Sometimes You Have to Take a Photo of God’s Creation

Cloud Over Tree Garden

Cloud Over the Tree Garden

These days smart phones have made it easy to take photos of anything and everything. Some worthwhile and some not. Here’s one I thought was worthwhile. I was cutting grass, listening to a Nero Wolfe mystery novel (on my smart phone). As I made the turn, this was before me. What a beautiful sight of God’s creation!

“The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1 ESV

Do We Have a Birthmark – From Our Second Birth?

Pole Birthmark

Pole Birthmark

The “birthmark” on this power pole provides several bits of information. “SOCO” is the company it was “made” for (changed from a tree into a pole for.) ACE is the pole making company. “515” is May, 2015. And the bottom “5-35”, means it is a 35 foot long, class 5 pole. The class refers to the diameter and thus, the strength. I’m not familiar with the other line of characters, but it most likely refers to the species of tree (since it’s in southeast Georgia, almost surely a Southern Yellow Pine), and type of preservative treatment of the pole. When the tree is “re-birthed” into a pole, it receives its birthmark. (For reference, this is the information I was looking for when I came upon the eyed click beetle featured in my last post.)

Some people are born with birthmarks (and that, of course, is where the term comes from.) These birthmarks come in different forms, such as spots in the eye, or streaks of different colored hair. Most I have seen are colored patches of skin of various sizes and shapes. Birthmarks can identify a person, showing clearly there is something different about them.

My question is, do we have a “birthmark” from our second birth (when we received the Holy Spirit in our heart – or, we can also say, when we became a Christian)? Are there characteristics we have that make it clear to others that we are different? The Bible says there should be. We are to be humble. We are to love one another – not superficially, and not just those who love us – even loving our enemies. We should not retaliate for wrongs (not repaying evil for evil.)

That list could continue for several pages, but let’s consider this birthmark a bit more. A Christian’s birthmark isn’t branded on like a power pole’s – deep and complete the moment it’s done. Nor, is it like most physical birthmarks – clear to those who see it when the baby is born.

Our Christian birthmark may not even be evident to anyone when it’s begun. It’s like a painting. In the beginning, there is no clarity. The painter knows his plans, whether it will be a portrait or a landscape, but an early view won’t reveal which it is to be. Over time, the artist adds layers of color, blends light’s and dark’s, and creates textures to bring out previously unseen dimensions. What’s on the canvas becomes clearer, and those who see it begin to understand what it is becoming.

The artist of our Christian birthmark is, of course, God Himself. As He makes our birthmark clearer and deeper, the Holy Spirit leads us, strengthens us, teaches us, and, yes, sometimes chastises us. However, unlike the lifeless canvas which has no part in a painting, we are a part of the process. We have responsibilities to exercise faith, to learn and to change in response to the Spirit.

In the first chapter of 2 Peter, the Apostle writes that we have obtained faith by the righteousness of Christ, and through Christ’s work have become “partakers of the divine nature.” In our context, we could say we were given a birthmark that showed we became children of the King.

Then Peter writes that because of that, we should be working to make that birthmark visible to all around us:
“But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” 2 Peter 1:5-7 NKJV

With each step in the process, our birthmark becomes clearer, deeper and more complete. Those around us notice we are different. But, before we begin to take credit for all the work we’re accomplishing, we must acknowledge the Artist is still in control. The Holy Spirit provides the power and abilities to take these steps and without Him, as Jesus said, we can do nothing.

So, just what is our birthmark for? Why does the Spirit work in us and with us to make it clearer and more visible? There’s a simple answer for a child of the King: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NKJV

What Big Eyes You Have! What a Big Heart God Has!

Eyed Click Beetle

Eyed Click Beetle

I found this bug while inspecting a power pole. (Looking for the pole’s birthmark – probably blog on that sometime). Since my head was rather close to the pole as I moved around it, the bug and I came eye to eye – and I flinched first. The fake eyes did what they were supposed to do, and made me back off.

I later looked it up and found it is an “eyed click beetle”. Definitely right on the eyes but didn’t get to hear it click.

All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes; but the Lord weighs the Spirit” Proverbs 16:2

Big, fake eyes don’t see much. But, the proverbs says our “eyes” (actually referring to our mind’s eye) see what we want to see – making excuses for the wrongs we do. But, the Lord sees clearly into our mind’s eye and on into our heart. Yet, He is still faithful and just to forgive us when we confess.
Praise the Lord for His big heart!

 

 

Syrup on Pancakes – And Spiritual Gifts

Pancakes and Syrup

Pancakes and Syrup

You would think after sixty-two years I would know how much syrup to put on pancakes. Yet, despite the decades of practice, after the last bite leaves the plate, there will be a puddle of syrup left. The surplus amount varies, but it’s always there. Even on the few occasions I have wiped the syrup dry before I finished the last pancake, I’ve added what I thought would be just enough to finish, and ended up with the usual extra.

My wife, Sharon, though, has syrup figured out. She applies just enough so that when she finishes a plate, you have to look closely to see a drop here and there. It’s even difficult to know if she had pancakes. (When she reads this, it will be the first she’s known of my admiration of her syrup expertise. I’ve hesitated to tell her because she’s already aware of a long list of weird things I notice.)

I don’t think there’s a syrup gene buried in Sharon’s DNA that isn’t present in mine, but we are definitely unequal in our syrup measuring abilities. However, having differing abilities in some ways is a good thing.

In 1st Corinthians, chapter twelve, the Apostle Paul wrote about being different. He taught that God made us different for God’s own purposes. Just as the human body needs various parts with distinct functions to make it effective as a whole, the church, the Body of Christ, needs various people with different abilities (Paul called them spiritual gifts) to be effective as a whole.

So, if we find ourselves thinking “I wish I could do “that” (whatever “that” may be)like Brother or Sister whatstheirname,” or, a parallel thought, “I’ll never be as good as them at “that” so I may as well not try,” it’s time to stop and think and pray a bit. If we examine our motivation for thinking about “that”, we may find it’s from a selfish view and isn’t what the Lord would have us do. But, if the thought is from the Spirit, those statements don’t matter. With God’s help, we may be able to do “that” as well as Brother or Sister whatstheirname, or we may not. But, if we follow Him, He will give us the abilities we need to fulfill His purpose and THAT is what matters.

 “All these (spiritual gifts) are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as He wills.” 1st Corinthians 12:11