Absorb God’s Word – Don’t Worry About Overflowing

Pitchfork Pots Flowing Over

Pitchfork Pots Over Flowing

Water absorbent crystals perform as the name implies: they absorb water. And they can absorb an amazing amount of water. When placed in pots with plants they slowly release the absorbed water and keep the plants hydrated over a longer period of time. Just when they need it.

Pitchfork Pot Overflowing

Pitchfork Pot Overflowing

I have used the crystals for several years but with these pots I apparently was thinking about something else and misjudged the number of crystals needed. As you see, after a 2 inch rain, the crystals expanded many times larger than their “dry weight”. They erupted over the side and took some of the potting soil with them to the ground. I’ll have to re-pot the moss roses and redistribute most of the crystals to other pots.

The sight of the engorged crystals and the thought of letting out the water as needed made me think of God’s Word – in a good way, of course. We need to absorb His Word daily – storing it for just when we need it. We don’t have to worry about taking too much in – that can never happen. Plus, if it overflows or even erupts from us, that’s all part of God’s plan to spread it around.

 Jesus said: A sower went out to sow his seed…Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God.” Luke 8:5, 8:11 ESV

We aren’t all called to be preachers, but we are all called to be sowers of the Word. Fill your seed bag to overflowing so there is an abundance to sow.

Bible Study – Cherish the Knowns, Work on the Unknowns

Three unknowns

Three unknowns

Since I’ve started a bit of “birding” in the backyard, I’m discovering just how many unknowns I have. Here are three unknowns that decided to get a bite to eat at the same time. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable from my Boy Scout days (which I admit was quite a while ago), but, I’ve gone beyond my knowledge level of the cardinals, mockingbirds, and bluebirds – and realized my ignorance.

When I say “gone beyond”, though, I don’t mean I’ve forgotten them. I have learned that we have the Northern Cardinals, Northern Mockingbirds, and Eastern Bluebirds. But, whether I knew the more specific name or not, the bright red of the male cardinals will always make them a favorite of mine. The songs of the mockingbirds are beautiful, and the blue of the bluebirds is amazing.

It reminded me of Bible Study. As we’ve heard and read the Bible through the years, we’ve probably had more exposure to the well known, and appropriately well loved, verses and passages – “For God so loved the world..”, “The Lord is my Shepherd…”, the Christmas and Easter stories, etc. But, it’s also probable that even though they are familiar, the Holy Spirit has given us additional insight, understanding, and application of these passages at different times. By continuing to study and listen, we learn more about what we thought we knew completely.

And, if we expand what we read and hear to include the whole Bible, we learn more about our glorious God. Things we may have had in the back of our mind become clearer because there is wisdom throughout the entire Bible.

Thanks to help from some of you, I’ve learned of the Pine Siskin and the Chipping Sparrow, and now can enjoy my knowledge of them also. But, the red of the male cardinal will always be a favorite and the blue of the bluebird will always be amazing. As we search the Scriptures, we will discover more verses that will become cherished – but we will always rejoice and be comforted and amazed that “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life” John 3:16 NKJV

Shoutin’ “Whoooaaa” Before We Hit the Ground

Dirt road through the |]], near

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is part of the Christianwriters.com blog chain. This month’s theme is memory, and here’s one of mine. Check out my friend’s blogs on their day from the list on the right.

My uncle’s old pickup bounced noisily along the dirt lane leading to his farm. My cousins and I sat on the tailgate and dangled our feet inches from the ground. We slumped against each other, exhausted from a day in the fields. But, the freedom of the open truck bed and the breeze from the movement began to revive us. Soon we were shouting over the truck noise and laughing as each pretended their intent to push another off the tailgate.

When the truck hit a bump, the sagging suspension allowed our feet to scrape the dirt. After a few times, we made a game of it. We inched closer to the edge and stretched our legs to see who could let their feet slide the longest.

It became precarious when we hit two bumps in a row. The first would cause us to stretch out and the second would bounce us quickly again, moving us closer to the edge.

I looked down and watched the dirt and grass between the ruts move steadily by. We weren’t going fast so it wasn’t zipping by – just a steady pace. I reasoned that if I was bounced off at that speed, I could just keep my legs moving and stand up.

At the next pair of bumps I got to try my theory out. As we hit the first one, we all stretched out, giggling at what by now we understood to be danger. The second bump was more of a hole. The tires went deep and then quickly up to the top, sending the truck’s rear end into the air. With that, my rear end bounced off the tailgate and when it came down, I was too near the edge to stop. I scrambled for a handhold but found none.

I whooped out a long “Whooooaaaa!” as I sailed off the truck, and flailed my feet in hopes of remaining upright. But, my theory had at least one fatal flaw. I had not considered the direction I was facing. If a mishap occurred, I would come off the truck backward. No matter how good you are, you can’t run backward as fast as forward.

That was proven as my feet hit the ground. Rather than showing any semblance of uprightness, my back and then my head followed quickly onto the dirt. I slid awhile, came to a stop and lay there in the middle of the road.

By then my cousins’ shouts had alerted my uncle to stop, and they jumped out of the truck and dashed back to see if I was hurt. The slide had torn my shirt and scraped my back – but thankfully, there were no broken bones and nothing more serious than a nice goose-egg from the head banging.

I thought I had it figured out. I knew I was on the edge but kept inching closer. Surely, my plan would take me through. If I was bounced, or pulled, or pushed over the line, I could easily use my own strength to keep straight. But, as I lay in the road staring up at the sky, it was clear my own strength had been useless – either to prevent me from falling as I kept tempting danger, or to hold me up once the boundary had been crossed.

It’s not unusual for us humans to think we’re stronger or smarter or quicker than we really are. Sadly, it’s also not unusual for us believers to walk close to the edge of temptation, relying on our own strength.

We read of Samson and Delilah in the Book of Judges. Each time she asked how he could be defeated, he became more arrogant in his answers. Finally, he told her cutting his hair was the secret.

That night Delilah had someone shave Samson’s head while he slept, and then she cried out the Philistines were there. He jumped up, ready to defeat them as before, but found he had no strength. His hair had been cut, but the real problem was that God had left him – and Samson didn’t even know it. He had toyed with temptation and eventually crossed the line. Samson quickly found that without God, his own strength was useless.

“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of the evil. Avoid it; do not go on it; turn away from it and pass on.” (Pro. 4:14-15 ESV). God knows our tendency to think we can handle temptation on our own, and He knows that we will fail if we try. His Word has many verses like these, that warn us with verbs like “avoid”, “turn away”, “depart” and the one that expresses it most dramatically – “flee!”.

We shouldn’t be walking close to the edge – we should be running the other way, because our strength will not keep us from being bounced, pushed or pulled over the line where temptation gives way to sin.

But, thankfully, God has not left us to our own strength. The Bible also has many verses that promise He will be our strength. If we take the warnings to heart and trust in His promises and His power, we won’t find ourselves whooping out a “Whooooaaaa!”, flailing our feet and hoping to stay out of the dirt on our own.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Follow God’s Standards, Not Man’s

Blueberry Netting Frame Completed

My biggest Christmas present last year was a sturdy frame for the bird netting around our blueberry bushes. Some design and assembly was required.  I decided nine posts would support it – some would be eight feet out of the ground and others eight and a half feet. As the assembly began, I dug the holes and placed the posts. Since in total I had dug 21 feet of hole, it was time to take a break and save straightening the posts for later.

As I walked away I turned to review the progress. Some posts were catawampus to the inside, others slanted out, and a couple looked like leaning tree trunks growing up out of the bushes. When I reached the house I told my wife, Sharon, to look at the sculpture I had made. I declared it to be “art”.

She smiled and said most people would say: “Come on, boy, that’s just some poles stuck in the dirt”.

She was correct – they would say that…and it was just poles stuck in the dirt. But, I reminded her that I had seen sillier things called art and people had paid thousands of dollars for them. We decided it depends on who does it and who says it’s art.

I can’t claim to be an art expert or an artist. My engineer’s brain leans heavily on the literal, realism side.  (ex: the completed frame in the picture above looks more like art to me – straight and true.) I’m sure I’ve missed out on sculptures or paintings that would have been moving or thought-provoking if I had grasped the concept. And having someone explain it to me doesn’t always help my perception:

 “Of course, you can see that this depicts the struggle of man versus machine.”

“Ahhh, yes. Thanks for clearing that up – I couldn’t decide if it meant that, or you were just making a frame around your blueberry bushes.”

Modern art can have meaning and beauty (The Vietnam Memorial Wall comes to mind). But there is also confusion present. That comes from what Sharon and I decided – it depends on who does it and who deems it art. The confusion arises because humans make the “art” and set the standards.

Reflection on human nature tells us several things (please note the use of the word “some”, not all):

Out of the many artists, some are insincere. They purposefully create silly things and silently mock those who declare them great works of art. They secretly laugh at those willing to exhibit or purchase them. And some of those who exhibit or purchase do so out of fear of being labeled unsophisticated – afraid to admit the Emperor has no clothes.

Some artists, motivated only by arrogance, strive to be shocking – and end up creating something repulsive and worthless. Yet, there are people who applaud their creativity and call them genius.

Art critics, museum directors and influential patrons have the power to set the standards. Some use that power on a whim – to create or destroy careers based on no foundation except the fact that they can.

In these respects, the art world is no different than any human endeavor. We can do a poor job setting standards – doing what is right in our own eyes, which often means whatever is to our advantage. Confusion abounds as we try to decide who is sincere and which standards to follow.

But, the confusion clears up when we turn to God and follow His standards. They are perfect and eternal – not changing on a whim, or following the latest cultural fad. His judgment is never clouded with the human frailties we’re plagued with.

In our actions and creations we can declare anything art. But, if God says: “come on, boy, that’s just some poles stuck in the dirt”, that’s all it is.

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace” 1Co 14:33 KJV