Monday, June 29, 2015

Like a Flower in the Field

The blooms of a China Rose tree are beautiful, but they don't last long.
Spring is beautiful. Each day, as spring takes hold, we can see buds swelling, tender green leaves emerging, and with each sprinkle of spring rain, an aroma sweeter than the finest French perfume. It is a season of new beginnings and abundant promise.

We know from watching spring after spring over the course of many years, this tender season will soon give way to summer, summer will wind down into autumn, and once again, a blanket of snow will cover what was once green.

The turning of the seasons is a perfect picture of both the brevity and the sweetness of our lives here on this earth.

As the Scriptures say, "People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades." (1 Peter 1:24 NLT)

The China Rose tree is one of the first shrubs to bloom each spring. When it blooms, it is literally covered with delicate, crepe-like pink blossoms. The flowers only last a few days, but what glorious days they are! Once the shrub is done blooming, there is nothing to recommend it in the landscape - no interesting shape or attractive foliage. In fact, it is a shrub that goes unnoticed if it is not blooming.

One spring day several years ago, as I was driving to church, I noticed a China Rose shrub in full bloom - a glorious symphony of delicate pink. The next time I drove past, less than a week later, it was plain green. The beautiful blossoms had already dropped to the ground.

Is a flower any less beautiful because it is perishable? Certainly not - in fact, if anything, it is more beautiful, more amazing, and more appreciated.

I remember well both of my grandmothers, steadfast, faithful women of God. When I was young, it seemed as if they had lived, and would live, forever. While they will certainly live forever - it is not on this earth. They are now gone and their memory is precious - like petals of a China Rose tree.

Do you ever wonder what you will leave behind? When you are only a memory on this earth? With all my heart, I want to do something that counts, something that makes a difference.

At the same time, I know that God has made me for a unique purpose. I can only be what He has made me to be. Anything that I try to be beyond that can only amount to nothing. To be fully alive in Him, fulfilling His purpose for my life, is everything.

If that means one glorious day of being in full bloom - so be it. May I bloom happily for a day.

There is an old saying, "bloom where you are planted." How often have you felt that you wanted to bloom somewhere else? That you were a different kind of plant, entirely? From our physical appearance to our finances, our career or whatever situation we may find ourselves in, we usually want something else.

Paul said, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." (1 Timothy 6:6 NIV)

Oh that we may be content, to bloom for a single day like the China Rose tree, to simply be what God has intended for us, and in that surrender to bloom our hearts out - even as we know we are perishing, our bloom is fading, and with it, all the glorious beauty, that we have come to know.

There is a daily living and dying that holds us tightly in its grip. The eternal sings in our hearts while mortality nips at our feet. "While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life." (2 Corinthians 5:4 NLT)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Poem for Bikers

There's no better way to view the beauty of God's creation
than from the seat of a motorcycle.
At Bethel Assembly's first Blessing of the Bikes, Canadian biker Keith Braun shared an original poem, "This Biking Life." Enjoy.

As we cruise along for just the ride
Down roads alone or with friends beside
Basking in the sun and breeze
The filtered light through all Your trees
Help us Lord to understand
While we travel here across Your land
That we’re also here at Your command.

On broad avenues or down winding lanes
The rumble of engines like distant trains
The sound and wind that lullaby
The ride and bring that biker’s high
Create for me a two-wheeled hymn
Keeping soul and mind in trim
And showing me that it’s from Him.

All this world’s made at Your pleasure
For all Your creatures in equal measure
Help us then as we cross Your realm 
To keep You firmly at the helm
Of our two-wheeled chariots on the road
Remind us Lord that which You told
That in serving You we shall be bold.

Your Son’s command, before He went
Was that we should be willing to be sent
As you go, share what you know
Giving to others as you grow
Sharing the truth that our God is here
On the winding road, free from fear
Knowing You long to hold us near.

On through the curves we love to glide 
And up across that next divide
Soaring through the sun-drenched day
Wishing all the same could stay
Riding with brothers and sisters too
Who love You just the way we do
Knowing that You are forever true.

Help me Father to share Your light
With those You bring into my sight
Help them to see Your love and grace
With which You meet us face to face
Show me along the road today
Some friend, and tell me what to say
To share Your love in a healing way.

May Your light shining through the trees
Again help to bring us to our knees
And in visiting this great creation
Keep us yet in adoration
In thankfulness for all You’ve done
For sending us Your only Son
And for Your Spirit who makes us one.

By Keith Braun

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