Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Weeding


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But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. " Luke 8:15 NIV


Weaving through narrow, shoreline roads dotted with whitewashed gingerbread cottages, my sister and I simultaneously gasped, "How beautiful!" Peeking far above the picket fence of this corner lot a splash of nature's colors caught our attention: bright yellow, lacy white, hot pink, purple, and orange. All fashioned in their natural vases of green, this European flower garden was absolutely breath-taking.


I marveled aloud at our shared joy of flower gardens we inherited from our mother. No matter where we lived as kids, our mother always planted a flower garden. In her early retirement years she won the neighborhood "Best Garden" award for her work a number of times. One of my earliest memories is following behind her while she weeded in the hot summer sun. I'm not sure she ever formally taught me the reason for weeding or other gardening techniques but I learned just by following her.


First, weeds are sneaky. They creep up on you quickly and if they go unattended, they can choke out the healthy plants. It's essential to pull them out before they take over the whole garden.


Second, weeds must be pulled out by the roots or they'll keep growing back.


Third, weeds can be deceiving. They can be beautiful to look at, even appear to be the "real thing" so you have to discern the healthy plant from the weed.


Finally, healthy plants must be fed, watered , fertilized and given lots of sunshine to grow. If any of these elements are missing, the plant will not grow to its full potential.


Jesus warned against the weeds (thorns) of life that can choke us. He categorizes them as "life's worries, riches and pleasures." If we spend our days focused only on ourselves whether fretting, chasing money or over indulging in our pleasures we will remain immature and ineffective. But, Jesus says, if we spend our time focused on His word, effectively put it to use, and persevere then we will not only mature but reproduce.


What are the weeds threatening to take over your life's garden today? Do you need to spend some time on your knees with the Master Gardner, Jesus to find their roots? He's got an endless supply of fertilizer, living water, and Sonshine. Drink him in.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tell Your Story


Tell Your Stories Here by Tantek Celik
Flickr.com_/photos/tantek/5335291744_CC BY-ND 4.0

Return home and tell how much God has done for you. Luke 8:39 NIV

If you're visiting from the Christian Children's Authors blog, welcome!

Summer camp stories told 'round the evening fire were the best, especially Friday nights. After week-long encounters with Jesus--being stretched and challenged both physically, emotionally and spiritually--we shared our God stories around the campfire. By the end of the night, story after story, God's presence was palpable. 

We wanted to stay there in that moment, forever, basking in God's glory and our unified faith. But, Saturday came and it was time to return home to the routine of our lives. 

Jesus met a tormented, demon-possessed man, chained and banished inside lakeside caves. He ordered the Legions to leave this man and they obeyed. Immediately, this man felt relief and his sanity returned. Thankful for the return of normalcy in his life for the first time in years, he wanted to spend all his time with Jesus. But, instead of inviting him to go with him, Jesus ordered the man to return home and share all that God had done for him.

When we experience God's healing or a divine breakthrough in our lives, isn't it tempting to stay in that moment--at the foot of the cross--and bask in God's presence? Don't you just want to pitch your tent and live in that moment forever? 

But what good is God's glory in our lives if we keep it hidden in our secret places? How will others know that God's healing and redemptive mercy and grace are for them as well? 

Like that healed man of Legions, Jesus says, "Return home and tell how much God as done for you." Tell. Your. Story. It's risky business, yes, but tell it anyway. Be God's kingdom conduit of grace, mercy, and healing. 

Tell...Your...Story! We're waiting to hear it. 

Click here for my story...May God use it mightily.

Prayer: 
Oh, Jesus, thank you for risking everything to bring God's healing into our lives. Thank you for offering us your mercy and grace to forgive and the courage to share our stories with those around us. May we be obedient to do as you ask. Amen.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tension

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"Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope." Zechariah 9:12

It's invisible, yet palpable. One moment we stand empowered and motivated then collapse deflated and defeated the next. Our God-dream meets reality and somewhere in between tension builds, plays tug-o-war with our hearts and minds. 

It showed up, forty feet high on the tapered pamper pole. Climbing was the easy part. Fully harnessed and tethered to my husband and trusted friends, my hands and feet grasped steel pegs all the way up. But once at the top, I had to let go and tension grew thick between me and the hanging trapeze just beyond my reach.

My reality  - I stood swaying on a two foot square platform atop a forty feet high telephone pole, with only two ways down. One way: admit defeat, and climb backwards. The second: trust my friends, leap forward, grab the trapeze and swing down to a secured platform only a few short feet away.

My perspective deemed the leap impossible, even dangerous. The trapeze? Beyond my reach. The longer I waited, the stronger tension mounted and climbing backwards a welcomed choice.

Abraham knew this tension well - promised offspring more numerous than all the stars his reality shouted "Impossible!" Seventy-five years old and counting, Abraham (and his wife Sarah) partnered with God to transform this reality.

Scripture tells us, "Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him...Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised" (Romans 4: 18-22).

Abraham knew the facts: Twenty-five years passed since God first spoke his promise and nothing happened. His body and Sarah's were as good as dead -  childbearing an impossibility. And even if the impossible became possible, fathering many nations was beyond his reach.

And still. Abraham believed.

Fully persuaded, Abraham believed God had the power to do exactly what he promised. He would father many nations.

Scared and paralyzed from fear, I stood swaying on that pamper pole. Finally, I focused on my husband's words, "I won't let you fall. I've got you! Trust me. Just reach out and jump. Don't think. Just do it."

And I jumped. (And obviously lived to tell about it)!

When our God-dream journey tarries and reality shouts, "Impossible!" we must return to our fortress - God's promise - focus on his words alone, anchor our God-dreams in the reality of God's power and nurture hope.

When we do this we partner with God - with his promises - and he transforms our reality into his reality, making all things new. What seems impossible becomes possible; the unreachable is within our grasp.

Do you trust him? Then, don't think. Just jump!

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well " (Matthew 6:33).

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Reciprocity of Love


“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15 NIV
Our parents taught us well, how to honor our mother and father. They expected our honor and respect simply because we were their children and they were our parents. Honor wasn’t earned so much as it was an unspoken rule in our homes. Not much needed an explanation beyond, “Because I said so, that’s why!” It wasn’t that our parents were mean-hearted; it’s just they knew what was best for us, and if we knew what was good for us, we just did what they asked and stopped pushing the envelope.
Over the years, with children of our own, we found ourselves saying, “Because I said so” for the not-so-honorable reasons like, I’m-too-tired-to-explain-so-please-just-stop-bugging-me-and-just-do-what-I-say. But when you get right down to it, us parents simply love our children. 
Psst...Privileged  to share this over at Christian Children's Authors blog. Click here to read more.