Make Up Your Own Mind

Psalm 42

“As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”

Psalm 42:2-3 Tree of Life Version

The following excerpt is from The Crucified Life by A W Tozer

“A man once wrote in an evangelical magazine, “I have accepted the doctrines of such and such a denomination.” He had allowed somebody else to make up his mind for him. That is why millions of people are contented Catholics (or Methodists or Presbyterians), because somebody does their thinking for them. Somebody assures them, says a word of love and consolation, and has done all the thinking for them. Someone higher up has taken up all the responsibility. All they have to do is obey without question.

I do not mean to be unkind. I only say this is why certain religious denominations can hold their people and ever say, “It is you and God.” You have to find God “as the hart panteth after the water brooks” (Psalm42:1 King James Version). You have to seek God alone. I will help you with Scripture and do my best to help you, but when He meets you, it will be by yourself. You cannot take the authority of somebody else. Nobody can come and say, “All right, it’s done. I hereby now as of today, at this hour, declare you are all right.”

A young Christian earnestly seeking God once said to me, “I think you’ve got it.” Thank God, I knew better, because that could have been the end of me. Our desire is for everyone to cry out to God and look in His direction with nothing but the naked intent of seeking God Himself. I want God and I want nothing more.”

“I love those who love me,
    and those who seek me diligently find me.”

Proverbs 8:17

Hanging On

Hanging On by Eddie Askew

It all seemed fine, Lord,

Walking along, not a care in the world, everything going right.

I was even remembering to say the occasional thank you to you,

when it changed.

The sun clouded over: A cold wind blew out of nowhere.

The first drop of rain splattered down

hitting the warm, dry earth of my path with a finality

that said the weather’s changed. I shivered.

Lord, when things go wrong help me to remember the good times.

When my life with you, and my fellow Christians,

hits rock bottom and I find it hard to take,

stay with me.

No, that’s wrong, Lord. You are with me,

I know it.

Just help me to feel it.

Not just the theory, but the experience.

When I’m disappointed

and hurt by outside events,

by the way others behave,

when I’m honest enough to look at myself

and admit that the fault often lies inside me,

then let me feel you near.

And when the pain is bad,

when the sheer effort of keeping my feet

moving along your road,

when the scenic route through the mountains

-AA recommended –

turns into the rocky path of a small Calvary,

give me the strength to go on.

It would be easy, sometimes, to give up.

To drop out at the roadside, a casualty.

A great future behind me.

I’m not sure, at times, why I do go on, until,

when I get out onto the other side of the pain,

and warm myself again in your sunshine,

I know.

You were with me. Are with me.

Lord, I pray for those

in the middle of their pain barrier today.

Trying to stay on the road, putting everything they’ve got

into the effort of getting through to the night.

Through the cloud of uncertainty,

may they be sure of your love.

In the loneliness,

may they feel your arm slipped through theirs.

In the darkness of depression,

may they hold on to the promise of your light.

Help us, Lord,

Just to keep moving.

From his obituary in The Guardian (2007)
“Eddie Askew, the former general director of the Leprosy Mission (TLM) … devoted half a century to the disease and its consequences. …
Inspired by his travels and his Christian faith, Eddie found an outlet for his creativity in painting and poetry. A Silence and a Shouting, his first book of meditations and artwork, was published in 1982. It was followed, over the years, by 16 others, and the sale of his books and paintings raised around £2.5m for TLM.”

The Twenty Third Psalm

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
   He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

For the Brokenhearted

O Lord my God, I come to You bereft in spirit with a heart that is breaking. My mind is in turmoil and I just do not understand all the anguish that seems to be hitting me from all sides. You know Lord exactly the pain that is in my heart and the sadness and grief that I am going through and I come to You, my God, seeking Your blessed peace in my heart.

Heal my hurting heart and bind up the lacerations that have penetrated so deeply into my soul, for You alone are my hope, You alone are my strength and stay. I have nothing and no one left but You Lord.

Bind up my fragmented heart I pray, as You have promised. It says in Your Word that You came to heal the broken hearted and to free those that were entrapped in the emotional suffering of their lives. Lord, that is my position now and I trust in You alone.

I give You my fragmented heart and pray for Your blessed peace, Your gracious peace, Your perfect peace that passes all human comprehension. Take me as I am Lord and fill me anew with your love and grace, for only through You can I be renewed in spirit, only in You can I rest in safety.

Thank You O Lord my God,

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Dear Heavenly Father, You are the Creator of all things and You sustain all of life. I come to you, acknowledging that your will is best and that your plan is far greater than any I could ever ask for or imagine. Lord, I come to you with troubles that are weighing on my heart and the hearts of many believers. God, I know that you carry all burdens, and I ask that you share your yoke with us now during this difficult time. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

God, I want to be a person who stands firm and trusts You wholeheartedly. I want to be unshakable and resilient, but that can only happen by depending on You and trusting You. Develop that deeper trust in me, God I desperately need it and want to trust you more. In Jesus’ name, Amen. 

I waited patiently for the Lord;

he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit,

out of the mud and mire;

he set my feet on a rock

and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:1-2 NIV

You will go out in joy

and be led forth in peace;

the mountains and hills

will burst into song before you,

and all the trees of the field

will clap their hands.

Isaiah 55:12 NIV

The Pursuit of God

God is the author of our salvation. There is nothing we can do on our own to gain it – not any amount of church attendance, not a lifetime of ‘good works’, not by praying to saints nor by the granting of indulgences. All the credit is due to God who secured our redemption by the blood of Jesus who willingly died for us on the cross.

We cannot even claim credit for ‘accepting’ Jesus for it is God who draws us to himself, and it is the Holy Spirit who guides and strengthens us from thereon. Just before he returned to his Father, after he had risen from the cross, Jesus said he would not abandon us and leave us on our own.

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” – (John 14:26 – English Standard Version).

The following excerpt is from The Pursuit of God by A W Tozer.

“Christian theology teaches the doctrine of prevenient grace, which briefly stated means this, that before a man can seek God, God must first have sought the man.

We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit.

“No man can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” (John 6:44 – English Standard Version), and it is by this very prevenient drawing that God takes from us every vestige of credit for the act of coming. The impulse to pursue God originates with God, but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand: “Thy right hand upholdeth me.”

“My soul clings to you; your right hand uphholds me.” (Psalm 63:8 – English Standard Version )”

Tranquillity

Drop Thy still dews of quietness

Till all our strivings cease;

Take from our souls the strain and stress,

And let our ordered lives confess

The beauty of Thy peace.

John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)

Let us kneel

before the stream

of our lives

mining for those

golden moments when

we see right through

to the real: kindness,

laughter, innocence,

the light of all things

Then, slowly

release all the rest

allow it to flow

the way life will when

we learn what to hold,

what to let go.

Arlene Gay Levine

It was so simple. So average . . .

how could he find perfection

in such an

ordinary day . . . I realized

this was the

whole point.

Mitch Albom

Thinking Is Not Enough

We humans want to help each other and that is good insofar as we can, but God wants us to press through to His presence where there is no natural or artificial help. Our denominations have their place, but they cannot aid us at this point of aloneness. He asks that we come with a naked intent unto God. We must want God Himself – and nothing more!

When we present ourselves to Him in this way, what a blessing to have His assurance that God Himself has removed all of the legal hindrances to our access. It is a glorious hard core of fact that Jesus Christ has removed all of the legal hindrances!

There are many legal reasons why I should not go to heaven. There are governmental reasons why I should not go to heaven. I believe that a holy God must run His universe according to holy law – and I do not belong there because I have broken every one of those holy laws in some way. Therefore, there has to be a redemption, a justification of some kind if I am to have God and He is to have me.

Thank God, it has been done! The New Testament language is plain as can be – in Jesus Christ and through His death and resurrection, every legal hindrance has been met and taken away. There is nothing to stop you except yourself – no reason why we cannot enter into all the depths of the fullness of God!

Here I must repeat – too many people are trying to think their way in. The only way to get in is to believe Him with our hearts forevermore, crying after Him and looking unto Him with a naked intent of love! The time comes when all we can do is believe God – believe what He says, believe Him and love Him!

The thinking process is not enough in this realm. The great God Almighty that fills the universe and overflows into immensity can never be surrounded by that little thing that we call our brain, our mind, our intellect – never, never, never! Never can we rise to face God by what we know and by what we are, but only by love and faith are we lifted thus to know Him and adore Him!

This excerpt is from the book I Talk Back to the Devil: The Fighting Fervor of the Victorious Christian by A W Tozer

(Emphasis in paragraph Four is mine)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

The Prayer Box

Summary from Amazon

“When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola’s rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola’s walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola’s youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper–the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything for Tandi.”

I wasn’t far into the story when I wondered if I had downloaded the correct book. Was this really Christian fiction? The following extract, to me, has all the delicious eeriness of a Stephen King novel.

“. . . as I stood on Iola Anne Poole’s porch. It was my first indication of a knowing, an undeniable sense that something inside the house had gone very wrong.

I pushed the door inward cautiously, admitting a slice of early sun and a whiff of breeze off Pamlico Sound. The entryway was old, tall the walls white with heavy gold-leafed trim around rectangular panels. A fresh breeze skirted the shadows on mouse feet, too slight to displace the stale, musty smell of the house. The scent of a forgotten place. Instinct told me what I would find inside. You don’t forget the feeling of stepping through a door and understanding in some unexplainable way that death has walked in before you.

I hesitated on the threshold . . .”

After I finished reading the book, the story has stayed in my thoughts – the mark of a book well-written. The characters are realistic, struggling with believable problems. With her troubled background, could Tandi ever become a ‘good’ mother? Could she ever have the confidence in herself to even try? Would she ever trust other people? Could she trust God?

Extract

“I’d wanted to earn my own way, to do this myself, to form a new life on my own, but instead, this had been given to me. This life. This place. These letters.

This revelation. Prayers are answered in ways we don’t choose. The river of grace bubbles up in unexpected places.

I closed my eyes, and tears pressed hard, seeped through, traced hot and sweet over my cheeks. I tasted their salt, like the tip of an ocean.

“Thank you,” I whispered. “Thank you for this.” Zoey and J.T. could be sitting in a foster shelter right now, in a home with strangers. I could be in jail, caught up in Trammel’s mess, or dead beside a bottle of pills, gone just like my mama, while my kids still needed me. I could be living in Trammel’s house, existing in a fog, in the prison of believing everything he told me about myself.

Instead, I was here.

Thank you. I wanted to write it on paper and fold it up in a box to remind myself, the next time I couldn’t see anything but mountains ahead, that where there’s a mountain, there’s always a river flowing nearby.

Ultimately the river is the more powerful of the two.”

LISA WINGATE

Lisa Wingate is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of over thirty novels, including the instant NYT bestseller The Book of Lost Friends and Before We Were Yours, which remained on the NYT list for over two years and has sold over three million copies. She is a Goodreads Choice award winner for historical fiction and a Southern Book Prize winner. She lives with her husband in Texas.

www.lisawingate.com

Come Follow Me

I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
I have decided to follow Jesus
No turning back, no turning back

Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
Tho’ none go with me, I still will follow
No turning back, no turning back

The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
The world behind me, the cross before me
No turning back, no turning back

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back
No turning back
No turning back

Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”- Mark 8:34

Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – John 8:31-32

Miracles

FIREFLY BY JEAN VADAL SMITH

The following is an excerpt from the book MY FATHER MY KING by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

Hear your Father your King, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire universe saying to you:

The world in which you live is full of miracles so that you will have constant reminders of My presence.

There are miracles of history. There are miracles of biology and botany. There are miracles of chemistry and physics and of anatomy and astronomy. There are miracles of events that are mathematically improbable. There are major miracles and there are minor miracles miracles that are easily recognizable and miracles subtle and hidden.

What you refer to as “nature” is the manifestation of My will in the world. All of nature is ultimately a miracle. Don’t allow familiarity to blind you to the magnitude of the miracles that appear commonplace.

Every heartbeat is a miracle. Every cough and sneeze is a miracle. Every step you take is a miracle.

Keep your eyes open for the myriad miracles in your life. Seeing those miracles will add a spiritual dimension wherever you are and wherever you go, and your entire life will be filled with joy and gratitude.

Living in the Faith

Instructions from the Apostle Paul to the body of believers at Philippi

Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice!  Keep your gentle nature so that all people will know what it looks like to walk in His footsteps. The Lord is ever present with us.  Don’t be anxious about things; instead, pray. Pray about everything. He longs to hear your requests, so talk to God about your needs and be thankful for what has come.  And know that the peace of God (a peace that is beyond any and all of our human understanding) will stand watch over your hearts and minds in Jesus, the Anointed One.

Finally, brothers and sisters, fill your minds with beauty and truth. Meditate on whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is good, whatever is virtuous and praiseworthy.  Keep to the script: whatever you learned and received and heard and saw in me—do it—and the God of peace will walk with you.

Philippians 4:4-9 The Voice Version

Please go here for a full commentary on these verses and practical guidance.