The mission of making people happy

“But I determined this within myself, that I would not come again to you in sorrow. For if I make you sorrowful, then who is he who makes me glad but the one who is made sorrowful by me?” (2 Corinthians 2:1-2 NKJV).

Paul had a tumultuous relationship with the church in Corinth. He apparently wrote at least three letters to them (1 Corinthians 5:9), one of which he described as being produced “with many tears” (2 Corinthians 2:3). While writing the letter we know as Second Corinthians he mentions plans for a third physical visit to them (2 Corinthians 13:1). At least one of his previous visits seems to have been confrontational, producing grief (2 Corinthians 2:1). Continue reading “The mission of making people happy”

Pressures from without & stresses from within

While our current crisis differs in details, the letter of Philippians contains a message enabling us to navigate our own troubled waters. If we listen closely Philippians depicts an ancient church caught between a rock and a hard place. Yet what comes first to our minds when we think about Philippians? Is it not joy and rejoicing?

Let’s take a closer look at their problem. For if we agree points of commonality exist between our situation and theirs, then Paul’s message could lead us to rejoice in the midst of our adversity.

Continue reading “Pressures from without & stresses from within”

Peace that exceeds all understanding

Peace is what most in the world are longing for. Yet peace seems to be elusive. Perhaps people are not only looking in the wrong place to find peace, but also are going about it in the wrong way. Peace is often viewed as a product of compromise. Yet a peace based on compromise is only peaceful as long as all are happy with the compromise! There must be a better way.

Paul wrote about peace as he drew his letter to the Christians in Philippi to a close. There were Christians in Philippi who were not at peace with each other. And there is a way to find peace in all aspects of our lives. Continue reading “Peace that exceeds all understanding”

Drawn or Driven

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12:32 ESV).

God desires to draw us to himself. As a host invites guests to a party (Luke 14:16-24), and as a shepherd leads his sheep (John 10:1-4), God invites us to join him in the kingdom and to follow Jesus through a life of personal growth and Divine glory.

We may be inexorably drawn to that which is beautiful, to that which is unique, to that which is lovely. While Jesus is all of that and more, God desires to draw us to the crucified Jesus. The drawing power Jesus refers to is his death upon the cross (John 12:33).

Continue reading “Drawn or Driven”

Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?

As young people we might have envisioned how our lives would unfold. We looked forward to achieving a college education followed by a successful career. Or maybe as adults we anticipated how the potential we saw within our children or grandchildren would blossom in marvelous ways as they reached adulthood. Still yet, there might have been the expectation for just a normal healthy life filled with a long marriage and children.

Then the unexpected occurred. The dream was ripped from our hands. Neither the specific details how this happened nor the details of our dreams matter. What is significant is that a hammer shattered our aspirations and hope for what would be. Perhaps disbelief turned into bitterness. Can joy ever thrive again? Continue reading “Shattered dreams … yet joy lives?”

Filler material

The primary source of help in the garden was “out of commission” this year. He was worried that the yard would be a hot mess. My reply was that the perennial flowers would just come up and bloom anyway, weeds and all, and next year we can clean up around them.

The weeds agreed. The steady rain early in the springtime and the warm temperatures following it ensured that the chickweed, dead nettle, and wild ranunculus thrived!  Continue reading “Filler material”

Compartmentalizing

It is time to admit that some plants are just too aggressive and invasive to be planted with the rest of the better-behaved beauties in the garden.

Take mint, for instance. Really, take it! I have a ton! I have much less now than when I naively planted it in the nicest bed in the front of the house. It quickly overtook the whole bed, and it took years to fully remove it. It now lives in a pot. Or take showy primrose, or violets, or erigeron, or verbena rigida.

The worst offender is the bane of my existence as a gardener — the dreaded Bermuda grass. Continue reading “Compartmentalizing”

Becoming fully pleasing to God

As we approach the beginning of another new year, thoughts often go to how we can improve our lives. What changes do we need to make in our life? How can we grow to be more like Jesus?

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Christians in Colossae, he was thinking about how they needed to grow. They were a people of faith, love and hope – and these were evident in their lives. But they still needed to grow. Notice his prayer for them. Continue reading “Becoming fully pleasing to God”