Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I went to EImagepcot in Orlando last year, and I made a discovery.  I like Bonsai trees.  They had a display there of some of the most incredible looking Bonsai of various shapes and sizes, and it really inspired me.  I thought to myself,  “Self (that’s what I call myself), that would make a nice fun hobby, and it may even teach you some patience that you sorely lack”.  So off I went on a road to discover the ancient Japanese art of Bonsai.  I started by reading a lot and purchasing a couple of small already shaped trees to study.  In my reading, I came across this quote from a very old quote (circa 970 AD) from a Japanese book talking about Bonsai:

 “A tree that is left growing in its natural state is a crude thing. It is only when it is kept close to human beings who fashion it with loving care that its shape and style acquire the ability to move one.”

 Fast forward to this last weekend, when I acquired a new “pre-bonsai specimen” for $5.98 from a local Lowes store, and believe me, it was a pretty ugly little bush.  A specimen is any tree, planting, bush whatever that has the potential to be shaped by a Bonsai artist (that’s what I am now – a Bonsai artist), into a smaller, beautiful, and more compact plant that shows its real individual beauty.  To create a Bonsai, you start by taking the specimen out of its large pot or digging it out of the ground and trimming out all the old big roots underneath that are determining its growth patterns up above.  Then you study the growth of the tree aboveground and develop a vision of what it could be if it was pruned and shaped.  As I set out to work on my new specimen, I was amazed at how painful it felt.  I was literally chopping off roots, cutting off large branches and pruning out some of the green growth, and each cut seemed destructive as I watched the pieces hit the table under the plant.  Now all the while I was doing this I was creating a vision in my mind of how it would look when I was done, but it still felt painful.

 And then of course God hit me between the eyes with a big Bonsai bang!  He has been doing the same thing with me for many years.  In my youth I grew into a gangly, unruly plant that grew in many directions based upon all the external influences I was exposed to.  When I came to know Him, I placed my life, limbs and leaves in His hands and he began to prune shape, wire and replant me into a vision only He has ever had for me.  It was an awesome reflection.  As I continued to prune that little plant from what was a specimen, I started looking at it in a much more positive light, and it was no longer painful, it was joyful.  As I trimmed, shaped, repotted and handled it, I did it with an eye not for what it had been in all its ugliness, but for what it would become when yielded to the Master’s touch (okay – now I graduated to Bonsai Master!).  So consider now the slightly edited old Japanese quote in this context:

 “A life that is left growing in its natural state is a crude thing. It is only when it is yielded to the Master who fashions it with loving care that its shape and style acquire the ability to live life to its fullest and experience all God has to offer“. 

 We are all specimens in this life.  We all know that if we yield to the Master’s touch we can become so much more, yet we still resist the shaping and pruning God tried to do.  This little lesson I learned from the tree is going to help me as I fight that resistance.  My prayer is for good pruning and shaping, but mostly for the ability to be yielding.  “God please help me to yield”.

 My little tree is a work in progress, just like I am.  It is already worth so much more to me than the $5.98 I paid for it.  I hope I will one day be worth more to God than what he paid for me!

 Bonsai!!!!!!!

That may be an interesting title, but it is what God brought to mind this morning to really appreciate.  Do you take enough time to be still and be thankful for things?  I know I don’t, and it is a shame to admit I have to be on vacation in Hilton Head to slow down for 5 minutes and appreciate all my blessings.

Anyway, the coffee is some kind of Kenyan blend, and it does actually remind me of times I have been in Kenya in the past, it is very strong!  The condo we are staying at is really nice, and looking out the back window over the balcony is a heavily wooded area looking at a golf course.  Beautiful view, with lots of God things to look at and contemplate.  I slept soundly until 8:30 this morning, which I never do.  Need to get the name of that mattress!  A good start to a good day, but wait — it gets better!

My bible reading this morning was in Proverbs chapter 4 (I am working my way through proverbs for a while, although I may skip around a bit this week)  God brought to mind the phrase, “Actions give results”.  But whoa Dennis…, slow down a bit!  There is so much more in this verse if you will stop and listen to ME:

Prov 4:1 “Listen, my sons, to a father’s instruction;
       pay attention and gain understanding.”

It would be easy to read this and and mainly get from it that listening = understanding, but what about all that is in between those two?  The bible gives us so much more when we pause, open our hearts and minds to God, and think a bit harder.  When I do that on this passage I get so many more points:

  • Listening is the first thing I must do (Listen).  Always start there
  • God is our father (my sons), and that is a special bond of love
  • That I should be listening to the Father (to a father’s).  There are way too many voices in my head sometimes telling me what to do (and no I am not schizo)
  • That he has wisdom he offers through instruction (fathers instruction)
  • That I need to be intentional in my efforts to hear God (pay attention)
  • That wisdom is an increase (gain).  I will benefit from getting it
  • What I will gain is understanding (and gain understanding).  Wow.  I so much want to understand more about life, God, me, so on and so on.

Okay, so from just thinking intentionally about what God is telling me, I took that one verse and it was expanded greatly for me.  God is pretty incredible. And reading his Word is easy if I will be intentional!  And to think I used to believe my pastor was so smart getting all those points  :-).

Thank you Father for a bit of understanding this morning that holds a key to so much more understanding!  You know I struggle with being able to apply myself to your Word at times.  Help me to keep these simple points I learned today close to my heart, and expand my understanding every day through your Word.

Amen.

Goodness.  That was only the 1st verse of this chapter.  Do you realize how rich God’s ENTIRE word truly is?  Mind boggling.

Inconsistency ….

Posted: December 16, 2007 in Uncategorized

I got a comment on a previous blog post I made today, which was the first comment I have had in a while.  Not hard to understand why I have not gotten many cooment — I haven’t been blogging!  🙂

I have been inconsistent in sharin g my thoughts.  I have also been inconsistent in my time with God.  I really do not understand myself here.  I do enjoy my quiet time, so why do I not do it?  What is that force than stands between me and that joy?

 Our message at church this morning was about reveling in the presence of God.  I am going to try and focus on that more by doing my quiet time.  Pray for me okay?  I need the encouragement to develop a more consistent process there.  I’ll also pray for more committment to blogging, whether anyone is hearing me or not!

How did I get here?

Posted: October 7, 2007 in Uncategorized

I have stopped trying to figure out where I will be in 5 years.  Or 4 years, or 1 year for that matter.  If there is any one thing that we need to keep in mind as we try and control the direction of our lives, it is how powerless we really are to control what totally happens to us.

 Now I don’t mean that we cannot affect our direction.  We can decide to go to college, or move to Africa, etc.  But those macro destinations are not where we really live each day.  Where we live each day is in the moment, right now, this second.  Did you know that this is where God is?  IN THE MOMENT.  I have no idea what motivated me to sit down here and do this blog post, it just kinda happened.  I did not make an appointment to blog.  It occurred via a series of events that I really did not control.  I won’t go into how it happenned, but it did just occur to me that this was not in my plan for the day, so why am I doing it?

 What does this show me?  It shows me that God is wise.  God DID know I was going to be in a blogging mood, and he knew what I was going to say.  He formed the path around me to give me what he wanted me to say.  “Are you sure Dennis?”, you may ask.  Yep.  I’m sure.  How am I so sure?  Because I know he is there, I know he is speaking to me, I know he has a reason for me to post this, but in all honesty, I do not know what that reason is!

There is a strange peace in that.  Just doing what I hear God telling me to do instead of stressing out about what to do.  Be still, listen to God, and just do it.  Can it really be that simple?

What do you think?  Is anyone listening?  Do you hear God speaking and obey?  I certainly do not do it all the time like I would like to, but when I do…….., I like it.

I am on a roll ….

Posted: August 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

This may make no sense after my last post, but I am on a roll.  My life has been so out of control for the last couple of years that I truly have been driven to seek like I never have before.  That desire to find that closer relationship to God is strong and frustrating beyond belief it is so intense for me right now.  My last post should indicate that.

My pastor Jay introduced me (actually a group of us) to the “Experiencing God” study, and it has had a huge impact on me.  Yeah, I know, there I go talking about some silly workbook Bible study like it was a life changing experience or something.  Yep.  I am.  Because it has been for me!  For the first time in my life I feel like I am WORKING to understand God, to communicate with God, to interpret His Word, and to apply it to my life.  I have had so many great revelations as I have been going through this study.  Things I have struggled with for so many years have been addressed in such a unique way I find it amazing, and I am seeing them in a different light, with good thoughts on dealing with them.  I am not bragging on the study, although I happen to think it is pretty darn good.  I am expressing thankfullness that the study has pricked my heart and soul so well.  This is not a freaky weird kind of experience.  It is real for me, and I know beyond question that God is using it to change my life, to enlighten me, and to bring me closer to Him.  I have been a seeker for so long, that when I truly find something like this that affects my life to this extent, I need to shout about it!  My life is and will likely continue to be a real mess as I go down my path, but I can’t tell you how happy I am to feel this closeness like never before.

If this kind of talk is uncomfortable or weird to you, that is okay.  It probably would have made me uncomfortable a couple years ago.  I am not trying to express to you any instruction on how to feel or how to act.  What I am saying though is that if you are a seeker (and I think we all are), then do not despair.  Keep seeking, but make sure that what you are seeking is God, not some method, workbook, or human being to tell you what you need to find peace and the moment to moment security that comes with an intimate relationship with Him.  BE STILL.  LISTEN.  God used many people in my path to direct me as I have sought Him.  He has used this study in a mighty way.  I hope you keep asking Him long enough to find your study, moment, or whatever it takes to get you closer to Him.

My God has a voice

Posted: August 28, 2007 in Uncategorized

My God is HUGE.  My God is so huge I cannot fathom it.  He speaks.  To me.  I’m just not a good listener.

Rant on …… (pure brain dump coming, pretty risky to post publicly)

I am trying so hard to hear Him, and the struggle is mighty.  He speaks so loud, but the din around me is overwhelming to a point where it all bleeds together because of all the things I have let into my life.  I know I am His, since I have my moments when he is not just near, he possesses me. But alas at times I close my ears and still manage to shut him out, usually when I need Him most, or when MY will becomes so important.  Why? Listening to God is one of the hardest things I have ever tried to do, but it is what I want more than anything in my life.  All the methods I have tried over the years seem to be so silly.  I think I work way too hard at it.  It should be simple. 

Sit still.  Listen.  Obey.  Experience God.  Repeat.

Sorry for the rambling.  It’s what God gave me today.  Maybe the pure repetition for me will help it to sink in.

What am I “Meant to Be”?

Posted: April 23, 2007 in Uncategorized

Had a great day at church yesterday.  During one of the songs, I seemed to focus in on the phrase, “What I was meant to be”.  Need to reflect on that a bit.

There is a big difference in what I want to be and what I am meant to be, isn’t there?  I mean, I want to be a professional baseball player, but it apparently is not meant to be.  I want to be a millionare not worried about money, but alas, it must not be in the plan.

 Or is it?  How do we figure this out?  How do we reconcile the “meant”, to the “want”?  I know that God has desires for my life, but in looking it up in the Bible, I do not see “meant” used anywhere in that context.  What I see is that it is used to correct people’s misinterpretation or confusion.  That says it well for me, I am confused there.

Was I meant to be a father, a husband?  I think so because God has blessed me in that realm, although both cases have had their struggles.  What ministry am I meant to be in?

The only answer I can come up with, is that I am meant to love God.  The rest happens as a result of that effort.  If I truly desire him and love him with all my heart, things should be clearer, but today they are pretty cloudy.  Guess that is an answer in itself.

 I need to focus on Loving and following God, that is all I am “meant” to do.  I’ll figure the rest out after I get there.

Any other perspectives out there?