Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Root of It All

I decided to salvage a little leafy stem left from the goats eating my flowers. It had a tiny red bloom in its center and I thought it might brighten a kitchen window before it wilted. Placing it in a cup of water, I didn't pay much attention to it, although the leaves looked fresh and the bloom was getting a tiny bit bigger. Clearing the window ledge a couple of days ago, I took the stem out to throw it in the trash. Then I noticed something. Tiny roots! Growing from the end of the stem!

I was so surprised! I had saved it! Replaced in the soil of the porch tub and gently watered, hopefully it will survive!

As couples, we usually "put down roots" as we raise our families. We lived in one place for twenty years as our children were growing up. That is where their roots of faith were established, both from church attendance and a secure, loving home life.

Paul writes of his desires to the church in Ephesians 3:17, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love." Children cannot grow and develop without love, as proven from babies who lie unattended except for necessities in cribs of orphanages or children's homes.

Again, he speaks to the Colossian church to be: "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving," Colossians 2:7.

Isaiah prophecies of Jesus, "For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground." Before whom? God. God had his eye on his Son, even in the times of suffering for our sake.

With proper watering from the Word and the sunshine of God's love exhibited through us, our well-rooted "plants" can bloom and grow stalwart and strong for Him!

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Ripe Harvest

"I think I'll see if there are any more ripe tomatoes on the vines," I said to my husband. We had picked about 20 a few days before, so I didn't expect many more yet. Scouring the over-grown tomato plants, I caught a glimpse of bright red near the ground.

Sure enough, it was a ripe tomato! I brushed off the bit of dirt and leaves on the underside and took it inside. A little rinsing under the faucet yielded a shiny, delicious-looking treat. I added it to the diminishing supply waiting in a colander.

Carefully foraging in the tomato patch among some broken vines, I thought of the scripture in Isaiah 42:3, "A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench." This means that if there is just a spark in smoldering ashes, as in a soul needing God, it can be nurtured back to a flame. The first part of the verse indicates that if someone is down, discouraged or dismayed, we are to follow the prophetic pattern of Jesus to lift them up and be an encouragement.

I think of the tender vines that are children. They can be very spiritual, seeing as how they have so recently come from heaven. Their innocence and ready belief MUST make us nurture them in following Jesus.

I have a passel of great-grandchildren; the oldest two are 7. Recently one of them was with his mother as she paid a utility bill when she heard him telling people about Jesus! His two-year-old cousin loves the family devotions and Bible stories, and often leads in prayer, reminding the family to "put your heads down." Then he softly prays. His 6-year-old brother is so knowledgeable and unashamedly devout we think he will be a preacher!

Jesus tells us in John 4:35 that the harvest is ripe, when he says, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, for they are white already to harvest." The harvest is ripening, and not just the tomatoes.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Soul Food

"What is that stuff!" I exclaimed after taking a portion of a dish at a potluck recently, as stringy, weed-like green things clung to my fork. I had thought I was getting green bean casserole! When I got to the table, I realized it must be spinach casserole, though I had never seen any before.

To my surprise, it was delicious! I couldn't wait to get home and look up the recipe so I could make some myself! "This is so good!" I had to admit.

(I remember a time as a teenager when I was blessed at the altar during a time of worship and exclaimed, "It's so good! It's so good!")

Psalm 34:8 says, says: "O taste and see that that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him."

We have a "recipe" for salvation. It's in the Bible. "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved." Romans 10:13.

Who can forget the promise of John 3:16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."

The recipes I found for Spinach Casserole had a few unusual ingredients, such as nutmeg, cottage cheese, croutons, garlic and other aromatic additions.

II Corinthians 2:15 reads, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish." The best fragrance of all!

Saturday, September 15, 2018

The Vine Dresser

Oh, look what the goats have done," I exclaimed, so angry I could cry! We had bought a large planter with a decorative, lush tree for the porch, with several flowers growing in soil at the foot of it. I didn't know the names of them, petite little flowers with pinked edges plus a bigger one with red flowers. I finally realized it was salvia, flowers that we had had in Mississippi. And now the goats had gotten out and devoured them, leaving nothing but a few stems.

This happened a month or so ago, and the little flowers have thankfully grown back, along with a leafy plant I didn't recognize, although it looked like an aggressive weed I had seen growing around fences here. Daily I looked at the plant, wondering if it were a flower or a weed. All it would do was grow pretty leaves. A while ago, I decided to yank it out. As I plucked out the last vestige of it, my heart sank! A bright red bud of a flower peeked out from the center of the leaves! Now I was heartsick again!

Somehow this made me think of a parable Jesus spoke in Luke 12:6-9. "A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then he said unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?"

"And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it and dung (fertilize) it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if it not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

This speaks to me of having grace for those we see who may be half-heartedly serving God, or are immature in the faith. One might be tempted to give up on a new convert, or one for whom one has prayed for years to no avail.

Like the vine dresser in the parable who was willing to be patient and try a little longer, all the while strengthening the fig tree by turning and enriching the soil, may we be supportive and encouraging to a weak Christian. One may very well see their efforts bear fruit!

Friday, September 14, 2018

The Run

We went to the 125th anniversary commemorating the 1893 Land Run yesterday in our home town of Blackwell, Oklahoma. Howard was especially interested, since his paternal grandfather ran in the Cherokee Strip and homesteaded near the young town of Hennessy where he raised nine children. My husband's dad was the youngest, whose mother died when he was nine years old.

A delicious spread of potluck fare was relished during visiting and conversation by the mostly senior crowd in attendance. Howard had been asked to give the invocation for lunch and the meeting. Later, when people were invited to share stories of ancestors' adventures, trials, and hardships of the run, he related like memories handed down to him from his father and grandfather.

Afterward, when I reflected on the gathering and the fellowship and the camaraderie of the group, it reminded me of how it will be in heaven. People knowing each other from their time on earth, the joy of fellowship and the feast at The Marriage Supper of the Lamb. All vestiges of time will drop away.

We were invited to the event by a long-ago friend from High School, a church pal we had known and worshiped with in the tender age of our youth. Separation by distance and decades didn't factor into a warm hug and friendly greeting by our friend. "I know these kids!" she announced.

A soloist was the "entertainment," and we sang along with several old hymns she featured. I especially enjoyed it, because she sang in the same style as my late sister. She even reminded me of her in her looks. Afterwards, I was able to meet the singer and tell her so.

At the close of the ceremony. prizes were awarded to those who had the right number on tickets received as we came in. Our grandson, Adam, called out the numbers, and Howard's was the first called! (The $5 reward bought us ice cream for the ride home!)

"Grandpa," Adam announced on the way home, "You were the only one there with black hair!"

I had to smile, but I knew that believers in today's sea of white hair will be restored to youth and beauty in heaven, a great reward, in my opinion!

Monday, September 10, 2018

A Good Read!

Last night Howard and I were watching old editions of the 700 Club, and the story of Don Piper, author of the book, 90 Minutes in Heaven, came on. If I had seen it before, I didn't remember it and found it fascinating, although of course I had heard about his testimony.

"I've never read the book," I said to Howard after we had turned off the TV. "I wonder if we have it in one of our bookcases?"I mused, to which he said, "No. We don't have it. I've never seen it."

"I'm going to go look," I said, heading into his darkened "office," where we keep a lot of books (although we had dispensed of many in our recent move). Grabbing my glasses and bending down to look, my hand first touched the binding of a slim book which looked new. I couldn't believe my eyes when I read the title, 90 Minutes in Heaven, by Don Piper!

God must have wanted me to read it! I concluded, and read the first page. It was so interesting I read the first three chapters aloud to my husband! They were amazing accounts of his seeing loved ones and friends who greeted him in heaven, the celestial music, and the overwhelming love and acceptance he felt.

One thing he mentioned was that everyone looked better in heaven! They were recognizable, but any scar, disfiguring, wrinkles or anything of the sort was not there. One relative he remembered as slumped and crooked stood straight and tall. And no one appeared over-weight or too thin. All were perfect!

Paul writes in I Corinthians 13:12, " For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am also known."

Also he writes in Philippians 20-21, "For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself."

I can't wait to read the rest of the book about Piper's recovery, but it was surely miraculous!

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Rise and Shine!

"I wish you would make a cake," Howard said wistfully last night after a light supper. I thought about it for minute, reflecting that there was no cake mix in the cupboard.

"Okay," I agreed, thinking I could make half a chocolate sheet cake, the easiest cake ever. Confident that I could make it from memory, I assembled the ingredients, mixed the batter with flour, cocoa, eggs, etc. and put it in the oven. Turning my attention to making the frosting, I glanced at the counter and saw the box of baking soda still sitting there. Then it hit me! I hadn't put the soda in with the buttermilk, and the batter was already baking! Now the cake wouldn't rise!

My tolerant husband liked it anyway, and the frosting was delicious. But the cake was flat, firm, and more like eating a piece of fudge than sheet cake!

The non-rising batter made me think of scriptures in the Bible that refer to leaven, or yeast. Galatians 5:9 records Jesus saying, "A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," which seems to be used in a somewhat negative context here, referring to unfavorable influence. As the yeast grows within the dough, the rest of the dough is affected.

In Matthew 13:33, Jesus says,"The kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, which a woman took, and hid three measures of meal, till the whole was leavened." This indicates a good context, and makes me think of how the gospel is spreading around the world! This is accomplished not only by missionaries these days, but the wonderful communication systems we have today! Christians are the vital ingredient!