Foundation of Praise • P.O. Box 2518 • Escondido, CA 92033-2518 • 760.741.2755 • www.foundationofpraise.org
Choosing Our Thoughts
by Merlin Carothers
Physical exercise has the power to improve our physical health, but many of us are unaware that our thoughts have great power to improve both our physical and spiritual health.
We know that we can choose to exercise, but few people understand that we can also choose what we think about. We make these choices hundreds of times every day without realizing it. The scriptures emphasize how important our thoughts are. We must not think: I want my neighbor’s house, his wife, servant, animals or anything that belongs to him (see Exodus 20:17). Throughout scripture there is great emphasis on what we think about.
Can we actually control what we think? Yes! God created us with the quality of being able to think. We think all the time. The only choice we have is what we will think about. Our hours and days can be wasted with thoughts that accomplish nothing. Or, we can learn to think thoughts that are proven to be life changing.
Thoughts of thanksgiving to God can change everything. Such thoughts produce joy, peace, health and spiritual strength. They are ideal prayers that we can practice all the time.
Recently, while out walking I thought, God, thank You that I can walk. Thank You that I am breathing and seeing. I kept thinking of more and more things that I was thankful for. You are improving my health, increasing my joy, giving me thankful thoughts, and inspiring me to see good things in my life. My thoughts turned to Jesus and His gifts to me, His promise of eternal life, calling me His brother and living in me.
The more I thought of God’s goodness, the better and happier I felt. A physical problem that had been causing me pain faded out of my thoughts. I said, “God, this is the way I want to be all the time.” I sensed His response, Then do it. So, I’ve been doing it.
I’m beginning to understand what God meant when He said, My thoughts are not your thoughts (Isaiah 55:8). He has always known the value of our thoughts, but I’m beginning to learn how powerful and life changing our thoughts can be.
Paul guarded his thoughts when he had been beaten and chained in a dark prison cell. He explained, I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11 NIV). The more I learn about God’s gift of being able to control what we think, the more I appreciate how amazing His gift is.
Our thoughts actually shape the quality of our lives, our faith in God, the way we live and what we accomplish. We are responsible for how we use this precious gift, and we are told to let the Holy Spirit change the way we think (see Ephesians 4:23). God also tells us to be transformed by the renewing of your mind (Romans 12:2). The Greek word for transformed is “metamorphosis.” This word describes the amazing change that takes place when a caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly.
Yes, you and I can have amazing changes in the way we think. We can accept the reality that our life is shaped by our thoughts (see Proverbs 4:23). We can be transformed into a new person by the way we think!
Philippians 4:8 tells us to think about whatever is lovely, admirable, excellent or good. Years ago you may have learned to think about things that upset you, kept you awake, and made you and others unhappy. God wants us to learn how to rejoice. He created us to be a rejoicing instrument of praise, but like any musical instrument we must learn how to use it. Many folks think they want to rejoice. They would if only their circumstances would change. They choose to continue thinking thoughts that are not lovely, excellent or good. I know, because I did that for much of my life. Now I’m learning to rejoice in the Lord always! (Philippians 4:4).
Whenever we rejoice in the Lord we bring ourselves closer to Him. We learn to better understand, In thy presence is fullness of joy (Psalm16:11). (Reprint from August, 2004)
We Are Accountable
by Mary Carothers
In Luke 19 Jesus told a parable to the folks who were around Him. He chose this particular parable because the people thought the Kingdom of God was going to appear at once. The crowds were continually around Jesus because He was always doing amazing things like healing people, even miraculously feeding them. How exciting that must have been! No wonder people were drawn to Jesus.
But how many really listened and took to heart the things He said? Well if it was fun sure. When Jesus rebuked the powerful Pharisees of course the ordinary folks really liked that too. But when He taught them to be trustworthy and dependable in whatever their responsibilities were, well that wasn’t so much fun.
It’s natural that people are drawn to excitement. It’s true today too. When we were baby Christians we wanted to go to the places that were exciting or fun. We wanted to hear this great speaker and then the next fun preacher. It was thrilling. But then as we began to mature we became more focused on our own personal relationship with Jesus.
Many years ago when my older children were young I was a stay at home mom. I got them up in the morning, made sure they did their chores, and fixed them a good breakfast, before sending them off to school. Later my life was very different. At this time we had two young ones but Merlin wanted me to travel to speaking engagements with him. Of course I couldn’t do that all the time but whenever I could find someone to stay with the children I went with him. Many mornings upon waking up my first thought was, “What state are we in?” The next thing I wondered was, “What time are we scheduled to speak?” Then my third thought was, “When are we supposed to meet folks?” One night Merlin spoke in Ohio. The meeting as usual ran quite late. No problem. “Where do we sleep? Oh, Merlin is supposed to speak at a men’s breakfast meeting next morning? In Detroit? Oh.” The upshot was while Merlin tried to get a little sleep that night in the back seat of the car, I drove in dense fog to Detroit. Thank the Lord it was mostly on the expressway. Things were not always that crazy but often enough to be exhausting. Not “fun” but doing what the Lord had called us to do. Which is always a joy.
My life is very different today. Merlin has gone home to be with Jesus. My life is mostly calm and restful. What wonderful things does the Lord call me to do now? I get to write these articles as He leads me. I also have the opportunity to pray for friends and family. Another great thing I get to do is read and pray for all the many, many prayer requests that come to the Foundation of Praise.
Wherever we are on our life journey, whatever we are called to do, the Lord wants us to be faithful. In the parable from Luke 19 each servant was given “talents” and expected to use them wisely. Our “talents” today can be finances to share, or our abilities. Whatever the Lord has given us to use, we should remember the scripture in 1 Corinthians 4:2: Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. Have I always been faithful? No. There have been times when I have failed miserably. How about you?
God in His loving kindness tells us to “get up and try again”. He forgives our failures when we are truly sorry (see 1 John 1:9). And lovingly “cleans” us with His “Holy Spirit soap!”
It is such a joy to live for Jesus. Sometimes it can be incredibly difficult to do so but I believe He will someday reward our faithfulness.
God tells us in His Word that, everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:32). The Lord felt that this was important enough to repeat it in Acts 2:21 and again in Romans 10:13. I have often said, “The ground is level at the foot of the Cross”. Remember the thief on the cross beside Jesus? Our Lord said in Luke 23:43, today you will be with me in paradise. I’m so grateful for God’s mercy to us as each of us stumble along learning to grow in faithfulness to God’s call on our own individual lives.
Prison to Praise Reports
I read Prison to Praise many years ago. Sometimes when I am going “through the waters” I recall the book and start praising. Oh how I love the breakthroughs. When I enter Heaven, Brother Merlin is one I’ll be looking for.
Jesus Christ must be forever praised for the books, Prison to Praise and Power in Praise by His humble servant Merlin. I love to share these books with people who have great pain in their lives but no hope. James, AR
I picked up Prison to Praise at a “Biker” Easter service. The minister has his own prison to praise story and shares with inmates and others. He had a table with various books and I saw Merlin’s book Prison to Praise. We drive a semi together and I read it to my husband in two days while he was driving. It was very hard to put down but I had to drive too or else I would have finished it in one day. What a terrific story! I love that we are to be thankful for EVERYTHING; good or bad. I can’t wait to meet him in Heaven. Linda, FL
I’m in my 80’s and have read many books over the years. The one book I keep on hand and carry in my car is Prison to Praise. The words in this book are as empowered now as when Merlin wrote them, for which I am very grateful. Thank you for keeping on and carrying the torch for all of us to see! Terry, WA
Prison to Praise definitely blessed me. I found Merlin’s heartfelt testimony quite touching. I like the practical application that he utilized in his words. People often think of a physical prison, yet they fail to grasp the figurative prison of their mind. Thank you. Robert, OK
Thank you for Prison to Praise. I read that book in 2000 in a solitary confinement prison cell in Missouri. I repented of all my sins, got out of solitary, was baptized, read the scriptures and prayed earnestly. Two years later I was paroled and have been serving the Lord ever since. I am so grateful to my God for all that He has done for me. It all started when the Holy Spirit prompted me to open Merlin’s book. Thank you Ramon, NM
I am sure you hear this all the time but Prison to Praise has been an absolutely earth shattering pivotal book in my life. The past few years have been very hard ones for my husband and I, we lost everything and basically were homeless. Despite having what I considered a close relationship with the Lord, I was a helpless moaner and complainer, filled with unbelief. Then someone gave me Prison to Praise. I was hungry for this little book and I gobbled up everything Merlin had written. It made so much sense to me, so I started thanking God that we had lost our home that we were broke, for all the problems we were having. During one particularly difficult time I heard the still small voice say, “Will you still praise me?” “At first I was like you are kidding right?” “No, I am not. Praise me for this problem.” So knowing this was the ultimate test a feeling of calm came over me and I was filled with peace and bubbling with joy! I remember driving, shouting, Hallelujah! I now praise and thank God that He will work all things together for our good because we love Him and are called to His purpose. A thankful praiser, CA