Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Sabbath Mind

"We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." 2 Corinthians 10:5-6

I heard a someone talking about thoughts a few weeks ago, and how each human has somewhere between 12000 and 50000 thoughts a day, and that something like 90 percent of those thoughts are the exact same today as they were yesterday. This sort of discouraged me, because I like to think that each day I'm growing a little bit further away from where I was yesterday. That I'm making forward progress, and I'm not stuck in the same patterns I was in before. I have concluded that those stat's have an asterisk by them and fine print that reads: Exception: mind that is being renewed by the Holy Spirit gets new, Heavenly thoughts each day, making tomorrow's thoughts a little better than today's.

I gave up Facebook for Lent, and I had strong hopes that during this six weeks of abstinence, I'd look at my Bible every time I was tempted to check facebook. I was so excited to rid my brain of the mental clutter of other peoples' status reports about their dog, or their favorite starbucks, and I felt sure I'd have more air to breathe in my own head. (You know you need to give up facebook and twitter when you walk around all day thinking in a series of status updates-- and more than half of those updates have to do with food intake: Just poured new Trader Joe's Costa Rican in my favorite mug. @gooddays start with a single sip...cue the next ten minutes of thinking of the wittiest way to word that when I am supposed to be enjoying drinking it.)

Sadly, I have found over the course of the last five weeks that instead of checking my Bible when I want to check facebook, I've found new internet avenues to walk down and entertain myself with. Instagram...Gmail (even an ulta email is game for entertaining me) fact, I've realized, to my shame, that I've made worse decisions with my mental space lately than I would have if I had just stuck with the friendly updates of facebook. This is so typical. I give up pretzel mnms, thinking I'll eat carrots instead, and I suddenly discover chocolate chips.

The point is, I've been realizing how impossible it is for me to find rest in my brain. I am an entertainment junky. I want to have someone else feeding me my thoughts alot of the time. I want to break up the monotony of days by watching, listening to, or reading someone else's thoughts. What is so bad with just a day of hearing just the voices of the people I am with right then, or of watching just the movements of the folks I'm around, or contenting myself to read only the emotions and thoughts play on the face of Eden all day? It's like I can't handle the lack of options, the lack of distractions.

I've discovered a new favorite author: Grace Livingston Hill. As the good Lord would have it, she wrote almost a hundred books, so I'm set for a while. I have devoured her work, and the other day at the library I had a hard time deciding if I ought to carry Eden or the sack of thirteen of her first editions out to the car with me. Since she wrote before the first half of the 1900s, I feel like I'm mesmerized by how simply her characters live.

So I have been systematically going through my friend list, trying to get every one of my friends to start reading her books. When I was attempting to win another Grace Livingston Hill fan, my friend (who is also a mom) asked me, almost incredulously, "How do you find time to read?" In the words of a wise woman I know, I answered, "You make time for what you want to make time for." And sure, the window of time I get to read is usually after ten thirty, with Chad snoozing beside me and I'm reading by the glow of an led book light on my nook or on the tiny screen of my itouch...but it's my time to read. And it works.

Along with facebook, I felt like the Lord started to convict me yesterday about my reading habits. It's not that I read all day, by any means, but its that I let the books follow me. I am the kind of person who doesn't just see a movie. I am in the movie. Half the movies Chad wants to see I can't agree to go with him, because I know it will be too emotionally taxing on my heart. I need to save up that energy for real life. I'm realizing I need to adopt that attitude about books as well.

ie: The Hunger Games. After seeing the movie, naturally, I am re-reading the series. And I have started to realize that if I am going to invest precious leisure time reading something like this series, then I need to make sure I am not wasting any more of my day time thinking about them. I need to stop analyzing what I think about a certain character, about the plot, about the wording...when you start thinking you just saw a mockingjay fly across your window, you know you need to take a step back. ;-)

When I was thinking about this yesterday, I felt like the Lord reminded me of this verse in 2 Corinthians 10 about taking your thoughts captive. I've heard that verse all my life, and I've always applied it to impatient thoughts, discontented thoughts, jealous thoughts, self-pitying thoughts, etc. I never once thought to apply it to thoughts about things like books, or facebook updates, or what the latest celebrity is wearing. But if I can only think a certain number of thoughts a day, and my thoughts are basically on repeat, I need to be careful about what I'm thinking. Start filling up my leisure thoughts with things that are immediate, and centered on Jesus.

Jimmy Seibert's sermon (available free on Itunes from Antioch Community Church podcasts) on being grounded from two weeks ago has stuck with me. It's about the first of the two greatest commandments, Loving God with all your heart, soul, AND with all your mind. I can love God with my mind. With what I think about. With what I allow to entertain my mind. And so I'm asking God to help me take my thoughts captive so that my thoughts don't just fly past the Holy Spirit in rapid aimless fashion, without anything that grabs His attention or delights His heart. I want a mind that attracts Him, the mind that is set on the Spirit, the mind that is life and peace.

Monday, March 19, 2012


You have taken account of my wanderings; Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8

The following is based off of the insight of a college student. Last night, right before worship, this precious girl stood up and shared a picture the Lord had given her while she was spending time with Him earlier this week. It was one of those words that was so beautiful I was just wrecked inside. It was so huge. It was so big. I’ve been thinking about this whole morning, and I thought of a few people I so wanted to share it with, that I figured I might as well put it out here for everyone to take it. It’s the kind of word that is like a spread at Luby’s. It’s got enough to go around. It’s not meant for just the few. I am not sure why I just compared this really amazing word to something from Luby’s…but hopefully you get the picture. This is my narrative version of her words:

Failures. I wake up to them. I go to sleep with them. I dream about them. They haunt me when I’m alone, and they surface when I’m in a crowded room. Am I growing at all? Am I learning? Has any part of me changed since He came into my life? Or am I just the sum of my missing pieces, the scarred flesh of a wounded and wounding soul who is wearily searching the earth for some sort of repose? Have I travelled in circles for forty years of wandering, never getting any closer to my destination, never putting any miles between where I am and where I began? How can He be pleased with me, when there are days the only steps I take are in retreat, the only movements I make are backwards towards what I was, instead of towards what He wants me to be? Everytime someone talks about how much God loves me, I can’t help but feel a swell of shame in my chest. Why would He love me when I’ve nothing to give Him? How could He love me when I’ve failed Him this much?

And then I feel His hand in mine, clutching me close to Himself and willing me to follow Him. We’re walking through the halls of His home, so beautiful and unstained in its perfection. The more I see of that perfect place in which He lives, the more I’m aware how pitiful my attempt at making a home in my heart for Him truly is; He lives here? With all of this? And I offer Him a jigsaw puzzle of ill-fitted pieces? He can sense my unrest, and His searching glance is laced with pity. He quickens His pace, and we pass room after room of beautiful splendor, breath-taking majesty. Soon we’re running, He with sure, steady strides, and my legs awkwardly trying to keep pace. Down, down, down the halls of His home until we reach it. It’s a library filled with countless books, their casings worn from use and their volumes precious from handling. He makes a sweeping motion with his arm, across the walls that are teeming with these, His favorite chapters, and He stares right into my eyes and says, “These books are filled with every thought you’ve ever had about me. Every sentence, every word, every desire, every prayer you have ever uttered about Me and to Me, I’ve written down; I love to look through them, I love to read them again, I love to hear your heart for Me.”

And I’m standing in the middle of this space, this room where He feels so comfortable, lined with these innumerable books that are filled with my sloppy, second-hand thoughts and feeble attempts at knowing Him, and I’m left speechless. He kept all of them? That prayer from second grade? That sudden impulse I had in sixth grade to be baptized? That tear I cried in Juarez when I saw the abundance of joy in those who had nothing? That whisper of a prayer for help when I was in the middle of warring desires in my soul? That warm glow of thanksgiving I felt when I held my baby girl for the first time? You kept all of those? My eyes are hungrily taking in every book, every memory, every moment, the ones I’ve forgotten and the promises I’ve failed to keep, and realizing You haven’t failed to remember.

And then I hear Your voice again, saying, “As for your wrongs, your failures, and your trespasses against Me…I keep no record of them.”