The Ultimate Joy » A Journey in Intimacy with God

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Clear the Clutter

Clear the clutter

I receive incredible delight from cleaning out a closet. Give me one hour — and four trash bags and a trunk full of items to be donated later — and I somehow feel less burdened, lighter. While some of you can relate, others (like my husband) think it’s beyond weird — and annoying when it’s his closet I want to clean out. But all of us can relate to the angst and burden we experience when our minds are crammed full of negative and anxious thoughts. Many of us have junky, lie-based thoughts that should have been cleaned out and thrown away long ago. Yet we cling to these lies because they’re comfortable and familiar, like the favorite old sweater we should have donated a decade ago.

The most thorough method I’ve found to clean out a closet is to remove every item from it. Then, item by item, I choose what goes back in through a very selective process. I’ve found this same process very helpful when my mind becomes cluttered with thoughts. I undertake the intentional act of clearing my mind. Then, one by one, using the Word of God as a screening tool, I determine which thoughts go back in.

I’ve found one phrase to be key in the process:

“Whatever is true”  (Philippians 4:8).

I’m most successful in the process when “whatever is true” begins with focusing on what is true about God. I’m refreshed and enlivened when the beauty and majesty of God are the focused thought on my mind. Inevitably more thoughts need to enter, but the time spent meditating on this main thought makes it clear what gets put back in and what gets trashed.

Followers of Christ are commanded to do just this:

“Take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ”  (2 Corinthians 10:5). 

What we choose to think about (and it is a choice) determines the trajectory of our life. Our emotions and actions are birthed from our thoughts. Our thoughts shape the person we become. Junky, lie-based thoughts will never produce a Christ-like, God-glorifying life. We are transformed into the likeness of Christ as God takes His truth and renews — makes new — our mind.

This is Way #6 of 52 Ways to order your life to live for the glory of God:

Make every thought obedient to what God says is true.

This is a habit you can develop. It may not come quickly or easily, but it will be well worth it! The freedom you’ll experience will far surpass an uncluttered home or organized closet. If you need a jump start, here’s a passage to consider: “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever” (Jeremiah 33:11).

The meaning of the word “good” in Hebrew is beautiful, righteousness and virtuous. Take a few minutes. Clear out every thought and meditate solely on the goodness and enduring love of God. You will be greatly blessed. God’s glory will shine from your life.

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Take every thought captive

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The Most Important Prayer We May Ever Pray

Names of God, Blog Post

I recently had a new revelation of a very familiar passage of Scripture, one that has affected me in profound ways. It’s changing how I pray. It’s changing what I pray for. It’s a way to glorify God that you can implement right now — wherever you are — whatever you are doing.

Having grown up in a Christian home, I memorized the Lord’s Prayer as a child:

“Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be Your name. 

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread,

and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, 

but deliver us from evil.”  

Matthew 6:9-13

Jesus’ disciples saw the intimacy of His relationship with God. They overheard the words He spoke to God. They asked Him to teach them how to pray. In response, He gave this beautiful prayer as a model. Yet I bet they never imagined He’d invite them into the same intimacy He shared with God, telling them to call Him Father.

Jesus lived for the glory of God. Is it a surprise that in giving a model prayer, God’s glory was the very first thing He said to ask for?:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.

I’ve interpreted that sentence as a command to spend time worshipping God before asking for the things I need. While that’s important, I no longer believe that was Jesus’ main point. Jesus was teaching what to pray for. He said we are to ask God to hallow His name. The phrase “God’s name” speaks of the fullness of who God is, the totality of His perfection. To hallow God’s name is to revere, stand in awe of, adore, love, and gaze upon the beauty of all God is. I believe this is exactly how Jesus’ disciples heard Him pray.

As I’ve reexamined the Lord’s Prayer, I’ve discovered that every request that follows is hallowing God’s name. When God’s kingdom comes and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven, His name is hallowed. When we receive from Him our daily bread — the life of Christ in us supplying all we need to live for His glory — His name is hallowed. As we forgive others and receive God’s forgiveness, as we resist a temptation and walk free from sin, God’s name is hallowed. He is glorified!

God has chosen to work on this earth through the prayers of His people. Is it possible that, at least in part, God’s name is so greatly slandered on this earth because His people aren’t asking God to hallow His name? Is it possible that we don’t live for God’s glory because we’re simply not asking for the privilege of doing so? What if all God’s people across this great earth asked Him every day to hallow His name?

Those of us who are God’s people, a people who are called by His name, should take this command of Jesus very seriously.  One day, every person in heaven, on earth and under the earth will hallow the name of Jesus. May all people do so now — To God be the glory.

This is Way #5 of 52 Ways to Glorify God. I desperately hope you will join me, and:

 Ask God to hallow His name.

Father, cause Your name to be revered, loved, adored. Open the eyes of all men to your beauty.

Father, Hallow Your Name.

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Matthre 6-9, Blog Post

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Finding Freedom

Running girl, legs - for post

I grew up in a time and place where parents felt free to let their children play in the neighborhood unsupervised. We’d ride our bikes for miles, play ball in open fields, and explore the hollows of the woods nearby. These are some of my best childhood memories. In recent years, I’ve come to experience a similar freedom in my walk with Christ. I’ve come to realize that instead of a narrow and confining life, it’s a free and wide-open space kind of life.

Yet I fear that many people think of Christianity as a religion governed by an unobtainable and fun-robbing set of dos and don’ts. The Apostle Paul wrote it this way:

Dear, dear Corinthians, I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way. I’m speaking as plainly as I can and with great affection. Open up your lives. Live openly and expansively!   (2 Corinthians 6:11-13 MSG)

It’s worth noting that Paul wrote those words while in prison.

Does the Bible set forth specific commands? Are there behaviors and thoughts we are commanded against, as well as ones we are called to? Absolutely! Did God give them to control us or keep good things from us? Absolutely not! To a group that professed faith in Him Jesus said:

“If you hold to My teaching, you really are My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). 

Sin, Jesus said, makes us slaves – confining us in narrow and small spaces (John 8:34).

God freed His people from slavery in Egypt to take them to a land of great freedom:

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers…So I have come down to rescue them…to bring them out of slavery and into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey’” (Exodus 3:7-8).

He has a promised land for us. Like that of the Israelites, this land is filled with beauty, abundance, and rich provision. Like the Israelites, we occupy this land through faithfully adhering to the commands and ways of God. King David expressed the freedom he found in this way:

“I run in the way of your commands, for You have set my heart free.”

The truth is: God’s ways work. He made the universe and all of us who live in it. It’s logical that He’d also know what is best for us. We are blessed when we hold to His teachings and obey His commands. As a blessed people, we glorify God. Jesus lived free! He lived only to please His Father. He loved wildly and forgave freely. He walked uprightly (in conformity to the will and ways of God).

Christianity would be more appealing to those who don’t believe in Jesus if they saw God’s people living free. Whenever you start feeling hemmed in by your thoughts and emotions, when life feels small and petty, there’s one thing you should do first.  It’s Way #4 of 52 Ways to Glorify God:

Run in the way of God’s commands.

Sprint! Run as fast as you can back to the commands of God by running to the Word of God. Know God’s truth. Let His truth set you free.

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Psalm 119-32

 

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