8/27/2016

Take This Life

The world won't make me a star. When I was a young girl I thought I'd be on stage or on the big screen by now. I thought my place was in front of everyone, entertaining them and creating feelings in the masses. The future held such fantastical possibilities.

That future is now. I'm not one of the well-known names that is also a product that sells itself. Not because I'm no good at what I do, but because I'm becoming good in what I am becoming right where I am. I didn't master the industry's machine. I refused to manipulate people to try and further my career. Also, the way wasn't paved for me. Opportunities have so often passed me by because I won't compromise my conscience. The cost was always too high so I walked away.

Our time is spent every second. We can either invest in Kingdom priorities or we can invest in all that is passing away. Look around you today. Look beyond the cars, the homes, the opportunities to advance, and look at all the faces. Look at the frustrating people, the unlovely people, the celebrated people, and the rest of the people. The people are what is eternal about any situation. The rest is passing away.

God leads me down paths that I assume are for the betterment of my temporal circumstances and then they fail. I question His faithfulness as if He promised me success. Disappointment can be such an obstacle when holding too tightly to expectations. What God promised was Life and that I would share it with others in my path. He creates/allows certain needs that cause me to reach out for certain people. When I am with them I sense that God made the appointment for purposes that are far beyond my own needs being met. I thought I was in the mom's group because I needed to make friends. God had His own plans for my time spent there. When I was there, He was able to move within that place through me.

Obedient children of God are extensions of Himself. But we are each unique in our "packaging". The Holy Spirit in our spirit is a unique combination that results in a specific manifestation of God here on Earth. In other words, God can only express Himself in this unique way when He's working through our unique spirit, soul, and circumstances. For example, we fit into designated areas reserved only for the type of person that we were created to be. Jesus, the Son of Man, could not participate in an open mic at the local pub without drawing a special kind of attention. But Jesus, by His Spirit operating through me is subtle enough to work His way into the hearts of listeners at the same pub without the sort of resistance He might have faced as He was in Galilee so long ago.

Jesus Christ will return in His glory and every knee will bow. But until that day we, His bride, are to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves in our covert missions for God the Father. The enemy is crafty and he knows an adversary when he sees one. He will do his best to discourage, distract, or destroy us. But God will have His way in the hearts of His children, despite all that. We bring the fire that ignites the hearts of the chosen. Then we just walk away and let the Spirit do His work in them. Praise God who is almighty in power, grace, and love and who chooses to live in and work through His beloved creation.

There's a world within this world. The illusion is that I'm suffering hardship and inconvenience. But what God is doing is creating more need in me so my reach becomes wider. People I never thought I'd depend on are now hearing my story and are opening their hearts to my words. They'll want to know where I get my hope and strength. My temporal needs will be met as God leads me to each person He has placed on my path. But my eternal needs are already satisfied and I have an overflow of abundant life to hand out.

Thank you, to the ones who have filled my temporal needs. The cup of cold water was not lost on me. Thank you also for giving me the chance to offer you what I have which is more of a blessing for me to give! Take the Life of this Spirit that loves you so wildly. His love for you has caused me to endure the hardship that brought me to your doorstep. For God's sake, take His love!
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8/04/2016

We All, Like Plants

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. John 15:4,5

Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full. John 15:9-11

Jesus talks about a growing plant, a vine. When's the last time you saw a plant do anything to make itself grow? Or when did you ever see a branch decide one day to jump off of the main shoot and dry up out of stubbornness? Plants don't do stuff like that. They need elements to align or influence to converge in order to have anything happen within them.

I have a brown thumb. It's a fact that plants are safer if they grow under the care of someone far from me. But I've taken it upon myself to have another garden this year. The kids and I planted some bush beans, radishes, spinach, chard, and some pumpkins. We don't really care about anything but the pumpkins. Our pumpkin plants are getting bigger and taking over the garden. We're going to pull everything else up and make it a pumpkin patch. Yeah, it's so much more fun to watch pumpkins grow than bush beans!

The other plants weren't doing well anyway. Lots of bad things have happened. The beans are pasty and small, the radishes were tiny, and the chard was severely chewed. There are many factors that contributed to the demise of the plants in our vegetable garden. I couldn't tell you which one is the main culprit, but the pumpkins are the winner. 

Plants are vulnerable to the elements. If they don't get enough nourishment they will start to wither or dry up. If they get too much water they will die or if they get a bad balance of nutrients in the soil they will die. If animals chew on them, they die. If the sun is too hot, they die. If I forget about them over in the corner of the room, yep, they die. Plants can really be a lot of maintenance and work, especially when they're dying. But they aren't the ones that do the work of changing their environment. They need God's natural laws or people to care for them if they are to survive and thrive. Sheep, too, but plants especially are dependent on so much outside influence. 

Winds blow, heat bakes, and other creatures attack. The plant is vulnerable to being ripped limb from limb, literally, by outside forces. If we are the branches on a plant and our job is to stay on the plant, there must be something trying to pull us off. So many things come to mind! Temptations, the sin around us, guilt by association, the circumstances we were born into, and lack of spiritual nourishment. All of it can act as elements to pull us from our Vine. 

Yet, we have one job: to stay put. The storm rages and our house needs to be solid. The lies whisper to us and we need to stay true. The devil lures us and we need to resist. There is plenty for us to do as branches, but it's more about holding ground than crusading. People get burned out so easily by giving into the distractions around them. The well-meaning distractions are the most dangerous. Those are the ones we convince ourselves we're doing for Jesus but that He never led us into doing. It's when we sacrifice obedience to His Spirit for personal glory in our abilities that we start to remove ourselves from the Vine. The connection becomes weak and feeble and brittle. The nourishment stops because we have the power to refuse it.

I suppose that's how we differ from plants: the will within us to refuse God's life. The original sinful choice to reject God's way in order to pursue our own. That's what stops the flow of life to our branch. That's the only internal factor that plants don't inherently have. Jesus spoke to a fig tree once as if it were a person. He addressed it in Matthew 21 as "you" when He said, "May no fruit ever come from you again!" Immediately the tree withered. Was He casting judgment on a part of His creation that doesn't make choices? The fig tree was a symbol just as the story of the vine and branches were. The "branches" that wither and fall off are the ones that refuse Life. The "fig trees" that aren't ready for their Master to come and ask of them their fruit do not belong to Him and are fit for the fire as well. Abiding every moment means being ready every moment to give an account to your Maker. 

Is it humbling to be referred to as a plant? Talk about vulnerable! I thought it was humbling enough to be called a sheep. But sheep eat plants! Well, they eat grass anyway. We are at the mercy of so much and yet we think we're so powerful. Our choices only matter for what they mean to God. The other choices are chaff ready for the fire. The choices to abide and  to be ready are the ones that matter most. They are our only work.