Tending your Garden?

Song of Solomon 2:12 – Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. (NIV)

All be it a little early, I think spring has sprung. I think for most people, this season really gets us moving. There’s so much going on. With all that goes on at one point you’ll stop to admire the flowers. In Texas everyone’s attention turns to the Bluebonnet. Our fields and roadsides are covered with them. We see people stopping to take pictures in the massive blankets of Bluebonnets. What a testimony for God’s purposeful creation.

It’s this time of year when I often admire God’s creation the most. What was just a lifeless looking landscape a short time ago, is now thriving with new vegetation and beautiful flowers. Many of us plant gardens of flowers and/or vegetables. We carefully prepare the soil, plant seeds or seedlings and then we watch over them. We give them the necessary nutrients and water that are essential for their growth. In a few weeks we can admire and or devour what we have watched grow. Now on a few occasions someone may plant a garden and then neglect to take care of it. Without proper care a garden will be filled with weeds, the plants we be malnourished and thus will not produce flowers or fruit. If storms or harsh heat come these plants will usually die.

Just like these plants we are also God’s creation. If we do not feed ourselves spiritually we will be much like a neglected garden. Our lives will be full of “weeds”, we won’t be producing any fruit and when a “storm” comes we’re not going to be prepared to deal with it. This is no coincidence. If we take care of our plants God will bless us and his creations. He requires the same care for each and every one of his children and thus if we feed ourselves spiritually on a regular basis we will produce much “fruit” and be eternally blessed!

John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.



1 Kings 2:2 – “I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man,

These words were spoken to Solomon as King David knew his time was coming to an end. He realized through his own life some of the challenges that Solomon would be facing and he prefaced his departing words with this “warning”.

As men we face a myriad of challenges, some of them are exterior but a great deal of them are interior. The temptations we face on a day to day basis are as minor as “do I eat that donut?”, or as serious as “do I go to “THAT” website?” In the end, it’s these decisions that that shape not only our lives, but those of our families and friends. How can we be leaders of our families and communities if we can’t control our own earthly desires?

David knew this well but he also faced a great deal of outside adversity. As he awaited his rule, King Saul, having doubt about David’s ability to rule, put a bounty on his head. It is here that David really began asking the tough questions of life. Alone in the dark or on the run through enemy territory, David opened-up and honestly shared his thoughts, struggles, and fears. David was frustrated with God’s plan for his life, and he wrote about it in his prayer journals. Although Saul stopped at nothing to kill David, David never followed through on his opportunities to kill Saul. David’s years alone with God forged his exemplary character and unflinching faith. Through loneliness and struggle, David learned to be fully dependent on God.

The lesson here is we can’t become the leaders that we’re called to be if we’re not ready to be honest with ourselves or truly honest with God, and in actuality, . . . .  they’re pretty much one and the same.

So are you ready to ‘MAN UP” and lead your family and community?

1 Corinthians 16:13 – Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.


The Dichotomy of US

Romans 7:13 (NLT) – I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.

I think we can agree that we all do things that we know are wrong. More times than not, we know this before we even do it. So the difference begins “after the fact”. Do you revel in, or even worse, are you complacent about the sins you commit? Or do you recognize your wrong doing and seek to correct the behavior? (i.e. Repent!)

Are you more apt to own your sin and strive for better living through God’s Grace via Jesus’ Sacrifice or are you so comfortable with your sin that you don’t give it a second thought? Sin is sin and in our weakness we look to justify the small things we do each day that are sins or eventually lead to sin. Think about it for a moment and if you’re honest with yourself, you already know what they are.

What about the good things we don’t do? We know its “good” to read our Bible but instead we watch 3 hours of TV. We know it’s good to volunteer to help others, instead we go shopping for ourselves. The problem here is self-centeredness. If we work to take the focus off of ourselves then the rest will take care of itself. Philippians 4:2 – Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

How do we avoid this age old dichotomy? If we could only see ourselves doing or not doing these things it would be easier to correct. Much like advising our children on the mistakes we committed when we were young. If we think it’s a good idea for our children to seek advice from us then as God’s children isn’t it a logical conclusion that we should seek advice from him? In doing so on a daily basis, we’ll be better prepared to manage the pitfalls that come our way.

Mathew 7:8 – For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened



Jeremiah 29:11 – For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.

You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan”. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! – The Joker from The DARK KNIGHT

Ok, let me clarify that I do not seek spiritual advice from Homicidal Maniacs, even if they are fictional. However, I think this line says a lot about what we expect from everyday life. Expectations, . . . . boy what a trap. Can you count the times your “expectations” have not been met? Some of our expectations are rational, some are not. Expecting an oncoming car to stop on red is a pretty safe bet. Expecting God to solve all your problems is stretching it a bit. Life brings us many peaks and valleys, why do we only question God and His plan “in the valleys”. When was the last time you heard someone say “I just don’t know why God allowed me to get that new job”. The truth is we should be praising God in both situations.

Life does bring us many ups and downs but as believers we must know God’s plan, is the only plan. God’s plan is like fruit that must ripen on the vine, on its own time, not ours. The Faith we have in God will determine how we react to adversity. Mathew Henry said; When things are at the worst they will begin to mend; and he will give them to see the glorious perfection of their deliverance; for, as for God, his work is perfect. If His plan is perfect then how do we employ our faith to accept it? By spending time with God . . .

As reassuring as the above verse is I think it’s the subsequent versus that tie it all together. God does care for each and every one of us and all he wants is for us to seek Him.

Jeremiah 29: 12-14 – Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the LORD, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the LORD, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.


“Occupy Church”

Hebrews 10:25 – Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching

Can you remember a time when you were away from home? It could have been on a vacation or business trip. When you leave you’re excited about what lies ahead but as the days pass you begin to long for home and all that it means. Home is where we are grounded and in essence who we are. Home is comfort, home is belonging, home is discipline, home is learning, home is unconditional love and so much more, in fact, without a home we’re pretty much lost.  Of course there is a point when, if we’re gone too long, we begin to forget about some of those things that makes home so special. You’re not sure why, but you begin to feel empty inside, like a part of you is missing.

The same can be said for our Christian walk and in particular, Going to CHURCH. Just as we lose a part of ourselves when we’re not at home, we can’t be the same Christians when we’re not in church. Church is a way of regenerating ourselves after a long week of dealing with the world. Corporate worship is important. I know many people who believe they don’t have to go to church to believe. They’re right, but are you going to be the same student if you don’t attend school? I doubt it. I’ve heard lots of explanations as to why people don’t go to church and by and large it’s tied back to RELIGION, not church or God. If you’re one of those, find a Bible based church that brings the good news of the Gospel every week without a lot of ceremony, just good old Bible based sermons (the good & bad) and great worship music!

When we neglect the benefits of going to church then our relationship with God will soon become the victim. We are stronger in our faith when we share and experience it with others. When we bond with other believers we’re more likely to follow God on a daily basis, especially in dark times. In short, we grow in our relationship with God through experiencing worship with our fellow man. Rejoice in knowing that church is home, with a family ready to support you through your highest highs and the lowest lows.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 – Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

How strong is your Faith?

Mathew 9:22 – Jesus turned, and seeing her he said, “Take heart, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And instantly the woman was made well.

I’ve just started a new job (actually pretty much the same job just a different location) anyway during my move I came across a couple of rulers I must have picked up at a trade show. I set them aside for a while and then picked them trying to decide if I needed them. They were made of a very flexible plastic and I could almost bend one in half without breaking it. I then turned one and tried to bend it side to side. Now, I was dealing with much more resistance and it obviously wouldn’t bend at all. It was the same object but one “viewpoint“, was much stronger than the other. The thinner objective was much easier to bend and probably would have broken, if that was my purpose. The other being thicker across the surface did not bend at all.

Our faith works in much the same way. If we put on our “Christian hat” once a week and that’s it, our faith will be much easier to bend and eventually break. However, if we live our lives for Christ on a daily basis our faith is much stronger and hopefully unwavering.

In the verse above this woman, was sick for12 years, yet her faith in Jesus was so strong that she knew that just by touching His garment she would be healed. His promise throughout the Bible and to us is to reward those who have such faith. It is important to note that this faith must be based on our acceptance of his plan and not our own selfish needs. When we are able to do this our faith increases immeasurably.

1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.

The Hope of Christmas: from Prophecy to Promise

Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Christmas is such a great time of year. We all look forward to the season and spending time with family and friends. For many it also marks the birth of Jesus and the beginning of a life that changed everything. The Bible holds hundreds of prophecies telling of the coming of Jesus. The verse above was written about 700 years prior to Jesus’ birth. Think about that for a second . . . the book of Isaiah gives us more prophecies about the coming of Jesus and his purpose; Isaiah 53:5 (NIV)- But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. There are countless other Biblical Prophecies that have occurred. Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible, because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose, and a guiding hand behind the Bible. We rejoice in such evidence that the Word of God is alive, but as Believers “we walk by faith, not by sight”; 2 Corinthians 5:7.

The Bible also gives us many promises. Promises that give us hope when we are stricken. Promises that assure us that this is not our true home. Promises that tell us that we are loved by a truly awesome God. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life”; John 3:16.

When we read about the birth of Jesus and refer back to the prophecy of Isaiah, how can we look at the many promises of the Bible and not be encouraged. How can we doubt His plan for those who believe . . . and unfortunately for those who don’t? In the days ahead, the best gift you can give someone is the Truth of the Bible and the Creator of all things!

Luke 2:14 (KJV) – Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Greater Love

John 15:13 – Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

I recently attended a concert and was blessed to receive a special gift from a man who sat nearby. As we were seated awaiting the concert to begin this man and his daughter sat next to us, more specifically, my wife. I mentioned to her that I really liked his “skull cap”, which had a cross embroidered on the back of it. While I was distracted my wife asked him where he bought it as she wanted to get me one for Christmas. He explained that he had the cap for quite some time and it had been with him for 5 tours of duty in the Mid-East. He then took it off got my attention and gave it to me. This was not just some run of the mill cap, it was something he held dear, as it served as a constant reminder of who his real protector was.

It’s no secret that our military sacrifice a lot to help preserve our freedom, sometimes with their lives. In the verse above Jesus points this out, but like most of his statements, it reaches even further. We don’t like to admit it but much of the time our love is conditional. It might not be a “conscious condition” but nevertheless, it is there.” If we love someone we want them to love us back. If we do something for someone, we expect something in return. We’re pre-programmed to think and feel, “what’s in it for me.

If we are to truly follow Jesus we have to think differently. We need to recondition ourselves, to lose ourselves. If we were to die in service of another we could not receive any reciprocation for that act. Jesus wants us to take that attitude into the world and demonstrate His love to others. To serve and sacrifice out of the love that Jesus demonstrated to us throughout his life.

I’ll treasure this cap and the meaning it had for my new friend Brian but also for the selfless gesture he made by giving it to a total stranger. For such a seemingly small act of kindness it’s a lesson for us all on a much grander scale.

1 John 4:11 – Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another

Brian wearing the "cap" in service of our country

God is Able

2 Corinthians 9:8 – And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.

Last night I attended a Hillsong concert. Their newest song is called God is Able, that title says so much. Today I looked up some verses and the above verse from 2 Corinthians not only spoke to me from the stand point that God is Able, but this verse really encompasses one of the endearing parts of the Christmas season, Giving.

I often refer to the commentaries of David Guzik to gain insight on a particular verse. His commentary on this verse is so well put that I am going to bow out here and let him expound on God’s Word.

As we give, we must be persuaded that God is able to reward our giving. Just as God is able to make the sowing of seed abound to a great harvest, so God is able to bless our giving.

Jesus taught that even the smallest gift, if given with the right heart, would not go unrewarded. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward. (Matthew 10:42)

In rewarding our giving, God does it with all grace. Our giving is rewarded in many different ways, materially and spiritually. Materially, God may bless our giving by promotions with better pay, unexpected gifts of money, or by making things last so we don’t suffer the cost of replacing them. Spiritually, God may bless our giving by freeing our hearts from the tyranny of greed and materialism, or by giving us a sense of blessing and happiness, or by storing up rich reward in heaven. There is no end to the ways we can be blessed when God is able to make all grace abound toward us.

Always having all sufficiency in all things: The word for sufficiency (autarkeia) may also be translated contentment. This is how the same word is used in 1 Timothy 6:6: Now godliness with contentment is great gain. God gives a special gift to the giving heart: always . . . all contentment in all things. That is a lot of all!

Materially speaking, how can someone always have all contentment in all things? By receiving this contentment God blesses the giving heart with.

It’s easy for many Christians to say they have this contentment; but whether they have it or not is often more truthfully known by their spending and shopping habits. How much of a place does shopping and buying have in your life? How does material loss affect your happiness? How happy do you get from having some material thing?

When we live and act without contentment, we are trying to fill needs in our lives. It might be the need to be “somebody,” the need to feel secure or cared for, or the need to have excitement and newness in our lives. Most people try to fulfill these needs with material things, but they can only really be met by a spiritual relationship with the God who made us.

Barclay says of this word autarkeia: “By it they meant a complete self-sufficiency. They meant a frame of mind which was completely independent of all outward things, and which carried the secret of happiness within itself. Contentment never comes from the possession of external things.” “The apostle useth many ‘alls’ on purpose to cross and confute our covetousness, who are apt to think we have never enough.” (Trapp)

With this contentment, we can be the richest people in the world. A man might have the wealth of the richest man in the world, yet lack contentment. But if we have this contentment, it really does make us better off than the wealthiest people who don’t have it.

May have an abundance for every good work: God blesses us, materially and spiritually, so that we will have an abundance for every good work. We are blessed so that we can be a blessing to others. God wants us to be channels of blessing, not reservoirs of blessing.

No Greater Privilege

Psalm 127:3 – Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.

Children, “our kids”,  . . . I’ll go out on a limb and state that nothing changes a person’s life more than becoming a parent. They bring us such joy and sometimes a little sorrow. I’m blessed to have a wonderful son. I have raised him as best I can but like his dad he’s not perfect. Lately the news has been filled with stories of abused children. I can’t for the life of me try to figure out what would make a person take advantage of a child. I don’t understand why a parent would choose a life of drugs over their children. I can’t process the fact that many mothers & fathers discard their relationship with their children when the relationship with the spouse fails. I would just as soon cut off an arm. The above examples are fairly common in our society and I assume that is why we hear so much about them. What are we to do?

The Bible is very clear about how we should regard and raise our children. Proverbs 22:6 – Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. The responsibility of raising children is huge, but make no mistake, it is a privilege that should be revered. By and large most children don’t face the abuse mentioned above but they are subjected to other “abuses” that may not seem as such.

Here are a few questions to think about:

  • Are you spending so much time at work that you rarely see your children?
  • Are you getting so wrapped up in your own “commitments” that you miss a soccer game?
  • Are you watching TV in lieu of playing a game with your child?
  • Are you allowing your children uncensored view of TV or the internet?
  • Are thier role models “hollywood types” or godly men and women?
  • Do you know their friends?
  • Are you leading them to Christ on a daily basis?

It’s easy for parents to become complacent about the responsibility of raising children, we all fall victim to it. In light of recent events we need to take a look at the value that God has placed on them and their upbringing. Serve the Lord by honoring the importance of being an ACTIVE parent on a DAILY basis. There is no greater privilege.

Mark 10:14 – But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.

However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace – Acts 20:24