Wednesday, March 31, 2010

New Life

New Life

Brown earth. Trash exposed. Death pervades. 

It's the end of a long winter. For a time the brown death wore a shiny white mask, but no more. Will the desolation continue? Is there no hope for new life?

Of course, there is--SPRING. In fact, underneath the mulch and straw I can see a few green sprouts pushing their way toward the sun. I cannot uncover them yet. Oh no, for over a month more there's a chance of another frost. But the hope of those new plants encourages me. New life has begun! In a few months the earth will be full of color and life.

We have this assurance because it happens every year: Death in the Fall, Sleepy white cover hides the dead earth in Winter, then new life sprouts in Spring and mature green life thrives in the Summer. Sunrise, sunset, summer, fall, winter, spring. Experience promises it will be again.

Spring offers new baby plants at the same time the Cross and Resurrection offers new life to those long dead spiritually. What a celebration! Jesus knew the death in our hearts. He saw it even when we tried to cover it up with a shiny coat or mask. But He didn't get grossed-out and turn His face away. He watered our barren heart with His blood, then shone the light of His own resurrection on it to produce new life in us.

Now we grow to maturity. We're all at different places in that process, but we continue toward the goal of becoming like Christ. We practice listening, learning and obeying. We're getting better at it and maturing along the way. One day He'll return and we'll be just like Him when we see Him face to face.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Color Purple

The Color Purple
My son is in chemistry class. Today he learned that purple has the highest energy level of all the colors. In a lay-person's understanding (mine) that means there is greater movement when the light hits the purple object thus producing that color.

Here's an interesting look at the meanings of color in food:  Color Energy in Food

"Purple is also a color that generates good chi. So, wherever you would like to add extra energy, consider adding purple. However, because it is a stimulating color, it’s better not to put purple in bathrooms and kitchens, where it can enhance the negative energies of these rooms." ~ says Kathryn Weber, referring to Feng Shui design, in her article Purple Power

Recently I've been hearing about the amazing health benefits of purple, as well as blue and red berries. They are all said to be full of antioxidants, some more than others. Of the berries in an average American diet--strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries--blueberries are said to have the highest antioxidant content. But there are berries grown outside the U.S. that rate even higher and now manufacturers are taking advantage of the positive studies by producing concentrated juices from these berries.

Berries such as Acai, Goji and Pomegranate are said to contain a great amount of antioxidants. These juices are sold in natural food stores, online or in the natural section of your local grocery store.

These berries contain several substances called anthocyanins and flavanoids. "Anthocyanin" comes from two Greek words meaning "plant" and "blue." They are responsible for the red, purple, and blue hues in many fruits, vegetables and flowers. Foods rich in anthycyanins are very strongly colored, ranging from deep purple to black. These antioxidants help defend the body against free radicals, which are harmful byproducts produced by the body in response to stressors. Antioxidants also play a role in the body's cell protection system. They are said to help reduce the risk of disease.

Recently I've read and heard great things about Cherry juice. This would fall into the same category as the Acai, Pomegranate and Goji berry juices. These juices, when concentrated are said to help with arthritis and joint pain because they reduce swelling. Because of the antioxidants, the juices can help fight heart disease and cancer.

These claims are big and there is no hard and fast proof as of yet, though some studies have been very positive. The best way to find out is to try them. There is no risk since these fruits are natural, unless you have a specific allergy to them. Also, if you have diabetes, you should know that any fruit juice is high in natural sugar.

I'm always amazed at the wide variety of things God created for the benefit of our health. He knew exactly what we'd need. He even looked ahead to the pollution that would be caused by our own "ingenious" inventions and realized we'd need antioxidants in our food to counteract the free radicals these technologies would cause. Praise be to His glorious name!   

"Then God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation: plants yielding seed, 
and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them;' 
and it was so."
~Genesis 1:1 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Greater than Tsunamis and Earthquakes

In recent weeks we've witnessed the power of earthquakes in Haiti, Chili and this morning, a small one in California. Closer to home we've seen floods in nearby states. Several years ago the media brought us the news of a devastating tsunami in the far east and just a few years ago we saw the destruction of hurricane Katrina on our own boarders.

Nature shows its power from time to time and we cower, knowing all our knowledge and understanding can't control these forces of nature. We don't even have the power to prevent loss of life. We are weak before the earth, the wind and the water.

But our God is not weak. The majesty and power of God is greater. Look at Psalm 93.

"The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty;
The Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength;
Indeed, the world is firmly established, it will not be moved. 
Your throne is established from of old;
You are from everlasting.
The floods have lifted up, o Lord,
The floods have lifted up their voice, 
The floods life up their pounding waves.
More than the sounds of many waters, 
Than the mighty breakers of the sea,
The Lord on high is mighty.
Your testimonies are fully confirmed;
Holiness befits Your house,
O Lord, forevermore."
Psalm 93

In the midst of floods and chaos, we run to the One who is mighty, more mighty than the circumstances surrounding us. We can be sure that He is great, He is powerful and He is with us. As Jesus said in Matthew 28:20, ". . .I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

What a comfort in an unpredictable world!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


UPDATE: Click here for Harmon's Obit and Photo Look for him in the right-hand column)

Harmon died today.

I didn't know him well. How well can you know someone who doesn't speak to you? Harmon had downs syndrome and lived to be in his fifty's. He lived next door to me with two other adult foster-care men. My neighbor, Jewels, takes care of them. Harmon had been with her for well over twenty years. He was a son to her.

Harmon used to walk around the block holding an American flag. He had that flag every time I've ever seen him, except for yesterday.

Once Jewels brought him to our church. We have a relaxed church with lively worship and we have flags up at the front for any who'd like to use them in worship. That morning a few were waving flags, so Harmon got out into the isle with his American flag and "waved" with the rest of them. His movements weren't smooth and practiced. I have to admit he was a distraction. And yet, it was a distraction with a message.

All are welcome at the foot of the cross. God welcomes all who come to worship Him without shame. Harmon had no shame that morning, he had no idea we watched him. I didn't even know if he understood he was in church and it was all about God-until yesterday.

I had gone next door and Jewels asked me to pray with Harmon. He was so close to death, stiffness had already set in. I put my hand in his and began talk-praying. That's what I call it. I asked him if he remembered coming to our church and waving flags.

He squeezed my hand!

I hadn't expected that, but as I talked more about it he squeezed my hand a number of times and Jewels noticed that he was trying to smile. I'd never had Harmon really interact with me when I tried to talk to him before. But here, now, on his deathbed, talking about church and Jesus, he reacted.

Today I'm thinking of how Jewels loved Harmon consistently, tirelessly without expecting or demanding any reaction much less thanks. I see Christ in her. That's how He loves us, that's how he loves Harmon still, today welcoming him into His open arms.

I look at myself, so often willing to give up on a project or even a person if I don't see some kind of results or appreciation. Lord Jesus, forgive me and let Harmon's testimony change me. Amen.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lent and Rushing Water

Have you ever had any kind of wilderness survival training? I had a course in seventh grade in preparation for a snowbound adventure, complete with snowshoes. One thing we learned was not to drink stagnant water. I grew up in Colorado where gravity ruled the movement of most water so that wasn't a problem. Nature's running water. It was clear, clean and colder than your refrigerator.

So, what does the river have to do with Lent?

Lent is a time of reflection. It's a time to consider the life, death and then the resurrection of Christ, but also to contemplate the reason for His suffering--Me.

We remember our shortcomings, maybe not evil for today's standards, but evil for God's standards. Falling short of the goal even the smallest bit is, missing the mark. It means we lose the ability to have a relationship with our Creator and God. So He took our just punishment. He won the victory for us all.

It's so easy to take this lightly. But our salvation is not, and has never been a license to live our own life, shunning God by making our own decisions. He purchased our freedom. If we accepted the gift, then our life is now His, but He waits for us to offer it freely to Him. We can trust Him with it. After all He paid dearly for it.

So during Lent we reflect. We confess our sins to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. We thank Him for His generous sacrifice and we purify ourselves, consecrating our life once again to the One who is worthy of it.

Busyness, however, can rob us of this intentional thinking. We end up making decisions on the spur of the moment because we don't have time to consider what God would want. Like a stagnant pond collecting abstract objects that clutter and add filth, we become lifeless--functioning, but not really living.

Oh for the purifying, rushing river of the Holy Spirit. The river moves, it doesn't stagnate. Like the Holy Spirit prodding us to repentance and holy living, the river pushes ahead carrying away filthy debris that would otherwise clog the river.

May I determine to give some time for reflection during this Lenten season, allowing the Holy Spirit to nudge me forward.