5 Minutes a Day…

Hans Hugenberg considered himself the most creative horticulturalist and landscaper in Italy. His formal gardens graced some of the country’s most exclusive estates; and for two decades he served as the chief private consultant for the Italian government, dispensing expensive advice on everything from the design of national parks to the layout of official residences.

Hans had a prize-winning style that was unique in Europe. His gardens extended in balanced and regular patterns yet with a twist and flair that was distinctively his own. He blended sunlight with shade and shadows, sunken ponds with sloping fields and tunneling arbors, straight lines with curving pathways and curious steps.

He was a master with only one regret. He had no garden of his own. He tended the gardens of the nation, but he himself lived in an apartment without acreage, for he traveled too widely, gambled too frequently, drank too much, and stayed too busy for anything more than a six-room flat in Milan.

Then at age forty-nine, he retired from professional life to become a homeowner and a man of leisure. He purchased a little villa forty-three kilometers from Rome. It was a small palazzo near a country byroad with a quaintly designed garden in the rear. But the garden was overgrown, crawling with rodents, and infested with weeds. It had been neglected and needed the touch of a master’s hand.

Hans knew what to do. The garden needed a focal point, a centerpiece. He traveled to Naples, Florence, and Turin, visiting the handful of sculptors whom he most admired. Finally, in Venice in the shop of his old pal Francesco, he found what he’d been looking for. It was a ten-foot statute of Jesus Christ at the moment of the ascension. Christ’s hands were lifted upward in blessing, His feet on tiptoe as though leaving the world, but His eyes gazed downward as though looking lovingly at the disciples He was leaving behind.

Hans transported the statuary to his garden, where he cleared away the debris, laid a foundation, and set it in the very center. He began designing the garden around the statue. Every plant, every path, every pond was arranged in correspondence and symmetry with the statue of Christ. Every tree and flower was selected to maintain the particular proportion and uniformity created by the statue of the ascending Christ. Every line and lawn led the eye to the uplifted hands and the down-gazing eyes of Christ. The weeds were pulled, and the rats were evicted—all under the gaze of the centrality of Christ.

Jesus Christ was the centerpiece around which the garden was cultivated.7

That’s the key to our mental gardens as well. Left to themselves, our mentality becomes overgrown with weeds and infested with rodents. Without Christ our thoughts tend toward evil, filled with impure imaginations and harmful attitudes and misguided motives. But when we turn over ownership of our lives to Christ, He begins to transform our minds and to cultivate holiness and happiness. Our minds become His garden, centered on Him and sown with the bulbs of the Bible and the seeds of Scripture.

After all, the human brain is arguably the climax of God’s creation, the most incredible invention in His universe. It’s a fabulous, living supercomputer with unfathomable circuitry and unimaginable complexity, a collection of billions of neurons, each as complex as a small computer—like having one hundred billion computers inside your cranium. And they’re all interconnected. One scientist said that the number of connections within one human brain rivals the number of stars and galaxies in the entire universe.

Sometimes I wonder if some of those connections don’t occasionally short-circuit in my case. I feel befuddled, make wrong decisions, forget important engagements, give foolish advice, and let in impure or discouraging influences. Our thoughts get us into more trouble than a sack full of demons. Whenever we say the wrong thing, yield to temptations, or react with foolish choices, the point of origin is the brain. The mind itself is the battleground of the soul, and our thinking often gets out of whack.

There are a couple of ways to fix our thoughts when they’re in bad repair.

Hebrews 3:1 says we should “fix [our] thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess” ; and Philippians 4:8 says, “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise”.

Scripture memory and meditation is the key to a healthy mind for those who have given their lives to Jesus Christ and centered their thoughts on Him. The Holy Bible isn’t just a great book; it’s in a class by itself: a book authored by the Creator God, through the agency of human beings, who were guided by the Holy Spirit in their writings.

The Bible’s double authorship is utterly unique in the history of literature. The whole supposition of Christianity is that there is a God, that He made us, that He loves us, that He is concerned about our lives, and that He is capable of communicating with us. He has done so using a method so extraordinary, yet so simple, that only God Himself could have conceived it. He chose forty or so human beings who lived during a span of fifteen hundred or so years, and He superintended the sentences they wrote, down to the very words and syllables—yet without suspending their own intellects, personalities, or circumstances.

We can therefore say that every word in the Bible is of human authorship, yet it is all divinely given. Its heavenly authorship gives it a transcendent, timeless authority; and its human origin touches our lives in a timely, tangible way.

Bible verses are high-powered doses of truth that mainline God’s wisdom into our reasoning. They convert the soul, teach the simple, rejoice the heart, and enlighten the eyes (Ps. 19:7–9). They teach, reprove, correct, and instruct, making us profitable in every good work (2 Tim. 3:16–17). They fill our minds with the kind of realities that produce prosperity and success in every good work (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 1:1–3). Bible verses are our counselors and our delights, ready to revive us when we’re fainting, guide us when we’re confused, and strengthen us when we’re weak (Ps. 119:24–28).

They are our comfort in affliction (Ps. 119:50), our songs for the journey (Ps. 119:54), and our most valuable asset (Ps. 119:72); for when we read and study God’s Word, we’re cultivating a relationship with Him who made us, who loved us, who gave Himself for us on Calvary, and who rose again that we might inherit eternal life. As we study His Word, we’re listening to Him, conversing with Him face-to-face, as it were, as a man speaks to his friend.

Psalm 37:3 tell us to “feed on His faithfulness,” and as we inscribe God’s Word on the tablets of our minds, we’re able to do that in the sweet pastures of His truth. The Bible becomes portable, and we can take it wherever we take our minds, our brains, and our thoughts.

Christian worker Bob Foster calls Scripture memory “the daily habit of supplying the subconscious with God’s material to chew upon.” 8 Specific Bible verses are seeds that produce a crop. They germinate quickly and almost instantly began improving the quality of the soul. By meditating on His Word, you’ll immediately experience seven remarkable benefits that will change your life. Scripture gives us:

  1. Clearer thoughts.
  2. Steadier nerves.
  3. Healthier emotions.
  4. Purer habits.
  5. Happier homes.
  6. Greater respect.
  7. Eternal optimism.

Isn’t that worth at least five minutes a day?

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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