Saturday, February 22, 2014

God Really Blessed Us This Week

God really blessed us this week:

-      On Sunday we received an e-mail from our friends at the Welcome Garden in Melbourne Australia. We established a Mutual Prayer Support relationship with them in late 2012. We hadn’t been in communication with them for quite a while so it was really good to hear from them.  I responded by asking for prayers that we step up our composting this year.

-       On Tuesday most of our seeds for the year came in.

-       On Wednesday we secured the use of a chipper/shredder. The lack of a chipper shredder has been a real obstacle to effectively composting the significant amount of material available to us, so this should REALLY help us improve our composting.

-       On Thursday we were contacted by a person that can provide us with a lot of clean horse manure right now and a steady supply going forward. That too will help with our composting. This is something we had been wanting for a long time.

-       Today it was nice enough to have a work session in the garden, first since November.  That itself was a gift from God. We got to spend some time together and did so in February. Who would of thought that would happen given the hard winter we’ve had. We got coffee grounds spread out on 4 beds and removed the filters, a job that turned out to be much easier than anticipated. See the pictures below.

-       We got the straw, leaves, and used coffee filters that had been spread out in different parts of the garden collected by the compost bin.   It turns out that we a great supply of "browns" for composting, something I had been thinking would be a serious challenge to our stepping up our composting.

Each of those things are great in of themselves, and we are very grateful for them, but there is even more to be thankful for when we consider how they unfolded. We asked for prayer supporting our composting on Sunday, and by the end of the week two major obstacles to ramping up our composting (chipper shredder & browns) were eliminated. And on top of that we were given a long desired source of manure, something that will also help with composting. Is God great or what? 

Friday, February 21, 2014

John 15:2--Part 4--Pruning Through Adversity

“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’”

OK, we’ve looked at the what and why of pruning, but how does God do it?  And how do we best respond? That’s what we’ll consider in the next several installments.

One way God prunes us is through events that force us to deal with things that impede what He wants from us.  We see prime, if somewhat extraordinary, examples in the lives of Joseph and Moses. God expected a lot of both men, but both had pride issues. So God orchestrated events to deal with that. Joseph was forced to spend years in slavery. Genesis 37, 39,  40, and 41. Moses had to flee the power, prestige, and prosperity of Pharaoh’s household to spend 40 years in the desert. Exodus 2 and 3. Those were extraordinarily difficult experiences, but they prepared Joseph and Moses for extraordinary fruitfulness. We see similar patterns in the lives of David, Daniel, and Paul.

Most believers don’t go through such extreme events, but most go through some type of hardship that sets up their fruitfulness. I had to go through a career crisis before I turned my life over to God. I know many other fruitful believers that were brought into proper relationship with God through adversity.

We shouldn’t be surprised by that. Jesus told his disciples (in the same extended conversation that included John 15), “in this world you will have trouble.” John 16:33. His disciples repeatedly acknowledged that reality. Romans 5:3-5, Romans 8:18, 2 Corinthians 4:16-17, 2 Corinthians 7:8-11, Hebrews 12:2-13, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:3-7. See also Deuteronomy 8:2-5, Proverbs 3:11-12, Wisdom 3:5.  As Sirach 2:1 put it, “when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for testing.”

The good news is that we come through that as more fruitful disciples. As Hebrews 12:11 explains, pruning “always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” See also Romans 8:18, Wisdom 3:5, Sirach 4:17-18,  Sirach 6:18-31

So how do we get through those times of pruning?  We’ll look at that in the next post in this series. In the meantime, meditate on the scriptures cited here.  

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Prayer Requests from Australia

A year or so ago we established a prayer support relationship w/ a church garden in Australia that has a mission similar to ours. We just got a request from them. It is:

Recently a group of asylum seekers have moved into the house next to our garden. Asylum seekers are not allowed to work and receive no government support so they are at the mercy of the local community for food and support. My prayer is that these men will join in working in our garden and that we may be able to encourage them to grow vegetables in their own garden as well. I also hope that our relationship with them may bring them into a relationship with Christ. Many of our asylum people come from Muslim countries.

My prayer for our garden is the asylum seekers connection, good summer produce (looking good at present as our hot weather seems to have gone) and our continued relationship with our disabled men who work with us every second week.

Let's keep these things in our prayers!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The seeds came in today!

Won't be long now. Pray for warm, dry, weather so we can get to work!

Monday, February 17, 2014

John 15:2--Pruning Part 3--Removing Obstacles to God's Light

“Jesus said to his disciples:
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’”

We can get a good idea of what pruning is about by comparing the agricultural purpose of pruning to scriptural principles. Together, they shed a lot of light (pun intended) on what Jesus is getting at here.

The primary reason for pruning is to make sure that a vine’s fruit bearing branches get enough light. That is essential because grapes only bear fruit on new growth and, left to themselves, preexisting growth will block the sunlight the fruit bearing branches need. That’s a problem “because shaded leaves only function at about 6% of their capacity, and may not be contributing at all to ripening the grape cluster.” Pruning Grapes in the Home Garden: Some Basic Guidelines (Washington St. Univ. Ext.)  So fundamentally, pruning is about giving fruit bearing branches access to the outside energy—light—God provides to do the job He assigned them.

Believers likewise need light beyond ourselves to accomplish what God wants from us. That seems to be the principle Jesus was describing when he said, “apart from me you can do nothing.”
That makes sense when we consider that everyone of us lacks, on our own, what we need to produce all that God wants from us. See We All Need Pruned.  

So where do we get that light? Scripture is abundantly clear—from God.  He is, after all, the creator of light. Genesis 1:3, Isaiah 45:7.  He has repeatedly manifested Himself as light, Exodus 13:21-22, Wisdom 18:3, Acts 9:1-5, Acts 26:12-15 Revelation 1:13-16, and self identifies as the light we need. John 8:12, John 9:25, John 12:46.  His faithful servants tell us that His word is a valuable source of light, Psalm 119:05, Psalm 119:130, Proverbs 6:23, and that He provides the light we need to guide us to where He wants us to be. Psalm 18:28, Psalm 27:1, Psalm 97:11, Psalm 112:4, Isaiah 9:1-2, Luke 1:78-79, Luke 2:32, John 3:19-21, John 12:35-36, 2 Corinthians 4:4-6, Colossians 1:12-14, 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5.

Scripture also makes it clear that we don’t get that light just to bask in it for our own pleasure, for sunbathing. Instead, God intends that we pass it on to others. He wants us to be light sources in a dark world, 2 Samuel 23:3-4,  Proverbs 4:18, Isaiah 49:6, Daniel 12:3, Matthew 5:14-16, Matthew 13:43, Acts 13:47, 2 Corinthians 4:5-6, and to model His light in specific aspects of our behavior. Romans 13:12-13, Ephesians 5:8-10,  Philippians 2:14-15.

In sum, pruning is intended to remove things that limit our fruitfulness by getting between God and us and is done so that we can better deliver His goodness to others.

So how does that happen? That will be discussed in the next few posts.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Prayer, Compost & Composting

When you think about it, prayer, compost, and composting have a lot in common.

Intercessory prayer is a lot like compost. We put compost around a plant to make it stronger, and that usually happens to one degree or another.  It doesn’t happen all the time, and we’re not sure exactly how it happens when it does, but it is consistent enough that we do it and usually get some positive result. The same is true of intercessory prayer. We direct it at a situation that needs help and the situation (or folk’s response to it) usually improves in one way or another. We don’t know the particulars of how that happens, but we know that it happens regularly enough to make it very worthwhile.

The process of praying about our own concerns is a lot like composting. We gather things that aren’t all that useful in their own right, bring them to God, He mixes them with His wisdom, and something much more useful results. And just as compost is not an end in of itself, but only one step in the process of growing a crop, our prayers are not the end of the fruit bearing process, but a step along the way to producing what God wants from us.