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tomorrow it will be 6 months since one of my housegroup boys was killed in a car accident.

i’m amazed that it is 6 months since he died, it is such a long time and a short time.

he left such a mark on our housegroup, and our lives, that it seems quieter without him.

but for me, as a hosuegroup leader, it wasnt really until about a month or so ago that i got to deal with my own personal sorrow at losing a friend.  up till then i had been very much in the pastoral role, caring for his girlfriend who was very devastated by his death, naturally, and the news that he was preparing to propose in october just being.  its been an up and down journey, okay, mostly down journey for her.  but one we take a step each day with.  in the initial week i was in fully organisation/pastor mode as our own pastor was overseas on mission and i was the connection to the church for the family and preparing for his funeral.  i put aside my own grief and processes and was busy instead.

i’m also a very visual person so dealing with the mental images and nightmares was my intial priority to overcome.

its been a growing time.  growing in wisdom and grace.  there have been times when i havent known what to say to in particular his girlfriend, a strong christian from a christian home, about things. i have relied heavily upon the grace of God to speak to me and through me.  you never as a leader expect to deal with the loss of one of your own.  or at least i never did.

his death has defined this year.

bringing both sorrow and beauty.

its remarkable and a tsetimony to God that his sister has become a christian.  i stand in awe of that and applaud God for working such good out.

it taught me not to take life for granted.  you seriously never know.

you have to have real answers when stuff like this happens.  answers also in light of the charges the driver faces and the needless loss of life caused by circumstances and terrible terrible decisions, or lack of decisions.

i miss my friend and wonder at what it would be like to ahve him alive around us now – how he would have grown as a christian (he was baptized and saved only about less than a year before his death) – all of that…

6 months…. sigh.

 

you can read about it here, here and here.

Jesus said, “The truth shall set you free,” which, by implication, must mean, “The false will imprison you.”

I, for one, am no longer willing to imprison the amazing grace and liberty that my faith has given me to reach out to a world that is begging for authentic Christianity to save their terminally ill souls. — Brad Stine

Paul said: “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart”  Galatians 6:7-9

Last night I planted some seedlings with the kids.  I know that where I have planted Dalihas, dalihas will grow.  Caleb’s class this year have been looking at “growing things” and learning that if you plant bean seeds – beans will grow.  You don’t plant tomato seeds expecting chocolate trees to grow.  Aka WHAT YOU PLANT YOU WILL GROW!

So what does this have to do with being a Christian?  What does this have to do with my real life today?

The Bible says in Galatians 6 “what you plant will grow – what you sow you will reap.”  It isn’t talking about becoming farmers and growing flowers but about our lives and the consequences and fruit of what we allow and cultivate.

Spirit vs Flesh

You are no longer ruled by your desires, but by God’s Spirit, who lives in you. People who don’t have the Spirit of Christ in them don’t belong to him. 10But Christ lives in you. So you are alive because God has accepted you, even though your bodies must die because of your sins. 11Yet God raised Jesus to life! God’s Spirit now lives in you, and he will raise you to life by his Spirit.

12My dear friends, we must not live to satisfy our desires. 13If you do, you will die. But you will live, if by the help of God’s Spirit you say “No” to your desires. Romans 8:9-13

In Galatians 6:8, Paul says that if you sow to the flesh you will reap corruption. The word corruption is derived from a Greek word which means “to degenerate, or to go from good to bad.” It was used to describe meat which spoiled as the result of sitting out in the sun.

Paul uses the word corruption to speak of the moral consequences or spiritual decay which are the result of giving into your fleshly desires.

“Sowing to the flesh means to allow the old nature to have its way. So also, sowing to the Spirit means to allow the Spirit to have His way.” Dr. William Hendriksen

There is an internal conflict between the spirit and the flesh.

But even though this internal conflict between the flesh and Spirit is great, it does not excuse the Christian from his responsibility to live as the called out sons of God. We have been redeemed by God in order to become trophies of His grace who would reflect His likeness to the world. We are called to be Christians, which means Christlike.

Watch out for Weeds!

The other day I went for a walk and had several life app lessons on the way from God.

Down the road there was a lady pulling out weeds from her lavender fence trim.  She was right in surrounded by the bushs, pulling big weeds out.  I couldn’t see the weeds at first, but when she pushed the bushes aside, I could see the weeds.

I felt in my heart – “if you don’t pull the weeds out they will choke the plant”

18 “Therefore hear the parable of the sower: 19 When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. 20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. 22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. 23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”  Matthew 13:18-23

If we plant weeds – or allow the seeds of weeds to take root and grow – they will choke the good stuff out… they will lead to decay and degeneration.

I don’t want to classify what the weeds are in a person’s life.  That is between you and God.  Each person has different weaknesses.   Know your weeds.  And then uproot them.  Get in the dirt and pull them out.  Don’t water them, don’t fertilize them, don’t let them grow.    The weeds may not even be anything overtly sinful – but may be the thoughts that lead to temptation and that then lead to sin.  Be wise.   Weeds are easier to pull out when they are small….

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.  Matthew 7:15-17

What you plant will manifest itself in your life.

Weeds may feel good at first and may be small.  They may look insignificant.  But they will have negative consequences and negative consequences bring pain and hurt and regret.

caring and growing

I walked down a path where I always walk.  Last week or last fortnight when I was there the trees were bare – naked from autumn and winter.   Yesterday I had to bend my head to avoid the lush green leaves!  They were glorious!

Plants grow.  Seasons happen.  Change happens.

Sowing is not limited to planting seeds but also includes caring for the seed until harvest time.

4 years ago tony and caleb gave me an orchid plant.  It flowered beautifully that year and the green leaves and bulbs multiplied so we repotted them into a few pots and just let them grow.  But no more flowers came.  This year I brought some orchid food and fed my orchid plants.  This year we have had LOTS of orchid flowers!

Our Christian walk is about feeding and growing and nurturing and protecting the good stuff.  Making good choices.  Surrounding yourself with good people who encourage and inspire you to obey God and know Him.

You may think that a Christian life is a restricted life – a bunch of do nots and have nots – but God is not like that, He is creative and generous and abundant.  He desires to protect us and bless us.

Life is like a garden. We reap what we sow.

Envision your life as a garden. What are you sowing in your garden? How are you caring for what you have sown? What are you reaping?

Are you reaping some things that you do not want to reap? To change what we reap we must hoe up the old seed and sow new seed.

Are you sowing to the flesh or to the Spirit?


God is The Gardener!

6Jesus then told them this story:

A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard. One day he went out to pick some figs, but he didn’t find any. 7So he said to the gardener, “For three years I have come looking for figs on this tree, and I haven’t found any yet. Chop it down! Why should it take up space?”

8The gardener answered, “Master, leave it for another year. I’ll dig around it and put some manure on it to make it grow. 9Maybe it will have figs on it next year. If it doesn’t, you can have it cut down.”

Luke 13:6-8

Romans 8:31-39

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“ For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails.  1 Corinthians 13:4-8

DISCLAIMER:  God is not adding up all the past sins of anyone and making sure they pay for all of them. He forgives sin. He deals with His children in love. Even when He chastens them, He is doing so in order to bring them back to a right relationship with Him (Hebrews 12:9-12).   God is gracious and full of mercy. He does not take His children and continue to punish them for past sins. Yes, there are some natural sowing and reaping laws that He does not change even for believers. Some sins naturally lead to disease. Other sins destroy marriages and families. The Christian cannot bypass these laws of sowing and reaping. Even if we are reaping a consequence we sowed in the past, God still deals with us as His dear children and will work even that out to good. We simply need to fully trust in Him. May the Lord bless you as you grow in Him.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” This verse states that all things work together for good to them that love the Lord.

SPECIAL ADDITION:

The kind of water that flows into a river is the same kind of water that flows out.

James 3:10 – Out of the same mouth comes forth blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so.

James 3:11 – Does a spring send out from the same opening fresh and bitter water?

It’s interesting how James makes the connection between our ‘mouths’ and a ‘spring’.  Just as a spring brings up that which lies far below the surface, our mouths bring up that which resides deep in our hearts.  For this reason, it’s vitally important as leaders that we monitor the kind of “water” we’re “drinking”.  What flows in, is what flows out.

If we’re reading, watching or feeding on things that are negative or critical, or circumstantial and flighty – we’ll find the ‘taste’ of that water permeating all we say!  But if we’re feeding ourselves with the Word of God along with living testimonies of God’s power and greatness, mixed with real-life encounter with the Holy Spirit – then that positive faith-filled water will flow easily out of us and refresh the hearts of others!

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