Nomenclature Matters

“Look at that gorgeous Geranium!” I exclaimed this morning, as my beloved Yard Boy and I walked through the garden.

“It’s a daffodil, sweetheart. Why are you calling a geranium?” he asked. Good question. He knows I am a stickler about calling plants by their correct names. I’ll even use the Latin name for it if I know it, so there won’t be any confusion.

“Because that’s the name of this particular cultivar — Geranium,” I answered. “It’s a silly name, but I didn’t name it. It’s really an old heirloom variety, but that really is the actual name.” Continue reading “Nomenclature Matters”

Let there be life

The quote appears now and again, and each time I read it I appreciate it less and less. It is sometimes attributed to Francis of Assisi, but one never sees attribution, so it’s doubtful that the Catholic figure ever wrote it. It appears in several forms, sometimes one compound sentence; at other times, as two separate sentences.

I fail to appreciate it because it sets up a conflict of sorts between words and life. It expresses an unbiblical dichotomy. Continue reading “Let there be life”

Gargoyles and gaffes

Gargoyles and other statuary can add a whimsical touch to the garden if you know how to place your garden art. I’m just learning how to use art in the flower beds, and I’m really drawn to “ugly” art such as gargoyles and trolls.

Historically, gargoyles were meant to ward off evil spirits. Their imposing, frightening visages graced many prominent buildings, including notable Catholic churches such as Notre Dame. The use of these strange, scary images for this mystical purpose was not without its critics, however. Continue reading “Gargoyles and gaffes”

If you don’t have anything nice to say…

Yes, I talk to my flowers. It is almost always in the most gentle of tones; not because researchers have indicated that this helps them thrive, but because I love them. It’s also very nice that they don’t talk back! It’s better on some days to hear nothing at all than to hear discouraging words.

Some say that music also helps plants, but I’m not going to torture the neighbors by singing to my flowers. Continue reading “If you don’t have anything nice to say…”

The Good Shepherd

Roman citizens had the absolute assurance of safe travel to any part of the known world. All a Roman had to say when traveling was, “civis romanus sum,” and free passage was guaranteed.

The ability for people to go anywhere has been prized for centuries. In Israel, the leader was the man honored with the responsibility of leading the people out and bringing them in (Numbers 27:17).

A shepherd was charged with the responsibility of leading sheep safely to food and water. He made certain the flock could “go in and out” without fail. Continue reading “The Good Shepherd”

Careful! Human words radiate power

Words radiate power. Divine words emanate limitless power. God spoke creation into existence. Scripture transforms, motivates, and equips. His words are words of human comprehension that engage the human mind and soul. Jesus has “the words of eternal life” John 6.68.

The popular notion that words mean nothing is bunk. Human words also effect great consequences. The reason words multiply today is not only because more means are available, but because, down deep, people know the power of words and want to exercise that power. Continue reading “Careful! Human words radiate power”

Little snakes

by Michael E. Brooks

“If anyone does not stumble in word, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle the whole body. Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body. . . . Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things” (James 3:2-5 NKJV).

The intercom at Khulna Bible College rang in my apartment and I picked up to hear the cook, Shova, say only “boro sap” (big snake).

She has almost no English, and I have only a little Bangla, but we can communicate that message at least. All the personnel know that I enjoy seeing the animals, birds and plants that come onto the campus, and they try to inform me when something new is seen.

It is normal for us to have snakes on campus occasionally. Most are harmless and even helpful in that they eat rodents and other pests. Sometimes though dangerous snakes can also appear.

Not long ago we had a small cobra, only about 2 feet long, but still very deadly to anyone who was careless or caught unawares.

This cobra caused much more concern than the two Checkered Keelbacks (non-poisonous) we found at about the same time which were more than double its size.

When it comes to snakes, size means little. Their inherent nature is everything. A tiny snake full of venom is far more dangerous than a huge non-poisonous one.

James reminds us that sin is like that. One does not have to be a mass murderer or serial child molester to be guilty and condemned in the eyes of God.

“Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 John 3:4).

All sin is rebellion and all rebellion separates from God and results in death (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

The tongue is an excellent example. Though it is small, it has influence and power far beyond its size. Like the tiny spark that kindles a great fire (James 3:5), the tongue may incite rebellions, destroy reputations, or cause the loss of innumerable souls.

Many historians credit Adolf Hitler’s rise to power partly to his abilities as an orator. He won the people of Germany to himself and to his evil policies through his popular speeches.

No one can number the lives ruined by malicious lies and rumors. And only God will know the number of souls that will ultimately be lost because they believed and followed “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

Even many Christians today however minimize the importance of their speech. “It was only a little white lie,” they say. Gossip, slander, rumors, and half-truths are spread energetically to all that will listen.

Modern communications make the matter even worse. What the “grapevine” took days to spread now may “Twitter” around the world in seconds. Our tongues have more power for both good and evil than ever. How are we using them?

Paul’s command is very timely:

“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).

It is just as easy to say a profitable word as it is one that is harmful. And it is far better.

James agrees, and notes that the Christian’s tongue must not be divided, speaking both good and evil.

“Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, such things ought not to be so” (James 3:10).

Little snakes can kill. Little words can destroy. Let us control our tongues and strive to be perfect.