Wednesday, July 28, 2004

How Does Your Garden Grow?
     How does your garden grow?  Do you remember that question for Mary the Contrary?  If you asked Paul that question around 64 A.D.  he would have said just what he told the Colossian Christians, “All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth” (Colossians 1:6-7).
     Paul’s concern was not with tomatoes and watermelons.  He was concerned with people and their lives now and forever.  The people in Colossae heard the good news about Jesus and understood God’s amazing grace.  That good news, the seed of kingdom as Jesus called it, took root in their hearts, and grew.  It grew because as each believer of the good news submitted to a burial in Christ (baptism; cf. 2:12), one more individual was made complete in Jesus.  It also grew because the gospel blooms inside a person.  The response of the heart that has understood God’s grace is filled with stability, love, and gratitude.
     That good news should be heard by your ears regularly.  Your heart should be constantly exposed to the seed that brings eternal life? Are you cultivating that garden that really matters?  That’s Life at Work!

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

It Can’t Be Done?

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So be buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

{Edgar A. Guest, “It Couldn’t Be Done,” stanza 1, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest, (1934).}

What do you say can’t be done? “My marriage can’t get better?” “I can’t break my addiction.” “I can’t teach my neighbor.” “My church can’t grow.” “I can’t do what I know I’m supposed to do.” “I can’t love him.” “I can’t make her behave.” “I can’t forgive them.” I can’t pay off my debt.” I can’t find peace.”
Would you be willing to try again? Before you say, “I can’t try again,” let me remind you of some powerful words:

I can do everything through him who gives me strength – (Phil 4:13)

Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God. Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God – (2 Cor 3:4-5)

Confess your weakness to God. Praise him for his strength. Pray. Then try it again – and if you know it is God’s will, try it again. Your marriage can get better. You can break the addiction. God does want you to teach your neighbor, and he wants your church to grow. You can do what God desires. You can love, even your enemies. You can be a good parent. You can forgive. You can become a liberal giver. You can find peace.
You can because all of these are things that God has revealed he wants from you. He wants you to remember, though, that it’s not your power but his through which these godly things are accomplished. He also wants others to know that what they see in you is strength from Christ.
As Paul closed out the first half of his letter to the Ephesians, he spoke about his sufferings. He knows that these were the result of trying to convince a bunch of idol worshipers that there is one God who created everything; and trying to convince a bunch of Jewish isolationists that God is now saving those idolaters. He was trying to demonstrate that these two groups from opposite poles were now “one new man” in Christ Jesus. To top it off, Paul knew that he personally was not up to the task. After all, in his own words he was, “less than the least of all God’s people.” Yet, he said, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph 3:20-21).

“It can’t be done,” we say. That’s garbage! He can do it! Will you try again?