8/27/08

Tenacious Temptation

I had no idea how persistent Morning Glories are! We planted a couple of vines on our side fence a few years ago, and they now cover the entire length of the fence. I thought the plants were dying in cold weather last year, but no-o-o-o-o! It’s back full force and then some! When I rip out vines that dare to curl around our rose bushes and jasmine, they grow back with a vengeance.

Here in California’s early summer sun, our vines are quickly covered with funnel-shaped pinkish purple flowers. Other Morning Glory versions sport blue, white, red, and even yellow blooms. The lovely Blue Dawn Flower (Ipomoea indica) is a South American beauty that can produce 60,000 flowers at the rate of 300 per day. Yikes!


As I was clipping back the vines today, I thought about how tenacious Morning Glories are. They are beautiful, but sometimes they drive me crazy with their persistent growth. They invade other areas of the garden, and under the lovely surface of the vines, there is a tangle of dead leaves and debris.


How like temptation, I thought. It is unrelenting and tenacious, always trying to wrap itself around my heart, if I let it go unchecked. When I think that I’m safe from temptation, that’s the time to beware. The lusts of temptation may be beautiful, but underneath, there is “deadness” (James 1:15). I have to be aware and always guard my heart (Proverbs 4:23). If I’m wise, I will not give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). If I don’t want sin to take over my life, I have to “tear down the vines of temptation.”

8/20/08

S t r e t c h Your Memory

Mnemonics help us recall information, and you’ve probably used some for most of your life. The most familiar is the rhyme to remember how many days are in each month. It begins: “30 days have September, April, June, and November.” Mnemonics might be rhymes, odd sentences, or bizarre images—all designed to jog our brain cells.

Want to remember the seven deadly sins? Remember WASPLEG: Wrath, Avarice, Sloth, Pride, Lust, Envy, and Gluttony. The five American Great Lakes? Remember HOMES: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior. There are mnemonics to remember biological classification, the planets, the ruling houses of England, even math tangents and sines!

Memorization is tough work; no doubt about it. Memorizing God’s Word is a choice, because almost no one wants to take the time and effort these days. This summer, I’ve encouraged the ladies in my Sunday school class to memorize scriptures that will help and encourage them. It’s just been a starter course, to help them see the importance of memorization and even the fun of doing it with partners. The ladies acted out the verses—sometimes with hilarious ways to remember phrases. I encouraged them to review with “code,” writing down the first letter of each word in the verse to see if they could remember the verse, and then eliminating some of the letters. I asked them to sketch out the verse on paper, and share their creations with the class. The point is, there are many ways to memorize, and I want “my ladies” to stretch their memory.

Even if they don’t memorize perfectly, I pray that they will never forget the truth they learned while studying and from the devotionals prior to our fun sessions. I’ve asked God to stretch the ladies’ hearts as they “store up” the treasure of God’s Word (Psalm 119:11, ESV).

8/13/08

Mindless Activity

Bailey, my high-octane Jack Russell Terrier, loves to give in to the urge to dig up a shovel (which we continually bury to keep him entertained). It’s an old farmer’s shovel with a long handle. Bailey loves it, licks the metal part, and sometimes carries it around the yard, whining the whole time, until we go to the side yard to bury the shovel head so he can “dig it up” again.


It makes no sense to me. Why do the same thing over and over again when there is no real reward? It seems like such mindless activity—a total waste of time. (Actually, to Bailey, digging it up is the reward. It is his “work” for the day, and he never tires of the shovel exercise. But don’t let me lose the analogy here.)

I used to have a mindless activity of my own. I’d do the same thing over and over again when there was no real reward. It was a total waste of time. I’m talking about television. It’s not that I don’t watch TV anymore, but I sure am a lot more discerning about what I watch, and I certainly don’t waste hour after hour.

What made the difference? Two things. First, the older I get, the more I tend to think in terms of eternity. What will count? What will last? What will make a difference? Second, the more I grab hold of the passion of my life—which is to reach women of all ages to help them make wiser, more godly choices—the less time I have for mindless activities.

If you will make the choice to pursue your calling from God with passion and discipline, it will automatically change your activities.

8/6/08

Kaleidoscope

One of my favorite toys as a five-year-old was a kaleidoscope. I loved to twist the end of the tube and watch the colored glass or stones “fall” into beautiful designs. Sir David Brewster patented the kaleidoscope in 1815, but it was actually a creation of the ancient Greeks. Originally intended to be a tool for scientific study, it was quickly turned into a toy.

In some ways, each one of our lives is an ever-changing kaleidoscope. We might have questioned God when the pieces of our lives “fell” into circumstances we didn’t anticipate, but in retrospect we can often see how God blended every unconnected piece into a beautiful pattern. God knows what He’s doing. It is our choice to trust the Designer and His purposes in choosing us.

I read some words by John MacArthur recently about a kaleidoscope. “One that I looked at recently had colored rocks in the end of it, and as I held it up toward the light and turned the end, all kinds of different forms and shapes appeared. But it was always the same rocks, just arranged, magnified, and displayed in different ways ... 1 Peter 2:4-10 speaks of Christ, the living Stone—rejected by men, but chosen by God and precious to Him. To those of us who believe on Christ, we also find that the ‘stone is precious.’ In the kaleidoscope of this truth, we also resemble ‘living stones.’ We are ‘a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.’ The many colorful facets of our position in Christ are truly beautiful and awesome, and they are only seen when we are held up to the light of Christ. It is from the Living Stone, Jesus, that we receive every spiritual privilege.”