"Imagination as Used by the Lord" by Laura Rice

Sunday evening Mike, in his talk about anger, challenged us to go to God and let Him show us any hidden and /or closed room in our hearts. Explaining, he walked us into a room of cobwebs and dust, long-neglected. Then we were to let God show us what this room represented in us. Perhaps a place of anger or unforgiveness that needed cleansing, healing or repentance. Maybe He will open our eyes to something in the room. We may know immediately what it symbolizes or we may have to wait and ask God to show us.

In this process of imagining, God reveals our heart-wounds and lead us to healing or confession. Places in us that are shut, blocked off or fearfully locked, can be accessed by His Spirit as He uses our own imaginations to explore and reveal. Engaging the imagination and inviting the Holy Spirit to guide us is a gift given by God. Often our imaginations will bring symbols to mind. Sunshine to bring light, a garden to show deadness or growth and beauty. Many people think in pictures. It’s an everyday experience for children, but many adults lose their ability by doubt or over-intellectualizing.

Many adults need their imaginations cleansed of all the unhealthy images. These images can block the true and good imagination, polluting it. Prayer and healing may be needed to set a person free to use their God-given imaginations for good. God gave us our imaginations to be a healthy faculty to be used by the Holy Spirit. One concern that sometimes arises is whether these imaginings are like New Age guided imagery. God showing us something using our own imaginations is so different.

A Christian is covered by the Holy Spirit and protected. We are not “wide-open” to just anyone or anything. I’ve had many opportunities to practice this exercise of asking God to use my imagination by His Holy Spirit. Often, not surprisingly, because of who I am the picture or image can be funny. During one such time I saw a red telephone booth. At first I wondered what this could mean. Then the Lord spoke to me; “You don’t have to go to any particular place to talk to me. I am available to to you anywhere and any time.” It’s like having a cell phone. Another time the question was,, “Ask God to show you the condition of your heart.” So I did and I immediately saw a popsicle stick fence, apparently to guard my heart. I felt God was showing me that I did not trust Him At the same time I had devised a ridiculous fence to keep my heart safe. From these and many more such experiences, I sat down today and asked God to show me if there was any locked door in my heart. And He faithfully walked me thru another look into my inner being.

Thanks Mike for the suggestion.

Ez 13:12

Eph 3:20

Heb. 4:12-13 attitudes translated imaginations.

"Responses" by Laura Rice

Our response when confronted about our sin is a significant clue to the condition of our hearts
before others and God.  When John spoke Sunday evening, he sought to illustrate the different
ways we may react.  He succinctly told of 6 scriptural scenarios.

Adam and Eve were disobedient. Their responses were classic: Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the serpent. They were grieved by the consequences God pronounced but failed to truly repent. The story of Cain and Abel clearly shows, again, a man warned and bent toward sin, who when confronted arrogantly deflects his actions and even moans and complains about God’s meting out of consequence.

King Saul was the most clueless about his sin.  He is proud of his accomplishments as a warrior
and seems to easily ignore God’s instructions about offerings.  His arrogance and bitterness follow him forward throughout his life.

These 3 recountings have the same theme. No one wants to take responsibility for their sin.  Each has a wrong view of God and of the severity of disobedience.The next 3 stories demonstrate God’s desire for us when we sin. Judah, the fourth son of Israel and Leah go through some trials in order to own his sin.  He had previously attempted to save his brother Joseph when the other brothers were intent on killing him.  He had compassion.

This is many years before he sins against Tamar.  When she does confront him he takes responsibility and even makes full retribution to her for the denial of a husband.  I see again
his heart of compassion and his taking responsibility for his actions. David was already set up for sin when he doesn’t join his men at war and steps out of his palace and sees Bathsheba. Then when he is tempted by Bathsheba’s beauty he takes what he wants and even has her
husband killed when her pregnancy is realized. 

It takes the prophet, Nathan, to voice the truth of what he’s done, but David quickly repents before God. Then there is the short story of the tax collector who knows who he is and what he has done, and then repents. This is contrasted to the Pharisee who thinks highly of himself.
The moral of these stories is:  Keep our hearts open to hear from God; read the word to stay in touch with what God desires from us both in word and actions;  allow God to examine our hearts; and allow others to expose attitudes and deep ungodly leanings in us; remain humble.   

I have done all of what the first 3 stories have showed.  I definitely have hidden my sin from God and others.  I have learned that is a miserable way to live.  Blaming my sin on someone else or on circumstances left me feeling nervously deceitful.  Coming clean may be hard but there is a great relief in agreeing with God.  I have also been warned by God before I chose to sin.  Though that seems like a no-brainer (to listen to Him), temptation and bondage are powerful.  Our hearts can be incredibly deceitful. I have learned to repent and forgive quickly.  We know God will help us through because this is His will, to be in right standing with Himself and others.

Living in the Light

For most of my life I have suffered with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I cycle through a period of depression every year, and actually more often than not, as cloudy days come and finally go.  I was pleased to read that this pattern is not a moral failure but instead a medical condition.  People choose different ways to manage this malady.  One of the most important ways to treat it may be to get more light exposure. The symptomatic list certainly describes my experience: lack of energy, weakened immune system, irritability, lack of concentration, over-eating and weight gain, alcohol or drug abuse, feelings of guilt and worry, sleep problems and social and relational problems.

Because of SAD and other forms of depression, I have been plagued most of my adult life, I have often felt that I was living in a dark place.  The longing in me for the warm, rejuvenating sun and its light drew me to search for what the bible says will help me. Years ago, I started to mark all the places where light is referred to in the scripture.  By now I have memorized many references and I recite them in times of depression.  One of my favorites is from 1 John 1:5-7; ‘’God is light, in him there is no darkness at all.”  Also John 1:4 reveals, “In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men.” Jesus was and is the true light that gives light to every man.

There are so many more examples.  As I’ve studied light, I’ve also looked at its synonyms.  Light is illuminating. Illumination is often tied with truth.  Truth confronts the lies that often accompany depression.  It is like a torch that shines on a pathway in the dark.  It reveals the obstacles and makes the way plain.

Alongside illumination is clarity.  Depression causes confusion and difficulty making decisions.  God promises to enter our shadowed times and bring clear direction.  For me it’s like the clearing of the overcast sky which allows a true view of the landscape.  As it clears, so does the fog of our thinking.

Fear also accompanies the low times in our lives: “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?” (Psalm 27:1)  He brings light and He saves me in every way.

With fear often come anxiety, worry and false guilt.  Jesus speaks to worry in Matt.6:25, referring to the flowers and birds that the Father cares for.  Most importantly He speaks to our value as God’s beloved children.  My long habit has been to turn from worry to prayer. And so with false guilt, I remind myself of His forgiveness and let Him shed light on what is true and what is false guilt.

Lastly, I want to share an antidote the Lord has given us for depression and negativity, Gratefulness.  I have learned that I must choose to reverse my thought processes.  Looking at the beauty around us, our relationships, and the gifts God has given us begins to interrupt the negative cycle. This enables us to “lift our eyes up to the heavens, from whom our help comes.” (Psalm 121)  We have been called out of darkness into glorious light. (1 Peter 2:9)

"Constructing a Soul" by Laura Rice

Once we believe and invite the Lord Jesus into our lives, we must “go on to construct a Soul”. This is a quote from C.S. Lewis, shared by the late author and pastoral care leader LeAnne Payne. I remember when hearing this for the first time, how it struck me as such an insight of truth and challenge.

I had been a Christian long enough to experience disappointment in my performance and to see the failings in other believers. We all know believers who profess their faith, and yet show huge deficiencies in their characters. I recently spoke with someone who helps to arrange cruise events for groups. She has experienced and heard reported that Christians are the most demanding and the stingiest with tipping personnel. 

Also, statistics show that Christians are less likely to tip serving staff at a restaurant. Where is the gap between the message of a generous and sacrificial God and the actions of so many who supposedly represent Him? What does it mean to construct a soul? I can’t answer that question comprehensively, but I will list some things that I have learned regarding the need to know self and to know God.

One, it is God who examines our hearts and reveals sin and disobedience. Secondly, if we allow for this interchange, God will reveal this to us and convict us about our soul health.  This probing by the Lord is not to depress us or leave us broken. 

Again, C.S. Lewis says, “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.”  With God’s prompting, our job is to repent and then cooperate with the process of change. To truly repent is to turn and walk another way. We choose to walk another way and He strengthens us to do it.

One way we offer ourselves to God for soul health is by reading His word.  In Hebrews it says that the Word of God is alive and powerful to divide between soul and Spirit and the thoughts and intents of the heart.  As we read, His word will read us.  We need to develop new habits. 

As we all know, the changing of a habit is very difficult.  But through our choices and God’s grace, it is possible.  God stirs up the need to change and we respond over and over again.  We ask Him for His empowering grace, as we learn to say no to old ways and yes to new ways.  I love the verse that says, “He who began a good work in you will be faithful complete it.”  As we stay in a humble stance before Him and others, and keep an open and listening heart, He will guide us on the path to maturity and soul health.



Psalm 139

Hebrews 4:12-13

Hebrews 13:20-21


“Transparent Accountability” - Laura Rice

Many years ago I asked a respected leader and teacher what he believed was the key to ministry. He surprised me by responding with one word: vulnerability. As I became further acquainted with him, I saw that this meant a transparent accountability. In a community of people he believed this should happen among those who were both committed to each other and to personal obedience and growth before the Lord…sharing needs and struggles with each other, before God, and letting Him examine our hearts. As Psalm 26:2-3 says; “Test me, O Lord, and try me, examine my heart and mind; for your love is ever before me and I walk continually in your truth.”

Dusty spoke last Sunday of the tension we all share as members of the body of Christ: we must be both needed and needy. In this, there is a humble position before God and others and a willingness to give from our strengths. Let yourself be known and God will meet you in your giving and receiving.

Laura Rice

Encouraging Words

Test me, Lord, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for I have always been mindful of your unfailing love and have lived in reliance on your faithfulness.

— Psalm 26:2-3

Therefore as God’s chosen people, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion. kindness, humility. gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against each other. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.

— Colossians 3:12-15