A Cluttered Mind

A cluttered room full of books

My wife and I taught each of our kids how to clean up their rooms. So what, you may be thinking. Well, for some reason, each of our kids reached a breaking point when they were overwhelmed by the mess in their room. 

We would tell one of our kids to go clean their room. About 30 minutes later one of us would go into the bedroom and there our cherub would be, laying in their pile of stuff crying. The mess was so overwhelming that they had no clue where to begin.

Unfortunately, my wife and I have different approaches to room cleaning. They both work and kids easily understand both. I’ll give you my version since it’s the right one. 😉

Clutter, Clutter, Everywhere

I’d give our child time to compose himself or herself. I reassure our child, and then I’d have him/her gather everything that was part of the mess and throw it into the middle of their room. When the bed was cleared, all four walls accessible, and the closet door could be opened then I would sit in the middle of the mess. My munchkin was the goffer.

First, the trash went into a large garbage bag and was taken to our trash container. Next, we’d do the clothes and shoes. And that’s how it went. Category by category, we “filed” the stuff away until my child had a tidy, clean room. We both felt good once everything was where it belonged.

I learned about a cluttered mind from a wonderful pastor of our church when we lived on the west coast. He helped me understand the value of uncluttering my mind before I prayed. To this day I still try to do this, and every time I think of Pastor Dwayne. 

Sporadic Thoughts Shoot Thru Your Mind

A cluttered mind can be so wholly distracting that it becomes nearly impossible to pray. With a cluttered mind, as soon as you become quiet, then all these sporadic thoughts begin shooting through your brain. I don’t need to enumerate them, but you know. When you do finally reach the place where you can concentrate on prayer, you start thinking about praying instead of praying. 

When you start to pray, remind yourself that worry is worthless. Take time to honor the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob; the ancient of days. Of course, the best thing is not to let your mind become cluttered. That’s where Isaiah 26:3-4 comes in.

Isaiah 26:3-4 (ESV)

You keep him in perfect peace
    whose mind is stayed on you,
    because he trusts in you.
Trust in the Lord forever,
    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

The phrase “whose mind is stayed on you” is a key to an uncluttered mind. The Hebrew for “stayed” is simply “supported” (סמוּך sâmûk) – shored up, braced, carried. 

Shored up, Braced, and Carried by our God

If we keep our minds shored up, braced, and carried by our God, then we will have less of a mess to clean up during our prayer time. Trust Jesus. Trust the work He has done for you. Go to the Father in the name of Jesus with the guidance and anointing of the Holy Spirit, and pray!

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T words

The Letter “T”

As odd as it might sound, the letter T was originally X-shaped. Its earliest ancestor was probably an X-shaped Egyptian hieroglyph, which in turn became the X-shaped Phoenician letter taw. Over time, this X steadily straightened, becoming more of a + shape, before the Ancient Greeks knocked the top off to create their T-shaped letter tau. And it’s from tau, via Latin, that T has ended up in English.

T is now one of the English language’s most frequently used letters, and on average it will account for just under 10 percent of all the language you’ll use. – BY PAUL ANTHONY JONES

I’m always fascinated by words. As I was praying today, I stopped myself when I told Father God that I would “try.” Now, try is a good T word. Try shows good intentions. Try shows that I’m ready to move from thought (another good T word) to action. And, action is what God desires from us, but only when we are acting in His will.

With the above paragraph written, I soothed my conscience a bit. Still, I was concerned. Aren’t we Christians stalwarts of trust in God? Yes, of course, we are. “So, does ‘try’ belong in a prayer?”, I muttered to myself. Quickly, I opened Biblegateway.com, select English Standard Version, and searched for “try.” There were twelve verses in the ESV that contained “try.” Well, eleven because the search also returned “Tryphaena and Tryphosa.”

Try

Eleven times “try” is used in the whole of the Bible. I was feeling that I’d gone out on shaky ground when praying “try.” Then, my eyes fell on Ephesians 5:10 (ESV). Here is that verse, in context:

7 Therefore do not become partners with them;
8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true),
10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.

There it was! The Holy Spirit had inspired Paul to write “and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.” That was the gist of what I’d been praying. I was on solid ground. It is okay to use that “T word” with God. In fact, Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 19:14 NIV) And, what is one of the obvious things that children do? They try things.

Try Is Okay

As we continue to live and mature in Jesus, we always will be confronting “try.” The first time we fervently pray with someone, the first time we give our testimony, the first time we (fill in the blank). All of those are preceded by our decision to “try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord.”

So, let us launch out in our prayers and launch out in our actions. It’s okay to try. We grow in our successes and grow from our failures. And, over time, our “try’s” will become “treasures” as we increase our trust in Jesus. (You’ve gotta love those T words.)

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Shall Not Pass Away

Shall Not Pass Away

Today’s verse of the day on Biblegateway.com is: Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.  (Matthew 24:35 NIV)

As far back as I can remember, exceptionally intellectual people have minimized, marginalized, and maligned people that believe the Bible. It’s as if they feel challenged or threatened by the Word of God and every messenger of God’s book. So many of these pseudo-intellectuals have passed away, but God’s Word remains and hasn’t changed.

Reminiscing About Dad

Growing up, I had the privilege to be with brilliant people; like a kid gazing into a candy store. My dad was a certified genius, but he wasn’t considered the brightest in his family. My aunt, uncles, and their spouses were not just smart but also highly gifted. And, those gifts were extremely diverse.

Be it music, biology, architecture, electronics, diverse Christian ministries, or other disciplines, these exceptional talents were common in my extended family. And, as God continued to bless me, I married into a family that not only knows the deep things of God but they daily demonstrate God’s Word in action. I’m blessed!

All of these giftings, talents, and callings have continued down through the generations. So, as a young person, I thought all that talent was the norm. It wasn’t until I began branching out into the larger world did I discover the treasure with which God had blessed me.

Examples

Of the many examples I witnessed, the most valuable were the times when I listened to my dad, and his siblings discuss Scripture. Their conversations quickly exceeded my understanding, yet I could see their reverence for every aspect of God’s Word. I noticed they never argued about the Bible, but they did challenge each other to dig deeper, gain more understanding, and integrate their knowledge into their lives.

One of the greatest gifts I received from my family was absolute confidence in Jesus, in Salvation, and the unchanging Word of God. I’ve made more mistakes than anyone ever should. Still, my faith has never been shaken nor have I ever felt challenged by any anti-Christian intellectual, no matter how many letters they have after their name.  The reason for this is that I’ve heard the best and brightest honor God’s Word. if they recognized God’s Truth then what a fool I’d be to be drawn away by someone seeking their fifteen minutes of fame.

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Be Bold

There was a time when my mom and dad were in big financial trouble. Dad was out of work, and none was to be found in our hometown. So, on a Saturday, they packed up their car, tossed us kids in the car and started driving, intent on finding work before the few dollars they had run out.

Dad was going to stop in every town until he found work. He reached a moderately-sized town before noon that day and started driving around looking for factories. He knew their offices would be closed for the weekend but the family was in dire straights, and he wasn’t going to waste the precious little time they had before really bad things started to happen.

It turned out that there was a large factory in town and when he pulled into the parking lot one of the big loading-dock doors was open, and he saw some men sitting around a large electric motor, working on it. Dad walked over and started up a conversation. One of the guys was a supervisor, and before long he offered Dad a job and told him to come back on Monday to start work. That was great, but there was still some daylight.

Dad was a dedicated Christian. He knew that God moves in mysterious ways and God also moves in practical ways. So, Dad continued to drive around town and snagged two more job offers that Saturday. Now, confident he had work, Mom and Dad searched for an apartment, found one, moved in that same weekend and Dad went to work for on Monday.

Here’s what Jacob said when he and his clan were caught in famine: When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.”

Genesis 42:1-2 (NIV)

By nature, we’re all frogs. Troubles start slowly heating the water we’re in. Up and up it goes until we’ve been boiled alive. Sometimes, God uses trouble to get our attention and get us moving.

God provides but we must acquire His provision, whether it be manna from heaven, rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, salvation, or food for our table. For us to live by faith that faith requires action (James 2:24). Be bold!

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Yellow-bellied

yellow bellied prinium

Years ago, I drove past a church’s sign that had the quote, “Sometimes silence is golden, and other times it’s just plain yellow.” That memory came to mind this morning while reading Biblegateway.com’s “Verse of the Day.” The first thought I had when I remembered that quote was, “Why is yellow a code-word for cowardly?” This information was especially important because, as a kid, every week on “The Lone Ranger” I heard, “You no-good, yellow-bellied, horse thief!” 

“Yellow” was originally “yellow-bellied” and applied to birds that literally have a yellow belly, like the yellow-bellied sapsucker. From there, it came to mean an insult for cowards. If you’re afraid to ask someone on a date, you’re yellow-bellied. If you’re easily frightened or spooked, you’re yellow-bellied. This is often used as an insult or challenge, like “What are you, yellow-bellied?!” 

Vocabulary.com

There are times for us to be silent. I wrote a devotional titled, “All truths are not to be spoken to all persons at all times.” However, silence sometimes means a Christian is easily frightened. That doesn’t sound like a healthy Christian. The Holy Spirit lives within us, Paul wrote, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, to put on our whole armor, and we have historical accounts, such as “Foxe’s Book of Martyrs” (epub free on Google Play), of mothers urging their children to look to Jesus while their children were burned at the stake for their commitment to Christ. No, “yellow” isn’t the color of a Christian.

What triggered my memory? “Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 6-7NIV) In our daily life, it’s easy to be drawn into worldly conversations or to be slightly duplicitous in conversations. 

We must not be afraid to shut down or walk away from worldly behavior. By doing so, we protect Christians that may be afraid to take a stand. Moreover, we can teach them by setting an example of a healthy Christian, one who hates evil, always hopes, always, perseveres.

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Science is not God

I was reading a prayer that Martin Luther King Jr. prayed. That man could pray. In his prayer he said, “We are mindful, O God, that man cannot save himself, for man is not the measure of things and humanity is not God. Bound by our chains we know we need a Savior. We thank thee, oh God, for the spiritual nature of man. We are in nature but we live above nature.”

One of the myriad things that trouble me is this idea that science is above God. If given a choice between trust in science or trust in God, I think most people in Europe and America would choose science. Not Martin Luther King Jr., though, because science is the study of nature, but man is above nature for he has a spiritual nature.

However, the message of God’s desire and intent to reconcile humanity back to Himself is consistent, clear, and coherent, and cohesive from Genesis all the way through the Book of Revelation, spanning thousands of years.

I closely follow science on my other blog, National Tech Front, and only theoretical scientists speak in absolutes (those are the Sheldon’s of the world). The scientists that work in the applied sciences nearly always couch their comments in “should,” “perhaps,” “maybe,” and “expected.” They understand that humanity knows almost nothing about God’s Creation. 

One quick example of the instability of science can be found in the study of DNA. Nearly all scientists have (had) reached the point where DNA was old science, that was until 3D VR of DNA (“Step inside your DNA”). Oops,  genes are also turned on and off by physical interaction between specific parts of DNA. Well, that wasn’t expected!

However, the message of God’s desire and intent to reconcile humanity back to Himself is consistent, clear, and coherent, and cohesive from Genesis all the way through the Book of Revelation, spanning thousands of years. So, who should we place our faith in? Should it be science with its instability or “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal.” (Isaiah 26:4 NIV)

“I think we often don’t trust God because we measure Him with the yardstick of man.” – G.W. Moore 

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Sometimes, God asks us to do hard things

I have had bad teeth my whole life. It’s genetics from the Moore lineage; Dad had terrible teeth. So, being plagued with this encumbrance I had a cavity when I was very young, maybe six or seven years old. That means it was in the early 1960s. There was no such thing as “gentle dental.” Dad ushered me into the cramped dentist room that smelled of chemicals, plopped me in a chair built for a full grown man and told me to sit still.

The poor dentist, we will call him Dr. Paine, assumed that his authority as a dentist, combined with Dad’s authority as my dad, carried enough weight that I, this small, harmless child, would merely submit to every command and edict he issued – oh how such little things can suddenly and without warning burst into apocalyptic events!

“Open your mouth”, said Dr. Paine. I opened. Dr. Paine selected a gleaming weapon and began his attack; I, being in the en garde (on guard) position, parried. Dr. Paine, thinking he was up for the challenge initiate a prise de fer (take the steel), not taking time to repost (trade-off). The fencing continued for a few minutes until my dad intervened, chiding me and then issuing the Allez (go) to Dr. Paine. Dr. Paine feinted an attack and then skillfully avoided my parry (deflect incoming attack) and reached the prized tooth, driving his rapier deep into my cavity. Pain exploded, sweat burst from pores I’d not known existed and, now fully restrained by Dad, I surrendered – but not quite. I still had one more fight in me.

Dr. Paine, having dug out the decay without anesthesia for neither he nor I, now decided the needle was necessary if he had any hope of filling this hard-won cavity. So, without consideration that I had never been to a dentist in my life, proceeded to select the largest, reusable syringe replete with silver finger holes, glass cylinder, and stainless steel plunger, no doubt previously used to put down rabid rhinos in Africa. 

Slowly he filled the syringe, flicking, occasionally, the garden hose sized needle to taunt me, believing I’d surrendered and he’d won the battle. The battle, yes, but not the war! I still had one fight in me. “Open”, commanded Dr. Paine. I opened. “Turn your head to the left.”, he barked. I didn’t turn,  eyes froze on the needle looming before me. “Very well”, Doc said. And he went in, straight, plunging his weapon deep into my gum. Immediately, with a skill no doubt drawn from warrior ancestors long past, I grabbed his hand and pulled the needle out. It was out! I was free! Victory, though short-lived, was mine.

Dr. Paine looked at Dad, Dad was angry; really angry. Doc said to Dad, “You’ll have to pay for another shot.” Now I knew all hope was lost. My victory had cost Dad hard earned cash. I was toast. Surrendered, focusing on the real pain I would experience when I got home, Dr. Paine was able to complete the procedure and I left his office with the first of my sixteen fillings I would receive in my life. As I left I pondered the war, replaying the parries, feints, doc’s prise de fer, and the real punishment I faced once home.

Dad was a great dad; he just didn’t have any tolerance when it came to fear of doctors. When Dad was a young boy, he was tongue-tied. My grandfather brought a doctor home. The doctor pulled a knife out of his pocket, had Dad open his mouth, a moment later, he was no longer tongue-tied, lots of blood but his condition was fixed. Dad expected no less from me.

I needed that cavity filled. Dad said it had to be filled. That was a hard message for a six-year-old kid, but it was because Dad loved me that he had me go through the pain. And, Dad was with me all the way through. 

When we read in the Bible about Joseph telling his Dad, Jacob, and his brothers that God had given him a dream where someday they would all bow down to him, that was a hard thing and not well received. Joseph’s Dad rebuked him, and his brothers were jealous. However, it says that Jacob kept this in his mind. (see Genesis 37:5-11).

As it was with Jacob, sometimes God says things that we have a difficult time accepting. When God speaks these hard things we should not pull back (e.g., not pull the syringe out) but do as Jacob did and keep them in mind. The Holy Spirit will speak to us. There will be peace for us. The meaning may still be difficult but we will be able to bear it for Jesus said in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

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Our Father is ALWAYS in control

Photo by Bernard Hermant on Unsplash

When Jesus was arrested:

Matthew 26:53-54 “Are you not aware that I can call on My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?

Our Father is ALWAYS in control. Nothing can withstand His will. God spoke to the prophets about His Son long before the birth of Jesus. These prophets and the Law and the Psalms, and, well the whole Old Testament, documented God’s will for His Son for the redemption of all that are willing to accept and align themselves with the intention of God.

Scripture is the only legitimize instruction for our salvation. Scripture is the very agenda of the Father for His one and only Son, Jesus. It is Jesus Christ’s agenda to redeem and save all people that will receive Him and, too, the recovering all that was lost when rebellion entered God’s creation. The culmination of Jesus Christ’s agenda is His presentation of a restored Creation back to the Father.

If God can do this, which He has, He can certainly help you.

Prayer: God our Father, I come to you in the Name, the Name that healed the sick, raised the dead and made blind eyes see. He is the Name above all names, Jesus, your only begotten Son, who through the faith you have made available to everyone, I placed in the Name. Only as my will and words align with the will of Jesus do I ask, for Jesus told me in His Word to ask.

I ask that whoever reads this brief article would be surrounded by the presence of the Holy Spirit. That salvation in Jesus would be made clear to them. That they would know that if they receive Jesus, then they accept you, Father, and the Holy Spirit; they receive the one true God within them.

If they receive You then their life will come into alignment with Your will so that your intense desire for them will be fulfilled. I can pray this because you don’t start what you don’t finish. Bless the reader, I pray. Open their eyes so that when they read the Bible, they see Your hand at work, Your will moving Your plan of salvation forward and that the Holy Spirit would make Your word alive and profitable to them.

To Your glory, my God, I pray.

Amen

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