Getting The Latest From The Greatest

I was watching a movie that was set back in time and I couldn’t help but to be thankful for all of the luxuries we have today. We not only have indoor plumbing, but we have toilets that flush themselves after we use them. We can use Facetime and chat face to face with someone far away in real time, and we can hop in the car and be 60 miles down the road in less than an hour.

Don’t judge, but I would totally love to go back in time and show off some of our technology. Maybe even sell it and get rich! But as I thought about it… what we have today wouldn’t work if I were to travel with it back in time because it was the gradual increase in technology and knowledge that allows us to have what we have today. Satellites had to be built, programed, and positioned in space before a GPS could work. The light bulb had to be invented before headlights on a car. We had the huge computer before the laptop and the old school TV before we were watching Netflix on our iPads. We’ve built on what we’ve learned and we’ve failed many times, which only led to us making corrections and improvements.

It’s the same in our lives. Where we are today as individuals is the product of 1 day at a time, 1 lesson at a time. The product of many mistakes, glitches, corrections and improvements that we’ve built upon in order to grow. Just like technology, we are able to constantly learn and apply new things to our lives. The Bible tells us to be wise, to listen, and to add to our learning. We serve a God who is so great that we couldn’t possibly attain all there is to know about him, even if he were to reveal a mind blowing truth about himself each day for the rest of eternity! If you are living on this planet, you know that the iPhone keeps coming out with new models. Each one has new features that make it a little different from the previous version. They’ve discovered the power of building on what they’ve learned. Learning, understanding, applying, and growing are key to success. I desire to build more and more, and to grow more and more in the Lord. I don’t want next years model of Chris Taylor to be the same as this years model. I’m learning new things about the unchangeable God I serve and love all the time. Through growth in him, I’m able to do things through Him that I wasn’t able to do before.

We live in a culture that will camp out overnight in front of a store in order to be the first in line for the latest and greatest cell phone release. They spend 600 dollars on a phone that has a few new features even though there’s nothing wrong with the one they currently own… and yet spiritually, they’re a rotary dial and perfectly content with it.

Father, I’ll be the first in line each day anticipating the latest and greatest from you! I pray that you’ll reveal yourself to me in extravagant and mind blowing ways. I ask that you reveal the glitches in my life and help me to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding… and most importantly, to become more life Christ each day!

Proverbs 8:34
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorpost.

Rusted To Righteous

People spend massive amounts of money to restore classic cars. I’ve watched shows where buyers have spent what seemed like a fortune for an old vehicle. Some of the most expensive cars are the ones that weren’t produced in mass quantity. So if there were only 500 made, the car, even all rusted out, often cost more than it did brand new. In this popular hobby, rarity equals value. So with that in mind, I can’t help but feel special. I knew God had paid an amount for me that seemed outrageous, but why? Like the car that to the naked eye looks like junkyard material, and yet to the collector is worth millions. I was junkyard material to a lot of people, but God saw the value. You see, he knows that I wasn’t made in mass quantity. There weren’t even only 500 made. There was only one. I’m the only original Christopher Taylor.

I’m currently in this fortress of a shop in the care and ownership of God. When we hear the word restoration, we usually think of the historic home that is now new and marvelous, or the car that is taken to all the shows for everyone to drool over. Restoration sounds like such a beautiful thing, which it is, but the process isn’t as easy or painless as I’d thought it might be. I guess I figured that since I still run, the process would be simple. Clean me up, paint me, and change my oil so I can go another 3,000 miles while looking good. My thoughts were, if I can just pass the inspection I’ll be all right. Boy was I wrong. When I came into the shop, I was completely taken apart. All the after-market parts were taken away and I was stripped to nothing. Even the parts I thought were ok, and parts I thought were useful added features were removed from me. Then God revealed to me that I had some cracks in my frame. Things were out of line, which explained why I so often went off the road, which damaged me even further. My transmission was damaged from overloading and pulling a trailer full of baggage. The consistent high speeds had burned up my motor and anything that required maintenance had been utterly neglected. Even my ability to play music was gone. My radio had been stuck on an AM news station with constant reports of the other successful cars, but never a mention of me unless it was negative. Now the only voice I hear is God’s. The great designer and mechanic himself. He’s filled me with words of worth. He affirmed to me that this process will be worth it.

Everything has to be emptied to be refilled. Cracks have to be welded, which is extremely hot and uncomfortable, even to others who are close to the sparks. The sanding down is painful and required endurance, even when I feel I’m being rubbed the wrong way. He told me, “The better the sanding job, the more things will roll right off your back!” He’s also had to rewire me. I’d gotten some things crossed. Some wired had been spliced and others were feeding electricity to dangerous places that could have fried me or someone else. He gutted my interior. I had no idea how stained and ugly it had become. It makes sense though with all of the things I’d allowed inside that should never be allowed inside a vehicle. He removed the masking smell of the paper pine tree hanging from my rear-view mirror, which was the only clean part of my car since I was always looking back at my past.
After a lot of work, I’m brand new again. I’m amazed when I look in the shop mirror. “Everything’s new”, God said to me proudly as he got out his trusty hand held mirror to show me all of the things he’d done. It’s absolutely incredible the work that God can do! No one else can do it. I’m so glad I stayed in the shop to let him finish the work he started. If I had pulled out during the difficult times, I would have never dreamed this was possible. Now I’m complete and lacking nothing.

Then a chill ran all over me as God circled around me breathing and polishing me so that he could see his reflection. He breathed on my windshield and wiped his hand across the glass to reveal the wonderful things in front of me. He said, “You are my workmanship, my work of art and a masterpiece. My fingerprints are on every part of you. I’m going to drive you places you’ve only dreamed of and show you unimaginable things. Some of the places we’re going may frighten you at first, but fear not. You see I, your builder, alone know what you’re capable of, and have I got some surprises in store for you!”

When He knocks on your door
Let Him inside
He’s got the key
But He’ll let you decide

The Light

It’s fun to go jogging early in the morning or late afternoon when the sun cast the biggest shadows. It’s fun because my shadow makes me look so tall! Running mid-day doesn’t cast a big shadow because the sun is high above and the light is all around. Shadows are only cast when there’s partial or complete darkness in an area. It happens when something comes between a surface and a ray of light. The Bible says, in 1 John 1:7, we are to live our lives in the light. And not only in the light, but in the light as God is in the light, and get this…God is light. That means he is and is surrounded by light. So we too are to be surrounded with light. He lives in us and shines through us. This also means we have to be transparent. We let God’s light shine on every part of us so that he can cleanse each part in order to shine through it. When I was a kid, I would take the lampshade off the lamp in my room and melt Legos on the light bulb. (sorry mom) This would cause a big shadow on my wall because the little plastic block was blocking the light. (I don’t think that’s why it’s called a block) You and I are light bulbs for God, and sin causes spots and shadows. Anything you try to keep secret or any sin you haven’t allowed the Lord to wash away is causing a dark place for Satan to work in your life. Satan loves our shadows because he hates the light. Darkness allows him a place to be himself where he doesn’t even have to wear a costume. If you claim to be a Christian but are still keeping part of yourself in the dark, check this out. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. 1John 1:6-7 This is why we have to purify ourselves with the blood of Jesus. He wants to wash all of our stains away so that we can be the light of the world, which he’s called us to be. Sometimes we fear shedding light on some of the things we’ve kept in the dark. Sometimes it’s for fear of shame. Sometimes it’s for fear of loss. Usually it all comes down to the fear of losing something, whether it’s a relationship, a reputation, or other things you’ve gained that can only live in the dark. The bible says in 2 Peter 3:14 to make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Are you obeying this command? Do you have spots that you’re using more effort to conceal than to cleanse? God gives us the choice of bringing things into the light on our own and finding mercy, or he’ll bring them to the light. Proverbs 28:13 says whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy. Search your life today and ask the Lord to reveal any spots that are preventing you from shining shadow free. Take some real-estate away from the enemy today and be in the light as the Lord is in the light!

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16

Born This Way…

Psalm 139
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, oh God! How vast is the sum of them. Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand-

These words are life changing. I’ve talked to many people who believe they’re in their current condition because they were “born that way”. They believe that they were wired wrong and that God created them in a way contrary to his will. This is simply not true, yet such a common belief. You are wonderfully made by God! There was nothing hidden from him that he missed. He loves you so much. In fact he loved you long before you entered this world. He thought about you so much that his thoughts about you outnumber the grains of sand. He spent time designing your every part, down to the smallest cell in your body. He numbered your hairs and he intricately wove you together. Some of the greatest things we know of, such as light and the universe, were simply spoken into existence… but God formed you with his hands. He even wrote out each day of your life with plans to prosper you and not to harm you. He created your inmost being and filled it with all of the gifts, talents, personality, and purpose that are specific and unique for you and for your part of his great story and yours. Then, being so in love with you with a love so great that nothing could separate you from it, he has to do an unthinkable thing……. He has to send you, his wonderful creation, into this world through the sinful flesh. God’s masterpiece, wrapped in corruption. Even David said in Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” We also know from Jesus himself that what is born of the flesh is flesh, but what is born of the Spirit is Spirit. We were all born of the flesh. So when you say you were “born that way”, I can agree with you, but let me assure you that you weren’t created that way! God still sees the masterpiece he created when he sees you and no amount of darkness can hide it from him. He sees your inmost being. However, we often don’t see it when we find our identity through the flesh and not the spirit. We allow the inmost being to be filled with all the lies of the world and of our own corrupted flesh and it’s desires.

Psalm 51:6 says that God desires TRUTH in the innermost being… that’s the place he filled with “who you are” when he made you and it’s were you find your sense of self. So how do we do this? Where do we find this truth? Well, we know his word is true, we know that Jesus is the truth (the life and the way), and we know that his Spirit is the Spirit of truth…. so when we get saved and we allow TRUTH to fill that innermost being, it’s then and only then that we find out who we really are. That’s when all the lies of the flesh come face to face with the true, inescapable, un-arguable truth of who God says you are! We come alive at that moment. The Holy Spirit brings to life that which God created before you entered this world. We are born again of the Spirit. We all have a flesh that desires the complete opposite of what God desires, so don’t let that flesh become your identity. You have already been given one! Surrender your life to Him and let Truth himself do his work!

But it doesn’t stop there. Sometimes we get saved and expect everything to instantaneously change. We expect all of our desires to be different immediately and when they aren’t we doubt that anything has happened. We may even believe we’re the same person we were before we got saved. I’ve discovered that getting set free isn’t the problem. Learning to walk in the freedom we’ve received seems to be the issue more often than not. Our minds have already become trained to think and process certain ways, and our first response of action is to let our emotions take the wheel. It’s hard enough to walk by faith and not by sight… but faith and not by feelings can be even harder! Martin Luther wrote a poem that has impacted my life. He wrote,

“Feelings come and feelings go,
And feelings are deceiving;
My warrant is the Word of God–
Naught else is worth believing.

Though all my heart should feel condemned
For want of some sweet token,
There is One greater than my heart
Whose Word cannot be broken.

I’ll trust in God’s unchanging Word
Till soul and body sever,
For, though all things shall pass away,

Freedom is not based on feelings! He who the Son has set free is free indeed, whether you feel like it or not. We still have flesh and we still live in a fallen world. Don’t be discouraged when you desire things that you don’t want to desire. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Galatians 5:17
We’re told in the word that this is taking place. Everyone deals with this. That’s why the word says, No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
James 1:14 says that each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desires.
Satan would love to trick you with condemnation and lies. If he can fool you into thinking that it’s hopeless because you still battle and still desire wrong things, he’s got a foothold in your life. We must be aware of his scheme, and aware that though our flesh has evil desires, we know how to get the right desires placed directly into the heart! We have the promise that when we delight ourselves in the Lord, he will give us the desires of our heart. He gives us right desires. Some people read that verse and think that God’s gonna give them what their heart already desires or what their flesh wants, but what He’s saying is…”Here are the right desires. I’m giving them to you as you delight yourself not in what you took delight in before, but in ME”. We often think that delight comes from what we desire, but according to the word, our desires come from what we take delight in.

Thoughts are also key. They are powerful. A tiny thought enters your mind, you meditate on it, it grows, and by the times it gets into your heart it’s so much bigger than what it was when it started. This is how we get full of rage, bitterness, confusion, and deceit. Have you ever blown up at a situation that started off small and ended up huge? A thought entered your mind, you meditated on it and it got down into your inmost being. Then it grew until it became something that changed you, changed your perspective, effected the people around you, and get this… it changed the way you felt! The principal is the same for the word! We get it in our minds and we think on it and meditate on it until it sinks down into our inmost being, the heart, and it grows into something so amazing and beautiful. It changes us and our perspective. It effects the people around us and even changes the way we feel.

Psalms 1 says, Blessed is the one…whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.

The mind is the portal to the inmost being! Our thought life is so important in the process of transformation that God gives us a list of things to think on. Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
I challenge you to fill your mind and heart with the TRUTH. Surrender, be emptied, and be filled with everything God has for you. Be filled with Him and be who you are in and through Him. That’s what you were born for! Be born of the Spirit so that when people see the change in your life and wonder what’s happened, you can simply say… I WAS BORN THIS WAY!

May He grant you out of the rich treasury of His glory to be strengthened and reinforced with mighty power in the inner man by the [Holy] Spirit [Himself indwelling your innermost being and personality].

Baker’s Chocolate

Some of the greatest childhood memories I have are the days I spent at my Aunt Debi’s. My cousins and I would play ball, go to the park, and run up and down the neighborhood getting into all kinds of mischief. It was also nice because everyone knows that Aunt Debi is the cook of the family. Every family has that one who excels above the rest at holiday dinners and desserts and Debi is ours. Cakewalks are the hit of each church festival when people know they have a shot at winning anything Aunt Debi made. If you know her go ahead and get jealous as I inform you that I got to enjoy her cooking every week in the summers growing up. She was always baking up tasty treats for us and we’d line up to help as long as we got to lick the beaters off the mixer. As sweet as she is, Aunt Debi is also a prankster and there’s one trick that got us every time. She’d call one of us in with a spoon full of chocolate from the cake mix and of course we’d grab it and stick it in our mouths only to find out that it wasn’t cake mix at all…it was baker’s chocolate. Cocoa without sugar! Disgusting and extremely bitter! She’d call us in one at a time so that each of us could be in on the trick when the next cousin came in. One after another we’d thank her and grab the spoon, realize that our taste buds weren’t experiencing the delight we’d expected and then we’d try washing out the bitter taste with whatever we could find. She’d laugh and we’d eventually laugh as we watched our cousins go through the same shocking surprise. We’d go back outside and play for a while but would later come back in to find a scrumptious dessert that wasn’t the least bit deceiving.

It’s amazing how that bitter baker’s chocolate becomes a part of something so sweet. But what would happen if we had allowed the bitter taste of the un-sweet ingredient to keep us from the enjoying the finished product? What if we just assumed that no dessert could ever be good if it contains that stuff that put such a bad taste in our mouths? I mean, we didn’t imagine it! It was definitely bitter and nothing can change that experience from “that-was-horrible” to “can-I-please-have-some-more.” It was real. We expected something that didn’t turn out the way we’d expected, which could have left us as bitter as the baker’s chocolate, had we not known the baker. See, we know that Aunt Debi knows what she’s doing. She’s an experienced baker and loves to make things for us to enjoy. We know she has to add all sorts of things together to create each delicious treat to the taste buds. We trust her.
How much more should we trust God. We often come face to face with situations that leave us bitter. Relationships that didn’t work out, arguments, bitter feelings about circumstances and we decide to quit and hold bitterness in our hearts. We figure nothing good could ever come out of anything that involves this or that, him or her. While all the time God’s still in control and he’s working out a sweet thing that comes together when he mixes all the ingredients of our lives. The sweet, the bitter, the broken, the parts that would be horrible by themselves, and the parts that are good alone but are so much better when they’re mixed together, put through the fire, and served.
Don’t let a bitter experience keep you from experiencing what God’s cooking up in your life. The word says he causes everything to work together for the good of those who love him and are called according to his purpose. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we had hoped or expected. Sometimes we even feel as if we’ve been fooled. But we know God. There’s nothing so bad that he can’t work into the recipe of goodness for you.We know we can trust him. Give him your complete trust today and taste and see that he is good.

Hebrews 12:15
Romans 8:28

Kindness Extended

Genesis 39:21
But the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him, and gave him favor in the sight of the chief jailer.

This verse really stood out to me today as I listened to the story of Joseph. Here’s a man who has been through it! He’s already been thrown into a well, then sold into slavery by his brothers who led their dad to believe that he was killed. He’s gone from being a favorite son to a slave, and now after being falsely accused of a crime he didn’t commit, he’s thrown into jail. Yet in the midst of this, as he’s in jail, the bible says that the LORD was with Joseph and extended kindness to him.

This hit me hard. My human mind wants to think that God’s kindness means no trouble. I imagine that His kindness would prevent things like this from happening in life. If God was showing kindness to him, why wasn’t he found not guilty and this woman been busted?

Kindness doesn’t mean there are no wrinkles in the road of life. Jesus even said himself that in this world we will have trouble. We also know that God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and that his ways are not our ways. How could Joseph have known that this would all work together to bring about his destiny? Kindness isn’t lack of conflict. It’s grace to get through it.

How much better would life be if we would recognize that His kindness is in effect right now, in this very moment of life. One of my favorite verses of scripture is found in Lamentations 3:21-22. It says, “This I recall to my mind and therefore I have hope, the LORD’S loving kindnesses indeed never cease, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is your faithfulness.”

This story of Joseph is proof that just because we find ourselves in difficult and painful places, doesn’t mean that we’re in the wrong place. It doesn’t mean that we’ve lost the favor of God or that he’s deserted us. The LORD was always with Joseph and gave him favor in places he never dreamed of going… bad places and amazing places. It’s so much easier to focus on God’s favor in the situation rather than the place Joseph was at when we read it on a page, but in the thick of our lives, we find it quite the opposite. We focus on where we’re at rather than the kindness God’s extending to us, giving grace to see us through.

I challenge you shift your focus from what’s happened and where it’s brought you, to the kindness of God today. Remember that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. Then remind yourself that you are called according to His glorious purpose! Resolve to commit your work to Him, and watch his favor unlock the doors and lead you into your destiny.

Changes in Management

Important! Please read regarding changes in Chris Taylor Company (CTC).

In light of recent events that have uncovered poor management in the CTC, Mr. Flesh has been removed from the position of CEO. I am aware that the corruption, which has been reported, has frightened the investors, stockholders, employee, and of course the people CTC serves. I understand you may have fear of loosing your investments and may no longer desire a part of the things CTC has to offer; however, I am fully confident that the new changes implemented are to the approval and advantage of all who have ties with CTC, especially the people the company serves.

I am pleased to announce that after seeking the perfect person to fill the position of president and CEO, I have chosen God the Father and he has graciously accepted the position. I believe that his proven track record along with his unlimited source of wisdom and resources make him the greatest asset CTC has ever had and I am honored to work under him. Under his leadership and direction, CTC will be a company used to meet countless needs in the community.

I am aware of the concerns regarding Mr. Flesh in his attempts to regain employment at CTC. He has applied to every department using various aliases but has been convicted of fraud. Mr. Holy Spirit, head of HR, has denied each of his applications and Mr. Flesh is and will remain unemployable by CTC. We have removed the provisions, which allow his access and have 24-hour security at each access point.

CTC is very pleased to announce the first project under the new CEO. I’m sure you’ve noticed that we are currently undergoing construction on the building. Trinity Designs has designed a breathtaking remodel featuring lots of storm proof windows and lots of light. The foundation itself has been fortified in order to support the new additional levels. The new interior is crisp and clean and the communication technology is the fastest available. Due to the construction, building access has been temporarily limited. CTC appreciates your patience and ensures you that the finished product will be worth the wait.

Chris Taylor
Head of Heart and Mind Security

The Magical Treasure Box

Imagine for a moment having a magical treasure box. It’s a small box, but possesses an amazing ability. Anything you put inside of this box becomes reality. Can you fathom the possibilities? That’s an extremely great, yet dangerous power. Many would seek after its ability, some for good and others for great harm. Your destiny is determined by the contents of this box. Your future, even what people think about you, all depend on what you place inside this magical mystery. What would you put inside of it? Who would you allow access to it? Who would you guard it from? How would you keep it away from ruthless pirates and wicked rulers with mighty armies? To prevent this from becoming a weapon it must be entrusted with someone who possesses great diligence, wisdom, and care. It’s a massive responsibility.

The truth is, you’re already in possession of such a thing. Your reality is already decided upon by a little treasure box called the heart. Whatever thoughts you allow inside, whether true or false, become your belief. This is proven by God’s word. Proverbs 23:7 says, “As a man thinks within himself (in the heart) so is he.” Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all else.” This means that the heart is deceitful because whatever you place inside of it, it believes to be true, whether true or not. If you allow false beliefs or opinions to go from your mind to your heart, they become real to you. If you think you’re worthless in your heart, even though this is false, you believe you’re worthless. If you place in your hearth the fact that you are a priceless child of God, you believe it.

This is why the Bible tells us to guard the heart above all else, for out of it flow the issues of life. WOW! The God of the entire universe, who sees all and knows all, commands us to guard the heart! If that doesn’t put enough importance on it, I don’t know what will. God tells us in Romans 10:9 if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved. Your salvation depends on what you put in your heart. That’s why, like with the powerful treasure box, there’s a wicked ruler with a ship full of lying pirates who desires to fill your heart with things that fulfill his purposes instead of God’s. So lets get back to the questions I asked earlier now that we know this treasure box really exists. What will you put in it? David said, “I hide you’re word in my heart so that I might not sin against you.” He had it right. There’s neither greater truth nor treasure than the word of God. He also asked God to search his heart to see if there was any wicked or hurtful way in him. In another chapter he asked God to create in him a clean heart and to renew a right spirit in him. This proves that there is a wrong spirit that will pollute our hearts. A fact that leads us to the question, who will you allow access to it? The answer is simply God. We allow his spirit and his word full access to search it, clean it, and fill it. Hebrews 4:12 says the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword. It goes on to say that it judges the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Your heart has thoughts. Now remember that once the thought is in the heart, you believe it. That’s why we need the truth of the word of God to search out and override anything that doesn’t align with it. It knows what our heart thinks, whether good or bad. Psalm 139:23 says, “Search me, oh God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” The contents of our hearts can cause us to be anxious. Watch how Philippians 4:6 ties into this. It tells us not to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving let your request be made known to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. We’ve just discovered that prayer is another way to guard your precious treasure box, which answers the final question asked earlier. How will we guard it? If your heart is guarded in Christ Jesus, there’s nothing that can bust into that fortress of protection unless we let it in. That’s why we take our every thought captive to His obedience. How amazing is it that we can hide in him, while hiding his word in us! God desires a pure heart in each of us. In fact, in Matthew 22, Jesus told us himself that the greatest commandment is to love the Lord your God with all you heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. If you’re dealing with a false reality today because of the things you’ve allowed into your heart, loving God is part of the solution. Proverbs 16:6 says by mercy and love, truth and fidelity, iniquity is purged out of the heart. Allow God to examine your heart today. Let him replace your destination of deceit with his reality of righteousness. Through the true knowledge of Him, your treasure box will be filled with rare and precious things.

The Garden

Genesis 2:8 says God planted a garden in the east, in Eden. Verse 15 says the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden. It seems so perfect to me that God placed Adam in a garden. And though he literally placed him there, I believe there’s a significant spiritual depth that is so rich. I believe each one of us is a spiritual gardener. We’ve been placed by God into specific gardens to grow in and to tend to. There are things we nurture and things we prune. There are weeds we pull and there are places we till and plant. And just like with Adam, God walks with us in the garden. He’s given us things to enjoy and to eat the fruit of. And just like with Adam, he’s placed things in the garden that are off limits. This fact is a bit hard to grasp at first. Why would God do this? Some believe it’s God tempting us, but I know this isn’t so because James 1:13 says that no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone. What he does, is provide us with the opportunity to obey. He gives us the opportunity to trust him and to choose him. So here we are in our garden and it’s meant to be a beautiful, productive, fulfilling, fruitful place, and we’re meant to keep it that way.

I didn’t keep mine very well. Yes I went to church and I watered and nurtured some things. I read the word and prayed, but I also brought in some things to temporarily enjoy that took root. Sinful things I had no idea would grow so fast or root so deep. They began to choke out other important things that were vital to my nutrition and to my garden. The weeds had new places to grow that were beyond my sight. Hidden by the out of control addition I’d allowed within my gates and garden walls. Small foxes and rodents began climbing the sinful ivy that now cascaded over and down the protective borders, and my God given garden gradually became a place that was no longer delightful. I didn’t want to be in my garden anymore. It seemed beyond repair so I searched and found another garden. It looked so pleasurable and in season. It even had the things I’d brought into my garden but they seemed to grow differently. It was springtime in this new garden and it smelled so good. Everything was new and exciting. There were plants I’d never seen before. There were others I had heard of that had bad reputations, but they seemed a lot more enjoyable than people said. This garden was different. Nothing was off limits. Even the poisonous plants were said to be ok if I just had a little. I ate of all the fruit! All my senses were invigorated. I saw everything, listened to everything, tasted everything, touched everything, and took in the fresh aroma all around.

As spring ended and summer settled in, so did I. The fresh aroma was gone because what had been new was now established and had become everyday for me. I had now officially moved and taken residency in the newer garden. It was so pleasurable in the spring, but now the resources were kind of drying up. I hadn’t worked because I was so busy enjoying everything. Now it was really hot and really wearing me down. There’s no big oak tree for shade like I had in my God given garden. There’s not even protection from the storms. But, there was still a little fruit, although it wasn’t fresh like it was in the spring. In fact, it had started to rot. Gnats and fruit flies were becoming so thick that the majority of my energy went to keeping them off the remainder of my fruit; at least what I had decided was mine. Along came fall. A season rightly named might I add because everything I enjoyed began to fall away. One by one the leaves of friendship, worth, and self-esteem dropped to the ground as winds of self-destruction carried off my livelihood. Winter was lonely. I was surrounded by the true identity of the garden. No longer covered in leaves of promise and flowers of glitz and glamour, the raw branches were exposed, along with all the thorns and thistles. It was a miserable time. I couldn’t go anywhere without the pain of the overgrown thorns. I needed it to be spring again! When would it be spring again? I filled my mind with the memories of spring and it helped me to wait. And then…spring arrived, but it was nothing like I had remembered. I was now surrounded by everything I had sown over the past year. I had forgotten that we are always sowing! I tried to nurture and water the things from the season past but they were dead. How could I have known they were seasonal and not annual? I found myself in desperation. How could I live with what I’ve sown? It’s all I have to eat. There’re no nutrients in it. There’s no substance to it. And to top it all off, there’s no water to even wash down the bitter taste. Thoughts of home began to flood my mind and I finally got up and went back to my God given garden.

I was so happy to be home because even though my garden was a mess, it was still better than the deceitful garden I’d made a mess of. I did some work, though there was still a lot to be done, and I enjoyed the company of my garden companions, especially the Lord. But before too long, the seasons in my God given garden were changing, as they always do, and winter can be hard even though it’s temporary. So I looked out my gates and there it was again! Springtime in the other garden! I wondered how it came alive again but there was no time for questions. I was off and back in the mystical garden. I noticed right away that what I had sown was still there. It was mostly ignored thanks to the other things growing around. But once more it happened again. A rerun now played in high definition.

Back and forth I went. My sin season cycle. I had become a horrible, hurtful, lazy, undependable gardener who couldn’t be trusted. I had trained myself to run to anyplace where it was springtime. Then one day after coming home to my God given garden, the garden giver himself spoke to me. He said, “Stop running from winter. I need you to see winter for what it really is. You need the color gone so that you can see things in black and white. Winter is when the roots grow deeper so that the plants grow larger and the trees grow taller. It’s not a time of death, but a time of depth. I want to cover you like snow and my warmth will cause my goodness to water you and nourish you.” This is where I am. I’m under the covering. Pulling weeds and working with the Lord as we make this garden beautiful.

God’s shown me that sin will always be in its pleasurable season somewhere. That’s the only time Satan will present it. He wants to conceal the fact that it’s only pleasurable for that season. He knows that the rotten side of it, the dead side, would push people away rather than draw them in. No one chooses rotten fruit at a grocery store. Crowds don’t flock to home improvement stores in the dead of winter for plants that aren’t in bloom. Teens wouldn’t look at a homeless man who lost everything he had because of drugs and say, “I want that!” The married woman wouldn’t flirt with the guy in the office if she saw the future affect than an affair would have on her husband and children. No! They are drawn in during the pleasurable season.
I’m grateful that God allowed me to see the seasons of sin that lead to death. I’m more grateful that he rescued me and welcomed me home so that I could be restored. You see, I’m not just in a garden; I’m an oak tree. An oak of righteousness to display God’s splendor. I’m now like a tree planted by rivers of water, which yields it’s fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither. Ready in season and out with a promise to prosper.



The Fix It Later Frustration

A few weeks ago my washing machine went out and when the repairman came to fix it, I was so excited because I’d been without it for a couple weeks. So he worked on it and put it back together and said, “all done!” I thought, “Wow, that’s it?” He didn’t test it or anything. He didn’t charge me either. So rejoicing over the money saved I thanked him and he went on his way. I didn’t use the washer that first day because I had to rush off to work since I’d already taken the morning off for the repair.

But the next day, oh the next day! I loaded it up with just a few things that I really needed washed and then it happened. All of the water from the machine flooded out the bottom, out of the washing closet and into my living room! Carpet might I add. Now I’m really picky about my home and I like things to be a certain way, and this was way out of my comfort zone and out of my control! Fear and frustration immediately flooded my mind as the water flooded my carpet. What if the ceiling below me is ruined? What if my carpet is ruined? What if there’s water damage and my home is never the same without spending money that I don’t have? I was frustrated. This wasn’t the way things were supposed to happen. My washer was supposed to be fixed and I was going to wash my clothes and everything was going to smell good and be clean and hung up in my color coordinated closet on matching hangers. I wasn’t prepared for this! I used a carpet machine to suck up the water and towels to dry the mess, but apparently carpet and the padding underneath don’t dry as quickly as we’d like. So, after days of frustration, blotting water, fans running, wet socks in the middle of the night on my trips to the bathroom, and the smell of mildew, the carpet finally dried. Now I know that some would have had a repair man out that first day to fix everything, but the thought of the frustration I had gone through kept me from calling anyone back right away to fix my machine. What if this happens again? What if water spills on my carpet that has finally dried while he’s working on it? I feared that even one drop would replay the whole thing over in my head.

But the thing is, I need my washing machine. Without it, things stay dirty and it starts to stink.

I remember when I was blessed with this washer and how wonderful it was to be able to do my laundry at home and to always have clean clothes.

How often do we let situations in our life, let downs, disasters, frustrations, and messes keep us from trying again. Maybe someone in church hurt you and you’ve decided not to go back. Maybe you planned an event that bombed or you stepped out into a field of ministry that wasn’t successful right off the bat! Is that reason enough to quit? What if Moses had quit after Pharaoh said no the first time and disaster struck? What if he waited to go back until he was comfortable….. he never would have! Is trouble or past frustration keeping you from fixing things in your life? Is there a relationship that was valuable to you sitting broken in a closet because of an argument that brings up bad feelings? Take time today to fix it. Talk to God about it today. Seek direction and ask him to help you move past the past! Then, with his help, rebuild that part of your life that you’ve been neglecting and you’ll remember and appreciate the value of what he’s given you and why he gave it to you in the first place.