Keep Out the Weeds

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Weeds, Weeds, Weeds! If I desired to grow only weeds, I would have a garden paradise with no effort. I could choose to let those weeds go, flourish in their own right – many even are pretty as they bloom. But I love flowers, so spring through fall requires a continual effort of picking, pulling, and digging. Keeping my flowerbeds happy and productive proves often to be back and knee breaking work. The effort has it’s own reward though, as my plants and flowers are freed from the weeds that steal their nutrients and space – they begin to flourish and grow into what they were created to be.

Awe…..just like us! Weeds crop up, often unbeknownst to us. We can indulge them, allow them to grow – it’s easier – maybe no one will notice – it is our choice right? Or, we can grab the garden implements and get them out.

Your choices each day can allow the seeds of many types of weeds to be distributed all around you and suddenly you will find those weeds chocking out your life nutrients and crowding out what is important. Many of those choices are good, they don’t look bad, won’t hurt you; but deep down in the roots they are determining how and if you will grow to be all you were created to be.

Pulling, picking and digging those weeds out of your life will take effort – back and knee breaking effort. In fact, to keep the weeds out requires a daily diligence of looking to and listening to the Holy Spirit as He enlightens exactly where the weed needs to be attended.

Thankfully, cleaning out the weeds of wrong choices is well worth the effort and really rather simple. Begin making all your life choices as you abide in His love, choices that speak loudly of your desire to serve Christ and not your own desires. These types of choices will allow the weeding process to become easier. The reward will become apparent as your life begins to flourish and grow – showing forth the beauty of whom you were created to be.

Choose today to keep those weeds out and become His Kingdom garden.

John 15:8-9 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (ESV)

Joshua 24:15 If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”(NASB)

Short-term Life in a Bud Vase

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     I love flowers, pretty much ALL of them, but my favorites are those with lingering intoxicating scent. In the NW, roses are rather temperamental due to our abundance of rain and most of mine end up bedraggled.  However, this year I decided to find the perfect one, pot it and plan to carefully tend it. The first two buds appeared and expectantly I watched as they began their slow burst into bloom. OH, what reward! They unfurled with glorious swirls of yellows, oranges and crimson with a smell that was heavenly. They spent several days on the stems before a torrential downpour came. As the rain began pelting down I darted out to protect them from destruction; the only way, was to cut them off and bring them inside. The scent that filled my living area was quickly released as they accepted a short-term life in a bud vase. They quickly opened continuing to show off their splendor of colors while their scent seemed to grow stronger.

     Each day I have sat writing in front of these beauties and I am blessed to breath in a scent that makes me smile – one that continues to grow as the petals start to fade. Now, the petals have begun to drop to the table, but the scent is still my writing companion. Now residing in a small crystal dish – their scent lingering as a little reminder that they aren’t gone.

II Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.(ESV)

     We, like my roses, live a short-term life in a bud vase. We show forth our colors (our gifts and talents) throughout that time, but do we leave a continual aroma? Is ours one of sweet enjoyment or do we carry an uninviting one? What is our life changing fragrance that lingers and intoxicates? With Christ as your eternal life source you become that sweet intoxicating aroma that draws life and invites others to partake. Without the presence of Christ as your focus, your flower is beautiful but the scent, like my Daisy’ is not one that others desire.

     Our time is fleeting, limited and fading but when you walk this life journey spreading the fragrance of Christ, you will be as my fading roses – a scent that will linger as a reminder that through Christ, you are present – now and forever.

     Step into a new life with Christ and allow your fragrance to become a sweet intoxicating aroma as you walk out your journey of short-term life in a bud vase.

Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. (ESV)

Out of the Box Proposal

My Jesus likes to surprise us, to step out of the box and present us with new life options, outrageous abundance, and all things unexpected – His box is so much better then what we could ever expect.

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Recently my son set up a marriage proposal – his girlfriend unsuspectingly participating. A front row seat was acquired at a well known magicians show and the stage – literally – was set as the magician stepped down to take her hand, to be his assistant for a particular illusion. A huge box was seen to be empty as she checked inside and all around it – it was closed up tight and turned completely around. As the box was re-opened to her utter amazement, out stepped my son. Ring box in hand and with one knee pose he presented to her his request to be his wife. Her expectations of this night where totally blown out of the water. That box held a new life – a new abundance that was not expected.

Our expectations of life, of dreams, and even of God are mostly pre-packaged and boxed into our personal paradigm of tidy thinking. But, I have found that the older I get the less “boxed” those expectations seem to be. Over the years, most of those boxes have come up empty. Trusting God with all that was previously stuffed in them I have chosen to do the best thing. And that “best” thing is to take the empty boxes and close them up – better yet – get rid of them all together.

Ephesians 3:20 Now glory be to God, who by his mighty power at work within us is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of—infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes. (TLB)

Funny thing is, our God never seems to work within our exceptions’ or on our timetables. His plans and purposes for our lives can never fit in our small thinking, pre-packed boxes.

My Jesus likes to surprise us, to step out of the box and present us with new life options, outrageous abundance, and all things unexpected – His box is so much better then what we could ever expect. When we step out, say YES, accept the request for participation – watch out – we have just been given access to more then we can think or imagine. That’s just how good HE is!

Join me on stage to accept His proposal and allow your boxes to be blown away.

 

An Eternal Friend

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Proverbs 17:17A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times.(Voice)

     The Bible story and friendship between David & Jonathan is one of love and faithfulness that began with a “spirit” directed bond and covenant. When we read this story we often think of David, and God’s eternal plan through him. This covenant of friendship was one that God used to provide protection, training and placement for David’s ultimate purpose; it was part of his journey to the throne, but what about Jonathan?

   Jonathan was a loyal son, an heir to the throne who willingly stepped into a friendship with a very young, poor shepherd boy. That friendship was one, which in the natural made no sense. Jonathan was number two in the kingdom, in line for the throne, and had the constant “ear” of the king – he had it all. So, why make such a friendship?

     I believe we get a glimpse of the why, as we look at the character of Jonathan through his life and choice in befriending David. He was loyal, observant, humble, compassionate, faithful, wise, spiritually inclined and he was a listener. All traits God used and surrounded David with for his encouragement, protection and growth.

     There was something that Jonathan saw in David that drew him beyond the natural. He chose to lay aside his rights in order to continue that friendship even in the midst of his father’s displeasure and desire to kill his friend. He was faithful to his father, standing in battle, honoring him as a son, but there was a point where he had to choose to stand on behalf of a friend. A time he chose to stick closer than a brother – a time he chose sacrifice – to protect his friend at all cost. Jonathan chose love.

     Once Jonathan sent David away, we don’t hear much else about him until he is killed along side King Saul in battle. But, David’s response to that death is one of great loss – the love they shared in friendship went beyond a short-term acquaintance – it was an eternal friendship.

     Is there such a thing as an “eternal friendship” today? In our society friendships seem to exist in fast paced short-term acquaintances – very little thought is even given to the relationship. It often has to do with “what is best for me”, or “does it work in my schedule” and if an offense arises – well – that’s it – “done with that person”. The word friend is thrown around with the click of a button – the “friend” button, the “unfriend” button and the “like” button can be flicked with a keystroke without a thought about the person.

     But, God still desires us to walk in covenant friendship with others. LOVE is the key. With love, Jesus laid down his life for each of us; that is covenant (eternal) friendship.

     How do we walk in that type of relationship with people – with our friends? We listen and move as the Spirit of God nudges us – one person at a time. Choosing to love – choosing to sacrifice “our” schedule, “our” plans or “our” rights in order to protect, to love, and to “stick” with a friend.

Is it easy? No.

Will you be hurt? Probably.

Will you be offended? Absolutely.

     But, through it – you may find a pearl of great price – a hidden jewel of friendship that is not about you, it’s about them – BUT in the end it becomes one of the greatest gifts you will ever be given – an eternal friend.

     Take a chance, listen and reach out, because your next acquaintance just might become an eternal friend.

Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (NIV)

John 15:13 And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends;(TLB)

I Samuel 18:1 By the time David had finished reporting to Saul, Jonathan was deeply impressed with David—an immediate bond was forged between them. He became totally committed to David. From that point on he would be David’s number-one advocate and friend. (MSG) 

 

 

Spread Life

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     What a joy to observe the reproduction of plant life, every plant and tree has been created to seed – including weeds, much to my chagrin. In order to enjoy the beauty of many, we have resorted to planting them in pots, and I have a plethora of pots, loaded with beauty. But, no matter how you care for them, within three to five years the result is the same – unproductive and dying. However, upon inspection of these unproductive and seemingly dying specimens you will find a simple fact, they are root-bound. Once removed from their confinement and re-positioned into a fertile expansive bed they will flourish as they were created to.

     I think you can imagine where my thoughts went as I have watched this phenomena play out this season. I transplanted eight previously unproductive and dying pots this spring and – “presto, chango” – they have now become spots of happy growing plants covered with flowers.

     This is a true spiritual phenomenon as well. We are created to create – to produce! Often, due to many circumstances we become unproductive and look as if we are dying – we too, become root-bound. The simple fix is no different then my pots – lift and cultivate (wake-up) the root-bound entity, place it in a fertile environment with ample space to move and grow. Step back and watch as HIS new life, joy and creativity begin to bloom in and all around you. You are meant to create, to produce, to re-produce and spread – in fact His ultimate purpose for your life is just that; to spread His life, love and joy to those around you.

     If you find yourself in a root-bound place in life, decide to do some cultivating. Willingly chose to lift your eyes back to the face of Jesus – here you will find that HE will do the lifting as you allow the transplant to occur. He will re-assign you exactly where you will find new life and joy. This new fertile ground will probably be where you would never have imagined or chosen but it will always be the very best – because He always chooses the very best for His kids.

     Nestle into His chosen spot – and enjoy the journey as you grow into the beauty He has created you to be – and spread, spread, spread. Become His life, love and joy everywhere you go.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you my abound in hope.

I Corinthians 3:8-9 He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God’s fellow workers. You are God’s field, God’s building.

 

Run to Win

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     Recently I had the pleasure of cheering on the sidelines of a middle school track- meet. My favorite runner – my grandson – was barreling down the track, passing them all – leaving most in the dust. This, the final meet of the short season was a test to win – to beat all previously run times – his own and all the others. Oh, and run he did – with everything in him. With single focus, pointed directly toward that finish line, he pushed with every fiber, every cell, and every breath to WIN! The sounds around him – the cheers of the crowd, the track at his feet and even the pounding of his own heart – were not heard. Every concern, discomfort and thought was set aside for the joy of the run.

     What we don’t see at this track-meet is all the physical conditioning that is put in before today’s “pop” of the starters gun; the daily pushing of those muscles and their throbbing pain in the night watches, the pounding headaches from over exertion and rapid dehydration, as well as the skinned, torn, twisted tissue and tendons as the track often reaches out to win those trial races. These times – hidden from the cheering crowd – are the times where the decision to endure are won or lost.

     We too, are on a similar track, a similar race – our life journey – our race. Our WIN is already promised – it belongs to us through the cross of Christ. But, our race is not an easy one, it is meant to be RUN with endurance. It will require times of determination and physical conditioning. We must cross that finish line. We must have a single focus on that prize! We must not hear or allow all the distractions, concerns and discomforts of daily life to overcome us. We must endure – push past the relational hurts and disappointments, financial struggles, physical illness’ – all those throbbing, pounding, torn and twisted pieces that are part of this race of life. Jesus already promised us the win – the decision is IF you will endure to the finish line – IF you will focus on the prize – for this is the time where you decide to obtain it! Decide to run your race with endurance to receive the prize that is waiting at finish line – and run it well – with every fiber, every cell, and every breath you have been given.

Run to WIN – run for the joy of the run!

I Corinthians 9:24. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives he prize? So run that you may obtain it, (ESV)

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, (ESV)

His Perfect Wave

His desire is to allow a spectacular ride – one where you wait, you listen, you stand and HE takes it from there.

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The warmth of the sun and the sand, along with the rhythmic movement of the ocean’s waves – just feet away – will easily lull the senses into a peace and calm not found many places. But as you lift your eyes and look out into the ocean you perceive a different story, one of tension and expansive movement.

Previously unnoticed a lone surfer has passed that calm warm sandy beach and persistently slogged through the shallow waves, reaching deeper and deeper. Soon, the only way to go further and deeper was to climb onto his surfboard and push against the pressures of the current. He continued his arduous outward endeavor, going further and further from shore. Seeming to either find the right place or just tiring out; he settles on the board – now sitting and surveying his newly acquired territory. Expecting him to stand and take each incoming wave, it is a wonder that he allows them, one by one to pass by as he waits. What is he waiting for? What is it he sees? How will he know the right one? When will he move forward?

These questions may never get answered for as if on queue, he slowly stands as a single – not so big – swell begins to form. He slowly lifts as the wave takes on a life of its own – growing in height and power. The sound of its approach is exhilarating. The waves upward movement, the slide forward and the beautiful delivery down to the waiting warm sand is exquisite. The surfer, like a dancer on a ballroom floor, sways with each move and sound that this incredible wave produces. This was the wave worth waiting for and this patient surfer reaped the joy found within her – riding this wave upward, forward and through the completion as he is delivered right out onto the warm sand. What a spectacular ride!

This picture of a very experienced surfer is played out differently as new surfers make many unsuccessful attempts to catch the perfect wave – getting dumped before they reach the top, being pulled under, and even eating and drinking both sand and salt water in the process. Learning the part that patience plays in this sport is what makes it worth the ride.

As we walk in our own life journey, it is much the same – learning to hear His voice, stepping out, moving forward and sometimes actually catching the “perfect” wave. His desire is to allow a spectacular ride – one where you wait, you listen, you stand and HE takes it from there. You ride with HIM as the wave moves up, slides forward and beautifully delivers you onto the waiting sand. When we find that rhythm – we can’t wait to slog back out, arduously paddle deeper, push further and further out, for we know as we wait patiently – His perfect wave of HIS plan, HIS direction, HIS purpose – for this ride – will come. And when it comes – WOW – it will be one spectacular ride.

Philippians 3: 13b-14 But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Photography courtesy of J.K.Sanchez Photography