Tending the Garden

We had some rain this week and I tried to take advantage of the soft ground and get out in the back yard and pull some weeds out of the garden. Even though it is winter, a few have popped up lately due to some of the warm weather we have had. Those things just seem to keep coming and never stop. I guess it is the same way with us and our lives as well; we have to be diligent and continually tend to the gardens of our lives so that the weeds don’t overtake the flowers. That can be a tough job and one that is difficult for us to do on our own. I think that is what David was saying at the end of Psalm 139 when he says:

Psalm 139:23 “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way.”

David wants to live a life that is pleasing to God. He wants to remove the weeds and the clutter and offer a place of peace and beauty to the Lord. And David knows that try as he might, the job is too much for him, so he asks God for help. I am certain that God heard and answered David’s prayer. I am certain of that because I know the Lord is always ready to help us, to minister to us and bring a measure of beauty and peace to our lives that we cannot bring on our own.

Posted in Christianity, faith, God, God will help you, God's Love, God's Strength, Pleasing God, pruned by God, Psalm 139:23, religion, Search Me O God, the love of God | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Truth of Christmas Songs

I love the songs of Christmas. As a kid growing up I did not spend a lot of time in church. What I learned about God, heaven, and Jesus I picked up mostly in Vacation Bible School and I learned a lot from Christmas songs. I love the truths found in the Christmas carols. For example that verse in “O Come All Ye Faithful.”

“Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning;
Jesus, to thee be glory given; Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing:
O come, let us adore Him, O come let us adore Him, Christ the Lord.”

There are some great truths of the faith presented in the words of those songs. But even beyond the words of truth present in those songs, what spoke to me was the spirit of the songs. I don’t see how anyone can listen to those songs and not experience a sense of reverence, a sense of peace and God’s goodwill. I can tell you that as a child when I heard Silent Night, when I heard Away in a Manger, when I heard those types of Christmas songs my heart was filled with peace. The hustle and bustle of this world, the chaos of life seemed to slow down and there seemed to be a sense of order and it seemed as if God was telling me that because of the gift of His Son everything was going to be all right. To me, even as a child, it just seemed there was too much chaos in the world.

As I grew I learned that just as the Christmas songs say, Christ came to offer peace on earth and goodwill to men…gifts that only He can give. He offers peace even in the midst of the most difficult situations. Christ offers peace to us even when we have done wrong even when we have brought more chaos into our own lives. In John chapter 8 there is a woman who has been caught in the act of adultery and Jesus intervenes in the midst of that situation. He brings peace to the situation. He grants her forgiveness and sends her on her way. She is sent on her way not as one condemned, and not as one condoned but as one commissioned to receive His grace and to sin no more and to know the peace and the order that only Christ can bring to one’s life.

Christ offers peace even in the midst of our personal aches and pains. He is the Good Shepherd spoken of by David in Psalm 23. He restores the soul. As David said in Psalm 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.”

The New Testament records for us person after person strengthened and comforted by Christ as He engaged in His earthly ministry. Jesus still reaches out to comfort us and give us peace today. He said in

Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29 “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I did not know that verse when I was a kid. And I did not know what weary and heavy-laden was but there were things that caused me grief and there were some things made me tired. And I knew from the Christmas songs I heard that Jesus Christ offered peace to me. I knew that in His presence it could be a silent night; it could be a holy night. He had the power to step into my world and make it calm and make it bright. There was a need in my soul, there was a longing that only He could satisfy. Verse 3 of the song “Away in a Manger” captured the prayer of my heart:

“Be near me, Lord Jesus, I ask thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me, I pray;
Bless all the dear children in thy tender care,
And fit us for heaven to live with Thee there.”

Oh dear friend, the Christmas songs are right. If you need peace, if you need rest, you need Jesus Christ. We should adore Him. He is Christ the Lord. There is a need of your soul, there is a longing that only He can satisfy. I wish you a Merry Christmas. I wish you the peace and goodwill that only Christ can bring.

Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Church, Forgiven, God Loves Me, O Come All Ye Faithful, Psalm 23:4 | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Need a Job

I was at the park the other day and I saw a lady walking a beautiful, energetic puppy that must have been about 4 months old. I asked her if it was a Belgian Malinois and she replied that it was. I said something about it being a good looking dog and how smart I heard they were. She readily agreed and went on to tell me that this dog already had a job. She said, “He has an important job ahead of him. His owners knew that he was going to be a police dog before he was even born.” She also told me how she helps socialize young dogs before they go on to their formal training. Our conversation reminded me of something the Lord said to the prophet Jeremiah at the beginning of his ministry.

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Before Jeremiah was born, the Lord had a job lined up for him. Jeremiah had a plan and a purpose to his life. The Lord goes on to promise Jeremiah that He will help Jeremiah to do the job He has given Jeremiah. Just like Jeremiah, God has a plan and a purpose for all of us in our lives, one that has been uniquely designed and ordained for us even before we were born. And like Jeremiah, the Lord will equip us and empower us to fulfill our plans if we let Him. Whatever God asks us to do, He will always help us to do. I hope that you have a blessed day and a very Merry Christmas.

Posted in Be Prepared, chaplaincy training program, Church, faith, God, God has a plan for you, Jeremiah 1:5, ministry work | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Offering Water

I had a good conversation with somebody the other day in a parking lot about church. They told me they never really felt like they experienced “God’s presence” in the few times they went to church. They said the only time they felt God’s presence was one time when they were working and a neighbor brought them a big glass of cold water. They ended up sitting down together, talking about a lot of things and their neighbor prayed for them. They asked me what I thought about that. I told them that while God’s word encourages us to assemble together, “You don’t have to be in church to have church.” We talked a little more, I encouraged him to keep seeking God’s direction on some things and then we prayed. This man thanked me and said, “You know, I think we just had church.”

I would have to agree with him. I think we did have church. And as Christians, we need to “have church” more often in our churches. We need to reach out to those who visit, engage them and get to know them. We need to make them feel welcome so that they experience God’s love through us.

And we must “have church” more often outside our churches. We need to take cold glasses of water to our neighbors (who is my neighbor?– see Luke 10:25-37), we need to minister to and talk to and interact with and engage and LOVE people outside of the walls of that physical building we mistakenly refer to as “the church.” We need to offer water much more often than we do.

Posted in Christianity, Church, Experiencing God's Presence, Good Neighbor, Good Samaritan, I don't like my church, Luke 10:25 - 37, Neighbor, Walk in Love | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cast Your Cares on Him

Over the years I have been blessed to visit with and listen to people in nursing homes, hospital rooms, and even parking lots. And it has been a gift to see the healing that begins as people unpack some of their problems and cast their cares upon the Lord. There really is a benefit to unloading our burdens and handing them to Him. It seems like that during that time when we try to sort things out and place them on the table before us, we recognize that some things are smaller than we’ve imagined them to be. Over time we may have made mountains out of some mole hills and now that we have put things in perspective we are ready to begin to move on down the road.

Many times though, we see that things are indeed substantial in size and scope. They aren’t just mole hills; they are real hills that we will have to climb. But as we look at them God speaks to us. He gives us insight and wisdom; He helps us craft a plan to push forward and take a few more steps up the hill.

And some things we unpack are indeed monstrous in size and scope. We feel the weight of them. The room grows heavy just speaking of them and we recognize there is no way we can carry such a load. We see these things for what they are…impossible. And suddenly we realize, only God can handle the impossible. And we ask for the help, the courage, the strength and the faith to give these impossible things to Him. We ask for the faith to give all things to Him because that is His desire for us.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Posted in 1 Peter 5:7, Christianity, Church, faith, God's Mercy, God's Peace | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

He Looks for Us

Marta and I went for a walk on Saturday morning. About halfway through, our walk was interrupted by distant shouts of “I see ‘em. I see em!” I looked up to see two little blondies turn the corner of the block and come running straight toward us as fast as they could, hugging us and shouting, “Nana! Papaw!” The girls knew we were on a walk that morning, they knew the paths we travel and they convinced their mom to go with them and see if they could find us. They found us all right and except for some neighbors who may have been still trying to sleep, it wasn’t really an interruption at all. I love those girls.

Their little search party reminded me of several passages of scripture that speak to the way the Lord looks for us. In Luke chapter 15 Jesus who has been scolded by the Pharisees for “eating with sinners” attempts to share with the religious leaders His passion for seeking those who need His touch. He speaks of a shepherd with one hundred sheep who would “leave the ninety-nine in the open pasture and go after the one which is lost until He finds it. He speaks of a woman with ten silver coins who would search her house diligently to find one if it was lost. Then Jesus closes with the story of the prodigal son. He tells of a young man who demanded his inheritance from his father, ran away with it and squandered it and then had to return to his father’s home in shame. The story ends with the father watching for his son, seeing him while he is still far off and joyously running out to meet him. The father has been waiting, aware of the path his son has traveled and longing for the young man’s return. As I think of that story and the father running out to meet his son, I can almost hear the father saying, “I see him! I see him!” As this thought crosses my mind I smile. I am grateful that God loves us so much that He seeks after us, longing to embrace us, to forgive us and receive us no matter what path we have traveled. And I am grateful that the Lord reminded me in such a lovely way.

Posted in Christianity, Church, forgiveness, God Seeks After Us, God's Grace, Lost Sheep, Luke 15:1-32, religion, The Prodigal, wandered off | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I Met with Jesus in a Parking Lot

I met with Jesus at a gas station early this morning. I know it sounds a little crazy, but the truth is, He was there. So was a guy I’m going to call Fred. As a matter of fact, Fred is the reason Jesus showed up at the gas station so early. Fred happened to be there getting gas when I pulled up. He saw the magnet on the side my car that says “The Baptist Church of Driftwood” and he started up a conversation. Fred said, “This may sound awkward but would you pray for me?” I said I would and we talked for a few minutes about some concerns he had. Then we prayed. That’s how I know Jesus was there. He tells us in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Early in the morning, at a gas station, me and Fred met with the Lord and gave some cares and concerns over to Him. We asked the Lord to give Fred strength, wisdom, insight and the resources he needs to deal with his concerns. And I know the Lord heard our prayer…after all, He was right there with us.

Posted in Be Prepared, Christianity, Church, God, I Met with Jesus in a Parking Lot, Matthew 18:20, prayer, Praying for Others, religion, someone to listen | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment