SOUP OR SALAD

Three friends, whose names I have changed to protect the guiltless and slightly goofy, and myself visited our local IHOP after church one Sunday evening. When our server arrived to take our order we were engaged in conversation about the soon coming of the Lord and the changes we are experiencing here in the States.

Bob’s choice was from the dinner menu. Making note, the server asked him if he preferred the soup or salad with his meal.

“No, thank you,” Bob replied, “that’s a lot of food already.”

“That’s fine, but it comes with the meal if you want it.” The friendly young man was making sure Bob understood there would be no extra charge.

His mother, Naomi, helped talk him into it, “You may as well get it, Bob. If you don’t eat it here you can take it with you and have it later at home.” Bob’s girlfriend Mary seconded the motion.

“Okay, then,” Bob gave in, “I’ll take it.”

“Soup or salad?” The server dared not speculate which it might be.

“Yes.”

Pause for a moment of silence and join four out of five people in this scene who are now looking at Bob through confused expressions, but saying not a word. He doesn’t notice a thing because he’s looking downward across the table as he gathers our menus to return to the server.

“Okay, so you want the soup or salad?” the server tried again.

“I said, ‘yes’, I’ll take it.” Aren’t you paying attention?

“Right, soup or salad?”

Still preoccupied, Bob looks up at the server determined to get through to him, “I’ve already told you to bring it.”

A hushed, but desperate cry for help was evident in the server’s eyes as he looked around the table at the rest of us. “Please, help him understand. I’m a good server. I need a good tip. Pushing him to make a choice isn’t making him happy. Help me.” Yep, I believe all three of us heard the poor guy’s silent plea, the final SOS resounding long and slow in desperation.

Bob obviously noticed the silence and looked up at the rest of us.

Though I instructed my matter-of-fact poker face to expose itself, sheer bewilderment was stronger and pushed out my “are-you-kidding-me?” expression.  After all, this was no dummy here. Bob is intelligent and usually right on top of things, the kind who often catches things others miss. So while I did manage to subdue laughter with a hand over my mouth, I couldn’t help staring at him baffled.

Naomi and Mary could not conceal the fact that they were just as perplexed as I, but their expressions were accompanied by chuckles and giggles they were no longer able to contain. They tried to assist, in unison asking, “Do you want the soup or salad?”

Bob had enough. Frustration demanded, “I said ‘yes, I do,’ so why is everyone giving me such a hard time about a salad?”

Finally Mary was able to dissolve the blockage. “You have to tell him which one. Which one do you want, the soup or the salad?”

The save of a lifetime. Immediately composed, Bob looked nonchalantly up at the server as though the previous minute or two had never taken place. “I’ll have the salad, please, with ranch dressing,” he offered calmly as he handed the menus to the young man.

Anxious to get away from our table, the server expressed his thanks and announced that the salads would be right out. He turned and headed for the kitchen where I’m certain he wiped the sweat from his brow. With him out of earshot, Bob’s exasperation returned.

“I feel like such an idiot,” he confessed as his hands formed a plate sized circle in the air to illustrate. “I thought the whole time he was asking me if I wanted the super salad!”

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Proverbs 4:7

23 Let the person who has ears listen!”
24 He (Jesus) went on to say, “Pay attention to what you’re listening to! Knowledge will be measured out to you by the measure of attention you give. This is the way knowledge increases. Mark 4:23,24 GOD’S WORD Translation

All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn’t make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. James 3:2 GOD’S WORD Translation

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.   1 Corinthians 14:33

Till next time,

June

Where He Leads?

A beautifully constructed stone retainer wall, roughly four feet tall, kept the higher ground in place. Sets of wide steps built periodically into the bulwark provided passage to the park above where grand old oak trees and well-manicured flower gardens invited people to take some time from their busy schedule to relax and absorb the captivating view of the lake that lay further down at the base of the incline.

Living in the rolling hills of Clermont and Minneola, seeing the park on higher ground with an ornate retainer wall wasn’t in any way foreign to me, nor was the concrete pad poured at its base which served as a level walkway and bike path. There sat I.

Why on earth I chose to sit on concrete leaned up against a stone wall I have no idea. In the natural, that would not have been my seat of choice when soft green grass and picnic benches were plentiful just a few steps above me. But this was not the natural. Again, God chose to teach me something through supernatural vision.

I sat to enjoy the view and the warm sunshine. Birds chirped and playful dogs barked. The air offered the smell of gardenias from nearby blooms. I never cease to be amazed by God’s creative handiwork, and always feel closer to Him outdoors than in.

My peripheral vision soon picked up on someone approaching me from the grassy area above my head. I turned, looking slightly upward, and saw from about the knees down who I instantly knew was Jesus. The white robe and sandaled feet assured me this was no ordinary person on an ordinary stroll in the park. Stopping on my left where but one more step would have been the four foot drop to my level, He knelt and extended His hand outward for me to take hold.

“You want to go with me?”
Quickly I turned, looked up and stretched my hand to reach His as I rose to my feet. “Sure, I do! I want to go with You!” Excitement overtook me as I asked Him, “Where are we going?”

His response another question, “Does it matter?”

Immediately I was back in the here and now. I had envisioned the scene, but with stark imagery that has not left me over these many years. The entire episode lasted probably less than a minute, yet has had life-long impact.

Too many times we sing songs like, “Where He leads me I will follow” or “I’m going with Jesus all the way” only to protest once we realize that might actually mean going or into a career or ministry we didn’t plan for. If it means leaving our home town, family and friends behind, we say, “No, thank you,” and rely on God’s grace to bless us right where we are. (Thank God for mercy and grace.) When the path gets a little rocky or the road too long, we are quick to take a new route. Sometimes we turn completely around and go back to the place He led us away from. Whether that be a location, ministry, career, or lifestyle – simply because we don’t like where He is taking us.

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23

This reaction is not only one of self-centeredness, it also reflects our lack of trust in God’s love for us. He has only good plans in mind for us.

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Jeremiah 29:11

Psalm 91:16 tells us He will satisfy us with long life – not depress or torment us with it.

We may not like every task or every stop along the way. Sometimes to get to our desired destination means driving through a rough area of town. We might have to travel a desolate highway where, if we let it, fear of what lurks on either side will override the peace of a quiet country drive.

And sometimes following God is the same way. But if we truly surrender our lives to the Lord, He will plant a desire in our hearts for the very place and the very people He leads us to. He will bring us to love it and our joy can be full even in times of sacrifice and difficulty.

God has taken me places that – quite frankly – I did not want to go. But once I got there, I knew it was where I was to be. It just felt (and still feels) right. More often than that, I have looked back several times to realize that a painful experience was what propelled me to a good place in life.

Very recently God has shown me other ventures I am to pursue that I know beyond knowing I did not come up with on my own. They will require long hours and carry, according to human knowledge, high risk of failure. Plus, they are things I just really have never had interest in and know little about.

Yet, the more I envision them, the more excited I become. I am now looking forward to this new journey as a great adventure. As to the risk? The safest place to be is in the will of God. If I follow Him, He will get me there. The only risk is when I set out on my own.

Blessed is the man that walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law he meditates day and night.  He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season; whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. Psalm 1:1-3 NKJV

But even all that aside, the real question is how much do we really want to be with Jesus and to please Him? Do we love Him to the moon and back? Would we follow Him to the ends of the earth? When He invites to walk with Him every day, does our answer depend upon where He plans to take us? Does it matter?

Think before you answer, because I heard He’s going to church Sunday.

I’ll stand for thee, dear Jesus, though death my come my way
I’ll spread the gospel to the fallen here. But if it be thy will, Lord, to go across the sea,
Lord help me to be willing to say yes.
from Jesus Use Me written by Jack and Billy Campbell.

Till next time,
June

Improv Gone Bad

Though I can’t remember why, my young friend Bobby Reynolds and I decided to act out the often told joke Forrest Gump Goes to Heaven at church one evening. A spur of the moment idea with no rehearsal, but we were both familiar with the joke and both a little on the hammy side (Bobby more so than I) so we knew it would be fine.

Young, handsome, and never without a quick-witted response, Bobby played Forrest and I portrayed the angelic host at the pearly gates. “Fine” sounded like this:

“My name’s Forrest, Forrest Gump. People call me Forrest Gump.”

“Well, hello Forrest Gump. Welcome,” I looked for his name on my imaginary list. “Ah, here you are. Says here that before I can let you into heaven you have to pass a test.”

“Didn’t know nothing about no test.”

Responding to the concern on Bobby’s face, I continue. “Oh, don’t worry. It’s just three simple questions for you to answer. I’m sure you’ll pass with flying colors. Ready?”

“Except colors don’t really fly. Mama always said stay ready for anything, so ready, set, go.”

“Okay then, the first question is, how many days of the week begin with the letter T?

Bobby – oops, I mean Forrest – tilted his head upward, eyes squinted, and rubbed his chin. “Hmm…days of the week that begin with T…hmm.” A huge smile brightened his face, “I’ve got it! Two. The answer is two.”

“Two. That’s corr–”

“Today and Tomorrow,” he quickly interjected with no doubt in his tone.

“Today and Tomorrow? Well, that’s not exactly…oh never mind, let’s just stick with ‘two’,” I said, shaking my head. “After all, I didn’t ask you to name them, just count them. Moving on to the next question.”

Forrest nervously rubbed his hands together and awaited his next question, which I read from the invisible paper on my invisible clip board. “All right, Forrest, now this one is a bit tougher. How many seconds are in a year?”

Seeing his distress, I reassured him, “Just take your time and think about it. We’re not in any hurry here.”

So he did. He paced and mumbled and worked imaginary math problems in the air with his finger. Then he popped his forehead with his hand as though reminding himself he could have a V-8®. “I know the answer. This was a tough question, but I have figured it out in my head. There are twelve seconds in a year.”

Staying in character despite wanting to laugh at the expression on his face, I asked in bewilderment, “Twelve? How on earth did you conclude there are twelve seconds in a year?”

“We’re not on earth, sir. This is Heaven.”

Oh great, I walked into that one. Okay, I’ll play along. “I beg your pardon, Forrest Gump who people call Forrest Gump. Let me rephrase the question. How in Heaven did you conclude that there are only twelve seconds in a year?”

It was becoming more difficult not to snicker along with the congregation as so matter-of-factly Forrest replied, holding up one finger at a time so we could count along, “January second, February second, March second–”

“Enough!” I grabbed his hand before finger number four could release itself from the fist.

“Maybe I need to be more specific when I ask these questions. However, I am going to give you credit for that since I was not specific and your answer is – well, it isn’t wrong. But now Forrest, it is very important that you get this last question right, and it is the most difficult of the three. So be very careful and remember, you can take all the time you need.”

“Okay, sir.”

“For the right of passage through these great pearly gates into the majestic wonder of Heaven…” I asked as though I were auditioning to host a game show, “tell me, Forrest, what is God’s first name?”

Without hesitation Forrest blurts out, “Oh, that’s easy – Howard,” he rocked heel to toe in triumph.

The bewilderment on my face was not part of the act. “Howard? Howard? What are you talking about, ‘Howard’?”

“That’s His name, Howard.”

It’s not Howard, it’s Andy!”

“Andy?” He was not willing to accept that answer.

Unbeknownst to the people occupying the pews, Forrest and the angel left the building at that moment. Bobby and June now stood before them. I’m sure they were all thinking what great actors we were as our confused tones were now loud and genuine. The debate continued with neither of us willing to budge.

“Andy? Are we telling the same joke, here?” He was as muddled as I.

Uh-oh. The people figured it out. Amidst the hilarity we heard a few call out, “Well? Which is it? Do we call Him Howard or Andy?” “Yeah,” another inquired, “does Forrest get to go to Heaven or not?”

I directed my response to Bobby’s question, “Yes, we have to be telling the same joke. You just don’t know the punch line.”

“Yes, I do,” he argued, “it’s Howard. Andy? Where does that come from?”

Time for a song. I burst into the much-loved hymn, “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me…”

Laughing so hard he had to brace himself on the dais hand rail, Bobby was determined to have the last word, “Oh! I get it.” He composed himself in order to stand his ground, looked me in the face, and assured me I was wrong. Calmly, but firmly, he explained.

“The correct answer is Howard. And not because of some song, but because the Bible says so. Our Father who art in heaven, Howard be thy name.”

Touché Forrest, touché.

I will bow down [in worship] toward Your holy temple And give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; For You have magnified Your word together with Your name. Psalm 138:2 AMP

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. Colossians 4:6 KJV

Robert “Bobby” Reynolds, I am blessed to know you. Thank you for your dedication and service to God, country, family, and friends.

Till next time,

June

 

 

Some Facts About Fruit

Christians speak often about the importance of bearing good fruit, and important it is. Galatians 5 provides a faithful reminder of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance.
Fruit to be evident in our lives.

There seems to be something, though, not often included in our fruit-bearing training: what happens to the fruit once it is ripened on the tree. Through everyday experience and exposure, our great Teacher has enlightened me to some important truths about fruit.

For starters, it will be inspected. Just as we check for bruises, our lives will be examined. Like we squeeze to make sure the fruit is ripe and juicy, people will critique our attitudes and behavior. They will pay attention to how we respond to the world around us and situations in our lives.

Most of us don’t like that at all. We call it “judging”. Jesus expressed it as acceptable to evaluate one another’s actions when He said, “…for the tree is known by his fruit.” (Matthew 12:33)   Judging as we should not runs deeper, to the root.

Once our fruit has passed inspection the real fun begins. Somebody needs or wants it. We feel good about that, happy to be of service to the kingdom of God – until the reaping begins.

Think about how fruit is removed from a tree. Occasionally, a gentle hand reaches up in appreciation of its find and ever so carefully confiscates the needed nutrition. But that’s not the norm.

Usually It’s twisted, pulled, and plucked. Often the tree is violently shaken until the coveted fruit falls to the ground where it can be easily gathered.  Remaining joyful or gentle is seldom easy. I’m sure you can think of at least one someone who has tried your patience and pushed your self-control to its limit.

Feel like you’ve been pulled on, plucked, and shaken?

And that’s not all.  Think about what you do with your own fruit once you get it home.

It gets chopped, diced, and drained. It is pulverized into smoothies or smashed into juice. As if that’s not bad enough, sometimes it just sits until it rots, after which it becomes food for the sharp blades of a garbage disposal or thrown in the trash.

I used to get angry about the way people treated my fruit once they removed it from this tree. You know you’re feeling this same way when thoughts of being taken advantage of and unappreciated cross your mind.

There may be times when the Holy Spirit will direct you to back away, at least for a while. But make sure the Holy Spirit is the Director. Too often when we feel like our good nature is being abused and misused, we fence it off or stop producing altogether.
We are to yield the fruit, not dictate what happens to it. When it gets tough, God’s grace is sufficient to see us through.

One more thing. The tree doesn’t choose who gets the fruit. It’s usually easy to love those we deem lovable, to be gentle with those we are fond of, and patient with those we care about.

Yet, those to whom it is harder to offer fruit are often those who need it most. The lack of love, joy, and peace in their own lives is frequently manifested by nasty, hostile behavior. Letting them consume your fruit may be the very thing that initiates a change of heart.

After pondering these truths you might wonder if bearing fruit is really worth the effort.
It is.  You see, we have promises of great reward when we bear fruit.

John 15:16 records one such promise spoken by Jesus, “You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

Wow! Anything we ask in Jesus name can be ours if we maintain a fruitful life. Anything in line with His word, yes, but that includes everything we need and could ever desire – plus some!

And the greatest payment of all for our fruit? It makes us more like Christ.

Till next time –
June

FEEL FREE TO PRAY

“Lord, teach us to pray,” came the disciples’ plea. Jesus, undoubtedly pleased at their request, lovingly responded in that which has been called for centuries, “The Lord’s Prayer” (Luke 11).

When we desire a deep, personal relationship with our Savior, and to be an effective intercessor, learning to pray becomes a priority of our heart.  We can learn to pray more effectively. We can increase in fervency and knowledge. We can grow in understanding and rise to new spiritual heights of prayer.

However, in our passion to grow closer to Jesus and our eagerness to be of greater service, we often leave behind a most critical element of prayer – freedom. We are free in Jesus Christ to be ourselves; to be open and honest before our Lord. We are free to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.

We can become overly focused on saying exactly the right words for exactly the right length of time. We can become too concerned with the precise balance of praise and petition, tears and rejoicing, prayers for self and prayers for others.

When this happens, we soon become frustrated with unsatisfactory efforts to get it right. Undue guilt plagues us as we blame ourselves for problems because we didn’t pray enough or according to the guidelines for success. Prayer soon becomes something we reluctantly mark off of an obligatory do list as opposed to what it should be – communion with our heavenly Father induced by love and desire. It’s all part of an awesome, personal relationship of love and grace.

An Irish peddler declaring he had found something equal to salvation was challenged to explain. “The companionship of the One who has saved me,” was the reply.

Anticipation, not of having to pray, but having the privilege to pray, will explode within us only when we fully understand how completely transparent we can be in God’s presence. Liberated from restrictions and rules, we can rejoice at the very idea of a rendezvous with our Lord. Prayer becomes the extraordinary in our ordinary day, the marvelous in the midst of our mundane.

I am a person who talks to God all the time and about everything. I enjoy His company and want to know His thoughts and will. But I also relish the special time that I set aside where my complete focus can on Him.

Every day I look forward to closing myself off from the rest of the world to spend time alone with my Father. It’s my favorite thing to do and I really miss it when life gets in the way and I cannot. My time with Him is part of my daily routine. What happens once I get there is not routine at all.

Some days I have it all together. Thanksgiving and petitions are presented in an almost systematic way and beautifully laced with Scripture. Some days I fall completely apart. I can do nothing but sob uncontrollably and utter a word here and there that, like those of Hannah, are formed on my lips but never escape my vocal chords (1 Samuel 1:10-15).

At times my prayer is offered completely in song and words of praise and rejoicing. Other times fervency, determination, and victory dominate. Occasionally, I simply sit down before Him and we share one with another, discussing matters of great importance as though we were chatting over a cup of tea.

I would be remiss if I didn’t include the days when all of the above decide to manifest themselves in a single sitting!

One hour may pass, or two. On rare occasions, I find I have been there the entire morning. But it might have been twenty minutes, or fifteen. My schedule, although full, does allow me flexibility that you may not have. Still, we’re talking about freedom in our prayer life.

While sacrificial time is most often required, God does not hold you to standards that are impossible to meet. This is part of the freedom. I don’t enter into God’s presence declaring, “OK, God, I’ve got ten minutes to give You today, hope that’s enough.”

Nor does He say to me, “If you don’t pray two hours, you need not pray at all.”

Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead the way, I pray. When I feel in my spirit it is time to go, and when the Spirit releases me to do so, I go (never leaving my spirit of prayer behind). Remorse has come only when I allowed things of lesser importance to rush me out of the room before I felt the complete release of the Spirit.

Liberty in Christ doesn’t invite disrespect or disobedience. It isn’t demanding or self-gratifying. It is, however, an open door through which our hearts can join with His. It is an invitation to come as we are before the King. An opportunity to offer ourselves in as many different layers as form our personalities.

A story is told of a little girl who had just learned the alphabet. A missionary noticed the child on bended knee, and quietly approached only to hear her thoughtfully repeating the ABC’s again and again. God for sure learned the alphabet that day. When at last the little girl rose, the missionary asked why she had kept her repeating her ABC’s. She answered quite unashamed, “I felt that I should pray, and because I did not know how to pray, I repeated the letters of the alphabet, knowing that the great Lord would fit the letters together to make words out of them.”

This child wanted to pray. She hadn’t learned the rules. She hadn’t been taught Jesus’ pattern or the importance of praying the Word. But she understood freedom in the presence of her Father. If only she approached Him with what she had—herself—He would fill in the blanks. No fear. No shame. Just freedom to pray in whatever way her spirit told her was best.

Have you spent such special times with Jesus, led by the Spirit into a no-holds-barred arena of love where you expressed yourself openly, and in return received life-changing counsel? Where you offered yourself for service and were not rejected? Where you laughed or cried—or both? Have you unashamedly emptied your heart, even if it did sound like an over-achieving auctioneer with more merchandise than time to sell it? Have you bowed in silent awe to gaze upon the Father?

Continue your pursuit of effective prayer. In so doing, you will learn to pray the Word of God, you will learn keys to praying unselfishly and by the leading of the Spirit. You will learn to pray prayers of faith, not of fear or self-pity. And you will find excellent examples of prayers throughout the Bible for most every situation.

Use what you learn with a sincere heart, but don’t let it inhibit you. After a while, you will realize that what you learned has become evident in your prayer life.

Approach God always with love and reverence. After all, He is our creator and our God. Remember though, He is also our Father and our friend.

So by all means, feel free to pray.

till next time —

June   jyB Inspired.com

When the Mountain Talks Back

We’ve all stared at a huge mountain wondering what we were going to do about it. As far as we could see the rocky tower had our way blocked, and it reached to the sky.

Maybe there is one standing in front of you now.

Sometimes we create those mountains through sin or unwise choices. Others appear at no fault of our own. Either way, they rise up and stand in our way.

We can’t do a thing about them in our own power, we’ve tried. But there is nothing too hard for God. He assured us, “Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. Who art thou, O great mountain? …thou shalt become a plain.” (Zechariah 4:6,7).

Jesus explained just how to get the mighty Spirit of God working on our behalf to bring about victory when our problem seems unbeatable.

The disciples were amazed that the fig tree Jesus cursed earlier now stood dead. Matthew 21:21 shares His response, “Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.”

We convince ourselves that if God spoke to the mountain and Jesus instructed us to speak to ours, that is exactly what we should do.

So we override how foolish it seems to be looking into thin air speaking to inanimate, invisible, foes. You know the kind I’m talking about – depression, addiction, sickness, marital and family problems, oppressive work situations – whatever our mountain may be – and we speak to it.

We may even wait until no one is watching to pick up our check book or point our finger at that stack of unpaid bills and tell poverty and lack to take a hike.

But we do it. We do it because Jesus told us to and He knows best.

By the power and authority given us in Jesus’ name we command that interfering, path-blocking, trouble-making mountain to crumble so we can walk sure footedly on level ground. We stand in confidence knowing our faith is in the all-powerful God, expecting the mountain to disintegrate before our eyes.

Then the unthinkable happens. The mountain opens its ugly mouth and spits back in our face, “And just who’s going to make me move? You? Who are you to be telling me what do to do?”

And instead of things getting better, they get worse. We cover our heads to avoid the blow of the rocks the mountain hurls in our direction.

Satan starts filling our mind with every reason for what appears to be failure on our part. We haven’t fasted enough. We’ve made too many mistakes. We brought this all on ourselves. God isn’t so loving and powerful as we believed him to be.

Lies. All lies.

Instead of running for cover, stand firm. Realize that the mountain (the spirit behind it, that is, which is what we’re really speaking to) is going to test you. Especially if you are new to exercising your God-given authority. Satan turns the heat up a notch and fires back, hoping to scare you off before you destroy his plan to destroy you.

The truth is, if you hadn’t been effective nothing would have changed at all. Things wouldn’t be getting better, but they also likely would not be getting worse. Why would the devil put more energy into a fight he’s already winning?

He is a lot like that child you had to tell not once, not twice, but three times to put their toys away and go to bed. Not until you gave them the “look” and your demand contained more oomph did they realize they pushed you too far. Obey or face the consequences.

Satan will try to intimidate you when in reality he’s the one who is scared. He knows he is defeated. He also knows if you grab ahold of the power of God within you and exercise the authority Jesus gave you, you are going to know it, too.

So he puts on his best poker face and plays all his cards to convince you otherwise.

Stand your ground and speak again. And again and again if necessary. Keep the faith. Every stone that mountain throws at you is one less it has in its stature. Rock by rock it is destroying itself.

The boulders may fall and the ground may shake, but God’s got you. He’ll hold you steady as the mountain crumbles into nothingness. Soon you will walk freely across a grass covered plain.

till next time,

June — jyBInspired.com 

Seven Principles of God to Make Your Dreams Come True, Part 3

Through Parts 1 and 2, you recognized the need to dream and seek God for His inspiration. You allowed Him to plant a desire in your heart that is in line with His good will and plan for your life.

You starting building yourself up in your faith in God, learning to combat doubt and unbelief. Your hope is being renewed as you search His Word and stand on His covenant promises.

You determined in your heart to persevere. Whether this first dream is located just down the block in the unseen realm, or whether it requires a journey around the world, you made up your mind that nothing and no one will stand in your way and stop you from bringing it to fruition.

And, you are now seeking God more and quieting yourself before Him so you can become more sensitive to His voice. Knowing He has the route laid out and the solution for every challenging situation, you’ve recognized the need to hear and heed His advice.

You are well on your way to taking back what the enemy has stolen from you for so long, and to seeing your dream come to pass in this life. And just think – then you’ll have the faith and confidence to dream even bigger.

It was my intent to conclude this series with this post. Well, that’s not going to happen. There is so much I want to say on this next principle that it took several rewrites just to keep this post at a doable length.

My plan all along has not been to provide a lot of detail in each area. This series is meant as an ignition switch to get the motor running, with needed fuel and maintenance to follow as you travel further down the road. That is especially true in the next few areas because there are so many supporting Scriptures that explain their necessity and help us put them into practice.

I did my best to keep it brief while stressing the importance, but brevity is not my strong point. That being said, let’s move on to the fifth of seven principles God established to help our dreams come true.

Guard Your Mind

If you want to see your dream come true you cannot afford to let your heart be governed by the negativity, discouragement, and defeat that come from the natural world or from the lies of the devil, who comes to steal your hope and deplete your faith in God.

We are taught in the word that as we think in our heart, so are we (Proverbs 23:7).

That Scripture is primarily addressing the moral condition of our hearts. Regardless as to how we might act, if our hearts are evil so are we. If our hearts are pure so are we. Even if we try to pretend otherwise, eventually our true colors are going to show because that’s who we are.

By that same token, if there is an image of defeat in our hearts we will be defeated. If we see ourselves as a nobody, that’s who we will remain. If, however, we can accept in our hearts that we are successful, victorious, happy, blessed and free, that’s who we will become.

This is why we are cautioned about the condition of our hearts:

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23 AMP

So if I’m stressing the need to guard our heart, why is the instruction on guarding our mind? Because the mind, what we think, is the primary gateway to our heart. If we learn to control the mind, guarding the heart will just about take care of itself.

With every thought we make a choice. We choose whether to accept it or reject it. If we accept it, it settles into our heart and sooner or later we are going to act on it.

It is our responsibility to guard our minds and make sure our thought life is one of love and hope and promise and success. Protecting our minds is vital to living the abundant life Jesus provided for us because it affects every single aspect of our wellbeing.

This law of God does require some effort, but I trust if you’re reading this you have a dream worth putting some effort into. So let’s talk about this for just a bit.

First of all, stop saying things like, “I can’t help how I think or what I think about.”

Yes, you can.

God never, ever, ever tells us to do anything we can’t do, yet in His word we are instructed several times concerning ways we should and should not think. This often referenced verse found in Philippians needs to become a way of life for us:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

Did you pay attention to the last four words? Think on these things. You can learn to control your thinking and bring it to a place where your heart is nourished with the food of peace, health, prosperity, and success.

Let me give you just a few examples from Scripture of people who were controlling their thoughts in a positive way.

The prophet Jeremiah penned these words:

This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. Lamentations 3:21-23

He said, “This I recall to my mind…” Jeremiah made himself recall the goodness of God. He trained his mind to think on the mercy and compassion of our heavenly Father and how through them God keeps us from being eaten alive by the sin, corruption, abuse, and standards of this world.

And what was the result? Hope! “…therefore I have hope,” he declared. He refused to allow negative and fearful thoughts enter his mind and feed his heart. He remained a man of strength and faith, accomplishing that which God had for him to do, often in terrible circumstances, because he controlled his thinking.

Then there is the Apostle Paul.

I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Acts 26:2

Paul was actually saying he considered myself fortunate to defend himself to Agrippa concerning the allegations made against him. Paul had confidence in Agrippa as far as his knowledge and understanding of Jewish ways. Most Bible translations word that verse accordingly.

In a difficult situation Paul’s focus was not on why God allowed it, on fear of the outcome, or on how unfair the whole situation was toward him. He wasn’t focused on failure or revenge. He directed His thoughts to how God was making a way out and putting him in just the right place at the right time.

But it goes even beyond that to a place that causes me to just love this verse as it reads in the King James. You see, this war against rampant, destructive thoughts has not been an easy one for me. One day in the heat of a battle, I just happened to be reading in Acts and came across this account.

It stood out to me more vividly than white patent leather shoes against black slacks: I think myself happy.

Paul was thinking himself happy and so could I.

And so can you.

We can think ourselves happy and healthy and successful and prosperous because as we think in our hearts so are we. I am not saying that we can sit down on the sofa and think ourselves into a whole new life or think our dreams true.

But this is a spiritual principle set in place by our Creator and it has been proven true time and again. You see, what we think about will begin to govern our lives. Thoughts we retain eventually become automatic. They settle into our hearts and we act on them.

The more we think about our sore throat or headache, the more we convince ourselves we should stay in bed and nurse ourselves back to health. We can imagine our spouse having an affair to the point we accuse and act on jealousy and suspicion, even when they are absolutely innocent. We can focus on our mistakes to the point that we will never try again, having convinced ourselves we won’t ever get it right.

Such negative and damaging thought patterns are far too common in our lives today. We have to get that garbage out and the Word of God in so we will begin to act on thoughts of love, joy, health, success, and the overall goodness of our Father.

Procedurally, this is a simple principle:

Stop thinking negatively. Stop worrying about mistakes, failures, what might or might not happen. Stop dwelling on things as they are now. Stop emphasizing your inadequacies.

Start thinking in line with God’s promises and His will. Start thinking success, blessing, and victory. Focus your imagination on the outcome you desire and go to your happy place, to cite a cliché.

Sounds simple enough. However, the mechanics may not be so easy. Many of us have allowed ourselves to be hindered by fear, failures, disappointments, and the standards of the natural world to the extent that our thoughts (thus our actions) are dominated by those things. We don’t even realize how often we think that way or the adverse effect it is having in our lives.

So while understanding the process is simple, actually working through it may take some real effort. I know from experience the result is worth far more than the labor. Here are the basic steps to help you get started:

1. Think about what you are thinking about.

Thoughts are always scurrying around inside our heads. Very often, our active thoughts are pushed to the background and we don’t realize they’re working back there because work or television or driving or whatever else has our attention. But they’re there.

Have you ever said something “out of the blue”, or, without a defined reminder suddenly thought of a long ago memory? It really wasn’t out of the blue or suddenly, it’s just that the thoughts lining up one after the other to that point weren’t at the forefront of your mind.

Make some effort to pay attention to the thoughts wandering around behind the scenes. Force them stand front and center so you can size them up. Force them to show themselves.

Another way of thinking about what you are thinking about is to question why you respond to certain things or people the way you do. Why did I give him that answer? Why did I open the refrigerator to see what’s in there when I already know? What was I thinking?

And yet another, ask yourself why you believe what you believe or why do you feel so strongly about one matter or another.

Become of aware of your thoughts.

2. Recognize thoughts that need to be replaced.

These are the thoughts that argue with you when you see yourself successful and move in that direction. They are thoughts of death, suffering, failure, unworthiness, inadequacies and so on. They say words like “can’t”, “never”, and “just accept it.”

They come from our environment, from past experiences, from other people, and even from the devil who will plant lies in our minds to steal from us and destroy our dreams.

There is nothing lovely about them.  They don’t bring a good report or praise.  So they have to go.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2 NLT

This process is known as renewing your mind. And though it is our responsibility to do so, God has provided the means.

3. Use the weapons God has given us to destroy those arguments.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; Romans 10:3-5

The weapons He refers to? There are more than these, but some dominant ones are:

(a) Free will. We can choose how we will think. We make the choice which thoughts to discard and which to keep and nourish. Nobody can force us to think against our will;

(b) Grace. Ask God for grace to conquer the negative thoughts. He is more than willing to help us in our time of need; and

(c) His word, which is full of hope and promise. It is His word we use to replace the thoughts we are removing. If we don’t replace them, I assure you, they will return.

The ungodly thought pattern that had the most effect in my life was that of failure. I couldn’t get anything right. I didn’t meet the standards or requirements for what I wanted to do, and likely never would. I had made too many mistakes that would forever haunt me. Who would listen to me anyway? There were little or no results from past efforts.

On and on and on reasons why I would never succeed bombarded me every single time I dreamt of doing something meaningful. They ran wild in my mind and overpowered every accomplishment, every triumph, and every good thing I am through Jesus.

But then I learned to capture them. I hunted them down, lured them out into the open, and then destroyed them. And in the territory they once occupied, I planted guards such as these (as paraphrased by my mind for me):

I am the workmanship of God, created in Christ to do the good works God preplanned for me to do so I can live the good life He prearranged for me (Ephesians 2:10)

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Because I have committed my life and my works to Him, He brings my thoughts in line with His will so I can succeed (Proverbs 16:3).

Because I trust the Lord with all my heart and don’t lean to my own understanding, and because I make Him a part of everything I do, He directs my paths. (Proverbs 3:5, 6)

I am remarkably and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I am more than a conqueror through Jesus. (Romans 8;37)

Everything I set my hands to do is blessed; it prospers. (Deuteronomy 28:8)

With my new thoughts, I started making myself imagine myself where I want to be, not where my toxic mind was showing me I was headed.

Anticipation and expectation have replaced fear of disappointment. Confidence has replaced insecurities. Hope and faith have replaced hopelessness and unbelief. What a wonderful change God has wrought in my life.

He will do the same for you.

4. Repeat steps 1-3.

5. Repeat step 4.

6. Repeat step 5.

7. Repeat…okay, you get my point. A lifelong mindset is not likely to go away at the first attempt. Some will take more effort and resist eviction more than others.

As a matter of fact, I still have to fight the feelings of failure and impending disappointment. It’s just that now the battles are fewer and farther between, and won much more quickly than they used to be.

Don’t give up. Remain aware of those thoughts and mindsets, choose to oust them, replace them with the Word. If you don’t already, you will eventually have positive experiences and memories to accompany Scripture in taking the place of destructive thoughts.

Finally (don’t stop now, you’re almost to the end!)…

As far as back as I can remember, I have heard this said: You might not stop a bird from flying overhead, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair.

In other words, you can’t stop a thought from entering your mind, but you can reject it (if you are thinking about what you’re thinking about) and keep it from taking root in your heart.

While there is much truth to that, I believe we sell ourselves a little short by clinging to that counsel in its fullness. We can indeed stop a lot of the thoughts from coming in, in the first place. When it comes to guarding our minds offensive moves are much easier and more effective than defensive ones.

King David wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes…it shall not cleave unto me.”

David was speaking primarily of things that would tempt him to sin. He wouldn’t even look at things that would bring thoughts of evil doing into his life. He determined to guard his mind in order that his heart remained pure. (He learned that lesson the hard way.)

That same principle should be applied to not allowing thoughts of defeat, disappointment, failure, or giving up enter into our minds. We can prevent negative thoughts from entering our minds by simply not exposing ourselves to them.

I’m not implying you should live in a silent world all alone. But you can greatly reduce negative influence by separating yourselves from dream killers – people who respond with words like, “Aren’t you a little old to be trying such a thing?” “You just need to make a living and stop worrying about all this other stuff.”

Things like, “You can’t do that.” And, “Do you realize how many businesses fail every year?”

Or the dreaded laugh, “Yeah right,” followed by the sarcasm, “Good luck with that.”

Don’t share your dream with people who have poison in their mouth unless you want your dream to suffer.

And turn off the television more often. Stories of doom and defeat dominate the air waves in both news broadcasts and fictional programming. If you have to watch, find stories of those who overcame the odds to march triumphantly down Winner’s Circle.

You can stop some birds from flying overhead. There are going to be plenty that you can’t, so stop the ones you can.

To sum it up –

We become as we think in our heart. Our hearts are fed by our minds, our thought life. So by all means guard your mind. Let your thoughts and imagination work for you, not against you. If you are a born again believer you have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16), but it’s up to you to let it work (Philippians 2:5).

I will try my best to make Part 4 the final part of this series, but no promises. Until then I hope you will remind yourself of God’s principles for making your dreams come true that we have addressed so far and start putting them into practice.

There are great things waiting with your name on them.

June

See more at http://jybinspired.com

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture references are from the Authorized King James Version.

Scripture marked AMP is from the Amplified Bible. Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture marked NLT is from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.