Excerpt from Life without Lack

The experience of a life without lack depends first and foremost upon the presence of God in our lives, because the source of this life is God himself. 

In his goodness, God has arranged things so we are able to use our minds to understand and enter his glorious and plentiful kingdom. I am going to rely on this truth as we wrestle with matters that require serious thought. I am not asking that you believe them just because I have written them; I want you to think about them, deeply and often, using your mind to seek God. Belief will come as you experience the truth about God.

We must come to an awareness in our own minds concerning the nature of God. That is, we must think about God in ways that match what God is like. Without harmony between our ideas about God and his true character, we will never be able to make the kind of contact with God that will give us confidence, grounded in our experience, in the complete sufficiency of God to provide for our needs.

It is worth noting that the only definition of eternal life found in Scripture is John 17:3: “And this is eternal life, that they might know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” Jesus is the way to the knowledge of God for us, and through his teachings about God we can grow in our experience-based knowledge of him. So I hope you have your thinking cap on.

The Most Important Thing About You

It is crucial to our whole outlook about ourselves and our understanding of God that we think correctly about two fundamental things: minds and people. We will discuss the importance of people in chapter 3, but now we will focus on the most important thing about you: your mind. Not your brain, but your mind. You are, more than anything else, a mind. That is what makes you precious in a special way. Categorizing people and treating them in specific ways just because of their bodily features violates the central worth of the person as a mind. The body is important, but the mind is all-important. And the most important thing about your mind is what it is fixed upon.

I’m using mind as a general term in this case, not distinguishing it from spirit or soul. Heart could also be used here, as is often found in the Old Testament in cases such as Proverbs 23:7, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he,” and 1 Chronicles 22:19 (NRSV), “Now set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God. The mind, thought about in this way, is the most significant aspect of our lives because it is through our minds that we make effective contact with reality.

The ultimate freedom we have as individuals is the power to select what we will allow or require our minds to dwell upon and think about. By think we mean all the ways in which we are aware of things, including our memories, perceptions, and beliefs. The focus of your thoughts significantly affects everything else that happens in your life and evokes the feelings that frame your world and motivate your actions.

The Transforming Power of Ideas

Thoughts are where we make our first movements toward God and where the divine Spirit begins to direct our will to God and his way. We have the ability and responsibility to keep God present in our minds, and those who do so will make steady progress toward him, for he will respond by making himself known to us.

One of the most powerful elements within the realm of our minds is that of ideas. Our ideas form the belief system upon which we base our actions and decisions, and these in turn determine the trajectory of our lives. Living a life without lack involves recognizing the idea systems that govern the present age and its respective cultures—as well as those that constitute life away from God—and replacing them with the idea system that was embodied and taught by Jesus Christ.

The apostle Paul warned us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12 NASB). These higher-level powers and forces are spiritual agencies that work with the idea systems of this world. These evil systems have been used to dominate humanity through fear and self-obsession, so that the uppermost thing filling our minds is likely to be our selves. 

That is why Jesus’ teachings emphasize the importance of death to self, giving up your life and not seeking to save yourself.* What does Jesus say about your life? “If you seek to save your life, you will lose it.”** But, of course, that is what nearly everyone does, especially everyone who lives according to the ordinary, fallen course of the world. They spend their whole earthly existence trying to save, enhance, and enrich their lives. And what happens? They lose the most important things in their life: an intimate relationship with God and with others.

* Matt. 10:37–39; Mark 8:34–37; Luke 17:33. Discussed in depth in chapter 6.
** Matt. 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24.

Taken from Chapter 1, “God in Himself, Part 1,” of Life without Lack: Living in the Fullness of Psalm 23 (Thomas Nelson, 2018). Used with permission.