Warning: This post contains sensitive matters related to our marriage and spiritual lives.
We arrived in Myrtle Beach on Friday, October 9. The weather was beautiful, as it usually is after a storm. In this case, Hurricane Joquin. We liked our site and got settled in quickly. Then off for a three-mile walk on the beautiful beach. We had a wonderful sunset and visited with neighbors. All and all, a great first day.
Saturday, the rain began. Could this campground handle it? While there had been some flooding with the hurricane, it had dried by the time we arrived. And yes, thankfully it and the area survived another full day of rain. We managed to get in another three-mile walk before it started. We decided with as many campers we saw, we best get to Camping World and see if they would be able to install a new washing machine. YES, as busy as they were, they booked us in on Monday morning at 8:00. Hooray! For those who’ve followed our journey into buying the motor home, you know this is a BIG deal. (One main reason we wanted the motor home was for the washer and dryer capabilities. “Sharing” them in some campground laundry mat is less than ideal. When we bought it, we were told they both worked. But the washer didn’t….and that is fiasco is documented here.)
We were starting to decompress, so how great we were able to walk six miles in our first two days! But we didn’t really talk about where we would go to church in the morning, which we normally do the night before. We did like the church services they have at this campground, so I assumed that would be where we would go.
We woke up early and over breakfast, Bill suggested going to a “real” church. It comes out he was a bit tentative about the campground service. I googled First Baptist Churches (seems the best go to for us of late) and discovered their services were 8:30 or 11:00. If we hurried, we could make it. So we began to hurry. Debbie more so than Bill. You see, I want to do what he preferred. I’m fine where ever, as long as we go. But really, what is “church?” It’s not a building. It’s us!
While our new home has lots of space, it can get a bit tight if we are both in a hurry to go somewhere, like church. And we did have a collision this Sunday! It was really my fault. I was “directing” Bill (and that’s my 40-year-old quirk). He didn’t appreciate it….so long story short, we couldn’t make it to the 8:30 service. So off we went to the 9:00 campground service.
What a surprise to see it was packed. The first row was open and we arrived right before 9. Of course, we got the prime seats! Bill is an introvert, so he hates having to walk in front of everyone…We had a welcome song and we really felt comfortable being in a church full of people like us, travelers, campers, and “visitors.” Then Chevelle Turner led us in “Let’s Just Praise the Lord” and “People Need the Lord.” Her voice is amazing and these songs were old time favorites. Then let the preaching begin.
I was on the edge of my seat as I knew the Lord has a special word for us since we had our little “collision.” And it wasn’t just bumping into each other. It was grating on each other’s nerves! Isn’t that how Sunday mornings are for everyone? LOL
Sermon title, “Changing Your Mind” and it was so geared towards, me, Debbie. (Maybe Bill will feel the same for himself. He hasn’t said yet!)
The texts were from the book of Romans and italics are mine for emphasis of this blog:
Romans 12:2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
And Romans 8:5-9
Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
Ok, so these seem like some pretty scary scriptures, but I knew we were in for a challenge. And we knew this was the message we needed to hear. So true confessions time, again. Very few people know a side to me (only close family) that we affectionately call, “little Larry” after my dad. Dad was a brilliant man, IQ wise, but socially, he struggled. He would fly off the handle over the little things. Needless to say, I tend to get irrational with Bill on rare occasions, but what happened this morning was one of those times. I KNOW I need to change my mind….
The pastor started out by telling us these scriptures mean it is a continuous process and it occurs from the inside out. The mind is described as housing our attitudes, thoughts, feelings, actions. These things are learned as babies are not born prejudice or with bad thoughts. Medical doctors can’t explain this process, but scientists have been intrigued for centuries.
I’m thinking this sermon must be for Bill. I have a great attitude about life, my thoughts and feelings are lined up with scripture….but the action part….OK, so I act up every once in a while. But for my very patient and kind husband, that every once in a while is a real thorn in his side! Bill, on the other hand, has the actions down pat. But his family background has ingrained him with a bit of negativity….but he can better explain it. We are both poking at each other during sermon points, as in to say, “that was for you!”
Let me just outline what the sermon was about, which, in essence, is that it’s up to us and our desire to change and be transformed. But how do we do this?
- We need to harness our desires. As we move from our past sinful life, we will allow the Lord to work in our hearts and minds. We will want to be more like Jesus. He gave several examples of what that looks like, but the best was how King David expressed how he was longing for God’s presence, praise, joy, fellowship, and expressed confidence in God’s salvation. (Psalm 63). He was a man after God’s own heart as stated in Acts 13:22 “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'”
- Deny ourselves (this statement is one reason why Christianity is unpopular – but it really works in our lives AND motor home) and pick up His cross (today, we view the cross as a cherished symbol of atonement, forgiveness, grace, and love) as we learn how to manage our thoughts. Actually, being married is also a great way to learn to deny ourselves as we seek harmony and learn to put our spouse’s needs ahead of our own! But I digress. He used Elijah as an example. We all go through trials and testing of our faith as he did. We learn in 1 Kings 19 that Elijah just had a mountain top experience, but then when word was told to Queen Jezebel, she sought to have him killed. And this is where Elijah’s thinking process is skewed. Why would God abandon him now, after all He enabled Elijah to succeed and do? In essence, it’s not about ourselves as it wasn’t about Elijah.
Ok, I’m pretty satisfied so far and realize I need to do some mind changing things. Remember, I’ve confessed I was the one “directing” this morning. So now, Pastor, tell me HOW do I change my mind?
First, begin by monitoring our thoughts, such as worry, anger, covetous and negative thoughts. (But I’ve mastered these! I never get angry….oops…Guess when I told Bill what to do it wasn’t in the kindest way.) He continued by asking, “Isn’t it a downer to be around people full of these actions?” Remember if you are thinking these things, you are going to ACT on them. Again, King David is worth quoting here, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm 139:23 The Pastor recommends saying this DAILY! How many times have I prayed this? I know I have READ it more than a dozen times since I have read through the Bible at least that many times since 2004.
Second, process life through the eyes of the Lord! “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him….” 2 Chronicles 16:9a I love seeing the world through my two-year-old grandson’s eyes. They are filled with wonder as he explores this world! Ah, to translate that to seeing the world through the Lord’s eyes!
Two more great scriptures is to bring this together are: “Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD himself, is the Rock eternal. You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.” Isaiah 26:3 & 4
Finally, he closes the sermon with these great diaries to help us see how “attitudes” can be so easily displayed. I had hoped I could find this on the web, and yes, here is a great closing, from here:
The Dog’s Diary
8:00 am – Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am – A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am – A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am – Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm – Milk bones! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm – Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm – Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm – Dinner! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm – Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm – Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm – Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
The Cat’s Diary
Day 983 of My Captivity
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.
The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts since it clearly demonstrates my capabilities. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a “good little hunter” I am. Bastards!
There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of “allergies.” I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage.
Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow, but at the top of the stairs.
I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird must be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now …
I drafted this last Wednesday. Then we got a phone call from our daughter that she needed some help as the two-year-old had an infection the baby could easily catch. So what do we do? We drive the 5 hours to get him. We spent the night and brought him back, but the return trip was seven hours. He needed to stretch his legs and run around! So he’s now been here with us for a week. And we haven’t changed yet, so guess we now need Change Part 3….up next!