What Ya Thinking?

Forever and a day I ponder what happened.  The “how in the world?” circulates my thought pattern on a consistent basis.  

How could she love the Lord her God with all her heart and with all her soul and with all her mind and with all her strength and still walk away?  Simple answer, because she didn’t.

You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3

The power of the obedient mind

The inner recesses of my mind wages war for eternity; it is the battle of obedience.  I can say I love the Lord with all my heart, but if my mind still chooses to disobey, I simply do not love Him with all my heart, and you can call me a liar.

Harsh, I know, but true.

The Power of an Obedient Mind

I can write all day long about how much I love God, how much I die to serve Him, but when jealousy consumes me because someone’s blog is way cooler than mine, I fall flat on my face.

When I play the comparison game, “Oh my word, I want to be just like her.  Look how beautiful and amazing she is.  I’m nowhere near that good, no wonder I’m a failure,”  I fail.

When I allow my mouth to run freely in anger…Oh, please do not even get me started on that one.  My freely running mouth does not always glorify the Lord.  Little words slip out that are not edifying, pleasing, or lovely in His sight.  Would I talk that way if Christ was standing in my presence?  Oh, but He is.

Thoughts pop up in my head on a moment by moment basis, and that is a natural part of life.  Do I dismiss them?  Or do I allow them to linger just a moment longer?  They tempt me to fall back into fear and defeat.  They want me to live locked in anxiety.

You cannot love the Lord your God with all of you until you love Him with all your mind. Click To Tweet

Even the wind and the waves obey Him, why can’t I?

I can’t obey Him while flesh, my human nature, governs my life.  Left to my own devices, I will be out of line in a flash!  Only a life lived in the Spirit can fully obey.  The choice is mine.

A person may think their own ways are right, but the Lord weighs the heart.  Proverbs 21:2

He calls me (maybe you as well, perhaps not) to a life of complete obedience to Him.

Obedience begins and ends in the mind.

My mind controls every little part of my human anatomy.  My hand cannot act freely on its own, nor will my mouth speak without my mind telling it what to say.

He doesn’t ask for much from me.  He begs me to put some actions to “set apart” not just the words “called to be set apart.”

The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so.  Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.  Romans 8:6-7

He begs me to put some actions to “set apart” not just the words “called to be set apart.” Click To Tweet

Into action

I can choose what my mind thinks about and what my mind does; He gave me control of me to do with as I see fit.  He gave me free will.  I have free will to change the radio station.  I have the ability to walk away from an ugly conversation.  God made me exactly the way He made me.  If He wanted me to be that lady over there, He would have made me Her.  He put within me my blog and not that one over there.

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then whether I come and see  your or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.  Philippians 1:27

So fast forward fifteen years, and I now know where I went wrong, desperately wrong.

What about you?  Do you love the Lord your God with all your mind?  Or do you just say you do?  It’s a question only you can answer.

I failed miserably.  I lived sheerly by words alone.  I was a poser, and it did some damage.

Don’t be me, love the Lord your God with all your mind and your heart, your soul, your strength!  (Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27;) Take captive every thought and bend it to the will of Christ! (2 Corinthians 10:5)

matthew 24-13

 

 

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To Follow or not To Follow

There are days when life overwhelms me.

This journey I am on is not a trip to a far off place.  It’s the journey of being here and staying here, on this path that chose me.  Many days, I fight the desires of the flesh and stay the course when part of my life is not at all what I wish (honesty).  I’m here and cannot change that.

“But, it’s your life,” those who know me well say.

“No,” I reply emphatically to you, “it is not my life.”

I have given my life’s journey over to the one who made the sun, the moon, and the stars.  For better or worse, I vowed I would praise Him until I see Him face to face.  I intend to do just that.  He saved me.  I owe my rescuer my life, my heart, and my sincere gratitude for each breath I draw.  For each new sunrise, I offer Him thanks.

I owe my rescuer my life, my heart, and my sincere gratitude for each breath I draw. Click To Tweet

In John chapter 6, The crowd gathered, and Jesus is talking about eating His flesh and drinking His blood.  Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.”  (verse fifty-four).  As twenty-first century Christians, we understand what he was saying, this is not cannibalism.  The Jews in verse fifty-two, however, had a literal take on this.  “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  They just did not comprehend.  Consequently, we are told, “From this point, many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.”  (verse sixty-six)

Jesus asked the twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”  (verse sixty-seven through sixty-nine)  It was Peter who gave the most profound answer.  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.  We believe you and know that you are the Holy One of God.”

“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”  Matthew 4:19

Jesus asked the twelve just as He asks us today.

Where else would I go?

There are days I am tempted to click the “unfollow” button.  Some days I would rather choose to grumble, wallow in my mud pit, and sulk in self-pity because this is not the life I wanted.  Left to my desires, I would take the easy road.

luke 9-23

Frankly, desiring to be like Christ and sticking with it until the end is a tough choice.  Somedays, I want to “unfollow” Jesus.  Just for a bit, though, until the bumpy road levels out and I can see sunny days.  Then I will “follow” again.

Peter put it plainly, “Where else would we go, Lord?”

Where would I go?  Back to the previous path I traveled?  Granted it was fun and I had life at my fingertips, but to gain the world and lose my soul?  Is that worth it?

I don’t want to go back.

Jesus called the disciples, just like He calls me, to leave my old way of thinking, pick up my nets, and follow Him.  He calls me to let go of my easy life expectations and trust (in faith) that His plan for my life is good.

The “unfollow” button is just a click away.  I can give up and give in; take the easy road.

Jesus could have easily given up and given in.  He could have removed himself from the cross when the going was beyond tough.

He didn’t.

He saw His death, burial, and resurrection all the way through to the end.  Jesus knew that His father’s plan was perfect, challenging, but perfect.

He chose me. Where else would I go when my Savior gave all? Click To Tweet

Father, take my foolish pride and my expectations.  Grab my fear, my worry, my doubt.  Take my life and breathe on this heart that is now yours.  I want to follow you with every part of my world.  All my heart’s desires, I lay at your feet.  I trust the one who gave sight to the blind, made the broken whole, and walked out of a tomb.  To whom do I go, Lord?  You are the only Holy One of God.This Journey's yours

Who else do I give my praise when He gave the gift of eternal life? Click To Tweet

You can have it all Lord, this is your journey, and I follow you.

 

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How My Monday Became Sunday

Oh the eternal glow of Sunday, until Monday comes and slaps me square in the face.  Chaos ensues before I can grab my coffee and say, “Thank you, Jesus, for a new day.”  My head split in two from an incredible headache, Dog mistook my feet for grass, and the skies are stormy.  Can’t I just rewind to the peace of Sunday where the day is sunshine and roses, everyone speaks sweetly, and the tops of my feet are not urine soaked?

How on earth do I swim in Sunday’s peace every other day of the week?

It’s here I remember that I am still on this planet trapped in a fallen world trying to live with a Heavenly mindset.  There is a wee bit of chaos in trying to go against the grain but go against the grain I must.  My happily-ever-after of eternity is riding on me consistently swimming up the stream until the day I die.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

Am I alone in this?  Church is all powerful, and the Holy Spirit breaks open the heavenlies on Sunday.  Fast forward twenty-four hours, and hell has waged an all out war in my home.  Monday I fall flat on my face.  The coop doors were left open Tuesday and gentleness, kindness, humility, and self-control flew far far away.  Patience bailed stealing joy and love on the way out the door Wednesday.  On Thursday, I’m left holding the bag of “what just happened here?  Where did my Sunday go?”

Turning Monday into Sunday

First and foremost, this is not my home!  I don’t belong here.

Romans 12-2The scene plays out via the movie projector in my mind.  The shipwrecks, the plane crashes, and I’m stuck on a foreign planet.  Dying to get back home, I set up camp for survival, but it is temporary.  While stranded on the desert island of an alien world, I fight to keep my identity.  I definitely must not change who I am to become like the natives even though their ways are easy.  I am still me and refuse to conform by fighting their soothing ways on a daily basis.  It is critical to my survival that I keep my “home” mindset.  If I adapt to this alien planet, I’ll lose my chance ever to return home; forever doomed.

I am called to be set apart. Click To Tweet

I must keep my mindset of Heaven while living in my makeshift camp on earth to make everyday Sunday special.

Secondly, swimming upstream is imperative.

He found me while I was still a sinner, He saved me from hell, literally, and gave me a fresh start when I truly wasn’t worth the finding.

I call that grace.

It’s the remembrance of that grace that stirs the desire to be a follower of He who saved me, every day of the week.  Grace calls me to adopt His mindset, adapt to His ways, and just be like Jesus.

Out of gratitude for my soul’s salvation, I want to be like Sunday, not Monday. Click To Tweet

I hear my Father’s reminder, “Just obey already!  Do not conform to the evil desires you had before salvation (you remember them don’t you?)  You’ve been raised with Me kiddo, set your heart on things above where I am, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things.  Remember?  You died, and your life is now hidden in Me.  Run away from the evil desires of youth and chase after righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on Me out of a pure heart.  Don’t love this world.  Don’t love anything in this world.  Just be like Me!”  (1 Peter 1:14, Colossians 3:1-3, 2 Timothy 2:22, 1 John 2:15, and Ephesians 5:1 in my words)

And that is how my Monday became Sunday.

I must guard my heart, set my mind on things above, and try to be like Jesus even when1 Peter 1-14 the dog pees on my feet.

The stuff of life will happen, guaranteed.  Where your mind is focused determines if the sunshine and roses of Sunday take over your week or if you get the urine soaked headaches of Monday.

Set your mind on things above this week just to see what happens!

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:22-25

May I swim against the grain all my days.  Until I breathe my last breath, let me fight to be set apart.  Keep my passion for different in this day and age alive as you draw me deeper and deeper into the center of you.  Be at the center of my mind with every reaction to every event within my day.  May the fruits of your Spirit be my desire.

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Grace That Leads Us-Don’t Quit

Grace--don't quit

Defeating the Monster–Charting the Course 

There is a monster lurking; it’s dying to consume me.  Closing the closet doors will not keep it at bay nor send it back to the monster factory.  Not a chance with this one.

No one can force me to be a good Christian.  Consequently, no one can force me to be a bad Christian either.  It is my choice.  My actions are my choice.  The only person who makes a difference in my life is me.  Does that sound selfish?  Maybe a little, I suppose.  I find truth here, though.  Yes, people other than me can influence me one way or another, but ultimately, I am the one who makes the decision to live by the Spirit or be devoured by the monster.

So why do I (as a Christian) do things I know are wrong?  Why do the words out of my mouth cause damage?  Why do I gossip?  Why do I cuss?  Why do I become sad because she has a bigger blog following and prettier pictures than me?  Why do I worship stuff and things?  And why on earth do I claim those items on my taxes that I know I can’t, but do it anyway?

It’s a fight, a daily fight, a constant battle.  This monster wants my soul, not just my scream.

“If you do what is right, will you not be accepted?  But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door, it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  Genesis 4:7

I, as a human, am not inherently good.  When I was a child (I promise you) there were no instructions needed on how to disobey.  My mother did not sit me down and explain to me how to sin; it came naturally.  This monster called flesh likes to rule my world if I let it.  Not only does this monster want to rule my world, if I don’t fight, but it will also drag my soul to hell.

Sadly, no amount of sin can satisfy this monster.  The more I feed it, the hungrier it becomes.  There is no satisfying sin.  Period.  The monster’s nature is devour, eat, and devour until the soul is gone and achieves eternal separation from God.

If I was born doomed, how do I win?

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.  They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.”  Galatians 5:16-17

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”  Galatians 5:24-25

It comes down to battling this monster in my mind, by taking on the mindset of Christ and worshiping Christ to become more like Him.

Oh, the grace by which salvation comes, the grace that saved my soul from eternal damnation, the grace so freely given has been misused and abused.  I see it often.  I see it everywhere.  Grace used as a license to go and sin some more; not to worry, God forgives.

“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.  It teaches us to say “NO” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”  Titus 2:11-14

Because of grace, I say “no” to the monster, because of grace I stand and fight the monster, and because of grace, I live by the Spirit.  Grace is not a get out of jail free card in my game of life.  It is not a license to ignore the “Do Not Feed The Monster” sign and ask for forgiveness later.  Feeding the monster only makes it bigger.

Grace is not a get out of jail free card in my game of life Click To Tweet

titus 2-11-12

Grace happens first.

I was saved, rescued, given a place in my majesty’s kingdom and it is by His grace I am given the power, through the Holy Spirit, to defeat the monster of sin; a battle that already won as long as I keep fighting!  GRACE first, “NO” second and not the other way around.

by His grace I am given the power, through the Holy Spirit, to defeat the monster of sin Click To Tweet

Keep Fighting

Because of grace, just don’t quit.  Keep fighting.  This monstrous war is of epic proportions; it is a battle for your soul.  We are sowing something all the time, why not sow into the Spirit instead of the sinful nature?  Surrender to Christ, not the monster this week.  Allow His Spirit to work within you and slay the beast!  Do not stop fighting!

“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.  Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:8-9  

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I Forgot! What was I thinking?

Grander earth has quaked before moved by the sound of His voice.  Seas that are shaken and stirred can be calmed and broken for my regard.”  — “It Is Well”  Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music

The depth of that statement finds me at a loss.  I must confess, I get caught up in the rat race of life.  I get caught up in writing about His majesty and wonder.  I become busy doing and forget.  I forget just how big God is.  “The waves and wind still know His name.”  

I forget His magnitude.

I forget He is all knowing.

I forget that He is all powerful.

What God boasts that the earth quakes at the sound of His voice?  What God speaks storms into calm?  Tell me, anyone, what God spoke any world into existence or breathed life into dirt?

I forget to stop and marvel at His majesty.

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!”  Psalm 8:9

If I do not intentionally quiet my raging mind with the flood of everything that consumes it, I will make God small.  I’m guilty of trying to make Him human like me, guilty of pulling Him down to my level so we can see eye to eye.

“Far be it for me not to believe even when my eyes can’t see.  And this mountain that’s in front of me will be thrown into the midst of the sea.”  —  “It Is Well”  Kristene DiMarco & Bethel Music

“Where can I go from your spirit?  Where can I flee from your presence?  If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there; if I rise on the wings of the dawn, you are there, if I settle on the far side of the sea, you are there, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”  Psalm 139:7-10

Who is this God I call father?  His magnitude is incomprehensible to me.  I try to make my limited mind understand and fall short.  I want to know Him; I want to call upon Him and have Him explain mighty things to me.

**Draw me again, Lord, into your presence.  Open the eyes of my heart that I may see you. Never let my restless mind forget the majesty of your glory.

“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  Jeremiah 33:3

Before time, He was.  Even now, He is.  Furthermore, He always will be.

Before time, He was. Even now, He is. Furthermore, He always will be. Click To Tweet

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple.”  Isaiah 6:1

I want to see God.  I don’t want to miss out by focusing on everything except Him.

This week as I go forth, as you go forth, look for His bigness.  Intentionally seek Him out.  When we seek, we find.  God does not hide from us.  He wants to be found.  He wants us to marvel first hand at His grandeur.  We don’t serve a little God; we serve a mighty God.  Angels bow before Him; He made the entire solar system and everything beyond.  He knows how many grains of sand cover Earth and knows how many drops of water are in the ocean.  The waves and the wind know His name, and He knows yours.

He knows my name, and He calls me daughter. Click To Tweet

Isaiah 6-1

 

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I Give Up

Charting the Course–Devotion Monday Psalm 139

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. Psalm 139:13-18

Thoughts swirl; a never-ending whirlpool as the river of my mind rages through the canyon.  Words so carefully crafted by King David, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” circle endlessly, round and round.  All my days; from the moment I took shape inside my mother’s womb until the day my body is laid to rest–and beyond–are ordained (ordered, appointed, commanded, determined, or established) for me.

Like a master builder sketching out plans before one stone forms the foundation, before the ground breaks, He who builds perfectly designed me, my plan, in His book.  I was not some random act or a last minute thought; He purposely crafted me, my life from beginning to end, with precision and care.  No detail omitted, every cell perfectly formed, every day laid out.

Why on earth, then, do I try to change the blueprints He made of me? Why do I walk a different path when He who does not create imperfection perfectly charted my course?  The swirl of thoughts tighten and form a tornado raging in my mind.  Why do I continually seek my agenda, my way, and not His?

The master builder gave me free will– the free will to walk the road of my design or to seek and find His perfect way.  The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

I give!  I’m throwing in the towel, waving the white flag, and taking the easy path that is already forged for me well in advance of my life. What an idiot, fool, self-aggrandizing human I am, who will rescue me from this body of death?  What gives me cause to think I know better that He who tells the universe when to contract or expand?

How can I know better that He who tells the universe when to contract or expand? Click To Tweet

I must constantly watch and pray so that I will not fall into temptation (the temptation to live life according to my plan, walk my path, and know better than The Almighty). The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41

Jesus, cause your Spirit to burn deep within me.

My mind is governed by the flesh (the earthly shell in which I live, the part of me that thinks I’m bigger than God by choosing to forge a new way) is death (pain, misery, eternal separation from God), but the mind governed by the Spirit (all things God, who breathed His breath into my lungs when I drew my first) is life and peace.” Romans 8:6

Jesus, kill my flesh. Let only your Spirit exist within me.

“For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other so that you are not to do whatever you want.” Galatians 5:17

Align my thoughts with yours, Lord. Align my way with yours.

“Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.” John 3:6 

Birth fresh within me your Spirit. You and only you.

He makes the “how on earth do I manage this?” pretty plain and straightforward.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world (be set apart, different), but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–His good, pleasing, and perfect will (His path, His plans that He mapped out for me in His architect’s book of classic design).” Romans 12:2 

You created me perfectly, fearfully and wonderfully, to seek and desire you and your way, the way you carefully crafted just for me, the path of which you were proud enough to write me into your book.  Stir within me Holy Spirit, fan the flames of your fire causing me to burn brightly as you renew my mind to match my spirit.

“We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 10:5 

In the name of Jesus, I claim the power you have given me to take captive every thought and bend it to your will, your perfect will.  By the renewing of my mind, I chose to walk your path today!

Psalm 139 sixteen

The Journey from here (where I am now) to there (the city with foundations whose architect and builder is God) is paved with good intentions.  Still, my good intentions are no match for His perfection that He carefully crafted when He sketched my design into His book long before my form was a thought.

Surrender your way with me this week, walk the road He has designed. Share with me how he moved you.  What challenges did you face?  Renew your mind, and let’s walk in Him!

All Scripture NIV (emphasis mine)

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