew how to work with numbers, thinking: “Well this won’t take long.”
look at what happens. Everyone eats
until they are full, and then there are 12 baskets full of leftovers. Their way of thinking said, “This isn’t enough.” But Jesus’ way of thinking said,
“Everyone sit down, the servers will bring your meal to you as quickly as they
can. And save all the leftovers!”
A New Way Of Thinking Begins When We See People And Situations The
Way Jesus Sees Them. And this will never happen in us until we
have our minds transformed by God’s grace into the same mind of Jesus who told
those disciples, “You give them something to eat.” It happens when we allow Him to make us
something altogether different. It happens inside us when His Holy Spirit, is
more than with us; But Living IN Us. It’s all an inside job. We can’t make it happen, but we can choose to
allow it to happen by surrendering to God’s grace.
Here’s the one thing you need to remember: This Transformed Mind Is Where We Discover, Accept
And Live In God’s Intended Design.
God has an Intended Design for your life. It’s Called His Will. That Will brings about His Purpose
which is bringing people into a relationship with Him.
natural mind cannot see it no more that the natural minds of the disciples
could see how to feed all those people. But
Jesus did feed them, and Jesus will use us when our minds have been transformed
by the Jesus who wants to live in us.
Only with the transformed mind can we discover and live in God’s
that transformed mind that understands why we need His Intended Design. It’s the renewed mind that understands 3 Unshakeable
Truths that keep us Thinking In A New Way.
1. God’s Will Is Good
will is good because it is honorable. Thinking
A New Way understands that our everyday life can also be
honorable. We can show integrity and
compassion in any situation. It works
from the desk of a CEO all the way to a simple ditch digger.
Wherever you are, Thinking A New Way Means We Look For Ways To
Express The Holiness And Majesty Of God; His Grace, Mercy, And His Unlimited
Love To A World That Desperately Needs To See Him. To say His
Intended Design is good means that whatever it is He wants from us is the
right thing. This adds value, purpose,
and the beauty to life.
2. His Will Is Life As It Is
Meant To Be.
Thinking A New Way means that we Look For Ways To Bring Our Daily
Life Back Into Agreement With God’s Intended Design For Our Life. Thinking A New Way Shows Us How
To Live This Life In SuchA Way That We Find A Passion Living God’s Way.
It is pleasing to us, because it is the very life we
have been created for—a life in deep intimate relationship with Him. And it is pleasing to Him—who created us and
who loves us enough to allow His Only Son to die on that Cross, just for us so
that this horrible and destructive power of sin that was Defeated ON That Cross
could be Defeated
IN Our Life.
3. This Life Moves Us
God’s Intended Design is perfect because ultimately,
it will make us perfect. We’re not
perfect yet, but Thinking A New Way
means we know that Every Choice, Every Carefully Chosen Word, And Every
Deliberate Act Can Take Us Closer To Or Further Away From That Total Perfection. It all depends on YOUR chosen priority. Thinking A New Way means We Live Our Life With
A Clearly Defined Purpose—To Allow All The Life That Is Jesus, To Be SeenIn
Great Desire is to finish the process of transformation that begins when we
invite Jesus into our heart as Savior and as Lord. Then we begin this journey toBecome
The Person Who God Intended For Us To Be All Along. Thinking A New Way can only
happen when we offer Jesus both our heart and our mind. Does this process of surrendering the mind
forward to Acts 3. John and Peter are
about to enter the Temple in Jerusalem.
A beggar stops them, asking for money.
They don’t have any money. What will
they do? Do they start shouting, “Hey,
this man needs money. Will someone
please step up and help this poor man out?”
That, my friends, would have been their old way of thinking.
now, thanks to the Holy Spirit, they have a new way of thinking. Listen to verse 6: Then
Peter said, “I don’t have money, but I’ll give you this—by the power of the
name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk!” A new way of thinking is all about knowing
that Jesus isn’t just with you, but that He wants to be and can be IN you.
Here’s Your Next Step
Do Something This Week That
Will Cause 2 Things In Your Life:
Find a way to look and think a little more like Jesus each day. Maybe read the Bible more, pray more, start reading a book by a solid Christian writer–whatever works for you.
Ask God to use you to show someone else that God loves and cares about them.
Well, time for my daily class assignment: What did you learn yesterday? As the day began I was looking forward to it. But now? I admit that it is a bit more difficult than I imagined. Has that ever happened to you? Something you thought you could do, easily do, but out of nowhere it became difficult. Truthfully….I don’t like difficult. Thinking about what to write was as blank as this graphic. So what does one do when preparing for test time? You review your notes.
Set up the beach canopy–check! Cooler with drinks–check! Beach towels–check! Beach chairs set up–check! Bag with snacks–check! Reading materials–check! Sunscreen and applied–check and check! Feet buried in the sand–check. What next? Sitting in the shade of the canopy, looking at the scene graciously provided for us by The Creator. Listening to the sounds of waves and birds. When we were a bit warm, going into the Gulf to cool off, floating on the gentle waves. Then a southerly breeze came in helping to keep us cool. A couple of naps between finishing that book.
Where’s the lesson? WHAT’S the lesson? What am I forgetting? And it finally hit me. There was that moment I realized my mind was totally blank. (Please, no comments from the monkey gallery!) And there were other moments when my mind was blank….cleansed from everything. No thoughts about writing, the churches, my Dad, my own grief from Mother’s recent death. My mind has been cleansed. Think of it as a computer reset. Cleansers–that’s the lesson.
There are cleansers for the face, microwaves, ovens, bathtubs, commodes, even this thing called a colon cleanse (now try to get that image out of your mind!). My Father knew what I needed on that day–for my mind to be completely cleansed–to set aside all my thoughts–just to be me in the presence of my King and Creator!
The blood of Jesus cleanses our hearts, but what can cleanse our minds? The mind is more complicated and delicate matter. A few sentences back I mentioned “colon cleanse”–how many of you still have that image in your mind? If we try to get some thought out of our mind, say a certain song or a colon cleanse, it only seems to linger and grow roots. And should we cleanse our minds of all thoughts, what will we replace them with?
I’m thinking about a story Jesus once told found in Matthew 12. A man seemed to have rid his mind and heart of a demon. The demon went looking for another home. Failing to find one, he returned to that man. Found the home of his heart and mind cleaned but unoccupied. So he goes and gets 7 buddies and moves right back in. And the point is??? Once your mind is cleansed, make very sure that it is immediately occupied with God’s presence.
When I had my mind cleanse, I did it intentionally in His Presence. The result was that He rearranged some thoughts and replaced others. Along with that process, He provided me with balance, perspective and wisdom. And I urgently needed that to happen. So when your thoughts overwhelm you, when you mind resembles that junk closet, take the time to be in His presence. No agenda, no asking, no searching for answers–just alone with Him. As you as prepare for this cleansing, and before you begin, make the decision to ask Him to sort it all out. Add this “cleansing” process to your regular spiritual disciplines. Allow it to be a part of your spiritual disciplines. Balance, perspective and wisdom–all are gifts found only in His presence.
Love God with all your heart. Love others the way Jesus loves you. And make sure all the glory goes to Him!
Excuse me now, I hear the bell for the next class to begin. And I am ready for it, more than when this week began because I now have His balance, perspective and wisdom.