Green Thumb to the Rescue
Out of my head
“Why do I have to respect people who don’t respect me?”
A Lesson from the NBA Finals
Epic Proportions

Green Thumb to the Rescue

My mother is the person with the green thumb in our family. Most of the time, I manage to keep a plant alive, but I can never save one once it decides it wants to die. However, mom can.

Junior year of college, mom and I went shopping and I decided to buy my second favorite plant to put in a pot outside my dorm room – the bleeding heart plant. Ever since my childhood, I have been fascinated by the intricate flowers that bloom into hearts and which, over time, sprout little flowers that give the appearance of bleeding.

I kept it alive all semester. But the day we moved out, one of my roommates hit it with her suitcase. The base stem cracked in half and plant juice oozed from it. Within a day, the whole plant turned brown. So I took it to Dr. Mom, Plant Rescuer. After spending the summer in ICU on her back patio, the plant sprang back to life. It grew to twice its size and beauty since being with her.

We all have moments, maybe even days and weeks that we feel crushed beyond repair. All it takes is one blow for us to turn brown and quit thriving.

There is a point in the book of Hosea in which God has finished listing the graphic way in which He is going to destroy the wickedness In Israel. At the end, He tells them, “…you have no help but Me” (Hosea 13:9). Other translations phrase it as a question, such as, “At your destruction, Israel, who will help you?” Israel knows that no one but God Himself is mighty enough to prevent the destruction which God is planning.

We have to learn to turn to God in these times of crisis. If we’re crushed because of our own sin, then we must first turn away from it and then turn to God.

The Lord is faithful. Hosea 13:14 reads, “I will ransom them from the power of Sheol, I will redeem them from death. Death, where are you barbs? Sheol, where is your sting?”

God is powerful over the death in our lives. When we seek Him and obey His commands, then He will heal us – not so that we will return to our former life – but so that we may live with greater joy.

Out of my head

After my junior year in college, I spent the summer with a friend and a missionary couple in Singapore. My friend and I were hoping to experience missions in a setting completely different than the one we live in, so, of course, we picked the exact opposite side of the globe.
As we lived in Singapore, we had the priviledge of serving God alongside some Australians. We knew that America was quite literally on the other side of the world compared to Singapore. But it wasn’t until our Australians friends pointed out to us that had we continued to travel any further away from the United States, we would actually be returning to it.
Isn’t that the way? It’s like the one thing we are running from suddenly becomes the one thing we are running toward. 
InYann Martel’s novel, Life of Pi, the main character Piscine is introduced to Jesus and to Christianity. Afterwards, he expresses:
I couldn’t get Him out of my head. Still can’t. I spent three solid days thinking about Him. The more He bothered me, the less I could forget Him. And the more I learned about Him, the less I wanted to leave Him.”
I teach a middle school girl’s Sunday school class. My coteacher and I have told them that it’s okay if they don’t understand everything about Jesus. In fact, isn’t it better that we, mere humans, cannot comprehend a God who loves us so much that He would suffer in order for us to be in a right relationship with Him?
That kind of love is hard to shake from your brain. The more I learn, the more I want to learn.

“Why do I have to respect people who don’t respect me?”

Stories possess a power of persuasion that direct answers struggle to convey. In 2 Samuel 12, Nathan tells David a story in order to cause David to admit his sin.

This past Sunday, one of the seventh grade girls in our Sunday School class repeatedly argued that she only has to respect the people who give her respect first.

Rather than confront the issue head on, I told her this story.

“Union University held cheer camp last week. Two of my coworkers brought their daughters. One is five and one is four. When cheer camp ended at lunch, these girls would spend the rest of the day in our office. Their parents let them stay in a back office together under one restriction – that the only reason they could leave that room was to go to the bathroom.

But before long, the four-year-old would sneak out of the room and crawl up to the secretaries. She would giggle and laugh and try to talk with them as they were on the phone. Then the five-year old would follow and roll on the floor with the younger girl. Both were promptly sent back by one of the mothers; they were in big trouble. The four-year-old cried because she knew she had been bad. The five-year-old cried, not because she knew she had disobeyed, but because, as she said, it was “unfair.” After all, the other girl had left first; she was merely following.”

So I turned to our seventh grader and asked, “Which of the girls obeyed the rules?”

“Neither.” She replied.

“Should the five-year old have been punished, even though she was just following the four-year-old?” I asked.

“Of course. She was told to stay in the room and she left.”

“How does this apply to our conversation about respect?”

She sighed, “I get it. Okay? I have to be responsible for me.”

Our obedience is not contigent upon other people’s obedience. When God tells us  to obey, He expects us to obey even if everyone around us is doing the opposite.

A Lesson from the NBA Finals

My husband Kevin came home exhausted yesterday. He stayed late at work preparing for a large fundraising event planned for today. It seemed like nothing was falling into place easily.

So I sent him a text this morning:

You need to harness your inner Durant. No matter who fouls you or what is happening in the game you need to stay calm. After all, everyone is watching.

I’ve never watched the NBA Finals before. I’ve barely even watched NBA regular season games. When the announcers said, “Serge Ibaka,” I honestly thought they had said, “Sir Chubaka.” But one thing that I have noticed during these first four Finals games is that Kevin Durant is incredibly even-tempered on the court. In an interview, Durant said that he carries his Bible in his backpack.

It’s refreshing to see a good example of sportsmanship. And it’s encouraging to see Christians acting like people who love Christ.

I don’t have 6+ feet men intentionally fouling me on the basketball court. But I do have times when I feel like I have been acted against unfairly. It’s easy to become defensive and react out of selfishness rather than  love. But that’s what I’m called to do as a Chrisitian – to love my neighbor as myself. I, too, needed a reminder of how to handle myself in tough times.

Epic Proportions

“Prepare to meet your doom!” When I hear that sentence, I think of epic superhero movies, once the underdog has found his or her inspiration and is deteremined to win. I also think of my days playing video games, knowing that once my brother could make such a statement, it would soon be “game over” for me.

But get this: Amos used the same phrase in warning Israel to turn from her evil ways. Amos 4:12b-13 says,

“Israel, prepare to meet your God! He is here: the One who makes the dawn out of darkness and strides on the heights of the earth. Yahweh, the God of Hosts is His name.”

God is here. Not only does He turn dark into light, nothing into mountains, He care about us. Look again. He reveals His thoughts to us. God is not some unknowable entity. He wants to be known – no, more than that – He wants us to know Him. God is not some arrogant punk with His nose in the air. This is the same God who revealed Himself to us in the form of His son, Jesus the Christ. Jesus came to earth, lived, let Himself be executed, conquered death and rose – for us.

Our God is powerful! Who are we to argue with this God? Who are we to keep sinning against Him?

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