CULTIVATE

“Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?” Matthew 16:24-26.

I will never forget the day a gentleman wandered in my office well after services ended. I was preparing for an evening Bible Study and working on my papers for school when this gentleman came to my door and said, “I’m looking to attend a worship service.” It was well past 1:00 and the services were complete for the day. I gave him some information about our services and invited him to come next Sunday. With that he continued to walk into my office and sit down in a chair on the other side of my desk. He continued to share his story with me as if he knew me all his life. For over an hour this gentleman poured out his story to me, a complete stranger. A stranger that was willing to listen. I put my agenda and my plans for that moment on hold and was available to simply listen and invited him to share his heart.

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SOAKED

“You, God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water. 2 I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. 3 Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you.” Psalm 63:1-3.

Looking out the window at the falling rain it was evident that the rain was coming faster than the earth could take it in. Large puddles were forming on the ground and in the road. As the rain continued to pour the earth was being SOAKED to overflow. The puddles were now becoming streams flowing like a river.

When I was a child I remember wanting to play in the rain. There was nothing better on a hot summer day then to feel the cool drops of rain drip on your hot sticky skin. I remember running barefoot through the puddles to see who could make the biggest splash. My mother would encourage us to stay inside so we wouldn’t get wet. In fact she would say, “Don’t go out in the rain, you will get SOAKED.” As an adult I had to question what she meant by that. Her reply was, “When you get SOAKED you are wet to the bone.”

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WATERFALL

“Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me. 8 By day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me— a prayer to the God of my life.” Psalm 42:7-8 (NIV)

The first time I heard Chris Tomlin’s song Waterfall was at my son’s homecoming choir tour. I sat on the front pew with my dear friend and as soon as the first chorus was sung my eyes filled with massive tears that rolled down my cheeks and onto my lips. The tears were filled with so many emotions that had been settled around boulders of pain and suffering. The truth of God’s Word in Psalm 42:7-8 was like balm to my aching soul and the voices of the students broke the boulders free. Once the tears began streaming there was no way to hold them back. It was like a waterfall running unhindered and free, there wasn’t a tissue box big enough to capture the flood of tears. Everything that had been guarded was set free to flow. Some of the boulders I placed there to protect myself. Some of the boulders others placed there with false narratives and assumptions. Regardless, it was time for the boulders to be broken free and for the water to move again. Not only would the water move again it would flow like a waterfall, relentless, powerful and rushing with purpose.

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INVITED

“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.” Genesis 2:15

From the very beginning we learn the only expectation God had for Adam was to till and keep the Garden. Adam would need to soften the hard soil, remove the rocks and dig out the stumps. Adam’s connection with the Creator and the Creation would be to spend time preparing for growth and new life. The seed that would produce flowers for nectar, trees that would bear fruit, and greenery that would provide shade and refuge would come from God. However, Adam played a very important role in the garden alongside the Creator. Not only was Adam to till and prepare the soil he was to guard and keep the garden. Adam would need to invest daily to weeding, watering, and clearing the garden from weeds that would choke and destroy growth. Adam was to till and keep it. CULTIVATE!

Jesus explains further about what it means to CULTIVATE for the Kingdom of God in the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 13. As I read through that passage of scripture this morning I was reminded of the daily tilling and keeping in our walk with God. The garden of our soul. The tilling of anything that would prevent growth and new life in Christ. The rooting out of sin and insecurities. The tilling of deceit and hurt. Pulling the weeds of anger and hate. Preparing our soul for maximum growth! Keeping our soul free for Kingdom work.

It has been an overwhelming year for me personally and as I reflect on the last six months I am reminded of what it means to CULTIVATE our soul. The last few weeks people, that were complete strangers upon our meeting, came into my path to share their stories and the call on their lives to help others. These people have a deep-seeded passion to help others because of their personal experiences in the storms of great suffering and loss. They can personally reflect on the providential care of the Lord in the midst of their pain and they are bursting to share with others that are struggling to breathe. You see a beautiful Kingdom-vision ministry and community is being birthed out of extreme brokenness and pain. The soil that has been tilled and kept is preparing for growth and new life.

How is it with your soul?

What tilling needs to happen today to prepare your heart, mind, strength and soul for maximum growth in Christ?

How can you manage your time and guard your spirit with people and things that will CULTIVATE new life and bear fruit that honors and glorifies Christ alive and well in your soul?

How does your garden grow?

“Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly, and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.” Hebrews 6:7

Back to tilling and keeping!
Blessings and Love,
Pastor Sherri

STOP!

Every morning I get up and on my way to get coffee and I am greeted, at times, by a lady that holds a stop sign up so that school traffic can pass through more easily.  I couldn’t stand this at first.  Often I was in a hurry and I needed to get to where I was going.  Sometimes I would be in the back of the line and the line would start moving.  I would think I was going to get through, but the lady would hold up her STOP sign right in front of my car.  Uggghh!  It really bugged me…A LOT!

 

Now I love it.  In fact, I give her a friendly honk and she has the most beautiful smile that comes across her face.  I even play a game that I can get a certain distance and still honk my horn and watch her wave in my rear view mirror.  We don’t know each other’s name, but she knows my car and I know her STOP sign.

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A MIND

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”

I said to myself, “My mind is made up. It is going to be done the way I want it done and there is not going to be any other discussion!” This is a common phrase. You might have heard your parents say it. You might have said it to your own child or even to a spouse, friend or coworker. Amazing how our minds just get made up!

Peter’s mind did the same thing. It got made up. His mind was determined to not let Jesus fulfill what Jesus came to do…go to Jerusalem and die on a cross. He did it because he loved Jesus and didn’t want to see him die. Jesus is quick to rebuke him and tell him he has his mind set on the things of men and not on that of heaven.

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Zebulon

I remember worshiping with a group of pastors down in Zebulon.  Zebulon…what kind of name is that?  I mean who thinks to name their city that?  So I pondered it, thought about it, then of course, I GOOGLED IT!  I knew first off that it was one of the tribes of Israel, but I also found out that Zebulon is a Hebrew name and it means exalted and greatly honored.  Let me tie that back into my worship experience.

 

There I sat waiting for the meeting to begin and a praise band came out and the leader of the band said to us all, “Welcome, it is time for us to feed YOU!”  What he meant by that was that after all the work of the church is done, the people are ministered to, and all the rest, it was high time we got fed too!  You know something…I needed it.  It reminded me of something that I am constantly telling you…GOD LOVES YOU!  Then I started to think about Zebulon…exalted and greatly honored.  That is exactly what I felt like in worship last night.  I felt lifted up.  I felt honored.  I felt like God’s love and attention was focused on nothing but me…and you know something…IT WAS!

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