“Do Trees Really Talk?”

Backyard Tree 2

Isaiah 55:12, “For you will go out with joy And be led forth with peace; The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you, And all the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

Backyard Tree 3

 

                The trees in the above photos are just a few of the oak trees that are in my parent’s back yard. These trees are a bit special to me because my dad and I planted these together when my parents had their house built in April of 1997. The trees you see now were just tiny little twigs 17 years ago. Each one was about 1/16 of an inch thick and maybe about 12-14 inches long. Yes, that is tiny! However, you can see them in the photos above and that is how much they have grown in 17 years. When you compare them to some other trees they may not look like much, but when I compare them in my mind to what they were starting out it is amazing and beautiful.

                I was at my parents house last week. My dad and I were in the backyard when I looked over at those trees. Isaiah 55:12 immediately came to heart when I thought about those trees growing from infant to immense in size.

                Isaiah 55:12 is a verse that reflects upon the exodus of Babylon which is likened to the exodus from Egypt to which we can look at and reflect upon the goodness of God in how He delivers His people from their sins. We read about the mountains and the hills that will break forth with rejoicing, and all of the trees will clap their hands. This is giving us a powerful picture of how all of God’s creation rejoices in God’s wonderful act’s of redemption time and time again. The ultimate act of redemption was when Jesus went to Calvary’s cross for our sins. The One ( Jesus ) who has never sinned, took upon Himself the sin of the world, so that sinners like you and I could be forgiven of every sin in our lives. Praise Jesus!

                Praising Jesus is exactly what God’s creation is doing. We see time and time again in the Scriptures how God’s creation reveals God Himself. We, humans, are without excuse in believing in God because His creation reveals Him to man.

                As I looked at those trees in my parent’s backyard it was a reminder to me of God’s creation. First, without God there would never be any life for that tree whatsoever. God made the seed. Without the seed, man has nothing to work with. So man takes the seed, puts in the ground, dresses it up right, waters and nourishes it. Everything man uses to grow the tree has been created by God first. Man can do everything he knows to do, but it takes God making that tree grow for the tree to grow. Those trees have grown because of the power of God. He made the original material, and He gave it life.

                Second, we must realize that tree is only living because God allows it to keep living. There are so many reasons that tree could die such as lack of watering, disease, insects, storms and more. We must remember that God is in control of life and death, not man. Sure, there are things we might can do to speed up the process and God may allow the consequences ( whether good or bad ) to take place. We must never forget that God is the One who gives life, and He is the One who can take life. He can cause the tree to live through a drought. He can cause the tree to survive the leaves being eaten by locusts. He is God, and He is in control of life.

                Third, I thought about the benefits that God gives through His creation like that tree in my parents backyard. For example, my dad has wanted a good bit of shade in the back so he and my mother could enjoy more time out there without getting too hot from the sun shining on them. The trees have grown in such a way that there is plenty of shade for my parents to enjoy longer hours out back. The tree has provided a more private setting for their backyard from the neighbors windows. Yes, it has also provided great climbing opportunities for all of their grandchildren too.

                To some people these trees would seem to just be like any ordinary trees. The same would be true of some of the fields I pass on my way to work day after day. However, these trees caught my attention because I have seen what they were in their infancy, and where they are now 17 years later. We must remember that we too are God’s creation made in His image. He did not just see us when we were in our infancy, but He saw us before we were even created. He sees us now, and He know our future.

                As we think about God’s creation it would do us good to keep a few things in mind. First, God is the giver of life. He gives life to the trees, to us, and to all creation. Life cannot exist without God Himself. Second, God did not make two trees just alike. He did not make two people just alike either. Yes, there may be twins from the same egg, but even they are not just alike. God has made each tree, and each of you very special and unique. We should rejoice in the uniqueness of His creation. Third, all creation gives witness to the fact that Jehovah God does exist. No one will be without excuse in the day of judgment for even creation cries out in witness of God as we see in Romans chapter 1. Fourth, remember that God’s perspective is not our perspective. He is infinite and finite. He sees every detail of our lives when we can only see a little spec of the present and past. Lastly, remember that “God is God and you are not.” ( source unknown ).

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

 

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“How Important is Unity?”

Ice Skating Unity

Psalm 133:1, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”

           The picture above shows a group from our church who went to the Mid South Ice House on a Friday night back in February 2014. It was a lot of fun for the little children, the youth, and even the adults. As I look at that picture and reflect back on that night a few things come to mind as I read Psalm 133:1.

           The overwhelming theme of this verse is the unity that we should have in Jesus Christ between brothers and sisters in Christ. Notice this verse states a few things that exist “when God’s people live together in unity”. Unity should be overwhelming in the church. Unfortunately, many times this is not the case, but that does not mean that God’s intentions have changed. God still desires for us to live in unity, to walk in unity, to work in unity, and to strive together in unity as the body which is His bride.

           The Psalmist here shares that it is “good” when we live together in unity. What does this mean? He is saying it is a great thing for us to be unified together. We are agreeable on the things of God, and because we are agreeable it is a “good thing”. Think for a minute why it is “good”. He says that it is good because it is a reflection of the change that Jesus has made in the hearts of those who have become His children. It is good because we that are different have something in common that ties us together and therefore we have unity. Look at the picture above. No one is exactly like the other. In fact, there are so many differences among the exterior of the people you see it would be hard to count them all. Some are short, tall, skinny, a little larger than the one next to them, bald, hairy, light skinned, tan, glasses, no glasses, straight hair, curly hair. They are all different on the exterior. However, if we were able to look inside each of these individuals like God is able to see in them we would see that there is something they all have in common. Assuming they have all given their lives to Jesus Christ, they are all covered by the blood of the Lamb. When that happens they all have something in common. Their sins have been washed white as snow. They are all alike in the fact that their sins have been forgiven and God has them in the process of sanctification. They are able to walk in unity because they have something that unifies them. That is a “good” thing!

           The Psalmist also says it is a “pleasant” thing too. When people are in unity with one another it’s a lot easier to work with each other, serve with each other, minister with each other, and simply exist with one another. It becomes a “pleasant” thing because they are in unity together. Think about your legs for a moment. If both of your legs are working together to walk in the same direction it is a “pleasant” thing. It takes less effort and it’s much easier to get wherever you are wanting to go. If one leg is trying to go one way while the other leg is striving to go in the opposite direction you will experience pain. This might be considered the opposite of being “pleasant”. When the members of the body of Christ are in unity and striving together it is a “pleasant” thing because it does not take near the effort to accomplish the work set before the body. Tasks become much easier. The loads become much lighter. The work becomes less strenuous. The end result is that much more work gets done in less time.

           The group you see above is a great picture of unity. In this picture you see different people who work together, but have different jobs. In the picture above you are able to see Sunday School teachers who teach from K-5 up to 12th grade. There are committee members of all sorts. There is the Youth Minister and his wife. There are people who don’t have children at home any more, but always volunteer to help wherever they are needed. Long story short – everyone you see in this picture plays a vital role in the church body. If one person were not there, or if one person wasn’t functioning correctly for some reason the rest of the body would know it.

           The Bible talks a lot about unity and just how important it is. My prayer is for the body of Christ to strive together in unity for the spreading of the Gospel and to further the Kingdom of Heaven. Do your part today. Work with those around you to promote unity. Focus on the essentials, and don’t get blind-sided by the non-essentials.

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“Where is Perseverance?”

Empty church

Hebrews 10:23-25, “ Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”

             I am reminded of a time not too long ago when I went back to school to get my Masters degree. There have been many times in my life that I have experienced a lot of stress, but I will never forget the level of stress I experienced during that period of time. Working towards a Master’s degree, holding down a full time job, trying to further my ministry, being a husband, and attempting to be a good dad for my children are all ingredients for stress in one’s life. It was difficult writing papers, conducting research projects, reading an enormous amount of books. Then, when I thought I might get a break from class and homework because of practicum’s, it just got harder. The level of class work and reading did not stop just because I had to complete so many hours of clinical work each week. The work was very hard, but I learned to keep my head above water and persevere through that difficult time.

             The writer of Hebrews in chapter 10 is encouraging the believers to persevere because they too had faced some really difficult challenges. Believers had been persecuted and gone through various trials and testing of their faith, but the Scripture tells them to NEVER give up. I think there is something in these verses that heavily applies to the church today. In his encouragement to the believers he addresses a problem that has been occurring. The writer of Hebrews says, “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some,”. Unfortunately this is a statement that reflects a wide population of those who proclaim the name of Christ today. It has become an epidemic in our churches today throughout the United States. Professing Christians show up for worship service on Sunday mornings. The service starts with a welcome, a few announcements, music, and then the message. Most preachers only preach from 20-30 minutes these days. If a preacher preaches past noon he can expect to hear the heavy breathing of some, the tapping of watches from others, and witness some who will get up and go. For many, that is the 20-30 minutes of spiritual nourishment they will receive until they arrive for the service next Sunday morning. You can forget about seeing them back on Sunday night. The only way you might see them on Wednesday is if a major calamity has taken place within their life since the past Sunday at noon.

             Now, I know that this is not going to be popular with many folk out there. That’s ok because I do not write this blog for a popularity contest. However, what I do say, I do say with the most sincere and loving motive that I can have. We can go back to the early church, the puritans, and even looking at other countries in our present day where Christians are having church meetings. In anyone of those categories I just mentioned you will find that their services last for 2-3 hours, and sometimes much longer.

             I would never suggest we have service just to have service, or for it to be a long time just for time’s sake. However, when we look around at the shape of our churches today, the moral depravity of the world we live in, and the trouble so many people are getting into, it should come as no surprise. That’s right, we give God the least amount of our time, and yet we expect Him to do the greatest things in our life and in this world. It simply does not work that way.  

             The writer here in Hebrews was addressing the same problem we are having in our churches today. People confess Christ as their Lord, yet they are absent from Sunday School, worship, service and fellowship. Many churches today are not even meeting on Sunday evenings any longer for various reasons. We should be meeting more with the whole family involved – not less!

             As the writer addresses this severe problem he says this, “Let us hold fast the confession of our faith and hope without wavering”. He then says we can do this because God is faithful! God is faithful to us, and we too should be faithful to Him as His children. The confession he is talking about is the confession of your faith that you made at the moment you gave your heart to the Lord. Do you remember what that was like? It was an awesome time in your life where you experienced love, forgiveness and a freshness of new life in Christ. Hold fast to that confession and the REAL hope you have from that confession. That should move you to want to be more involved in your local church through worship, service and fellowship.

             The writer also says, “the day is drawing near”. That is the day that Jesus will come back a second time. Friend, we should be looking forward to that day as His children. That “drawing near” should stir our hearts to want to know Jesus as closely as we can. It should ignite a desire within us to want to serve Him more and more each and every day. It should move us to want to PERSEVERE until He comes again.

             The word persevere means, “steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success”. Perseverance is seriously lacking within our churches today. This is NOT failure on God’s behalf, but on man’s willingness to submit to the Lordship of Christ in his life. I ask you today to examine the priority level that Jesus has in your life. It will be reflected in the way you live!

Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan

“A Great Mom is a Precious Gift from God”

Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.”

Mothers Day 2014

             This coming Sunday we will celebrate a national holiday known as “Mothers Day”. One of the unique things about this day is that everyone can celebrate it. Not everyone is a mother, but everyone is a child so anyone who wants to be included in this day certainly can be.

             The Bible says a lot about moms, but there is a command in Scripture that always comes back to me when I think about Mothers Day. Exodus 20:12 which gives the commandment to honor your father and your mother. One of the awesome things about this command is that it is a command with a promise. The promise is this. The Lord always blesses your life when you give honor to your mom and dad. If you look up Exodus 20 and other Scriptures giving this command there is something you will not see. It does not say to honor your parents under certain circumstances, or even if they don’t fall into certain parameters. It simply says, “honor your father and mother”. That’s it! I have been blessed with GREAT parents, but even if your parents have not lived up to your standards of what a parent should be the command still stands, and the promise too.

             In the picture above you will see three people. Those people are myself, my awesome nephew Tanner, and my wonderful mom. The picture you see above says a lot more about my mom than you probably realize at this point. I would like to honor the Lord by giving honor to mom by telling you some things about her in that picture. Obviously, this will not be exhaustive in detail because my mom possesses so many great qualities I could not give them all to you in this short blog.

             The first thing I notice in this picture is my mom’s smile. The reason my mom is smiling so big is not simply because her picture is being taken, but it’s because she with people that mean so much to her. I can honestly say my mom would do anything within her human ability  for her children and grandchildren whether it was a want or a need for one of us. If she had the ability to get or do something for any of us, she would. To be honest, I believe it goes further than that too. I have seen her do for others that were not even related to us in ways that taught me what it means to be caring, loving and compassionate towards other people.

             The second thing I think about in that picture is the smile you see which is from laughing that took place before the picture was taken. My mom has always been so much fun. Growing up she always tried to make the best of every situation. In the summer time she would make mud pies with my sister and me. She invented the waterslide on the side hill of our house with trash bags, dish liquid, and the water hose. The most boring place in the world for a little boy has to be the laundry mat. However, my mother always made sure I had a bow and arrow set that would stick to the washers and dryers. Sure, it probably kept me from driving her crazy during that time, but she made it fun for me too. Even to this day she has played pirate ship, bingo, barbies and so many other games with my children. She was and still is a mom of fun.

             The third thing about my mom you don’t see in this picture is the sacrifices she has made for her family. She always made sure we had the clothes we need, the school supplies we need, the lunch money we need, and so many of the fun things we wanted before she would ever get anything for herself. Words cannot tell you how much my mother has sacrificed for me and so many others. She would never do these things for any, “Thank you”. It was simply because she is a mom of sacrifice. In fact, we used to give her gift cards for her birthdays, but we had to stop doing that because she would spend them on everyone else but herself. I know her sacrifice has gone way beyond what I even know about, and I am so thankful to have a mom like her.

             The fourth thing you don’t see is the great example she has been to me throughout my life. She has been a great mom, a great wife to my dad, a great friend as I have gotten older, and a wonderful role model. She has blessed me with her faithfulness to my dad as his wife and shown me what a wife and mother should be to her husband and children throughout all the years of my life. For that I am extremely grateful!

             The Lord has truly blessed me when He gave me to my mom as her son on February 10th, 1976. I know that many people have not had the quality of a mom that I have had and my heart genuinely goes out to them. To my mom, I want to say “Thank you” for being the mom to me you have always been, and the grandmother to my children that you have always been. I thank the Lord Jesus every day for my mother. Today, if your mom is still living give honor to her by praising the Lord for the great gift of a good mother!

 Sincerely,

Bro. Bryan