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Recent Testimonies

Page history last edited by pinkhamc@... 5 years, 7 months ago

Here are incidents in my life that continue to confirm God's graciousness to His children.

 

My Struggle with Self (16 03 05)

 

Background scenario 1:  for several years now, I have had the habit of praying the following prayer in my quiet time each day: “Father, I give you, and you alone, permission to insert thoughts into my head from the spiritual realm today.  Lord, I know I will have thoughts of my own that dishonor you today.  When I have them, make me aware of them immediately so I can confess and turn from them.  I also ask that when I encounter other’s thoughts that dishonor you that you immediately show me where they are in error.”

 

I know that this prayer has been the major reason I see things in God’s Word and world that others do not see and it is the major reason my thought-life is more Christ-like each year than the year before. Lest I mislead you, I still have a huge way to go before I’m even remotely close to where Jesus wants me to be.

 

Background scenario 2: In spite of the above, I do have one issue that is causing me great stress (the concerns and fears that come with the responsibility of codirecting the Vermont STEM Fair: VSTEMF).  I have been asking God to remove that responsibility from me for three years now, and He has done very little toward that end.  The month or so before the Fair I sleep very poorly, often waking in the middle of the night with so much panic that I cannot return to sleep.  No amount of prayer and pleading did any good, and frankly, I could not understand in light of my prayer to keep evil thoughts out of my head, how it was that Satan was putting them there in the middle of the night.

 

One of the ways I combat the panic is to recite Bible verses.  I have many that I use:  Psalm 13, Psalm 23, Proverbs 3:5-6, The Lord’s Prayer, Philippians 2:3-11, Philippians 4:6-7, Colossians 2:6-7, 1 Peter 5:6-11, Jeremiah 29:11-12 are among the most effective1

 

What happened:  On the night of March 3rd, when I had awoken with my usual panic, I was praying the Psalm 23 and it occurred to me I had no real idea what was meant by “He restoreth my soul.”  Sorry about the KJ English, but this was one of the first Bible verses I learned in Sunday school and back then–late 40’s- that was the only version in common usage.

 

For many years, Chris had been after me to read a book she had long cherished, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23” by Phillip Keller.  Up to that night I had valiantly resisted her entreaties to do so.  However, for a reason too extensive and too irrelevant to go into, she had recently laid it on my night stand.  So I opened it to where the book cover flap was inserted and started reading.  It was the chapter dealing with the verse just before the one in question, “He leadeth me beside still waters.” I immediately recognized why Chris had been after me to read this as Keller talked about the physiological role of water (which she knew would appeal to me) and how sheep would drink any water they encountered and it was the role of the shepherd to keep them away from the bad water and lead them to the good.  There was much to reassure me in that chapter, but I still felt I was being called to look at the next chapter.  

 

So the following night when I awoke in panic, I went there.  One of the first sentences caught my attention immediately, “Surely it would be assumed that anyone in the Good Shepherd’s care could never become so distressed in soul as to need restoration.”  Keller then went on to describe how many Bible heroes were cast down at times and how that reminds him of a sheep becoming cast down.  Because of its own foolishness, a sheep ends up immobilized on its back, in dire straits, and it takes a caring shepherd to rescue it.  Suddenly a light bulb went off.  It wasn’t Satan who was putting these thoughts in my head, it was me!  I had not been recognizing my responsibility in this dilemma and so I had not learned the lesson the Lord wanted me to learn.  He would continue to use the Science fair as a rod to get my attention until I had learned to trust Him completely.  At times, we humans can be so stubbornly stupid and blind to the truth.  The chapter ended with the words, “God knows what He is doing with me.”

 

As if to drive the lesson home, that morning, the lesson in Our Daily Bread was set in South Africa (Keller had been a shepherd in East Africa) and was teaching the very same message.  It ended with “I am here—By God’s appointment, in His keeping, under His training, for His time.”

 

God is so good.  Now let’s see if I can LEARN this lesson.

 

Apparently I needed more schooling.  The week of the Fair, the other Co-Director came down with the flu.  There are tasks she does that I cannot and visa versa.  Many essential chores would not get done.  The nightly alarm bells blared away.  I believe I was enabled to handle them better than I would have had the earlier lessons not been administered, but I still slept poorly.  In spite of that, an evening later the sleep disruption happened again.  Struggling with what was wrong with me in light of my daily quiet time prayer introduced in the first paragraph, I slowly came to realize that Satan was not putting those ideas in my head, I was putting those ideas there and those ideas were dishonoring to God.  I was trusting in my ability to see how things can go wrong more than I was trusting in God's ability to make them go right. And, I was trusting in my ability to fall apart in the face of trouble more than I was trusting in God's ability to hold me together.

 

Then I realized that if the Vermont STEM Fair is God's, He will look after it.  If it is not, and it fails, He will look after me.  I cannot fail!

 

The day before the Vermont STEM Fair, Our Daily Bread's devotion was "When to Walk Away."  I was clearly being told in many ways that it is time to leave the VSTEMF behind and move on to other projects.

 

The other co-director managed to get her absolutely essential tasks completed in time for the fair and showed up at the fair in spite of her weakened and exhausted state.  The fair went off OK considering all the problems mentioned above and those not mentioned.  Our announcement that we were retiring from the fair brought lots of concern and suggestions for who or what could take it over.  Perhaps it will continue; We'll see.

 

But the bottom line, now when trials hit, I have a series of thoughts to call upon that honor God and comfort me as I pass through the "valley of the shadow of death."

 

A relevant verse for all this is Matthew 6:34.

 

Follow up (17 03 01)

 

As implied above, God did enable me to step down from the VSTEMF and He made sure others stepped in to take my place and the place of the other co-director, who also decided it was time to step down.  So now it is nearly one year later, and this morning in my quiet time, once again, I was wondering about another, very disturbing dream I had had the night before.  In it I was doing what to me was the unthinkable (I'll leave you to imagine what that was).  As I was pondering why my mind was going there and feeling totally convicted, God reminded me of a truth He had shown me years ago:  He allows our mind to think bad thoughts so they will have the flexibility, ability, and freedom to think His Good thoughts.  Without reaching the bad, we would not be able to reach the good.  Then He gave me this illustration:

 

                                                                                                                                 

 

We have bad (evil) thoughts so that like a pendulum, our thoughts can swing equally in the opposite direction to reach good (God) thoughts.  Hopefully, as is indicated with the hollow blue arrows above, we don't spend much time dwelling on our bad thoughts, rather we allow God to enable us to quickly push them back in the other direction (the left, hollow blue arrow), while on the other hand, we allow God to enable us to catch, hold, and explore our good thoughts (the right, hollow blue arrow) so we can dwell on them long enough to fully understand what God has for us.  But, as soon as we let go, the pendulum will swing back in the other direction; it cannot be avoided.  But, the process can and should be celebrated, not berated. 

 

Bottom line: If we don't allow our mind to range freely, if instead we think we have to discipline it to think only good thoughts, we will emplace brakes on our thinking capability that impede it from developing the mental skills necessary to reach the really good (God) thoughts.  At least, that has been my experience.

 

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1verses above in full (NIV)

Psalm 13

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
    and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
    How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
    Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
    and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love;
    my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
    for he has been good to me.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever.

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

The Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13

 

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,[a]
    but deliver us from the evil one.[b]

[a]Matthew 6:13 The Greek for temptation can also mean testing.

[b]  Matthew 6:13 Or from evil; some late manuscripts one, / for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

 

Philippians 2:3-11

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature[a] God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 4:6

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Colossians 2:6-7

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

1 Peter 5:6-11

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.

10 And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. 11 To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Jeremiah 29:11-12

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.

Matthew 6:34,

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

17 02 03:

Surrendering your life to get God's life is like

Surrendering counterfeit money to get real money.

 

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