I HATE WEEDS!

IMG_7554 I hate weeds!  Do you mind if I say that a little louder?  I HATE WEEDS!!!! We have had a bunch of rain, so much that I couldn’t even get into my garden without sinking into the mud!  Finally, today was the day to weed; however, by now, the ground was still wet and hard! It was A LOT of work just digging up the ground!  And then there are the weeds!  IHATE WEEDS!  Why do there have to be weeds?  Why do I even do this to myself?  Why plant a garden?  Those are the questions I asked my dear husband who was kneeling at the raised bed and weeding it for me.

So now the job is done, and when I look out the window and see those beautiful rows of various shades of green, AND NO WEEDS, I love it!IMG_7555

Weeds. They have taught me so many lessons that I really should be thankful for them!  Today’s lesson is this:

Do I hate my sin as much as I hate those weeds?  If I could come up with a way NOT to have any weeds, I be so happy (and rich: who wants weeds?)  I know they make herbicides, but I really don’t want to fill my garden with chemicals.

Is there a way to keep sin out of my life? No—this side of heaven, we will ALWAYS struggle with sin.  Both weeds and sin are part of the curse.  However, I have learned that if I hoe hoe hoe my garden once a week, it nearly eliminates the backbreaking task of pulling weeds.

Read your Bible, pray every day, and you’ll grow, grow, grow!  AND it will keep sin at bay!

Who could love weeds?  Who would love sin? ME!  Ugh!  Do you have a “pet” sin that you just don’t want to part with? Wouldn’t it be ridiculous to have a “pet” weed in your garden?  And then there’s that “besetting” sin – the one that keeps coming back!  That would be the mint in my garden!  What an annoyance!

There are so many “kinds” of sins: sneaky sins that catch you by surprise; little sins (in our eyes) that we are tempted to ignore; secret sins that really aren’t that secret because God knows everything!  I shudder to think how the garden of my heart looks to God at times!

IMG_7556Praise the Lord for 1 John 1: 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Confessing sin, keeping our hearts right is an even more beautiful sight than a weed-free garden!

War – The Great Equalizer

americanstory_portrait_168x238Last evening, Tom and I watched a wonderful movie recommended by spiritclips.com for Memorial Day called An American Story aka After The Glory. (By the way, if you have not discovered spiritclips.com, it’s a wonderful site for good family films sponsored by Hallmark.  Check it out!)

The film is about six WW2 soldiers who come back to their hometown in Texas to find unbearable corruption in the town’s political engine.  Wonderful story, but the one idea that struck me was that these six soldiers came from all walks of life: a lawyer, a Mexican, a factory worker, a bartender; but on the battle field they had become best friends–equals–six men battling a common enemy, fighting for their lives!

War–the great equalizer.  When a soldier puts on a uniform and carries a gun, he stands shoulder to shoulder with his comrades.  They don’t worry about skin color, their financial state, or their educational achievements. One goal and one enemy has united them.

As Christians, we too are equal–the ground at the cross is level.  Sin is our great equalizer, knocking down any props of prideful successes we may be leaning on and requiring each of us to kneel at the feet of Jesus, asking for forgiveness and seeking a new life in Christ.  Can you imagine if we could earn forgiveness and the keys to heaven by our own good deeds?  What a mess we would make of things!  Heaven would then become like the Mormon heaven where there are different levels to earn!  Pride would annihilate the humble spirit of “just as I am, I come,” and worst of all, Jesus would have died in vain!  We are all equality guilty and all in need of a Savior.

Our enemy is also the great equalizer.  Satan freely attacks us all, perhaps not in the same way, but he only exists for one reason: to destroy God’s people or keep mankind enslaved to him. We are equal in our battle against him, each holding the fort in our spot on the battlefield, all fighting for the common cause: bringing glory and honor to our Commander!

As we enjoy this opening holiday of the summer season, may we take pause to remember all those who fought and died for our freedom.  No matter how great or small the deed, we remember each soldier  who paid the ultimate price!

May this Memorial Day also serve as a reminder of our fallen comrades who have died for the cause of Jesus Christ!  It would serve each of us well to say a prayer for Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, the 27 year old Sudanese mother destined to be executed if she does no renounce her Christian faith.  The battle is ours, my friend!

War–the great equalizer.  Christian, is there not a cause?

          Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
        ye soldiers of the cross;
        lift high his royal banner,
        it must not suffer loss.
        From victory unto victory
        his army shall he lead,
        till every foe is vanquished,
        and Christ is Lord indeed.
 
        Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
        the trumpet call obey;
        forth to the mighty conflict,
        in this his glorious day.
        Ye that are brave now serve him
        against unnumbered foes;
        let courage rise with danger,
        and strength to strength oppose.
 
        Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
        stand in his strength alone;
        the arm of flesh will fail you,
        ye dare not trust your own.
        Put on the gospel armor,
        each piece put on with prayer;
        where duty calls or danger,
        be never wanting there.
 
        Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
        the strife will not be long;
        this day the noise of battle,
        the next the victor’s song.
        To those who vanquish evil
        a crown of life shall be;
        they with the King of Glory
        shall reign eternally.
 
 

Bear Attack!

ID-1008340So… it’s a beautiful morning and I’m doing the usual 2000 video cutting-edge aerobics when I look out the window and decide to take Pepper for a walk instead.  Good choice, because I not only get good exercise, I also fill my lungs with fresh crisp twenty-four degree country air!  AND I get to talk to God – it’s always better out there in His creation.

I’m on my way back, jogging a bit, when I think I hear something behind me.  My worst possible nightmare is now a reality.  Loping in my path just thirty feet back is a black bear!  I hurry my pace, but there’s no way I can outrun it!  How often have I played this scenario in my mind before?  What will Pepper do?  Will Tom find my mangled body?

My legs are jelly, when I stop, plant my feet. Turn around, and scream at the top of my lungs (much like the father on “The Croods”J) I wave my arms and act crazy; and to my amazement, the beast stops, looks, and turns off the road into the woods.  Now I’m really ready to fall apart, but thankfully I’m only a hundred yards from the house.  I’m going to make it!!

Yes, this is a made up scenario; but ever since I read about a man walking his dog our west somewhere and getting attacked by a black bear, I’ve been wary of walking our dirt road.  It’s very deserted: only the two other neighbors’ houses in eye-view from ours, and then one other house at the dead end and a hunting cabin – not much civilization.  We often see bears around our house, although we’ve only seen them once when walking this road.  It COULD happen, but it didn’t.

So where’s the connection?  I had been praying about several “impossible” situations that are in our church, reminding God that He is the God of the impossible, when HE reminded me of some impossible situations in my own life.  Would I prove God and work to change those impossible life habits?  Doing so would be a good thing! It stopped me short, and I thought of the bear.

What is stalking you, ready to attack and destroy you if it could?  Right away we think of something awful like drugs or an extramarital affair; however, most of us aren’t stalked by big Papa bears.  Maybe you’re laying out of church for whatever the reason.  Perhaps you’ve dropped the habit of daily Bible reading, or you never find the time to pray.  Is it the TV programs you watch or the books you read or the internet sights you frequent that are stalking you?  Let me tell you – those yearling bears can take the life out of you just as quickly as a full-grown male!  They are deadly, and so are the habits I’ve just mentioned.  They are not only stalking us, but they are sapping us of our strength, lulling us to sleep.

Can you imagine talking to someone who has a bear chewing on his arm?  You say, “What’s that bear doing?”

“Oh, I know.  I really need to get rid of him.  I’ll get around to it someday.”

But someday never comes because you are dead!  Our bad habits are keeping us from the Spirit-filled life that God has planned for each of His dear children.

Years ago, my husband-pastor said this after a counseling session: “I wish I could take that person, who is making wrong choices, and have him talk to the guy I talked to last week that’s just twenty years down the road, reaping the consequences of the same bad choices!”

Make a choice.  Plant your feet squarely on God’s Word and determine to change!  You don’t have to scream and act crazy, but you do need to storm the Throne of God and ask for help!  And watch the bears run!!!

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live;

yet not I, but Christ liveth in me:

and the life which I now live in the flesh

I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” 

Galatians 2:20

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The Most Beautiful Impossible Weed

008Isn’t that a beautiful sight?!  Sorry it’s a little “screeny” but I took it from my kitchen window.  Do you want a tour?  Starting on the right side, there is asparagus that we haven’t enjoyed yet –  just planted last year.  Then there’s cauliflower and cabbage, five rows of potatoes, a new row of beans because all the rain earlier in the season drown the others.  Next is one row of carrots (should have planted more, but they are such a pain!); then three half rows of beans/corn. You really can’t see my blight infested tomatoes or onions, but you really don’t WANT to see them!

The garden is 95% weedless and this morning I raked it.  I guess I’ll always be the farmer’s daughter, but there is nothing so beautiful as healthy plants against newly raked ground!

So, what’s the Most Beautiful Impossible Weed?  MINT!  Somewhere in the past before I inherited this “parsonage garden,” mint entered into the ground.  At first, I wasn’t sure what it was.  I knew I had never seen a weed like it before.  I did notice the nice smell it produced as I pulled it from every inch of the garden!  After some inquiries I learned that it was indeed mint.

Corn may come and go, potatoes may rot in the ground, tomatoes may be blighted to death but NOTHING will rid this plot of mint!  If the Lord would have asked if He would find mint instead of faith when He returned, the resounding answer would have been, “YES!”

I suppose it’s not any more impossible than the other weeds – they’re all pretty faithful at returning!  Perhaps it’s because man put it there and not nature that it’s such a bother in my mind.

So is there a spiritual parallel?  Weeds most generally portray sin to me.  Our sin nature is much like most of the weeds in my garden: they are part of the curse from the beginning of time.  (It’s amazing to me that Satan is so “unoriginal.”   He’s still using the same lie that he told Eve: God isn’t good; He’s not really on your side; my way is so much better….)

But mint is different – it has a purpose.  I love to make mint tea with my mint.  It has a lovely smell and the plant is pretty!  To me, mint is like our excuses against salvation or sanctification (growing in Christ-likeness).  What is that sin-weed that you cherish – the one that keeps you from God?  Perhaps it’s independence, or free-thinking. Or maybe it’s religion or tradition.   None of these are bad things, but they become deadly when they push the truth from us.  What is that “pet sin” that you keep making excuses for in your life?  I could leave the mint alone, justifying its existence, but all I would have then is a garden of mint – no other fruit or vegetable could stand against it.  The same is true about sin that we refuse to surrender to our Master.

I may never get rid of the mint, and if that paralleled our encounter with sin, we would be of all men most miserable!  Oh, what a burden to never be able to rid ourselves of sin!  But, what can wash away my sin – nothing but the blood of Jesus!  Praise His Name!

I pray that if something came to mind – your mint-sin-weed, that you will surrender it to God and let Him pull it out of your garden of life.  On this one, NIKE has the best saying: JUST DO IT! You will NEVER regret it!  (By the way, did you know that Nike was the Greek goddess for victory?  Just a piece of useless trivia!)

 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. 1 Corinthians 15:19

 

Tonic? Dominant?

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Romans 6: 14

Dominion – domain – dominant. Dominant!  Ah, for you music theory lovers, that word has a special meaning!  I will try to put it into ‘layman’ terms.

Music has twelve different tones, and those tones make music, just like the letters of the alphabet make words.  We can play them on any instrument one by one and we get a melody – the tune of a song.  If we pile them up and play or sing them together, we have harmony. Chords make up harmony, and chords come in all shapes and sizes depending on how many tones you put together and what tones you use!

In a scale (do, re, mi…) we can build a chord on every tone.  (Hang in there – there’s a great lesson for us!)  The chord built on ‘do’ or the first pitch of the scale is labeled with a Roman numeral one (I), ‘re’ (II), ‘mi’ (III)… the fifth note, or ‘sol’ is labeled (V) and is called…the Dominant chord!  There it is – Dominant, but why?  To be honest, until today, I wasn’t quite sure.  I mean, shouldn’t the first chord be the Dominant?  The (I) chord built on ‘do’ is called the Tonic.  Tonic?  Why Tonic?  Well, think of the (I) chord as home plate.  Every song you sing ends on the Tonic chord; if it didn’t,  the song wouldn’t feel complete.  Just sing Jesus Loves Me and end on the next to the last note.  It doesn’t feel finished and the chord for that next to the last note pushes your ear to hear the last note.  Guess what – the next to the last note has a Dominant chord, and the last note it Tonic. The Dominant pushes to the Tonic EVERY TIME!  AND if a Dominant chord goes anywhere but to the Tonic at the end of a song, you have what we call a Deceptive CadenceOOOOH!

SP14.3a

Here’s the lesson.  There are so many natural laws in this world.  (I succumbed to one of them in my last blog: gravity!) Music has laws as well. Even if you don’t know or understand the law, your ear naturally reacts to those laws.  That Dominant chord has dominion over the harmony set forth.  It dominates the path which the music will take.  It pushes your ear to want to go home to Tonic!  (What a wonderful name for home: Tonic!!)

For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. (Romans 6: 14) Sin does not have to dominate my life!  It doesn’t have to push me to the wrong ending.  When I was not saved, it was true – I was under the natural law of sin.  I naturally was bent to sin and was pushed to its desired end, but no more!  I am now under grace!  My life is a Deceptive Cadence in Satan’s eyes.  He had a plan, a dominating force, but that force was conquered at the cross!! Does that mean I never sin?  Don’t I wish!  It does mean that I don’t have to sin – there’s a big difference!  I have the power to ‘just say no’ because of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  Woo! Woo!  That is a very freeing bit of information!  It’s not easy – in fact, it is impossible APART from the GRACE of God, but… ye are not under the law, but under grace!

Leave it Alone!

My grandson is ten months old.  He can crawl to any destination he desires.  One of his favorite spots is the dog’s dish.  His parents wisely moved some things out of his reach – choose your battles – but the dog dish remains in place to teach him one simple word: no.

When he touches the dog’s dish, Daddy or Mommy says no.  He understands their meaning, but sometimes CHOOSES to touch the dog’s dish anyway.  That’s when his cute little patty gets a little smack.  It does hurt him; there are no bruises – the only thing that is bruised is his sin nature.

So what happens as he nears the dog’s dish the next time?  He stops.  His little hand reaches out and then he pulls it back.  He reaches again, wavering – you can almost see the thought processes!  “I want to touch that dish, but I know Mommy and Daddy don’t like it, and the action will cause me pain.”  Does he understand why they don’t like it?  No.  Does he understand germs?  No.  He only understands that his little patty hurts and his parents do not want him to touch it!

Why are the things that God has placed in the “do not” category entice us so?  Why are we drawn to those things that God has labeled “sin”?  Why do we wrestle so much with deciding what is sin and what is not?  Let’s blame Eve! 🙂 Do you see her hand hovering over the forbidden fruit as she makes her choice?  God and Adam have said ‘no’.  Satan, disguised as her favorite pet, says ‘yes’.  We read about her choice and suffer the consequences.

Dear Christian, are you wrestling with sin?  Has Satan tempted you into doubting God?  I just read an article written by a gay man who attended BJU.  It broke my heart.  He experienced all the dark sides of that institution and others; and many gray areas were tainted because of his mindset.  If only we could see where our sin will take us – it is NEVER closer to God!  Sin will always cost more than you want to pay and take you further than you want to go.  (Thank you Rand Hummel!)  Keep your hands out of the dog’s dish!

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.” Romans 7: 24,25