Deadly Thoughts

In today’s reading Paul wrestles with his sin.

For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. – Romans 7:14-15

Sin starts on the inside

When Jesus came he blew the lid off of religious pretense. The word became flesh (John 1:14), the word was truth and the truth could separate peoples’ thoughts and hearts from what is seen on the outside (Hebrews 4:12). Jesus knew what was happening on the inside and He called people on it. And the people were amazed! He did not raise the standard, He helped people understand that their religious leaders were blind to it. The Sermon on the Mount is not about virtuous living, it is about the truth and salvation. It is a true look at salvation. Jesus helps us understand how important the state of our thoughts and our hearts are when it comes to building the house of our life on a foundation of solid rock.

Thoughts, sin, death

Some call the book of James a commentary of the Sermon on the Mount. In James 1:14-15, we are taught the origin point of death. We are taught that death begins with thoughts, specifically lustful thoughts; desiring things of this world; wanting things for ourselves. When one lets their mind fix on getting things of this world, their heart follows after. The lust then graduates to sin as their life turns and shapes to take hold and position itself to claim what it desires (James 1:14). Sin, then fully mature, becomes death as it realizes itself (James 1:15). 

Battleground

Our thoughts are a spiritual battleground (Romans 12:2, 2Corinthians 10:3-5), on a realm of great importance (Proverbs 4:23). Thoughts mature into beliefs and beliefs shape our heart. The heart pursues itself with words(Luke 6:45) that then shape our lives (James 3:2-6). We must be aware of our thoughts and fight for the state of our hearts! Our hearts and our lives must belong to the LORD in truth. 

Foundation on the rock

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, wise people will build the house of their life on the truth. The truth is our weapon against deadly thoughts (John 8:32, Ephesians 6:17). As we sharpen our swords consider with me the truth in Psalms 23:1:

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

I have come to believe that this is not a verse about getting things. Instead, I believe this is a verse about giving our heart and thoughts to the LORD. Not a verse about us getting everything we want if we submit to the LORD as our Shepherd. Instead, a truth about not wanting anything because we trust in the LORD to provide us with everything. The rest of the chapter 23 goes on to help us understand what that state of perfect trust will look like in our lives.

So if sin and death have their beginnings in the desires of our heart and mind (James 1:14-15), and we know that trusting in the Shepherd will guard us from wanting improper things (Psalm 23:1), the question then becomes; what do you want? If someone asked you “if you could have anything, what would it be?”… What would it be? Would it be something to be realized in this world or in heaven? What are we trusting in, the promises of this world or God’s promises

God may we all trust in You with everything and not want anything this world promises. May our trust be wholly in Your promises. Amen.

Extra Credit.

  • Close your eyes and repeat Psalm 23:1 to yourself three times in a row:
    • The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    • First, I want to congratulate you on being able to read with your eyes closed. #Props
    • Now imagine how peaceful your life would be if you did not want. What would there be to stress about? 
  • I listened to this sermon from John MacArthur to prepare for this post. I highly recommend it: Sanctification and Sins of the Mind.

Originally published on BibleJournal.net from August 17th, 2016’s reading: 1 Samuel 9; Romans 7; Jeremiah 46; Psalm 22

 

Taking Thoughts Captive

Originally posted on BibleJournal.net

Today’s reading: Leviticus 1; John 20; Proverbs 17; Philippians 4

March 30th, 2016

Taking thoughts captive

Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 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 4:4–8

Here Paul tells us to be careful (or filled with care or worry) for nothing; but to turn the such thoughts over to God in prayer with thanks. Then Paul gives us another, what I like to call, ultimate checklist on what we are supposed to be filled with. The sort of things we are supposed to let occupy our mind. Things that are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report, virtuous, and praiseworthy.

Thoughts are curious things. They tend to breed more of themselves. If we think on things that are dark, such thoughts beget more darkness. Have you ever heard the saying ‘when it rains, it pours’ in referring to life’s circumstances? Knowing the truth from God’s word, I wonder if this saying is actually a saying of thoughts rather than of circumstances? Instead let us abide in the word of God and think on things that are light, and let the light shine forth and produce a perfect day.

But the path of the just is as the shining light, That shineth more and more unto the perfect day. – Proverbs 4:18

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; – 2 Corinthians 10:5

Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16–18

May God show us the truth and give us the fortitude to count our blessings in abundance when the deceiver would have us think there are none. Amen.

Parenting: Good-night Words

Good night words to a child ought to be the best of words, as they are words of greatest potency. The last waking thoughts of a child have a peculiar power over his mind and heart, and are influential in fixing his impressions and in shaping his character for all time.
-H Clay Trumbull

Parenting Good night words

Before Eleanor arrived and since her arrival, in small talk, folks seem to gravitate to a common place. In jest, advice, and curiosity Eleanor’s sleep seems to be thee topic of interest. It became clear to Jamie and I that this was an important issue before Eleanor came to us and so we asked and sought out and knocked on the door of scripture, books and friends to learn.

Here are some of the larger takeaways from Mr. Trumbull’s chapter on laying a child down to rest:

  • This is an hour unlike others in a child’s day where they are particularly left to themselves and so a child craves sympathy and appreciates kindness and is grieved by harshness and cold neglect at this hour where they are most alone.
  • Children are particularly malleable just before they sleep and so it is at this hour that a parent’s word and presence are most potent.
  • A wise parent will prize this hour as the golden hour of good impressions on the child’s heart. There should be no severity then, no punishment. Every word should be one of gentleness and affection.
  • The last waking thoughts of a children’s are of particular importance in the shaping of the child’s character through all time.

Eleanor has nearly outgrown her bassinet and so we are preparing her for her crib. A bedtime blessing was prepared. In our studies on sleep we found there are some 139 verses on sleep in our Bible. Most all of them point to this idea of trusting in a God who is worthy of our trust. I believe Mr. Trumbull came to a similar conclusion through his studies and perhaps that is what lead him to include this story in his chapter on good night words:

A sensitive, timid little boy, long years ago, was accustomed to lie down to sleep in a low “trundle-bed,” which was rolled under his parents’ bed by day, and was brought out for his use by night. As he lay there by himself in the darkness, he could hear the voices of his parents, in their lighted sitting room, across the hallway, on the other side of the house. It seemed to him that his parents never slept; for he left them awake when he was put to bed at night, and he found them awake when he left his bed in the morning. So far this thought was a cause of cheer to him, as his mind was busy with imaginings in the weird darkness of his lonely room.

After loving good-night words and kisses had been given him by both his parents, and he had nestled down to rest, this little boy was accustomed, night after night, to rouse up once more, and to call out from his trundle-bed to his strong-armed father, in the room from which the light gleamed out, beyond the shadowy hallway, “Are you there, papa?” And the answer would come back cheerily, “Yes, my child, I am here.” “You’ll take care of me tonight, papa; won’t you?” was then his question. “Yes, I’ll take care of you, my child.” was the comforting response. “Go to sleep now. Good night.” And the little fellow would fall asleep restfully, in the thought of those assuring good-night words.

A little matter that was to the loving father; but it was a great matter to the sensitive son. It helped to shape the son’s life. It gave the father an added hold on him; and it opened up the way for his clearer understanding of his dependence on the loving watchfulness of the All-father. And to this day when the son, himself a father and grandfather, lies down to sleep at night, he is accustomed, out of the memories of that lesson of long ago, to look up through the shadows of his earthly sleeping place into the far-off light of his Father’s presence, and to callout, in the same spirit of childlike trust and helplessness as so long ago, “Father, you’ll take care of me tonight; won’t you?” And he hears the assuring answer back, “He that keepeth thee will not slumber. The LORD shall keep thee from all evil. He shall keep thy soul. Sleep, my child, in peace.” And so he realizes the two fold blessing of a father’s good-night words.

When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid:
Yea, thou shalt lie down, and thy sleep shall be sweet.
– Proverbs 3:24

I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep:
For thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety.
– Psalm 4:8

I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills,
From whence cometh my help.
My help cometh from the LORD,
Which made heaven and earth.
He will not suffer thy foot to be moved:
He that keepeth thee will not slumber.
Behold, he that keepeth Israel
Shall neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD is thy keeper:
The LORD is thy shade upon thy right hand.
The sun shall not smite thee by day,
Nor the moon by night.
The LORD shall preserve thee from all evil:
He shall preserve thy soul.
The LORD shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in
From this time forth, and even for evermore.
-Psalms 121

Trusting in the LORD is a beautiful thing. From my studies, I have come to believe that so much of my sin has come from wanting things for myself. Adam and Eve in the garden; the apple, a way to say “If I have the knowledge I won’t need God. I will make my own way. I won’t need to depend on the LORD.” What a complicated mess. A simpler way to rely completely on the LORD. To trust completely in the LORD for He is completely trustworthy. May our children know that the LORD always watches over them, that He alone is enough for them, that they can trust in Him in all things and sleep sweetly and always go in peace.

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciate

Parenting: A Child’s Faith

As soon as a child is capable of learning that his voice can be heard by his loving mother or his loving father in another room, he is capable of learning that his voice can be heard by a loving Father whom he has never seen; who is always within hearing, but never within sight; who is the loving Father to his father and mother, as well as of himself and of everybody else; who is able to do all things, and who is sure to do all things well.
-H Clay Trumbull

parenting a childs faith

Mr. Trumbull suggests that the first lesson is that a child is to have faith in God. An important distinction is made that this is different from having faith something else, say in prayer. He believes that faith should rest wholly and absolutely on God and God alone. For example, let us say that a child is told to have faith in prayer and that God can do all things. Then let us say a child prays for a certain so-and-so and receives it, his faith in prayer is then increased. But let us say a child prays for a certain so-and-so and does not receive it, what is of his faith then? Is the child left to question God? Mr. Trumbull believes the child’s faith was misplaced. Instead he urges parents to consider that faith be placed in God alone.

If, however, on the other hand, you plainly tell a child that God knows what is best for us better than we know for ourselves, and that, while God is glad to have us come to Him with all our wishes and all our troubles, we must leave it to God to decide just what He will give to us and do for us, the child is ready to accept this statement as the truth; and then his faith in God is not disturbed in the slightest degree by finding that God has decided to do differently from his request to God in prayer.

Since taking Jamie as my wife and now with the arrival of Eleanor Jean, God has continued to show me more and more about Himself. Praise God that He seeks to let us know Him! Throughout the Bible God shows us Himself. We learn what He is like, to the best of our ability. In Ephesians chapter five we learn that the marriage relationship is like Christ’s relationship with the church. All throughout the Bible we are shown that God is our Father in heaven and so we learn that the relationship between God and us is like that of a parent to a child. What is so interesting about all this to me is that when we consider advice from Mr. Trumbull on faith and on prayer we are considering advice on how to relate to God. How to trust and how to communicate. So in my estimation, inherent in this advice is how our children should relate to us and our responsibilities to them.

And so we receive a lesson in how we are to trust our heavenly father and place our faith in him and not in ourselves actually, as would be if we thought something of the sort “why, that this-or-that I prayed for didn’t come to, and after all I do know what is best for me. Who else would?”  When thought about and considered a bit, I think, placing faith in prayer is like placing faith in our own estimation of what is right for us. And so in this same lesson Mr. Trumbull gives to us an understanding of how a child ought to follow his parents in spirit, knowing that, as the old saying goes, “father knows best”.

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, And forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, And tie them about thy neck. When thou goest, it shall lead thee; When thou sleepest, it shall keep thee; And when thou awakest, it shall talk with thee. For the commandment is a lamp; and the law is light; And reproofs of instruction are the way of life: -Proverbs 6:20-23

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Parenting: Self Denial

It is not that a child is to be denied what he wants, merely for the sake of the denial itself; but it is that a child ought not to have what he wants merely because he wants it.
-H Clay Trumbull

let go of self

Mr. Trumbull suggests here that things in the 1890’s were getting out of control. That children were receiving too much in the way of indulgences. The quantity of presents was too many in these days, he held. Interesting. I can not help be imagine how many more presents a child receives in a year now than then. Mr. Trumbull suggests this is quite harmful to a child who needs to learn self denial. A most important characteristic for a christian I agree. Self denial is at the core of self control, a topic that is elemental in this study of Mr. Trumbull’s book, Hints on Child Training and that we lead off with in this study. Mr. Trumbull goes on to suggest that,

It is every parent’s duty to deny a child many things which he wants; to teach him that he must get along without a great many things which seem very desirable; to train him to self-denial and endurance, at the table, in the playroom, with companions, and away from them; and the doing of this duty by the parent brings a sure advantage to the child.

Without self denial, or from the parents perspective plain denial, a child, Mr. Trumbull explains is at a great disadvantage of happiness,

The average child of the present generation receives more presents and more indulgences from his parents in any one year of his life than the average child of a generation ago received in all the years of his childhood. Because of this new standard, the child of today expects new things, as a matter of course; he asks for them, in the belief that he will receive them. In Consequence of their abundance, he sets a smaller value upon them severally. It is not possible that he should think as highly of any one new thing, out of a hundred coming to him in rapid succession, as he would of the only gift of an entire year.

And so we come to the takeaway: a practical, here is a way to do it, piece of advice for parents who desire a child to understand self control. Denial. Interesting. Also I find interesting how core self denial is in being Christian. We are often referred to as Christ followers and as Jesus puts it self denial is the very first step. Luke 9:23-24 reads:

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.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

A small divergent on this concept of taking up your cross daily. Often I hear this referred to as a sort of burden “this is my cross to bear” and so forth. Though I have come to believe it quite the opposite. In the days of Jesus, it is my estimation, if you saw someone walking around with their cross it meant one thing. They were on their way to die. Their life was coming to an end. This mindset accompanied with Jesus’ command to deny yourself I think is an important one to consider. So much of what keeps us from following Christ is being wrapped up in our self; but I like my sin and so forth. James 1:18-20 shows us clearly that selfishness is the beginning of sin. But in this case, someone who had taken up his cross, their mind I imagine would be so far from the worries of this world, which so often are wrapped up in self. Worrying about the distant future or the distant past is often a case of being consumed with self. So in turn this idea of denying self is quite freeing and peaceful. One of great mysteries of life if this concept of letting go something you care so much about. Our nature screams hold on tight that money, that preference, etc. but God says let go my first fruits and your vats will overflow. Much the same I believe is this concept of freeing yourself from being consumed with self. Letting go of self, not a burden but a measure of true freedom and peace on earth.

 

-A takeaway from Hints on Child Training by H Clay Trumbull

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

Good Friends: Simplicity

True friends know, accept, love, serve, and celebrate one another.
-Bill Hybles

True Friends

There is nothing quite like spending time and doing life alongside true friends. It is fun. It is rewarding. It is fulfilling. It is truly a blessing. But more, in Bill Hybles opinion it leads to a simple life. King Solomon gives this advice in Proverbs 13:20

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

People influence your life. People rub off. Bill Hybles suggest in his devotional simplify that your friends are a large factor to living a simple life. Have you ever been around someone who always seems to have a negative outlook? They seem to bring with them a cloud of drama wherever they go. I am a big proponent of positive thinking. Paul instructs us in Philippians 4:8

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.

Seek out friends who display love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Hang out with them. Your life will get much simpler.

Are you a true friend? Are you taking the time to get to know people and focusing on how you can help them? Are you a positive person who brings good to others? In my estimation often the very best way to find a true friend or an awesome mate or a great business partner is to work hard on becoming one. Look to yourself and get to work, if you are anything like me you will find plenty to work on.

 

-A takeaway from Simplify by Bill Hybels

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.

 

God willing

Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
-King Solomon

God willing

James is a most useful book for Christians who want to learn how to act. In it James writes to newly Jewish-Christians and explains just that; as followers of Christ, how are we to live. There are many practical things in this letter. As a business person here is one that I have come to believe is important to practice.

In business there are plans. Plans to do this and to do that. When we speak about the future as Christians I think we need to understand the power of our words. As a quick side note please consider reading James chapter 3 for a better understanding on how our words can change the course of our whole life. Back to it then. In business we are called to speak of the future, to lead a team to a better place in time. James shows us how we are to do this in James 4:13-15:

Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

It is my estimation, that as Christians we are called to uphold God’s reputation. Here James also tells us not to boast in the future but humble ourselves and to submit it to God. Admit that it is subject to God’s will. This I have come to believe is a way to uphold God’s reputation. Here is an example of what I am trying at:

Whenever we talk about the future may we honor God. Let this remind ourselves that God is in control. Let this proclaim our belief that our future rest in God’s hands that others would know that we belong to God. The Creator of all.

 

-A takeaway from a study in James 4:13-15

-A takeaway from a study in Proverbs 27:1

-A takeaway from a study in Jeremiah 9:24

-A takeaway from a study in 2 Corinthians 10:17

As always good books, takeaways, stories, and/or lessons learned on the subject are most appreciated.