The Antidote for Self-Centric Thinking

How precious to me are Your thoughts, O God!

Ps.139:17 ESV

Let the unrighteous man [forsake] his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon… For my thoughts are not your thoughts…declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are… my thoughts than your thoughts.

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does… We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. … “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,…he made himself nothing…[and] humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death…

For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake.

… Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting! 

Is.55:7-9 ESV; II Cor.10:3, 5 NIV; Rom 8:5-6 ESV; I Cor.2:11-12, 16 ESV; Phil.2:5-7 ESV; II Cor. 4:5 ESV; Ps.139:17, 23-24 ESV

I think one of the greatest reliefs of Heaven will be self-forgetfulness. I was never designed to be pre-occupied with myself, but with God and His glory. Even now, because God’s vast encircling thoughts have got me covered–from before conception through all eternity (see Ps.139!) I am released from the burden of looking out for my best good, freed to pursue what pleases my Creator, freed to live a life driven by love of God and others rather than love of me!  The One who knows me best, sees my worst, and loves me most has got me covered. Living for His glory is the only response that makes sense.

Self-love can’t compare to this.  Self-help is futile.

One of my prayerful hopes this year is to grow in self-forgetfulness, to be delivered from caring so very much what people around me are thinking of me. Here is the perfect antidote:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!

If I comprehend God’s love for me and relish His thoughts above my own flawed impressions and fallen thought patterns…If I believe His Words and let His desires give shape to my agenda…how can I stay tangled for long in the morass of self-centric thinking?!

I will never win the war with self by resolve and mind-control strategies, be they a sanctified form of eastern meditation or a rigorous self-help prescription.  But with the Lord as my shepherd I have everything that I need.  He has given me His Word.  He leads me by His Spirit.  This is the only path to life and peace.  The mind set anywhere else is death!

The Spirit of the Living God resides in those who trust in Christ as Saviour, conditioning us for the epic day when we shall see His Glory as we only now imagine it. This will be a view unobstructed by selfie sticks. For this Jesus prayed:

Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world….I have made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.

John 17:24 ESV

In this will be our greatest Joy. In the meantime, may we learn to prize His thoughts above all others, because in the end they are the only ones that matter.

The LORD will fulfill His purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands. 

Ps.138:8 ESV


Settling into my Inheritance

“The LORD was with the people of Judah, and they took possession of the hill country.  But they failed to drive out the people living in the plains because the people there had iron chariots.”

Judges 1:19 ESV

January is for me a month to take stock of the past year and recalibrate for the new.  And I find myself paying extra attention to models in Scripture who had territory to step into that they were intimidated by. Take for instance the Israelite tribes crossing the Jordan into the land of ‘milk and honey’.

The years of bondage in Egypt were behind them, and the years of trekking around in the desert wastelands.  It was time to move into their new home! But it wasn’t that simple.  There were people living there already– people whom God had determined to displace because of their detestable God-defying customs (Deut.18:9-14).  God had given His people explicit instructions. No treaties were to be made.  No exceptions. Yes, the nations were strong, stronger than Israel’s own resources, but God would be with them; He would go before them.  This land was to be their inheritance but they would have to do some conquering and cleaning up to remove every trace of pagan idolatry.  Then God would settle in with them; they would be at home in their own land at last–a People dearly loved, the apple of God’s eye, and His own precious inheritance!

I want to be at home like that–settled in my inheritance, living at rest with God at the helm, living by faith and done with personality struggles and perplexities of identity, knowing and fulfilling my calling without angst…at home in my inheritance.  I take note that this didn’t happen for the Israelites in the straight-forward faithfully obedient way God intended.

The record shows that tribe after tribe defaulted to failure.  Not only did they fail to drive out the enemy but they decided to keep them around as servants! (See Judges 1) And before long God’s beloved people had adopted pagan gods and were copying the odious practices of the people they were meant to disinherit.  The book of Judges bears witness to the chaos that ensued.  What had happened?!

It started with excuses.

“The hill country is not enough for us, and the Canaanites in the lowlands…have iron chariots–they are too strong for us!” (Joshua 17:16) 

Joshua 17:16

This was the complaint of Joseph’s descendants.  The Joseph who had risen by God’s favor from being a lowly prisoner to riding in a chariot as co-regent with Pharaoh, that Joseph’s descendants were bemoaning their helplessness in the face of enemies with iron chariots…Where was their faith in God’s promises?

Joshua called their bluff and spurred them on to action:

“Since you are so large and strong, you will be given more than one portion.  The forests of the hill country will be yours as well. Clear as much of the land as you wish and live there.  And I am sure you can drive out the Canaanites from the valleys too, even though they are strong and have iron chariots.” (Joshua 17:18 NLT)

Joshua 17:18 NLT

He left no room for their excuses or their faithless timidity. He challenged them:

“How long will you put off going in to take possession of the land, which the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you?”

Joshua 18:3

Good question. I turned 57 this month so the question is not lost on me.  What conquests remain for me? What iron chariots to be defeated?  I am not the picture of competence and maturity I once imagined I’d somehow just be by this stage of life.  There’s nothing automatic about taking God at His Word and marching into all he intends for me.  Faith is a battle with a real enemy.  Fears of failure and disappointment lure me to settle short of destroying the ‘iron chariots’ that stand in the way of God’s good purposes for me…

I had a slow read through the first couple chapters of Judges just lately. This sad tale of “Failure to complete the conquest” depicts the disobedience that always accompanies unbelief and the subsequent powerlessness to withstand the enemy.  But God is here too, assuring of His faithful love, warning, sending judges to the rescue and generally being all that a Shepherd has to be to stubborn sheep!  Despite all this:

“They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.”

Judges 2:19

Those words arrested my attention.

It’s one thing to launch a new year with new disciplines and good intentions but perhaps the most needful thing is to back-up and assess what habits need to be broken!  Iron Chariots indeed.  I suspect for me the conquest will be in the area of long-entrenched beliefs that simply are not valid. 

I want 2019 to be a year of recognizing truth, taking God at His word and moving forward into a greater possession of my inheritance in Him.

There are iron chariots.  There are strongholds.  There are life-long patterns that need to be rooted out. There is an enemy of our souls who would see us deprived of enjoying the inheritance Jesus has bought for us.

For this He has given us His Spirit.  For this He has given us Himself. And so we walk forward by faith…

I’ve been spurred on this week by many good words in Scripture.  I offer them to you as together we go forward into a new year.

  • “You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.” Deut.3:22
  • For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. I Jn.5:4 ESV
  • In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one. Eph 6:16 ESV
  • “No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; And every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD…Is. 54:17 NASB
  • The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.  The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places: indeed I have a beautiful inheritance. Ps.16:5,6 ESV
  • [May] the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory… give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe…Eph.1:17-19 ESV

What truths is God challenging you with these days? What are your ‘iron chariots’? Thanks for joining me here.


Be imitators of God…

 Only God can create a sunrise–

Fall is the time of year that we have our most glorious sunrises, or perhaps they’re always glorious but I’m just not up to see them until the days shorten on both ends!  Whatever the case may be, as the morning breaks at the end of our valley and streams its light up over the ridge, I sit at the window having breakfast with Jim before he heads out the door.  And some mornings I pop up to snap pictures!

One morning after kissing him goodbye and shutting the door I remained standing at the window watching God throw lighter and lighter washes on the distant sky. And thinking…

Only God can create such a sunrise–

BUT we are made in His image, given the ability and the desire to reflect His beauty in some way.  Some will imitate Him with paint and brush, creating art that reflects God’s greatness.  Others speak of the Wonder in carefully crafted words.  And some radiate Him best by the way they relate to others… In whatever way we are called to imitate Him we proclaim His beauty.

I have been largely silent here for a few months partly because I’ve been experimenting with another creative outlet which is more about color and water than typing and words.  It is not my natural domain so has been a great struggle but something in me insists that I must try, must show up for practice in a regular way and just maybe my ‘right brain’ may get a say over the tryrannical sway of the ‘left brain’ that clings to the safety of words and habits I’m more comfortable with…

I can’t say the ‘experiment’ has been entirely successful.  I am short of persevering in the face of doubt.  Even Creativity must be cultivated… But I have missed writing here and sharing the glory of words God gives.

So I hope in this New Year to appear at the page more consistently with my bits of manna for TODAY.  And I thank-you for pausing in the business of your day to share this picnic with me ( :


As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace  I Pet. 4:10 ESV

Be strengthened by GRACE

It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace 

By grace you have been saved—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.  For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God and are justified by his grace as a gift…to be received by faith.

Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?…Does He who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith?  —follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

…much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ—Who shall also confirm you unto the end, [that ye may be] blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. 

I have written briefly to you, exhorting and declaring that this is the true grace of God. Stand firm in it. —Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

Heb.13:9 ESV; Eph 2:5 ESV; Rom 4:12 NIV; Gal.3:3-5 ESV;  Rom.3:22-25 ESV; Rom.5:17 ESV; I Cor. 1:8 KJV; Ps. 73:26 NLT; I Pet.5:12 ESV; I Cor. 1:3-4 NIV

The Endless Mercy of our God

His Way is Perfect

Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?—You are God’s critic, but do you have the answers?—Who is this that questions my wisdom with such ignorant words?

Look, God is all-powerful.  Who is a teacher like him?  No one can tell him what to do.  No one can say to him, “You have done wrong.’  Instead, glorify his mighty works, singing songs of praise—Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, praise the name of the LORD!

As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the LORD is tried: he is a buckler to all those that trust in him —Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Job 2:10 NIV; Job 40:2 NLT; Job.38:2 NLT; Job 36:23,24 NLT; Ps.113:1 ESV; Ps. 18:30 KJV; Rom. 11:33 ESV; Prov.3:5 ESV;

It can slip in so subtly, a certain discontent with the way God is managing my life or the lives of the people around me. Has He not heard my prayers? Does He not see the pain in our hearts? Is He not really in control? But the sword of the Spirit pointedly interjects itself into my thinking and I am brought up short. My mutinous bent is brought to light and I, like Job, must confess my ignorance and repent. My Lord faithfully calls me to reaffirm His worthiness to be praised ALL THE TIME. And with this confidence I can navigate the quandries of a new year bravely. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!