“What I have loved well, no one can ever take from me. To love, begin anywhere.”
The gift from a friend, a tiny seedling in a Styrofoam cup and
now a tomato plant in my garden, is teaching me again the miracle of life. Transplanted
to a clay pot, watered daily, given a miniscule boost with Miracle-Gro, my miracle is now in its fourth month of life. Nevertheless, it first grew undisciplined in every direction. So a heavy duty wire cage was acquired to contain its gangling branches.
To my surprise and delight, I discovered that the branches are very flexible and amenable to being placed in a cage.
In my ascent into the precincts of upper middle age, I think ahead to my top-most years, and pray that I too will remain flexible
when it comes my time to be caged. Smile here.
These days my thoughts have been centered on the enigmatic book
of Judges. Perhaps no other book in the Bible is more filled with colorful characters and intrigue. It was a time when the people of Israel were adrift with no leaders, when “they did evil in the sight of the Lord” and “everyone
did that which was right in their own sight.” So, how contemporary
is that? Every kind of perversion was acceptable and embraced in their world. First among the Judges in this period of Jewish history that spanned more than 400
years was Othniel, whose name meant “God is Might”. The text says
that “the Spirit of the Lord came upon him.” One day he was a commonplace ordinary person with nothing remarkable about him except for a lifetime of
yearning for the Lord’s presence. The next day he became an extraordinary
person; God had called him to be the leader of Israel following the death of Joshua and had filled him with the Holy Spirit. Centuries later, Jesus Himself would tell His
disciples “you shall receive power to be witnesses for me when the Holy Spirit
has come upon you.” At another time, He would say of those who believe
and receive the Holy Spirit: “Out of your innermost being shall flow torrents
of living water.” The promise is open to all who will call upon Him. That is what is needed to stand against the relativism and evil of these times --
to have the power to be like Jesus, to talk like Jesus, to respond like Jesus, to think like Jesus, and to have the motives
of Jesus. Consider St. Paul, one whose baptism with the Holy Spirit enabled him
to stand before Felix with fearless power even in the face of death; the record
states that Felix trembled in fear before Paul. (Acts
24:25 KJV) In his benedictory letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “Let no man
trouble me: for I bear in my body the (branding) marks of the Lord Jesus!”
With that kind of mindset, both life and death are victorious.
“ It is on
these four little books (the four gospels) that all our study of the life and the teaching of Jesus must be based. And let us remember that they give us three things. They give
us history. Here we have a solid bedrock of historic fact, fixed and impregnable. But they give us revelation. For as we
turn the pages, it is God’s voice that we hear, God’s face that we see.
But they give us more than history and revelation; they give us challenge. Every
page renews the challenge; every line drives it home. And the challenge is –
“What think ye of Christ?” That first and then – “What
shall I do with Christ?” And the challenge haunts us till we answer. James S. Stewart, The
Life and Teaching of Christ
I like what John Wesley's mother once wrote to him when he had presumably
asked her, “What is the definition of sin?” She wrote: "Take this rule: whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your
sense of God, or takes off your relish of spiritual things; in short, whatever increases the strength and authority of your
body over your mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may be in itself." --
Susanna Wesley (Letter, June 8, 1725)
We have the most important responsibility in the world. As believers, we are God’s ambassadors to the world. Glenn
They shall fear You As long as the sun and moon endure, Throughout all generations.