Monday, July 18, 2011

Trouble with WEEDS!

I walked through my back yard a few days ago and thought to myself, as I often have, why are the weeds growing so well when it's hot and dry, but nothing else is?  It seems that weeds flourish when the rest of yard is suffering terribly from heat and drought.  Since entering the heat wave of 2011, I dread the thought of mowing or tending to the yard, or even being outside for that matter. With the sight of the weeds standing so tall and proud in my back yard, I started think about how, even in my life, it seems that the weeds always grow so much better than the fruit, especially when I let my spirit become dry and thirsty.

It takes some tending to grow spiritual fruit., just like it takes some tending to keep the weeds away.  Paul wrote that the things he should do, he didn't do.  And the things he didn't want to do were always present with him, even though he hated them. (Romans 7)  After Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit, one of the curses they now had to endure got it...WEEDS! (Genesis 3: 17-19) And just as the weeds grow so rapidly, with no tending, and no water, we can become overwhelmed by weeds that destroy our joy, peace and even our very walk with God.  Jesus spoke about the seeds that were planted among thorns (or weeds) that grew up and choked the tender plants.  He told of a farmer who planted seed and an enemy came and sowed weeds among his crop.  (Matthew 13) 

Our enemy is walking about, seeking whom he may devour.  To be sure we aren't devoured, we must tend to our spiritual back yards.  I've heard the saying, "not in my back yard"!  As Christians, we often have to take a stand and resist the devil, so that the weeds of discouragement, bitterness, doubt and unforgiveness, to name a few, do not overtake us.  The best way to destroy the weeds is to be cleansed and renewed with the water of The Word....the Living Water.  Oh how refreshing it is when rain finally comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the same is true when we dive in to the Word of God for a time of refreshing and renewal. 

Lord, help me to be good ground for your work, your word and a bearer of good fruit!

Matthew 13:22-23 The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”

Friday, July 8, 2011

Obsessed with Life

These were the words on the card at the memorial visitation of Jeremy Fischer: "Jeremy loved life here on earth.  Because he had a personal relationship with Christ, his life is not over.  He has a new life-not of this earth but in Heaven with his Savior."    Jeremy was 18 years old when he and two friends set out for a 4th of July party this past Monday.  As so many young people have done, they were speeding and the end result was a tragic accident and all three boys died.  Life for the families of these boys will never be the same; their children are gone.  The Fischer family has decided to trust God to make sense of this horrible event and to use this opportunity to tell other young people about how they too can have a relationship with Jesus.  Standing there, beside that casket tonight, my mind went back to some of the other young people that have touched my life. Young people whose lives seemed far too short.

Joyce M. Saylor, was my husband's mother.  She died of cancer at the age of 19.  My husband was only a year old when she died and he has no memory of her.  I have always wondered what kind of mother in law and grandmother she would have been.  My own mother and Joyce were friends in high school.  I remember my mom saying that she would never have believed that she would be the mother in law to the precious baby boy the Joyce left behind.  This was a tragic event in the Saylor family, but they too chose to trust in the Lord and not to rely on their own understanding.  Her parents raised my husband, and they were wonderful grandparents to our children.  We lost them in 2003 and 2004.  I know there must have been a joyous reunion when they were finally able to hold their dear daughter again after 40 years of separation.

John Stump came in to our lives as a near homeless 17 year old, who needed a family and some stability in his life.  My sister and her husband, who was John's cousin, took him in and he became part of our family. He lived one street over from us and John became close to my kids.  I had the opportunity on several occasions to witness to John and we had many conversations about forgiveness and moving on with life.  He had been let down by a mother who was more interested in her boyfriends than her own children, and a dad who was more interested in drugs than his own children. John moved in with his aunt as soon as he graduated but we saw him occasionally and still considered him family.  I remember the day I heard the words come out of John's mouth, "I have testicular cancer".  I cried all day, I couldn't believe that a boy who had been let down by so many people, was now going to be fighting for his life.  Over the next 2 years we watched as he had many ups and downs, then he left us.  At the funeral my brother in law took me aside and said that John told him that it was because of our family that he had come to know the Lord.  He had prayed with a pastor before he died and gave his heart to Jesus.  

In contrast to these lives cut so tragically short, I recently said my final goodbyes to my precious grandfather.  He lived a very long and full life and set a wonderful example of faith and dedication for his family to follow.  As I took this picture this evening, my mind raced back to a dark stormy evening when I was 15 years old.  I was spending the night with my grandparents and I had been upset and crying most of the evening because a boy had broken my heart.  I remember my grandfather sitting with me at the kitchen table and asking me if I was ok.  Then he began to cry also and he said "Pam, my family means everything to me, I hate to see you so upset".  My Papaw was one of the most tenderhearted men I have ever known. 

The old saying is that our lives should not be measured by the date of our birth and death, but by the dash in between.  The dash in between Jeremy Fischer, Joyce Saylor and John Stump's birth and death is certainly not as long as that of Roscoe Burns, but the things that happened during their lives are no more or less important because of the length of their days.  I realize with the loss of so many family members in the last 12 years, I could become obsessed with death.  I like to believe that rather than being obsessed with death, I have used these things to try to become obsessed with life, instead.  None of us knows the number of days we will have until it is our time to leave this earth.  The dash on our headstone should be filled with love and laughter, family and friends.  It should be filled with helping others, leading people to Christ, cherishing the simple things that God has given us to enjoy.  It should be filled with all of the things that make us happy.  I like to believe that in enduring so many deaths, I have come to cherish the simple and beautiful things in life.  Bees buzzing in the flower bed, the sun streaming through the front window every morning, the sound of the piano being played in my house, lightening bugs, and puppies with their butts stuck up the air as they dig under the shed.  Old black and white pictures of relatives, the joy of watching a child open a birthday gift, the smell of a fragrant candle burning in the house or a freshly brewed pot of coffee.  These are just some of the things that make my day a little happier. I want to be so obsessed with life that I never fail to stop and admire the handiwork of God as I see a beautiful sunset.  The vivid colors of fall, the new life of spring; all of these things are much sweeter when you realize that they are part of the dash in between.

I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live.  And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  John 11: 25-26

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Just Shall Live By Faith

Feeling a little troubled in my spirit this evening, I began to get ready for bed and pray that God would lead me to a scripture this evening that would ease my mind.  Lying next to my bed, on the nightstand, was my Bible and it was open to the book of Nahum.  Nahum?  Who reads Nahum?  Anyway, this is my "Spirit Filled Life Bible for Women" and it has lots of little side stories and encouraging words from mighty women of God.  I started to reading through a couple of the stories as I turned the pages and then something caught my eye:

Habakkuk 2: 2-4  “ Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it. 3 For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 4 “ Behold the proud,  His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith."

Here's the Pam translation. Write the vision! Make it plain and expect it to happen!  It may take a while, but it will come to pass! Don't be proud and take matters in to your own hands...LIVE BY FAITH!

I read those words in my Bible, then I prayed, "Ok, Lord, I got it.  You Are reassuring me that all the things I have been waiting on are surely going to happen and you're reminding me to live by faith."  After this I started feeling a bit better and decided to flip through the New Testament and see if there was something else that I should study before calling it a night.  I turned to the book of Galations (I love Galations) and my eyes fell instantly to the top corner of the page where I had underlined Galations 3:11 "But no one is justified by the law in the sight of God. For the just shall live by faith."  So...what is God trying to tell me?  Have I missed something along the way?  I thought I understood this the first time; the just shall live by faith!  

Maybe the question I should be pondering is am I truly living by faith if I am worrying and troubled.  God has not given me a spirit of fear but of power and love and a sound why should I worry?  I think the answer must be that I am one of the proud.  No, not "proud" as in boastful and full of myself. But the kind of person that thinks I should be able to handle every I begin to have the conversation in my head that starts something like this: "why hasn't this happened there something wrong with me or someone else...maybe I should say something..maybe I should do something...maybe I should just let it be known that I am waiting on/expecting (insert need) to happen? Maybe...what if....I don't know if I should...I can't possibly just sit here and wait for....I have to do something. Worry, worry more, repeat as necessary. 

I believe that God is telling me to trust in the work HE has already done, and is going to do.  I can not fix every problem or right every wrong.  I can not make people behave the way I think they should. I can not change circumstances that are beyond my control.  Do I have enough trust in God to live by faith? 

Well, tonight I have decided to start where this evening began; I am writing the vision and making it plain.