I have a hobby in the summer, I enjoy planting and tending my vegetable garden. Not only do I take pleasure from the outdoor work, but Renie and I both enjoy the fresh tomatoes and other vegetables that we grow.
Before I started, I took the time to plan it all out according to plants that I wanted to grow, garden size needed, and its location, as I wanted it close to my water source. Good thinking, so far, huh? I also knew that I wanted it to be protected from Oklahoma's scorching afternoon sun, so I carefully placed it in a spot that is covered by trees after about 2:00 PM. Building a form, I raised it off the rocky ground, placed a plastic barrier underneath and up the sides to keep out all unwanted weeds and baby trees, and thenfilled it with excellent soil.
So now, I have a protected garden spot that is built in a way that I do not struggle with weeds, and this spring I have even built a permanent net covering to keep the deer out, as that is a common problem for us in this area.
But...I overlooked one important thing. I didn't allow for enough sunlight, because of a tree on the east side of my garden that has grown each year and is now creating shade problems for this carefully constructed garden of mine. My plants are struggling to get enough sunlight, because of a few branches that are blocking the sun.
So, a few days ago, I cut back some of those branches that are in the way of my precious garden. After cutting away a couple, I noticed immediately that the tomatoes plants were already basking in more sunshine. I am sure they are 'happier' and will produce more and better fruit for me this year. Then it dawned on me - it's the same with a lot of believers.
We think we are doing a good job living our lives; we would tell anyone who asks, "I am doing the best that I can." But sometimes, there are things that have grown up in our life that have reached the point of blocking the very thing we need most. These distractions, or barriers, are not necessarily "bad", but they are overshadowing our walk with Him. Oh, we can produce some fruit occasionally, but truthfully, we are far from where we could be.
Could you be one of those who needs to trim out a few things from your life, in order to become healthier and more productive for your own sake and for the Kingdom?
I had to take a test today, something that took some time set aside just for this purpose. It was to evaluate my physical well- being and overall condition. A highly trained professional conducted the test and soon I will be given a report and recommendations for the future.
As I set there quietly during an evaluation phase of the testing, I started thinking, "Do we Christians ever volunteer to undergo a 'spiritual evaluation?' A time that we set aside for the purpose of determining how we are doing in God's eyes?"
The highly trained Holy Spirit will conduct such tests, if we will allow Him access. But instead, we are too busy putting Him off and comparing our spiritual selves with others and then self-diagnosing with: "Yeah, I'm okay."
Why does a Christian not sit down in the examination chair, roll up his sleeve, let God apply the written Word to his mind and heart, then bow his head and allow the Holy Spirit to give him His report and recommendation for the future? Is it because the "exam" is not totally painless and we know we won't want to follow the prescribed treatment? Just wondering...
All day I've been trying to figure out what I'm feeling. It makes it a lot easier on me (and Renie) when I can dig down through my emotions to what is really bugging me.
I thought I had come up with the answer...hurt.
But, then I had to admit to myself that "hurt" is not a real emotion. (thanks, Dixon) It's just sounds a lot more spiritual to use that word, rather than Anger.
I think I am angry. I am angry that a church I know is sytematically (and yet unintentionlly) turning many younger people away by their traditions. Also, I am more than a little angry that church members want to fuss and feud with each other and watch their influence in the world erode. And I'm angry that a church I know about has decided to be complacent and really not impact their community.
So many churches and Christians are so caught up in the world's pursuits that Christ has to take a backseat in their life - and that upsets me badly.
Yes, I am also irritated that some preachers have seemed to stop trying to preach to make life changes, and instead seek to stroke a few folks. It seems they are intent to do what it takes, and also just enough of real ministry, to keep their "jobs."
I'm very upset and angry that Satan seems to have duped much of the Christian community into accepting an "easy believism" -and it is killing our churches and condemning so many folks who have swallowed the lie, hook line and sinker.
Folks, we must do better. We must stop the self-serving, self-centered pursuits we seek and that we allow among our fellow church members. We must "seek first the Kingdom..." We have got to do a better of all we do in His name.
(And by the way, to get a little angry for the right reason is not so bad. Jesus did it when He was angry at the "church" of His day.)