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Posts Tagged ‘conformed to the image of Christ’

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It’s Friday, time to look back over the blessings of the week with Susanne at Living to Tell the Story and other friends.

1. This week we were able to enjoy the fellowship of a family temporarily here until their immigration papers come through to serve in ministry elsewhere. It was a blessing to get to know them a little this week. We’ve also had a fellow minister and occasional teacher at the college staying with us this week. He is a blessing to our family in every way and we always enjoy having him in our home.

2.Freshly returned from their honeymoon to Rome, our daughter and son-in-law regaled us with stories of their travels and explorations of the City of the Seven Hills at our weekly family night dinner. It was so much fun to discuss special places we discovered on our visit there a few years ago and learn what’s the same and what has changed.

3.This week I began rereading some of my missionary biography collection. I was looking to source a quotation which I thought was from Amy Carmichael’s God’s Missionary and ended up reading the whole thing. It’s a booklet, so not hard or long to read, but Amy Carmichael’s writing tends to be introspective and somewhat mystical so it requires some contemplation, evaluation, and simplification when reading her works. I did not find the quote I was looking for so began perusing Elisabeth Elliot’s work on Amy Carmichael, A Chance to Die. Still haven’t found my quote, but I shall persevere! (Ahem * Grumpy Grammar Lady reminds you that this word is pronounced “per-se-vere.” Do not be bamboozled, hornswoggled, or flimflammed into saying “per-ser-vere.” There is no ‘r’ in the second syllable of persevere. But I digress…)

4.Someday some smart researcher will be able to definitively explain why cloudy days and stormy weather make some of us ache physically (my arthritis and fibromyalgia yell at me when it’s cloudy outside!) or feel down mentally. We’ve had a few of those days this week. I am grateful for every clear and sunny day and the positive influence they have on my outlook. More sunny days coming! Sunday is the first day of Spring.

5.I am grateful for brothers and sisters in Christ who willingly discuss thorny theological issues and controversial topics without judgement, but with an understanding that our mutual goal in any such discussion is to be made more conformed to the image of Christ.

I didn’t get much photography practice this week, but did get a few gloomy day pics of rural Alberta on Saturday.

Near Beaumont 2 Near Beaumont 5 Near Beaumont 7

What were some of your blessings this week?

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Crabapples up closeThe first hints of spring always remind me of the lovely crabapple tree which graced the front yard of our previous home.  With the first breaths of warmth you could almost see the tree stretching her branches and within days little green leaves would pop out in response to the welcome sun.   Soon after, cheerful white blossoms burst forth like lightly buttered popcorn in glorious announcement of a new season of growth.

Not Promising

We first moved into that house in July.  Our first introduction to the tree was not promising. A gnarly trunk, shoots sprouting out of the ground all across the yard, a tangle of leafy boughs, and tall, skinny, leafless branches jutting helter-skelter from various junctions in the tree greeted us.  There were few signs of coming apples, and those wild shoots absorbed the nutrients from the lawn leaving patchy spots all over.

 Visions of Crabapples

I’ve always figured that if God provides something, He would like you to use it. Before me was the anticipation of a crop of crabapples.  “Hmm. What DOES one make out of crabapples?”  After some research (in pre-internet days I might add) I had visions of crabapple juice and crabapple jelly and crabapple sauce and crabapple crisp – you get the idea.

This Tree Needs Some Serious Pruning

Bud worked his way through college as a landscaper.  He shook his head as he looked at the crabapple tree and told me, “That tree needs some serious pruning!  You’re not going to have any crabapples to make anything with unless this tree is pruned.”  “And” he added, “You probably will not like the way it looks when I first prune it.”

And boy, did he prune it!  When he called me out to look at his work I was horrified.  No shoots, no boughs, no skinny branches and no leaves were left, only three sad looking stumpy, naked branches protruded from the trunk.  “You’ve killed my tree!”  I gasped.

 Without Pruning, No Apples

Then my husband explained the purpose of pruning.  The gardener plucks, cuts, and pulls away all of the useless growth which sucks nourishment away from the tree.  Instead of drawing nutrients to help apples grow, my out-of-control crabapple tree was using up energy to grow sprouts and shoots which would never bear fruit.  Left untouched, the tree would never produce a proper crop of apples as it was designed to do.

 Delightful Results of Pruning

The first year after pruning the tree had amazingly begun to grow back, but still needed shaping and more pruning.  There weren’t many apples that year, but the tree and lawn looked much better.  However the second year, and the years after that, the tree was well-shaped, and full of apples, delighting us each spring with its blossoms, and blessing us each autumn with ample fruit.

 Spiritual Pruning

Sometimes we forget that we are under the care of the Master Gardener.  We find ourselves spending our time and energy on unprofitable pursuits and the Lord needs to step in and ‘prune’ us.  He cuts and trims and shapes us to be more conformed to the image of Christ.

These past few months of unresolved health issues have helped me to think about this process more.  Before my mobility challenges I filled my time with ‘doing’ things in the Christian community.  My health issues have forced me to think more about ‘being’ in a proper relationship with God and allow Him to make clear what He wants me to do with the limited time and energy I end up with.

 Cutting Away Useless Things

A number of useless things have been stripped away these past months – from my thinking, my behavior, and my ministries.  Instead God has been teaching me to ‘Be still, and know that I am God.”  I am more careful now to go to Him in prayer for others and for direction on what He wants me to do.

 Fruit-Bearers for Him

Sometimes we just wish God would leave us alone and stop all of the painful pruning He brings into our lives.  But this would not be the consistent with His character.  By stripping away all of the useless branches which waste our time and energy, God is shaping us to be fruit-bearers for Him.  By God’s grace when seasons of pruning come to our lives we can honor God, learn the lessons He has for us, and be a blessing to the body of Christ.

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