Mind Full

04/06/2009

What are we thinking about?
Planning?
Worrying over?
Are we mindful of what our mind is full of?
We need to be!

What joy for those whose strength comes from the Lord,
who have set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
Psalm 84:5 (NLT)

I know right now my mind is usually full of hair…hair cutting, hair styling, hair coloring, etc… In fact, it’s my day off from beauty school today and I just finished watching the latest video that I received showing me how to work with hair. On my day off!! What am I thinking about? I should be taking a break from the hair business, and enjoy the beautiful sun that is shining today! And I am, but not as much as I should be. Our teaching pastor said in his recent Sunday sermon, “What you set your mind on is what you become.” Well, I know I am becoming a hair stylist, it shows in my thinking…

It’s hard to stop our minds from being full of worldly things, isn’t it? And the more we get involved in what we’re doing, the more we think about it. The more I get involved in this new career of cosmetology, the more I enjoy it, so the more I think about it, and on and on…but even God rested on the seventh day! And as David said in the Psalms, there are good things that come from setting our minds “on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem”—a focus heavenward, a focus on our eternal futures with our eternal God, that is what our minds should be full of first and foremost!

I’ve asked God to let this time of writing today truly be a time that I spend conversing with Him and enjoying a break from conversing with this world. That in itself can be restful and eternally-minded, as I focus on God instead of hair. As usually happens, the things I’ll be writing about have been building for a time, and putting “pen to paper” will release all that pent up energy and information, giving me get a clean slate to start over. Once I’m finished with each message, God begins again teaching me new lessons on how this life works. It’s a fun process, and one that I don’t get to spend as much time doing these days, but I will soon! I will never graduate from God’s school of learning, but I will graduate from the school of trichology (study of hair) in just 9 weeks…but who’s counting!!

I was preaching in Lincoln, Nebraska, when a professor of mathematics stepped up behind me and said, “Eternity begins where computation ends.”
I said, “Professor, what does that mean?”
“It means this,” he said. “When the man with the greatest mind that the world has known thinks his way out into the future and his mind fails because it can go no farther, that is the beginning of eternity.”
J. Wilber Chapman

Are we living in that eternity each day? We can…if we will let our minds that are full of all the figuring, and all the calculating, and all the planning, simply rest in the assurance that God is in control, and He knows, and He cares, and He loves us… But instead, we’re “counting”! Nine weeks until I’m out of school! Sure, it’s something to look forward to, it’s an accomplishment that will be enjoyed, but really…what’s most important is to always be mindful of God’s presence in our lives, of all that He is doing in and through us every day we’re on planet earth, and where He’s taking us! Each day is God’s day, He created it, He put us in it, He knows what’s planned for it, and we are to rest in Him throughout it. That’s what God asks us to do—not to count out our future, because we can’t, but to count on our future knowing each moment belongs to Him—and looking forward to an eternity with our Father in Heaven when we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior.

His death is the admission ticket to every nook and cranny of the New Jerusalem.
Randy Alcorn

This world has its beautiful places, and our lives have wonderful experiences and great things to enjoy—and some of those things can even come as a surprise. I never would have imagined that I’d love cosmetology the way I do. It is an exhausting, full schedule right now, with few times of rest. Each morning as I get up and make my lunch and head out the door I am excited at what the day will hold. I tell Jim, “It’s sure good I enjoy this as much as I do, or I would hate it!” He laughs with me. I have another friend who has gone back to school to study photography. She called me recently to tell me how much she is enjoying it. It seems that it’s what God created her to do. And I recently saw another friend who will soon graduate with a degree in counseling. Her eyes light up when she talks about her new career. We’re not young women, but we are women who are following the passion that God has put in our hearts, and in all these things, we can serve God and have great joy and strength on the journey.

But this world, and even the things we were made for and enjoy, can suck us in and suck us dry. We can lose our focus—we can have our minds so full of what we’re doing, and where we’re going, and who we’ll be with that we start to lose our way, and our sleep, and our peace…it’s hard to shut it all off at the end of the day and be still. It’s hard not to lose track of God when we’re on the fast track of life. I give haircuts long into the evening, in my mind. My friend can be up until two in the morning working on the pictures she has taken, my other friend spends hours doing homework at the end of her day. How much of our day and our mind are we giving to God?

“Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief;
even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless.”
Ecclesiastes 2:23 (NLT)

Many today are spending and being spent in work for Jesus Christ, but they do not walk with Him…If God gives a clear and emphatic realization to your soul of what He wants, do not try to keep yourself in that relationship by any particular method, but live a natural life of absolute dependence on Jesus Christ.
Oswald Chambers

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the doing of life, we forget the being in absolute dependence on Jesus Christ. Our mind gets so full of the tasks at hand; it won’t cooperate with the Holy Spirit inside that calls to us. The little energizer bunny in our brain is running on overtime thinking about all the things we’re learning and doing…and it goes on and on and on and on…long into the night.

God knows, He knows about the times in our lives where things are busy, when our schedule is full. He designed seasons of growth, seasons of testing, and seasons of calm delight…but through it all we need to know that it’s most important to remain attached to the Vine. "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment" (Matthew 22:37-38 NIV). We, as the branches, will whither if we don’t. No matter what the season, if God’s living water is not being taken in frequently, and soaked in often, our spiritual life will dry up like a grape that’s dropped onto the ground in the hot Fresno sun, and we’ll become shriveled up raisins instead of savory fruit of the Spirit.

In the movie, The World According to Garp, it is said: "Everybody dies...The thing is, to have a life before we die. It can be a real adventure." Isn't it interesting that the scene in the movie then changed, and as Garp ran out into the ocean his mother called out after him..."Garp, be careful of the undertow!" We have to all be careful of the devil's undertow in life...he wants to pull us under, he wants us not to have a good life either here or forevermore in Heaven.

Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give
him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like.
As a result, their minds became dark and confused.
Romans 1:21 (NLT)

So many think the Christian life is restrictive, and lacking in the fun this world holds. Quite the contrary, if we live the way Jesus lived we’ll find more than everything the world needs and wants. The only thing we can give away in this life is what we have received, so if we’re wanting to give out the luscious fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self- control, we’ll need to stay attached to the Vine. If we’re not receiving the love of Jesus into our lives, God’s Word says our minds will become dark and confused. It can happen very quickly—we can move away from a close relationship with God to a distant one before we know what has happened. We can stop hearing His call, His gentle whisper, when the world is yelling into our ear…that’s when darkness and confusion start to get the best of us, instead of us getting the best of Jesus.

What are we then sharing with others?
What’s on our minds?
What’s in our hearts if not the fullness of the Holy Spirit?

If we’ve been hurt, are we then hurting others? If we’ve been mistreated, are we then mistreating others? If we’ve been rejected, are we then building walls? Without time spent with God, the only thing we’ll most likely have to offer the world is to return the “favor” of an unkind world in an unkind way to those we interact with. But with God’s Holy Spirit living inside of us as believers, with Him being fully alive and fully functioning in our lives, He will be the Source of all our inner strength and wisdom, of all our care and love and compassion, of all our light and clarity no matter what has happened to us. We’ll have something of worth to offer to others when we’re walking through life closely bound to Jesus Christ. That’s the way it works. It’s not “The World According to Garp,” but the world according to God’s Word. It’s not a life from “Mother Nature,” as the world will tell us, but a life from Father God as our Creator tells us.

So remember this and keep it firmly in mind:
The Lord is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other.
Deuteronomy 4:39 (NLT)

As I talked with my brother Steve recently, he said he was reading one of the great Christian authors, John Piper. He said he can’t read Piper’s writing when it gets too late into the night because it feels like it’s twisting up his mind—but then Steve realized that the truth John Piper was writing about wasn’t twisting up his mind, it was untwisting his mind, which was quite different. It reminded me of reading Randy Alcorn’s “Heaven” book, where he pulls all the Scripture out of the Bible about the New Heaven and the New Earth, and in so doing untwists our minds from incorrect thinking about our eternal Home. When we have for so long been taught wrong, twisted, or partial truths about things it can be an exhausting process to reverse our minds…just as God will one day reverse the Curse this world is under by throwing Satan into the lake of fire for all time. We have to begin today having all areas of our minds renewed by God’s Truth, being untwisted from Satan’s lies.

Do not conform any longer 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 (NIV)

What is God’s will for each of our lives? To know Him, and to know Him, and to know Him. What else does God need from us? Nothing. Everything else He can do by Himself, and will also do through us when we KNOW Him!

"I don't want your sacrifices—I want your love;
I don't want your offerings—I want you to know me"
Hosea 6:6 (LB)

Jesus said, “Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.” Matthew 7:21-23 (NLT)

To know God is of utmost importance. If we don’t know Him, how can we know what His good, pleasing and perfect will is? To not be transformed by the renewing of our mind every day will leave our mind full of useless thoughts, and with plans and actions that have no use in the Kingdom of God. What’s it all for if not for an eternal future with our King? We can enjoy school, work, play, and all the rest…the sun can shine, the birds can sing, but it will all pass away one day, and then where will we be?

If Heaven fills our hearts and minds, God will fill our hearts and minds.
Those who love God should think more often of Heaven, not less.
Randy Alcorn

But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.
Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling
others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
2 Timothy 4:5 (NLT)

I recently met a young man who had a lot on his mind about “spiritual” matters, so I asked him if he knew where he was going when he died. He seemed to indicate that he wasn’t much interested in knowing. So then I asked him how he thought he got here. He said he supposed by his parents. “So how did they get here?” I asked him. He said, “By their parents”…and so it went. He was a defensive young man, not rude, not hard to talk to, it was just that he had his mind made up about what he believed, and yet he really wasn’t sure what that was. Not much progress was made in our conversation as far as I could tell, but maybe it got him thinking about where the Good News is. That’s the ministry God has given us, and it’s good to know that God knows what’s going on in everyone’s thoughts and minds. He patiently works with each one of us to draw us to Him.

Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon me, and he told me to say,
“This is what the Lord says to the people of Israel: I know what you are saying,
for I know every thought that comes into your minds.
Ezekiel 11:5 (NLT)

God wants to fill our thoughts and minds each day. He wants us to wake up thinking about Him, He wants us to go through our day thinking about Him, and go to sleep thinking about Him. Why? Because to know God, to think about Him, to be full of Him, is to truly live as best we can in this fallen world until Jesus comes back. To know God is to have the answers we need about how we got here, what we’re supposed to do while we’re here, and where we are going when we leave here. I heard it said that we can’t know how to really live until we have learned how to die. What does this mean? There are a few different ways of looking at it, but personally it made me think about our own son about a month before he left this earth. We were riding along in the car and he was very sick at that time and he said to me, “Mom, if I’m this happy here, think how happy I’m going to be in Heaven.” I was astounded by such a statement in the face of such difficulty. Phil was a young boy with little energy—having endured so much over the 5 ½ years of battling cancer—and yet he thought of himself as being happy, and he looked forward to an even greater happiness to come!

I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace
I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
John 14:27 (NLT)

How can we not believe these words of Truth when we see them playing out in another’s life, or in our own lives? I would describe Phil as happy, especially since he described himself that way, but I wouldn’t describe the other young man I talked to as happy. He seemed uneasy and questioning, yet full of what he thought were answers, but they made no sense…they seemed dark and confused. Why do we fight so hard to not accept the greatest gift ever offered to every person on earth, and one that has been written across the skies—having the peace of mind Jesus left us with.

My brother told me something the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has seen, and I found this on line about it:

“The Hubble Space Telescope spotted a peculiar formation in the center of the Whirlpool galaxy some 20 million light-years from earth. A startling photo was released during the second week of June 1992 and published in TIME magazine, in the June 22 edition…The cross is a sign that beams a message of truth into the soul of humanity almost devoid of that commodity. The meaning is as clear as it is convicting. If one has not had an encounter with the cross, one has never dealt with the Truth. Many refuse to accept that truth, but we are told that one day a ‘sign’ will appear over the earth, signaling that the Lord is coming to make manifest the work that was completed at the cross. Matthew 24, verses 29 and 30 mention the return of the Lord, preceded by the greatest sign in the history of the planet.” (Taken from http://www.his-forever.com/celestial_cross.htm)

Nasa images can be seen at: http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/1992/17/image/b

I actually saw the Hubble Space Telescope before it went into space. Jim was working on a job having to do with it down in Sunnyvale, and since he was allowed entrance, he took me in to see it. My mind forgets many things, but it hasn’t forgotten that experience. And now it’s out there bringing us back images of God’s creation that astound the minds of the most knowledgeable of men and women!

Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.
His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7 (NLT)

Of course the “cross” in this picture the HST took can be debated. Some ask, “Which way was the picture turned?” or “You’ll see what you want to see, etc…,” and that’s fine, but the vastness of the universe we live in and beyond cannot be debated, it is now fact.

Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing
is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their
minds and consciences are corrupted.
Titus 1:15 (NLT)

The vastness of all that the HST can see “exceeds anything we can understand.” In talking about the picture with the cross in it, it says, “ The image is 1100 light-years across”.
http://radaractive.blogspot.com/2006/07/at-center-of-galaxy.html

Isn’t God awesome!!

So what is our mind full of?
Are we embracing the Truth of God’s Word?
Are we astounded at the marvelous works of God?
Or are we pushing them all away, focusing in on all the world’s situations, and all our personal situations, instead of God and His great power over all the earth?

Be careful how you think; your life is shaped by your thoughts.
Proverbs 4:23 (TEV)

Let’s be filled to the brim with the power of the Holy Spirit and all that He is able to do!

When we think about God and His ways, He is shaping our lives in the process. He is affecting our daily walk and in turn will affect everyone we come into contact with. He will teach us many things, including things about Him and the universe He created. We won’t be able to see such faraway galaxies from earth without the Hubble Space Telescope, and we won’t be able to see the Truth of God in our lives without the veil being removed from our minds by God’s power.

But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth.
And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:14 (NLT)

In reading a booked called, “Who Switched Off My Brain,” by Dr. Caroline Leaf, she explores the workings of our brains. After studying our minds since 1981, she writes this about her studies, “Once again, this is a case of science catching up with the wisdom of Scripture.” Just as the HST reaches out into space, she reaches deep into the mind and tells us that we “have approximately three millions year’s worth of storage space for information in your brain! The brain’s ability is so great that it is impossible to use it up in your lifetime.” Our minds are an amazing machine fashioned by an amazing God!

While we’re here, let’s learn how best to use our minds—to die to ourselves and to live for Christ—so that we can get the most out of every single day here on earth, and the most out of the minds God has given us, by filling our days and our thoughts with all of Him. Then when we travel on to that new and better place, we won’t hear those dreadful words, “I never knew you.” What we’ll hear will be angels singings, loved-ones' voices rejoicing at our arrival, and Jesus welcoming us into His Kingdom of everlasting light! That’s what our mind should be full of! That’s truly the peace of mind and heart Jesus left us with.

Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
Colossians 4:2 (NLT)

Until we meet again,

Diane