Where are You leading my thoughts, Mind-Adjuster?

“You have trained my thoughts in grace, Father,” I intimate with wonder. “Before you took on my need, I did not know how to think with any rightness.” How I know God remembers my error-plagued ways. For years I could not see one concrete evidence of His kindness to me. Nothing that I would initially acknowledge as a blessing remained in my consciousness beyond that first moment or two of experience. I was constantly trying to pressure God into proving Himself to me again: I wanted Him to conform His love to my idea of a good show, a perfect dream.

“My perception of Your love was tainted by all the garbage that filled my soul,” I confess. “I knew nothing outside of contaminated impressions of life and You and me. I was in a really bad place. And it still amazes me that I can tell You these things in the past tense. Apart from You assuming the role of my Neighbor and Friend, I would still be there; the confusion and excuses continuing to reign over me. But, now You are the King.

“And as Your precious servant, I have been set upon a rock solid foundation, where I need not question the origins of my Hope, for there You are beside Me. The conclusion of the story–though I’ve not gotten there yet, I nevertheless know: You have won the victory in my life. No obstacle has stopped You; nothing has made You come up weak–short of the mighty triumph that was Your goal. I have been made stronger internally than I ever imagined I could be. You have given me hope and instructed me in a love-your-God-with-all-your-mind kind of worship. I am free…and I can only think that You are the reason!

If you’re thoughts have been a mess, maybe it’s time you gave yourself a little time-out

Here’s a peak at some thoughts I journaled earlier today:

I can’t sleep and I’m kept awake in the wee morning hours by the thought that if I could flawlessly execute a request to God I could beat the system. Pain could be a distant memory if only I could unlock the code of my deep desires and get God to grant them! What a lie for Satan to feed me. He pushes me to believe words that are contrary to my Savior’s words: You’re not making the best use of God; His best for you is dependent on the activation of your initiative and imagination, in lieu of these you’ll be neglected.

How many of you are aware that Satan has been feeding you the same deceptions? Your nights are too often ones in which you kept awake by conflicts that He arranges in your head–conflicts that are made of fear and dread toward your Maker. You go over your actions and misdemeanors of the day again and again in search of the secret solution that will deliver you from guilt for what you did wrong (or not quite right). Somewhere in the back of your head you’re convinced that this is what God requires of you at the close of each day. If you don’t have your nightly guilt-session then something must have come unglued your conscience-to-brain wiring.

But is this really what God wants for you? For this to be the case, you must assume that God expects you to be drowned in obsessive thoughts about yourself on a consistent basis. And, you must suppose that He sees this as a good thing–both for your sake and for His. I don’t think you can do that if you really understand God’s character. For Him to be a proponent of self-centered thoughts in you would mean that He could not be steadfast proponent of having your thoughts diligently trained on Him.

The more I get to know God, the more I become convinced that He wants nothing less than for each of us to have our thoughts consumed with thoughts of Him. He was meant to be the focus of our thoughts, of our very beings, and if this is not the case, we are out of focus. Hence, being endlessly focused on self.

There is no good thing that can come out of me pouring over my own performance. I know, that sounds so contrary to what we would expect to be the case! We think there is nothing that God cares about more than our performance–isn’t that the greatest thing that He puts emphasis on when it comes to salvation?

Well, if we look at His plan of salvation, we must be convinced that this idea couldn’t be farther from the truth. God didn’t make a big deal of our performance in salvation–except to show us that it was forever insufficient to be called righteousness. He chose, instead, to put His Son’s performance in the place of ours and make us righteous by grace and not by law-keeping on our part. He revealed His character in His desire to draw us to Himself.

This is a reality that Satan would forever seek to hide from us. In fact, he does all he can to obscure the truth that God is for us. Everything he tells us he twists–whether he makes the love of God a reason for us to legitimately destroy ourselves or the judgment of God an excuse for us to rebel against God. The things I find most tricky are when he makes himself seem so superior in spiritual affairs. He convinces me of what God wants of me–usually with a strong emphasis on the wrath of God. He implies that God’s wrath is His most dominant characteristic–the one thing with which I must steadfastly occupy myself.

I often do not realize that while the wrath of God is a very biblical concept, it cannot be properly understood outside of its boundaries. The import that Satan gives it strips God’s justice of all its passion for holiness. He makes it appear directionless and unavoidable. His constant reminders dull my sense of the blessing it is that my God is just and good. The fact is that Satan doesn’t ever draw my attention to one of God’s characteristics and link it with the idea of that being good; he brings a negative connotation to everything about God.

Therefore, I need to be careful to submit my thoughts to Christ and ask Him to train them in the ways of His mind. I do not want to be dominated by the mind of the devil–I want his schemes against the fame of God to be defeated every time and in every place he tries to lodge them within me. The more I surrender my thoughts to God’s directing, the more I discover the blessing He meant for me to have in His presence. My thoughts become a joy and even a weapon of defense against the tempter who tries to steal my sleep. Now that we’ve gotten our minds settled, what do you say if we both go get some rest?

 

Do I really get what ministry means?

If my concern is about the success of my ministry it is most likely born of a concern for my success. Ministry is not about the success of me or what am I doing. As obvious as this sounds, this perspective does not come to me naturally. I need to be presented with the truth again and again until it wears down my pride and lets me see Christ above all my own personal claims to acclaim.

If everything I am, and everything I do is His work, being meant to point me and everyone who knows me back to Him, then I really don’t figure so greatly in the ministry He conducts through me. If I want everyone observing me to see God from beginning to end, then some of my concentration has to be adjusted. Questions that naturally come to my mind like the following have to be reconstructed:

How did I look?

How do I feel now?

How many rewards do I see?

How has what happened benefited me?

God is welcoming me to become a top functioning organ of His body that lends my best to all the other members. I must not still His hand or the work of His Spirit through me by drawing undue attention to the empty vessels that He chooses to work through.

Therefore, my primary questions in evaluating anything of my life — not the least of which would be personal ministry and influence — should come from an entirely different interest. I must begin and end with God if I should hope that others should exhorted to do the same by their interactions with me:

How did God work to perform this miracle?

How did His Spirit affect hearts (mine being first)?

How is the word of the cross turning us all to His truth?

How is God revealing evidence of the advance His kingdom?