Gardening: Sowing Seed In Hopes of A Harvest

Vegetable gardening can be fun, therapeutic, educational, and life sustaining.  It can also be frustrating, disappointing, and disheartening.

Today, one of our local farm supplies hosted its annual outdoors day. The event is designed to demonstrate customer appreciation, with free food and prizes given away.  Sales are run on all the garden plants and seed.  It is a day designed to encourage aspiring gardeners of all kinds to get out and start playing in the dirt.

Like flower gardening, some vegetable gardeners seem to have an innate knack for raising beautiful and bountiful produce each year.  It seems that they never have a failed crop. To these growers, gardening is a labor of love. They prepare the soil well in advance, provide the proper amount of plant food, educate themselves on disease and insect control, and work in the garden almost daily.

Other growers seem to never have a successful year.  They like the idea of cultivating the soil, watching seeds germinate and sprout, and growing their own food, but they just don’t seem to have a knack for accomplishing their goal.  There may be several reasons for the lack of success, but the main reason is that they are part-time hobby gardeners.  Too many other activities pull their attention away from their vegetable plot.  As a result, weeds, disease, insects, and varmints turn would-be produce into should-have-been produce.

Many of the members of this latter group either already have or are giving up on the idea of raising their own vegetables. The reasons I hear the most are: “It’s just so frustrating to put all that money, time, and effort into trying to produce your own food, only to have the insects kill your squash and cucumber plants, the deer or raccoons eat your corn, and the blight to dry up your tomato plants. You can actually buy the vegetables cheaper than you can raise them, so why try.”

I am one of this latter group and I have offered both of the above excuses for not raising a garden anymore. I have enjoyed gardening since Mama talked me into growing one as a 4-H project 45 years ago.  But I don’t love it enough to give it my all.  The lack of success is frustrating, disappointing, and disheartening.  So now I just buy the cheap vegetables at the grocery store.

Spiritually, we are told to sow the seed of the kingdom. The seed is the word of God by which we are born again as we purify our souls in obeying the truth. (1 Peter 22-25) Jesus referred to sowing the seed as preaching the gospel. (Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 16:15,16).  He also referred to it as preaching repentance and remission of sins. (Luke 24:47).

We are not to worry about cost or success.  We are simply to sow the seed, and do our best to water and cultivate it. (1 Corinthians 3:5-8).

Yet many times we do worry about the cost.  Many times, we do worry about the results.  Many times we begin to offer the same excuses which hobby gardeners offer for giving up on raising vegetables; “It’s just so frustrating to plant the seed, to water and cultivate it, to watch it grow with such promise, and then to see the cares of this world, the pleasures of this world, and the peer pressure of this world destroy the seed’s potential to produce.  All that time. All that effort. All that money.  Wasted.  So why try?”

May we follow the example of the early disciples. May we go everywhere preaching the word.  May we preach the word everywhere that we go. (Acts 8:4)

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Please don’t Make Me Go Into The Attic!

Have you ever cost yourself a major amount of time, money, frustration, and self-pity just because you didn’t want to enter a dark, creepy, spider web filled crawl space attic in order to discover the actual source of a problem?

One morning, several years, when I was operating the dairy, the milk cooling unit would not kick on. Basic trouble shooting revealed that the electrical wiring connecting the main breaker box to the cooler control panel had developed a dead short. Tracing down the short would require pulling down an old rusted metal panel and climbing into a dark, creepy, spider web filled crawl space attic which was frequented by wild barn cats and raccoons. Most of the wiring in that attic was encased in metal conduit so I thought finding the break would be nearly impossible. I opted for stretching a new wire underneath the ceiling in the brightly lit, much cleaner cooler room. Within minutes the repair had been made and the milk cooled on schedule.

However, the next few days proved to be costly, frustrating, and mysterious. More electrical problems arose within the switches and capacitors of the cooling unit. Diagnosing and repairing these required a trained repairman. They had been weakened due to the electrical shortage.

While the repairman was there, we determined that the cooling unit had also lost its refrigerant gas (Freon). The electrical problems and the refrigerant loss should not have been related, although it did seem to be a highly unusual coincidence. We checked all the copper tubing joints which were prone to leakage, but found none seeping gas. Because neither of us wanted to or saw a need to enter the dark, creepy, spider web filled crawl space attic, we limited our investigation to the utility shed and the brightly lit cooler room. We determined that the Freon loss was just normal for a 40 years old cooling unit and passed off the unusual occurrence of experiencing two different system problems simultaneously as a fluke.

By now, you are way ahead of me in that you know the simultaneous occurrence was not a coincidence. After another visit by the repairman and his conclusion that the Freon leakage could only be corrected through an expensive test and major repair, I determined to face my dread and fears. I pulled down the rusted old metal panel, brushed off all the dust and dirt which had covered me, and climbed into that dark, creepy, spider web filled crawl space attic.

It wasn’t as bad as I remembered, and I didn’t encounter any cats or raccoons. I quickly and easily  discovered the problem. This particular section of old style single strand wiring had not been encased in conduit the way it should have been. At one point, it was laid directly on top of the copper refrigerant tubing. Over time the heat and vibration had thinned the rubber coating of the wire until the electricity arced through the copper tubing. The high voltage arc had welded the wire to the tubing and melted a pin hole in it.

I probably still would have repaired the electrical short by stretching the new strand of wire under the ceiling, even if I had gone into the attic at the very beginning. However, by my not going into that dark, creepy, spider web filled crawl space attic, a repair that should have cost me $300 wound up costing me $1500; not to mention the boat load of time, frustration, and self-pity.

Several life lessons come to mind, but the three I will name are these:

1. By-passing a problem may be the easiest, quickest, and less scary solution, but a lot of times it will be the most costly because we have not located and dealt with the cause of the problem; we’ve simply eliminated the immediate symptoms.

2. If we do not correctly perform a task in the beginning, someone down the line will pay for it. We may never know the one affected and we may be dead and gone before the results of our action occur, but someone will suffer due to our desire to save time, money, or effort.

3. Everyone has at least one creepy, crawly, cramped attic which they do not wish to re-enter. They will avoid climbing into it at all costs. They will readily agree with experts who may tell them that chances are the problem does not lie in that attic. But sometimes the only way to find and solve a nagging issue is to open the access to that eerie loft and climb the ladder back into that dreaded space.

The Apostle Paul had to return to that attic several times, but it was only through returning to that attic that he could fully appreciate his salvation:

“I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women” (Acts 22:4) ESV

“I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you and when the blood of Stephen your witness was being shed, I myself was standing by and approving and watching over the garments of those who killed him.” (Acts22:19b-20) ESV

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on the name of his name.” (Acts 22:16) ESV

“The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost, but I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in him for eternal life.” (1 Timothy 1:15-16)

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Asking Is Easy. Living With The Results May Be Difficult.

Seeing the pictures of young children and teens playing softball, baseball, soccer, and other spring sports has brought several memories to mind from the years when our children competed in these games.  One involves a request which was granted on a chilly night.

One of our daughters was playing in a county-wide preteen softball league at the county sports complex.  The complex was located in a river bottom.  When the sun went down, during the months of April and May, a chill settled over the crowd that sent them searching for coats and blankets.

The games were often played on school nights so a rule had been set that they would end at 9:00.  A new inning could not begin after 8:50.  The man who oversaw the league was a stickler concerning this rule. To the disappointment of the coaches, athletes, and parents (especially those of the losing team), he often called games to an end at 8:45.

One night our team trailed by a couple of runs.  The moment drew near to end the game based on time.  An inning ended at 8:47.  The supervisor was calling behind the plate.  He started to rule the game complete, but this time, he gave in to an unusual amount of grumbling.  Sure enough, our team scored 2 runs, tying the game.  Happy parents huddled inside their coats and under their blankets. The opposing team did not score a run to legally end the game, so it continued. . .and it continued, and it continued.

Both teams struggled to put the bat on the ball.  Three or four extra innings and two hours later the game finally ended with the same official results.  As for the parents sitting in the bleachers, some of us were openly questioning the supervisor’s wisdom in allowing the game to continue past the allotted time. The facial expressions of others of us demonstrated that they were silently protesting the decision.  Yet  we had received the exact thing for which we had asked.

Spiritually, in our own judgment, we often find ourselves losing as time runs out.  We base our judgement upon the world’s standards, but our disappointing defeat seems so real in our eyes. We compare our lives to others.  It appears that they are being blessed with so much more than we are.  It appears that we are losing  So we ask God to give us more; more time, more stuff, more opportunities, more beneficial circumstances, more . . .

For a time, God doesn’t grant our requests.  This frustrates us and causes us to question God’s fairness and wisdom.  Then one day, after an unusual amount of grumbling, God gives us the exact thing for which we asked. We cheer.  We thank him.  We praise him for seeing things our way.

Then time and reality set in.  Eventually, we find ourselves experiencing the exact same (if not worse) circumstances which we experienced before.  We are chilled.  We are tired. And we begin to question God’s fairness and wisdom again.  Yet we received the exact thing for which we had asked.

“13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:13-15 ESV)

“3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3 ESV)

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Imagination: Do You See What I See?

Most all of us at one time or another have looked up at a white fluffy cloud, and thought, “Hey, that looks like a horse” or “That looks like a butterfly.” Individuals have imagined the shape of clouds to mirror all kinds of animals, people, objects, and geographic locations. Exercising our imagination through cloud watching is fun and relaxing.

A vivid imagination can find hidden shapes in almost any medium. The hodgepodge of colors and broken lines decorating the linoleum floor-covering of one of the rooms in the house in which I grew up contained at least 10 human faces. The rolling river pictured in one of my favorite computer screen wallpapers contains at least two dog heads rising from the river’s depths. A rocky landscape printed on a shower curtain forms the eerie shadows of a T-Rex and a flying pterodactyl.

                          Can you see the cow?

We visualize these images for various reasons. Sometimes a person sees specific types of silhouettes in different mediums due to her interests. Perhaps she visualizes animals because she is an animal lover. Perhaps she sees faces because she’s a people person. Perhaps she sees the shape of a state or geographic location because she misses home, or she dreams of one day traveling to that location.

Sometimes a person’s personality and artistic ability inspires the visualization of imaginary silhouettes. Sometimes an emotional state of mind stimulates the fictional figures to seemingly jump out at the beholder. Sometimes the person sees the imagined shape because she is intentionally looking for it; someone else said he can see it, so she is determined to visualize the form as well.

Whatever the cause, it’s just plain fun to occasionally peer at objects, photos, or prints, and to let our imagination run wild. It’s both enjoyable and relaxing to see animals and faces that others can’t see, and to imagine what could be, rather than what is.

Spiritually, when we approach God’s word, we need to make sure that we leave our imaginations out of our efforts to understand the truths contained therein. In other words, we need to make sure that we are determined to see only the realities contained within scripture, and not to allow our imaginations to create fictional, deceptive teachings.

A good illustration which encourages us to avoid this practice can be found in Matthew 22:23-33. The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Some of the Sadducees asked Jesus a question concerning his belief in the resurrection. They thought the question would ensnare him, and discredit him before the people.

The question revolved around one of Moses’ commands (Deuteronomy 25:5-10); the command known as Levirate marriage. Under this law, if a man’s married brother died, and the deceased brother did not have children, the surviving brother was to marry the widow, so he might father an heir in the name of his deceased brother.

Mouse over scripture reference to view entire scripture text.

This law was solely intended to apply to the propagation of a man’s physical lineage. However, the Sadducees, through their imaginations, thought they saw proof that there is no resurrection. (Be sure to read both Matthew 22:23-33 and Deuteronomy 25:5-10). Jesus responded, “You are wrong because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.”

Imagining silhouettes and figures when they are not there can be enjoyable and relaxing. Imagining Biblical teachings when they are not there can be devastating.

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

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I Just Want It To Be Over.

Don Nims, a very good friend and brother in Christ, qualified for the Boston Marathon this year.  This has been a longtime dream for Don.  He has been running for exercise for about 43 years, but didn’t start running marathons until 2011.  As of Sunday, April 16,  Don had run 18 of the 26.2 mile races.  In each race, he was his own fiercest  competition.  He wanted to set a personal record, but he also wanted that time to qualify him for the prestigious Boston Marathon.

The image above is of Don with some of the awards and memorabilia he has collected over his running career.  (photo courtesy of Gina Kinslow via Glasgow Daily Times June 11, 2016)

Monday, Don lived his dream as he completed the Boston course, placing 43rd out of 138 in his age category.  All who know him are very proud of his accomplishment, and appreciate his dedication and hard work in achieving it.

As Don stood before our Sunday school class two weeks ago, he confessed that he was tired. The initial excitement of having qualified was waning. The extra work that he was doing to prepare for the marathon was wearing him down. Although he was still very much looking forward to living the dream, he just wanted the race to be over.

We’ve all been there.  Many a student has diligently put forth the effort to excel year after year, until they finally reach that senior year.  Then when the goal of graduation comes into view, he/she lets down.  He is tired.  She has earned enough credits, and established her position in the class rankings. They just want it to be over.

Many a teacher has put forth her/his best effort year after year, striving to excel in helping her students to learn and mature.  Then when retirement comes into view, she begins to let down.  He’s tired. The excitement of facing a new group of students each year wanes. They are ready for it to be over.

I think this illustrates one reason why God did not ordain goals, levels, degrees, or ranks which christians may achieve in serving him.  He knew that people would determine a certain level of achievement as a dream, and then when that  dream was about to be realized, their motivation, excitement, and energy would wane.  God knew that “earning” a predetermined rank or degree would present a temptation to become stagnant; it would take away at least some of the excitement of serving him.  God knew that people would be more prone to consider obedience to him as being a task to be undertaken in order to receive an award, rather than as a race to be run for the joy of running.

Don enjoyed the thrilling experience of living his dream.  Witnessing handicapped participants  complete the grueling course despite wearing prosthetic limbs encouraged him to endure. He is determined to continue to run for the love of the sport. Seeing the memorials dedicated to those who died in the infamous bombing has reminded him that our spiritual race is the most important race which any of us run.  He is even more determined to continue to run that race until the end.

May we all be determined to endure throughout our spiritual race for the love of the Savior.

“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:12-14)

“11 But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11-12)


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Overkill Can Be Just As Damaging As Underkill.

Overkill is defined as excessive use, treatment, or action; too much of something. defines overkill as “More than what is needed.  In gross excess of what is reasonably expected. An excess of something beyond what is required suitable for a given purpose.”

The photo to the right demonstrates overkill. The pictured structure is a small pavilion at a boat ramp accessing one of our regional lakes.  The brackets securing the different pieces of lumber to one another are known as hurricane anchors. Hurricane anchors perform the very useful service of providing extra strength to the joints within structures, thus keeping them from coming apart during high winds.

In the case of the pavilion, the overkill comes in the size, thickness, number, and anchoring of the brackets.  The photo to the left illustrates the most commonly used hurricane anchors in house and barn construction in our area. These are considered adequate for connecting rafters and other structural components in order to to keep them from separating in the event of high winds. The brackets used on the pavilion far exceed the size and thickness of those most often recommended by architects and engineers in our area.

Another example of overkill in the pavilion is the excessive size and number of bolts used to anchor the brackets.  One must double the number visible in the picture since the brackets are placed both inside and outside every joint.  Most anchoring plates used in our area are secured with deck screws or nails. The numerous huge bolts in the pavilion may very well have destroyed the integrity of the wood grain so that the anchors have actually lost their ability to accomplish their purpose.

Spiritually, the Bible clearly states that we demonstrate our love for God by keeping his commandments (John 15:10, 1 John 2:3; 5:3). Sometimes, in our efforts to demonstrate our love to God by keeping his commandments , we may very well become guilty of overkill.  In other words we may become so obsessed with making sure that we do not break a God-established command that we actually begin establishing and enforcing our own rules as if they are God’s.

The Bible clearly states that we sin when we attempt to make void the laws of God; sin is lawlessness or transgressing God’s law (1 John 3:4).  But the Bible also clearly states that we sin when we attempt to add our own regulations to the laws of God (Deuteronomy 12:32; Proverbs 30:5-6; Matthew 23:1-28).

In trying to obey and enforce God’s commands, overkill is just as damaging as under-kill.  Just as the extreme number and size of the bolts in the hurricane anchors may very well have destroyed the integrity of the pavilion’s wood grain components, so adding our own laws to God’s laws may very well destroy the integrity of the building components of his house (the church).

In trying to please God, we demonstrate our love for him by doing our best to know and keep all of his commands.  In trying to please God, we also demonstrate our love for him by doing our best to know and keep his commands only.

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Use What You Have Available! Do What You Can!

It’s been a while since the church group has been able to go to the local nursing home to do a craft night.  We were afforded the opportunity tonight. I’m glad tonight was the night because the residents needed cheering up.  One of the younger patients died somewhat suddenly today.  She had been on her way to recovery from the flu and other complications, but she was not able to regain her strength.

The conversation, the tone, and the facial expressions demonstrated the disheartening effects of the events of the day. One of our regulars, the roommate of the deceased, could not come out to take part in the craft activity.  This lady thoroughly enjoys fellowship with her peers and with visitors.

The interactive time together and the presence of those of us who were overseeing the activity seemed to encourage the residents.  We decorated wooden tissue box covers.  One of the ladies that I helped seemed to be taking special care in her decorations.  Mama told me later that the woman did not make the box for herself, but she made it for the mourning roommate.  She wanted to be sure that she did her best to ensure that her friend did not miss out on the joy of the activity.

Most of these seniors don’t want to be there.  Some are there because they don’t have enough material possessions to fall back on. Some don’t have any relatives to lean on. But the residents have each other.  In so many ways, they are family.

The lady’s benevolence demonstrated to me that you don’t have to possess an abundance or be living in the most enjoyable environment in order to brighten someone else’s life.  She used what she had at hand.  She could easily have decorated the box and taken it back to her own room.  She could have easily reasoned that she was just as sad and depressed as the roommate.  But she didn’t.  And she didn’t make a big deal concerning her plans. She simply gave what she could. And through the “two mites”  which she gave to her friend, this lady taught a few younger, healthier, church-going visitors a much needed lesson in compassion.

Use what you have available! Do what you can! It may not be much, but it may make all the difference in helping someone else to heal.

“1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4) ESV


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Here Turkey, Turkey, Turkey!

Turkey hunting season swiftly approaches. Watchful eyes scan open fields and along the edges of wooded patches.  Ears are being trained to tune out all other sounds except the calls of elusive toms and hens.  Both experienced and novice hunters have begun practicing artificially replicating these natural calls so that they will be able to attract the wiliest and most leery of birds. Serious stalkers have already pulled decoys and blinds from storage, repairing them and shining them up so that they may be easily set up in the early morning darkness of opening day.  Guns have been cleaned, ammo purchased, bows sighted in, and skills honed.  Adrenaline fueled excitement rises with the accomplishment of each form of preparation.

Nothing is going to stand between the eager predator and his/her trophy bird .  .  .  nothing that is except possibly that fence which divides the property on which he has permission to hunt and the property which has been posted or leased to someone else.

Hunting, like every other activity in which one may engage, tests the character and integrity of a Christian.  In some ways, due to the solitude in which it is practiced, hunting may actually test these qualities even more.

No one else may ever know if the hunter has purchased the proper license and stamp.  No one else may ever know whether or not the turkeys have been baited. No one else may ever know when the shot was taken.  No one else may ever know on which side of the fence the bird was standing when it was harvested.  No one else may ever know how many birds the hunter has taken.  No one else may ever know . . .

No one else except the hunter and God.

Life is full of tough choices, especially the choice between doing right and wrong when there is a high probability that no one else will know which choice was made.  True christian character and integrity motivates us to do the right thing, just because it is the right thing, even if no other human being will ever know.

“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17) ESV

“Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.” (Hebrews 13:18)ESV

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But I Thought I Had Enough Fuel!

The fuel gauge on the last two Chevy vehicles that my wife and I have owned has gone bad at about 75,000 miles.  We never wanted to spend the money to have the gauge fixed on either vehicle so we learned to estimate the amount of gas remaining in the tank by the number of miles showing on the trip gauge.  This worked as long as we completely filled the tank each time, we remembered to reset the gauge with each fill up, and we accurately estimated the vehicle’s fuel economy.

However, through time, each vehicle’s fuel economy considerably decreased.  Add to the equation such fuel consuming circumstances as snow, frosted windshields, and farm usage, and accurately estimating the total number of miles per tank became complicated. Since we live about 8 miles from the nearest gas station,  I liked to run each tank as close to empty as I could so that a trip to the station was a worthwhile task.

However, living on the edge has more than once left me standing on the edge of the highway. The fuel that should have driven me 400 miles has sometimes taken me a mere 330.  The ironic part is that often my sole purpose for being out and about was to fuel up the vehicle.

Spiritually, many of us like to live on the edge.  We know the Bible’s teachings about the wages of sin being eternal separation from God.  We know about God’s precious love which he demonstrated to us in sending His Son as a sacrificial, redeeming lamb.  We want to accept the saving grace of God, and to go to heaven to be with Him for eternity.  But we also want to live a life full of excitement and adrenaline rushes.  We want to live as close to sin as we can without crossing the line or running out of spiritual fuel.

We understand that we cannot depend upon our own consciences to accurately gauge our relationship standing with God or to differentiate between good and evil.  We understand that the Bible’s teachings are an accurate gauge by which we can determine right and wrong, and by which we can measure our relationship standing with God. But applying the Bible’s teachings to our lives will prove costly; it will cost our time, our money, our effort, our devotion, and our love.  And we are not sure we want to give up those things.

So what do we do?  We assume and estimate our way through life, hoping that we have correctly calculated just what God will allow, and what he won’t tolerate.  We drive through life knowing deep down that we need to spiritually fill our lives with the grace of God; knowing deep down that we are running on fumes.  Yet we convince ourselves that we have within us enough spiritual strength and goodness to make it one more day before it’s too late to draw closer to God.

Many’s the soul which intended to one day become more like Christ.  Many’s the soul which intended tomorrow to intentionally stop living on the edge and to purposely draw closer to the Master. Many’s the soul that has actually started toward that precious goal, but has found himself too low on fuel to reach his intended destination.

Wisdom tells us to keep plenty of gas in the car and to stop living on the edge, especially when we have experienced the negative consequences for our foolishness.   Wisdom should also tell us that it is far more important that we quit living on the spiritual edge of life, because we can never know for sure when our time here will be done or if we will find ourselves too far away from the source of life.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)ESV

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Toes Can Be Overly Sensitive Too.

Toes that are connected to the same foot all draw their life from the same source. Each toe, from the greatest to the least serves its individual purpose. Without one of the digits, a person generally walks with a limp.

Each toe has its own protective shield in the form of a hard plate known as the nail. Normally, none of the toes demonstrate jealousy, anger, or frustration toward any of its brothers. However, let one of the digits grow a long sharp spur on the corner of its nail, and then cram all those toes into a boot so that they must rub against one another during a fairly long walk, and at least one of the brethren will begin to whine and complain; especially after the offending spur has lacerated it or created a blister and then torn the loose skin from the top of the blister.

In that situation, even the most compatible toes find themselves at bitter odds with one another and screaming for time apart in order for the injury to heal.

One cure for the problem would be to sever both the offending and the offended toes from the foot.  Few, if any people, would choose this option.

The best cure for the situation is to carefully clip the spur off the offending member, apply a protective bandage over the injured digit, allow them a little time apart, and then put them to working together once again; allowing the source of life to heal the situation.

Spiritually, when Jesus saves souls, he adds them to his church.  Each soul serves a purpose within the body of Christ.  Most of the time, christians lovingly live in peace and harmony with one another.  They realize that they all draw their life from the same source. They realize that every person is important to the growth and success of the body.

But occasionally, a brother will develop a spur in his defensive mechanism.  when this happens, each time the brethren come together in close proximity, the spur irritates, lacerates, and blisters the other brethren.  It’s inevitable during those times that conflicts arise.

The member with the spur may or may not be trying to initiate the friction; he may or may not realize that he is the cause of the agitation; but regardless, his personality, attitude, and demeanor rubs raw those brethren who are closest to him.

As for the offended brethren, whining, complaining, and continually threatening to stop fulfilling their purpose becomes their defining characteristics.  It’s possible that these actions typify their root personality and the injury has just brought the flaws to the forefront; but most of the time not.  They may realize that they have unintentionally become a secondary cause of the rift, or they may be blind to the fact.  Whatever the case, unless something is done to ease their perception of the injury and pain, there will never be peace and harmony within the brotherhood.

When looking for a cure, one option is to cut both the offending and the offender off of the body, and cast them away.  But like cutting off physical toes, this will generally cause more problems than it will solve.

The best solution is to gently and carefully trim away the spur from the offender, then apply some salve and a protective bandage to the offended. Purposely allow them a little healing time away from one another, and then put them back to working together.

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord.  Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life. (Philippians 4:2-3)

“3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)

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