And, furthermore, I wasn’t designed to. What a relief!
Our culture and sinful nature pushes us to be independent. And that often even means independent from God. It isn’t sustainable. And the isolation becomes unbearable.
Being in community means being connected to others. There is beauty and vulnerability in sharing burdens and blessings, disappointments and joys.
A community doesn’t need to be a huge group of people. It can be just a couple people you can share your heart with. They might be family members, but not always. They might live close by or they might live far away.
But even better than the human community is communion and connection with God! He is always available. He always hears us. He has shared His wisdom through His Word and can transform our hearts and minds and experiences.
I have no desire to do it all. I am only here to do my part. I seek God’s wisdom and grace and gentle leading in the paths I should go.
I am all about music. Of course, there are times I need silence too, because music can be distracting, but what an amazing way to tuck some great Scriptural Truths into your brain!
Sometimes it is a daily battle to readjust my thinking and perspective. I don’t always have Godly thoughts about the situations I am confronted with and so I try to turn things over to God on a regular basis.
Here is one of my favorites and it involves the Scripture I talked about last week. I hope you enjoy it!
There are times I get stuck in negative thought patterns but I am generally a hope-full person. I don’t know if it is a part of my personality or if it is intertwined with faith and trust in God or a combination of all of that. I am thankful for my optimistic perspective. In spite of what is going on around me, I know God will work it out. It might take effort on my part. It might take a new look at my circumstances, but I trust God. I have seen Him work in my life before and I know He can take some pretty ugly things and transform them to serve a greater purpose.
Even though we live life on Earth with all of its beauty and tragedy and fragility and complications, it is such a comfort for me to know the grave is not the end. The older I get, the more difficult things I see happening around me and the more quickly I surrender my agenda.
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:1-5 ESV
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things. Philippians 4:8 NIV
Boy is is tricky to have your mind only set on pure things these days. Goodness.
The visual and the auditory stuff we are bombarded with every day is astonishing. Ashamedly, I wasn’t always offended by it. I was pretty desensitized for a few years due to some unfortunate early experiences. In my younger years, my mind was dragged into the gutter and felt somewhat at home there. That is just one example of why I am so thankful for God’s work in my life! If I happen to be around someone who says something crude, sometimes I don’t even “get” their “joke”. Now that is amazing!
It feels like we are under attack every single day with so many sexualized images, crude conversations, violence, and ugly attitudes. It’s exhausting to try to shield these things from our children and simultaneously teach them discernment and how to trust that when God says “stay away” that they should pay attention and heed His words. God’s desire is to purify our minds.
And then there is the Truth of God’s desire and ability to redeem and restore and transform:
“Come now, let us reason together,”
says the LORD.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool. Isaiah 1:18 NIV
It seems unreasonable that the guilty should be set free–but I am so thankful the price has been paid by the Son of God!
Here’s one definition: Something kept hidden from others or known only to oneself or to a few.
Do you have some secrets? I think we probably all have one or two. Sometimes we hide what we have done or what was done to us. Sometimes we try to forget something we heard or something we saw or something we said. I have a number of these gems tucked away in my memory. I hold them in but not because I am holding out. Sometimes I hold them in because of fear. Sometimes I hold them in because it doesn’t really matter at this point or it is truly something that doesn’t need to be shared. Sometimes the timing of the sharing is extremely important.
Have you read the book of Esther?
She had a secret. And God works in incredible ways through her life and in this book of the Bible. Read through Esther slowly. Participate in a Bible Study on it if you can. I highly recommend the Beth Moore study on Esther.
I think there might be a difference between private and secret but I haven’t teased them both apart enough to know. In my mind, secret might imply something naughty is going on whereas private means I am choosing to keep this close to my heart.
I pray that whatever secrets are on your heart are ones you have shared with God in a heart-to-heart where He can cleanse, renew, forgive, restore, and transform your history. Sometimes it helps to visit with a Biblical counselor or a healthy friend. Privacy is a good thing but when it is motivated by the fear of being found out, then it seems like it might be time to re-evaluate the situation. Let God breathe His Truth into your history because your history is really His-story.
Just before Christmas, Hannah, Elizabeth, and I had an opportunity to sing Hungarian Christmas carols to an elderly woman living in Evansville who only speaks Hungarian. Imagine that! She lives right here near us and the person who checks in on her is our Hungarian instructor. This sweet woman has Alzheimer’s disease, a form of dementia that gradually gets worse over time. Her short term memory isn’t very good, but let me tell you, her ability to sing multiple verses of a number of Christmas carols in Hungarian from memory had not diminished one bit. Those verses were tucked way deep in her mind and she joined along as we sang and she didn’t even need a song sheet! So, so sweet. She remembered. She knew. She sang with her whole heart.
The mind is pretty amazing. We “make up our minds” and “change our minds” and we say “never mind” when we want someone to forget something. But have you ever allowed God to transform your mind about something?
There are times that I am determined to believe something or behave a certain way even though I know it is counter to what God has to say on the matter. I can be so easily persuaded by worldly thinking — especially when I feel justified in doing so. Immersing myself in Scripture is certainly a key ingredient to “changing my mind” about a person or a circumstance. I am so thankful for the Holy Spirit’s influence on my thought life. There is no substitute for God’s nudge of awareness for both helpful and dangerous thought patterns. Now, if only I will choose to heed those nudges!
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. 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. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Romans 12:1-3 NIV
Are you willing to let God change your mind on a matter? Or are you determined to stand your ground?
The other day I was walking to the Post Office to check the mail for our business. It was a sunny day so I had worn my sun glasses. I was alone and so my mind wasn’t being directed, which is always refreshing because it is rare with our busy house to be alone without conversation or music.
My thoughts usually flit around quite a bit when I am in a place of quiet and that day I was thinking about the bright sun and then The Son which brought me to remember this song I love–“Give me Your Eyes” by Brandon Heath– which led me to ponder how our sunglasses can filter out rays that make it challenging to see and even harmful sun rays. And can’t God do the very same thing with what we see?
Most of the time I just see life and people through my eyes and experiences. I think it is fair to say we all do this most of the time. It takes an intentional effort to see someone the way God sees them. It also takes an effort to see ourselves the way God sees us.
Forgiven. Redeemed. Renewed.
Lost. Struggling. Confused.
Spend some time this week thinking about how you look at others and how you look at yourself. Are you full of grace for others but condemn yourself regularly? Do you grant yourself loads of forgiveness but hold back with others?
How would God’s perspective help your vision? Ask God to help you see others the way He sees them. It will take practice because it certainly isn’t our natural way of doing things, but letting God transform what you see will transform your life!