My maternal grandparents had a very significant influence on my early life, which has been part of my molding and shaping of life up until today. My grandpa came from Denmark and my grandma came from Norway. They emigrated at different times and met and married in Minnesota. They homesteaded two different farms, one in North Dakota and one here in the Flathead Valley. They sold the last farm about the time I was born and moved into Kalispell.

I have many memories of their old farm home on the edge of the west side of Kalispell. It was the family gathering place for so many events. To be with them was to absorb their faith and character. While I came home from college, I stayed with Grandma. Grandpa had passed away. My folks had bought the Polebridge Mercantile and had moved up there. I was driving a lumber truck for a sawmill down on the west shore of Flathead Lake.

One of the things I remember so well about Grandma’s house was her pantry.  It was an old-fashioned pantry, one that you could walk in, like walking into a small corner grocery. The house I grew up in did not have a pantry and the house we now live in does not have a pantry. In Grandma’s pantry, the shelves were full of food she had prepared. They had a huge garden and everything in the garden that was not eaten in season went into jars where she had canned vegetables, fruits, and meat.  And of course cookies. I do not think I ever went to grandma’s house without getting a cookie. She had few store-bought items in her pantry. At that time there were no large grocery stores as we have today. Her pantry contained everything you could buy in a store, except it was in jars she had canned.

Grandma passed away while I was pastoring in the Midwest, but the memory of her still lives today all these years later. Why do I take the time to mention all of this? You did not know her. However, I have learned through the years that I have a pantry. I call it my “personal pantry.” Jesus said, “ a good man, out of the treasures of his heart bringeth forth good things…” How can a man bring forth “good things” if he has not put any good things in his heart? My heart becomes a pantry where I store things, thoughts, dreams, hopes, and life itself. I do not refer to the heart as a physical organ, beating and pumping life-giving blood through my body. I refer to the heart as my innermost being, beyond my mind and even beyond my self-consciousness. It is a part of the core of my being where life and all its actions are stored. It acts like a giant computer network that eventually controls all I do and who I am. As Grandma put good things in her pantry (except Lutefisk) I feed good (or bad) things into my computer system, and eventually I become the perfect reflection of what is in my pantry.

I can hear a person asking me, “so, I have loaded my pantry with bad food that is poisoning me; how do I change what is in my pantry?” That is a very good question.
In Romans 8, Paul talks about two minds that dwell within us. He calls them “the mind of the flesh” and “the mind of the Spirit.” One leads to death and the other leads to life. In fact, Paul has much to say about the mind. A brief survey of Paul’s observation of the mind is;
The carnal mind
To be earthly minded
The polluted mind
Enemies of the mind
Gird up the loins of your mind
Stir up your pure minds
The blinded mind
The mind of Christ

As I walk into your pantry, I can immediately determine what your interests are. Your mind determines your actions, and your actions tell me who you are. I cannot read your mind, but I can observe what you do.
I ask again, how do I change what is in my pantry? The mind is very difficult to discipline. We have a very well-worn path in our mind that our thoughts will travel. To change those paths into new paths and replace old thoughts with new and healthy thoughts is more than we can do with human strength.  That is why Paul says in Romans 12:2, “and do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed by the renewing of our mind…”

The ”renewing” of the mind is a divine work. It allows the Spirit of God to come into my life. As I cooperate with the Spirit of God, He is able to re-shape me, and gradually [sanctification] the image of Christ becomes visible through my character. My mind becomes “renewed.” The pathways of my mind that once led me to destruction are now renewed. I think different thoughts. My actions become a reflection of my renewed mind.

What I now have in my pantry is changed. Where before, the shelves were filled with outdated and spoiled thoughts, that poisoned my life and were displayed in my actions, now, the shelves are filled with nourishing, life-giving promises.

I suggest you do an inventory. Compare what you have in your pantry with what God has in His storehouse. I did this personal inventory many years ago and was surprised by what I found. I determined to allow the Holy Spirit to work in my life until the image of Christ could be reflected. We then become the recipients of the fruit of the Spirit and become a reflection of God’s character.

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