Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Fruit Trees

We have a plum tree in our yard. Who knew? Last year a late frost knocked all of the blooms off, so we didn't see any plums. This year there are plums galore. My youngest son and I went out and picked the ripe ones that we could reach Saturday. There were many others higher, and many others very nearly ripe. This morning our neighbor across the street called before I left for work and asked if she could pick the plums for jelly, so I told her yes. The ground below the tree was already covered with plums, I mean covered, so I figured before I could get out there again to pick them they would have fallen. They are so sweet and juicy. I'll attach a picture here later.
We also have a peach tree, but it is very young. It has probably 40 or so peaches on it, but they stopped getting bigger a few weeks ago. They are probably 1/3 of what their mature size should be, but I think there are too many for such a young tree. My dad told me in early spring when there were just blooms that I would probably have to pick a lot of them off. I thought he meant because the limbs wouldn't be able to bear the weight, and they probably wouldn't, but maybe he meant so the few we leave could mature. I think when I get a chance I'll pick 25 or so of them off of there, and hope it isn't too late.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

For Living Out Loud

I was reflecting on the lesson in our Adult Bible Fellowship class this past Sunday and had a few thoughts. The lesson was from Acts, where Saul was traveling on the road to Damascus on his way to persecute and kill Christians there, when he was converted. He made it to Damascus, though blind since his conversion, where a man of God, Ananias, followed God’s leadership and restored Saul’s sight.

As I was thinking about this, I was considering this from the point of view of Ananias and other Christians in the area. I think with the persecution going on there, that these Christians were probably very diligent in their prayers for protection. I believe Saul’s conversion may have been God’s answer to these prayers, though I’m not sure the Christians of the time recognized this. In fact, when Ananias was first instructed by God to go to Saul, he hesitated a little to “make sure” God was providing the protection. As I reflected on this, I considered my own personal experiences with God’s protection.

As I mentioned in a prior blog, the one thing I’ve been fairly good about as a father is to pray for my kids, and as they get older and into high school and college, the prayers for a hedge of protection around them have become even more diligent. God has been very faithful to me to provide this protection for my kids; protection from Satan’s attempts to capture their hearts. I’m sure I don’t always recognize the ways he provides this protection, and most of the times when I realize it, it is long after the fact.

I will give you some examples of ways in which God has specifically answered my prayers for protection. He has placed many Christian men and women in their lives who have provided living examples of living for Christ. This includes teachers, principals, coaches, youth ministers, extended family members; I could list literally dozens of these people by name who have positively impacted the lives of my children, but I won’t, not because of the impossibility of the task, I know everyone says that, but because I fear a humble heart would break should I happen to miss one (some of that is a quote I adopted from a poem I memorized in high school, but true in this case). My wife likes to refer to these people as “living out loud” for Christ. No matter how many times parents tell kids the way they should live, as teens they tend to think their parents are nuts. However, when they see other adults living this life, for some reason they give it more credibility. I am thankful these people allow themselves to be used by God in this way.

Another way he has provided protection is by placing Christian friends in their lives. I cannot tell you how many times I have prayed for strong Christian friendships for my kids, and God has faithfully answered that prayer. In fact, I am very fervently praying that prayer right now, not only for my kids but for the youth of our church as a whole. I’ve seen it with my kids over and over again. They grow closer to the Lord the most, when they have a good strong Christian friend base. This allows them to “live out loud” for Christ, and when they are challenged or tempted, they have a foundation of friends they can rely on to stand beside them and support them.

The protection that Tina prays for probably more than I do, I learned it from her, is that if our kids have slipped into some kind of sinful lifestyle, that they will get caught. There have been times when God has answered this prayer faithfully as well, and though not as uplifting as the others, it is possibly more effective. It is much better for the kids to get caught before the sinful lifestyle gets too far out of control and does permanent damage to their life, and their witness for Christ. God is faithful and just to forgive our sins; sometimes we need to get “caught” in order to confess them.

I believe God has provided protection in so many more ways than I have listed here. Like Ananias in the days of Saul, I don’t recognize these answers to prayers right away. I do recognize the results though; kids who are able to live out loud for Christ without fear.