Gently Redirect

The cucumbers are going crazy.  They’re growing WILD and getting all up in other plants’ space. They’re out of control. They have their own space but are moving in on the tomatoes, jalapeños and green pepper’s space. If something doesn’t change it will affect the health of those other plants as well.  So today, I gently redirected the cucs back to their spot.  I had to carefully twist them away from the plants they were entwined with. If I would’ve done it brash or quickly, they would’ve broken, so I had to be really careful. Now, they’re back to the cucumber area where they can grow and flourish and make MANY more cucumbers!  YUM!

As I was gently moving the cucumbers, it made me think of when we (believers) need to (are called to) redirect or restore another believer that is entwined in sin.  Galatians 6:1 tells us to, “restore such a person with a gentle spirit.” Our feelings or frustrations may want to  jump in there with hedge clippers and take care of business once and for all, but what would that accomplish?  Or, we may want to avoid the uncomfortableness of it. However, God calls us to, when necessary, restore or gently redirect someone in our lives; a child, a spouse, a friend, a fellow church member…  Just remember to do it in love, “gently and humbly” as the NLT says. The result will be an abundance of “fruit.”

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While You Were Away

We just got home from 10 days of traveling (including visiting friends, a conference and visiting more friends).  It was a great time of blessing, refreshing and fun!  (Thank You, Jesus.)

One thing, though, when you go away is you just don’t know what you’re going to come home to in regards to the garden.  I really don’t know when/if it rained (other than the storms I heard about Saturday).  I wasn’t there to weed, water and harvest. It was just the garden… and God.

As you can see from the picture, God and the garden did just fine :).  We came home to an abundance of cucumbers, several banana peppers and jalapeños, and a handful of green/red peppers.  YUM!  Also, there are baby pumpkins, cantaloupes, and a bazillion green tomatoes. Salsa is in our near future!!

All of this is a great reminder that even when we’re not around, even when we’re not working, even when nothing is happening, God is at work.  He doesn’t sleep.  His plan is always in motion. He is always working things for good. He’s not going to forsake (us). Isn’t that comforting when ya’ really think about it?

Some Plant

This is my 3rd year doing a garden.  The 1st year I bought all of my plants from a greenhouse and then planted them in my garden. (That year we had about 1000 plants in an 8×8 plot garden…. a little exaggeration, but we did have  LOT of plants in that little space.)  Then, last year and this year I started most of my plants by seeds. Tomatoes. Jalapeños. Cucumbers.  Green Beans. Last year’s garden did ok, but not great.  Not good enough to even can salsa :/.  This year I tried seeds again.  I planted them late and they really never took off. I ended up buying some tomato plants from a greenhouse.  Then, I bought a few green pepper and jalapeño plants. Then, I bought a few more tomato plants. Then, some more pepper plants (green, jalapeno, habanero, ghost chile) and some salad plants.  However, I did plant cucumber seeds and green bean seeds right into the garden and they are doing GREAT!

I planted the cucs and the beans and I’m also taking care of them (watering and weeding).

But, someone else planted the many tomato plants and pepper plants.  Now, I’m watering them (and will reap the benefits).

That reminds me of those verses in 1 Corinthians 3.  How God used Paul and Apollos in different ways, “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. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”

We may be the one to plant a seed.  We may be the one to sustain it, water it, nurture it. And God is the One who makes things grow.  Each of us have a purpose. Sometimes we will see the fruit (reap the harvest) of that planting or watering, sometimes we won’t. The point is to remain faithful to the garden (ministry).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Gal. 6:9

I Just Wanna Harvest

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I have spent the past couple of mornings out in the garden, hoeing. I went out before the heat of the day to hoe away weeds that have been growing incessantly. This is not my favorite part of gardening, but it must be done. When I first decided to plant a garden, three years ago, I imagined just planting some plants and getting a bountiful harvest to make salsa and eat fresh veggies. Of course, now three years later I’ve learned some things about gardening and know it’s a lot more than that. There’s tilling, weeding, watering, de-bugging. Is it worth it? Yes. Nothing beats fresh veggies from the garden. And I love the “adventure” of planting new things, watching them mature and finally enjoying the juicy goodness.

Once upon a time, we were new (and naive) in ministry. I daydreamed about telling people about Jesus, them getting saved and living for Jesus. I imagined people hungry for God’s word and attendance at Bible Study would be standing room only. I pictured the joys of lives turned 180 following Jesus. Miracles. And all of that does and has happened. But, what I didn’t realize was all the weeds we would deal with; how Satan constantly attacks your family, dealing with sin (your own and that of your church members), crises, financial difficulty, people leaving your church without saying a word, people leaving your church and saying LOTS of words, personality conflicts, criticism etc. Yeah, there are a lot of weeds when serving/following Jesus. Is it worth it? If I answered honestly I would say sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. But, it is worth it. If “just one more soul were to walk down the aisle, it would be worth every struggle. It would be worth every trial.” I really just wanna harvest, but gardening (and ministry) is a total package. And by the grace of God and the power of His Holy Spirit we can press on; sowing, weeding, and harvesting for His glory.

Bloom

Would you believe that last year, this rose bush did not bloom one single flower?  Not one.single.rose.  It looked DEAD as a doornail.  Oh, it still had thorns of course, but never did we see anything remotely red, pink or burgundy from it. Now look.

This rosebush is going to TOWN.  It’s out of control with multiple, beautiful blooms. I may even have to trim it back a bit, but I’m just not ready for that.  Right now, I’m just enjoying the glorious intricacy of each flower, its colorful effect on my flowerbed, and the view from the street.

It’s a reminder to me that everything has a season. Some seasons don’t produce any flowers.  Oh, the thorns are still there – but not a single glimpse of red, pink or burgundy blooms.  Then there are times where the roses are overwhelmingly abundant.

Have you ever know or heard of missionaries that were serving in a remote land and after 5 or even 10 years had not seen one person come to the Lord?  I can’t imagine how frustrating and discouraging that would be – a constant rosebush with just thorns.  But, what they didn’t see was the rosebush growing healthy roots underneath and down the road – the one, two or few converts they were blessed with multiplied to create a great movement for God.  We don’t see what God is doing when we just have the almost dead rosebush – still with its thorns.  But, He is working.   In the meantime, be steadfastimmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.1 Corinthians 15:58 

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that everything has its season.  Everything has its time and place.  And God has made everything beautiful for its own time (vs. 11). Hang tight through the thorn-bush – for God is working out a flourishing rose bush behind the scenes.

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.

Pulled some weeds today…

… and not just in my garden.

Ahhhhh, to get down and get dirty in my flowerbeds. This year they seemed even more overgrown with early spring weeds than any other year we’ve lived here.  I knew I had my work cut out for me so I did the front bed last week and tackled the backyard bed today.

Some of those stinkin’ things were so stinkin’ DEEP.  I had to pull with all the muscles I had in my legs and back (and I’m still feeling it…).  Other weeds were widespread, easy to pull but ALL.OVER.THE.PLACE.  Some weeds are sneaky – they actually look endearing, as if they were begging to be left since they “look” like they belong there, like a shrub or flowers.  I filled a whole black garbage bag with weeds from the front flowerbed, and another for those in the back.  And to think… I haven’t even touched the vegetable garden yet.  Well, those will be matched with the mega-tiller soon.  There’s no way I could tackle those on my own.

For me, garden time is my quiet place (one of them).  Usually it’s just me, God and the greenery.  I can chat quietly with my Father and He whispers to me with His sweet words.  Today we talked about sin.

Weeds are a lot like sin.  Sometimes they’re so DEEP that you have to use all your (faith) muscles to dig them out.  It requires work, it’s probably going to hurt, and the only way to ensure they don’t come back is to pull them from the root.  Other sins are WIDESPREAD.  It may be a common sin that “everyone’s doing” and you can justify it easily.  Those can be easier to “pull”, but just as necessary that they get rooted from the flowerbed. Finally, there are those SNEAKY sins.  They actually are pleasant to the eye, so one may think it’s ok to leave them there… but the truth is, they’re still sins.  They have to go. Time in the word and communication with the Master Gardener are essential to pulling all of these types of “weeds”.

Then, there’s those sins need the “mega-tiller”.  They need a serious movement from God, a changing of the heart (repentance) and a change of path.  They need to be ground up, chopped up and destroyed so they don’t return.  You have to pull out the big guns of accountability, extensive time in the TRUTH of God’s word, and powerful, constant and fervent prayer to blast away the weeds and have victory in the garden of your soul.

In order to prepare the flowerbed for a beautiful, bountiful array of flowers, the weeds have to go!  Weeds will overtake the flowers, strangle them, hide them, and steal the nutrients that they need.  You can’t have a flourishing garden and keep the weeds. The garden first needs to be cleared of the junk to be open and ready for the luscious growth.

WEEDS: Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.  Galatians 5: 19-21

PULL THEM OUT… TO MAKE ROOM FOR –

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25

SO WE CAN BE FRUITFUL FOR HIS GLORY!

Let’s pull out those sins from the roots, bag ‘em up and leave ‘em behind so we can live in the fertilized soil of His goodness.  You can’t have weeds AND fruit/flowers.  One of them has to go… I say WEEDS!