We Are Suffering

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26 If one part [of the Body of Christ] suffers, every part suffers with it;”            I Cor. 12:2

Families are suffering in Charleston, South Carolina – they are our brothers and sisters in Christ – therefore we are suffering.

I couldn’t help think of the children of the pastor whose father is now no longer with them. It is Father’s Day, a tragic reminder of all they have lost. Others murdered were also fathers.

They were at church praying, just where many thousands of Christians throughout our country are on Wednesday night – praying. It hurt so much to think of this evil act being carried out in a place where God is worshipped and His love is shared.

I was reading yesterday in a journal my Grandmother Barker, my father’s mother kept. After a tragedy occurred during Woodrow Wilson’s presidency, Grandma quoted him as asking that these verses be read to him.  II Corinthians 4: 6-9 (NKJV)

6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

7 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us.

8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed;

   we are perplexed, but not in despair;  

persecuted, but not forsaken;

   struck down, but not destroyed;

I have heard many of the family members and friends of those murdered speak of forgiveness in this time of horrific pain and loss. What a testimony of God’s amazing grace!

As the Body of Christ we MUST step up our efforts to battle the forces of evil that foster hatred.

It starts in our homes as we express acceptance and love for all people, especially those who may be different from us. Hatred is a learned attitude. When our homes are places of love and acceptance – our children will learn to treat others with respect.

Sing this simple, yet profound chorus with your children and talk about what it means –

” Jesus loves the little children

ALL the children of the world

Red, brown, yellow, black, and white

They are precious in His sight

Jesus loves the little children of the world.”

Hatred can not exist in our hearts if God’s love is present. Now is the time to plant those seeds of love and respect in the hearts of our children and grandchildren.

We must keep those suffering in Charleston in our prayers.

We are all suffering – but love wins in the end.

 

 

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Are We Ready?

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I had ONE more day of school left. There were 10 days left until my due date. After that last day of school I would …

  • paint the crib
  • wash the baby clothes given as gifts
  • decorate the baby’s room
  • pack my bag for the hospital
  • clean house so that all was ready for my return with the new baby

My water broke that night and I delivered our first-born – Benjamin Baruch Woody – on June 9th – the last day of school.

I was NOT ready. The “stuff” was NOT ready.

Benjamin was ready – God was ready.

Our pastor touched on this very issue Sunday during the sermon. We make plans and prepare according to those plans. Yet we are often surprised by the timing of events and the way things happen. God is NOT surprised.

I was SURE I would have 10 days to prepare for the birth of our first child after I finished that year of teaching.

Thankfully my mother was already here and was able to deliver the report cards to my kindergarten students at Almond School. She and Phil got everything else ready the two days I was in the hospital.

This is such a clear picture of how we often view our lives. We make plans and then difficulties in life happen. Those trials can turn our world upside down. Situations occur that we have NO plans for like;

  • a house burning down
  • the death of a loved one
  • cancer of other illness
  • an accident

God is not surprised by any of these situations – these situations are opportunities for God to demonstrate His faithfulness and great love for us.

Demonstrate His love? By the death of a loved one?

God wants us to be ready to face all of life that comes our way. We do that by being ready to trust God no matter what happens. Just as in natural birth, a baby comes when it is ready, we must be ready to respond in faith to the circumstances of our lives.

Is that easy? No. Birth is not easy either, but the end result is WORTH the pain and suffering. So is trusting God. In John 16 Jesus is preparing His disciples for the time when He will leave them. Jesus says –

21 A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. 22 So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”

Jesus goes on to say –

31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.

33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Jesus’s disciples were about to watch Him be beaten and crucified. Their world would be shattered!

But Jesus reminds them that He has overcome the world – take heart! He is saying that same thing to you and me.

Are we ready?

Tending

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A friend called the other day and asked if I had anything blooming in my yard.

Yes, I did.

I told her it was a bit sparse bloom wise. It was between the blooming of the peonies and rhododendrons and the next manifestation which are the cone flowers, calla lilies and Shasta daisies. Yet the knock out roses were blooming full force and she was welcome to cut all she needed.

I love how God shows off His creative genius through the variety of color, shape, and form in flowers!

We do have beautiful flowers in our yard  – from the first blooms of the hellebore in February to the last blooms on the hydrangea before the first frost.

I cannot take credit for the beauty in our yard.

Seriously.

I only tend what God has so bountifully provided.

I was “tending” this weekend, weeding some flower beds and I was thinking how blessed I am to live in a place with good, old soil that is dark and rich. I also inherited plants from the previous owners including Peggy Mason who chose beautiful specimens that compliment our old farm-house. (the original owner was her grandfather).

None of this is my doing.

I was also blessed to have my father live with us for several years and his knowledge of plants and how best to care for them formed my pattern of “tending”. His love of God’s creation has impacted my enjoyment and my stewardship of plant life.

It made me ponder the idea that tending these plants in our yard is very similar to caring for our children. As a parent I am like a gardener in the life of my children.

  • God created our children in His image. (Jeremiah 1:5)
  • God blessed me with each child  – I did not “pick” them. (Psalm 127:3)
  • God chose to place us in this place  – in this time. (Esther 4:14)
  • God chose the DNA that makes up the genetic code that forms each child and determines their gender, their eye and hair color, and in many ways their personality. (Psalm 139:14)

As a mother, I had little to do with any of the above things except to shelter the egg that becomes the child and carry that child to birth.

After birth comes the “tending”. I can shelter, “prune” (discipline) and select the best environment for that child. Just as I decide if a certain plant needs shade or sun, each child has various needs. Not all children flourish in the same conditions, nor do all plants.

Some of my plants need tender loving care to get established, some have grown on the bank where I threw them to alleviate overcrowding. So much for me taking credit!

I have been amazed that certain plants have revived after a severe winter or a tree falling on top of them. I have also been amazed when one of my children has overcome a devastating situation – one that I thought might defeat them and leave permanent scars.

It is after those circumstances I KNOW that it is not my “tending” that brings results.

It is God who accomplishes anything that is worthy of praise.

We tend – God produces the results – in our children  – in our gardens.

In Matthew 6, Jesus uses flowers as an illustration of how faithful God is to us.

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, 29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. 30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

God will supply ALL we need to tend to our children. God is faithful.

He will do it.