My Dear Friends in Christ,
This month I would like to begin sharing with you an amazing Bible teaching by Pastor Larry Christenson, one of the pioneer leaders of Lutheran Renewal. Pastor Christenson has given us permission to print this powerful, life transforming message from his book “The Renewed Mind”. Take the time to quietly read through this article and allow the Holy Spirit to bring the reality of these truths deep into your mind and heart. I pray you will be wonderfully blessed as you experience in a fresh way the grace and goodness of our Lord Jesus, the NEW landlord.
In His love and Joy,
THE OLD LANDLORD
Think of yourself as living in an apartment house. You live there under a landlord who has made your life miserable. He charges you exorbitant rent. When you can’t pay, he loans you money at a fearful rate of interest, to get you even further into his debt. He barges into your apartment at all hours of the day and night, wrecks and dirties the place up, then charges you extra for not maintaining the premises. Your life is miserable.
Then comes Someone who says, “I’ve taken over this apartment house. I’ve purchased it. You can live here as long as you like, free. The rent is paid up. I am going to be living here with you, in the manager’s apartment.”
What a joy! You are saved! You are delivered out of the clutches of the old landlord!
But what happens? You hardly have time to rejoice in your new-found freedom, when a knock comes at the door. And there he is – the old landlord! Mean, glowering, and demanding as ever. He has come for the rent, he says.
What do you do? Do you pay him? Of course you don’t! Do you go out and pop him on the nose? No – he’s bigger than you are!
You confidently tell him, “You’ll have to take that up with the new Landlord.” He may bellow, threaten, wheedle, and cajole. You just quietly tell him, “Take it up with the new Landlord.” If he comes back a dozen times, with all sorts of threats and arguments, waving legal-looking documents in your face, you simply tell him yet once again, “Take it up with the new Landlord.” In the end he has to. He knows it, too. He just hopes that he can bluff and threaten and deceive you into doubting that the new Landlord will really take care of things.
Now this is the situation of a Christian. Once Christ has delivered you from the power of sin and the devil, you can depend on it: that old landlord will soon come back knocking at your door. And what is your defense? How do you keep him from getting the whip hand over you again? You send him to the new Landlord. You send him to Jesus.
A Personal Testimony
When this first broke in upon me, I was out mowing the lawn. Suddenly I realized the implication of this simple truth: If Christ has set me free, then I am free indeed! I don’t have to entertain all the negative impressions that come knocking at the door of my mind. I don’t have to let that old landlord come barging in, waving all his bills in my face. So I consciously claimed my deliverance in Christ, and then I waited.
Sure enough, the old landlord was right there, knocking at the door. The thought came into my mind: “When are you going to find time for any reading and studying when the fall program begins at church? You are going to be snowed under!” But now I realized that this wasn’t my thought. This was a thought which was trying to infiltrate my mind, get me to accept it, so it could hold a club over my head. This was the old landlord, trying to collect from me a bill marked “Worry.”
“You’ll have to take that up with Jesus,” I told him.
He began to enumerate a few more details, telling me how impossible the fall schedule was going to be. But I told him again, “That may all be true, but will you take it up with Jesus, please?” He went reluctantly. He knew I was right. “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7)
He didn’t stay away long. He was back a few moments later.
“Say, I want to come in and talk with you about those people that have been telling lies about you.” He had a nice friendly smile on his face. He oozed concern. But I saw what he had behind his back: A big fat bill marked “Self-pity.”
“Take it up with Jesus,” I told him.
“They may get you in real trouble!” His voice took on a little edge, and I saw that he had another bill lurking behind his back marked “Fear.”
The same answer: “Take it up with Jesus.” That’s the way I handle temptation now. Not will-power, not strength of character, not making a flock of resolutions. Just: “Take it to Jesus.”
The old landlord must have come back a couple of hundred times that first hour, while I was out mowing the lawn. I never realized before what a playground for Satan our minds can become. But here’s the point, and the power: we don’t have to let him in! Christ has delivered us, really delivered us. When these thoughts come knocking at the door of our mind, we can quietly send them on to Jesus.
Don’t argue with them. That’s letting them get one foot in the door. (That was Eve’s trouble – she got into a conversation with the Tempter.) Before the conversation even gets under way, quietly and confidently say, “Take that up with Jesus.”
Tune in next month for “Four Practical Tips” as we continue this teaching from “The Renewed Mind.”
Christensen, Larry (1974). The Renewed Mind. Minnesota: Bethany House Publishers
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