October Article

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her…   Ephesians 5:25

There were many things taken for granted when it came to our marriage. One man and one woman—us—focused upon coming together as husband and wife as the scriptures plainly state. We had great anticipation for the day, the hour, and the celebration it would be. There were preparations involving many people over the weeks and months. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event for us; we wanted it to be thoughtful, smooth, and Christ-honoring.

More to the point, in the lead-up to the day, there was no sense of “What if,” or “Is this the Lord’s plan?” We were confirmed in our hearts: we were designed completely for one another.

For you and me, it’s especially brilliant that the Lord compares our relationship with Him to that of marriage. He, the able bridegroom, providing for his bride to be perfected through an intimate relationship with Him. Us, dutifully following carefully His loving Words for us:

…so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:26-27)

So, it’s only fair to ask, how goes your preparations for the big day? Are you focused upon the Lord? Are you reading His love letter with the absolute resolve to obey? No dalliances with other wanna-be suitors, right? Your hand is claimed – be sure your heart is steadfast!

“Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.”    Revelation 19:7

September Article

Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Psalm 100:3

“I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me…” John 10:14

In As I Was Saying, I’ve written of my youth, including experiences caring for sheep. Not good. At all. Lessons then did prove useful to me later, in the season of raising children. I think there were somewhat better outcomes.

Pictures in the Word show God’s people as sheep, and the Lord Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It is spiritually detrimental to lose the meaning of these images. Phillip Keller, introducing his A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, notes that many have a deficit in understanding many biblical stories and illustrations, due to coming from an “urban, man-made environment.”

The benefit gained through learning of things rural and natural, is better understanding and closer application of His Word to our lives.

Rebellious, stubborn, defenseless, prone to wander… you can discover many things about the nature of sheep, and why the picture fits us so well.

Caring, protecting, leading, feeding, correcting… you begin to understand more of the heart of the “great Shepherd of the sheep” (Heb. 13:20).

We should not neglect regular, deep times in God’s Word. Tools to aid our biblical understanding need to be chosen with discernment: there is much dross among the gold.

…be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body. Ecclesiastes 12:12b 

One day we shall enter new pastures. We will stand before the One who has cared for us through this life, and into the life to come: The Shepherd and Guardian of our souls (1 Pe. 2:25).

August Article

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5

I’m writing from home, overlooking the garden. It’s a scaled-down thing this year—so much is pulling at time and shuffling priorities in this season.

I’m reflecting on a passage from John 15; the Lord gives an earthly picture of spiritual truths. Most of what He speaks, I have seen illustrated in this garden.

When a branch is removed, it goes on the burn pile. I’ve not seen much root itself, once cut off and tossed. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (:6)

If I want a good harvest, I need to trim back healthy plants. Showy foliage is worthless for filling my table. “…every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (:2b)

The branch separated from the parent-root is not destined for survival. Cut a strawberry runner too soon, and watch the inevitable result. “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” (:4)

There is joy in seeing mature plants produce a crop; to observe their responsiveness to your direct, purposeful  care. It’s also uplifting to hear that your work is good. “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” (:8)

May we all reflect over these words of our Lord, confirming His truth in His garden, where we abide under His loving care.