and the One who walks with me on it.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Pruning Back Our Trees

       Who knew tree pruning could be so intense.  Two hours of using a pole saw/ pruner extended from 7 to 15 feet left me tired, and sweat wet in my clothes. Yuck!  It felt good to clean up.  Anyway, the work is done and the tree branches are no longer hitting the cars as we drive or obstructing our view from the house.  Much better.  It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to spend my afternoon, but it was necessary.  As I write, my son is dragging the limbs to the pile at the back of the yard to clean up the mess.

       The branches were healthy, most of them had leaves, and some of them were even new growth.  The problem was they grew too low and interfered with our daily living.  It makes me think about how the Lord prunes us back.  Until now I always thought of it as pruning dead or unfruitful branches, but maybe there are times we have new growth or other growth that interferes with His best for us which also needs to be removed.  We must assume that if the Lord wants it pruned then there is good reason that it should be pruned.

I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every one that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the Word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. Jh. 15:1-5

       Jesus Christ is the Vine that we ‘grow’ out of, and the Father is the one who prunes us.  If a branch does not produce fruit, it is cut off.  Every branch that produces fruit is pruned back so it will produce more fruit.  Pruning is not comfortable or pleasant, but it is necessary.  The Lord cuts off that which will hinder our fruitfulness even if we think it’s good, special, of healthy.  He always knows best because He knows all from beginning to end.

       Oh Lord, really?  Do I need more difficulties in my life?  Can’t I ever get a break?  Well, not if more pruning is needed.  He wants the best for us and if something needs to be taken out of the way Lord, You have my permission to do so!  For actual vines, pruning maintains health, shape, productivity and size of fruit.  It also allows sunlight penetration and better air circulation that is vital for flavour development in fruit, keeps the bad flavours out and prevents mildew, rot and pests.  Perhaps the Lord is pruning us for the same (or similar) benefits. 

       I guess what I am wondering today is how many things in my life need pruning that I’ve thought are good growth but are not productive in the way God wants them to be.  How many things are interfering with my vision?  How many things look good but hinder my walk?  In the end, I am grateful Yahweh cares enough to tend to us.  He makes sure we have the best Light and wind blowing (Spirit) for our health and growth.  How amazing that the Creator of the Universe cares enough to work with us in such a personal level.

Thank You oh Lord of Glory.  You reign forevermore!

Friday, July 25, 2014


       I’m thinking about relationships today.  We have relationships because they fill a need in us, otherwise, why would we bother?  In over 25 years of marriage I have discovered that genuine love isn’t just mushy gushy feelings (though they are a nice addition) but the actions of love that we choose to take despite our feelings.  Are we acting kind, selfless, patient, humble, foregoing envy, irritability and resentment, but also enduring through all the difficulties… can we say commitment?  These are just some of the actions of love found in 1Cor. 13 that we ignore because we prefer the feelings.

       Yet without commitment our relationships will fail, with hearts and lives torn apart.  Statistics prove half of marriages fail- even Christian marriages.  Something’s not right, but we don’t want to change; we continue wanting to do things our way.  History proves this isn’t the best idea: look at Adam and Eve, Pharaoh, King Saul, Nimrod, Sampson, Nebuchadnezzar, Jonah, etc.  All suffered terribly because they wanted to do things their own way which resulted in repercussions for others too.  As Christians, we often retain that part of our old nature, and that’s not a good thing.  We should desire complete transformation into the person our Lord God wants us to be, fully walking in the Spirit, fully following Jesus Christ.

And they carried the ark of God in a new cart out of the house of Abinadab. And Uzza and Ahio led the cart. And David and all Israel played before God with all their might...
And when they came to the threshing-floor of Chidon, Uzza put out his hand to hold the ark for the oxen stumbled. And the anger of Jehovah was kindled against Uzza, and He struck him because he put his hand to the ark. And he died there before Jehovah.  1Ch. 13:7-10

       Though there is no proof I could find, the chances are that Uzza and brother were Levites since they weren’t struck dead from the first second.  See, only the Kohath branch of the Levites was supposed to carry the Ark of the Covenant.  And the rules for moving the Ark were set out by God in several Scriptures.  For whatever reason, God wanted things done this way, but man thought his own way would work just as well, or better.  Let’s build a ‘shiny new cart’ to carry this sacred object.  We’ll worship God with all our might, all we have in us, so that He will accept the plans we’ve made.

And you shall cast four rings of gold for it, and shall put it on its four feet. And two rings shall be in the one side of it, and two rings in the other side of it. And you shall make staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, so that the ark may be carried with them. Ex. 15:12-14

And when Aaron and his sons have made an end of covering the sanctuary, and all the vesselsthen after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry it. But they shall not touch any holy thing lest they die. These are the burden of the sons of Kohath in the tabernacle of the congregation. Nm. 4:15
But they shall not go in to watch when the holy things are covered, lest they die. Nm. 4:20
And you shall put the staves into the rings by the sides of the ark, so that the ark may be carried with them. Ex. 25:14
which they should carry upon their shoulders. Nm. 7:9 (there are more Scriptures than these)

Most accurate imo.
Possibly 4 more Levites.
       It was all very clear.  No see, no touch, carry using poles (staves) not a cart, and only the descendants of Kohath, the son of Levi do the task.  God’s rules for His good reasons.  But man has a way of committing part of himself but still partly doing his own thing.  David didn’t seek God as he often did (1Ch. 14:10,14; 1Sm. 23:11) nor sat before God to inquire (1Ch. 17:16) in the matter but did as he desired thinking God would bless it.  “…Does Jehovah delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of Jehovah? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice!..” (1Sm. 15:22) 

       Obviously, God was patient with allowing the cart for a bit, but when Uzza touched the Ark (even through the coverings if there) that was too much.  His disobedience was punished.  Is God not powerful enough to keep His holy object upright?  Or perhaps it wouldn’t ‘need holding’ if it was carried on the shoulders of Levites as it should have been.  At least 4 if not 8 Levites would have been used. (Ex- Pallbearers are 3 or 4 to a side to keep the coffin safe and stable, sharing the load.)  One corner instability for a bit probably wouldn’t be cause for alarm.

We need to question now and then: 
Are we doing what God tells us to or doing things our own way wanting God to bless our plans?
Are we truly committed to God?

God delights in us when we obey!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What’s in a Name?

       Here is my rant about growing up with a last name that starts with an A.  I was always first for the hated things while fun things remained first come first serve, so I lost out there too.  First on the bus meant sitting right behind the bus driver which meant you couldn’t get away with anything, and everyone would laugh at you.  First in the class list meant you sat in front right by the teacher- yuck.  First for vaccines, for oral assignments, spelling bees, whatever!  I got so tired of being first that I decided I would never marry unless the man had a name in the middle or end of the alphabet.  (Pathetic, eh?)

Goal accomplished.

       Reading up on names, I learned some interesting ideas others state.  Your name defines you.  It is a personal identity, therefore giving and receiving a name is an event of major importance.  The bestowal of name and identity is a kind of symbolic contract between the society and the individual, and the individual receiving the name accepts membership in the society and agrees to follow its rules and customs.  Names are also chosen to express the nature and function of a person.  Consider God’s words to His precious people:

Yet You, O Jehovah, are in our midst, and we are called by Your name. Do not leave us! Jr. 14:9
But now so says Jehovah who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel; Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. Is. 43:1
bring My sons from far and My daughters from the ends of the earth; everyone who is called by My name; for I have created him for My glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. v.46,47
But he who enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheepthe sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Jh. 10:2,3
He who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. Rv. 21:7

       God knows our names, but calls us His sons.  He does that because when we repent and follow Him, He accepts us into His family, becomes our Father and we become His sons.  This is similar to the way my husband and I became parents.  We adopted our children, gave them a new name- our name.  Now they are ours and have all the rights and privileges of being our children.  They are our inheritors.  They carry our name.  They carry on our name.  God has adopted us into His family…
Adopted and loved...   just as we are!

Behold what manner of love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. 1Jh. 3:1
God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, "Abba! Father!"  Gl. 4:4-6 ESV
you have received the Spirit of adoption by which we cry, Abba, Father! The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. Rm. 8:15,16

        So, what’s in a name?  Everything!  Who God is, His nature and function.  He adopted us and gave us His name, and we received it as a kind of contract between us and Him.  Now we are known by His name- all because of what Jesus Christ has done.  Now we carry His name into the world to show and tell them what a Mighty God we have: our Heavenly Father who bestows His name on us, His Holy Spirit and our Precious Savior Jesus Christ, who loved us and died for us that we might be saved and called the children of God.

There’s everything in His name!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Puppy Dog Eyes

       “Mommy, I wanna puppy!” she says as she looks at me with those hard to resist ‘puppy dog eyes.’  “No.” I reply instinctively without hesitation.  Though my daughter is 18 now and has a full time job, she is still being told no.  When she was younger the excuse was her age.  As a teen it was lack of time and no consistent responsibility.  Now it is lack of money, time, effort, and inability to find a home for the animal if we go away.  “My friend will take it.”  I’m thinking maybe friend’s Mom wouldn’t agree.

       Amy’s upped her frequency in asking to every time she sees a puppy, and to explain, every dog, no matter size or age, is a puppy.  Even tv dogs count.  “No.  No.  No.”  How could I say yes when she has no money to take care of it and isn’t home twelve or more hours a day four days a week, works five and goes out on the weekends?  She thinks she can handle it all, but I know better due to experience.  I’ve seen a lot in wait, uh, figuring, 47 years.  Someday when she’s on her own, she’ll get one and will see for herself, or she’ll have a different schedule by then.  Who knows?

        As a parent we see things from a broader perspective- more fully than our children who have less experience.  Now imagine our Father God: He who makes no mistakes, has been forever and knows the future of all eternity (Is. 46:10).  He fully knows the past and the future of everyone, and everything in every place (Ac. 15:18; Ps. 33:13; 147:5).  This means He knows better than us.  How does this play into our lives?  Well, when we try to use ‘puppy dog eyes’ or begging on the Lord, giving Him all the valid reasons why we need or want something to happen, to have, to do or see, He sometimes says “Wait” or “No.”  It’s not to be mean, cold hearted, unconcerned about our desires, but He knows all and knows what is best for us and everyone else.

       Probably the most difficult time in trusting this is when a loved one is very sick and dying, and the Lord chooses not to heal (especially a child).  “Why?  Why Lord?  What is the purpose in his/ her death?  What did I do wrong?”  Death is a part of life and we all do wrong things so that last part is not at issue.  Sometimes God tells us the purpose behind things He allows, but I find most of the time He doesn’t.  Do we trust Him enough that at those times we believe He is out for our good and the good of our loved ones?  That’s tough!

Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. Ps. 119:68 (all KJV)
O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good Ps. 136:1
But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. Jr. 9:24

       Looking back I can see many good things that happened because of the trials I had to go through, and so I am grateful for each and every one that brought me to this place of trust in the Lord.  So when I cried out to Him for release and He didn’t fix it, He was good and doing good because it changed me for the better.  Who knows what good it did in other’s lives?  Often we have to wait for things but we want them NOW!  God, who knows all, knows when and if we should have those things and asks us to wait on Him.

Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD. Ps. 27:14
My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. Ps. 62:5
I trust in the mercy of God for ever and ever. I will praise thee for ever, because thou hast done it: and I will wait on thy name; for it is good before thy saints. Ps. 52:8,9
And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, and therefore will he be exalted, that he may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for him. Is. 30:18

       Wait?  I don’t want to wait.  Maybe better ‘puppy dog eyes’, better arguments, or promises or bribes will work.  “If all that fails, if God does not give in to my desires right now, then I will have to take matters into my own hands.”  We surely are a society of immediate gratification!  “Now, I want it now.”  But God says “Wait” or worse yet, “No.”  "He must hate me, He must not care, He’s left me…"  Thoughts pound through our head when life doesn’t go as planned or as wanted.  But what it all comes down to is, do we trust God to be good and do good in our lives?  Can we surrender and trust He is wise and knows best… and rest in that?  He is our peace (Ep. 2:14)

Remember, God is our Father and His love for us is immeasurable.

Behold what manner of love the Father has given us,
that we should be called children of God.
1Jh. 3:1

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Almost Creamed… Twice

       Friday was the day my daughter passed her G2 driving test which means she can now drive alone--- and I can stop driving her most days!!! J J J    Anyway, her driving test went fairly well despite the fact she had the hardest tester, who also tested longer than most of the other testers, and they almost got in a car accident.  Amy was to execute a left hand turn after stopping at a red light.  She had an advanced green arrow and so proceeded into her turn when a person ran the red and almost hit them on the passenger side.  She hit the brakes in time, but the tester didn’t say anything about it then.  It was only when they got back to the test facility that the tester told Amy she passed and thanked her for her quick reflexes that kept them from being creamed.

       Today we practiced on the expressway because that will be her main route to work.  Back and forth, on and off the ramps, merging into and dealing with merging vehicles was the priority.  At one point we went off into the mall and she began to make a left with our right of way.  The other two roads have stop signs, but the guy facing us probably didn’t notice that, stopped, but then drove through.  Amy again stopped just in time.  Both times she was in the right to proceed.  Both times the results of her stopping saved a lot of grief.  If her reflexes hadn’t been so good, there could have been injuries and damages.

       I try to teach my kids in life and especially driving that just because it’s your right doesn’t mean others follow the law or don’t make mistakes, so take care and allow for that eventuality.  I’ve made dangerous mistakes myself.  It happens to us all so we must be prepared to react appropriately.  We can force our ‘rights’ and end up injured, over react and make the situation worse, or calmly respond suitably for the situation.

If your child yells and you yell back, will that escalate the situation or calm it down?
A soft answer turns away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger. The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly, but the mouth of fools pours out foolishness. Pr. 15:1,2
If someone says something hurtful to you, will being hurtful back make it better or worse?
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. Jm. 3:17

       One of my kids (not telling which J) used to get me going fairly quickly and things would escalate.  Eventually I realized they felt better when I was out of control- like they’d won something, so I resolved to react calmly no matter what.  They got worse before they got better, but eventually some healing took place and reactions all around are much improved.  The Bible speaks of better ways to respond:

So then let us pursue the things of peace, and the things for building up one another. Rm. 14:9
Let your moderation (Strong’s- appropriateness) be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Php. 4:5
to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. Tt. 3:2 ESV
If it is possible, as far as is in you, being in peace with all men. Rm. 12:18
Follow peace with all, and holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord; Hb. 12:14
But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. Lk. 6:27,28
Blessed are the meek! For they shall inherit the earthBlessed are the peacemakers! For they shall be called the sons of God. Mt. 5:5,9

Gee Lord, does this include inconsiderate drivers too?