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”

A life of joy

One of the words we often hear as Christmas approaches is “joy.” We sing “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!” We wish each other “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” when we greet them – even people we don’t know. Yet many people aren’t living lives of merriment, happiness, and joy.

What exactly is “joy”? The dictionary defines it as: “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” (Oxford Dictionary of English). The Greek word we find used in the writings of the apostles is “charas” and refers to gladness and often the people that are the cause of one being glad. Continue reading “A life of joy”

Consider it all joy

People seem to love to complain. Nothing is ever good enough (or so it seems). Nothing ever goes right. Nobody likes things the way they are. Somehow it seems that if everything was perfect that people would complain about that, too!

Notice what James said about those things we normally complain about: “My brothers and sisters, consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials…” (James 1:2 NET). Joy when we fall into trials? Joy? What planet was he living on?! Continue reading “Consider it all joy”