Pressed Roses

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33, ESV

This world is not our friend. And then we often face issues that create ugly things–  a fight with a spouse, poor choices, money problems– a lengthy list that seems that we’re always adding new entries. And as we each of us work through our tears, as we face sickness, loneliness, fear and misunderstanding.

In this world of woe and trouble, we discover that life is itself often brutal. Myself, I must deal with clinical depression, paranoia and physical pain. It is constant, a barrage of challenging things. Sometimes they swallow me up, and I lose my way.

I was thinking this morning, of a recent find in the pages of an old book– pressed rose petals! The book had been many years on the shelf. When I opened the book they I found them.  Typically, they are fairly well preserved. They still have color and shape. And most of all, they still have a fragrance.

I really don’t know what I’m supposed to do when this happens. Do I just “read” around them, or do I physically remove them? I almost feel that they are sacred or something. Do I find an old jar and store them? But no matter what I do, I always pause and think. Sometimes though, I can even remember the incident that they were given. An anniversary or a birthday maybe? Or sometimes they are given, “just because.”

Two distinct thoughts work in me. I look at the hard, hard things that I have had to process through my past, and present, and most likely, my future. I have to believe, from all that I have read and the preaching I have heard over the years that my pain gets turned into gold (or into roses!) This is exclusively a work of God. The second thought is a little bit harder to think through. But Jesus is the rose. He is the beauty and the fragrance of heaven come to earth.

There is an old fable kept by the believers of the first century; it was said that wherever Jesus stepped while on earth, roses would spring up in His footprints. This is only a legend of course, but that doesn’t mean that it is all false. Some of these stories have more truth in them than we think.

 

Coming to Him is such pleasant thing. It shouldn’t be an agonizing ordeal. It is not a painful or real sacrifice. After all, He is the rose. Roses are beautiful, they have a definite fragrance. There is a symmetry to them, and they are special, people will cultivate them for their beauty. Roses are never a hassle, for some reason we can never send or get too many.

“I am the rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.”

Songs 2:1, ESV

“A discipleship without flowers, probably isn’t worth having.”

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Instant Breakfast

“Always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.”

2 Cor. 4:10, ESV

Somebody has been pulling your leg!  There isn’t any provision added to your contract with the Father that releases you from “any pain or duress while acting as a disciple while in this dark world.”  This “rider clause” doesn’t work, it has no validity or legal precedent–it simply is not true.

Not everyone agrees with me on this point.  But becoming a saint is not an automatic or a painless process.  Discipleship is like being mashed until you are soft and gracious inside, and that my friend, takes a lot of time and tears, in equal proportions.  Painless Christianity and spontaneous sainthood is definitely fiction.  It is a lie, and a crooked one at that.

Just pour a little water on it, and presto-chango!  And stand back and watch it grow.

Perhaps our “hi-tech” culture gives us false expectations.  We have the microwave, high-def  TV, fast food places and the computer/internet (my fave.)  I guess that I’m trying to say is that we think that there is a corresponding effect into spiritual things.  But there isn’t.

Spiritual growth or discipleship is a definite growth process.  The incredible redwood forests of Northern California where all once tiny, vulnerable seeds.  But something happened!  They grew and grew.  It took centuries to attain their amazing heights.  We see them in the present, the “now” –and never what they used to be.

Unquestionably, the life-giving, Holy Spirit can accelerate growth.  But the standard set in the Word is more like “slow and steady.”  Even God’s favorites in scripture had periods of waiting and testing.  I suppose that’s where faith comes in to play. All too often we look for a formula when we should be seeking an obedience.  (But honestly, formulas are fun– and nice, and clean and quick.)

Formula-istic faith isn’t really real, we just insist that it has to be.  But the Father has different plans for raising his children.  No shortcuts or detours, we walk through the floods and then we take a lap (or two) through the fire (my theory, this is to dry us off after the floods, lol.)  Otherwise, he would have to write an apology to the martyrs that came before us.

But I beg, and plead for you, to accept the real terms of your discipleship.  You will only fool yourself if you think instant is better then real.  But to accept the foolish may seem to be faith to some; but to walk through the darkness with just a candle takes real faith.  I’m not a “palm reader,” but I predict you are going to face hard times and challenges that will “rock your world.”

“Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Derbe and won some people to the Lord. Then they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. 22 They encouraged the followers and begged them to remain faithful. They told them, “We have to suffer a lot before we can get into God’s kingdom.”

Acts 14:21-22, CEV

Wendy & MaryInstant Breakfast

Scare the Bullies: Psalms 86

14 O God, insolent men have risen up against me;
    a band of ruthless men seeks my life,
    and they do not set you before them.
15 But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me;
    give your strength to your servant,
    and save the son of your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign of your favor,
    that those who hate me may see and be put to shame
    because you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Ps. 86:14-17, ESV

This the last of three parts, and we should be impressed with its diversity. There are vista points here, where we can stop and wonder. I remember lounging in the California redwoods, just meandering and soaking it in. It basically undid me. And after awhile, I found it hard to speak. (Itself a minor miracle!)

But scripture can do this as well. When we really start looking, and praying, and meditating we start to appreciate all the Father has done for us. And it’s not just “deep thinkers,” who can do this.  Actually, deep thinking is a liability. It is the simple, the humble, the slow, those who have absurd patience– they are the ones who can do some serious reflecting. Children do it best I think.

Commentary

V. 14, is pretty much David’s reality. He is on Satan’s “hit list.” He has a “contract’ on his life. He must deal with this as he moves through his day. I can imagine that this could be quite corrosive and detrimental to your soul; your heart and your mind. He must have thought, ‘Can I really trust this person, does he have a dagger?’ I would have been a mess, twisted up with paranoia and fear.

V. 15, each word used in this verse is quite precise, each phrase carefully used. This is not David flattering God, it is not “boot-licking” mush. Rather, this verse is an accurate portrayal of the Lord God’s character. It is David’s appraisal of how he has experienced God, the things he has found out about Him. David has a long history with the Father, and he reminds himself of how good God really was.

V. 16, in this verse we see David appealing to God on the basis of relationship. Also, David speaks of a kind of “future grace.” Yes, good things have happened in his life, God things. But that isn’t enough for the present moment, and the future. David needs freshness, a grace tailored just for today, custom built.

David’s source for his survival is in God’s cupboards. He knows this, and boldly steps up and asks for it. Interestingly David doesn’t come as an anointed king, having a majestic aura. When he refers to himself, it is as ”the son of your maidservant.”

V. 17, “The Message” Bible is interesting in how it translates this particular verse:

“Make a show of how much you love me 
      so the bullies who hate me will stand there slack-jawed, 
   As you, God, gently and powerfully 
      put me back on my feet.”

ybic, Bryan

kyrie elesion. (Lord, have mercy.)

_________________

I wrote this on Feb. 21, 2012 and it was posted on my second website, “Psalmslife.com.” If you happen to like this kind of teaching, there is a “whole boatload” on that site, 70-80 posts just on the Psalms. I would be honored if you would check it out.  –B.