Friday, March 25, 2011

Digging At The Root....

We have two Crape Myrtles in our yard. Wait, correct that - we have one now, and we have some root fragments, and a large hole in the ground. Recently, my lovely wife persuaded me to "see about the one closest to the house." So upon seeing about it, I realized this was not going to be an easy job. 
Crape Myrtles are known for having large, rather epic root balls even if the trunks are not so thick above ground. This particular Myrtle had been planted more for the fast growth than with the future of landscaping in mind. It presided between the sidewalk and the house. It was not a big tree, but I had to trim back the branches a minimum of twice a year because they hung out over the sidewalk and brushed against the house. Myrtles are also a Japanese Beetle nursery and restaurant - and every year we hosted tons of the Asiatic creepers.

So - if you are keeping up: fast growth, beetle breeder, poor location, and nasty rumors of uprooting = JMW not looking foward to"seeing about Myrtle."

I have added fuel to the slanderous tales of Myrtles being hard to dig up.

The tool - an axe. Long, heavy, and very sharp
The locomotion - me.
The Reason - Myrtle was an invasion upon normative life, annoying, a breeding ground for other things. The worst part was the potential for roots breaking the sidewalk and uprooting other plants nearby.(I pulled up one root that stretched over six feet long.)

I guess by now, you are seeing the spiritual application the Lord allowed me to see that afternoon. Getting rid of sin is not easy work, sometimes it takes years. The Root Ball of Sin is deep in the landscape of our lives and in the heart of each of us. We can never fully rid our "lifescape" of the sinful fragments in this life. God gives His Word as a sharp tool that divides soul and spirit, joint and marrow, and it lays bare the hidden attitudes of the heart, Hebrews 4:12-13. When we read the Word of God, we become aware of how deep the root is and God gives us desire to remove the root. The Spirit gives direction and fuel, but in the midst of all He provides, there is still an expectation of us; that we do some work to dig it out. Especially if something sinful is encroaching upon the abundant life Jesus expects us to live.

Lastly, sin rarely affects just the individual. Just like the invasive root tendrils of Myrtle, the tendrils of sin reach out and touch others: alcoholism, depression, obesity, selfishness and addictive habits are just some that come to mind. I have no further to look than the roots of sin in my own life to see how sinful behavior in my past has reached out and affected others around me. I wish the Youth in my ministries over the years would get this principle - it is not enough to to duck under or trim away at sin, only to see it grow back and breed other things. God has shown me that I must rely on His power in me, then give my best in the destruction of sin at the root. We should dig up the problem, confess sin and let God replant the landscape of our lives, fertilize with forgiveness and grace - and watch new life blossom. 2 Corinthians 5:17, "if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come."

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Just A Reminder or Two

A Funny thing happened to me last weekend. I got a reminder. I got reminded of some of the good kids out there. I don't know who reminded me, but I definitely got the message. The message that There Are Lots Of GOOD Kids, and a lot to be proud of in them. 
Culture says that kids are no good now days and constantly in trouble.
But I say there are tons of great teens out there and I know several hundred of them in our area.
Culture and Media sometimes say that teens have no future and they don't listen. But I remind teens of Jeremiah 29:11, that says "For I (GOD) know the plans I have for you; plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you a HOPE and a FUTURE"
My Reminders

Honestly, I'm tired of the negative outlook, and the negative media. How about some good stories of the good teens doing good for God and Community? There are TONS of Great Teens in the world and they are making a difference. I am out in the Community a lot and I see them doing, serving, and helping others. I see them sharing their love for God and love for others. I am looking for a Revival to happen - in their Generation - A Generation that lives out 1 Timothy 4:12, I "will not let anyone look down on me because I am young, but [I will] set an example for the believers in love, faith, speech, conduct, and purity." Which oddly enough, was the Reminder that they sent me Saturday morning. These notes repeated love, faith, speech, conduct, and purity in multiple handwritings - reminding me of two things. 1 - That the subject of our last Retreat was 1 Timothy 4:12, and 2- that they were living out those characteristics. Choosing to be godly and have fun at the same time. There are A LOT of Great Teens out there. I just got a small reminder of that FACT.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Those Days...

There is a haunting phrase used repeatedly in the book of Judges as the Downward Spiral of Morality is described within. Four times the phrase toward the end it repeats, "In those days there was no king in Israel and everyone did as they saw fit." The simple context is below.
  1. Judges 17:6
    In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.
  2. Judges 18:1
    [ Danites Seek Territory ] In those days there was no king of Israel; and in those days the tribe of the Danites was seeking an inheritance for themselves to live in, for until that day an inheritance had not been allotted to them as a possession among the tribes of Israel.
  3. Judges 19:1
    [ A Levite's Concubine Degraded ] Now it came about in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote part of the hill country of Ephraim, who took a concubine for himself from Bethlehem in Judah.    
  4. Judges 21:25
    In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
I was checking an email I get about the Youth Culture and it reminded us as Youth Leaders and Parents that we need to be at least taking the pulse of the culture so that we can see the cultural slide and warn others not to step into the lubricant goo that can make us fall. We need to prepare our Gospel Boots, Belt and Shield, Ephesians 6. The example used was the Top Ten songs on the Pop Charts and the lack of explicit warnings for content. Examining the content and more importantly the definition used by iTunes and the board that determines warning, you start to feel your morality sliding as you read. Here is the link to the article and some of the content:  http://tinyurl.com/4bb7qb6 - note on reading the very slippery definition of explicit

Standards have been laid down by God, Man has continually pushed and broken those standards, and God being a loving, merciful God has honored the choices of His creation and allowed us to pay the consequences of those actions. Here is where I want to tie in the picture to the left.

As a leader and a parent, I am attempting to slow the fall, to laid lightly in culture - held up by God's Grace and Love. I know I'm sinful, but I trust God to hold me up and guide me as I float through the world's atmosphere. Those around me sometimes don't see the need for God in their lives. They have chosen to jump without a 'chute. It's ironic that you can't share a parachute unless two people start out strapped to the same harness, but in God's Kingdom I can hand them out before we jump.

"Listen! Do you realize what we are getting ready to do? You need this. Out of love and respect for you a created being like me - take this! Put it on, and be saved." Grace is individual and Jesus died for the sin of the world. I believe it is sufficient for all. Everyone could have a parachute.

The irony is thick in the time of the Judges, because sometimes even the Leaders, The Judges were doing their own thing - going against the standard and the God that raised them up. Gideon, and Samson being major examples of compromise under pressure. The list is long and sometimes distinguished with names of those who have fallen due to compromise in our day.  To quote Steve Farrar, I want to "Finish Strong."
In these days, we have a King. His name is Jesus and we cannot do what is right in our own eyes.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Changing Shells

Spikey the Hermit Crab
We just got to witness something really cool. Spikey our longest living pet yet, upgraded. But he didn't just upgrade, he moved into the Hilton of crab shacks. As my wife exclaimed, "Man! That was like moving out of a trailer and into the White House!"
What she meant was he chose a white shell with an opening almost twice the size of the one he had, AND it was much longer. He's going to get a workout hauling that thing around. The best part? We got to witness the whole thing! He was bathing and i went back in to check on the them and there he was streaking in the water like Ray Stevens!
I gathered the troops and we watched him climb up on the White House Shell and back his tail muscle into it and try it out. Very Cool! Instead of being happy for him, we are wondering if it will last because of the size difference. I put a couple of other shells back in the small tank and left him in there alone just in case. Stay tuned, updates to come later by comments. Haha.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

God's Chisel....

  video  This video by the Skit Guys, God's Chisel is about 9 minutes long but worth a bookmark somewhere so you can go back and remind yourself what and Who's you are, and that is why i uploaded it. Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God's Workmanship, (a Masterpiece of Grace) created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." What needs to be chiseled in our lives?