Working in my flower gardens is one of my favorite delights. I love to watch them change from mere soil into beds filled with beautiful flowers. I believe that the Lord is the Master Gardener. He delights in transforming dry, dead, dismal gardens into works of art.
The Lord frequently speaks to me through prophetic pictures and many years ago He showed me that I was like a lifeless, desolate garden. His picture was not pretty.
In the Lord’s picture I opened a garden gate expecting to find a beautiful garden, but instead what He showed me was a brown, dried up, dead enclosed garden that did not have even one sprig of green. I was not instantly encouraged by the Lord’s picture!
Jesus used every day events to help his followers understand more about the kingdom of God and I believe that He still weaves our daily activities into teachable lessons for us.
Since I broke my elbow in February, I have been going to physical therapy (PT). This has been my first experience with PT and I have been thinking about it a lot.
The reasons someone needs to have PT are varied. Usually it is one step in recovery from an accident or disease because the body has been injured or harmed and is not working up to its full potential.
The therapist uses many methods to help the body return to maximum flexibility and efficiency. But it takes time.
There are no quick and instantaneous exercises that will miraculous restore your health; however, with much patience and diligence your body does become whole again.
So it is with our walk with the Lord. There are many times when we are emotionally hurt and spiritually broken. Sometimes it feels like we have been mutilated and destroyed. Other times our pain or confusion is less severe, but we are still broken and need repair.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
~ From The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost
Each day we have the privilege of choosing which road we will travel. It often really is our choice. Do we want the path that is smooth and drama free or are we willing to journey on the path that is frequently covered with pot holes?
Throughout our lives there are times when each of these roads is a viable option. I must confess that, for whatever reason, the road I usually find myself on is bumpy, covered with overhanging branches and contains many twists and turns.
I would like to suggest that there is also a third path that can emerge. The sign post on that road reads “The Unexpected.” The unforeseen journey down this road brings with it the potential for destruction or immeasurable growth. When the unexpected occurs you might be tempted to ask, “Why, God?” or try to second guess what you could have done differently.
Jim and I have been traveling the Unexpected Road since January 6. In fact, all the family members who live in our house with us have been active participants on the unexpected journey. One man from our fellowship group summed it up best when he jokingly said, “Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when Joy (our dog) is the healthiest member of the Wright clan?”
One day soon, you are going to wake up to a new world where your liberty to pursue virtue as an expression of your faith – and your right to proclaim those beliefs in the public square – are gone.
Vice is now using “tolerance” to bludgeon virtue, and virtue is currently losing.
This newest weapon in the war against virtue has met with great success – and, most disturbing of all, the naïve support of many “Christians”.
Somethings, it seems, never change.
Someone asked if it is God’s will when evil happens.
I suspect it is God’s will that we have the right to reject Him and choose evil, because He wants us to have the related ability to freely choose the love, grace and rule He offers us.
I also suspect that He grieves with us at what some have done with those choices.
~ Jim Wright
When we think of redemption we usually think about Christ’s atoning blood which delivered us from our sins. Yes, on the day we personally surrender ourselves to the Lord and ask His forgiveness, He redeems our soul and we become His children.
Christ’s sacrifice was vital. We can now partake in His kingdom here on earth and when we die join Him in heaven. However, I believe that Christ’s act of redemption is far more encompassing then simply making a way for us to enter heaven.
Thru eyes of hollow darkness,
In the vastness of their stare,
The symmetry of life and death -
the knowledge -
It’s all there.
Today is our wedding anniversary.
Our marriage is a testimony to the greatest gift two people can give each other: The ability to love, and be loved.
Probably at some time in our lives we have all wondered what it means to trust the Lord.
Trust can be elusive. It is not something that we magically create, but it is something that the Lord develops in us over time. It usually requires walking through difficult circumstances for the Lord to implant trust in us.
I believe that trusting God is like bungee jumping. You jump as a choice of your will, while you are connected to a large elastic, bungee cord. In the same way, we trust as a choice of our will while we are connected to the Lord.
For those who enjoy bungee jumping, the thrill and excitement come from the jump and the resultant rebound. Often when the Lord asks us to trust Him, it is difficult to experience the joy and the excitement that could be ours if we are willing to jump with abandon.
Facebook seems to be a hot bed for the new distorted view of “grace”.
The other day someone posted that through grace, God finds our sin acceptable. He thus no longer “deals” with sin in our lives – and we are free of sin – because it no long exists.
According to their “logic”, sin ceases to an issue in our lives because it ceases to be considered sin by God.
That neat theological sleight of hand was followed by lots of “likes” and “amens”.
To deny the reality of sin and its bondage – and to say God doesn’t deal with sin in our lives or that we are free of sin – is an abuse of grace.
A rap/poem by a brother in fellowship in the local jail, who is learning to become the man God created him to be.
When I reached out
You took me in
When there wasn’t a soul in sight
And all I saw was you
You took me in
Dusted me off
Cleaned me up
Asked me if I’d yet had enough?
Knew about my past
Had been there through the struggles
Said you’d carry my burdens
If I’d give you my troubles
I grabbed to my shirt
Expressed a cold smirk
Yeah I’d heard that before
Seems never to work
Steubenville and the Misplaced Sympathy for Jane Doe’s Rapists, by Megan Carpentier.
This article addresses a disturbing phenomenon: In America, we have a cultish worship of those who are charming, gifted and inspiring. They are given every benefit of the doubt, and then some.
So it always goes… sympathy and excuses by some for the gifted predator, shame for his “wayward” victim.
As an aside:
Thanks for bearing with us as we take a week or so to focus on these issues. In the Body of Christ, we should be better than this. Unfortunately, we often aren’t.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness… Gal 5:22-23 NIV
Webster lists the characteristics of gentleness as being soft, meek, passive, mild, delicate, kind and docile. In Psalm 18:35 David says that the Lord’s “gentleness has made me great.” This seems to be a contradiction. How could the characteristics of gentleness, as defined by Webster, make someone great? Perhaps the Lord’s definition of gentleness implies much more.
I believe that the Lord wants us to be gentle, but His gentleness is not a wishy-washy docility. Gentleness has a hidden core of strength and this core is what makes someone great. Gentleness’ strength runs deep, like the molten lava in a volcanic magma chamber. Tremendous heat transforms hard rock into a flexible, moving force.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Gal 5:22 NIV
Faith is a seed the Lord plants in us. Faithfulness is the fruit that develops over the seasons of our life. The fruit of faithfulness requires a long growing season. There is no way to expedite the process.
In the fable of The Tortoise and the Hare, the tortoise demonstrates faithfulness. He keeps on doing what he needs to do, without any fanfare or dramatics. Steadfast, loyal, conscientious, all describe a person who has allowed faithfulness to become ingrained in their life.
Often, the people who are the most faithful receive the least acclaim.
In the Bible, Joseph exemplifies faithfulness. After he was sold to Potiphar, he conscientiously served him and the Lord blessed Potiphar’s household because of Joseph. Joseph did not grumble and complain because he was in Egypt away from his family. He faithfully served in the place the Lord had him.
For most Christians, the greatest struggle is not resisting sin but in being willing to let go of our hurts. More than sin, we allow our hurts to define us, and find it difficult to leave the familiarity of our pain for the unfamiliarity of a truly new life in Christ. Even among Christians, few risk the grace of confession, forgiveness and repentance to become whole and complete in Him.
Really, it’s not that difficult…
Here’s a story of one man’s journey: Getting to Simple.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness… Gal 5:22 NIV
When reading fairy tales or watching movies, good usually triumphs over evil by the end of the story. Often in real life, our desire is for the happily ever after fairy tale ending. But even in movies or fairy tales, the hero or heroine has to overcome many obstacles before they achieve goodness.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness…Gal 5:22 NIV
Kindness is extending God’s grace to an often unpleasant situation. Many times the easier road to follow is one of impatience, sarcasm, criticism or being judgmental.
For myself, I often need to stop and make the choice to respond with kindness.
Single parents are ubiquitous in the church; however, often they are a very misunderstood group that usually doesn’t quite comfortably fit anywhere.
As a former single mom with 25 years of single parenting experience, these are some of the impressions I have collected. Maybe it is different if you are a single dad, but I don’t have any expertise in that area.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience… Gal 5:22
The King James Bible calls patience long suffering. Somehow to me patience sounds like a virtue to desire, but long suffering… well that sounds too much like Job!
I think everyone would love to be able to say that they are patient, but probably none of us enjoy the process of long suffering that is required to actually become patient.
I believe the only way to grow in patience is to experience times of trials, disappointments, frustrations and failures. It is during these difficult stretches that the Lord enables the fruit of patience to grow strong.
I don’t know about you, but the Lord sometimes loves me enough to nearly kill me. And I’m not talking metaphorically.
In fact, for those who have given our lives to Him, the Lord loves us so much that some day He literally will take our lives so He then can give us eternity.
Short of death, however, the Lord sometimes kills something important to us or in us – some vision, some hope, some confidence, some quality or attribute, some accomplishment, or even something good He previously gave us.
It’s not that the thing He kills necessarily is wrong. It’s just that it needs to die so we then are free to be and do whatever He wants of us, and for us, as we move forward in Him.
As Job understood, in the midst of everything good in his life being stripped away, “Though you slay me, will I trust you Lord.” Job 13:15.
The fruit of the spirit is love, joy… (Gal 5:22)
Joy is a word that I believe is easily misunderstood. Let me give you an example. About eleven years ago, I adopted my little dog. I named her Joy because her personality radiates joy.
One day a young workman came to my house. After he finished the repairs in the kitchen he asked me, “You named your dog after soap?” He was referring to the bottle of Joy detergent that was on my kitchen counter. I explained that she was not named after soap, but I named her because she always acted so joyful. He did not seem to really understand, but I think that is not as unusual as it may seem.
Joy and happiness are often used interchangeably and people assume that they cannot have joy unless they feel happy. I disagree.
On Christmas eve, Marianne and I spent time with about thirty brothers in the jail. During our time of fellowship, one of the men read the poem below. Here’s the story behind the poem, then the poem….
Earlier in December, I had shared with those men how our journey in the Lord is like Israel’s journey from slavery in Egypt, through the desert, and then into the promise land.
God takes us out of the bondage of Egypt, but then uses the wilderness to burn Egypt out of us.
In the wilderness, God prepares us to take possession of the promise land – that place where we are able to own and responsibly manage the things He has created us to both be and do.
This last year has been marked by very painful and difficult health issues. Through it all, however, I’ve been grateful for what the Lord has done for me even as I struggle with the sorrow of diminished capacity.