Nurturing the Seedlings

March 3, 2012

In an earlier post, I talked about planting seeds.  I watched as the spinach, squash, tomato, cucumber and chive sprouts seemed to leap out of the soil within days. I was so excited! We’d talked about planting a garden since last summer. Now here it was, the beginnings of the fruit of our labor.

Daily, I checked on them, making sure that they had enough water, sunshine, and no exposure to extreme cold. Remember, it is February.  Now, my little garden has many new plants. And these plants are very tender. They wouldn’t fare well in an environment of harsh winds, extreme heat, drought, or mistreatment.

Reminds me of a new Christian. They are tender, vulnerable little plants, babes, if you will.  Yes, God is the One germinated those seeds someone planted in them. God is the One who saved them, and God is the One who will keep them. But just as we nurture our little vegetable plants toward being strong, healthy, and fruit bearing, God expects us to care for new Christians, to help them to grow, to strengthen, to mature, and become fruitful.

Babes in Christ will associate with the convictions and values of those observed during the beginning of their walk with the Lord. They will be watching us and listening to us. They will model our behaviors, so we need to make sure that we represent Jesus in the most positive and accurate light. New Christians must be made aware of what it means to follow Christ.

We wouldn’t leave a newborn baby unattended without food, shelter, security. New believers simply cannot be thrust out into the world to flounder on their own unprepared and be expected to grow into mature Christians on their own. We need to do more than smile and shake their hand on Sunday morning. We need to call them and tell them how happy we are that they have become “one of us.”  We need to  pray for them, they need to see us pray and seek God’s will. We need to visit them and invite them into our home. We need to teach them. We need to show them that we care.

Planting the Seeds

February 17, 2012

As I sit on my back porch looking at the seedlings I’ve planted in cardboard egg cartons, and contemplating the miracle of the growth of these plants, I am reminded that no matter how much soil, fertilizer and water I use, germination isn’t going to occur without God’s intervention. There’s only so much I can do to make this happen. But there is something I must do. I must plant the seeds.

I’d saved empty egg cartons for months and purchased the seed packets. About a week after I’d filled the containers with potting soil, placed them in a sunny location, carefully divided the seeds and dropped them in, gently covered them with more soil, and moistened them with water from our rain barrels, tiny green sprouts begin to emerge from the earth. These once-dead kernels had come to life. Each morning as I enjoyed my morning coffee on the porch, I’d notice how much the plants had grown.

“So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. 8 Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.” 1 Corinthians 3:7-8. NKJV

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us, And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish the work of our hands.” Psalm 90:17 NKJV

God is blessing my little garden, and this is good. But there’s so much more. Will I plant the God’s spiritual seeds where they need to be planted? We plant His truths in our hearts through consistent reading of the Bible, study and meditation on the Word, and prayer. Then we can plant seeds in the hearts of family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers. How to do this best? It is by being bold in acknowledging and praising God for who He is first, then sharing what He has done in our lives, by being thoughtful and courteous in all our interactions, weaving God’s truths into the stories we write, and, most importantly, by showing (not just telling) people that we care.

It’s All About Pride

February 4, 2012

I’ve had conversations with young women in love, married and not, who have stated or implied that they argue with their spouse or boyfriend frequently. It’s not that they’re necessarily coming to me for advice, although I’ve had people ask how in the world my husband and I have managed to stay together for forty-seven years, and we both have hair left on our heads. Well, okay, I have more than he does, but it’s not that I pulled his out.

I think the longevity of our relationship is particularly amazing to some because I married young. Quite young. Let’s face it. It hasn’t all been peaches and cream, especially before we were both saved. We’ve had our share of struggles. Even after we were saved, there have been a few little humps and bumps in the road. But it certainly isn’t the washboard we traveled before.

Relationships adjust and mature (hopefully) as individuals change and grow. It takes effort to maintain a healthy union over time. Each person has their own “right” viewpoint, and everyone has a “right” to their point of view. However, it’s no one’s “right” to constrain the other person to your own perspective. God did, after all, make us different people.

What is it that causes a couple to struggle with conflict? I couldn’t possibly do justice to this subject in the space of a blog post, nor am I an expert. But I know the One who is the best Relationship Counselor ever. So I will point you to a few places that you may find answers for yourself. From what I have seen, the most prevalent problem that arises translates to “it’s all about me.” What’s at the core of that? Pride. So, what does God say about pride? Let’s see: (all Scripture NKJV)

• Proverbs 28:25 “He who is of a proud heart stirs up strife, But he who trusts in the LORD will be prospered.”

• I Peter 5:5 in part says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

• Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and angry woman.”

• Proverbs 26:21 “As coals are to burning coals, and wood to fire; so is a contentious man to kindle strife.”

Selflessness is a picture of our Lord and Savior, whom we are to strive to emulate. In the three short years of His ministry, His every action was for the benefit of others. His ultimate loving act, His submission to die on the cross for the remission of our sin, provides us with the spiritual freedom we have today. God tells us in both Matthew 19 and Mark 10 that when a man and a woman marry, they become as one flesh. This does not refer only to the intimate physical part of the relationship, but indicates that the couple should live in harmony. How to do that?

• Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. Galatians 5:26

• Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Romans 12:15-17

• Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; Romans 12:9-11

• “… with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love,” Ephesians 4:2

• “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

• “…submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21

Now having said all that, please be sure to read Ephesians chapter 5, and understand that the husband is the head of the family. This scripture also addesses how the husband is to treat the wife.  In this “modern” time, women tend to want to rule the roost. Please don’t tell me I’m “old-fashioned.” 1 Peter tells us that “the Word of the Lord endures forever.”

And, oh yes, I am looking in the mirror as I write this.

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