Revelations in the Garden

Revelations in the Garden by Kim Spahr

Boy, my garden needed weeding but there was so much to do before my daughter’s family of five arrived!  We had so much fun going to the beach, park, and library. There was also water painting with my grandchildren, cooking, reading, and watching them run through the sprinkler. It was like heaven on earth that week.  

While I was busy having fun, the weeds were having fun too. My garden was one big blob of green when Dan and I took a walk through after they had left. It was difficult to see what was actually growing where. It took a lot of time to get the garden looking like a garden again.

Fortunately I don’t mind weeding. Weeding for me means I am away from TV and phone, and in the fresh air and warmth of the sun. I like the quiet and God and I have a chance to talk. I ask a lot of questions and He has lots of answers. He also shows me how gardening and life are alike. Here are a few lessons I have learned.

He told me when we let the weeds grow in our lives, it makes it unclear for others to see the pathway to follow to get to Him. If we say we are Christians and yet we allow our sin to get out of control, how can people see the garden God has planted in us? It’s hard to see the fruit that is growing in a big patch of weeds.

It is God’s word growing in our hearts that keeps the weeds from prospering and overcoming our fruit.  Psalms 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

Another thing I noticed was when I weed often, the weeds aren’t so big and cumbersome to try and hoe.  So it is with sin in my life. It’s good to get the sin in my life taken care of right away instead of letting it grow and letting the root of the sin getting established in my heart.

I was weeding my peas one day and noticed a vine creeping up the stalks of my peas. Not only in my peas but in the lettuce and nasturtiums too. If I yanked on the vine it would easily pull out that which it had wrapped itself around. The parable of the weeds in the field of wheat found in Matthew 13:24 came to mind. In short, the servants asked if it was okay to go and pull the weeds up but the master told them to wait so they wouldn’t accidentally pull up the wheat too.  

I did do a little surgery with the vines but it took a lot of patience. It took a little snipping here and there until I could pull the root out and not harm the plant. Don’t you wish sometimes God could just yank the sin out of our lives? I wonder how we would fair if He did? God is a very wise caretaker of our hearts, isn’t He?

You should have seen the garden when I had all the weeds pulled. Dan saw it and said, “Wow!” A couple of my friends were amazed too. It really does look glorious. There are nice pathways to walk on. I can actually see the blossoms of my nasturtiums and calendula. How beautiful! My, what a bit (well, actually a lot) of water and some sunshine can do! Likewise what a bit (well, actually a lot) of time in the presence of Jesus and reading the Word can do!

You see, we will always have weeds in our lives until we see our Savior face to face but we don’t have to be perfect for people to say, “Wow! Your life is so different. I see peace and joy in your life? How does that happen? You don’t get upset when everybody else does? Why?” Then they can see clearly the pathway to Jesus.  

May the pathways of the garden in your heart be clean. May your weeds be few and far in between. May God send His rain and sunshine in abundance. Amen!

Seeds

Seeds by Kim Spahr

Well it’s that time of year again when gardeners are going crazy over seeds!  I haven’t fully gotten the hang of using the seeds from the flowers the year before.  So many choices of veggies and flowers! I tried a bit with my nasturtiums, calendula, and marigolds last year but only my calendula actually produced plants.  I should be planting them or starting them indoors or a greenhouse early, but I run a bit behind schedule (always).

Last year I got a small greenhouse made out of plastic to start seeds in.  It was not very successful to say the least. The plants needed to be watered more than if they were outside because of the extra heat inside the greenhouse.  Then the plants needed to be moved around from shelf to shelf because of the amount of light. The plants at the top got more light and heat (drying out faster, too) and the plants below got less light and weren’t growing at the same rate.  I learned that seeds need a lot of attention for the first month because once they sprout, they grow fast!

But isn’t that just like our relationship with God?  The more Light and Water you have in your life, the faster you grow in Christ!  Ever feel like you’re just being and not growing much in the Lord? Try spending some more time in the Light and drinking from the Water of Life.

Did you know that before a seed or a plant is placed in a garden, a gardener will put fertilizer or compost in the dirt so their gardens will grow faster and have healthier plants?  The type of soil you have can sometimes determine the type of plant or seed you can plant. But there is one plant that will grow in any type of soil and that is the weed. Grrr!

And do you know what?  They require no special care.  It doesn’t matter how much rain, sun, or how good or bad the soil is, they are just there.  No garden is without weeds. And so it is with us; it takes more care for a child of God so they grow to reflect the glory of God and produce fruit than it does for a person to who doesn’t know the Lord.

We need to weed so they don’t overcome the garden and choke what’s been planted.  As a gardener tends to the soil, plants, and weeds, so must we read the Word, worship and praise, and fellowship.  A person who doesn’t know Christ just grows up with no special care required.

Do you see the love of our Father who sent Jesus to die for our sins so the Holy Spirit could come and reveal Christ to us?  We can see how He prepares a safe place for us to grow and prosper if we make that choice to abide in Him. What a loving and caring Father we have!

Have a wonderful spring! May your plants grow and prosper, reflecting the glory of God!

The Struggle is Indeed Real

The Struggle is Indeed Real by Pastor John Kitterman

When my children were 5 and 3 years old, the family took a day trip to a nearby softball field where Debbie was playing in a tournament.  We planned to be there all day so we packed several bags, a beach umbrella, and a cooler full drinks and food. Debbie grabbed her things and went out to the field because we were running a few minutes late.  

As I gathered all these items and the children, they announced that they wanted to help.  So, I gave them an assignment to carry a light paper sack that had some blankets and towels.  The sack had those nice twisted handles and each child grabbed a handle. I picked up everything else, checked the parking lot for oncoming cars and started out toward the field.

We made it 3 or 4 steps (into the middle of the driving lane) before they each went slightly different directions and ripped the bag.  Brandi began to cry. I put down the cooler and bent down to console her when the umbrella slipped from my shoulder and bonked her on the head.  Now she was really crying and a car was now headed toward us.

There is a popular phrase to describe these types of situations and it goes, “the struggle is real.”  There is no doubt that at times raising small children make it easy to agree that the struggle is indeed real.  Raising children presents us with an unpredictable set of challenges but “the struggle” is not limited to that arena.  Life has a way of throwing us all sorts of struggles.

Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you might have peace.  In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33).   Jesus is highlighting a difference between trouble (struggle) outside of us in the world and the peace he causes inside of us.

What we see from Jesus here is that we can internalize heavenly, shalom, peace, while the struggle swirls around us.  Jesus provides a source of peace that transcends our circumstances. There are indeed times when it seems as though God is so silent that His peace leaves us.  It’s in these moments we cling to the promises He has spoken to us personally or through scripture.

To close out my story.  A passing stranger walked by and scooped up the cooler, hoisting it up onto his shoulder.  I grabbed Brandi and we all cleared the roadway. This man carried the cooler all the way to the field.  This story is lighthearted, but many of our struggles are more serious.

In this fallen world, our struggles can range from family relationships, to financial, to dealing with the loss of a loved one.  Jesus had just explained to his disciples that he would be leaving the earth and returning to heaven. The disciples would experience the loss of Jesus’.   He explained that they would experience grief but that it would turn to joy.

What if God asked you to stop the struggle?  To stop being in a constant state of struggle.  To stop struggling against your mind.  To stop struggling against your body. To stop struggling against your family.  To stop struggling against money. To stop struggling to feel normal again.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’ll never live up to expectations.  To stop struggling against the idea that you’re not a good enough parent. To stop struggling against the monsters inside your head that no one understands.  To stop struggling against the words spoken over you.  To stop struggling against a permanent sense of loss. 

We may not be rescued from every struggle because the struggle is indeed real.  But superior to the struggle is the Jesus that has overcome the world and the struggle.  In Him we can have peace in the midst of the struggle.

What is your current struggle?  In Jesus, there is peace. Let’s trade our struggles for an internal peace in Jesus that passes all understanding.

Dressed for the Wedding

Dressed for the Wedding by Dave Meyer

In the old days, dressing for the occasion was a given. Even in one of His parables Jesus told of a man who came to a wedding without the proper clothing.

Matthew 22:11-14 (ESV)
11 “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. 12 And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.”  

For many, many years those of us who grew up in the Pentecostal tradition took this as a warning of how we would be treated if we were not perfect as the Father is perfect.  We were not sure of our acceptance into heaven. Would we be welcomed, or would we be cast out because we were not good enough? All of us loved the Lord, we wanted to go to heaven, we were praying and reading the word every day, all were active in church and serving the Lord in every way we could. Still there was in the back of our mind that message Jesus had given that our entrance into heaven would not be decided until we reached the day of reckoning and stood before Jesus and were judged for the things we had done in this life.

Earlier this month my wife and I went to a Pastor’s Cluster in Burien. During the worship time the words to an old hymn that had the music up dated was sung.  As we were singing the last stanza the words hit me like a sledgehammer: “When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found; dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.”

The Lord was saying to me, “Dave when you stand before My throne, are you standing dressed in your righteousness or Mine?”  I started to weep, my heart was broken because He was saying to me, “If it is yours then you will be cast out, if the righteousness you are dressed in is My righteousness then you will be faultless!  My eyes are watering even as I think about now. His righteousness is perfect, I am coming to Him with His righteousness, it is perfect, it is acceptable, I will be faultless!  My friends, the same goes for you! Take this revelation and ruminate on it.

God’s Word

God’s Word by Jill Roleke

Why is it so much easier to say we believe the Bible is true than to actually put it to work in our lives? We quote 1 Peter 5:7 (NLT) that says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you,” but then we worry ourselves sick over things. We fret about our finances and our health but don’t bother to put it into God’s hands.

Do we need to dwell on hurts and offenses? Philippians 4:8 tells us to fix our thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. According to 2 Corinthians 10:5, we need to take every thought captive and make it obedient to Christ.

Are we really doing this though?

I am just as guilty of letting my worries and hurts sway me when I should be asking God to be in charge of the situation.

I think sometimes we throw the Word of God around because we don’t want others to see our doubts or insecurities. We hide behind scripture instead of standing on it.

Many of us don’t even know what the Bible says. Sometimes what we think we know is not really what it says. The only way to remedy this is to actually read it and study it.

We need to hide God’s Word in our heart like the psalmist talked about in Psalm 119:11.  

Knowing God’s Word is important because it allows us to know the difference between truth and inaccuracy. How can we share scripture with others if we don’t even know it ourselves?

Knowing it is not enough though. Even Satan knows scripture. After all, he tried using it against Jesus himself. We need to believe what the Bible says is true. All of it. We can’t pick and choose what we think is true. As far as I’m concerned it either has to all be true or none of it is.

God inspired each word in the Bible. Everything that is there is in it for a reason. He does not make mistakes. Just because we may not like something in it does not mean we get to ignore it.

The Word of God is powerful! He created everything just by speaking it into existence! The power of His Word has not changed. It is a formidable weapon. That is why God gave it to us. I encourage you to start wielding it today!

Believe God’s Word. Stand upon it and see God work. You may be amazed at what He does!

Don’t Settle

Don’t Settle by Pastor Debbie Kitterman

I was jolted awake early one morning when I heard: “Don’t Settle!”

I sat up in bed, got my bearings and realized, no one was there.  I am not sure if I had been dreaming or a heavenly voice woke me up.  It really didn’t matter where it came from, I knew it was from the Lord. He was trying to get my attention and now He had it.

I laid back down and began to pray.  I asked the Lord what He meant and what He needed me to know about settling.  He then whispered gently to my heart like only a loving Father can:

“Don’t Settle.  Don’t you dare settle for anything less than My best and My will for your life.”

I didn’t realize I had been settling, but as soon as God whispered this message to my heart, it became crystal clear. I am going to be really transparent with you.  I had been settling. Ok, not just settling, but I was ready to quit. I was discouraged, frustrated, disappointed and ready to throw in the towel. It seemed like the logical thing to do.

In the months leading up to this, I had been bombarded with things from every direction.  It seemed my life had gone from a fast paced, yet straight road to a roller coaster. My son getting engaged, my dad’s failing health, my aunt being put on hospice, doors being opened for ministry, doors being slammed shut for ministry, and the list goes on.  Disillusionment set in and I began to question my calling, my identity and purpose. I began to listen to the lies and whisper of the enemy. The battle was intense and I was ready to settle.

That is until my early morning wake up call to not settle!  To not give up, to not quit or throw in the towel.  It did stop me in my tracks and while I didn’t immediately turn around, I stopped the downward spiral and spinning out of control.  It was enough for me to refocus on God and not my circumstances. It was enough for me to take a step back and realize I had been listening to lies and not taking my rightful position as a daughter of the King.  I hadn’t been practicing what I preach. I had not been holding onto the promises and prophecies God has spoken over me and about me. I had become weary of the battle. I was not standing my ground.

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9 NIV).

Rick Warren says this about Galatians 6:9: “This is the law of the harvest: There is always a delay between sowing and reaping. You plant in one season, and you reap in another. God wants to see if you’re going to keep cultivating, planting, and sowing. If he sees consistency in your life, then the harvest will come. It will not come immediately, because it proves nothing if he does it immediately — no character development or stretching your faith.”

Do you find yourself weary or settling for less than God’s best for your life?  If so, stop. Take a minute to breathe deeply. Now, refocus – Not on your current situation and circumstances but instead on God.  Then ask God to bring back to your remembrance His plans, promises and prophesies He has spoken to you. Write these words out and then read and read them as many times as is needed, and as always pray.  Pray and ask God to strengthen you, to help you not quit, to not give up or throw in the towel, but to stand your ground.

Father God, we ask for You to show us the areas of our life where we are settling for less than Your best.  We ask for You to remind us of Your prophecies and promises. Give us strength as we stand our ground and trust in You.  Amen!