Thursday, April 20, 2006

Spring Pruning

Are you a pack-rat? You know, the ones who keep everything-whether it be a receipt from 1992 or shopping bags from Wal-Mart and Bath & Body Works.

Come on...tell the truth, shame the devil!

A year ago, I moved back home, and every since then, I have been driving my mom crazy by throwing things out little by little. We even had some heated arguments about wheter or not to throw out some items, but I didn't back down...she really did need to throw out some stuff! Though it almost started World War III, my mom finally admitted that throwing things away and clearing some room gave her a sense of freedom.

Why do we hang on to stuff that has no purpose in our lives? I mean, really...a receipt from 1992? Perhaps there are many reasons why we don't prune things out of our homes or cars:laziness, apathy, busyness. Whatever the reasons may be I think we can draw some spiritual applications from it.

When someone comes to Christ they become a new creature. In the process of sanctification, or spiritual growth, God begins to prune us from those things that are not like His Son, Jesus Christ. Take a look...

"He 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." John 15:2

Jesus' job is to prune those things of our character which are of no use that we may go on to bear fruit. One observation that can be made here is that this pruning process may be painful...but it reaps a reward!

I believe we serve a God who is interested in cutting away all of the unuseful areas of our lives...whether it be things of our character or the junk in our trunks!!!

What are the things you need to prune in your character or in your home this spring?

Is it a spirit of bitterness?

Is it a shelf full of books you have never read?

One man's trash is another man's treasure! Go through your home and honestly ask God to show you if you have use of different items or if someone else could be blessed by you passing them along. Now, don't go passing on dirty socks or anything...for example, maybe you have a set of stationary you no longer use-give it to someone else!

Christ came that we may be free! This includes all areas of life. Free yourself from the clutter in your home and the clutter in your character. This spring do some pruning, whether it be freeing up some extra space in your closet, or freeing someone else from the forgiveness you need to extend to them.

Here are some spring pruning ideas:

1. Clean the trunk of your car
2. Clean out the junk drawer in your bathroom or kitchen
3. Get rid of old boxes in the garage
4. Clean underneath your bed
5. Clear off your office desk
6. Give away old movies you don't watch anymore
7. Clean out files
8. Clear out clothes you no longer wear...pass them along!
9. Go through your food pantry
10. Throw out old magazines in your magazine rack

Here are some character pruning ideas:

1. Pray & ask the Holy Spirit to reveal those areas in you which need to be pruned
2. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's voice to #1
3. Read Scriture accounts of Jesus, noting His perfect character. Ask God to develop those in you.
4. Ask your close friends or family members the areas in your life where you are weak...tell them to be gentle!
5. Ask God for obedience to do that which He reveals to you!

Happy spring pruning to you and I!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

An Easter Story

In the Christian faith, Easter should be a joyful celebration, even more so, in my opinion than Christmas because it signifies that our Messiah is risen, and behold, He lives! I must admit there were a series of events that happened today which allowed me to take my focus off my risen Savior.

It all began with me waking up a little earlier than usual this Sunday because I knew it would be packed at church. So, I rushed out of the house with my breakfast in hand, and I remember thinking to myself,

"I didn't even take the time to greet Jesus this morning."

As I drove into the packed parking lot, I sat in my car waiting for the first service attendees to leave. I watched patiently with my blinker on as an adorable interracial family put their two little ones in their car seats and drive off. As I was swinging my car around to park, I noticed a woman standing in the parking space motioning to me that she was saving the parking space.

I rolled down my window and said, "Excuse me, ma'am?"

"We're parking here, " she said, without looking me in the eye, while no other vehicle was in site.

"Ma'am I've been waiting here for about 10 minutes for this parking space," I said in the nicest way I knew how.

"Fine can have it!" As she stomped off.

Wow...Happy Easter! Is that what we're concerned about? A parking space? I've seen people do that kind of nonsense at the mall during the Christmas season, but never at church. Are our mega-churches of America beginning to take on the worldly characteristics of the parking lots of Wal-Mart and shopping malls?

I tried to not let that bother me for too long, I went inside and found my seat while visiting with fellow church members. Then lo and behold...another distraction would be brought my way on this Easter morning. My ex-boyfriend and his family, who lives out of town, came to worship at my church this morning, and in a sanctuary that seats 5,000 comfortably where do they sit? Yep, you guessed it-directly behind me! Now, there are no hard feelings, but I just prefer for them not to sit right up on me...ya know? So now all I could think of was, "Wow...are you really going to let the people sitting behind you distract you from praising God for His Son?" Well, the answer to that, my friends unfortunately was, "yes." I just could not focus on Christ.

Later that afternoon my mom asked me a simple question which would lead to a debate, and me feeling rotten because I over-reacted, which was probably a reaction to the events earlier in the day. We're fine now, but it just sucks to get upset with the ones you love...Especially on a day with an emphasis on forgiveness!

Isn't it peculiar what Satan will use to distract us from giving God our best?
Satan already knows he can't mess with my salvation, but he sure did do a good job at trying to steal my joy on the of occasion the resurrection of Our Lord!

I am grateful to God though that despite the crazy events of today, I can wake up tomorrow and celebrate His resurrection just as if it were Easter Sunday! In fact, we should celebrate every day that the tomb was empty, and Jesus currently sits at the right hand of the Father interceding on behalf of me and you.

He is alive, he's not dead, he's not asleep!

So, while my Easter story was a rotten one, praise God that His Easter story is a glorious be celebrated every day!