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Bedtime was still a few hours away so the girls and I each settled into our own pleasurable activities to wind-down for the night. One of the girls was giggling at an old movie while her sister was on the phone talking faster than anyone could possibly listen.

I too was occupied, completely unaware of the approaching storm. It wasn’t a big storm, just one of those that rolled in quickly, hit furiously, and left suddenly. But there we were, inside a house suddenly blackened by a power outage.

Immediate sounds of scurrying and bumping indicated that someone was slightly frantic. She was searching wildly for her cell phone because she had been disconnected. I suppose it was the urgency of the matter that caused her to forget how helpful the light can be. Her sister was a bit disgruntled at the forced intermission but decided to make the most of it by fixing a sandwich. She could not see into the refrigerator, however and grumbled, “How long till we get the power back?”

Quite amused, I waited a few moments before shedding light on the subject (literally). Because my husband and I are always prepared for a blackout, we always keep two oil lamps, candles and flashlights readily available. If a power outage happens at night, therefore, we are never left unprepared in the dark.

Still, neither of my daughters had thought to take advantage of the light which was practically at their fingertips. I lit one lamp and watched the girls settle into a more peaceful state now that they could see things more clearly.

Gazing at the soft, soothing glow of the lamp, I thought about the ten virgins who took their lamps to meet the bridegroom (Matthew 25:1f). Five wisely prepared their lamps with oil, five did not. Once these five realized they had forgotten the oil, they scrambled in desperation, much like my daughter did for the phone. It was too late. Their lack of preparation cost them dearly.

I thought too, about the unexpected storms of life. There have been times in my life when I was far less prepared than I needed to be when they hit. And like the girls, I was so distracted by immediate circumstances that I didn’t immediately reach for Jesus, the true Light.

One of the things that I dearly love about my husband is his calmness in the face of every storm, both physical and spiritual. Many years ago we faced a very destructive tornadic storm, which caused me great anxiety. I was on the other side of town, when several tornadoes began touching down near my home.

Regardless of the danger, I was determined to return home to my family. Our children were very small at the time and we lived in a mobile home park. Those are not the safest places to live, as evidenced on my way home. Several of the mobile homes from a nearby park had been thrown onto the highway and a few were perched in trees; few were left standing in the park. And to make matters worse, a radio announcement reported that the town located only miles from our home had been mostly leveled.

I assumed my family was in the storm shelter, and I knew deep down that God would protect them, but that didn’t stop worry from gripping my heart. It was not until I pulled into our park entrance that I began to relax; minimal damage was evident, but all was intact.

Rushing through my front door to grab a few things before joining my family, I was stunned to find all of them inside. I sternly asked my husband, “Why aren’t you in the storm shelter?” My husband smiled at me, raised his hands, and his gaze, heavenward and confidently answered, “I am!”

Obviously he knew where The Light was all along and was fully prepared.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105).

Could anyone ever doubt the artistic brilliance of Michelangelo? Though his architectural and engineering feats were prodigious, the paintings and sculptures of this Italian Renaissance man are yet considered to be amongst the most treasured works in all of art history.

It is rumored that the Pope, while admiring Michelangelo’s sculpture of David, asked “How do you know what to cut away?” To which the sculptor supposedly replied, “It’s simple. I just remove everything that doesn’t look like David.”

Whether this dialogue is true or not is uncertain, but it seems this principle was surely applied by Gutzon Borglum, whose artistic vision equaled Michelangelo’s, or possibly exceeded it. Borglum is the creative mastermind who gave South Dakota its legendary Mt. Rushmore National Memorial.

Four of America’s presidents have been immortalized there. Their granite faces gaze eternally over breathtaking South Dakota. And they are gazed upon. More than three-million tourists visit Mount Rushmore each year to marvel at America’s “Shrine of Democracy.”

The tourists are eager to learn of Gutzon Borglum, Rushmore’s fiercely determined sculptor. If not for his artistic genius and ingenuity, the Memorial may never have become a reality. But is it possible that one man could have single-handedly accomplished such a feat? Hardly.

Borglum may have been the brain of the project, and he may get the lion’s share of the glory, but let’s not forget the whole body of Americans who embraced the dream and worked towards its fulfillment. The first name on the Mount Rushmore roster is Doane Robinson. As secretary and historian of the South Dakota Historical Society, he was eager to draw sightseers to his beautiful state.

While thoughts of tourism were freshly churning in his mind, Robinson read that Gutzon Borglum had been commissioned to carve a tribute to the confederacy into Georgia’s Stone Mountain. He thought of South Dakota’s grand mountains and envisioned “all the heroes of the old west peering out from them.” Fortunately for South Dakota, the Stone Mountain project washed out and Gutzon Borglum was free to sculpt elsewhere.

State forester, Theodore Shoemaker, escorted Borglum into the heart of the Black Hills. He felt that the renowned artist would be captivated by Mount Rushmore. Shoemaker was right on the mark. Once Borglum saw this “garden of the gods,” no other mountain would do. “Here is the place!” he announced. “American history shall march along that skyline!”

The dream took wings. From school children’s pennies to philanthropist contributions, monies and resources slowly trickled in. These invaluable contributions were the fuel that kept Borglum’s dream burning, as were the labors of the men who worked for Borglum: the men who drilled, blasted, and polished the Memorial into its present greatness.

When the plans to sculpt Mount Rushmore were first announced, unemployment was very high. Borglum easily gathered a beginning crew of twenty-two men. Most of them, being loggers, ranchers, and miners, knew nothing at all about carving. Yet they not only mastered the skill of stone carving, they did so while hanging over the side of the mountain in small chair-like “saddles.”

Even though the saddles were sturdy and dependable, the work was dangerous and stressful. Each day started with a taxing 506-step climb to the top of the mountain. The men, who were already exhausted, were then lowered down the side of the mountain to drill and chip the rock away bit by bit.

Borglum originally believed that the Memorial could be carved without dynamite, but he was wrong. Before Rushmore’s completion, 450,000 tons of rock was blasted off the mountain. “We have literally carved with dynamite,” Borglum later confessed.

Most of the men who worked on the mountain earned little pay and gained no recognition. So why did they do it? Initially, the men simply wanted to feed their families. Times were hard, jobs were scarce, and men were desperate. At some point, though, the men caught a glimpse of Borglum’s dream. ‘Red’ Anderson explained, “The longer we were there, the more we began to sense that we were building a truly great thing, and after a while all of us old hands became truly dedicated to it.” Through the years, more than 400 men would share the satisfaction of laboring to create the Memorial.

Gutzon Borglum certainly deserves a place of honor in the annals of artistic achievement. “I want somewhere in America,” he said, “ a few feet of stone that bears witness (to) the great things we accomplished as a nation, placed so high it won’t pay to pull it down for lesser purposes.” The Mount Rushmore National Memorial serves its purpose well.

For me, the past week has been life-changing. Many events, some good, some tragic, have caused me to reflect on my own life. In the end, I want my life to count for something. I don’t want to be famous and admired like the Mount Rushmore memorial, but I want to leave a legacy that encourages people to trust the Lord Jesus Christ. And, I want my life to bear witness of the inexpressibly wondrous things that the Lord has accomplished in me and through me.

I thought about the many people whom God has allowed to impact my life. Like the Rushmore workers, some have helped to gently chisel away some of my pain and imperfections. As Scripture says: As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17).

The Lord has used less gentile people to shape me as well, some were believers and some were not. They, being tools in the Master Sculptor’s hands, were often more like a forceful blast of dynamite because the Lord was using them to reach the places where my heart was harder. Though I could not always see it, the Lord was working all things out for my good (Romans 8:28).

Circumstances, both good and bad, have also helped define me. More often than not, the circumstances have been those which leave me feeling blessed and enriched, but there have been more occasions than I care to remember, when the circumstances of life were also like the explosive charges that carved Mount Rushmore.

It never ceases to amaze me that Borglum was able to assess a mountain and, at the hands of his workers, blast away everything that did not look like a president. One misplaced charge and Washington could have lost his nose, or Roosevelt his ear. But every time the rubble crashed to the ground and the dust smoke cleared, it was evident that the extraordinary masterpiece was one step closer to its completion.

Look closely at the Rushmore Memorial, however, and you will note that it is not quite finished. I think that is a perfect analogy of the human life. We are all works in progress; and we will never be fully perfected in this life.

Even so, let us show forth God’s excellent craftsmanship in our lives by submitting to the Master Sculptor, Jesus. He knows how to skillfully chisel and dynamite all the hardened places in our hearts and lives until we show forth His glory.

Borglum said, “The purpose of the (Rushmore) memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of the United States…” However, we have an even greater calling than Borglum did. Our calling, our legacy to mankind, is to allow the Lord Jesus to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation, and unification of His kingdom through us.

Finally, let us never forget that His is a kingdom of people. I for one am thankful for all the people who God has used, whether chisel or dynamite, to help refine me. When I think of the rubble lying at my feet, which has been chipped and blasted away in order to make my life into something beautiful, I realize that the Lord’s masterpiece is one step closer to completion.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

As such, we are living memorials of our blessed redeemer. Praise God!

baby xmas

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.”   ― James E. Faust

When parents don’t lie to their children, their children learn to affect their world in positive ways.

My heart had been heavy for the last few days, but my daughter changed that today while we were having another discussion about the importance of obeying Scripture no matter what. Even young people, who view life through an entirely different perspective than previous generations, realize that mainstream Christianity is in the process of a complete metamorphosis; one that is more comfortable and accommodating to today’s culture.  Some of these changes are not always acceptable to fundamentalists like myself.

Thus, my children, though grown, have always lived a little outside the Christian norm because we raised them to take a firm stand despite these changes. Nevertheless, as a parent, I expect my children to make mistakes, or go through spiritual rough patches, and they have. During those times, I wondered, did their father and I do a good enough job? Heaven knows we tried.

Obviously, we’ve done something right. I would like to share with you a true story that happened just last night.

My twenty-one-year-old daughter was visiting with a friend and her mother. This friend I will call Becky, for the sake of privacy. At some point in the conversation, Becky’s mother lied to her daughter about something, and my daughter knew immediately that it was not true. After Becky left the room, my daughter firmly stated, “You just lied to her!”

Becky’s mother replied that, “It was just a little white lie.” My daughter was very disappointed. “But that’s not right,” she countered.

Smirking  just a bit, the woman told my daughter, “Oh come on now, you know your parents told you little white lies when you were growing up –like Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.”

“No they didn’t!” She answered truthfully. “My parents always told us that Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny weren’t real; and there is no such thing as a tooth fairy.”

The woman was truly stunned.

“My parents have never lied to us.” my daughter proudly continued, “And I’m pretty sure they never will!”

Shortly thereafter, Becky returned. Her mother’s smugness was gone, replaced with sincerity, as she turned her attention towards her daughter. “There’s something I need to tell you,” she confessed. “I lied to you while ago.” She followed with the explanation that, “I just wanted you to be safe and I thought that it was best to say what I did, but it wasn’t true.”

That wasn’t the end of the matter. Becky’s mother then sincerely apologized to her for lying to her about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny during her childhood. Not surprisingly, Becky was a bit disinterested in that part because it was so long ago, but that’s not the point. I have no doubt that her mother’s admission and apology will have a positive effect at some point.

Becky later confided in my daughter that she knew her mother was lying about the first matter. “Do you want to know how I know?” she asked. Then, not waiting for a response, she added, “My mom always had that same little expression when she used to lie to me about Santa Clause and stuff.” Yes, she knew.

Children trust their parents when they tell them “little white lies” like Santa Clause, but children grow and learn the truth. At some point they know you are lying to them, but they seldom say so. Nonetheless, a seed of mistrust has been planted.

Dear reader, it is not my purpose to condemn anyone with this post, but rather to offer a little food for thought. When you read your children bedtime stories and fairy tales, they understood that they are entering a world of make-believe. On the other hand, they usually understand Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the tooth fairy to be quite real because that is what they are taught from infancy. I have even known parents (even Christian parents) that actually get angry if anyone so much as suggests that children should be told the truth about these fictitious characters. Parents, it seems, enjoy this falsehood every bit as much as the children.

Engaging in these holiday traditions may seem to be nothing more than harmless fun, but in the long run, children will understand that their parents have lied to them from a very early age. And whether they express it or not, there will come a time when they question whether or not their parents were completely honest about other things as well –possibly even God. And yes, this does happen; far more than we care to admit.

I am very proud of my daughter for having the courage to tell Becky’s mother that it isn’t right to lie to her own daughter; and I told her so. Her response was very touching. “I am so glad you and dad never lied to us about Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny,” she said. “If you had, I couldn’t have answered Becky’s mom the way I did, and she would still think that lying is okay. Besides,” she added, “I can trust you and dad to always be honest with me, no matter what.”

That is certainly our intent. My husband and I do not believe in telling lies, not even “little white ones.” A wise man rightly said that those who tell white lies will soon become colorblind. More importantly, Scripture instructs that He that speaketh truth sheweth forth righteousness: but a false witness deceit. (Proverbs 12:17).

Christmas is just around the corner. Trees will be erected, and gifts prettily wrapped. For those who celebrate this holiday (not all Christians do), my question to you is this: will you be truthful with your children, or will you carefully conceal the truth of Santa Clause with the pretty wrappings of tradition? The choice is certainly yours, but please do remember that choices have consequences.

There are dozens of Scriptures that condemn lies and falsehoods, but I will leave those for another time. For now, I leave you with this final thought: Honesty is the foundation of integrity. And it is true that when “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.” (Pr 20:7).

pencil lady

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Whatsoever


Fanny Crosby is probably one of the most inspirational women who ever lived. Though blind since infancy, Fanny penned more than nine-thousand of the most beautiful hymns ever written and devoted her entire life to selflessly serving the poor and needy.

What Fanny lacked in physical sight, she was more than compensated with spiritual insight. She once remarked: “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.”

Lord help us all, I pray, be blinded to the enticements of this world that we may see you more clearly. Let us proclaim, as did English clergyman John Newton, “Amazing Grace… (I) was blind but now I see!”
(“Blind Sight” is an archived message from my Polished Pearls blog.)

***

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

Eagle takes flight over Grand Canyon USA

This week, my region’s wonderful sweatshirt- and-boots weather has been held at bay by a resurgence of warmer temperatures. Nothing new here; our local weather is somewhat bipolar. Only a few summers ago, my children were swimming one day, and the very next they needed to wear their coats. If there is one place in the world where glimpses of all four seasons can be experienced in the course of a single day, it is definitely here, smack in the middle of the good ole U.S.A.

Now that I’m slipping into my autumn years, I sometimes feel the same way emotionally. Those pesky hormonal changes have a way of diving-in and swinging the emotions of this menopausal woman like a pendulum, from happy tears over the least little thing, to unexplainable sadness over nothing, all in one fell swoop.

Speaking of “one fell swoop,” Whether Shakespeare first penned the phrase or merely borrowed it for his Tragedy, Macbeth is uncertain; but he certainly popularized it. The imagery of “one fell swoop” is that of the fierce, dreadful descent of the swoop (an English hunting bird) upon its prey.

If the Bible were to use the phrase, I Peter 5:8 would be a perfect Scripture for its insertion: Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour [in one fell swoop]. Thankfully, those who put their trust in Christ have been given an arsenal of spiritual weapons to fight, and to overcome, the devil’s all-out attacks.

If only the victory were always as simple as the Apostle James’ admonition to “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you!” Maybe I am only speaking for myself, but sometimes the enemy’s attacks are so strong and unrelenting that I simply wear out, to the point that my faith starts swinging on that same emotional pendulum as my “bipolar” menopausal emotions.

It is then I remind myself of the 91st Psalm:

1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,”
and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.

Dear reader, it does not matter what challenges we are facing; nor does it matter how difficult the fight. Our King is Adonai Tzevaot – the LORD of hosts! In one fell swoop, He will rescue those who call upon His name!

pencil lady

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

steve cross
When my husband came home with a cough the other day, I felt badly for him, but I was anxious to test the claim that pineapple juice is more effective  than cough syrup. You can be my guinea pig, I told him.

Then my brain started whirling. What if someone stumbled upon that phrase a few-hundred years from now, or a thousand, should the Lord tarry? Would they have any idea what that expression meant to our generation? Would they debate its meaning the way folks sometimes do with some of the archaic expressions in the Bible, like turning into a “pillar of salt,” for example?

Some believe that Lot’s wife literally became a giant block of salt. The historian Josephus made the fantastic claim that the salty form of Mrs. Lot still stood in his day, some two-thousand years after her demise, and claims to have personally seen it himself. There are natural salt formations in that region, so it isn’t too far-fetched to believe that Josephus, with a little imagination, might just have fancied one of those to have been Mrs. Lot.

Whereas I can see his enthusiasm for the literal rendering of the biblical account, I would like to think that if I ever saw a pillar of salt, even an oddly shaped one, I would merely accept it as a giant “cow lick,” as we call it in my neck of the woods, or perhaps a “camel lick” in those parts. Do camels even lick salt blocks, I wonder? But I digress.

There is another explanation for Lot’s wife turning into a big salt lick as well. Some bible scholars teach that “turning into a pillar of salt” was an ancient Hebraic idiom, meaning that one had a heart attack or stroke. If this understanding is correct, the Scripture is merely informing us that Mrs. Lot was so frightened at seeing her town destroyed, loved ones and all, that she dropped dead on the spot from a coronary or brain aneurysm. I tend to agree, but I doubt anyone could ever know for certain.

Whatever happened to this frightened woman, it was tragic and I certainly don’t want to make light of it, but I do find it humorous that some people still claim, to this very day, to have seen the salty form of Mrs. Lot also; her frozen glare fixed upon the spot where Sodom once stood. To me, that would be akin to someone reading this post some four-thousand years from now and thinking that my husband really turned into a guinea pig at my suggestion, and that they had recently seen him squeaking his way around town.  That just wouldn’t be true.

Likewise, we sometimes  just have to accept that there are many things in Scripture that are not as clear-cut or easy to understand as we desire them to be. For example, it would be great if someone could clearly explain to me what Ezekiel 13:18 means? I am still a bit stumped by this one:

… Thus saith the Lord GOD; Woe to the women that sew pillows to all armholes, and make kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls! Will ye hunt the souls of my people, and will ye save the souls alive that come unto you?

Someday I will dig into that verse, but for now I’ll just refrain from sewing pillows onto armholes and making kerchiefs upon the head of every stature to hunt souls, which shouldn’t be too difficult since I don’t even have a clue what that means.

And with that, my guinea pig and salt licks rambling comes to a point. Dear reader, it is quite easy to misunderstand some of the Scriptures, which are written and can be studied. It is a great deal easier to misunderstand people, because we are much more complex. Even Jesus was misunderstood quite often. However, we should never –we must never– allow misunderstandings to damage otherwise healthy relationships.

Margaret Elizabeth Sangster once wrote, “In the whole round of human affairs little is so fatal to peace as misunderstanding.” I wholeheartedly agree with that. Misunderstandings have all too often caused otherwise peaceable folks to stand in frozen defiance of each other like bitter, unmovable pillars of salt; their eyes unable to see anything other than what they desire to see; unable to move forward.

Seeking truth is important and fighting for truth  sometimes necessary, but fighting each other is never the best recourse. Let us, therefore, remember to be charitable in our misunderstandings and disagreements, knowing full well that:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.…  (1 Corinthians 13:4-6).

 

coffe mug

Today I plan to start a new “to do” list. First order of business, find and compile all the other “to do” lists I have lying around, so that I can marvel at how many things I never seem to complete, and hopefully tackle some of them. Of course, the really important things get done, but I have a ton of worthwhile projects that, for one reason or another, got lost in the shuffle, never to be picked up again.

Aren’t you glad that God is not like that? I know I am. Can you just imagine Him starting something wonderful in your life, but stopping somewhere in the middle because He needed to go intervene in some crisis? Worse yet, imagine Him never completing the work?

That won’t happen, of course. Scripture says that He [the Holy Spirit] which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). God is working in the lives of every person on this planet, whether they acknowledge Him or not; and He will never stop until His glorious return.

I guess you could say that we are all on God’s “to do” list since He is never finished with any of us. We should ask ourselves, then, is God at the top of our list? Last night I was challenged by a preacher who admonished his listeners to develop a personal spiritual growth program and pursue it vigorously. He wasn’t insinuating that his audience was neglecting the things of God, only that we should all strive to give even more of our time and effort to the Lord and His word. If we would do that, he encouraged, we would certainly grow spiritually.

I don’t know about you, dear reader, but that sounds like an excellent idea. If God loves me enough to keep me on His daily “to do” list, I think it only right that He is at the very top of mine! On second thought, forget all the old lists, if those projects haven’t been finished by now, they probably aren’t that important after all. Yes, I still plan to start a new list, but the very first item on the list will be: Start a spiritual growth program, beginning with …

In fact, I’m going to go do that now so I’ll catch you all later.
God bless.

 

⇒Disclaimer: My apologies for the following advertisement, if applicable. I would like this site to be an advertisement-free site, but I have to pay a fee for this. I plan to do so in future, but for now, please know that I have nothing to do with advertisements &/or advertisement selection.

bear burdens

zuccini

When it comes to our thoughts, the age-old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out,” is certainly spot-on. As any gardener knows, however, the opposite is true of composting. It never ceases to amaze me how piles of organic waste, such as kitchen scraps or fallen leaves, can in due time, transform into the kind of rich, fertile fertilizer that causes plants to thrive.

My husband and I have a portable composter¹ that we move about our vegetable garden ever so often. Then, using a pitchfork, we redeposit the material, upside-down, to expedite the composting process. Since there is no bottom on the unit, some of the rich, organic material stays behind. Thus, we effortlessly condition different areas of soil while we wait for our veggie “food” to cook in the composter. This process is very simple, yet effective.

There are additional benefits to composting this way as well. Several weeks ago, we noticed that five new cucmber plants had begun to grow where the composter had last been. Since all of our produce scraps go into the composter, there were  some discarded seeds mixed into the pile. Apparently, the conditions were just right for some of those seeds to germinate. And I must admit, we were quite thankful for this little surprise, given that we were at the point in the season where the other plants had stopped producing; and we hadn’t gotten around to any later plantings to extend the harvest.

Admiring the healthy, vibrant young plants, I couldn’t help but think of the biblical parable of the sower, from the thirteenth chapter of Matthew. In a nutshell, the parable tells of a man who sowed seeds, some of which fell among thorns and stones and the like. These seeds did not grow to fruition. The seeds that fell upon good soil, however, did. Jesus explained to his disciples that the seed represented the Gospel; and the thorns, stones and fertile ground all represented the hearts of men. Some would receive the Gospel and grow in faith, others would not.

Today, as I watered those growing zucchini plants, another Scripture passage came to mind. The Apostle Paul was admonishing certain members of the church to continue in unity  in Christ, rather than aligning themselves with any particular leader. He likens his ministry, and that of Apollos, to jointly sowing and watering the seeds of the Gospel. “What, after all, is Apollos?” he asks, “And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe—as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. (I Co 3:5-7 NIV).

May this passage serve to remind us that all of the Gospel seeds we plant are in God’s hands. He is the master gardener! It is He that makes things grows.

Dear reader, perhaps you have sown seeds that have never come to fruition, so far as you know. Don’t lose hope, even though it may seem your precious kingdom seeds were somehow destroyed, as in the parable of the sower. You just never know where a seed may grow!

Above all, never pre-judge anyone. Sadly, there are certain people groups that have, for one reason or other, been deemed a complete waste when it comes to sowing Gospel seeds –those who passionately adhere to another, ungodly religion, for example. Friends, I trust you have never bought into that lie. Human nature easily assumes that any seeds of truth offered to the proverbial “unreachable” would be hotly discarded. But that judgment is not ours to make. We sow, we water; but it is God that makes things grow!

He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; That he may set him with princes, even with the princes of his people. (Psalms 113:7-8a).

¹ Simple, portable composter:  Cut the bottom off of a trash can, then drill holes in all sides.  To keep birds and small animals out, top the can with either a lid made of cage wire, or the original can lid with larger holes drilled into it.?????????? This allows moisture  into the can and expedites the composting process.  For best result, make two or more composters so that you can compost in stages.

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shipwreck survivor

3 John 1:2  Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

Blogging was already on my to-do list for this afternoon. However, as the day progressed quite differently than planned, so did today’s message. Pardon the personal nature of this post, but I feel prompted to share with you a few thoughts on sludge.

This morning, I awoke to a slightly sore throat and the distinct feeling of illness trying to take hold. In my home, we always try to kick everything naturally before we even consider a trip to the doctor’s office, so I downed some garlic capsules and started a vitamin C flush¹.

I don’t want to get too graphic here, but a  Vitamin C flush rapidly pulls toxins out of your body, so it is supposed to be done until you spend a sufficient amount of time in the bathroom to expel them. Let me just say, it didn’t take long for me to figure out that my gall bladder was clogged because I passed a ton of gall sludge. That being the case, I plan to do a gall bladder flush later this evening as well.

As a result of the C flush, my sore throat is already gone and I feel quite a bit better overall, but the gall bladder flush will help me feel better still, and far more energetic; I know this from experience. I am thankful for today’s symptoms, though, because they served to highlight the fact that my body was out-of-order and needed some immediate attention.

What does this have to do with God? You may ask. It is He that gives our bodies the various red-flags that call us to action. The same is true of our spiritual lives as well. Often times, our spiritual lives become so sludged with the everyday stuff of life that we cannot hear the voice of God as clearly as we used to. If left unchecked, this can create more serious problems, spiritual apathy, for example.

Obviously, spiritual sludge doesn’t manifest with a sore throat, but there are some noticeable symptoms when it is present. These may include such things as a decreased desire to pray and study, a lessening compassion towards others, a critical spirit or a bad attitude, etc.

These are all red flags, calling us to action. If you are feeling spiritually lethargic, dear reader; if you have that undeniable feeling that something is out-of-order, may I encourage you to immediately seek the Lord. Ask Him to show you what, if anything, needs to be flushed from your life –especially anything that is toxic, such as bitterness, strife or envy, etc.

Toxins can be ingested from external sources as well, such as inappropriate television programs and the like. Even so, it may be that you aren’t ingesting any of those, yet feel that your spiritual life isn’t quite healthy regardless. Like the physical body, our spiritual life is often ailing, not because we are allowing harmful things in, but rather because we are simply neglecting to put enough of the right ‘nutrients’ in. Our bodies need proper nutrition and so do our spirits.

Like a vitamin C flush, which blitzes the body with enough Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and minerals to flush toxins, and replenish these essentials; ingesting large amounts of Scripture blitzes our spirit with everything it needs to stay healthy and strong, while consistent prayer inhibits unhealthy sludge from clogging up our lives in the first place. But we don’t study and pray for medicinal purposes, we do so because we are in a covenant relationship with the Creator of the Universe and because we love Him. As C.S Lewis once said, “Every Christian would agree that a man’s spiritual health is exactly proportional to his love for God.”

Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. (2 Cor 7:1).

¹  I use Professional Health Products Pro C Ascorbate for this flush.  Instructions for doing a Vitamin C flush may be read by clicking this link:  Vitamin C Flush

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