The Master Gardener

We have a master gardener who lives next door. James’ idea of a fun thing to do every evening is mow and edge his front yard. He is passionate about his flowers and plants. Spending time at Tulsa’s Linnaeus Teaching Garden has opened his eyes to the possibilities of beautiful things everywhere. This year he decided to have a vegetable garden featuring tomatoes, peppers and strawberries. Of course he added other fruit and vegetables just to see how they would do. His sunflowers were spectacular. We ate some of his tomatoes at supper last night.

He began as a toddler watching from a front window as his father mowed the grass. Soon he started using sticks and brooms to imitate his dad trimming and edging. Someone got him a toy lawn mower. This summer James turned seven. He checks his garden every day—watering, fertilizing, weeding and harvesting. He knows more about my in-ground sprinkler system than I do. He can identify every sprinkler head and its spray pattern. He can diagnose every sprinkler problem and knows how to repair or replace it. He has a personal collection of sprinkler heads in his garage. He keeps asking his parents to get a trencher so he can lay out a sprinkler system of his own. James has a passion and a focus, yet like every kid he loves to act silly, tell jokes, make people laugh and play with his little brother.

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James is a remarkable boy because his eyes and heart are open to the beauty and wonder of creation. Our hearts are the garden of our soul. What do you see when you look upon your heart? How well are you tending it? What have you planted within it? How do you nourish it? What needs trimming or weeding or pruning? What is your heart producing today?

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Look to the Master Gardener. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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High School Reunions

         I was asked to bring a reflective meditation for Tulsa’s Will Rogers High School Hall of Fame Ceremony. It was held on November 4, 2013, Will Rogers’ birthday.  It was also the inaugural event for the high school’s 75th anniversary year of celebration. I began by imagining what it must have felt like to be a teenager in the fall of 1939 as the first students sat in that magnificent 1,500 seat art deco auditorium. Students and teachers alike found themselves in a million-dollar building on what had been a cattle pasture a couple of years earlier. The Depression, the Dust Bowl and clouds of war were daily topics of conversation. Today there are two very senior alumni left from that first graduating class. Looking back from the future is all about learning the stories.

            For the past few years I have been hearing stories from some of the attendees of the high school’s 50th Anniversary. For months some of those same people have been planning the 75th Anniversary Gala to be held on April 12th. (Go to www.WillRogersFoundation.net for details.) It will be a grand reunion with hundreds of former students and faculty.  I encouraged the class of 1989 and others to take good notes because 2039 and the 100th Anniversary of the school is not that far away. I ended my part by asking God to continue to bless the legacy of those who dreamed of a future shaped by inspired teenagers who would go on to do great things.

The future is always closer than we think. I remember as a boy trying to figure out how old I would be in the year 2000. That was impossibly far away, if I even lived that long. Now it is 2014 already. What will your life be like in 2020? That’s just six years away. Do you have a future vision for yourself, your family and your church? Do not give up on your future. In our ever-changing times, the future is still built on our life stories and relationships, guided by God’s Word and redemptive love. 

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Discover the future. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

                       

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Landing in the Wrong Place

           How does an airliner land at the wrong airport? The recent misfortune of the Southwest Airlines flight headed for Branson, Missouri raises the question. They landed eight miles away from the appointed runway. The pilots apparently noticed their mistake, hit the brakes very hard and stopped their plane at the very edge of a disaster. Everyone was shocked. The pilots were not only shocked; they were embarrassed as well.  They soon learned that the runway they had chosen was too short for their airplane to take-off to fly to the right airport; it eventually had to be toed away.

            The pilots landed in the wrong place because they insisted on their own way. When preparing to land, the Branson control tower told them they were 18 miles away from the right runway. Recognizing the light configuration, the pilots insisted they could see the runway in front of them and requested to override the control tower and their instruments. The passengers were not happy about taking a bus with all of their possessions to the correct airport.

            There is an old saying, Seeing is believing. But not everything we think we see is real. Some people reverse the saying, Believing is seeing. But not everything we may believe is true. The pilots needed to trust the control tower and their own instruments. The pilots decided to trust what they were seeing up ahead. They made an embarrassing mistake that could have quickly turned tragic.  Did you know there is a verse in the Bible that speaks to these kind of situations? It is found in Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way that seems right to a person, but in the end it leads to death.” It comes down to trusting what is real and true. Trust God. Trust God’s Son. Trust God’s Spirit. Trust God’s Word.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Land in the right place. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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To God be the Glory

            Last Sunday, February 23, was an historic day in the life of our church. There was a positive, energetic and prayer-filled spirit. There was a strong attendance for our very first 10 o’clock worship service. The new monitors worked like they were supposed to, Dr. David Willets brought an excellent message, and the new Pastors’ Class was well received. Our 11:15 Sunday School hour more than doubled our Bible Study attendance. The Monte Los Olivos congregation filled the two center sections of the Sanctuary for their 11:15 worship service. About 40 children and teenagers were welcomed to their new Sunday School classrooms. To God be the Glory.

            In 2012, by faith, we invited GracePoint Church to minister with us. The People’s Pantry was relocated to our building and our Clothes Closet ministry was reestablished. Last year we began a deeper Wednesday evening ministry with the Pantry and our neighbors. Ben Shepard offered to provide a Wednesday evening meal for anyone who participated in the Pantry ministry. The effort has expanded with a number of faithful workers coming along side to help with the meal for our neighbors. We work together delivering Meals on Wheels, singing in the choir and worshiping together. On Wednesday evenings Monte Los Olivos has added a 7:00 p.m. Prayer Service, and Youth and Children’s Bible programs. Great things He has done.

            There continues to be lots of preparation work behind the scenes to allow God to use our church to proclaim a greater witness to our community. By intention there are three things that we are not doing: 1) we are not merging churches; 2) we are not combining budgets; 3) we are not changing any church names. We are networking together. We are working alongside each other to promote our common ministries and mission efforts. We are launching more intentional discipleship training and evangelistic efforts across the congregations and into our neighborhood. So loved He the world that He gave us His Son.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Stepping in a Hole

             Have you ever stepped in a hole? Hopefully you recovered quickly and had the presence of mind to look around to see if anyone was watching. Stepping in a hole is not a first choice. Bad things can happen when you step in a hole, even a little one. It is never done on purpose.

            Once Dorothy and I were walking down the sidewalk in Baguio City, Philippines. Our ultimate destination that day was the Philippine Baptist Theological Seminary. We were with a mission team from our church which included Mrs. Avo Boes, our church’s Woman’s Missionary Union Director. We had been serving a church in the northern Luzon area and were invited to take this side trip up near the volcano. Typical of most tourists, we were walking, talking and looking around at all of the sites and shops. Suddenly there was a squeal and Avo disappeared. When we looked down, she was shoulders high in a hole. She had stepped into an uncovered manhole in the middle of the sidewalk. Miraculously she was not hurt. We somehow extracted her from the hole and helped her assess the situation. Some scrapes and bruises were located; then she said she was ready to go on to the seminary. The infirmary there gave her a couple of Band-Aids and let her rest for a little while, but she didn’t want to miss a single thing. For the rest of the trip and for some time after, she noticed every manhole.

            Temptation is like an open manhole in the sidewalk. Step in it once and you might just blame the manhole.  Stepping in that same hole in the sidewalk again? Well that is a different story. How many times are you going to purposefully step into that open hole before you realize it’s you, not the hole that has the problem. A couple of solutions come to mind: take a different sidewalk, or get someone to help you put the lid over the hole.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Watch where you step. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Four Letter Words

         2013-12-29 09.49.45After completing the macramé phase of my life, I turned to cross-stitch, with an occasional adventure in needlepoint. After all, you can only make so many hanging flower pot holders for all of your friends and relatives. New friends and more relatives were gifted with little pictures, sayings and Christmas stitchery. Some were graciously received. I stitched one piece that is framed and hangs in my office. It is about four letter words.

            English is a very rich language consisting of approximately one million words,* yet a handful of vulgarities seem to lace daily life with too much regularity. Why does it seem to take weeks and weeks to teach a child “please and thank you,” or “Yes, ma’am or No, sir,” and only one time for a misplaced ugly word to be instantly memorized and utilized by that same child?  It is probably time to upgrade our use of the four letter word.

“Four Letter Words that Change the World”

Love. Hope. Care. Help.

Heal. Work. Play. Feel.

Duty. Home. Good. Kind.

Pity. Rest. Seek. Pray. Live.

Amen.

“A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” Proverbs 25:11

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Speak true and holy. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

*http://www.languagemonitor.com/new-words/number-of-words-in-the-english-language-1008879/

      

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For He Alone Is Worthy

Front Yard NativityWe seem to be the only house in our neighborhood with an outdoor nativity. Most of the houses around us are decorated with all kinds of lights and displays, with an occasional star mounted up high. Santa and the reindeer are everywhere. So are snowmen and miniature Christmas trees. But the display on your lawn or in your window does not mean much unless Christ is in your heart. So I look to some of my favorite carols to point the way to the newborn King.

O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light; the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. The unsuspecting town, filled with grumbling taxpayers and weary travelers, becomes the focal point of God’s divine plan of redemption. The King is coming.

Come Thou long expected Jesus, Born to set Thy people free. From our fears and sins release us; let us find our rest in Thee. The King is born with a kingdom mission of forgiveness, salvation and grace. Cast your deepest, darkest burdens before Him, and He will give you rest.

O come, desire of nations, bind all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy, strife and quarrels cease; fill the whole world with heaven’s peace. The King, who is the Prince of Peace, longs to heal the broken hearted, mend broken relationships and fill the world with Good News of great joy. Trust His word. Trust His love.

Truly He taught us to love one another; His law is love and His gospel is peace. Chains shall He break, for a slave is our brother, And in His name all oppression shall cease. The King’s life example, His unmatched wisdom, His cruel death on our behalf, and His resurrection overcoming all sin, guilt and even death itself, cause us to bow before The King of Kings on this O Holy Night.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Rejoice! Rejoice!  And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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