Monthly Archives: August 2014

The Hawk of Heaven and the Bush Hog

imagesBush hogging helps me clear my head (no—that’s not hunting wild hogs in the bush). It’s a farm implement one hooks to a tractor and mows the grass, weeds, or bushes that have gotten a bit out of hand. This week I climbed aboard my Ford 2600 tractor, set the height I wanted to cut, engaged the power take off, and off I went. For the next several hours it was just me, the tractor, and the field I was cutting. I had plenty of time to chill out and think even though the temperature was hovering close to one hundred degrees.

God often speaks to me during times like this from his creation. As I was grinding the imagesweeds into mulch, a rather large field mouse was forced out of his liar in the weeds and headed for a safer place. I didn’t think much about it until I made a round and headed back. Then out of nowhere I saw a reddish copper blur descending at breakneck speed toward the ground where the field mouse had fled. It was a rather large red-tailed hawk. In a blink of the eye, the hawk and his field mouse filet were headed for a private meal in a dining room in one of the pine trees that surround the field. It all happened in a matter of a few seconds.

imagesLater that afternoon, I flushed another large rodent out of his cozy condo in the underbrush and the very same thing happened—table for one and a free range mouse steak served rare off the grill in Chez Pine Tree. This hawk was racking up and waiting for me to set him up with the prime cuts.

As I pondered my contribution to the decimation of the of the field mouse population, I began to hear God’s unmistakable voice in my spirit. I had been witnessing far more than a lesson in nature’s food chain; I had been witnessing a picture with tremendous spiritual meaning. Let me show you what I mean.

Every person is like a garden or a field that must be tended or maintained very carefully. If we neglect that care—if we are inattentive to God—if we are careless and allow sin to take root—spiritual weeds start to grow. And if left untended for very long a fruitful garden or field can soon become overrun and turned into an overgrown jungle.

Weeds attract vermin like rats and field mice and allow them the cover to feed and breed without too much fear in the natural. Spiritual weeds also attract vermin of the demonic nature, and that undergrowth allows them to hide and carry out their work undetected. A little neglect, spiritually speaking, can quickly produce bondage in many different areas without a person even knowing it.

The only thing that gets rid of these spiritual weeds is confession and repentance—a high powered bush hog guided by you or me. Confession and repentance is our responsibility. Every so often, all us need to climb up on the tractor of prayer and unleash the bush hog on the weeds that have taken root in our own garden spot. (Stay out of your neighbor’s field—that’s his responsibility alone.)

“What about the hawk?” you might be thinking. “Where does he fit in all this?”

Oh, he’s there. Whenever we confess and repent, the enemy has no place to hide—no ground from which he can launch his attacks. He has to run, and when he does, the Hawk of heaven—the Holy Spirit—attacks with his talons bared and the enemy is no more. Gone in the blink of an eye.

What about your garden or field? Is it neatly manicured and mowed, or filled with underbrush and weeds? The Hawk of heaven is there—there high above your field…waiting. Why not crank the tractor and put the bush hog in gear?

The Tea Party: Take Two

Several years ago I shared my disastrous experience as a guest at an imaginary tea party hosted by my granddaughter who was then four years old. Audrey became exasperated because of her Papa’s loud slurping of the make-believe tea and his refusal to hold his cup with pinky finger extended. She promptly banished me from what she obviously considered the social event of the season in Helena, Alabama.

Time (three years to be exact) has a way of healing those egregious lapses of etiquette and social graces. A few days ago, while visiting her at her new digs just outside Little Rock, Arkansas; I was once again invited to a tea party. This time I decided to do whatever it took (within reason) to be a humble and courteous guest. I feared if I were asked to leave this fantasy function I would be black-balled forever from the elite society my granddaughter rubs moves in.

The guest list was rather short, but it included Big Al and me. Big Al is a stuffed elephant (the mascot for the University of Alabama—Audrey has particularly good taste in football teams). The only things we two had in common were we were both male, a little overweight, and obviously not in charge. Audrey, our “hostess with the most-ess,” seated us in imaginary chairs at an equally imaginary table, which in reality turned out to be the floor. This was not an issue for Big Al, who is only a foot high and weighs only a few ounces, but it was a bit uncomfortable for me since I weigh quite a bit more.

imagesOur hostess went over to her closet and took out the perfectly manicured box that holds the sacred miniature china tea set and lace table cloth, and proceeded to give both of us very detailed instructions of what each piece represented and how it would be used. Amazingly, the description sounded exactly like the one her Tats (Cathy) had given her the first time they hosted one of these events together.

I kept quiet fearing I might mess up and be asked to summarily leave. I just could not stand the public embarrassment of being thrown out of such a high society event being held in the suburbs of the capital of Arkansas. If that happened I would never be able to live it down, so I chose to let Big Al be the center of attention.

After the cups and saucers were carefully placed before us, Audrey began pouring the make-believe tea hot from her dainty little china tea pot. From time to time, she would refill the pot from one of the handles on her dresser which she claimed was the steamer. In a matter of moments this bedroom in Arkansas turned into a scene from Alice in Wonderland.

“How many sugar cubes would you like in your tea?” asked Audrey. The last time I was faced with this question I asked for far too many and was verbally given a public rebuke. Timidly I requested one—to which our host responded, “Why not take five!” My! My! Things have changed in three short years. So I said, “Five it is—fill her up!”

Things were going so well. We were laughing, sipping our tea (with pinkies extended—all except Big Al who has no pinkies), and snacking on make-believe chocolate chip cookies. When all of a sudden, Big Al put his trunk into the tea cup and began blowing bubbles. I will always believe this happened due to the sugar induced high he got from the five imaginary sugar cubes that were put in his drink. All of sudden Big Al became the life of the party blowing tea out his trunk like a water fountain.

Audrey was mortified (after she giggled so hard she fell backward, but she quickly regained her composure) and promptly began lecturing Al on the finer points of etiquette concerning tea cups, black currant tea, cookies and elephant trunks. Big Al took a beat down for his indiscretion, but his facial expression never changed—he kept his poker face. After all, he is what many would call a “party animal,” and he was certainly the life of this upper crust shindig.

Eventually the pretend party came to a close. We all hugged and made plans to do it again. Audrey packed up the tea set and carefully put it away. Big Al made his way back to “T-town,” with a designated driver due to the sugar- induced coma he was struggling with. And I—I savored the memory of a moment I will never forget and silently rejoiced in my somewhat temporary acceptance back into the high society circles that my glamorous little socialite granddaughter travels in.

Moments like these are too few and far between. They are fleeting and are usually missed by most of us because we are too busy—too involved with things that really don’t matter in the long run.

What’s more important—imagination or reality?

For me—it’s an instant spent looking at the world through the eyes of a child.

Is it make-believe?

Perhaps—but in those transitory moments at the tea party imagination became reality.

By the way, I learned a valuable lesson in case I receive another invitation to tea party—real or imaginary. Whatever you do, never, never put your trunk in the tea cup. It is considered rude and atrocious behavior by the citizens of Wonderland.

No Plan B: Discovering God’s Blueprint for Your Life (Part 1)

What if you discover that you are working the wrong plan for your life and failure is imminent?

What if the very plan you are working so hard to achieve doesn’t really exist and has never existed as an option in the mind of God?

What if you were to discover there is no Plan B?

What if you are working off the wrong set of blueprints—yours instead of God’s?

The answers to these questions could be staggering if you are willing take a moment and consider their implications. All of us have been taught from birth to plan for the unexpected—to prepare just in case things don’t work out. In reality, we been taught to formulate an escape plan or another option, and call it Plan B.

God has a blueprint for your life. He only has one plan—Plan A. He does not need another option, thus he has no Plan B. He has one plan for all humanity. All of us were created to enjoy Plan A.

What is Plan A?

Good question and one that is worthy of consideration.

Plan A provides the following for every person who has ever lived:

  • A relationship with God.
  • An identity from God.
  • A purpose in God.

Plan A is the blueprint God offered to Adam—the very same deal. But Adam rejected it and fumbled it away. The possibilities that were set before Adam were mind-boggling, but they are the very same ones guaranteed to each of us in Christ.

It gets even better because these possibilities are available right now, not some up-and-coming day in the by-and-by way up yonder in the sky. They can be accessed by any believer who understands his or her identity and believes that God will fulfill all that he has promised.

Do you know who you are in Christ?

Do you understand the implications of your identity as a son or daughter of God and a joint heir with Christ?

Would you recognize God’s Plan A for you if you were to see it?

All of these questions need an answer. And their answers could change the trajectory your life.

It’s your life, but you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by finding and implementing the correct answers. You only have one life to live, why not live it according to God’s plan and purpose?

 

(Nelson’s newest book No Plan B: Discovering God’s Blueprint for Your Life released on August 15. It can be ordered at http://www.amazon.com/No-Plan-Discovering-Blueprint-foreword/dp/1939023343/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1407788387&sr=1-2&keywords=No+Plan+B).

Riding Life’s Waves

Surfing a gigantic wave intrigues me, although I have no desire to try it under any circumstances. Yet I love to watch the experts—world class surfers—ride those monster waves. Those massive waves are a rich metaphor for life. When it comes to the waves of life, we are either surfing on the edge or swamped in the depths. There are no other options. Like the surfer, all of us are riding the energy of the chaos beneath us.

God created us to live life, not life to live us. That’s why he offers us eternal life along with abundant life. We were made to ride the waves of life, not drown in its churning murky depths. But staying on top of the board requires skills developed through the proficiency of practice. In other words, we don’t give up when we fall or fail, we get back up on the board and ride some more.

Have you ever been smashed by life? Has your life ever been turned upside down in the blink of an eye? Have you ever watched the plans you so carefully made disintegrate and disappear beneath that churning green water we call life.

All of us have. No one is immune to trouble, trials, or tribulation. All three are equal opportunity employers. Not one of us is exempt.

Where do these trials come from? The easy answer for many would be God, but not everything that happens is God’s fault or will. Trials have at least four sources:

 

  • Trials are the result of our own dumb, disobedient, or dangerous decisions.
  • Trials are the result of someone else’s bad decisions.
  • Trials are the result of the devil’s attack.
  • Trials are the result of God’s desire to teach us to ride bigger waves.

 

Our responsibility is to respond, not react, to trials otherwise we can become swamped by the waves of life. So how should we respond?

 

  • If it is the result of our choice—we repent.
  • If it is the result of someone else’s choice—we forgive.
  • If it is the result of the devil’s attack—we stand firm.
  • If it is the result of God’s hand—we submit in faith and trust God.

 

When trials and tribulation are the result of God’s hand, we must also be honest and admit our feelings to God, not complain to others. When we complain, we sink deeper and deeper into the depths of the chaotic waves of life. Most of us will cry out, but we must cry out to God because he is the only one who can help us.

We must also learn to worship in the midst of our troubles. Worship lifts our surfboard up and allows us to ride on the sweet spot of life’s wave. In the darkest moment of Job’s trials, he fell on his face and worshiped proclaiming, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed by the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Trials have less effect on us once we commit ourselves completely to God. In other words, sink or swim I am riding these waves with God!