My Purpose Is Growth

Trimming the fat, or excess, is the first step to organization. Organization is the first step to discipline. And discipline is the first step to growth.

For me, becoming organized is the first priority. I begin by removing everything counterproductive to growth. This isn’t easy at first. After a plan of action, I watch and wait. Then, I decide what is helping or hindering me from achieving my goal. With my decision made, I cut my losses and move ahead.

Once I’m organized, there’s no excuse for being undisciplined. Everything I need is at my fingertips. Therefore, I’m able to concentrate on the job and meet my goals. And the result is growth.

This rule works for my physical and spiritual needs. In the first chapter of his second epistle, Peter tells me through God’s precious promises, Christ’s perfect sacrifice, I have escaped this world. Through these promises, God has given me the ability to grow into a mature vessel. No excuse. Everything is given.

“And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8 KJV)

When reading this passage, I understand that I can’t “add” to what isn’t there in the first place. To obtain these attributes, I must lay aside all that hinders me from spending time with Him. It isn’t enough to have a casual relationship. I crave intimacy.

When I spend time waiting on the Lord my heart’s cry is for Him to search me and know me. Remove all that displeases. Create in me a clean heart. Draw me near. All unnecessary things fade as my heart focuses on Him.

Some say the order of the words is insignificant. Yet, I’ve learned knowledge of right and wrong helps me to practice self-control in all things. With self-control, I learn patience. And if I haven’t affection for others, how can I have Christ-like love? But, if I seek to add all these things then I’ll not be barren but fruitful and able to make a difference thereby, fulfilling my purpose—growth.

Life quickly become cluttered as I take on more and more. I find myself needing to trim some things to lighten the load. Combining several social media sites is one thing I am in the process of doing. Another, is learning to say no.

What do you do to remove the excess?

Change Me

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Proverbs 4:23

dying squash-1The leaves were slowly losing color. Green was fading to a sickly yellow. No matter how much I watered or didn’t water, how much I fertilized or didn’t fertilize, nothing seemed to work. If something didn’t change, I was going to lose every squash and zucchini plant in the garden.

After a Google search, I found a gardening site with the information I needed. The owner told me to check the bottom of the plants. If I saw a substance, that looked like sawdust I had vine borers. But, what the article said to do next was unheard of, or at least to my ears. But I had no choice.

And you know everything you read on the internet is true. 🙂

I strode back to the garden where hubby was weeding and told him what I had found. We went in search of the plant murderer. Sure enough, we found the evidence explained on the site. I asked hubby to give me his pocket knife. I located the spot I thought the vine borer was lodged, and slit the vine in the direction of the capillaries. Chewing away the life of my plant was a fat white grubby worm.

Warning: If you are sympathetic to pests then you may want to stop reading. The gardening expert suggested I take a toothpick and impale them. I didn’t worry with the toothpick, I used the knife to cut them apart. Yes, I am a mean woman when it comes to a pest eating my hard work.

dying squash2-1Then, I pieced the vine back together the best I could. Unfortunately, a couple of plants died. But the rest lived and produced luscious squash. You can see the new growth in the picture.

I couldn’t help but compare that to a heart in need of spiritual surgery. A heart filled with unhealthy, life-draining pests is sick. It doesn’t matter how much we read the Word or how much we pray, until we allow the Holy Spirit to remove the  problem we are fighting a losing battle.

Too many times, we avoid spiritual surgery because we don’t want to let go of the hurts or go through the pain. Yet, without the surgery we are doomed. We can’t allow unhealthy things to stay inside us. Anything that isn’t of God needs to go or it will eventually kill us.

…for out of it are the issues of life.

Bitterness in the heart will leak into every area of life. It rears its ugly head in our tones and actions. The sad part is that we can’t see that we are the infected one while the other person isn’t affected at all. The vine borer didn’t disturb the tomatoes, cucumbers, or peas. Only the squash—the infected plant itself.

Create in me a clean heart David prayed. That is my prayer too.

 

Change Me

Know every part of me I try to hide from You

Show the motivation behind all I say and do

Create in me, something beautiful

Perfect, complete, in the image of You

This is the prayer I pray,

Change me.

Don’t leave me as I am.

But with Your loving hands

Change every part of me until

I fit into Your plan

Father, You know this heart of mine

And only You know the perfect design

This is the prayer I pray—

Change me.

 

Words and Music

L.G. Johnson © 2007

Guarding Our Hearts

Proverbs 4:23 commands us to guard our hearts for every thought, word, or deed flows from it. Actions must be taken to protect it from invasion.

Every year I plant a garden. It isn’t a lovely garden with a white picket fence, ivy trellis, and flowers adorning the beds. No. In fact, the beauty of my garden is in the eye of the beholder. If you were to see it, you would probably ask yourself why I even bother.

My garden is enclosed with cow/horse panel on three sides with the back of the barn completing the fourth. Added to the bottom is a piece of running board or catwalk. Along the north side is an electric fence. And even though, I have added a layer of protection every year, something always seems to find it’s way inside.

This year, we spent several days trying to figure out why the tops of my bell peppers were disappearing. We checked the fence. Too small for a deer to stick its head through. We checked for holes next to the fence. No sign of turtles. Then we placed boards in front of the gate. The next morning I found another scalped bell pepper. With pregnant clouds above, I had no other choice but to wait it out.

Baby BunniesOne week later, I decided to weed the tomato bed. During the process, my seventeen-year-old daughter found tufts of hair next to one of the plants. Baby rabbits! With umpteen dozen wooded acres, why in the world did she have to pick my 48 x 48 fortress. I began trying to figure out how the mother was able to get inside while my daughter was oohing and aahing over the cute little ears!

“Oh, they’re so cute,” she said. “Look at those fuzzy ears!”

I watched her for a moment and knew I couldn’t get rid of them, yet. I told her to stop and we would watch them for a little while. Then, I began searching for the break in my wall. Finally, I found a little tunnel under the wall of a stall. The fuzzy miner had been busy.

On the way to the house, I informed my daughter the rabbits had to go. Her disappointment was obvious. “But they’re so cute.”

“Well, cute or not, they’ll destroy everything out there. Make a choice.”

With hand over heart, she replied. “My heart is torn.”

I reminded her that small things can be cute, but they can grow up to be quite ugly and destructive. She agreed. She searched for information on what to do and found they were older than they first appeared. According to the experts, the babies would soon leave the nest. A week later, they moved out and we covered the hole.

My garden may not be pretty to some, but it supplies me with a veritable summer buffet. From it, I pick tomatoes, zucchini, yellow squash, peas, cucumbers, strawberries, bell peppers, and cantaloupe.

Next year, I plan to add a moat.

 

Steal, Kill, and Destroy Part 2

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10

The first time I heard Annie Johnson Flint’s story was during a Gaither Homecoming program. Gloria Gaither told the story of a courageous woman who supported herself through writing, even though she was stricken with debilitating arthritis that eventually left her an invalid.

In the end, when she couldn’t hold a pencil, she held a piece of chalk and wrote on a board suspended above her bed.

When you read Annie Johnson Flint’s poems, you do not hear “Woe is me” in her verses. What you hear, is a steady peace, an active joy, and a quiet trust. Annie learned faith as a child, as a woman she learned to trust.

The difference?

Faith believes God can, while trust rests in knowing He will. Many have learned faith, but struggle with trust. “I believe God can do it; I just don’t know if He will.”

And there’s the problem.

When my peace is disturbed, my joy dwindles. My focus turns inward. I no longer offer sacrifices of praise, but worship at the altar of self. My trust waivers. I question God. How long? Why? When? Will You?

Jesus never lied to His listeners. He promised troubles and tribulations. But the object is to overcome them, not be overtaken by them.

Annie knew that joy, like peace, is a fruit. It isn’t found in happy circumstances.

It’s found in Christ Jesus. It is proof of His Spirit working in our lives. It is us decreasing, Christ increasing.

Annie understood.

When the winds of adversity blew, rocking her to and fro, Annie, like a tree used it to her advantaged and sent her roots deeper into the softened soil. She raised her limbs heavenward and soaked in the Son. She drank the water of the Word and ate of the Bread of Life. She did not bend to self-pity but was strengthened by God’s Spirit. Her fruit remains with us today, a testimony to His faithfulness. And what a testimony it is!

What God Hath Promised~ Annie Johnson Flint~ Public Domain

God hath not promised skies always blue;

Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;

God hath not promised sun without rain,

Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.

But God promised strength for the day,

Rest for the labor, light for the way,

Grace for the trials, help from above,

Unfailing kindness, undying love. Read more here

You can read more about Annie Johnson Flint by searching her name or her poems and songs, What God Hath Promised and He Giveth More Grace.

XOXO

Gail

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Steal, Kill, and Destroy

The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. John 10:10 KJV

 

Wave Ivan Aivazovsky public domain

Wiki Commons

Worry is often like a trebuchet’s projectile against a castle wall. An unexpected problem explodes in my life and sends my world careening. The invading circumstance steals my peace and imprisons my joy. Furthermore, if I allow it to continue disrupting my thought life, it threatens my trust as I become dissatisfied with my circumstances and begin questioning God.

Worry verb (used without object), worried, worrying. 1. to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts; fret. 3. to torment with cares, anxieties, etc.; trouble; plague 4. to seize, especially by the throat, with the teeth and shake or mangle, as one animal does another Dictionary.com

After reading the definition, I envisioned worry as a predator. Have you ever felt as if something had you by the throat and wouldn’t let go? I have. Until I realized the goal of the enemy is to destroy me, but the Lord promised me an abundant life filled with the fruits of the Spirit, including joy and peace.

Isaiah 26:3 Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Isaiah 26:3

Peace is a fruit, and it must be cultivated. It doesn’t just pop up from the earth. Neither does it mean having my world in perfect order. It’s thinking differently about my world. Rather than dwelling on my problem, I ponder on Him and His promises.

(For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 2 Corinthians 10:4-5

Doubt doesn’t line up with the Word, so I must discipline my mind to think of good things. Jesus didn’t doubt His Father’s love or ability to take care of Him. I must do the same. When I do, I will have peace in my spirit although the storm rages about me.

And the peace of God which passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

“The better we understand God’s Word, the more comfort we find in it. The darkness of trouble arises from the darkness of ignorance.” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Bible

God has promised us true peace that can only be found in Him. Do you know that peace?

 

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