Thursday, August 20, 2009

Isaiah 66:1-2

"Thus says the Lord: 'Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool, what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word."

"The Great Sin" part two hmmm and part three (this will be another long one) ;)

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge." Proverbs 1:7

What action did Adam and Eve partake in disobedience to the Lord? They ate of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil--the only tree in the entire garden that God told them to avoid eating from. Why did they choose to disobey God? Because they wanted to be like God (Genesis 3:4-6) in His omniscience. I would venture to go one step further and say that they wanted to BE God.

From the very beginning it is clear that humankind has struggled with wanting to be like God--with wanting to be God. To some degree the "great sin" of pride is present in every human. What does the Lord say about pride?

"When pride comes, then comes disgrace..." Prov.11:2

"The Lord tears down the house of the proud..." Prov.15:25

"Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured He will not go unpunished." Prov.16:5

"Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Prov.29:23

"YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GODS BEFORE ME." (emphasis mine) Exodus 20:3

Pridefully raising ourselves up to be our own self-sufficient gods clearly presents distinct consequences. We will be punished. We will be brought low.

Check out CS Lewis' thoughts:
"Any of us may at any moment be in this death-trap [of being eaten up with pride]. Luckily we have a test. Whenever we find that our religious life is making us feel that we are good--above all, that we are better than someone else--I think we may be sure that we are being acted on, not by God, but by the devil. The real test of being in the presence of God is, that you either forget about yourself altogether or see yourself as a small, dirty object. It is better to forget about yourself altogether....Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call 'humble' nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what YOU said to HIM. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all." p.127-128

We have great reason to be humble.

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood if his cross." Colossians 1:15-20

I don't understand all of that but I know that THAT is the Lord and that I cannot compete with Him!

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ...For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:4-9

We can't even save ourselves.

We have no reason to be proud. But we have great reason to be humble. We receive wonderful blessings when we embrace who God is and thus humbly recognize who we are:

" the humble he gives favor." Prov.3:34

"...with the humble is wisdom." Prov.11:2

"...humility comes before honor." Prov.15:33

"...He adorns the humble with salvation." Ps.149:4

"...God gives grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5

That's just to name a few! Favor, honor, wisdom, salvation...that's amazing!

One more quote from Mr.Lewis:
"If one would like to acquire humility...the first step is to realize that one is proud. And a biggish step too. At least, nothing whatever can be done before it. If you think you are not conceited, it means you are very conceited indeed." p.128

I hope my random train of thought made sense to you. It did in my head!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"The Great Sin"

Apparently I am enjoying quoting people these days. So here is another one for you from CS Lewis' Mere Christianity in his chapter called "The Great Sin"

"There is one vice of which no man in the world is free; which every one in the world loathes when he sees it in someone else; and of which hardly any people, except Christians, ever imagine that they are guilty themselves. I have heard people admit that they are bad-tempered, or that they cannot keep their heads about girls or drink, or even that they are cowards. I do not think I have ever heard anyone, who was not a Christian, who showed the slightest mercy to it in others. There is no fault which makes a man more unpopular, and no fault which we are more unconscious of in ourselves. And the more we have it ourselves, the more we dislike it in others. The vice I am talking of is Pride....

Pride is essentially competitive...Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone....

For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense." p.121-128

There's more to come on this topic. Check back again soon! ;)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harry Truman's commitment

From the biography called "Truman" by David McCullough

"He [Truman] worried about possible entrapment with women, an old device for destroying politicians. Once, responding to a call for a meeting in a room at the Baltimore Hotel, he asked Edgar Hinde to go along, just in case. When they knocked at the room, Hinde remembered, a blond woman in a negligée opened the door. Harry spun on his heels and ran back down the hall, disappearing around the corner. Hinde thought it was a fear verging on the abnormal.
'I've been around Legion conventions with him. He'd have his room there, and naturally, everybody would kind of gravitate to his room. If some fellow brought a woman in there, or his wife even, I've seen him pick up his hat and coat and take off out of there and that'd be the last you'd see of him until those women left. He just didn't want any women around his room in a hotel....he had a phobia about it.'
'Three things ruin a man,' Harry would tell a reporter long afterward. 'Power, money, and women.'
'I never wanted power,' he said. 'I never had any money, and the only woman in my life is up at the house right now.'" p.181

Although his motives were mainly for the protection of his political career, what a great picture of fleeing temptation and taking action to prevent anything shady from happening. Way to go, Harry.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This is long but interesting to me

An address by Abraham Lincoln called The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions
January 27, 1838

"In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we the American People, find our account running, under date of the 19th century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful possession, of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essentially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the history of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of existence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. We toiled not in the acquirement or establishment of them--they are a legacy bequeathed us, by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors. Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess themselves, and through themselves,us, of this goodly land; and to uprear upon its hills and its valleys, a political edifice of liberty and equal rights; 'tis ours only, to transmit these, the former unprofaned by the foot of an invader...This task of gratitude to our fathers, justice to ourselves, duty to posterity, and love for our species in general, all imperatively require us faithfully to perform.

How then shall we perform it? At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.

At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up among us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher...I hope I am over wary; but if I am not, there is, even now something of ill-omen amongst us. I mean the increasing disregard for law which pervades the country; the growing disposition to substitute wild and furious passions, in lieu of the sober judgments of Courts, and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive ministers of justice . This disposition is awfully fearful in any community; and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to admit, it would be a violation of the truth, and an insult to our intelligence, to deny....

I know the American People are much attached to their Government;--I know they would suffer much for it's sake;--I know they would endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchanging it for another. Yet, notwithstanding all this, if the laws be continually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their persons and their property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, the alienation of their affections of the Government is the natural consequence; and to that, sooner or later, it must come. Here then is one point at which danger may be expected.

The question recurs 'how shall we fortify against it?' The answer is simple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;--let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap--let it be taught in schools, in seminaries and in colleges;--let it be written in primers, spelling books, and in almanacs;--let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom...."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Random Thought

Today I was praising the Lord that He put shells on pecans. They fall from the tree; it rains; it snows; it freezes...buuuutttt the pecans are protected by their shells. They are still delicious! That's my thought for today.

I do have other posts written, but I keep forgetting to put them on the computer.

Have a great week!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Entry written in July 2008

I am, as Kert lovingly calls me, a “country bumpkin.” I grew up on a farm in beautiful, small town east Texas where my parents still reside. A forest of tall, green pine trees flanks the left side of our house. We (my brother, sister, and I) spent hours playing house, cops and robbers, and hide ‘n seek in those “woods”. Surrounding the rest of the house are acres and acres of pasture, which my family (aka my dad) cultivated to bale and sell hay to the local dairymen. We have a large front yard with a slight grade to it. We spent many cool evenings spinning in circles as fast as we could and then running down the slope in a “straight” line. We also enjoyed seeing how many lightning bugs we could capture in a jar and inevitably murdering as we attempted to take their lights.

We also had a BIG backyard. My mom always had the biggest, most beautiful blue hydrangeas lining the back of the house. In addition to that, she had flowerbeds of rose bushes of every color blooming around the patio. Stepping off the patio to the left was where my dad designed and built the most amazing fort in the world! It stood about 12 feet tall. It had a big, railed platform up high, a sandbox underneath, complete with 2 swings and a steep slide. Oh the days of playing restaurant up there or cops and robbers with a shootout. I broke my arm trying to run down the slide; my mom broke her tailbone sliding down the slide; and I’m sure we had cats sacrificed off the side of the slide (good thing they could land on their feet!). Across from the good ol’ “fort” was our thriving pecan tree with the wooden bench swing underneath. My parents used a good amount of time talkin’ under that tree.

All of these memories are special and fun to recall. However, right now the recollection that means so much to me begins just past the pecan tree with the swing, past the two clothes lines filled with dangling towels and clean underwear, and through the shade of the two sweet-gum trees. I am talking about our garden. We always had a garden. I can’t remember not having a garden. My grandparents also always had a garden. With Daddy tilling the sandy east Texas soil to create rows, Momma giving us kids the seeds and the plan, and us kids dropping the seeds into the ground, the garden continuously brought our family into close quarters of hard work. We would all wait with great anticipation for the first fruits of our labor to appear. I remember anxiously watching the tomato plants. I would see a small green raisin-of-a-tomato pop up and I absolutely could not wait for it to have a hiiiiint of red so that I had an excuse to pick one! I also remember feeling like a grown-up when I was entrusted with a knife to cut okra off the stem. I recall memories of my brother, sister, and I picking good ol’ Kentucky Wonder green beans, delicious cucumbers, peas (and tons more!). I remember digging up potatoes (what a surprise!) and I remember running over tall rows of corn with our recreation vehicle (a golf-cart—ha!) because we wanted to drive “blind”. But I also have memories of sitting in lawn chairs with my family, grandparents, aunts, and uncles shelling purple-hull peas, beans, and shucking corn. I loved hulling purple hulls because my fingers would turn purple, and for some reason I enjoyed pulling all the little hairs out of the corn. While the kiddos did those tedious tasks, the women usually were cleaning, cooking, bagging, and also canning the goodies, and the men were—hmmm....doing something! I think they were helping us kids. Talk about a sweet time. We always had literally freezers full of vegetables, and we were generous in giving to our friends and neighbors.

All that to say, I love having a garden. There is something nostalgic about it. On top of the nostalgia, though, is the ability to provide our own food and use it to provide for our neighbors. Kert and I knew we wanted to plant a small garden at our house. As a result, last year I had composted all year long to build up some good fertilizer/soil to spread in the garden. Boy was I totally bewildered when it came time to till up the soil. It was almost solid rock and clay!!!! I had never seen dirt like this before. I grew up with sandy soil! It was heart-wrenching! I seriously thought, “There is no way anything good will come of this God-forsaken dirt!” Yet Kert and I did not give up. I did some research and off we went. We dumped and tilled bags of sand into our garden to break it up and then we tilled in our rich, sweet smellin’ compost. Once Kert got our rows into place, we began planting. As we planted, Kert and I prayed our hearts out that the Lord would use the garden to establish relationships with the neighbors around us. It was definitely going to be the Lord to make anything grow in that dirt and we wanted to use it for Him! Well, that garden was A-mazing! We had mostly squash and zucchini coming out of our eyeballs! I made an incalculable amount of zucchini bread and handed that off. We literally gave vegetables to our neighbors every week. With the Lord’s help, in Kert’s words, we “hooked them up fat” with vegetables. We made great connections with our neighbors and other people in our neighborhood. Hallelujah! That was this time last year.

Well, March 2008 came along and we began planning our garden for this year. We had some fairly good compost and we were ready to go. We planted our garden in early April (a hair later than we had hoped) and again prayed that the Lord would bless it so that we could again use it to bless our neighbors. Everything was growing well until I guess 2 or 3 weeks ago. All of sudden everything started getting droopy. Our natural response was to water everything more; however, that didn’t make a difference. I noticed a family of ants moved in around our corn and were partaking in its sweetness and then I noticed a few bugs around our squash. One other thing that is of note: we have tons of okra. Kert and I don’t like okra. We planted one row, which we call “Richardson row” because Tim and Kara like okra. For some reason, we have okra plants popping up EVERYWHERE!!!! We planted eggplant—no eggplants.....okra has overtaken that row. We planted some herbs on one row—no herbs......okra has overtaken that row. We planted cucumbers—3 cuke plants.....and the rest—you guessed it! MORE OKRA!!!

So that has baffled us and bummed us! Sorry back to the story.....
A few weeks ago we started having drooping issues with our squash. As I mentioned earlier, I noticed a few bugs crawling on its stems. No big deal, just a couple of bugs. We sprayed some safe pest control on them one time. Let me tell you.....those bugs have greatly and quickly multiplied. This morning I went out to the garden to water and was heartbroken to find that the oval-shaped creepy, crawly bugs had overtaken our squash and zucchini plants. They are everywhere and have literally sucked the life from the plants. My spirit was absolutely crushed. Why did these bug-invested plants hit me so hard? I am serious when I say that my spirit was greatly troubled all morning by this experience. As a result of the way I was feeling, I pursued the Lord in His Word. What I heard the Lord saying was that I was that squash plant. There were just a couple of pests in the beginning—no big deal. I just let them go. Yet in no time, their number became great and the life of the plant began to dissipate. In the same way, I have had a couple of “small” sins pop up—no big deal. I just let them go. But in no time at all, I look at the mirror of my heart and I see aggravation, apathy, hardness of heart, and many other ridiculous sins staring back at me. Yes I sprayed them a little with the sin control (God’s Word), but I did not regularly meet with the Lord to keep the pest of sin under control.

So now the plant is dead.....

What is next for the consumed squash plants in my garden? I have to pull them out of the ground and throw them in the trash. Since squash is still in season and has a couple more months of growth left, I can start over. After I dispose of the dead squash plants and treat the soil, I still have enough of the season left to plant new seed and grow more squash.
What does that explain about me? Because I am afflicted with sin, am I ripped out and tossed away? By no means! I praise God for my living, loving Savior Jesus Christ, who has set me free from sin and death (Romans 8). Because of Jesus, I am a new creation, a new plant. I was once overtaken by sin and destined for death, but Jesus stepped in and took my sin and shame; he tossed out the bugs. And the Lord planted a new seed, I became a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come (2 Cor. 5:17). I could totally have been given over to my evil desires, but I have Jesus (Eph. 4:17-24). I must put off—throw away my old self and put on my new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

I also cannot neglect the gentle reminder that John provides me in John 15 where Jesus says,

“ I (Jesus) am the vine and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Oh Lord, may my heart be softened to seek, listen, and abide in You. Protect me; prune me. May I consistently cultivate a heart that produces good fruit that is a sweet aroma to You!