Drainage

Winter is the perfect time to move plants. They are dormant. So in evaluating which plant might grow better in a different location from where it currently grows, I need to evaluate that plant’s needs. Very few plants that grow in our zone thrive in standing water so drainage is important. Some plants need well drained soil, others need more moist soil. Yet roots rot if there is no drainage. Plants need water, but flooding causes devastation in gardens.

Pools of water become stagnant if there is no outlet. For fresh water to come in there has to be an outlet for the water to flow out.

My friend Alice Marie and I were talking about a spiritual application of this concept last week. As followers of Jesus we have been given the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit fills us with the life and power of Jesus.

If we are filled with the Spirit and we don’t allow the Spirit to flow through us to others, we become stagnant and prevent a fresh flow of God’s Spirit through us. Just as in our gardens, we want some water to drain out for fresh water to re-fill.

What are some ways we allow the Spirit to flow through us?

  • Worship – when we praise God we fulfill our purpose – “the chief end of man is to love God and worship Him forever.” God created humans for fellowship. When we worship God in Spirit and truth we are pouring out our love for God. God’s love flows through us in worship. (John 4: 23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.”)
  • Sharing the love of Jesus – God’s love flows through us in serving others. Matthew 25:36-413I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
  • Prayer – when we pray and listen – Holy Spirit speaks to us and we commune with God. Matthew 6:9-10 Pray like this: Our Father in heaven, may your name be kept holy.10 May your Kingdom come soon. May your will be done on earth, as it is in heaven. Philippians 4:6-7 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

As we worship, serve and pray, the Holy Spirit flows through us. We will not be a stagnant Christian receiving from God but never letting the Holy Spirit flow through us.

May we cause “drainage” in our lives so there is a freshness in following Jesus as His Spirit flows through us. Amen!

In My Garden With God

Natural Habitat

Will this camellia live or not?

Last month we had several days with temperatures in single digits. This is unusual for us and it has taken a toll on our evergreen perennials. Yet walking around our yard I noticed something. The native perennials like American Holly, dog hobble, balsam fur, white pine, native magnolia, rhododendron, and mountain laurel are just fine. Their leaves or needles are just as green as ever.

It is the non-native species that are suffering. Our variegated ornamental bush has lost most all of the green and white leaves that in the past looked lovely all winter. We have three different varieties of camellias which are all suffering with browning leaves and frozen buds. Several azaleas have leaves which are turning brown and only time will tell if they will recover or not. We have mostly perennials in our yard because we appreciate that they grow and bloom year after year. The big freeze has changed that!

Those native plants flourish because this is their natural habitat with the conditions perfectly suited for them. Seeds and plants have “planting zones” for a reason. They are flourish in specific temperature conditions.

This is true in our spiritual life as well. God has prescribed certain conditions that ensure optimum spiritual growth potential. We are studying Acts in our Women’s Community Bible study and I was reminded of those conditions this week.

Acts 2 describes the birth of the church of Jesus Christ. This is the CHURCH that we are ALL a part of if we have accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord. This church is not a building or a denomination or even a specific congregation, but is comprised of the followers of Jesus. In Acts 2 Peter gave his amazing sermon relating God’s plan to redeem us from the fall. Acts 2:41 – 42 says –

41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.

42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals, and to prayer.

So here are the four ingredients needed to create the “natural habitat” to ensure spiritual growth. Just as plants need sunlight, rain, the correct soil composition, and conducive temperatures, we need

  • Biblical teaching
  • fellowship
  • sharing meals
  • prayer

The apostles’ teaching is contained in the New Testament and often quotes portions of the Old Testament. Biblical teaching renews our minds and we learn what it means to follow Jesus. Fellowship encourages us and allows us to encourage others as we share in the ups and downs of living in this fallen world. Sharing meals together is a special way to connect with others. The Bible is full of places where God “shows up” while people are eating. Paul says in Hebrews 10:24-25 –

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Prayer is essential. My dear friend, Ann Melton, shared this week that all our prayers should begin with praise. Jesus taught us that example in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”. Prayer is our opportunity to communicate with God which involves listening as well as speaking. Prayer is our direct channel to God.

We must nurture our spiritual lives and cultivate the natural habitat that will allow us to grow and flourish spiritually.

Then our lives will produce beautiful fruit of the Spirit for the Glory of God.

Deadheading or Don’t Hold on to the Old

I have frequently had people ask me when looking at the flowers in our yard – “How do you get so many blooms?” “Do you fertilize?”

I deadhead. As soon as a bloom begins to fade, I cut it off.

To be completely transparent, I do fertilize plants in pots because if I water regularly, as I must, nutrients leach out of the soil and must be replenished. We are blessed with great soil in our yard so I do not fertilize plants in the ground.

Yet, back to deadheading. My father, former biology teacher and naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, regularly reminded me of the following –

“The job of a plant is to reproduce itself. Flowers produce seeds which then grow new plants. If you cut off the blooms the plant must make more flowers to do its job.”

Clayton Barker

So, deadheading produces more flowers. Each evening I go around our yard with scissors and cut off the spent blooms. New blooms keep growing! I also cut flowers to bring in our home or give away to friends.

HINT: Cut flowers first thing in the morning before the day heats up. Put them in cool water as soon as possible. The flowers will last longer.

While deadheading our flowers the other day I began thinking about how I hold onto things, sometimes when they are no longer useful or don’t work any longer.

  • I leave old food in the fridge – “Maybe Phil will eat this…” way longer than I should.
  • I keep old clothes that no longer fit – “Maybe someday I will wear that size again…”
  • I keep old books I have already read – “Maybe I will read this again someday…”

Do I do this in my spiritual life as well? Do I hold on to old practices just because they are familiar or comfortable? Do the old patterns prevent me from experiencing a fresh awareness of the Holy Spirit working in my life?

Jesus was sharing with his followers the importance of recognizing the new when the disciples asked him about a spiritual practice they were used to doing – fasting.

16 “No one sews a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment, for the patch will pull away from the garment, making the tear worse. 17 Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.”

Matthew 9: 16-17

Jesus is encouraging his followers to see spiritually in new ways. BUT – Jesus is not throwing out the baby with the bath water. He doesn’t say “don’t mend a garment” or “don’t pour wine”. Instead Jesus wants his followers to receive the new wine – the TRUTH of his teachings – and store them in a new container that will not burst and be ruined. The truth of Jesus’s teachings could not be stored in the traditional teachings of the synagogue or through the Pharisees and Sadducees. The “new container” was the Church – the Body of Christ – you and I.

Jesus wants his followers – you and I – to be that new wine skin containing the new wine. We do this by allowing his Holy Spirit to flow through us. Jesus will reveal himself to us each day if we “deadhead” so the new can bloom.

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
    his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning;
    great is your faithfulness.

LamentaTIons 3:20-23 ESV

When I deadhead I just cutoff the fading bloom. I do not cut off the whole plant. Spiritually, that means I remain in fellowship, read and study his Word, and listen to teaching from faithful followers of Jesus.

It also means I allow fresh new insights from the Holy Spirit – that are “new every morning”.