Monday, September 30, 2013

It's That Time of Year...

One of our members, Jim Monroe, once gave me an excellent piece of advice on how to have a plush green lawn. He said, ‘I only know two things about grass seed.  It won’t grow if it is still in the bag and it needs water.”  

 Well, it is that time of the year when many folks are plugging or aerating their yards, spreading grass seed, and clothing it with a thin layer of straw, all in the hopes of having a great lawn come spring.  Growth never happens overnight.   It takes time and care and patience.
I’ve thought about what Jim shared and think it applies to most of life:  “It won’t grow if it’s still in the bag and it needs water. “  Jesus said the same sort of thing about seeds and life and growth.  The sower has to sow them; they won’t grow in the bag.   Children and youth, and all of us, won’t learn the Bible and grow if we are not in Sunday school or attending a Bible Study.  We won’t worship God if we’re not in worship.  We won’t experience the warmth of Christian fellowship if we don’t participate in all the wonderful ministries like Mustard Seed Groups and Circles, Youth Fellowship, Senior Link and the other myriad choices.   Like grass seed, we won’t sprout and grow and come to life if we stay in the bag.

And then comes the water.   Now, to be honest, I am jealous of my neighbors who have sprinkler systems that automatically water their lawn.   I have to lug out the hose and sprinkler and keep moving it around.   Most of the time I just leave it up to the good Lord to water my lawn.  

I think it happens a lot like that in church.   We lean on the goodness of each other, and especially the work of the Holy Spirit to quench our thirst; we let God do the watering.   No wonder Jesus talked about “living water” that comes from Him and Him alone.

Yep, Jim was right.  “It won’t grow if it is still in the bag, and it needs water.”   Same with us.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Oh, the Good Old College Days!

One of the books on my summer reading list was Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz.   It was made into a movie, but was a box office bust.   I am not a movie critic, but in my humble opinion I would not rent the movie at Red Box for even a dollar. The movie was nothing like the novel.

The story is an intriguing one that gives you a peek into the complex admissions process at Princeton University.   Like a lot of great universities, Princeton has a huge treasure chest of talented and superbly qualified applicants hoping to be in the next freshman class.   It is a tough task discerning who gets in and who gets the thin envelope.

Since Corrine and I lived in Princeton for three years, I was familiar with a lot of the local color in the book, like the little out-of-the-way hoagie shop on Witherspoon Street where the sandwiches will make you feel like you are dining in heaven.  Or the Small World coffee shop that will give Starbucks a run for their money, and where on any given day you might bump into John Nash, the Nobel Laureate winner profiled in A Beautiful Mind.

I think every town has wonderful little spots that are known only to the locals.  It’s where you find the best food in town, without prices that will melt the plastic off your credit card.  Every college town especially has places like these, and they become a part of our lives.

 I think about our college students, especially our freshmen, who are now starting to feel more confident and able to find their way around campus without looking at a map.  I hope they have found the right friends and are getting a feel for their classes.   I hope they miss home, but not too much.  I hope they are enjoying all of the wonderful fall festivities that come alive on a college campus.   I hope they know how much they are loved.  I hope they know we miss them.

More than anything, I hope you will join with me in praying for our college students.   It does not matter where they were admitted; they all need our prayers.   It’s not always smooth sailing at school, so a little spiritual support goes a long way.  

Anyone up for joining me in praying for our college youth?

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunset at Montmajour

I was fascinated to read  that “the Van Gogh Museum says it has identified a long-lost Vincent Van Gogh painting that spend  125 years in a Norwegian attic because it was thought not to be authentic." Makes me wonder what’s in my attic!
The painting, “Sunset at Montajour”  is of a dry landscape of oak trees, bushes and sky with the classic thick brush stokes that only Van Gogh seemed to perfect. They have been able to pin point the exact day it was painted, because Van Gogh described the painting, which he had done the previous day, in a letter to his brother, Theo.  
What caught my interest, was that Vincent expressed in two different letters that he considered his painting of “Sunset at Montajour” a failure. In fact, he felt the same way about one of his most famous paintings, “Starry Night”. I had to chance to see “Starry Night” when we visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. It will take your breath away. Can you imagine thinking it was a failure?
You could spend a life time trying to figure out all of the complexities of Vincent Van Gogh, far too many for me to explore. But I wonder  about the powerful sense of failure  inside of him that seemed to be the canvas on which he painted his life. He painted approximately 900 paintings in his lifetime, but only sold ONE during his life time. I find that unbelievable, but also amazing. He kept on painting when no one else seemed interested  or cared about his art.

 It takes a real passion to do what you love , especially  when the rest of the world passes you by without a glance of recognition. I admire individuals who follow their passions. For Van Gogh, It was painting. What’s yours?


Friday, September 6, 2013


A special thank you to all the summer guest bloggers who filled in for me. Their blogs were so well written and interesting. They have raised the blog bar!

Hope you had a chance this summer to enjoy some well-earned rest and relaxation.   Corrine and I, along with our daughter, Sarah, had two great getaways.  We went to the mountains for a few days and enjoyed the majesty of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  There is something mysterious and serene about the mountains that cannot be explained, only experienced.  One night, there was an amazing thunderstorm that lit up the sky as the lightning danced in the moonlight across the mountain peaks.  The best way to experience a thunderstorm is atop the clouds in the Blue Ridge Mountains.   Anyone else make it to the mountains this summer?

A week later, we headed south to our favorite spot at Litchfield beach.  As I have mentioned before, my time at the beach is defined by reading a few books, soaking up the mesmerizing rhythm of the ocean waves, and trying out new cooking recipes.  A great combination to refresh the mind and soul.  

A couple of years ago we reconnected with Corrine’s college roommate who lives in the Litchfield area and is a turtle volunteer.   I think the name of the organization she is involved with is South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts, or SCUTE.  Each day at 6 a.m., from June to October, Norma walks a three mile stretch keeping watch for baby Loggerhead turtle nests.

Each morning she looks for turtle tracks that will lead her to a nest.  She checks on the nest each day, where the mother has laid between 80-120 eggs,  until that special night when the tiny turtles emerge, chasing the moonlight into the sea. They follow the light that takes them to the place they were destined to enjoy.   A few of them get confused, and that is when Norma and the other volunteers gently pick them up and point them towards the light that leads to life.

Sometimes even we humans need a helping hand to show us the light that leads towards being all that we are created to be as a child of God.   I am grateful for folks like Norma who help turtles follow thelight, and I am grateful for the people in my life who point me in the right direction, check to make sure I am OK, and let me see the light.   And as we start a new fall season, I thank God for all the wonderful volunteers we have at Sardis, who let the light of Jesus Christ shine for all of us to see.