Archive for June, 2010

30
Jun
10

roses

Recently, my wife shared an interesting conversation she had. It was with one of her rose bushes. Yes, she believes in talking to – even singing to – the plants in her garden.

Anyway, this is a rose bush she has put a lot of effort into. She has pruned it, fed it, watered it and even put banana peals around the base of it (I am told that this is suppose to help) but, to this point, it has not produced one single rose bloom. Well, finally, she had all of it she was going to take and she told the bush, in her most dramatic South Georgia drawl, “If you are not going to bloom and show the glory of God you were created for, you’re nothing but a thorn bush and I’m going to cut you down.” She’s waiting to see if the threat was taken to heart by the thorn bush or not, but the statement is huge!

Because of our humanness, that is our imperfections, quirks, and our emotional baggage, we all produce thorns that will inflict hurt on other people. This will be so as long as we live. The question is are we going to put forth the effort to nurture those qualities that will ultimately produce “roses” (i.e., good works, spiritual fruit, spiritual gifts, Christ-likeness) for God’s glory, or, are we just going to be a thorn bush that is good for nothing but causing pain and discomfort in others?

In John 15 Jesus is clear about what happens to that type of branch. It is cut off and thrown into the refuse pile to be destroyed later. I would much rather come to full “bloom” reflecting the glory of God I was created for!

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23
Jun
10

goodbyes

I hate goodbyes. I’ve never been very good at them even though I’ve had to say a lot of them in my life. I’d much rather say, “see you later” as if it were just a normal, temporary parting, even though I know it will be a long time before I see the person again.

I especially hate saying goodbye to a partner – someone who has allowed me to invest into their life just as they have invested in mine. Someone who has made my life better in some way. Someone who has added value to me as a person. Someone who has helped me to be a better me. Someone who has enabled me accomplish some task or goal in my life.

It has been said that friends come into our life for a season, a reason or, in rare cases, for a lifetime. I wish all of my friendships could be those life-long ones, but that’s just not the way it happens. God strategically sends people into our lives for His purposes. It is not often that we understand fully His purpose or His timing, we just learn to take advantage of the grace of friendship that God sends our way. We’re sorrowful when the reason or the season is over, but we know that God has others He will send into our lives, just as He will send us into peoples’ lives to add value to them.

As I have experienced life more fully I have determined to be more discerning of the “moments” that God sends. I want to be fully cognizant of every opportunity given me to invest that grace He has deposited in me into the partners that He brings into my life.

Thanks Clarence and Karen for that opportunity!

15
Jun
10

trust

An unknown sage once said, “You can tell the size of your God by looking at the size of your worry list. The longer your list, the smaller your God.”

Without a doubt life can get complicated quickly. I, probably like you, used to think I had life all figured out. I had neat and tidy explanations for every occurrence as well as foolproof formulas to guide me through every situation I faced. My ideas seemed to work well for a while and then, all of sudden, it seemed – well, to put it bluntly – I lost all control!

That loss of perceived control (I say “perceived” because, as one individual put it, “Control is an illusion.”) caused me to do some serious reflection and evaluation. One of the things I had to spend some serious time analyzing was my understanding of God’s purpose for, and oversight of, my life. I had quoted often passages like Romans 8:28: “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” I had mistakenly come to think, like many of us, that if I would live the kind of life God wanted me to nothing uncomfortable, inconvenient, or confusing would happen to me. I never would have admitted that out loud, but my actions when something that did not fit into my plan occurred spoke volumes. All of a sudden a guy who was confident (a nice way of saying borderline arrogant), poised and generally speaking, fearless had come to a complete loss of understanding. I found myself questioning God’s care and thinking that I needed to be more self-reliant. In other words, that worry list I mentioned earlier became very long.

I can’t say that I have totally overcome this “new” tendency in my life to worry. I can tell you that I have dived more deeply into God’s word and I have learned to take my focus off the events of this life and instead focus on the love and sovereignty of God. I have learned to view life and all of its intricacies from a Kingdom perspective, acknowledging that it’s not all about me but, rather, that I am a part of God’s grand plan for all of creation and I have responsibility to fulfill in that plan. In doing so, I’ve come to a whole new realization of the awesomeness of God and, as a result, my “worry list” has gotten a whole lot shorter!

So how big is your God?

08
Jun
10

influence

It has been said that we are defined by our relationships. In other words, the people we are comfortable around and, more importantly, those who are comfortable around us, say a lot about who we are.

Before I go any further, let me remind you of how casually we use the word “friend” in our culture. To many of us, the term “friend” applies to any and all acquaintances we have ever made, and that’s okay. An old adage goes something like this, “If you want to have friends you must be friendly.” I am for building relational bridges whenever possible. I think that is one of the best ways for us to increase the sphere of our influence so that we can fulfill the ministry we have been called to.

A true friend, however, is more than just an acquaintance. I have heard it said that a true friend is someone we share our hopes and dreams with, and a very close friend is someone we share our failures and disappointments with. A true friend is someone who has the right to speak into our life even if what they have to say isn’t what we want to hear. A true friend is an influence, hopefully for good, but, whether a good or bad influence, they will affect the way we think and act, just as we should be affecting the way they think and act. That’s why one ancient depiction of friendship was that of “iron sharpening iron”. Our friends should bring the best out of us!

Are yours? Do your friends challenge you to grow spiritually, emotionally, socially and intellectually? Or do they prefer you to stay the same so they are never challenged to fulfill their destiny? What do you see in your close friends that you admire, that challenges you, that lifts you to new heights? How are you being influenced and how are you influencing? The Bible says, “a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough!” (Galatians 5:9)

01
Jun
10

blessed!

As much as I hate to admit that I’m not invincible (typical guy thing), I recently had to break down and go to the doctor. After I described the malady to him, he said to me, “God is good to you!” He then went on to tell me how much worse it could be and, in fact, for most people the pain generally associated with the condition is much more severe than what I was experiencing.

I left the office that day thanking God that it wasn’t as bad as it could be and that I had access to medical treatment and insurance to help pay the bill – but it didn’t stop there. Since that encounter every time I have been tempted to grumble or complain about some problem or inconvenience in my life, the words of that physician ring loud in my mind – “God is good to you!”

Being negative is easy; anybody and everybody can do that. That’s what the enemy wants from you and what many of your friends and family members are comfortable with. When you choose to be upbeat, and it is a choice you have to make continually and repeatedly, it makes others uneasy. Why? Because you are choosing to trust God. When you do it proves the devil to be a liar and it “calls out” those in your life who are negative. You become living proof of Paul’s prerogative that joy should be a lifestyle (Philippians 4:4) and that a positive attitude is considered to be normal because, through Christ, all things are possible for a believer (Philippians 4:13)! People who choose to see the worst in their lives will naturally be uncomfortable around you because you have made the choice to take God at his word and live accordingly.

“God is good to you!”