Tag Archives: Trust

FRUIT. 021915

It’s like an apple tree. What does an apple tree do to bear fruit?  Well, it sits there and waits. But while it is sitting there it takes in the ingredients it uses to make fruit; water and stuff from the soil, sun and rain from the sky.  Then one day, when the time is right, it puts out leaves and begins to develop this chlorophyll that is its food; and it puts out buds and blossoms and bees come along and help with the pollination; and in due time, while the tree is still waiting, the blossoms turn into little, tiny apples.  And eventually the apples grow big and ripen and get ready to be picked and eaten.

But here’s the version  we would envision if we were comparing most of us to an apple tree.  The apple tree gets up every morning and starts worrying about how it is going to bear fruit.  It knows there must be fruit down in there somewhere, so it grunts and pushes and strains and gets tired and frustrated and develops ulcers waiting for something to happen; and grunts and pushes, expecting I guess, for the apples to just POP out of the ends of the branches.  One day no apples; the next day POP and there are the fully developed fully ripened apples.  Just doesn’t work that way, does it?

I may have said this before somewhere, but in Spanish wait and hope are the same word, which is esperar; and sometimes I think trust is all a part of that same feeling; while we’re waiting and hoping, we’re also trusting that God is going to bring it to pass; because there’s not a way in the world that we’re ever going to push hard enough or grunt hard enough to make those apples pop out on our tree.  We’ve got to trust that God, by His Spirit, is going to use what He’s put in us to fulfill His purposes in the world.  That’s service.  And that is the same feeling we need to have when we pray; that “down deep knowing” that God is going to bring it to pass.


YOKES and RELIEF.020815

And He says, “Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and lowly of heart (humble), and you shall find rest unto your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:29

What do you have to do to get relief?  Take Jesus’s yoke .  .  .  What does that mean?  What is a yoke anyway?  A yoke is a piece of wooden harness people in underdeveloped countries still use  to control their oxen and mules and donkeys.  It fits around their necks and they chain the wagon or the plow to the yoke so the oxen can pull it.  There’s a ‘single-tree’ yoke (for one cow or mule), and there’s a ‘double-tree’ yoke for two oxen or donkeys to pull together.  In that case there’s a beam (wooden pole) that hooks the two ‘yokes’ together.  So if you ‘take Jesus’s yoke’ on you, you are making yourself available to do His work, to carry His load.

Sounds like work; but it’s not so much a physical yoke, as it is a spiritual yoke.  And being yoked with Jesus can’t be all bad.  Sounds like if you’re going to help Jesus bear His burdens; He’s gonna help you bear yours; sometimes it even feels good to pull the load when everything is working right, and you’re doing it together.  Especially when Jesus says, “For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”  It’s almost humorous; considering I’m always thinking, “My yoke is always rubbing me the wrong way; and my burden always feels so heavy and unbearable.”

If you think, as do the wise and prudent, that you’re in control, and you’re gonna make everything turn out like you want it to (by doing all the right things the right way), you may be in for a rude awakening.  (See Matt 11:25)

On the other hand, if you’re a baby (a little child), and you know how bad you need help, God through Jesus will reveal Himself to you, and reveal all the things you need to live a happy, fulfilled life.  And you’ll know that taking Jesus’ yoke, His Spirit and His discipline on you (being willing to do whatever Jesus wants), is exactly what you’ve been waiting for and hoping for, all your life.  That’s relief!


Have You Made Peace with God? 013015

All my life I’ve struggled with how to start a conversation with someone about their relationship with God.  I’ve longed to find some way to get started without offending them or making them mad, or driving them away.  It’s a very personal subject, one that many people are uncomfortable talking about.

One time 3-4 years ago, I had a friend named Evelyn, who was dying of pancreatic cancer.  She worked part-time for the same guy I worked for.  She was about my age.  She was in the hospital, fading fast and I went to visit her.  I didn’t know whether she had a relationship with God or not, but I wanted to talk to her about it.  I didn’t know how to start or what to say.

I don’t know if it mattered, but I took her a prayer blanket that had been made by ladies at our church.  They even prayed over it and anointed it with oil, especially for her.  Now that I think about it, maybe God used that prayer blanket to touch Evelyn and me both.

Anyway, I was standing there beside her bed, trying to think of something to say, when God says, “Ask her if she’s made peace with God.”

So I did.  Right out of the blue I said, “Well, have you made peace with God?”

She thought about it a minute and said the most amazing thing, “Since my husband died about 9 years ago, me and God haven’t had much to say to each other.”

After I thought a second I said, “Evelyn, God loves you; and it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or failed to do, He forgives you; and all you have to do to get right with God is to trust Him and accept His forgiveness.”  She said she’d think about it.

She must have done it though, because after she died, her daughter told me that after we talked, she was at peace, happy and thankful; free of all the fear and anxiety she’d had before.

Praise the Lord!

Undeserved Favor (Grace).011615

James 4: 6 and 10; “But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: ‘ God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.’

Somebody said that grace is “undeserved favor”.  Sometime when I was pretty young, I figured out that “undeserved favor” means this: When you’re going through your life, and you do something that is really bad, something you know you weren’t supposed to do, something your momma has lectured you about over and over, something you are really ashamed of because you knew going in that it was wrong, and that you were going to have to pay if anybody found out; and you did it anyway. (On purpose, not accidentally)  And when you got caught, you were really sorry, and you were ready to admit it, and confess it, and accept the punishment, and pay the penalty.      And even though you’re willing to pay, and prepared to pay, God says, “This is your lucky day!  You don’t have to pay.  Even though you deserve all the punishment I could give you, You Don’t Have to Pay!”

Of course I guess you can’t tell your children this, for fear they’ll run off and do a bunch of very stupid stuff, and you’ll lose all control.  Question is, “Did you ever have any real control anyway, beyond trusting God?”  And wait!  What happened to the rule that (sooner or later) we all have to take responsibility for our own actions?  We can’t run around thinking God is going to save us every time we do something stupid.  And even though God DOES forgive us for our sins, the consequences of our actions are something we have to deal with every time, because that’s the way God designed the universe, to run according to rules, just like gravity.  Well that’s not what this verse says.  It sayS if we’ll humble ourselves, God will give us MORE grace, (undeserved favor).  And throughout the Bible it says, in a hundred different ways, that if we’ll just trust Him, He’ll take care of us.  (Seems to me like through Jesus, that’s the central theme of the Bible, and it is certainly the central theme of this message.)  So even though this is against all the rules, I still believe that God is God, and He can do whatever He wants, even help us when we don’t deserve it.  The God I serve is a God who really does deliver me from evil, even when I’ve done something really stupid.  That’s grace.  I like grace.

A Dog in the Woods.010115

Last night about 9:00 PM we took the dogs for a walk.  We have two 6 month old rat terriers, a boy and a girl, Ragnar and Lagartha (aka Gertie).  Often our teen-age son Ian and I walk them.  Actually we run them.  I hold the dogs, straining at the leash; Ian runs down the street a block or two; then turns and calls them; I let go of the leashes and they run as fast as they can to Ian.  They love Ian and he loves them back, just as much.  These are the first dogs we have had since Ian has been old enough to remember.  They are truly his companions. ‘Course Gaye and I love them too, but not near as much as Ian.

So last night we did our routine til we were maybe 6 blocks down the street and then we turned back and did it again on the way home.  When we were maybe 2 or 3 houses from home, Ragnar got loose and ran for our back yard.  Ian chased him, but “Rags” beat him to the trees along the creek in back of our house and went exploring.  Usually when one of the dogs gets loose, he’ll run for a minute or two and then come back to the other dog.  But this time Rags didn’t come right away, so I gave Ian my cell phone/flash light so he could search the woods.

Well, he searched and searched but no luck.  Ian was getting desperate.  He was hollering at the top of his lungs, loud and long, “RAAAAAG-NAAAAAR” over and over.

Pretty soon I started saying, “Don’t holler so loud.  He’ll come back soon.  He doesn’t want to stay outside in the dark all night any more than you want him to.  He’ll get lonely in a few minutes and come.”

But he didn’t come.  We walked all around in the woods looking.  We went down the street to the place where you could go in the woods from the other end.  All the time hollering “Raaaag-Naaaar”.  But you could tell Ian was getting really worried, and I was getting a little concerned myself.  As I listened to Ian, I could tell he was getting scared Rags wasn’t coming back.  What if something had happened to him? Maybe the leash got caught and he got hung up in the bushes.  Maybe he fell in the creek and couldn’t get out.  Maybe he’d crossed the creek and couldn’t get back.

I started praying, “Lord, please let Rags come back.  Please don’t let anything happen to him.  Please help Ian not be scared.”  And every time I’d see Ian, I’d say, “It’s going to be OK;  he’ll be back soon.”  But I was beginning to wonder myself.

Finally we went to the back of the back yard, where he first ran away, and I said to Ian.  “We’re just going to have to wait. Come on and sit down on the back porch with Gertie, and see what happens.”  When we reached the porch, Ian sat down and petted Gertie; and I said to Ian, “Maybe we should pray.”  By this time he was crying, because he was so worried about Rags.

Ian said, “Sit down here and pray with me.”

I said, “You pray,” but he asked me to go first.  So I prayed, “Please Lord, let Rags come home.  Don’t let him get hurt.  Don’t let him get lost so he can’t figure out how to get home.  Thank you for answering these prayers.”

Then Ian prayed, “Dear Lord, please let Rags come home.  Please work everything out for good for all of us.  Do Your will.  We’re trusting You to take care of all of us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

We got up.  I said I was going to bed.  I said Rags would come back soon and everything would be OK.  Ian went back outside the back fence to look for Rags one last time.  I was in the garage by this time, but I could still hear and I heard my wife say, “He found him.”

When I went back out, Ian says, “I just wanted to look one last time; and when I got the edge of the trees, I could see him coming out.”

“Thank God! ‘, I said, “Just goes to show you how God answers prayers.  Praise the Lord!”  We all stood in the yard and hugged ole Rags.  We were very glad that the lost had been found.  We all went in thinking about how God takes care of us, if we’ll just ask Him.  It reminded me of that verse in Luke, where it says that God will answer your prayers, and speedily too, if we’ll only trust him.  It was a perfect example of how God’s care meets a boy’s trust.  Praise the Lord from Whom all blessings flow!

It’s amazing how you can learn such good lessons from such a simple story. Prov. 3:5-6 Praise God from Whom all blessings flow.

PS A day or two later, we realized we’d lost Rags’ leash that night.  I went searching and found the leash, tangled up in some limbs.  The other end led down a hole.  I pulled on the leash pretty hard and out came the harness.  Looks like Rags was trapped in the hole, so we couldn’t hear him whine or bark, but he was able to wriggle free at almost exactly the same time we were praying.  I don’t know about y’all, but that sounds like God.