Don’t Throw Rocks

We were on our Annual Lower Illinois River Float Trip and it was Saturday morning. I had been trying to catch my first smallmouth bass and was having no luck. Before we headed home that day, Levi and I were fishing a pool of water hoping a smallmouth was feeling the hunger pangs of missed breakfast. Now, keep in  mind there were four of us total. Two of us had fishing poles and we were doing what we could to get fish. The third guy was scouring the shoreline looking for fish, and then there was the fourth guy. He was a bored teenager who had come down and decided he’d watched enough fishing for the day and now was seeking new opportunities. He found that new exciting venture with a “plop”. I looked over as he had picked up another rock and a moment later, another “plop”! After some instruction about “scared fish aren’t hungry fish” and a few more “plops”, he learned his lesson and we fished in peace.

I saw in retrospect how that same scene was a microcosm of life. There are those that are trying to do something positive and helpful. The guys trying to catch fish. I’ll call them the Doers. There are those that may not be able to do what others can, but they try to help the Doers. That was the third man helping us find new areas to fish. I’ll call them the Helpers. Then there are those that aren’t concerned about doing or helping, they only want to do whatever makes them happy that minute, regardless of the consequence to others. They are the rock throwers. I’ll call them the Obstructers.

In Romans 16:3 Paul said, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus:” When we think of Paul’s ministry, we think of it in terms of him alone, but in reality he had many Helpers. Without the team, the results would have been much less. I’d rather be a Doer personally, but the truth is we can’t all be Doers all the time. No one can do everything. We must realize that the role of Helper is at least as vital as the role of Doer, and at any time God will call upon us to do both. My challenge for you today is simple: Don’t be an Obstructer. Don’t hinder those who are doing something right. Don’t throw rocks.

I know this isn't a smallmouth, but he's all mine :)

I know this isn’t a smallmouth, but he’s all mine :)

Summertime Hail

On Friday night we expected a thunderstorm, what we got was a hail storm. When I think about the summer in Oklahoma, the word coming to mind is hot, not hail. With the fairly constant heat we get, ice falling from the sky lands in the “unexpected” category for me.

Hail is destructive. The hail from that night damaged everything from cars to plants around us, and when I went outside in the morning our garden at home looked more like a war zone then a vegetable stand (well, maybe if someone had knocked a vegetable stand over it would bear some likeness). When I went to the church that morning I saw that the May Night Salvias at church also hadn’t escaped the icy bullets.

I remember talking with the lady at Ace about those Salvias before I’d purchased them. I told her we needed something that was pretty, but extremely low maintenance. I still can hear her saying “These Salvias are drought proof, wind proof, can take full sun, etc” (she had me at drought proof). Since then her advice has proved gilded. Those plants have begun to spread out and grow up, and the lovely dark purple flowers add beauty to our front yard at church. The only watering they receive is from the sprinklers three times a week. They seemed bullet proof. Apparently they were, just not when the bullets have been turned to ice. Come to think of it, the lady at Ace never did mention “hail proof”. Our lovely Salvias now look quite sad. About all the leaves got stripped off and no flowers remain.

Don't they look sad

Don’t they look sad

When I looked closer I did find some good news. While the plant took quite a beating, the roots were still strong. After some reading I found that when plants suffer hail damage they usually come back, but something interesting happens. With those broken stems and stripped flowers, the plant focuses its energy on root development. In fact, quite often the plant is able to come back stronger next season because its roots are stronger then ever before!

Colossians 2:7 tells us that we are to be “Rooted and built up in him…” As a Christian sometimes we face things we couldn’t have seen coming. Sometimes circumstances cause scars and damage that we have to live with daily. During those summertime hail storms we must resist the tendency to look at the affects on our stems or leaves, and rather choose to focus on our “root development“. Focus on a greater dependency upon Christ. Focus on daily devotion and prayer time. Focus on the things that the storms cannot touch, our faith. Through time and God’s grace, we can be a testament that even a summertime hailstorm can make us stronger.

 

Pastor Corley

Cut it Down!

Cut it Down

As I left my house headed to the church this morning, I was greeted by the unwelcome sight you see above. A large section of the crown of the biggest tree in our yard was laying on the ground, resting on my Avalon. The problem is that while I was surprised to see all that wood change it’s location by about 20 feet south, I wasn’t actually surprised that it had fallen. I knew that tree was dead, and it’s been dead for over a year.

Perhaps lightning struck it during the storm last night, or, more likely, perhaps the dead branches just got tired of holding on and a breeze gave them all the excuse needed to come crashing down. Either way now I’ve got a lot of cleanup to do (in other news, if you’ve got a chainsaw and some free time you could be my new best friend). I tried all kinds of rationalizations to tell myself I didn’t need to get it removed. “Maybe the tree just needs a year to lay dormant before it comes back with a new zest for life?” “If I haul this off, I’d waste all that firewood!” “Even though there aren’t leaves there, the branches still provide some shade for the house, right?” In the end I knew that tree needed to come down, I just didn’t want to bother with it. There’s always other things to do.

The problem is that all too often we face the same dilemma in our Christian lives. We know there are things that God wants us to remove, we know they will make a big mess if we leave them, but we try to come up with all kinds of reasons why we don’t have to take care of them. In Mark 9:45 Jesus tells us, “And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:”.

I was surprised to find that Strong’s defines that word offend to mean “to entrap or trip up”. The Bible says if there is something in your life that is ensnaring you, cut it down! If it’s an addiction to alcohol, cut it down. If it’s a toxic relationship that is bringing you down, cut it down. If it’s a destructive habit you’ve developed, cut it down. If it’s a bitter spirit, cut it down. If it’s unforgiveness you are holding onto, cut it down.

We can make excuses all our lives, but the day will come when you step outside and the truth that you’ve been ignoring comes crashing down in front of you. The damage is always greater the longer the situation festers. Today you can see that dead tree in your life, cut it down!

-Pastor Corley