Mind Full of Sound

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love and of power and of a sound mind.”

-II Timothy 1:7

I do not have a sound mind. Maybe in a clinical sense yes (well maybe not actually), but certainly not in a biblical sense. According to the definition in my bible, sophronismos, signifying a safe mind “denotes good judgement, disciplined thought patterns, and the ability to understand and make right decisions. It includes the qualities of self-control and self-discipline.” 

Disciplined thought patterns, self-control, self-discipline. These phrases enter in and drown in the mental milieu that is my brain. They are things I aspire to be possessed of, but they aren’t buoyant enough to stay afloat. So they sink down into the sludge and settle until something inevitably comes to stir the sea. But they are deeeeeep. In writing this IBS I had to dive down to find them. It’s been a treacherous journey and I’ve only just revealed the most preliminary amounts of them. Largely however, they remain lodged in the sludge of dead thoughts. 

This particular search and rescue mission began last week. I dove into the first zone of the ocean, the Sunlit zone, and that was tricky. There was cool stuff floating around, and even cooler stuff flying around above water. But I was persistent. I would not be taken off course that quickly. 

Then came the Twilight zone. There were fewer distractions, and I made rapid progress. Soon I found myself in what is called the Midnight zone. This is where the trouble began. New and interesting creatures swirled through the dark waters. My curiosity impelled me to learn all I could about them. Here is a sampling of all the thought-creatures that stole my attention throughout my journey to the sea floor:

Pachelbel’s Canon in D is a great song. I’m going to learn it on the flute.

And the guitar.

While I’m at it, I should probably practice mandolin scales.

But first it’s time I learned every trill combination that exists.

What’s this? Multiphonics? Alright I am going to master playing two notes at the same time, TODAY.

Four hours later

Shoot. I’m off topic. Dear Lord please give me focus. Grant me the capacity to be entirely where I am, and please oh please give me an application for this IBS.

Spirit of fear, spirit of fear. I know where it comes from, but where does it reside. The amygdala right? Better make sure.

I wonder if I would be too fearful to enjoy it if I went wwoofing or something like that completely by myself. People do it. I could do it.

Oh my gosh, Lisa, that lesbian Luddite! She was totally rockin’ it. Just traveling around in that little van with a wood stove. 

But that was more than a few months of exploration, that was a straight up nomadic lifestyle.
I’d get burned out. Then again I’d get burned out sitting behind a desk all day. 

I’ll have to open a Bed and Breakfast. It’s the only way to feed all of my passions from the same bottle. The only way. 

I then proceeded to research the ins and outs of starting/owning a b&b. This took some time.

Well shoot. I simply do not have the resources to accomplish this. But I could totally do Airb&b! 

What’s their commission rate? Oh that’s not terrible. Could I work a 9-5 simultaneously? Nope this would have to be full time op. I’m gonna need help.
Dear Lord if it be your will please grant me the skills and resources to own and operate a successful b&b, one that glorifies You and doesn’t pull me away from Your presence.

After giving it to God I found peace and said whatever will be will be. Naturally it was appropriate to let my mind wander unhinged. Soon I had constructed a full scale hospitality empire. 

There will be an extensive garden and plant nursery. I will host wwoofers. One floor of the building will be hostel style, lined with affordable bunks and lockers for the budget traveler. 

But I must pander also to the affluent. Saunas- small outdoor, private, for every suite style room. 

Obviously there would have to be a cafe, at the very least, if not an entire restaurant.  

Tea bar. Must have a tea bar. Adjacent to the library. Away from the gym. 

What’s gonna be the selling point for this place? The best B&bs possess that quintessential charm that only comes from an historic building, but there is no way I will find a property with all of these components. 

It’s gonna have to be a new build.  

Unless of course I could customize an existing spot that had the right skeleton. Would it still be considered historic if it was remodeled? How does that work? 

What is going to be more cost effective, that’s the real question.

Ohhhh the money flow could be finicky if my location doesn’t have year round attractions. I’ll need something to bring in big bucks a few times a year.
Event venue. Weddings, quinceñeras, family reunions, intimate concerts, perfect.

But wait. What if a gay couple wants to use my venue? How do I navigate these waters in a Christlike manner? Do I welcome them with open arms? That seems like the obvious answer, but then again, as an ambassador of Christ do I want to encourage practices that are contrary to His divine will for humanity? But shoot, if I’m going to take a stand there should I not also bar couples that are cohabiting? That’s not quite the same though, is it?

Yes, sin is sin, but upon entering a marriage covenant are they not seeking to rectify that lifestyle of sin?

Ugh, but what if people think I hate the LGBQT community. They will, they totally will. Which I don’t, and wouldn’t blame them for thinking that, but I don’t want to endorse anything that deviates from the unspeakably beautiful design for life that the Source of all wisdom, knowledge, and love has crafted. 

Do I even have the right to make calls on who is eligible to rent my facility? I don’t think I do. Heaven’s to Betsy it’ll be worse than the cupcake debacle in Portland a few years back.

Maybe it is not God’s will that I be an innkeeper. I’m sure he’ll let me know. In the meantime I’ll keep praying about it and studying all things b&b.

Ok. Time to get back to work on this IBS.

Somehow I ended up near the end of John’s gospel, where Jesus was eating breakfast with all the disciples after their miraculous catch of 153 fish.
Breakfast by the Sea. That’s it! I love it. But wait I’m sure that’s been done before. Plus it’s kind of kitschy. Oh but do I want it to be kitschy? Who am I trying to appeal to? What’s my demographic?

Gracious me, how does this happen!?

Alright. Lord, please keep me on task.

Why is my brain like this? Why can I not just sit down and be inspired by the task at hand? 

It’s like my brain is the ocean. I keep discovering new creatures I didn’t know existed and I can’t help but investigate. 

Oh shooooot that would make a solid metaphor for this IBS.
What are the ocean levels? Or are they zones? I need the Google.

As you can see, that brings us to the beginning of this writing. 

In all honesty I’ve been avoiding writing this because I knew it wouldn’t be drenched in profound, applicable, insights about the Creator. And I’m not sure it even makes sense. This whole post is like being thirteen and thinking you’re lookin’ all sorts of good. Then you see a picture of your thirteen year old self once you’re an adult, and involuntarily you clench your teeth, take a sharp intake of air, and look away disgusted saying “what on earth? How could I have possibly thought that was a good idea?” I really don’t want to post it. But I’m going to, because I’m probably about fifty IBSs behind where I should be. I’m also going to post it because it’s what I’m really like most of the time, a mess. I want to apologize to you, dear reader, you’re a champ if you’ve continued this far. In this disaster of a post, at least the conclusion is painfully obvious. I need help. I need Jesus. I need the Holy Spirit. 

I cannot simply stop this tangled deluge of thoughts. The well never dries. Instead I must begin to draw my thought water from a different source, the well of the living God. So next time I begin to lose focus, as soon as I recognize what’s happening I will open up to the gospel of John in hopes that I may become enraptured by the character of Christ rather than my inane ramblings.

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Devotional Elation, the Result

“Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;”‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:10‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

05.15.16
00:00

I had just spent the last forty five minutes scanning the Chinook Observer for jobs and housing, then scouring Calvary chapel Seattle’s website for my potential next step. All the while I was totally convicted by the Holy Spirit. I heard Him asking me why I had all of a sudden stopped trusting in His plan and His provision for that plan. I heard Him ask me why I wasn’t being where I was, why I was failing to “BE HERE NOW.”. I heard Him saying don’t get ahead of yourself. I’ve got this, I always have and I always will. 

So I closed Safari and zoomed over to the bible with the notion of needing an upper. I was beginning to feel stressed, anxious, uncomfortable, and squirmy. My prayer before opening the app and reading Psalms 44 and 45 for the 14th and 15th days of the month was something along the lines of “God please gimme something to soothe me and help me sleep.”. I can’t remember verbatim but it was definitely to that effect. 

Once again conviction struck and I realized the peace of God is not a pill I can just pop when I’ve indulged myself in too much of the world, and now feel the ill effects of a filthy diet. I repented and made a more humble petition this time. 

Our glorious King confidently set before me Psalm 45:10, “Listen, O daughter, Consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father’s house;”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭45:10‬. This is I believe the third verse He has given me regarding this subject. However, this has been the most direct. It is humbling, piercing, calming, hope instilling, and joy giving all at the same time. How quickly I forget, but He is faithful to remind me right when I need it. That He is good, He is in control, and He loves me.

I serve a righteous, steadfast, glorious, majestic, omnipotent God. He is a good, good Father. My words will ever fail to express the wonder of my King, my Lord, my Savior, my Friend, my Comforter. All glory, honor, and praise be to the Father of lights, forever and ever amen.

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.”‭‭

Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭

Passages like this one are so easy to comprehend that it makes it difficult to pull out an application. Or maybe that’s a problem specific to me. I have been known to make things more complicated than necessary. But really, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart,” okay, yeah that seems solid. He is the master of the universe. “And lean not on your own understanding” totally, I’m a jackalope with a limited view. Why would I rely on my own perception if His is there to guard me and to guide me? “In all your ways acknowledge Him,” yep, this is certainly legit. Do everything Colossians 3:23 style, to the glory of God because nothing done otherwise will stand once your earthly body expires, and don’t bumble through life without consulting, considering, meditating on, and basking in His word and presence. Solid. “And He shall direct your paths.” Psalm 37:5 says to ” Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.” Alright, this is pretty straightforward too; walk in surrender to the Lord in every aspect of your life, and He will make it work. 

Breaking it down really proclaims the simplicity of the Christian life. It also exposes the holes in my application. Yes, I need to do all these things. Yes they are wildly simple, but how? How do I do these things? What does this look like in my day to day happenings? 
At this juncture in my life I think it means submitting my will to God’s. It means forgetting my plans and going by His. It means waking up everyday and saying “what would you have for me today, Lord?” So that is what I will do. And if He sends a gaggle of five year old girls my way to play tag and let them “braid” my hair for three hours then that is it, I have found my answer. Whatever quiet, tea-drinking, introspective activities I had slated are no longer it. I will gladly oblige the children because I trust in my Lord with all my heart.

Philippians 3:8

“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ”‭‭Philippians‬ ‭3:8‬ ‭NKJV‬‬

“Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the LORD, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,” says the LORD.”

‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭9:23-24‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”

‭‭John‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭

John 17:3 makes a bold statement. It says knowing Christ is what life is all about. It is the thing. “Nothing else matters. Nothing in this world will do.” Jeremiah 9:23-24 goes even further by denouncing the prestige of worldly indicators of glory; wisdom, might, and wealth. These things pale in comparison to the source of true glory, knowing and understanding God. 
In Philippians chapter three this truth is modeled through the life of Paul. He certainly knew and understood God. Therefore he forsook all of his credentials, anything that brought him honor by worldly standards. Paul considered his earthly attainments as liabilities in God’s economy. He likened them to waste, rubbish, sewer, garbage. Now that I am aware of where glory really comes from, I shall seek to do likewise.
I will devote myself to the pursuit of intimacy with God. In continual prayer I am going to petition God for an insatiable knowledge and understanding of Him.

Amos 3:3

“Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
Amos 3:3 NKJV
“Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”‭‭
Amos‬ ‭3:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Jesus has agreed to meet me

Everyday every hour every moment I have breath

But I in my selfishness I leave God my creator bereft

“Spend time with me please, tell me your cares!”

But no I say, I’d rather be elsewhere
Working out my affliction by the strength of my hands

Searching for affirmation in the mouth of man

“Come to me” He says “I have a better plan”

Again, today I refuse. Do I not understand?
It appears that way looking at my actions

My flesh cannot stand in this land of distractions 

As I pander always to simple pleasures

I forsake the riches of my heavenly treasures 
“Trust in me, do not depart,

Delight yourself here, have the desires of your heart

Commit your way, your plans, whatever’s hard

Rest in the arms of the Almighty King your God”
“Meet with me let’s walk today

I have ears for all that you pray

Please, my child lay your burdens at my feet

Find your rest in my presence; be set free”
My spirit is empty, my bones have dried

No longer in my sufficiency can I reside

I’ll be trapped no more by the wiles of pride

In God, my deliverer, I will abide
Please meet with me, Father, I’m ready to walk

Tonight I will go to a place of desolation 

To lift my voice in worship my hands in praises

I am powerless, dear Lord, I have nothing left

I seek only your face; please be my rest

John 15:15

“No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.”‭‭

John‬ ‭15:15‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
The word of God really is active and living. John 15:1-17 is exactly what I need to hear right now. These past few days have run me down. Or maybe it’s an accumulation of fatigue from all the weeks previous. Either way, I am exhausted. All the inconvenience of living with sixty some people is starting to get to me. My inner monologue is labored with questioning and bitterness. I find myself wondering why I am living here in Antigua, Guatemala. Why am I subjecting myself to the authority of Potter’s Field? How does everyone else do it? Why are there only two washers? Will I ever have a warm shower again? Can I please just sleep? Will this sunburn go with me to the grave? Will I ever be caught up on homework? The flesh is indeed weak. I can no longer minister by it. My attitude is atrocious. I am failing to love my brothers and sisters. And then I read this passage. God speaks clearly to me, and all of my complaint slides away. I sit back, ashamed of my shallowness and listen as He says “of course you are exhausted. Of course you are failing. You can accomplish nothing by your own power. You need me and you have not asked for me. Do you remember what you experienced last weekend? Even this morning and afternoon? Have you already forgotten the joy that was wrought from loving all those children? The peace that was brought in ministering to them? That is why you are here, to allow me to use you. You are not my servant, you are my friend. I don’t need you, but because I love you I want you to be a part of my work. I want to bless you and let you be a blessing. So come back to me. Return to what matters. Let me be your rest. All you need to do is to ask.”
It’s astounding how comforting and convicting the word can be at the same time. He has convicted me of not loving him and doing things in my own strength. He has informed me that I need to be filled with his spirit in order to accomplish anything else: that I’ve reached the end of my carnal might. My next step must be to admit my complete and utter dependence on Him and to ask for His spirit, his strength. Thankfully He is also comforting me. He has invited me once again to dwell always in His presence and find my rest in Him. I will do so by visiting and meditating on Psalm 139 until I have memorized verses 23 and 24, because as of late they have always refreshed me.

Luke 17:5-10

“And the apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” So the Lord said, “If you have faith as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be pulled up by the roots and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you. And which of you, having a servant plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and sit down to eat’? But will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for my supper, and gird yourself and serve me till I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.’ ”‭‭

Luke‬ ‭17:5-10‬ ‭NKJV
If one endeavors to let the Lord increase their faith, they must hear the word. For Romans 10:17 tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Furthermore, if one is working hard to spend time in God’s word they ought to be open to receiving what the Spirit speaks, and gladly doing what He asks. If they agree to His calling they consent to the basic principles of Christianity which are laid out in this passage.‭

The interpretation I am sharing with you has been adapted from a teaching by Pastor Genarino Desteffano of Crossroads Community Church in Vancouver, WA. He identified the experiences a Christian must contend with as such:

I. Thing Upon Thing 
We will be charged with accomplishing task upon task, oftentimes another thing will be asked of us before we have finished the first five. In this we ought to be open to observing and carrying out what God would have for us, no matter how rapid the succession. 

II. Not Thanked
Whatever you are tasked with, do it without receiving gratitude from the people in your arena. You don’t get thanked for doing your job. Moreover, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men” (Colossians 3:23). You ought not set your heart to glorify your flesh, but God, “knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” (Colossians 3:24). Scripture makes it clear that our reward is in heaven from the father, not on earth from man. So be not mortally minded, but do your work in light of eternity.

III. Not Charging Overseer with Harshness
Philippians 2:14 tells us to “Do all things without complaining and disputing.” If that’s the case we need to be mindful of our attitude toward our supervisor, knowing that the way in which we operate serves as a witness for Christ. How perplexing it is to the world when someone does their work thankfully, silently, and diligently, regardless of their treatment. Consider also Jesus’ attitude during His ministry. Was He always thanked and treated fairly for His work? No, on the contrary He was ostracized, ridiculed, and eventually murdered for it. Yet we never saw Him grumble or argue with His lot. Remember your true over seer is the Lord above. You are a servant in His kingdom. Bearing that in mind, be faithful in your toil. Make a positive impact for the kingdom, not a negative one.
IV. Not Being Prideful

‭‭Successfully accomplishing the aforementioned tasks is dangerous. It is a miraculous feat to conquer mountains of work without praise or fair treatment day in and day out. Unfortunately we tend to attribute that impressiveness to the wrong source. In our delusion, we think we have done it in our own strength. We become self righteous. We start comparing ourselves to those around us, all the while forgetting that our work ethic is a miraculous feat. Only by the grace of God have we been able to do what we do how we do it. Do not forget that it is through His power, not ours.

V. Christianity 101
All of this is basic Christianity. It’s not being a super Christian, a cut above the rest. It’s how we all should be living. John the Baptist who did indeed live out Christianity 101 is oft quoted as saying “He must increase but I must decrease.” Strive for this, and if you do your result will be an increase in your faith! 

For those who are unaware, the plumbing here in Guatemala is not able to handle copious amounts of toilet paper. The waste is put into a bin that is shared between four people. It needs to be emptied daily. As a practical application from this passage I will take out the trash from my room every day for the remainder of my time here.

Ephesians 6:1/Colossians 3:20

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.”
Ephesians 6:1

“Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.”
Colossians 3:20

 

This one really didn’t take much dissection to find an application. There are a few areas in which I am vehemently and perpetually disobedient to my parents.
Most irksome for my mother would have to be my lack of communication. While abroad I speak to her maybe once a month. She takes this to mean I do not love her and it brings devastation. My rationale for sparse contact is that so far all of my faculties are in check, my limbs intact, I’ve avoided the brink of death, I’m not engaged, and I’m not pregnant. If any of that we’re to change she would be the first to know!
Humor aside, the reality of why I rarely reach out is I haven’t needed anything. Selfish, I know. But when my world crumbles, I call my mom. When I’m in desperate need of deliverance from a sticky situation, I call my mom. Never do I call just to send some love or gratitude. Never do I call to see how she is doing. What’s worse is that whenever she broaches this subject my annoyance flairs up and I act like she’s being needy and overbearing. How wrong I am! In truth she just loves me. She only wants to know what’s going on in my life because she cares about me, not because she’s being intrusive. 
Oftentimes I act similarly towards God; praying only to petition Him for deliverance or a fulfillment of my desires. When I am in a place of trouble my first impulse is almost always to lift up my situation to Him. Why is it not the same when I am in a season of praise? Perhaps it ought to be. Perhaps I ought to start lifting up a little thanksgiving to the Lord of all creation. Perhaps I ought to call my mother while I’m at it. 
Starting today I am going to call my mother at least biweekly. I am also going to keep a running list of things to thank God for and do so in my daily devos.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

“Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭4:12‬ ‭NKJV‬‬
To knock one person down is a simple task. Add another body to the mix and things get a little more complicated. Try and go against three people on your own, you won’t accomplish much at all. Spiritual warfare follows the same principle. When you are alone with your thoughts the fiery darts of the adversary have a relatively easy time puncturing you. But, if you let even one reliable, godly friend into your thought process they will be able to bat down the attempts of the devil which so easily entangle you. Your friend can do this because they have objectivity. They see the fiery darts for what they really are, lies. But two together are still fallible, as is any combination of people. With that in mind, grab another friend! Having two godly people that are invested in your life, that care for your well being, fighting your battles with you is invaluable. Being that godly friend is just as important though. Do not forsake your opportunity to speak truth and love into the life of another.
In order to bless and be blessed in friendship I am going to invest more into the lives of my roommates Shannon, and Natalia. I will do so by making it a priority to walk and talk with them next time we go to town and to treat them to a coffee or an ice cream. Whatever their hearts desire.

Romans 6:16

“Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves as slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness.”
Romans 6:16
Notice Paul says “you are that one’s slave.” Meaning you will be totally devoted to one or the other. You cannot be a servant of God on Sunday and a slave to the flesh on the weekend. You can offer yourself to righteousness or sin, not both. This idea is laid out in Luke 16:13 where it says “No servant can serve two masters; for either He will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” Therefore every action you take will add or subtract from righteousness. For if you gratify the flesh you starve the spirit. Likewise if you neglect the flesh you feed the spirit. To determine which you are nourishing you must filter your actions by asking “Does this glorify God?” If the answer is affirmative then by all means, proceed. If it is in the negative, perhaps you ought to reevaluate your choices.
Even when we do choose to pursue righteousness there is an opportunity for backsliding. As a testament to my choice to obey I am here in Guatemala. However, I still fail and submit myself to sin. I justify making compromises because I categorize things as morally indifferent. I ignore the fact that all sin leads to separation from God. I am able to do this because I decline to ask whether or not my decisions will bring glory to God. This behavior works against my goal! I am enrolled in IGNITE to cultivate spiritual sensitivity and grow closer to God, not to flirt with sin and feign piety. 
One counter productive habit I have picked up since being here is drinking coffee. It began innocent enough as a cup with my carrot cake, once a week at breakfast, but now I’m drinking a cup a day if not more. Every time we go to town I indulge in an obscenely caffeinated brew. Drinking coffee is not a sin, that’s not what I’m saying. But it certainly is missing the mark for me. No matter how my habit began it now stands that I drink coffee because I like the way it makes me feel. As someone that has oft been convicted of making mind altering experiences an idol, this is a red flag. Though caffeine consumption is socially acceptable and only mildly effective to move the mood (in comparison to other substances), it is, in its purest form, feeding the flesh. When I subject myself to the wiles of caffeine I am trying for that buzz, you know the one. But in doing so I dull my spiritual sensitivity. I detract from my relationship with God.
Over the remaining six weeks I will be reaching for a consistent closeness with God. To achieve that I must purge my life of everything that hinders this goal. Next in line is caffeine. Starting February 18th I will not partake of caffeinated beverages unless I am somewhere that requires my patronage to access the wifi.