Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Livin' in Tents: poem

A tent which blew over in a storm.

Visiting with my friend John Domingo at the hospital the other day I mentioned that we live in Tents which are temporary (2 Cor. 5:1-5). Our conversation inspired me to write this poem:

Livin' in Tents
By Ed Skidmore (2 Cor. 5:1-5)

We’re livin’ in tents.
Tent’s gonna’ tear,
An’ it’s hardly fair to be living in there,

When a tent starts to wear.

We’re livin’ in tents.

Tent tends to leak,

An’ ya just wanna’ freak when it rains,

An’ you’re wet for a week.

Oh, we’re livin’ in tents.

Sometimes it’ll fold,

When the wind starts to blow and get cold,

It’ll fall, so I’m told.

Well, we’re livin’ in tents.

Tent’s gonna’ fray,

When it does, well, it just seems time

Ta’ throw it away.

We may be livin’ in tents,

But some day we’ll see,
A heavenly city,

Built just for you and me.

And in that city,
Built four-square,

A permanent mansion is waiting,

For us to get there.

No more livin’ in tents.
We “groan” for that day,
Till it comes, we wait patiently,

An’ walk in “the Way”.

We’re livin’ in tents.
But not for long …….

Saturday, December 5, 2009

We have the mind of Christ

We have the mind of Christ:

Devotion for Men’s Breakfast: Dec. 5th , 2009

Some of you may be aware that I have just succumbed to a sickness shared by several of you here today. I just purchased my first Apple I-phone. I supposedly did it for the purpose of gaining internet access, texting, and e-mails … along with using it as an actual phone. But if the truth were known, it was so I could download all those marvelous “apps”. With the applications I’ve added to my phone I now have the whole world at my fingertips. Along with the apps that came bundled with the phone, like messages, calendar, photos, camera, Youtube videos, stock reports, maps, weather, voice memos, notes, clock, calculator, e-mail, I-pod, Safari, internet access, I-tunes, and the App store.

Just think of all the possibilities that have opened up to me! I can waste time in any of a dozen ways now. And at the staff meetings at church, I too can have my head down and my nose in the calendar app … as I text entries into my phone with my thumbs … and look like I’m not paying attention to what’s going on in the meeting. Oh, how productive I’ll be able to be now, yes sir!

But I said all that about phone apps to get you to thinking with me about our topic today. One of the apps I downloaded is my wife’s Google Calendar. When I’m making an appointment, I can look at my wife’s Google Calendar and see if we have anything else scheduled on that day or not. In a way, it’s like having the mind of my wife right there with me …

Think with me for a moment … what it would be like if my I-phone had an app. called “The mind of Christ If I could just punch a button and instantly, on the screen would appear instant wisdom from the Master himself. If I had an app that would allow me to ask questions of Jesus and then get his instantaneous answer, perhaps as a text message or an e-mail, or even… dare I suggest it… a voice mail?! Wouldn't that be something else? To have the mind of Christ just the touch of a finger away! Could that be possible?

Well, yes, actually it could --- but not from your I-phone apps.

This amazing feature of our connection with Christ came bundled with our salvation. It is part of what God did when He planted within you the Holy Spirit (“Christ in you, the hope of glory”). Along with his presence came something amazing all for your benefit, and closer than an app on a phone. This feature of your relationship with Christ is safely tucked inside your head. You, friends, have within yourselves, “the mind of Christ.” Just so you’ll not think I dreamed this up, the scripture text which attests to this is found in 1 Corinthians 2:16 (NIV) "For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.

If you take a look at the whole second chapter of First Corinthians, Paul is doing a compare and contrast between the wisdom of the world and spiritual wisdom from God. He talks about the kind of wisdom that God imparts through the Holy Spirit to our spirits. This is a kind of wisdom that doesn’t make sense to people who don’t have the Holy Spirit living inside them. In fact, they think it is all foolishness to them. But the wisdom God imparts only makes sense to Holy Spirit indwelt people. Now guys, wouldn’t that include us? We have access to a wisdom that is superior to an I-phone app. And just as instantly available. It is better, because God has already approved of anything coming from the mind of Christ. And we have that mind within us.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that everything we think in our brains comes from the mind of Christ. In fact, much of what originates in our minds is quite different than what might proceed from the mind of Christ. Still, the mind of Christ is available if we choose to access it. And how would we do that? I believe it is a matter of focus. If we focus on ourselves, our own resources, our own talents, our own knowledge, our own will, our overactive egos, our interests and hobbies, our commitments, our accomplishments, our schedules --- in short, if we have a “self-centric focus” then nothing from the mind of Christ will come through. The mind of Christ only comes through when we get our minds away from self (flesh)let our spirits connect with the Holy Spirit who resides inside us. A “Christ-centric focus” will allow the mind of Christ to come forth. Romans 8 gives us a clue as to how this all works:

Romans 8:5-11 (NIV)
5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. 9 You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you.

I used to look at that passage and see it as something to attempt to attain by self effort. I thought I had to rev up all my will power and somehow MAKE this happen by my efforts. What I didn’t realize is that God is talking about a different emphasis than I had in mind. Now I see that God is talking about the natural process of being indwelt by the Holy Spirit. There’s a world of difference between what kind of life we can live without Christ and what kind of life we can have with Christ. If we don’t have the Spirit within us, we can only focus on the sinful desires of the flesh. That is our only option --- and it is an option that offers only one outcome: death. But when we have the Spirit within us, we have an entirely new option available within us. When God saves us, he “downloads” an entirely NEW and amazing “app” that we never had before. Of course, we can choose to IGNORE the mind of Christ within us. But the new “app” is right there.

So, for a Christian, it doesn’t take some Herculean effort to focus on the Spirit. Having the mind of Christ is part of our NEW nature. Focusing on Him comes naturally.Now, this doesn’t imply instant maturity on our parts. It is still our little pea brains inside our heads. And we can certainly focus those brains on things besides Christ. Jesus is not going to FORCE us to connect with His supernatural understanding and wisdom.

In Philippians 2:5-11 Paul urges us to “have the mind in you that was in Christ Jesus” and then he goes on to describe the mind of Christ in detail. Indeed, there is a sense in which we are to develop the mind of Christ. That is part of our Christian process of maturing. But in another equally real sense, we already have all of Christ there is to have right there living inside us. We don’t have to “make ourselves into something we AREN’T. We need to let Christ “shape us into something we already ARE.

Let us consider what a treasure God has given us! We have within us the mind of Christ in all its fullness. The question is --- Will we learn how to connect with this new,completely freeGod-given app? ,,,