Monday, May 31, 2010

A Little Late for Mother's Day (from May 2010 Reflections on Eternity)

To all my readers that are moms, Happy Belated Mother's Day! It is so hard to know what to get for mom or what to say that can adequately capture the depth of feeling you have for your mother. Mother is our first nurturer and teacher, the one who we learn about the world from. Mother is the first person who meets our every need and responds to our cries. I am thankful for my mother.

I know that not everyone feels this way, and it is sad that this is the case. But whatever the current circumstance, at some point, you had a mother. And even if all she did for you was bring you into the world, that was still a great sacrifice on her part.

This year I was particularly touched by the thought of life without my mother as I witnessed the mixture of joy and pain experienced by some of my friends whose mothers have gone - Hallelujah! - to heaven. There is a feeling of joy that the suffering of this world is done, and yet a sadness that her comfort and care are no longer a phone call or drive down the road away.

I want to encourage each of you to remember the good things about your mother and be sensitive to those missing theirs. And if you are a mother, please let your joyful experiences color your attitude toward your children instead of letting the negatives take control.

For God never promised us that every day of motherhood would be easy; he only entrusted us to be caretakers of his creation and to nurture lives that he ordained. This is a great responsibility but one that he knew you could handle. And if you have not been a mother in the natural sense of the word, I would encourage you to look for someone who has been placed in your life for nurturing. There are naturally and spiritually motherless people all around us. Some of them rejected their mother's counsel and advice and are now seeing its value for the first time.

Pray for them, and for me. My mom said to me on Mother's Day that I was not a hard child to raise. That's not the way I remember it, but it really did something to my spirit for her to say that. For a long time I felt guilty about things I had done that I know caused my mom unnecessary pain (such as getting pregnant at 13, skipping school, fighting, and much more). Not to mention that fact that she had five other children (including my child) to be concerned about while I was in my wild phase.

For her to bless me like she did, and to say to me that I turned out to be a good mother and that my daughter is being a good mother to her children, is tremendous. I will always remember that. And as I shared with my friends who have been sharing memories of their mothers, now resting in the arms of Christ and viewing the Holy City they lived to see, "I remember Mama in a happy way." Thanks, Pastor Shirley Cesar, I couldn't have said it better.

A little late, but somehow, I believe, right on time.

Can I Get a Witness?

Friday, May 28, 2010

No Matter What (from May 2010 Reflections on Eternity)

One of the things people start thinking about during the spring and right before summer is gardening. I have seen many people going all out, adding color to their landscaping, sprucing up and fertilizing their lawns, and generally enjoying the rebirth of nature. It got me to thinking about the kingdom of God. Because in his kingdom, we are planted, rooted, grounded, and nurtured. And no matter what, we're gonna get cut.

Scripture bears this out:

John 15:1-8 (KJV)
1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Notice the power in Christ's words. He teaches his disciples using an analogy that is familiar to all of the Jewish people: a vineyard. The people of God were likened to a vineyard in various places throught the Old Testament. But here the Lord reveals that HE is the true vine and that we, as his people, are merely branches. Then he gives a startling truth: no matter what, we're gonna get cut.

I don't know how this fits into the theology of those that believe that as Christians we should never experience pain. I don't know what they do with Jesus' teaching. But what he says is clear, and it works in natural gardening as well. Every plant must be cut, but the cutting is not always for the same purpose.

Those that do not bear fruit are cut completely away - some scholars say in the positive sense of being lifted up to a place where they can receive greater light, air, and water, bringing them to a state where they may be able to bear fruit.

Those that fruitful already are also cut, to the end that they may bear more fruit. This cutting entails thinning out the branches and leaves, scraping away fungus and parasites, insects and invaders, so that the fruitful branch is not sucked dry of all of its ability.

Wow! No matter what, you're gonna get cut. It is important for us to understand that not every painful experience is because we are unfruitful. Some things happen because we are bearing fruit. Why would a parasite latch on to something already dead? It attaches itself, rather, where it may receive life. And the Father, that divine vinedresser, cuts it away.

I want to encourage you to take a look at what is happening to you. Are you being cut, or is the Father cutting away something that is stealing life from you? If you are being cut away, look for the opening that offers the opportunity for you to be nourished back to health and fruitfulness. And if leeches and other hindrances are being cut away, trust the Lord to be able to distinguish good attachments from bad ones in your life. He is able to do it.

Our job is to abide in him during the process. To trust him and to immerse ourselves in the word of God. For it is the ointment that can be applied to every wound - the word can heal every place that we are cut. It is a powerful sedative that takes the pain out of every one of life's cutting moments. Jesus promised that if we abide in him, and his words abide in us, we can ask what we will. I believe that is because our will conforms to his will to the extent that we abide in his word. And he will not deny himself.

Just a thought on being a part of God's garden - the beauty that he looks at each day - the blooms that he inspects and displays with joy. It's a privileged position to be in, but it is not without pain.

Remember, no matter what - you're gonna get cut!
Can I Get a Witness?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

"Today I have time to do everything I need to do today." - Cec Murphey. Check out Mr. Murphey's info found at http://ping.fm/tov4C