Saturday, May 31, 2014

Expecting the King

Last Sunday in church, prior to the start of the service, the pastor came up to Vickie and me and said, “You’re always here early.” After he left us I said to Vickie, “If people thought that Queen Elizabeth was going to be here everyone would be early.”

Do we believe that when we gather we gather before the King? 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Weeds, Roots, and Sun

As I mentioned in my previous post, I've been weeding raised beds in our vegetable garden in preparation for planting. After weeding we need to add new soil to bring soil levels up to where we want them for planting. I use a nifty little tool with a razor-sharp blade for cutting the roots of weeds - you've got to get to the roots to deal with weeds.

There were two types of weeds growing in the beds, some with deep roots and others with smaller roots. Using my weeding tool I got to the bottom of the deep-rooted weeds and pulled them out of the beds, discarding them on the walkway where the sun would kill them. The smaller weeds with shallow roots were so numerous that I couldn't pick them out individually; I used my blade to cut a swath of roots and bring them above ground - leaving them on top of the beds for the sun to kill. Had I not allowed the sun to do its work, had I immediately put new soil on top of the weeds, many of weeds would have had soil to reestablish their roots - the sun had to do its work before I put new soil in the beds. 

As I weeded I pondered sin. Just as the sun was needed to kill the roots of weeds, so the roots of sin need exposure to the light of the Son of God to be killed and rendered ineffective in our lives. A passing acknowledgement of sin is not enough, that is akin to throwing soil with nutrients on top of the roots of weeds, it covers up the problem, it spares sin and sinners from the sentence of death. To hide sin is to nurture sin, to hide ourselves from the light of Jesus Christ is to allow the deceptive roots of darkness to entwine themselves in and around our hearts and minds. Our lives were not created to be gardens with weeds and thorns; most of us don't realize that. We're often taught that weeds are the norm, that thorns "are what they are" and we have to accept them and make the best of life. We are taught (metaphorically) to celebrate weeds and thorns and vines that choke the life out of our lives and destroy relationships with others.

If our raised beds could talk they would say, "Weed us! Thank you for weeding us!" And they would tell us that they know that as a result of weeding that they will bear much fruit - life will be so much easier for the good plants with the weeds gone. A garden who cares for his or her garden is a gardener who weeds. 

Our heavenly Gardener loves His creation, He loves the men and women and children He created - even though they prefer weeds, even though His original garden was not good enough for them. We don't like to see Him coming, we don't like His weeding, we don't appreciate Him telling us the difference between a weed and a life-giving fruitful plant. We so often prefer that He keep His hands to Himself - if He must work in a garden let it be someone else's. 

Perhaps this is, in a measure, why the Bible is a foreign book to many professing Christians. Perhaps this is why our culture endorses weeds rather than righteousness.

"For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of the soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account" (Hebrews 4:12 - 13).  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Poison Ivy and Sin

Yesterday Vickie and I were working in our vegetable garden. As I was weeding raised beds in preparation for planting Vickie said, "Before I go let me show you something." At first I was mildly irritated that I had to stop what I was doing and walk over to where she was - I was just getting into my work groove and when I get like that I don't want to stop...but hey...she's Eve and I'm Adam and we're in this together so I stopped and went over to the bed where she was standing.

"I wanted to show you this," she said, pointing down to two small plants. "This is poison ivy, I didn't want you to get over here weeding and not see them."

"Thanks," I replied, knowing that if she hadn't pointed them out I would have not have seen them.  I am highly allergic to poison ivy.

Why is it I'm thankful when someone points out poison ivy but not particularly thankful when someone points out sin in my life? Why am I grateful when someone spares me poison-ivy misery but can be resentful when someone suggests I reconsider an attitude or action? 

Only a fool would ignore a poison-ivy warning; the book of Proverbs (in the Bible) teaches again and again that the wise person heeds correction, reproof, and advice and that the foolish person rejects wisdom and correction - going on his or her merry and foolish way. I am aware that some folks are immune to poison ivy, I am also aware that other folks think they are immune from the results of sin - the Bible is clear on that point, "The wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 6:23). As a Christian there have been times I thought I was immune from sin...what a fool I was. 

As much as I want to avoid poison ivy, I want to avoid sin even more. I want to live in union with God in Jesus Christ, in harmony with His people, and I want to be a blessing to all those around me. I can hardly do that if the poison of sin has infected my life.

"But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one anther, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." [1 John 1:7 - 9].

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Daisy Mae

I looked out the window this morning, holding my piece of toast, ready for the last couple of bites before going upstairs to shower and dress for work. The creek bordering our rear property line was high with a strong current flowing from three days of rain. Something caught my eye on the lip of the embankment, it was at a crook in the creek just before the downed tree spanning the south and north banks. It was a dog desperately trying to crawl out of the water onto dry land, it was in distress and it couldn’t make it.

Down on the kitchen counter went my toast, I went down to the garage, slipped into my gardening shoes, and out the back I went in my pajamas. The white dog with brown spots was frantically trying to pull itself out, but its hind legs kept slipping on the muddy embankment. Into the creek I went, grabbed the dog by its hind quarters, and lifted it out of what was likely certain death – the poor thing was exhausted. If it hadn’t been on the tall side it may have drowned – how long had it struggled?

I asked it to come with me up to the house, it balked until I spoke “dog” to it, then it followed. Dog people know what it is to speak “dog”, it’s a certain tone of voice that translates English, or any native language, into the universal language of dogs.

It trusted me into our storage room. I turned the light on and left it for a few minutes and then returned with bedding, food, and water.

My pajamas were cold and wet with leaves and debris from the creek on them, the water was almost up to my knees. I put them in the washer and went upstairs to get ready for work, mentioning to Vickie in passing that I’d had an adventure – which I explained to her before leaving the house. Also, before I left for work, when we prayed we prayed that the dog would be returned to her home.

The dog had a collar but no ID or dog tags, so Vickie said she’d call the county animal control people.

Around 9:30 the animal control officer showed up. On his way to our home he saw posters on trees and poles with a description of a missing dog named Daisy Mae. He asked our house guest, “Are you Daisy Mae?” Even though he spoke “dog” the dog didn’t answer him. He put the dog in his truck, drove to the end of our driveway, and was met by a lady in an SUV who stopped and got out of her vehicle.

“Do you have my dog?” she asked. “I’m looking for Daisy Mae.”

Sure enough, it was Daisy Mae I’d pulled from the creek. The lady thanked the officer and Vickie, and put Daisy Mae in her SUV where she was greeted by a Lab excited to see her dog sister back. Daisy Mae lived down the road a piece so she’d been doing some traveling during her four days on the run – I wonder if she had been up-creek and swept down by the strong current? How much longer could she have held out on the embankment?

I haven’t written anything in a while, not much blogging lately – this seemed to be a good reason to get the keyboard out.

I must say that it was a nice way to start the day and we’re thankful Daisy Mae got home. There is so much misery in the world, including the animal kingdom, that’s it nice to do a little something to help people and animals along. It's also great to see prayers answered.