Special Moments

I went to a local mexican restaurant to pick up supper last night. I was sitting near the door waiting for my food when some folks came in. The warm moist air filled the room and for a brief moment I was reminded of a vacation in Mexico many years ago. It was very pleasant. Rose and I had lunch yesterday with old friends. It was a short but very pleasant time. Guess you get the idea we aren’t cooking a lot lately. 
I think sometimes we move in life from “big” event to “big” event and let the small special moments slip by unnoticed.  Sometimes the things we look forward to and plan for just don’t live up to the expanded expectations. That’s what makes these little unexpected blessings so great. These are as much gifts from God as are the “special” times and things. These are His little reminders that He is hanging around and thinking of us.
I’m sure glad He is.

Be blessed.

Nick

Untitled

15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault,C)’> and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.A)’> but against the rulers, against the authorities,C)’> of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

I have been in a pretty intense spiritual battle for at least a year. I date it back to my knee replacement surgery but it has involved many areas of my life. The details of my fight aren’t important. I have learned a lot and still have a lot to learn. Here are some thoughts that I hope will be helpful to you.

1. It really is a spiritual battle. Other folks aren’t the enemy although they sure can seem like it. When we lose track of this fact and start to fight others, the enemy is winning. 

2. Just because it’s a spiritual battle, doesn’t mean we don’t have a part to play. Sometimes we think since it’s spiritual, we just have to sit back and watch. It just doesn’t work that way. We are spiritual beings and we are VERY involved in the the battle. Our tools may be prayer and discernment; but the battle is played out in the physical.

3. There are human victims. Although our brothers aren’t the enemy, they sure can be victims. All we have to do is spend a few minutes looking around at broken relationships, substance dependence, desperation, seemingly futile lives to see there are plenty of very real victims. This is a real war with real direct and collateral damage. 

4. It’s just going to get worse before it gets better. Although we are promised victory in the end and, in fact, the victory is already won, scripture also paints a picture of a fight that intensifies to the very end. We can take hope in the fight because it signals the end, but don’t expect it to stop until then.

5. We all need to step up. As some become victims and fall away, others need to step up. We all need to put out more to make up for those who have burned out, given up, or who just need a rest.

Pray. Pray for clarity of mind. Pray for discernment. Pray for strength of character. Pray for specific direction as to your part in the battle plan. Pray over your children. Pray over your spouse. Pray over your church. Pray over it’s leaders. Pray for the peace I talked about before, not the absence of conflict, but the deep peace that surpasses understanding.

Fight the good fight and be blessed. It’s what He saved you for.

Nick

Pruning

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:2

The first home we owned in Lafayette had a small patio in the back. The previous owner had planted rose beds on two sides of the patio. We really enjoyed the beautiful roses for a while, but soon the plants became leggy and less attractive. It got so bad they were taking over the patio. I wasn’t much of a gardener, but I read somewhere about pruning so I pruned the bushes. I cut them way back until there was nothing but stumps. They looked like the bushes you buy at the nursery. 

We spent some nervous time waiting and watching what would happen. Eventually new shoots sprang out and by the middle of the next summer we had beautiful roses again. Annual pruning became a part of my newly learned garden routine. I eventually learned to be an even better pruner and about other things like proper feeding and keeping away bugs.

God is the perfect gardener. He knows all about pruning. It’s not as hard for us to understand why he takes away branches that aren’t bearing fruit. What is tough is to see what happens to the branches that seem to be so fruitful and doing so well. 

I’m seeing the Great Gardener at work and it’s pretty painful. One thing I didn’t learn about pruning when we had that small patio rose garden. I eventually learned that a skilled gardener can take some of the cuttings from the plants and establish entire new plants. 

In the pruning process I am watching, I am sure I will see healthy new growth of the plant that is being pruned. I probably will not get to set what happens to the cuttings. I will miss them greatly but I trust the gardener to make good use of them and to plant and nourish them in new places where they can regrow and bear beautiful fruit for the kingdom.

He created the plants for a purpose and knows best how to care for them.

Be blessed.

Nick

Peace in Conflict

34 B)’>I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 D)’>to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 1234