The Back to Eden garden I began laying out in January while the ground was still frozen, came to an abrupt halt in February when the sod thawed (hey! that rhymes!) and RAIN began to fall. All. Month. Long. That is, when it wasn’t SNOWING! And melting. And SNOWING. And melting. And just this morning, another inch of snow was there to greet us!
Will it ever stop? Should I build an ark instead, Father? Rather than complain, I thanked God for the snow and whatever it is that I’m supposed to learn from this maddening delay to my plans.
“Eden wasn’t created in a day, you know”, says the Lord “and I have power far beyond your abilities.” Right. I get the message, Lord.
Do not despise the day of small beginnings (Zechariah 4:10).
Another lesson God had for me is a simple one, which often seems to be the most difficult to grasp. He said “you’re frustrated because you’re trying to do work out of season.”
For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1).
Still the bare-root fruit trees need to be in before they break dormancy. So I cut and removed the sod where they’ll be planted; a task more easily done when the sod is wet and made even easier by an idea the Lord gave me to impale the sod with a fork hoe and pivot to toss it into the tow cart. It was poetry in motion, let me tell you! Continue reading
In the spring of 1966, the entire 4th grade class was marched to the gym where we were made to take a musical aptitude test. Other than listening to single notes played on a variety of instruments and answering whether or not they were the same, I remember little else about the test. Weeks later, I came home from school and my parents greeted me saying “the school called.” Oh, how those words could make me sweat bullets and launch my suspicious mind into a frenzied inventory of excuses even before hearing the school’s complaint.
“Do you remember the music test you took?” my parents asked. “Uh, no” said I. Dad continued with a grin “it’s difficult to believe, I know, but the school says you have a talent for music.” My little mind did a Bat-Turn** trying to Continue reading
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) The length of our lives is decided beforehand— the number of months we will live. You have settled it, and it can’t be changed. (Job 14:5 GNB) You saw me before I was born. The days allotted to me had all been recorded in your book, before any of them ever began. (Psalms 139:16 GNB) You do not belong to yourselves but to God; he bought you for a price. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 GNB) How precious are your thoughts concerning me, O God! How vast in number they are! (Psalms 139:17 GW) For we are God’s masterpiece, created in the Messiah Jesus to perform good actions that God prepared long ago to be our way of life. (Ephesians 2:10 ISV)
How many different ways can God tell us that He loves us? He created us with purpose. His intentions toward us are for a life of goodness and mercy. He has a plan for us to live an abundant life and to enjoy His continual presence. Yet despite these truths, human nature seems inclined to take an altogether different view of God: angry, indifferent, punishing, volatile, etc.
Such was my view of God for many years, when in following my own will, I wandered from the path He had charted for me and alienated myself from Him. Thankfully, God’s plans for me also included a course correction and I ran to Him in the midst of my heartbreak. For several years I was in a kind of “intensive care” with the Lord, who did a marvelous healing work on my soul and restored me to His plan for me. It is with these things in mind that I want to share a smidgen of my testimony concerning the many ways in which God has demonstrated His love.
My mother, whose name is “Joy”, delivered me on December 31st. Growing up, my birthday party was always postponed thanks to Jesus’ birthday party the week before, New Year’s Eve parties and watching the Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day! I can’t count the number of times when shortly before midnight on New Year’s Eve, the host would shout “I almost forgot! We better sing Happy Birthday to Jack before it’s over!” Sometimes the revelers cut it so close, they had to make a medley of Happy Birthday and Auld Lang Syne. Still that’s better than the disaster of 1973 when my high school youth group tried singing the 2 songs as a round (j/k).
Believe it or not, it’s only gotten worse since when I was a kid. I remarried in my mid 40’s and moved to Illinois to be near my wife’s large and close-knit family, where my birthday is not only shared with Jesus, but also with my new brother-in-law and 2 nephews whose birthdays are between December 28 and 30th. Picture 4 people crowded around a single birthday cake, lit, re-lit and blown out 4 separate times. As often as we all come down with the same nasty cold on New Years, you’d think we’d have learned to bake 2 cakes; a sacrificial cake for blowing out and otherwise slobbering upon, and another sanitary cake for feeding everyone. Continue reading
The Lord began preparing me to leave religious Babylon (man’s church) decades before I actually walked away from it. Blow upon blow, hurt upon hurt, the only way I would leave man’s church is when the discomfort of it all obliterated any hope of remaining. I could recount a hundred such abusive experiences, any one of which should have motivated me to leave, but I was deeply devoted to “the church” since it was there Jesus revealed himself to me. That’s a ridiculous notion, of course, returning weekly to the place I met Jesus. He could just as easily have appeared to me in the dentist’s office. If He had, would I make an appointment to have my teeth cleaned every week in the hope of seeing Him again?
Perhaps leaving was more difficult for me because I was a performing song-writer of original Christian tunes, so the church was my defacto performance venue for half a lifetime. Yet even that was hurtful because my home church saw me only as a guitar-player for the praise band; Continue reading