Monday, April 28, 2014


One might expect a little child to ask such an innocent, naive question when watching the rain fall. 

Since I am a “forever-child” of my Heavenly Father, I don't think He will object to my asking the same question. 

We didn't have many of the traditional "April showers" this year so with only two days left in the month, nature is trying to catch up today.

 A dark, overcast sky with gentle raindrops pattering on my roof and splashing in puddles on my driveway evokes conflicting emotions within me—I feel wistful, happy, yet sad, reflective, peaceful, nostalgic, and pensive all wrapped up with melancholy. 

Rain makes me feel both restful and restless.


Why does the sky cry?
Is it for what has been and is no more?
Is it for what is not and never will be?
Is it for what will be but is delayed?
Does the sky cry from emptiness or fullness?
Or simply because in the cycle of seasons
it is time to cry?
The sky needs release and the thirsty ground
needs sky tears to soften the soil
and prepare for spring: the planting
sprouting, birth of life.
The weeping sky and the rejoicing earth
meet in expectancy for the certainty
of growth after the spring rain.

Why does my heart cry?
I don't know why. Perhaps for all the reasons
of the sky and earth combined
since I am part of that cycle of life and its seasons.
I seem to be always in transition, always in anticipation
always in passage to another stage.
I, too, cry from emptiness and from fullness
and for release. Sometimes wistfully looking backward
and then again pressing longingly forward.
Sometimes my tears are neither sad nor glad.
Perhaps my tears are the bridge between
the loving decrees of God for my life
those unknown episodes still beyond the horizon
and the thirst of my earth-heart to know what they are
and what the coming spring will bring
after the planting, after the sprouting
after the births of life that will come forth in me
after my spring rain.


Most of us have been “in the pits” at one time or another—figuratively, literally, emotionally,    spiritually, circumstantially, financially, healthwise—you name it. Perhaps you are in a pit now....

There are many kinds of pits.I'm not referring to the pit as the grave or death, as the term is often used in the Old Testament. Nor to the bottomless pit of Revelation in the prophetic last days.  In its basic meaning a pit is a natural or artificial hole or cavity in the ground. 

But among the uses of the word, it also refers to an excavation for the removal of mineral deposits as in pit mining, to an orchestra pit in a theater, a sunken pit in a garage floor from which mechanics may work on cars, a pit or stone in certain fruits, and a pit stop beside an auto racecourse where cars are refueled and serviced during a race. 
File:Alonso Renault Pitstop Chinese GP 2008.jpg Well, we're getting close to what I want to talk about. 

As a slang term, “the pits” refers to the worst of some situation. There are ordinary, run-of-the-mill pits or little potholes in our lives like negative, adverse circumstances. But we know we are experiencing a worst case scenario when we seem to hit bottom with a thud. Some pits are miserable or depressing situations that seem to go on and on without relief.

Scripture is full of pit references. It describes life in the pit as “empty with no water,” “dark and deep” “full of terror,” a place where you have “no strength,” where “God's face seems hidden,” where “serpents bite you,” where you “feel desolate” and "forgotten." In some of our life pits we experience all of the above.

How does the Bible say we get into our pits? Sometimes we dig our own pits. At other times we find ourselves in a pit through no fault of our own. Sometimes people set a trap and we fall into a pit. Someone may leave a pit open by accident. Sometimes we are blind and are led by other blind men and both of us fall into the pit. Pits are a part of life in a fallen world among fallen mankind.

In the story of Job we feel so sorry for him because he was in one traumatic pit after another and he was not to blame. Young Gideon was in a personal pit and his nation too was in a pit of international proportions. Total defeat was near. When the angel of the Lord appeared to him and addressed him, “The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior,” Gideon replied (paraphrased) “Yeah, right! Oh my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us? Where are all His miracles...the Lord has abandoned us....” And the Lord said to him, “Go in this your strength...have I not sent you?...Surely I shall be with you, and you shall defeat [your enemy].” And it was so.

King David seemed to be constantly complaining to the Lord about his pit experiences in the Psalms, and the Lord was continually rescuing him and lifting him high upon a Rock. He could shout time and again, "He has redeemed my life from the pit and crowned me with lovingkindness and tender mercies" (Psalm 103:4).

In the Genesis story, Joseph's brothers threw him into a pit. It was all part of God's big plan but Joe didn't know it. Even after he was rescued, he was not done with the pits. There was one pit after another later including prison pit experiences.We are not told how long Joe's pit sentence was, how long he was in the pit before his encounter with the other two prisoners who were released. But it was long enough to be appointed chief warden in charge of all the other prisoners. It is recorded that he stayed in his pit for two more years after the baker and the cupbearer were released. To all appearances it looked as if he was forgotten and abandoned. 

But Joe put a positive spin on it while doing his pit time. God was working on him during his “pit stop,” refueling him with wisdom, toughening him, and preparing him for the most influential position in Egypt in the kingdom of Pharaoh. God honored his attitude and good behavior in the pit and in the fulness of time, God brought him out.

Granted, in race car competition the pit stops are voluntary and necessary. In our lives they may be necessary to prepare us for something God has for us in the future. But for whatever reasons we find ourselves in a pit, let's not fret about it. Let's pit mine gold from our situation. Let's consider it "All Good."
Easy to say in hindsight, but pit life is not fun and games. We are prone to discouragement, depression, and disillusionment and "for the time it seems grievous."

Nevertheless, a pit is not meant to camp in or build a permanent residence. The sun is shining brightly above the pit if you look up. Some people do stay in their pit longer than necessary because they wallow in self pity. They allow the enemy to steal, kill and destroy what is rightfully theirs in Christ. God is not abandoning us in the pit. When we cry unto Him for help, He always answers.

“I called on Your name, O Lord, out of the lowest pit. You have heard my voice. Do not hide Your ear from my prayer for relief, from my cry for help. You drew near when I called on You; You said, 'Do not fear!'” (Lamentations 3:55-57)

The Lord provides a way to lift us up out of our muck in His time and in His way. He may throw us a rope or drop us a ladder to climb out or send a divine helicopter of His choice to rescue us. Whatever it takes He will deliver us because of His love for us.

Our response to our circumstances, our behavior while we are in our pit, is the key to getting out. The Lord may be waiting to see if we trust Him and if He can trust us to rejoice while in the pit because His presence is always there with us. We can look for ways to serve God or witness for Him while in our pit—show God our true colors. Like Joseph we can decide to be a blessing to someone else who is in a pit too. God will give us "a good reference" when His “due time” comes for us! 

Friday, April 25, 2014


I have to "wake up my ears" every morning.

I've reached the season of life when I am somewhat audio challenged. I wear hearing aids now. As soon as my feet hit the floor, I hurry to put those tiny, hardly visible devices into my ears so I can communicate with the real world again and hear more clearly what is said.

The Bible has something to say about this subject in Isaiah 50:4 and 5 in the Amplified version. (No pun intended!) There is gold in these verses. I'm aware that they were initially written in a Messianic context, but there are transferable concepts to apply to our Christian lives.
"The Lord God has given me the tongue of disciples and of those who are taught, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary; He wakens me morning by morning, He wakens my ear to hear as disciples—as those who are taught. The Lord God has opened my ear, and I have not been rebellious or turned backward."

In real time, by habit I can stay up to all hours of the night, but I'm definitely not a morning person. I have a sleepy ear that loves to snuggle deep into my pillow as I pull the covers over my head. The lyrics of an old hymn become garbled in my mind:

"My Jesus, I love Thee, I know Thou art mine,
(But I'm just so tired that here I recline.)
My gracious Redeemer, my Savior art Thou,
(Oh, I'll talk to Thee later, I'm sleepy just now!)

I have no excuse for sloth (the old fashioned word for "laziness.") The verses above spell out the reason why God "wakes my ear." Because I'm His disciple I'm supposed to have "the tongue of a disciple." I'm supposed to live and witness "as one who is taught."  So I must be awake, aware, and alert to hear God's voice first myself  before I can "speak a word in season to him who is weary." Besides my tongue to speak, I must have obedient fingers on the computer keyboard to carry out a "Barnabas ministry" to many who look to me for encouragement. I can't afford to "turn backward" by rolling over and pushing the snooze button.

I speak to myself--I must have a fresh word from God before I can help others. God doesn't shout. He speaks with a "still small voice," a whisper in my ear and in my heart as He wakens me each morning to give me my directions for the day. If I oversleep, I might miss His whisper. As His sheep I am supposed to be able to "hear His voice and follow Him." All the more since I am His disciple and one who is taught.

If I am audio challenged spiritually, I know what to do: the Holy Spirit who dwells within me is available to be my invisible but powerful Hearing Aid. 

Lord, let the words typed with my fingers
and sent swiftly through cyberspace
through the technology designed by men
come first and solely
from the holy meditations of my heart
from my awakened ear
and the mind of Christ who dwells within me
overshadowed by the Holy Spirit's direction.
Guide them according to Your purpose and will
for the building up of the recipients
not for the aggrandizement of myself
but to the greater glory of God alone:
ad majorem Dei gloriam.
Grant that the words I compose for publication
likewise be for the edification of Your people
and the exaltation of the Holy Trinity:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Common but precious

          With spring come dandelions. Nuisance or blessing?

My friend Bob waxed eloquent when he typed wisdom on his computer keyboard and posted it on Facebook: 

"Right now the yard of our 'little house where the sidewalk ends' is filled with dandelions, perhaps to the befuddlement or bewilderment of our good neighbors with their beautiful manicured lawns. However, they are kind people and there appears to be no bitterness in their hearts over our abundance of yellow treasures. We love our dandelions! For us they are not weeds but food for man and beast, bright, spring wild flowers to cheer the soul. To us dandelions mean HOPE."

What is this mysterious wild flower that can clone itself multiple times without any effort? 

The name comes from the French dent de lion meaning "lion's tooth."  Like other members of the Asteraceae family, the flower head is not simply one blossom, but is actually composed of dozens of tiny individual flowers collected together into one composite floret which can reproduce without pollination.  

After flowering is finished, the dandelion flower head dries out for a day or two, goes to seed, and the white-headed floret is now a mega-bunch of seeds. The whispy blowball of little parachutes opens into a full sphere. Each little parachute is a seed capable of becoming another offspring genetically identical to the parent plant.  File:The dandelion.ogv  The seeds are wind-bourne or "kid-bourne" as children have fun blowing the floret to the wind. (I loved doing that as a child!) That's why dandelions disperse and multiply so fast!

Did you know the little dandelion heads get tired and close up to sleep under the stars at night and open again at dawn to reflect the morning sun? As a child, have you ever put the flower under someone's chin to see if their chin turned yellow? If it did, they were supposed to love butter! (I did that as a child!)

It is considered a noxious weed and nuisance in residential and recreational lawns and golf courses because they have long tap roots and so are difficult to get rid of. On the other hand, they have been used by animals and humans for food and for herbs since pre-history.

Either raw in salads or boiled to reduce the bitterness and seasoned, the leaves are not only delicious but contain abundant vitamins and minerals, especially vitamins A, C and K, and are good sources of calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese. The flower petals, along with other ingredients, usually including citrus, are used to make dandelion wine. (I know--my grandfather used to make it.) The ground, roasted roots can be used as a caffeine-free dandelion coffee. Dandelion is one of the ingredients of root beer. The leaves were once delicacies eaten by the Victorian gentry, mostly in salads and sandwiches.

Historically, dandelion was prized for a variety of medicinal properties, and it contains a wide number of pharmacologically active compounds. It has been used in herbal medicine to treat infections, and bile and liver problems. 

The dandelion plant is a beneficial weed even as a good companion plant for gardening. Its deep, long and strong taproot (I know how long and strong...I had to dig up dandelions on our lawn every year!) brings up nutrients for shallower-rooting plants, and adds minerals and nitrogen to soil. It is also known to attract pollinating insects and release ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen. How marvelously God planned for the network of interdependence of His creation!

From Genesis to Revelation the Bible speaks of God's provision of creating plants for eating and for medicine.  And He sprinkled plants throughout the earth in multiplied varieties and colors simply for beauty, for the enjoyment of the people whom He created. Even those flowers which you can't eat and from which you can only derive visual pleasure and fragrance. Jesus spoke of the flowers of the field, the striking beauty in which God clothed them, and their exemplary attributes for us. 

Just because dandelions are so common and ordinary let's not discount God's creative hand in blessing us with so many of them. Let's recognize their beauty and their usefulness. Likewise, there are no common and ordinary people--all are unique and precious in His sight and Jesus gave His life for each of us.  

Yes, Bob, the dandelion is a "HOPE" flower, not a noxious weed. So enjoy! Of course your neighbors might not be as happy when thousands of little "parachutes" come sailing on the wind in the direction of their lawns!

Monday, April 14, 2014


My grandmother baked bread. My mother baked bread. I can smell our kitchen on baking day in my imagination--one of the favorite nostalgic fragrances of my growing years.

FD 1.jpgI don't bake bread. I buy it from the bakery--real bread, hot from the oven, in a loaf, not sliced, the whole grain kind, chuck full of fifteen grains with seeds all over the crunchy crust. The kind of bread that when you take a bite, you can actually chew it and savor every mouthful. I time my purchase to the day and hour when the baker promised that a new batch is due from the oven each day. I want to smell the primal fragrance of daily fresh bread.

I love to eat bread. Oh, I know that bread is loaded with carbs, but they are offset by the natural fiber and mega-nourishment. I'm willing to eat leftover bread if I must, since it retains its food value, but I miss its fresh-baked scent. I really don't like to eat or serve yesterday's bread although you can freshen it with a little moisture for a few seconds in the microwave.

I take joy in sharing fresh bread. I'd rather invite a friend over for coffee and fresh bread with real butter. You don't even need jam. Perhaps with some cheese and fruit. It's a feast for the taste buds rather than indulging in some sugary confection loaded with calories which assaults the appetite.

Throughout the world and over the centuries bread in its various forms has been the essential, primary staple. When Jesus declared, "man shall not live by bread alone" and "I AM the Bread of life," He was giving us His eternal perspective. "Give us this day our daily bread" in the Lord's Prayer shows us the Father's concern for our basic daily provision as well as pointing forward spiritually toward the sacrifice of His own body for our salvation on the Cross and memorialized in the Eucharist--His real Body and Blood.

I want to offer fresh bread to those who look to me for encouragement, spiritual help, and guidance. I don't want to offer stale bread. As I feed afresh on the Bread of the Word of God for the needs of my own soul, the Lord multiplies the loaves and provides more than enough for me to share afresh with others.


A fresh touch from You
how I long for it, Lord!

My spirit grows stale
from fast food on the run
trying to sustain myself
on yesterday's bread or
spiritual glazed donuts
and empty junk food.

Each day I need to taste
fresh Bread of Life
*prepared by Your hands
in the early morning
upon a fire of charcoal
as You provided breakfast
fish and bread generously spread
for those who followed You
beside the Sea of Tiberius.

Give me this day my daily bread
Homemade Bread of Your Word prepared
by nail-pierced resurrected hands
kindling burning first-love in me.

Since I have tasted of You
I cannot live on instant food
I cannot walk or work sustained
by man's baked goods alone
even freshened in a microwave oven.
I must have Your wholesome Bread
delivered fresh each day
from Your heart to mine.

Only that will satisfy and nourish
others who look expectantly
for me to share generously
the fresh Bread You've first given me.    
* "And so when they got out upon the land, they saw a charcoal fire already laid,
 a fish placed on it, and bread...and Jesus said to them, 
'Come and have breakfast.'"
  (John 21:9, 12)

Sunday, April 13, 2014


When I was a child of about kindergarten age (a reach back of more than eighty years), I remember my father's sharpening wheel in his garage workshop. It was made of some kind of rough, abrasive stone. He didn't have an electric motor until many years later. 

If I promised to be careful, Dad allowed me to turn the handle of the wheel while he held a sickle blade, a file, or an ax against the wheel to sharpen it. It was fun to see the sparks fly as the wheel whirred and the tool emerged with a new cutting edge. Dad squirted lubricating oil on the blade during the sharpening process.bout kin
my father's sharpening wheel i
f more than e(a reach back of more than eighty

My Czech grandmother who lived with us brought a lead-gray sharpening stone with her from Europe and she took charge of keeping all our kitchen knives sharp. She also applied oil to the stone to get a fine edge on the blades as she rubbed them skillfully against the stone. She put more oil on afterward to prevent rusting, as did my Dad on the sharpened sickle.

For many reasons, we as Christians may grow dull in our lives and witness as the years go by. We may become slack and lazy in nourishing our spiritual lives. On the other hand, we may be too active or busy without taking time to renew our own cutting edge. If we continually give of ourselves to others in teaching, preaching, or other service, we become depleted. Without continual attention to our spiritual keenness, we soon become instruments that God can no longer profitably use. 

We must take in fresh resources to build ourselves up. Spending time alone with God in prayer and His Word is not a luxury or an option. It is essential. Routine, casual reading of the Word of God will not in itself restore our blunt edge. We need the lubricating Oil of the Holy Spirit to quicken us. It is His holy anointing that keeps the sparks in our witness, in our service, and in all the relationships of our daily lives. That applies to the homemaker, the student, the wage earner, and retirees as well. 

The Oil of the Spirit protects us from damaging rust. Grandma used to say that no knife was so dull that it was beyond restoration. She could still obtain an edge like a razor. Her old favorite meat cutting knife had a blade so thin that the straight edge was worn to a curve with much use and many sharpenings over the years. 

The Holy Spirit is the Great Restorer of cutting edges in anyone's spiritual life. Jesus promised to “make all things new.” No one is beyond restoration. We can't live on past experiences or yesterday's sparks. Our lack will soon be exposed.


I'm inclined to ride on the past:
on previous experiences with God
bygone touches of His grace
starving on stale manna
snacking on scraps of blessing
leftovers from days on higher ground.

I hang on to the coattails
of what has been:
the way of least resistance.
Who will know?
I hide behind my reputation
gained in a former day
and camouflage my deficiency.

But the facade crumbles:
my aridity is exposed
my weakness shows and soon
there are those who observe
how sluggishly I walk in the Spirit
that I face forward but
slide backward losing ground.

The upward way, the onward way
is to keep advancing
and not hiding in shadows of the past
but keeping pace with God.

Lord, touch me with Your fire
inspire me to press on from glory to glory.
Renew me again and again.
Don't let me get stuck in the hitherto
bogged down in the already
in that muddy rut of yesterday.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


(I can't resist passing on a great story of love and courage)

For half a century, the world has applauded John Glenn as a heart-stirring American hero. He lifted the nation's spirits when, as one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, he was blasted alone into orbit around the Earth; the enduring affection for him is so powerful that even now people find themselves misting up at the sight of his face or the sound of his voice. But for all these years, Glenn has had a hero of his own, someone who he has seen display endless courage of a different kind: Annie Glenn.

They have been married for 68 years. He is 90; she turned 92 on Friday.

This weekend there has been news coverage of the 50th anniversary of Glenn's flight into orbit. We are being reminded that, half a century down the line, he remains America's unforgettable hero. He has never really bought that. Because the heroism he most cherishes is of a sort that is seldom cheered. It belongs to the person he has known longer than he has known anyone else in the world.

John Glenn and Annie Castor first knew each other when - literally -- they shared a playpen.

In New Concord, Ohio, his parents and hers were friends. When the families got together, their children played.

John -- the future Marine fighter pilot, the future test-pilot ace, the future astronaut -- was pure gold from the start. He would end up having what it took to rise to the absolute pinnacle of American regard during the space race; imagine what it meant to be the young John Glenn in the small confines of New Concord. Three-sport varsity athlete, most admired boy in town, Mr. Everything.

Annie Castor was bright, was caring, was talented, was generous of spirit. But she could talk only with the most excruciating of difficulty. It haunted her. Her stuttering was so severe that it was categorized as an "85%" disability--85% of the time, she could not manage to make words come out. When she tried to recite a poem in elementary school, she was laughed at. She was not able to speak on the telephone. She could not have a regular conversation with a friend.

And John Glenn loved her. Even as a boy he was wise enough to understand that people who could not see past her stutter were missing out on knowing a rare and wonderful girl. 

They married on April 6, 1943. As a military wife, she found that life as she and John moved around the country could be quite hurtful. She has written: "I can remember some very painful experiences -- especially the ridicule." In department stores, she would wander unfamiliar aisles trying to find the right section, embarrassed to attempt to ask the salesclerks for help. In taxis, she would have to write requests to the driver, because she couldn't speak the destination out loud. In restaurants, she would point to the items on the menu.

A fine musician, Annie, in every community where she and John moved, would play the organ in church as a way to make new friends. She and John had two children; she has written: "Can you imagine living in the modern world and being afraid to use the telephone? 'Hello' used to be so hard for me to say. I worried that my children would be injured and need a doctor. Could I somehow find the words to get the information across on the phone?"

John, as a Marine aviator, flew 59 combat missions in World War II and 90 during the Korean War. Every time he was deployed, he and Annie said goodbye the same way. His last words to her before leaving were: "I'm just going down to the corner store to get a pack of gum." And, with just the two of them there, she was able to always reply: "Don't be long."

On that February day in 1962 when the world held its breath and the Atlas rocket was about to propel him toward space, those were their words, once again. And in 1998, when, at 77, he went back to space aboard the shuttle Discovery, it was an understandably tense time for them. What if something happened to end their life together? She knew what he would say to her before boarding the shuttle. He did -- and this time he gave her a present to hold onto: A pack of gum. She carried it in a pocket next to her heart until he was safely home.

Many times in her life she attempted various treatments to cure her stutter. None worked. But in 1973, she found a doctor in Virginia who ran an intensive program she and John hoped would help her. She traveled there to enroll and to give it her best effort. The miracle she and John had always waited for at last, as miracles will do, arrived. At age 53, she was able to talk fluidly, and not in brief, anxiety-ridden, agonizing bursts.

John has said that on the first day he heard her speak to him with confidence and clarity, he dropped to his knees to offer a prayer of gratitude.

He has written: "I saw Annie's perseverance and strength through the years and it just made me admire her and love her even more." He has heard roaring ovations in countries around the globe for his own valor, but his awe is reserved for Annie, and what she accomplished: "I don't know if I would have had the courage."

Her voice is so clear and steady now that she regularly gives public talks. If you are lucky enough to know the Glenns, the sight and sound of them bantering and joking with each other and playfully finishing each others' sentences is something that warms you and makes you thankful just to be in the same room.

Monday will be the anniversary of the Mercury space shot, and once again people will remember, and will speak of the heroism of Glenn the astronaut.

But if you ever find yourself at an event where the Glenns are appearing, and you want to see someone so brimming with pride and love that you may feel your own tears start to well up, wait until the moment that Annie stands to say a few words to the audience.

And as she begins, take a look at her husband's eyes.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014



(Sort of an adapted encore by request)

GREEN is bursting out all over! No, not the Shamrocks and things associated with the Emerald Isle and Saint Patrick. Been there, done that--we already celebrated that kind of green last month.

NOW it is time for April showers. God has His paintbrush dipped into a massive paint can labeled "Green" while I imagine Him holding a humongous umbrella over Himself.

It seems that suddenly my whole world has turned green! The grey, dull drab of winter has given way to spring almost overnight.

When I look out the picture window from my kitchen table over the woods and vales of the Shenandoah Valley, flourishing greenery stretches as far as my eyes can see. After God's pyrotechnic-like display for several recent stormy, windy, cloudburst nights accompanied by hiding-under-the-blanket thunder boomers, new bursts of green everywhere make it seem as if I’m living in an Amazon rain forest.
I meditated on God's marvelous idea and design to not only give me eyesight but all of my senses so that I can enjoy what He has created. I can see multiple shades of green touch the fresh green, (except the poison ivy kind!) breathe it in, hear the wind rustle through the green leaves, even taste it (in salads)!

Thank You, Lord, that I am not colorblind but I can appreciate the generous, artistic splashes of color in this world which You fashioned for Your glory and the pleasure of man and then sent him forth to cultivate it.

 I praise You, O Master Artist, for selecting the background color of green when you started painting Your Earth canvas.

I'm including my poem below in my current book-in-progress "STILL MORE: FLOURISHING ON MY SUMMIT" in chapter seven entitled "Nature Flourishes on my Summit."


It must surely be

one of His favorite creation colors

not only for splendor and beauty
 but as a manifestation of life and growth:
"essential to production of carbohydrates

by photosynthesis."

It was God who thought up
that marvelous synthesis process
without which we could not live!

Look at the generous way
God lavishly splashes green around:
laying a verdant carpet for me to walk on
providing it for animals and man to eat
decorating trees with green in spring
displaying multi-hues of green foliage
keeping evergreens unchanged
to contrast with blankets
of white winter snow
embracing plants and flowers
with green leafy arms
that can climb walls of buildings
while providing lettuce and spinach
for my nourishment.

What a sense of humor God must have
to grow green veggies in whimsical shapes
like asparagus, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts
and swish green into seaweed
in the ocean while floating green watercress
in quiet, fresh streams!

"The righteous will flourish and grow
into old age full of sap
and very GREEN"*
That means me!

Clothed in the righteousness of Christ
not in my own achievements
I should not be
like withered leaf and brown
but full of inner vitality
flowing from His dwelling in me
and I abiding in Him
flourishing like a green palm tree
bearing fruit in all seasons of my life.*

Since God is so partial to GREEN

then GREEN I aspire to be

full of Divine chlorophyll
to please Him joyfully!

*Psalm 92:12-15

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Photo: The Boogy manAdversity shook the apostle Paul's tree, but the Galatians benefited from the dropping of his good fruit.
Paul was apparently suffering from some kind of bodily illness. He was not specific about it when he wrote about it in Galatians 4:13 but he went into detail about his dilemma in the twelfth chapter of Second Corinthians. Because of the context, it is speculated that Paul might have had a severe, miserable eye problem, perhaps painful, disfiguring, and chronic. He seems to have been forced to change his missionary itinerary and time schedule to stay in Galatia somewhat longer to recover. He referred to the problem as his “thorn in the flesh.” It must have been no small thing because three times he prayed intensely to be healed. 
God didn't even heal the apostle Paul in spite of his persistent praying.

God denied his request but answered him in a more excellent way. (2 Cor. 12:7) Whatever the affliction was, Paul took advantage of the prolonged negative circumstances to preach the gospel instead of indulging in a pity party. "...It was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you...." 
In chapter five of his letter to the Church in Galatia, Paul taught and demonstrated by his life what the Fruit of the Spirit is all about. That Fruit doesn’t suddenly appear in our lives as do the Gifts for ministry given by the Holy Spirit. The Fruit of the Spirit grows gradually from bud to blossom to full fruit as it does in nature. We develop the fruit of our Christian character; it matures as a gradual process throughout our lives. To progressively “bear fruit and more fruit and much fruit" is the express will of God for His children—but it doesn’t happen overnight like Jack’s beanstalk in the fairy tale.

Early fruit is usually not sweet because it isn't ripe, it hasn't matured. Time hasn't mellowed it; it tends to be tart. The seeds it contains in the early stages are not fully developed either, and so they can’t reproduce in a normal way. The longer the fruit remains on the tree connected to the flowing, vital sap of the tree, the sweeter it becomes. Mature fruit should be the sweetest in nature and in our lives. 
Eventually, to accomplish the purpose of fruit bearing, the fruit has to be separated from the tree. It has to be picked, or dropped when it is ripe, or someone or something has to shake the tree. Whatever “fruit of the Spirit” God is developing in our lives is always meant for the benefit of others, not for ourselves. 
Scripture often uses the analogy of a fruit-bearing tree and a faithful Christian. A bodily illness or other affliction or adversity can shake us up and result in spiritual fruit falling from our tree. That fruit can be good or bad depending on its condition while growing on the tree. Hopefully, we’ve been developing good fruit.

We express through our attitude and temperament and character those godly virtues listed in Galatians: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. All those aspects of fruit are meant to affect and nourish everyone with whom we come in contact. Our fruit contains seeds which God has been growing in us for a lifetime. They have the potential of reproducing our Lord's character in the lives of others.

Just as the fruit is not grown for the benefit of the tree, so our fruit is meant for others—for our families, our caregivers, if we are ill, or those for whom we care, our friends, those with whom we have rubbed shoulders in the public square or during common events of life, even, or especially, to our enemies or those who oppose us in some way. These all need to see Jesus in us even when we are hurting with actual pain, miserable with our weakness, suffering, perhaps losing control over normal aspects of our life through aging, or when we suffer bodily indignities through tests or medical procedures. God uses such happenings to shake our tree and dole out our fruit to others.

Let's not be quick to blame the Enemy of our souls for all of our afflictions, sufferings, trials, and distresses. It is not necessarily he who is shaking our life tree and causing our fruit to fall to the ground. Let's not give the Enemy too much credit. He does have designs on us for harm, but God may be using such adversities to further His own plans for us, plans for good and not for evil. 
We may feel that in adverse circumstances our witness opportunity is curtailed. That wasn't the case with the apostle Paul and it need not be so for us. On the contrary, the Lord may permit such harsh conditions to shake our life tree in order that our good falling fruit may become accessible to others. The shaking may not be a bad thing, but rather in fulfillment of God’s plan to show forth the life of Christ through us. 
As others “eat the fruit” that drops from us through our patient, loving, longsuffering, joyful attitude during our times of adversity, others are nourished, God has used us, and He receives the glory.