Sunday, June 14, 2009


"Greener Grass..."

"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife. You shall not set your desire on your neighbor's house or land, his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor." These are the commandments the LORD proclaimed in a loud voice to your whole assembly there on the mountain from out of the fire, the cloud and the deep darkness; and he added nothing more. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets and gave them to me." ~Deuteronomy 5:21-22

Summer weather is finally in full swing in my part of the country. The daffodils and tulips have come and gone and now it's the iris' turn. I walk every day around my neighborhood and get a chance to see all the flowers come and go and the lawns throw off their winter brown to make way for their summer green. Up the street from me is a home with one of the greenest yards I have ever seen. I have often sat on my front porch and wondered what it was about this lawn that made it so much greener than the rest. This morning I took a different walking route so I could check it out. Know what I discovered? That grass was greener because it was a broadleaf grass; really what I considered to be rogue grass in my own yard. It wasn't greener grass; it was just different grass.

How many of our spouses, or maybe even us, have been tempted by greener grass on the other side? They looked at the thorns and thistles, the weeds and dry spots in their own yard and that was all they could see. Then they looked at the grass on the other side of the fence and thought, "That looks pretty good." Yep - the enemy stepped in with his masterful deceptions about a better life and greener grass. And another family fell prey to his lies.

"You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies." ~John 8:44

The grass always looks greener on the other side - until you get there. For some of those we pray for, this realization comes at a price. This is often the time they look back and find that the grass in their own yard was much greener than they thought it was. Rather than spend time watering and fertilizing their own yard, they decided that it was just easier to move on. But when they got there they realized that the grass wasn't greener on the other side - it was just different grass. Now they find themselves in a weed field of lies and deception, not the true grass of a covenant family. They find themselves in a yard full of thistles and thornbushes that prick at their conscience and poke them every time they turn around.

"Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.'" ~Hosea 2:6-7

So why don't they just go back over the fence? Many are convinced that they can turn this yard full of weeds into a beautiful lawn. Some don't mind living among the thornbushes. Some don't even see the thornbushes. And for many of the greener grass escapees, the yard they left is still pockmarked with unforgiveness and anger. There is nothing different over here than when they left.

What does your yard look like? Is it a yard still full of the weeds of bitterness and the brown spots of neglect? Is it a yard in need of water and fertilizer and tender loving care? Have you been working on your yard just to find that every day it looks the same? We don't hesitate to call the lawn care guy when we have a problem in our yard that we can't handle. Why do we hesitate to call on the Master Gardener to make our spiritual yards green again?

"This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it-the LORD is his name: 'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." ~Jeremiah 33:2-3

If bitterness or jealousy or anger still have a root hold in your heart, ask the Master Gardener for help. Offer these thoughts and emotions to Him every day if you have to. Water your yard faithfully with His Word and fertilize it with the Fruits of the Spirit. Take refuge under His wings when the storms come. Pray for the rain that washes everything clean. Before long you will see those brown spots turning green and the weeds disappearing. The hole in your heart has been filled with His love. Now it's your turn.

Those we love often cannot see the weeds they are living in. For these we pray for the opened eyes and unstopped ears. For those who think the weeds are good, we pray for that heart transplant that Charlyne so often writes about. And for those who are tangled in the weeds and can't see their way out, we pray that the Lord will open wide the way of escape. There is no yard so dead or weeds so copious that the Lord cannot find them and lead them home.

"The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out." ~John 10:2-3

Been there; done that. If there is one thing I've learned in my stumbling through life it's this; "When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence, it's time to start watering your own grass." Marriage is not simply trying to change your spouse, it's about unconditional love. It's about putting them before yourself, serving them and thinking of them, not just what you think they should be doing for you. When you live & love with this attitude, you'll be surprised how fulfilling your marriage can be.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

You Can't Always Get What You Want...

By our very nature, we all want to feel good about ourselves and we desire to be praised. In general, it goes against our human nature to desire to hear criticism or to put someone else above us. For the most part, none of us like to be wrong, corrected or have our weakness revealed.

Deep inside, we think we're pretty good.

God's Word say's otherwise... "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23) Jesus said "None are good but one" (Him). We're also reminded that our hearts are deceitful and wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).

When it comes to religion and spiritual things, I've noticed an interesting reaction on Facebook and Blogs from time to time that sort of fits into the above condition of human kind.

If you post something in a public forum that talks about "God is love", people really seem to like that. Whether it's a feel-good, Hallmark-card verse taken out of context like "I know the plans I have for you", declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11) or a simple reminder that Jesus wants us to be happy (which verse is that?). People like to hear things that make them feel good inside (who doesn't?).

However, if you post anything that reveals other attributes of God besides "He is love", like, He is just or His wrath is upon those who reject Him or that the unsaved are children of satan, or unless we confess & repent of sin and trust in Jesus, we're going to hell, most people generally don't want to hear about that sorta' stuff. If you dare point out heretical teaching of popular preachers/teachers/authors, you are quickly hit with the "Don't judge" card.

"You're being judgmental!" "Legalist!" "Religious whacko!"

In order for God to be love, He must also be just. He cannot simply forgive all sins just because He's a loving God; those sins must be paid for. We are unable to pay the great price for them. Christ did this. Salvation must start with recognizing our sinful condition and our wretched state. Not pretty but true and necessary. Paul spends the first 3 chapters of Romans exposing how wretched, sinful and lost we are before He gets to the "God is love" part.

What we want and what we need are often two very different things. Doesn't matter if we're 3 or 30. In order to really "get" the God Is Love thing, we need to first "get" that we are NOT deserving of this love simply because we're a pretty good person. Ouch. Secondly, we need to see that as a believer, we must be willing to "Die to self" and submit to Christ alone as our Lord and Savior. Let Him run the show.

Christianity is not like Burger King... "Have it your way" is what got us into this sinful mess in the first place. Coming to Jesus is a release from the slavery of sin into the freedom of salvation & redemption. If we're really honest with ourselves, the truth hurts. We often can't handle it. However, I believe deep inside of every human being there is a desire to know the truth no matter what.

We can spend our lives trying all we want to find happiness or to be a good person. We might even get what we want now & then. When it comes to eternity, "trying" isn't good enough. The only way to heaven is through Jesus Christ and He doesn't want our efforts. He wants our hearts.

You may not get what you want in this life but you CAN get more than you deserve in eternity but it will cost you. What are you willing to give now in order to really live forever and to avoid getting what you deserve later?

Trying doesn't work when it comes to getting the one thing in life that changes everything.

Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty." ~ John 6:35