Monday, May 30, 2011

Make Room

Red-Letter Monday

We collect things. Things fill our shelves, boxes, closets – rooms. 

   Entire television programs have been devoted to the excess of stuff. An entire industry revolves around the storage of our overflow of stuff.

   Many lives are cluttered. Some psychologists contend that hoarding is symptomatic; it points to inward turmoil. They’re probably right. 

   Incidentally, Jesus doesn’t keep any disciples on the basis of nostalgia: “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away” (Jn. 15:2). Jesus throws away stuff.

Let us search our hearts, clear the clutter, and make room for eternity. It’s in our hearts (Ecc. 3:11). It’s probably under our stuff. 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Friday Reflection

"Sweat and Tears in the Garden"

   Our garden has two levels. I plowed the upper tier of our garden about two weeks ago to make room for tomatoes and peppers. It is rocky and dry, and I hadn't plowed it in 2 seasons. I dreaded it.  However, I was surprised and so grateful for the ease with which the ground yielded.

   The lower tier is fertile and rich, a joy to plow and work. But this year, it was more like wet clay. The tiller clogged over and again. Several times I wanted to quit. But 26 plants - now  overgrowing their starter pods - begged to be put in the ground.

   Saturday night, when the sun finally tucked behind the giant maple, casting a shadow over much of the yard, I grabbed the tiller and headed back. Before long, sweat soaked my socks, saturated my gloves, soaked my shirt, and then, began dripping from my brow.

   It was then that I thought of the words, "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground" (Gen. 3:19). The curse. Sin. All this tilling and sweating and fighting - two days to get a couple rows of plants in the ground, because of sin.

   Not just any sin; my sin. As I looked back through the dirt, I now saw paths of destruction. Earthworms torn in half, insects scurrying from their homes. Their death in exchange for my life. Man and his invention leaving a path of devastation.

   And the clods of earth - the saturated, vine-filled earth - unwilling to yield, to follow, to give in. It fought me (or I fought it) to the bitter end.

   Then, a thought consumed me, and brought me to the point of tears. I prayed, "My Father, I am sorry. I am so sorry that I am sometimes like this earth. Please forgive me for when I have been unyielding, for causing you such difficulty. I never want to disappoint you. I want to be good soil."

   Then, my sorrow turned to praise. "I don't deserve any of my blessings. Should this garden yield little, I will learn humility. Should it yield much, I will learn thanksgiving. Either way, I will rejoice in your goodness. I have failed you, but you have never failed me."

   Later in the evening, as I began to write up this post, I thought of the Lord, in the Garden of Gethsemane. I remembered the words of the song,

"When Christ the man of sorrows, 
with tears and sweat as blood, 
prostrate in the garden, 
raised his voice to God."

Me and my silly garden, my frustrations, my silly sweat and tears. 

My Lord, Jesus - is awesome. He suffered alone in the olive press.

The next day, with no thought for himself, 
he was crushed for me.

For you.



Thursday, May 26, 2011

What I'm Reading

Be Still?

This passage from my reading in Jeremiah caught my eye this week:  

Ah, sword of the LORD! How long till you are quiet? 
Put yourself into your scabbard; rest and be still! 
How can it be quiet when the LORD has given it a charge?
(Jer. 47:6-7)

    Under consideration in this text is God's judgment against the long-time enemies of Judah, the Philistines. 

   But of greater significance is the principle: God is always moving, doing - at work. There are a number of things God cannot do. Being still, not thinking, not doing, are none of those things.

   Furthermore, an apparent delay (from our perspective) should not rattle our trust:

Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. 
For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end--it will not lie. 
If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. 
(Hab. 2:2-3)

   I read somewhere recently that God does not work according to time, but according to purpose. That sounds accurate.

God may not be punching a clock, but He is working.

What caught your eye this week? 


Monday, May 23, 2011

Red Letter Monday

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return..." - Lk. 6:35a

I have a hard time with this. I expect a return. Even when I don't mean to, in some situations, I do. 

   Recently, an individual in whom I have invested reasonably, not only returned nothing, but spite. I am not nearly as hurt by the lack of thanksgiving, as I am the return of evil for good

   Yet, my heavenly Father calls me to this experience. It helps me identify with the disappointment He feels when His precious creation, made in His image, reviles Him. Even as He provides blessing upon blessing, many remain His enemy. 

   "Expect nothing." I used to think it was the talk of pessimism. Rather, it's the difficult work of love, which does right simply because it is the right thing to do.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

Friday Reflection

Not everyone appreciates Christianity.

   Most Americans understand freedom, whether they realize it or not. Professing Christians here have met in fine buildings and have enjoyed prosperity and comfort. It's not that way everywhere.

   Brothers and sisters around the world face hatred, persecution, threats and even death for conversion to Christianity. American Christians are largely sheltered to this inconvenience. We have both the comfort of salvation, and abundant lives to enjoy. 

   Pray for our brethren around the world who must make a daily to choice to die for Christ, or bow to idolatrous and wicked men. Pray for those who persecute and hate Christian missionaries for the opportunities they present to those dying in false religion (Mt. 5.44-45).

   Pray for brethren here, in the states, that we will fight the spiritual wickedness and lethargy that has allowed America's heart to be infiltrated with post-modern pluralism. And pray for traveling missionaries who have a heart for God and the souls of men, and pay no regard to the threats of those who wish them harm.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Poem: God's Breath

At the nudging of a friend, and with the help of my favorite person, my blog is officially underway (again, and for real this time).

During the month of May, I have been writing a Limerick-a-day, just for fun and practice. 
Some semi-profound. Some mundane. All to a private e-mail list. 
I was asked to make this one public.
On other days, I just might have something else worth sharing.

But for today, just Limerick #17:

God’s Breath
Will you count, if you can, all the stars?
Or the planets, from Neptune to Mars?
Impressive! Exquisite!
What power – no limit!
God, with a breath, made them all.

(c) Rick Kelley, 2011