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Anointed Imagination

". . . An imaginative and creative mind is a great and precious gift; but, like God's other gifts, it may be perverted, misused, and degraded. The Christian's powers of imagination are a dedicated talent of creativity, and he has a duty before God to cherish and expand them. . . The sanctified imagination will operate . . . to bless mankind and to glorify God," (Norma R. Youngberg, Creative Techniques for Christian Writers, Pacific Press Pub. Assoc.: Mt. View, Calif., 1968, p. 2).

God used His creative fancy to bring our world into existence. He envisioned tall animals with very long necks and created a giraffe. He thought up a huge gray beast with a long nose and made an elephant. He imagined an animal with a ruff of fur around its head and neck and formed a lion. He dreamed up beings to rule over the animals and created man.

Because we often remember bad or sad things, we fail to realize the creative power of an anointed imagination. Paul had a concluding piece of advice in his letter to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable -- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy -- think about such things," (Philippians 4:8 NIV). Imagine that! What a better world we woud have if each of us used his mind to remember or dream up only good things.

The Wright brothers envisioned a machine that would fly a man through the air. Someone else dreamed of a machine that could "think" and the computer was born. Who first thought about floating on the water in a wooden craft, we wonder. All these people developed a mental image of something good and created machines that would benefit mankind.

Secular people are often very creative. They want to benefit mankind in order to make money. Christians often think of imagining as idle fancy, wasted time or unspiritual activity.

When the word "imagination" is used in the Bible, it often has a negative connotation. True, imagining can be used for evil. Both David and Micah write of those who lie awake at night to dream up new ways to do evil. (Psalm 36:4; Micah 2:1). The tragedies of September 11th in New York City were dreamed up through demonically empowered plotting.

When we were newly married, I broke a valued item. Imagining my husband's disappointment when he arrived home, my mind expanded disappointment into anger, and anger into rage. After work, he found an exhausted wife with eyes swollen from weeping. He was disappointed, but I was relieve to find that the scene of anger I had envisioned was unfounded.

Worry is imagination misused. Our minds may be the "room" where our soul dwells. We harbor adverse mental pictures or depressing scenes that may never take place, but which dishearten us for days.

George MacDonald, a great Christian thinker and wirter, "believed that in using our imagination we are being divine image-bearers, dimly reflecting God's own creativity," (ChristianityToday.com, May 10, 2006.) We can control the images that play before our mind's eye. We can choose to make our imaginations our allies by selecting positive mental pictures, deleting those that trouble us. Some negative mental images are persistent, but by filling our minds with God's Word and choosing, with His strength, to think about happy days and positive concepts, we can gradually nudge out the discouraging ones.

"Of all people," one Christian writer asserts, "Christians should be the most imaginative, creative and inventive as well as the most skillful, the most dedicated, and the most humble," (Youngberg, op. cit., page 4).


Most of us enjoy conversations with friends. However, our most important conversations are those we hold with ourselves in the privacy of our own minds.
We have often been warned against pride. However, pride -- thinking too much of ourselves -- had its reverse. Thinking too little of ourselves spawns negative self-talk. What do we grouse about to ourselves?
About God. When life has gone awry, or has devolved into a tragedy, it is easy for us to think, "Well, God may love everyone else, but He doesn't love me." We tell ourselves, "He doesn't care what happens to me.
"Beware of allowing selfconsciousness to continue because by slow degrees it will awaken self-pity," warns Oswald Chambers, (My Utmost for His Highest, Dodd, Mead and Co.:New York, 1935, Aug. 20th entry.) And the problem with pity parties is that no one comes -- not even God.
Feeling sorry for ourselves is common. We generate self-pity by continually brooding over the wrongs done to us.
Telling ourselves that God doesn't love us is an untruth. David speaks often about God's "unfailing love," (Psalm 31:16; 32:10; 33:5 & 18; 36:5 NIV). Jesus assured us of His love when He admonished His follwers to "Love each other as I have loved you," (John 15:12.) John, the Apostle also wrote: "This is love: not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins," (1John 4:10). So, telling ourselves that God doesn't love us is false. God does love us and cares what happens to us.
Rev. Benjamin Dagwell once prayed:
"Oh Lord,
Give me a mind that is not bored,
That does not whimper, whine or sigh.
Don't let me worry overmuch
About this fussy thing called I.
Give me a sense of humor, Lord,
Give me the grace to see a joke,
To get some happiness in life
And pass it on to other folk."
Committing ourselves into God's loving and faithful hand frees us from grousing and self-pity.
About others. We may control what we say about others, but we allow our minds to castigate others freely. We may think, "He doesn't really love me," or "She thinks I'm dumb. I can't do anything right where she's concerned." That may or may not be true. We can't know that for a fact unless we are told. Charles Swindoll said our attitude is more important than facts, the past, education, money, circumstances, failures or what other people think, say or do. We choose daily what our attitude will be. "Life," he wrote, "is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it," (Taken from quotelands.com).
About ourselves. We say, "I'm stupid. I can't do anything right. God couldn't love someone as dumb as me." Berating ourselves, since we are made in God's image, makes us critics of God. God designed every cell when He created us in our mothers' wombs, (Jeremiah 1:5; Psalm 139:13). He made each of us who we are and He will help us to grow into the character that pleases Him when we ask for His help and guidance.
The ten spies who entered Canaan were not defeated by the giants; it was their perception of the giants that terrified them. They told Joshua, " . . . we seemed like grasshopers," (Numbers 13:31-33). What they said to themselves about themselves demoralized them.
"The mind is its own place," John Milton said, "and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven." Let's offer our self-talk to God. Only He can help us keep these most private conversations positive and pleasing to Him.

Washing Feet

A bank of pedicure booths lines the back of a nearby manicure shop where I go on rare occasions. Oriental girls busily scrub feet. They clip and file toenails, soak and scrub calluses, anoint and massage legs and paint toenails. Pedicure spas are the new way to spend an afternoon. "I never have a manicure," my friend told me,"but a pedicure is so relaxing."

My mother remembered the foot-washing ceremonies in her childhood church. Parishoners would weep as they washed each others' feet, asked forgiveness, and encouraged one another in the Lord. Burdens lightened as they were shared. Bonds of friendship and loyalty strengthened as forgiveness was requested and given. An air of peace and inner rest pervaded the small group.

In the New Testament, John tells about Jesus washing His disciples' feet (John 13:2-12 NIV). In His day, people usually traveled on foot, wearing rough sandals. Even those fortunate enough to travel by carriage, or by riding a horse or donkey, lived very close to the ground, and were easily soiled by the winds blowing dust during their journeys.

The story is preceded by the words, "Jesus knew." Jesus knew three things about Himself:
1) He knew "that the Father had put all things under his power,"
2) He knew "that he had come from God,"
3) He knew He "would return to God."

He recognized His Own divinity, His omniscience and His omnipresence, His home and His destination. Even so, He humbled Himself to do the work usually assigned to the lowest servant in a household.

The conjunction "so" in this story is significant. It means "consequently," "therefore" or "knowing all this." Expressing love, concern and humility to one another is a trait that pleases God -- a trait that emulates God's character.

Another phrase used in this story to show the importance Jesus assigned to this task -- "he got up from his meal," (vs. 4a). Jesus interrupted His meal. He separated Himself from even essential activities to show humility and love to His friends.

"He took off his outer clothing," (vs. 4b) -- removed any garment that would make Him handsome in their eyes, or give a sense of awe. He knew that serving and pride are antipathetic -- they fight against each other.

"He wrapped a towel around his waist," (vs. 4c). In Jesus' day this was the sign of a servant, just as, today, a waiter in a fine restaurant carries a towel over his arm. He had told ten of His indignant disciples, when two of them tried to claim the most honorable places in what they thought would be his new earthly Kingdom, ". . . High officials exercise authority . . . Not so with you. Whosoever wants to be first must be your slave -- just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many," (Matthew 20:25-28).

How can I wash feet? I can:
# offer to do a job no one else wants to do,
# initiate renewed relationships when there's been a rift,
# accept an assignment, even though I know it will be fraught with difficulties,
# forgive -- yes, again.

It is called humility. Jesus said, "You must now wash each others' feet," (John 13:14 The Message).

My Source

"I have a problem, Anna." Mavis leaned over their tiny cafe table where two coffees steamed gently. "You have to advise me!"

"I'll try," Anna replied. "What's wrong?"

"Well, I met Jake through a friend. He keeps coming on to me," Mavis said, looking down in embarrassment and fiddling with her spoon. "He looks and raises his eyebrows where and when he shouldn't."

"Mmm, not good," Anna said.

"I know. But, Anna, there's more. A couple of years ago I used some company money to cover my bills. I paid it right back the next payday. Before I knew he was the boss's nephew, I foolishly told Jake what I did." Mavis put her hand to her mouth. "He's implied that if I 'treat him nice' he won't tell my boss. If not -- well, I can't lose my job! I'm still taking care of my mom. What am I going to do?"

"I'm sorry." Anna took Mavis's hand and pressed it warmly. "No woman should be under this kind of pressure."

"I know having an affair would be wrong," Mavis said, stirring her now-cold coffee again, "but I can't lost my job, Anna!"

"Neither can you afford to lose your purity to satisfy him. He just wants to use you, Mavis! You're probably not his first conquest," Anna said, squeezing Mavis's hand to emphasize her words.

"Yesterday, I read something in Proverbs. Perhaps it will help." Anna unzipped her purse and took out a small Bible. "It's in chapter eight of a paraphrase called The Message," she said. "Look!" She pointed to verse ten. Mavis shifted her chair to see. " 'Prefer my life disciplines over chasing after money, and God-knowledge over a lucrative career'."

"But I have to have an income, Anna!"

Anna smiled and went on. "Now look at verse 19: 'My benefits are worth more than a big salary, even a very big salary! The returns on me exceed any imaginable bonus.' Who's your source of income, Mavis -- your job or God?"

Mavis looked away at the bustling avenue where a colorful crowd jostled one another. She fingered the handle of her cup. "I never thought of it like that before. I guess I need to decide whether or not I will trust God to provide for Mom and me, right?"

"Yes," Anna said, "you do! But God will never fail you, Mavis." Anna paused and looked out the window. "Also, you need to talk to your boss. Repaying the money doesn't completely right the wrong."

"Oh!" Mavis's face blanched. "I don't know if I can do that or not!" She pushed away from the table with a trembling hand. "Thanks. Can we meet again next Friday?"

A week later, Anna arrived at the cafe first and sat at an outside table. "Don't you look nice?" Anna said, smiling, as Mavis walked up. "How has your week gone?"

"O.K. I explained everything to Mom and we did some serious praying over last weekend," Mavis answered, smiling back. "Saturday night I made it clear to Jake that I wasn't going to fall for his line. He was rude and ugly afterward, but I'm glad I stood up to him. Also, I told my boss about using company money. I'm not sure I'll still have my job next week, but if I don't, I still know I did the right thing. The Lord will provide for us. I've chosen God as my source."

Door Ajar

"One thing about temptation -- you can be sure it will give you another chance," (Country, Aug/Sept. 1988 issue).

All of us are tempted at one time or another to do or say something that we know would not please the Lord. Following our enemy's red herrings is the common lot of man. (I Corinthians 10:13 NIV). Everone listens to his honeyed words sometimes. If we could do or say anything we wanted without censure, we would not need to trust in God. "Satan . . . tempts us in order to make us lose . . . the possibility of being of value to God," (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, Dodd, Mead & Co.: New York, 1935, p. 262). Since we all sense Satan's bewitchments, we need to know how to deal with them.

Temptations come to us when we are tired. Overwork with little rest leaves us open to Satan's ravages on our emotions and desires. We each need enough rest to function efficiently. Not getting adequate sleep depletes our reserves of physical strength, mental energy and emotional resilience. Overtireing ourselves by accepting work assignments beyond our ability or emotional strength is opening the door for a failure. It is not wrong to decline another assignment when we already have a work overload -- in fact, it is wise.

We need all our strength to resist the suggestions and plans of the enemy of our souls. Even when we are physically or emotionally drained, our Lord tells us, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness," (II Corinthians 12:9). When, in our tiredness, we bring our temptations to the Lord in prayer, He renews our energy (Isaiah 40:30,31) and freshens our resolve to live for him and serve Him. He will help us find a more workable schedule when we ask.

It is also when we are encountering some particular trial that we are more vulnerable. When a mate has asked for a divorce, when we're hopitalized and there's no one to take care of the children, when the insurance won't cover the accident -- that's when it's easy to just throw in the towel and give in to whatever temptation may raise its head. Let's be on guard in these times of stress so we don't succumb in defeat. "The Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials. . . ." (II Peter 2:9).

We need not fear the trials we face. All Christian men and women have them. Adversities may sap our reserves of physical and emotional energy, but when we trust the Lord in the middle of them, we can be sure that, in His time, He "will rescue (us) from every evil attack and will bring (us) safely to his heavenly kingdom," (II Timothy 4:18). Sometimes victory is a process. Reading God's Word and praying about our situation often throughout the day will help to strengthen our determination to please God in the way we live and speak.

We're tempted by what tugs at our personalities and our dispositions. What tempts one person may not tempt another. What gaps have I left for temptation to slip in? Have I cracked the door on desires I know are wrong? Leaving the door unlatched will make it easier for temptation to walk right in. Which door have I left ajar?

A Cheerful Word

People love Christmas because it's a cheerful time during the drab day of winter. We send "a word of good cheer" to our friends through Christmas card or gifts. Hearts lift from a humdrum life to more pleasant thoughts and memories. A cheerful word, though, should not be just for holidays or celebrations. We need a lift whether our lives are lonely or light, boring or bright. Few refuse a cheerful word.

King Solomon, the wisest man, wrote: "An anxious heart weights a man down, but a kind word cheers him up," (Proverbs 12:25 NIV).

Not long ago, on a winter day, our mad-cap neighbor came, barefooted, to our door. She said, "I know you and your husband are people who pray. I've just had a test -- positive for cancer. I would appreciate your prayers in the next few days."

"Let's pray now," I said. Taking her hand I began to pray for healing and peace. She wiped away tears with the back of her hand and smiled as she thanked me. For her, prayer had been a cheerful word.

Paul cheered his traveling companions. In a terrible three-day storm, they were so busy throwing the cargo and tackle overboard that they had no time to prepare food. Paul said, ". . . Now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; . . .for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me," (Acts 27:13-26). Sometimes just saying "It is going to be all right," is the most encouraging thing we can do.

In another terrible storm, Jesus' disciples feared for their lives and battled the raging waves far into the night. During the early morning hours, "Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. 'It's a ghost,' they said and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them, 'Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid,'" (Matthew 14:22-27). Often, we cheer another by simply saying, "I'm here."

"I've learned," wrote a thirteen-year-old, "that if you want to cheer up yourself, you should try cheering up someone else." (Live and Learn and Pass it on, by H. J. Brown, Jr., Rutledge Hill Press, 1991). The daily grind grinds slowly and fine. Most of us could use a lift of spirits, especially in days of winter's bleak grip.

Who needs cheering? Many of our neighbors do -- those near home or at work. Perhaps we can take a small gift of homemade cookies, a meal for a busy friend to pop in the microwave after work, or a photocopy of a comforting article to read. A cheerful word may be silently spoken.

A friend, who has suffered from a debilitating disease since he was eight, told me, "I try to start the day at our house with laughter. My wife gets down, seeing me in pain, but laughter lifts our spirits, makes the day go better and cheers us up."

Our missionary family traveled a lot. When schedules were tight and tensions rose, Dad would stride out quickly ahead of the family. Mama would nudge me and whisper, "Watch him now. He's going to do it." Then, sure enough, Dad would pretend to trip over a crack in the sidewalk, and catch himself just before the spill. (Dad had hoped to be a comedian at one time and had a wide repertoire of funny faces and ploys.) Although we knew exactly what he planned to do, Mama and I always chuckled. A cheerful act blesses, too.

Today, who among our acquaintances needs a cheerful word?

Hello and Welcome to my Website

I'm glad you stopped by for a visit.

I've just self-published my first book, Kondi's Quest. I wrote Kondi's Quest out of my love for Africa that developed during the many years I lived there. I first went to Africa as a young girl in 1946 when my parents served in the (then) Belgian Congo.  Later, in 1971, my husband and I spent 21 years as missionaries in Malawi and 11 years in Ethiopia.

For many years, I've written mostly articles and devotionals. I began Kondi's Quest in 1987, but because missionary work was my main work, it developed slowly. It took 24 years to finish Kondi's Quest and prepare it for publication. I'm delighted to have Kondi's Quest release as my first pre-teen's novel in the Mysteries in Malawi series.

You can read more about me here.

On my blog I discuss everything from poetry to fiction to personal spiritual development. I hope you'll drop by often and leave a comment to let me know you what you think.

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God bless you on your reading journey.