Category Archives: Changing Perspectives

Personal Appearance

While I was doing my hair and getting ready for the day, something new occurred to me.  I don’t know if other women do this but I will often try and imagine how what I’m wearing or how I look is going to be perceived by others I may meet that day;  Will I be seen as mundane or special, silly or smart?  My view of how I will be perceived based upon my own evaluation in the mirror can affect my interactions with people.  This whole process is almost involuntary, an underlying thought that I don’t usually pay much attention to.  I don’t like to think of myself as being so focused on shallow outward things but in the flesh I can be.  Well, this morning, as the process occurred as usual, a new thought popped into the subtle unconscious evaluation ” You know, it’s arrogant to try and control (or imagine that you can control) the perceptions of others.”  Wow, I thought, is that really what I’m doing?  Yea, I think it is!  I’m living in a delusion that if I can appear a certain way, the right clothes, hair or makeup, I can control how someone else will view me.  How arrogant to think that I have that kind of control over people!  Sadly though, the kingdom of darkness does know us very well and can give us a clue as to what people’s preferences are.  I didn’t realize that this was one of the ways I was placing too much value on what other people think of me.  It’s an attempt to meet all the wrong standards and gain cosmic approval.

I am a girly girl most of the time and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with doing your hair or wearing makeup and dressing in clothes that you like but I certainly shouldn’t do it with that kind of motivation.  If dressing up makes me feel good, fine, but I don’t want to live in bondage to people and their foolish, shallow perceptions.  I need to do everything as unto the Lord, including maintaining my personal appearance.  This in no way implies that I will be wearing “religious” hair and jean skirts!  God is not interested in outward appearances but the mental attitude of the mind(the apparel of the soul) which daily needs renewal through His word to clean up the mental garbage we daily pick up from the cosmic system. 

This is one of those less pleasant things to share in a blog.  Too personal? Maybe. I think it’s worth sharing though.  The Lord is setting me free little by little as I learn His word daily.  I’m excited that the Lord is working to set me free from so much cosmic thinking and  evil religious solutions through His word and by learning who I am in Christ.  It’s making me confident in living as a the new spiritual species, the new creature that I am in Christ. It’s changing my life daily.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Preparations

I’ve been focusing a lot lately on getting ready for our upcoming move in April.  It’s the perfect time to clean out all the clutter that we’ve been hanging on to over the last 11 years.  I’m not a pack-rat, so this process is relatively easy for me.  I’m just surprised at the amount of things that we’ve held onto.  It feels very freeing letting go of old junk that contained just a hint of sentimental value but had no real purpose or beauty .  Or the old pot that I’ve been swearing I was going to need someday but never have.  It’s amazing what you don’t realize you have been keeping in boxes that never get opened.  It’s funny to think that I’ve been moving trash from house to house for years and years when I could have just lightened the load a long time ago.  All this was a very visual reminder of the secret rooms we hide in our souls that God must go through looking for the trash we don’t want to part with in our minds, and how the word of God carefully sorts through each and every dusty “box” slowly over time as we take in the mind of Christ day by day.  It’s nice to know the Holy Spirit is doing all the heavy lifting of renewing our minds!  This also makes me think of “Buy truth and sell it not” How much of my time and money was spent on things that were ultimately useless and needed to be thrown out?  In the same way, we do that with our thinking as we go through the day.  We pick up mental trash with our time in the cosmic system and each day in Bible class the word of God pinpoints it and throws it back out. 

Another aspect I see is how we get rid of the stuff that weighs us down so that we can make room for valuable useful items that will be needed in the future.  That makes a great analogy too.  We need capacity. 

I’ve been having fun with this one…

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Time of the Cross

We had a lesson this week that helped open my eyes more clearly to the purpose of this life or more exactly what isn’t the purpose of this life.

I am admittedly a romantic.  I’ve always held onto this desire for a certain kind of lifestyle.  For some it might be living in an urban setting or fulfilling a certain dream of their own but for me, it’s always been the tranquil country life with rolling green hills, farm animals and the old country house with the fireplace and the warm quilts, cozy kitchen and the soft loving cat.  Well, while there is nothing wrong with my desires they have nothing to do with God’s plan for my life.  As a military wife it’s my job to be ready to move when-ever or where-ever the Air Force sends us.  This means not getting settled in one place, this means, that particular dream is not a part of God’s plan for my life at this time.

In class, when Pastor was teaching about our lives being patterned after The Lord Jesus Christ’s on earth, and the fact that He always knew and welcomed that the Father’s plan was the Cross and never tried to live in any other plan during his life on earth, something clicked!  The Lord knew that a crown(as king of all the nations in the future) was His destiny but in order to receive the crown, He had to fulfill the Cross(The Father’s particular plan for His humanity).  I have also been promised a crown and a destiny that is wrapped up in His and I have also been given now and in the future, my own set of circumstances which constitute the fulfilling of a “cross”(participation in the Angelic Conflict) in my lifetime.  My life on earth was never supposed to be associated with earthly “crowns” and pursuing all that I consider the epitome of human existence.  My life as belonging to the Lord is supposed to be wrapped up in pursuing God’s plan for my life.  This life on earth is all about being the “time of the cross” not the time of the “crown”.  To the natural mind this may sound like some form of self imposed suffering but really what I’m talking about is quite the opposite.  I’m not talking about living the plain life and giving up all my earthly desires to live on some mental mountain top.  I’m talking about really and truly understanding that the treasures promised to me that come after the time of the cross which belongs to life on earth, are very real and go way beyond the dreams this life has to offer.  If I want a destiny better than the one I can dream up, one that contains actual happiness and reward, I have to understand that the Cross comes before the Crown, just as it did for The Lord Jesus.  The “crown” is a promise and part of it is the fantastic life that goes along with living in God’s plan right now. 

 The Bible says that  God’s plan ultimately brings unshakable happiness, contentment and an incredibly meaningful life here on earth and that there is nothing in the strictly human experience that brings lasting happiness.  I believe that there are things that bring temporary happiness but it always fades and we find ourselves restless or disappointed that the thing we have worked so long to get or achieve was empty in the end.  In fact, nothing on this planet was designed to satisfy our ultimate desire.  Truly unshakable happiness is God’s monopoly and it can only be found in Him.  Everything else is a vain pursuit for lasting contentment and happiness.  Sure, you might be happy when things are going well but be honest, human powered happiness fails when disaster falls or things don’t go our way. 

It’s hard to put into words what I’m trying to describe.  My life is about much more than my dreams.  There is a life beyond dreams.  I have experienced it in part but I have not arrived.  If my dreams fall into the Plan of God He gives them to me.  If He knows that they will make me miserable and something else will be best for me He does that instead.  His plan is perfect but baffling to someone on the outside.  How can death bring life?  How does disaster bring prosperity?  In God’s plan everything is opposite.  It really truly is.  Suffering and happiness  are inseparable on earth.  Without the Cross Jesus Christ’s crown would have ended when He died and all that we could hope for would be bottled up in life on this planet.  Because He endured the Cross and did it the Father’s way, He gets a crown that lasts forever and we get eternity.  The world tells us to hold onto our dreams and reach for them relentlessly  The Lord was also offered the world and all it’s kingdoms by Satan as a temptation to abandon the plan of the Cross.  The insidious thing about the world is that the system knows what it offers has no  lasting value, it’s empty and will leave you wanting more.  God offers you His plan which guarantees contentment and satisfaction but it also includes a measure of the “cross” individually tailored with suffering that brings blessing and it doesn’t make sense if you don’t understand what it’s all about.  The perfect loving God with a plan to give you all that He is.

What I’m getting at is, that I don’t want to miss out on fulfilling the purpose of my life in exchange for green pastures and chickens.  I can now see why those things, pleasant as they are in my mind, don’t compare to my life as it is now(I already have an amazing and challenging life) and what I have the opportunity to live in.  It would be wise to put those fantasies in God’s hands and let them go.  He loves me and always gives me His highest and best, be that outward blessing or suffering what ever I need to have capacity.  

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Mental Hygiene

I’m so happy to be able to write a post!  Our main computer is not working at the moment so we had to hook up the old lap-top to the internet and that seems to be doing the job for now. 

We have been learning about thought testing in Bible class.  This has brought into focus the mine-field of my mind and the contradictions between what I want to think and what I actually think in daily life.  My actions and decisions are the proving ground of my thought patterns.  What are my true priorities?  What is it that I daily love and devote myself to?  I can say that it’s not what I want it to be most of the time and I can also say that I don’t know yet what it really looks like to be living the spiritual life to the max.  My imagination of what the spiritual life looks like in a person’s daily life is mostly silly religious pictures of meditation and outward orderliness.  I have many different doctrines that show snippets of the spiritual life and I sometimes see it very clearly in Bible class but the clarity fades when faced with the onslaught of working it out in daily living.  Temptations, desires, distractions and moment by moment decisions fill up the mind plus all the human viewpoint already installed in the Old Sin Nature can make it difficult to get a cohesive grasp on the bigger picture.  Yet, we are not supposed to evaluate where we think we might be in spiritual growth we are supposed to press on, always facing the next moment with courage, leaving all the rest behind(oh how hard it can be to dump a jumbled confusing failure of a day at the Lord’s feet and just leave it there).  We are to be getting that daily mental renewal in Bible class so that each principle can add to the next making things clearer and also cleaning out the mind from all the wrong thinking picked up since last class or even long held error. 

Since we rarely give up our own ways of thinking till they fail us, thought testing can be painful  but afterwards it brings incredible motivation to go forward and find out what the thinking of God is really all about. 

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Moving?

It appears that another military move may be on the horizon.  This knowledge of impending change brought about a very familiar cycle of thoughts and feelings.  Where will we go?  How long will this take?  What does the future hold?  After the questions, in come the secret hopes and desires.  Since we get to list our most desired places to be stationed I get very fixated on hoping for those destinations and fantasizing about what it would be like to live ____ or ____.  Then shortly after that first brush of excitement.  The fear starts nagging, the feelings of uncertainty and worry that we won’t get what we want that we won’t be happy.  And thus starts a cycle of stress and distress.  I’ve decided this isn’t necessary.  Really, Go figure!

While listening to my lesson tonight.  Pastor was talking about laying aside our will for God’s.  It sort of hit me right there that my main source of stress in each of our moving experiences was my desire to have things the way I want.  If I laid aside the desire for any specific outcome and instead focused on being excited for what God has already chosen, I might go into this whole thing with stability instead of fear.  I’ve decided I don’t “want” any particular outcome no dream destinations or care over when it happens.  I “want” to ride this one out with the Lord.  I’ve seen enough to know that He has carefully planned everything and never left me or failed me.  I don’t want my plan this time.  I want His. 

So, I’m VERY excited!  I’m going to be where the Lord sends me.  It’s never where I expect and always full of challenges.  All my roads lead to eternity with God anyway. 

I’ll keep you posted,

Mary

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Failure Adds Confidence Part 2

I really needed the lesson we had tonight in Bible class.  It is titled “Anyone Who Comes To Christ Will Certainly Not Be Cast Out”Today was another day where I was guilty of one of the failures I find most horrid and shameful in my relationship with God.  I couldn’t seem to help thinking of the verses that would condemn such actions and it brought me pretty low.  I also tried with all my might to rebound and apply the doctrines I know so well and it was a struggle.  It was a struggle because the guilt would come at me again and again and the doubt that God could really feel the same about me after I had displayed such weakness (especially toward Him).  Lucky for me this was the topic I was already going to talk about.  You see, this has been coming at me in several different forms over the last couple of weeks.  If it’s not one horrible failure it’s another, and not the usual ones or the more “moral” issues, it’s the sins I fear the most.  The ones that relate directly to my relationship with God and causing me to question if it is really even possible that I am a believer going forward.  How can one such as me, weak and untrusting, positively reckless in my capacity for evil, be special to God, beloved and encouraged to go forward?  Under my recent state of mind, in the more low moments I wonder if there is any reward left to receive. 

Despite these feelings, I am convinced that this is a very important stage in the Christian way of life.  It’s not just some attack by evil forces to get me discouraged.  I think it’s a training zone that all must pass through.  It is in this place that only failure can give me confidence.  Sure, I am quite confident in my standing with God just so long as I haven’t had a noticeable failure but as soon as I mess up big time I have no confidence in my standing with God until the sting fades.   I have always heard the phrase “being right with God” and automatically put emphasis on self.  I think to myself, I must stay right with God to have a good relationship with God so that must mean I have to please Him with my behavior and unwavering faith to have continuing fellowship and have Him be proud of me as His child.  Only under those terms, God would have to chuck me, because I continually fail and He would have to be proud of me and then disappointed and finally just give up when I’ve finally done something bad enough.  These thoughts are anti-doctrine, anti-grace and spiritual insanity! 

The confident believer is confident not in their relationship with God but with God’s relationship with them.  When God called me beloved and approved He based it on His faithfulness and love, His Justice that is already satisfied at the cross.  My spiritual inadequacies, failures, sins whatever… were taken out of the way long before I was born.  Just as God is free to give me eternal life because of the cross, He is also free to maintain an unchanging relationship towards me based solely on His own performance, that of Jesus Christ.  Even when He needs to discipline, He isn’t disappointed in me.  He is maturing me, propelling me forward in love.  He just waits patiently till I’m willing to accept the grace for the worst of me and the hopelessness of my ability to put myself in good relationship with Him.  It takes rebound(1John1:9) in the face of guilt and for guilt, especially for the guilt.  The self thrashing and guilt is the greatest barrier to getting back in fellowship.  At some point, one I think I’m closer to, that jump back into fellowship and confidence in God’s approval of me will be like breathing. 

 And, if I’m ever going to be effective in spiritual battle and perseverance I can’t be without confidence.  That is what this training ground is for.  If I can maintain great confidence in the face of shattering failure.  I will be ready for what God wants to bring in my life.  He can’t put me in battles I am not ready for.  Great spiritual battles contain great failure and without the ability to know exactly what God is thinking of me, without absolute confidence in God’s relationship with me, I can’t fight.  He wants me to be in the game so I can share in His victory.   He suffered unimaginably to give this worthless creature all the blessings for time and eternity that He has prepared.   Everything about me that goes on into eternity is part of Him.  It’s His eternal life I’m going to live, His blessings, His righteousness. 

Thank You Lord.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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Rest

God isn’t waiting for me to “get it all together” His plan goes on whether I’m having a good day or a bad one.  His grace is always available and He is aware that I am but dust.  He doesn’t disapprove of me on my less than stellar days and approve of me more on the days I succeed.  God is at rest with me.  I need to quiet my desire to always feel like a “good little girl” and chastise myself for all my insufficiency and instead get inside that rest God has with me.   Tomorrow is another day to go forward.  Today is done.  Eternity awaits.  Perfect righteousness is mine and that is a fact I need to live in.  The flesh and it’s failures are only temporary.  Lay them aside and press on.

Keep Sailing,

Mary

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