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Plant That Idea

I’m like a plant. Bet you are, too.

Our Bible Study Fellowship lesson on the Gospel of John made a great analogy: plants naturally gravitate to the light because they need it to thrive.

green-19817_1280I have to turn my house plants ever so often or they will grow crookedly. They will repeatedly bend towards the source of light coming into my apartment from the window. Pretty soon, if I don’t rotate them, one half of the plants will be bare. Those leaves on the dark side will shrivel and die.  The side aimed toward  the light will flourish and grow. However, it will be at a skewed angle, and some of the leaves may be crowded out. It won’t look very healthy because the whole plant hasn’t been exposed the same amount to light.

That made me realize I am like that plant. Plants are wise. They know they need light to grow. Shouldn’t we humans do the same?  Yet so often we don’t. We would prefer Christ’s light not expose certain areas of our hearts, minds and souls. “Let’s keep that one hidden, God, okay? Not ready to reveal that to myself yet.”  I have heard people state they are afraid to expose certain things they have buried ( in darkness) for fear of what might ooze up.

 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.  John 1:4-5

burning candle isolated on black background

burning candle isolated on black background

But if we only let Christ shine into parts of our lives–you know, the good sides of us we want emphasized–we will not grow correctly. We will be skewed. Part of us will flourish, but another part will wither. We will be spiritually deformed. People will notice.

It’s time I turned some parts of myself to God’s gracious light full on, and allow Him to lovingly expose some leaves in me that need to grow.  After all, as a new creation in Christ, it is my instinct to turn to the Son, just as a plant’s is to turn its leaves to the sun.

How about you? Has my house plant example helped “plant” the same idea in your heart?

Straighten Up

It  had been a rough week.  My son had been in the hospital after a  hit and run for ten days, undergone two surgeries, and the returned three days after he was finally released because he popped stitches. Next, my bad knee decided not to support me and I fell, jamming a toe and severely spraining my writing hand. I felt angry, useless, and my bruised body now matched my heart.

But through it all, there were God-moments sprinkled in, like a soft misting rain on a hot summer day.  I kept humming the new song by Toby Mac- move, keep walking. Lift your head.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MX1G71WK-FA

Then, to celebrate the fact we both were well enough to finally go to church, afterwards we went to our favorite local Chinese restaurant. This was the message in my fortune cookie:

imag0520

A smile is a curve that can get a lot of things straight.

Straighten up. Smile, keep going, shoulders back. These orders, long ago said by parents, teachers and coaches, whispered in my mind. It is all about attitude.

I could have wrung my hands, moaned, “Why me, Lord?”, and shuffled through these events with my head down and shoulders slumped. But, God’s little hugs in the form of serendipity after serendipity (too numerous to mention here), friends’ comments and prayers, and even songs on the radio at just the right moment lifted me.  Even through tears and moments of anxiousness, I could find something to smile about.

We all can.

If we can wrap our faith around the concept that God loves us and will walk with us through all the times in our lives, good or bad, then we can retain a joyful spirit even if we are not feeling particularly happy at the time.  Mentally and physically exhausted, at the end of my rope time and time again I found a “NOT”. You are not alone. You  are not meant to handle this all by yourself. You are not cursed, but blessed. 

I feel blessed that God gave me the faith to reach out to Him, and to friends.  I don’t have to be strong alone. I don’t have to pull up my big girl panties by myself. I have a Lord who wants to bear my yoke and help me carry the load.  Because He provides the strength,I can do it. (Philippians 4:13)  I can straighten up and smile.

No matter what curves life throws, we can keep on the straight and narrow.  Just move, keep walking. Lift your head…to Jesus.  And smile.

GO

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Jesus commanded us to Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. (Matthew 28:19-20a)

Two things are required in order to “go” and spread the gospel.

Grace and Obedience.

The first is God’s gift, and the second is our response to that gift. Grace is the giving of something we could never earn. Through God’s grace, by the death of Jesus for our sins, we are made “worthy” to be his disciples. We obediently step out, believing God will bless our efforts in His perfect plan and timing.

The focus then shifts from our abilities to His capability.

So, go, my friend. It’s all right.  Whether it is next door or halfway around the world, the Holy Spirit goes with you.  Jesus promised that.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matthew 28:20b)

Shelter

Noel Coward once sang, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noonday sun. ” Any Texan can relate to that, especially July-September.  Shade is a rare and precious commodity. So, when I looked out the window after church and saw these grackles huddled under my car, I laughed. Then I paused and thought…hmmm? Am I that smart?

IMAG0514Four years ago when I felt called to start this blog, I told the Lord that He’d have to show me obvious evidences of Him in my day so I could relay it to others. He has been faithful to do that, and this day was no different. Those birds taught me a deep truth.

If I was a grackle, more than likely I’d be worried that small water puddle might dry up and I couldn’t get a drink. What if no juicy bugs crawled by for hours on end.  Shouldn’t I be out there pecking around for them? What if the car moved? Well, I might doze off and get caught under it’s wheel.

But you see, I think the birds live in the moment, and then the next, confident God will take care of them. Instinctively they seek shelter.

In Matthew 6:26-27, Jesus states:  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life[?

Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan for the future. That is being a good steward of our finances. However, there are times we all need to know when to just seek the shelter of the shade, that is God’s protection and love, and trust. Agreed?

Fenced

An author friend of mine, Anita Klumper, *took this photo.

anita klumper's hoolyhocks

I saw a godly message in it. If we stay within the boundaries God sets, we can grow high and bloom.

Decades ago, another author, a minister’s wife, wrote a little devotional book called Bloom Where You Are Planted. Hard to do. Our human nature wants us to sprawl, to go beyond the fence. But if we do, we will not grow correctly, will we? Like a tomato vine that needs training, we humans need boundaries. Today, free spirits of society whisper to  be self-orientated, follow your own path, dare to be different.

But, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, this is nothing new under the sun.  How much better to be under the boundaries of the Son! Our loving God wants us to grow correctly and safely, so His Word provides a fence for us. What is His fence?

Love the Lord your God and keep his requirements, his decrees, his laws and his commands always. Deuteronomy 11:1.

Or as our Lord stated, Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

So, unlike the old cowboy song sung by Roy Rogers, Don’t Fence Me In, I pray the opposite. How about you?

 

 

* check out Anita's faith-based fiction on Amazon.com

What a Sap!

ID-100210229Jesus said,  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5.

Charles Stanley explains:  “The branch doesn’t make grapes; the sap does. In the same way, the Spirit flows through us, producing God’s love in us, so that we can pass it on to Him and others.”  http://bit.ly/2arv7z2

Want to be a sap? Then you need the Holy Spirit flowing through you. You must be the type of branch that is alive, healthy and strong. And you must be willing to be hollow,right? Hollowness pushes your agenda aside so God’s can flow.

You must be:

S -susceptible to His guidance, so you do not block His flow out of you into someone else.

Aavailable – to be used at any given moment to God’s glory

P penitent – until we have confessed our sins and received His mercy, we are not as open to seeing the mercilessness His Spirit want to produce through us. Our anger, prejudice or hurts may close us in and restrict the flow.

So, pray to be a sap. Then go with the flow.

Apple Seed

I have had this refrigerator magnet for years… I won’t say how long, but I know it’s been on at least nine refrigerators in five cities and three states.  Yesterday, while I was waiting for the microwave to tell me my dinner was ready, it’s simple profoundness struck me again.

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Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the apples in a seed.

Isn’t that comforting? It means God knows your future. He values your fruitfulness capabilities. Our Lord knows how much fruit you can bear from the little seeds you plant in your day, even if you don’t.  The advice to a friend, the smile to a stranger, the kind word to a service clerk, the held hand and wiped tear. None of it is in vain. What you teach your children by example, or your grandchildren, nieces and nephews. Even the wiggly kid who always sits in the pew in front of you.

Long after we are gone, our seeds will still grow. Our efforts will multiply.

Paul knew it. He told the Corinthian church,  I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. (ICor 3:6)  Over two thousand years later, it still is growing. Paul’s letters convert hearts and strengthen faiths daily, maybe even hourly.

So keep planting, my friend. God knows what will happen.

 

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