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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Heart, mind, action - in that order

13 Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed. 14 Don’t be conformed to your former desires, those that shaped you when you were ignorant. But, as obedient children, 15 you must be holy in every aspect of your lives, just as the one who called you is holy. (I Peter 1:13-15 CEB)

There have probably been times when you begin something, thinking it is the exact thing you needed to do, or the right time to do it, only to find you run smack-dab into one wall after another. What happened? Was your intention wrong? Were the steps you took just not good enough? No, it may just be that your mind was ready for action, but you weren't thinking as clearly on the matter as you needed to - you had a good idea, but you didn't give it time to filter through enough or the right filters in order to remove all the "sediment" and "mud"! Even the best of us run into issues with acting upon our first impressions, only to find we really weren't going anywhere!

Minds ready for action AND the ability to think clearly are two separately functioning "features" of every action. I can be ready for action way quicker than I can begin to sort out the muddle of thoughts invading my mind! There are times when thought comes so quickly I cannot possibly "keep up" with all the ideas I have floating around in my brain. I definitely need some type of filter by which I should ferret-out the most important ones that I should act upon! If I don't use that filtering process, I can end up taking a lot of actions that end up being rather non-productive in the end.

We are no longer ignorant children of this world, influenced by whatever whim exerts the loudest call or strongest pull. We are governed by the living, breathing Spirit of God within us - helping to sort out those actions we are to act upon from those we are to disregard. When our heart is connected with the heart of God, we usually do a little better job at being "mindful" in our actions. When we drift a little further away, those actions get a little "muddied". We don't quite hit it out of the park all of the time! We get pulled in too many directions, and our minds become "cluttered" with all manner of thought that does nothing more than confuse and stifle us.

God's instruction to us is to have our minds ready for action - not that we jump into action without thinking. He wants us to take that "pause" so that we are present in the moment and making purposeful decisions that will get us down the path we really want to be heading. Ready minds come not in the moment of decision, but in the hours and hours of continual connection with him that lead up to that specific moment of action. It isn't that we just "know" the right steps to take when the moment presents the decision before us - it is that we have come to KNOW Jesus in the many moments leading up to the decision. We get to know him through our "grace-connection", but we get to know the right actions to take in life because we have remained "connected".

If we want a clear mind that makes good decisions when action is required, we need to have a steady heart, as well. The heart is made right in times of intimate fellowship with Jesus - the Spirit of God working in our hearts to bring balance and stability to our emotions so we don't just respond in haste to every idea that presents itself. Yes, we need to ready our minds. Yes, we need to have a stable heart. But...there is no consistent action without a consistently anchored heart! Get the heart right, let the mind be brought into alignment, and then the actions will be solid, as well. In short, this is what most in "religion" call "obedience". Just sayin!