in the garden

I've been trying to tidy up my backyard garden area.

I've been thinking that life is like a garden. It takes constant tending to make it the place it is supposed to be.

There are lots of directions I could go with this theme. The Bible has some amazing verses about gardens and the things that happen in them. They are wonderful places of understanding, of truth, and of guidance.

But this morning, I found myself listening to the words about being "In the Garden" with my Lord -- and how important it is to spend time listening to His voice.

 


neglect

Shack2Sometimes object lessons appear before us when we least expect them.

My dad’s old Amish shed sat unopened for many years.  During that time, ivy grew up its northern wall and around the ground outside of it.  Several holes appeared in its roof allowing rain to invade and rot the interior of the building.  A rose planted in one of its raised beds began to resemble the demonic thorn bush Maleficent magically grew to prohibit Prince Philip from reaching the sleeping beauty, Aurora.  A flowering shrub was planted to balance the rosebush on the front of the building and grew into a small tree.  Groundhogs and rabbits and snakes and spiders and ants took up residence within its walls and beneath its plywood floor.  A volunteer tree grew beside the building's south side in seeming sympathy – to keep it company and to shade it from the afternoon sun.

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new creation

Spring. The world reborn. How beautiful the world must have been when it was a new creation if the beauty it currently has is so breathtaking...

The birds of the heavens
and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.
O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is your name in all the earth.
(Psalm 8:8-9)

Music: Paul Cardall, "New Creation"


God's Grandeur


Morning
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
 
And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
 
- Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889)

forgive me

Waterfall3O my wretched ways
Hinders my communion with You
Forgive me of my evil ways
Let me be repentant and true

Keep me in Your righteousness
I sincerely need your forgiveness
For all of my lawlessness
And unholiness

I am in deep sorrow
For I have brought You sorrow
Lead me as I follow
Your path into tomorrow
Let me not go astray
Lead me in the right way
Steadfast in Your Way
Never looking away

- Marilyn Bouniu, 2017


narrow

NarrowApologies for irregular postings during the past few weeks.  It's that time of year when yard work and home clean up dogs at me - and although spring is a pretty time of year, it is for me one of the most tiresome times.

At the same time, with Easter I struggle with thoughts about church and my relationship to it and to my Lord. I stumbled onto an author this past week when I found myself wondering "Is Jesus Enough?". As I read his materials, I found myself thinking over the years since I accepted Jesus as my Savior (1970), to the years when I slowly exited the church (finding that much of the time I spent in church I felt I was disconnected), to now when I find I am becoming more and more content to consider my relationship with Jesus more of a solo pilgrimage.

I confess that many times along the narrow path I have detoured from the way that leads to life. Such is the nature of a solo pilgrimage. But I am finding my way back and determining that walking with Jesus is enough.


the blank page

BookpageI recently read this encouraging little story...

_________

I’m supposed to write an article filled with biblical and practical wisdom that will inspire pastors to be better leaders, counselors and preachers, all the while knowing that I need to be on the other end of that article. I need to be the reader, not the writer. So I sat in my office, staring at a blank page.

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uphill

Uphill

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
    Yes, to the very end.
Will the day's journey take the whole long day?
    From morn to night, my friend.

But is there for the night a resting-place?
    A roof for when the slow dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
    You cannot miss that inn.

Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
   Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
   They will not keep you standing at that door.

Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
   Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
   Yea, beds for all who come.

- Christina Rosetti


true love

Shepherd1Dear God,

Help me today to understand what love really means.

I don’t mind the red and pink, the plentiful chocolates, and construction paper hearts. I don’t mind that the florists are having a lucrative day. I don’t mind whatever romantic comedy will be coming out in theaters, whatever beautiful heroine falls in love with a hunky hero even though they started out as enemies. I don’t mind the corny poetry and sappy love songs and interminable kissing. I think love is allowed to include all of these things.

But I need for love to be so much more.

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there is a cloud

I call songs like this "meditative community worship".  Lots of repetition mixed with lots of metaphors that create spiritual pictures and remind of a rich spiritual relationship believers have with one another and with God. (The allusion to Elijah and the coming rains of 1 Kings 18 ["...there is a cloud beginning to swell..."] is particularly nice, though I guessing today's young worshipers would not understand  it without a reference or introduction.) These songs are good, but I still think they're on a much different track of the worship genre of music.  I guess this is where I'm old school. Compared to such songs as "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" and "How Great Thou Art", they're lacking depth.  Still, if they are stimulating a new generation to adore the Savior, my prayer is that they will be the stepping stones that bring brothers and sisters in Christ to greater and greener pastures of growth and devotion.

NOTE: This is NOT an endorsement of the ministry of Elevation Church, a mega-church in North Carolina. I listened to the song and found it an interesting work. I would suggest, however, that you research the ministry of Elevation Church with a focused mind on what God's Word says.

 


through the windows of the soul

Windowsquote"I don’t want to live in the kitchen of religious activity, distracted with all my preparations. I don’t want to live slumped over some steamed-up stove, worried and upset about so many things. I want to live at the Savior’s feet, gazing into His eyes, listening to His words, and seeing as many windows as He’ll show me. At His feet is where we learn to pause at those windows. It starts by loving Him and longing to hear His voice. When we’re slaving away in some kitchen where the pots and pans are clanging, it’s hard to hear that voice. But when we’re at His feet and our heart is still, we can hear Him even when He whispers."

Gire, Ken. Windows of the Soul (p. 36). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.


teach me to pray

Pray1While I was doing some dishes yesterday - and fixing a piece of toast - I was listening to a radio broadcast of local church. A prayer was being offered by a lay leader and I found myself listening as he spoke. My initial thought was "Oh please, you're not at a racetrack. Slow down. Think about who you're talking to..."  The prayer was a rushed mess instead of something intimate, or inspirational, or influential.

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The Poirot Bible

He is for me the ideal Hercule Poirot - Agatha Christie's unflappable Belgian detective. And yet many do not know that he is also a Christian with his conversion experience beginning in the late 1980's with a reading of the book of Romans from a hotel Bible.

Now he has a complete reading of the New International Version of the Bible to present; "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." (Romans 10:17)




the soul's windows

Window1Like any new year, we aspire to make changes in life that would make our lives better.

Last year I downsized my library and gave away many books to two churches. As I was sorting through them and trying to decide which ones to keep and which ones to give away, I found myself remembering them - like old friends known but rarely seen. I remember dropping off the books at one church and driving way, looking at the boxes remaining on the curb and wondering where they might end up and who might benefit from them. It made me wonder if this was like to drop off a child at a preschool and instantly start to miss them.

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seeing, believing, and lost keys

Key"I don’t see why faith should be seen as inconsistent with science. There is nothing illogical about miracles if a Creator God exists. If a God exists who is big enough to create the universe in all its complexity and vastness, why should a mere miracle be such a mental stretch? To prove that miracles could not happen, you would have to know beyond a doubt that God does not exist. But that is not something anyone can prove.

"Science must always assume that an effect has a repeatable, natural cause. That is its methodology. Imagine, then, for the sake of argument that a miracle actually occurred. Science would have no way to confirm a nonrepeatable, supernatural cause. Alvin Plantinga argued that to say that there must be a scientific cause for any apparently miraculous phenomenon is like insisting that your lost keys must be under the streetlight because that’s the only place you can see."

- Pastor Tim Keller from a NYTimes interview with Nicholas Kristof