Bonzai trees are amazing. The Japanese discovered that they could trick a big tree into thinking it was always meant to be a very, very, small tree. They would take a cutting of a maple or oak tree and coax it to form its own roots and then plant it into a very shallow glazed earthenware pot. Each time it developed a shoot they would prune it back appropriately. Once the root system was developed, they would upheave it out of the pot and trim its roots back before repotting it back into its shallow pot. They would then repeat this process over and over and over until the miniature tree resembled its fully mature huge relative — except in miniature form. At some point the bonzai tree becomes convinced that it was always meant to be a miniature tree. Again, I think there is a spiritual parallel to draw from this process of bonzai tree making…
It’s only in the last few years that we have felt the Lord lead us to adopt a theme for the year. Last year, before many of us went into lockdown in our homes, we had felt the Lord put on our hearts the theme, Welcome home. This year, we have felt the Lord lead us to focus on the theme, grow. The word grow conjures up different emotions in me. There was a time, quite early in my pastoral ministry, when it was recommended to me that I engage a ministry coach. It was my desire to do all I could to see our little church at Legana grow. The ministry coach agreed that this should be my focus. It just so happened that at this time I was in the throes of my doctoral studies.
Everyone is looking for the right door. By opening the right door, our lives have meaning and purpose now. By finding the right door our lives have meaning beyond the grave. While it appears that there are many options when it comes to life-doors, Jesus Christ stated that He was the only door that could satisfy the deepest longing of the human soul and the only means by which people could enter into eternal life.
Anyone who has experienced being a part of a relationship as a friend, spouse, in business or within an organisation will probably appreciate the importance of maintaining a good connection between the persons who are interacting within the relationship. When our connections become intermittent or cut off completely, communication also breaks down and the relationships that we value can become degraded as a result. Examining the reason behind degraded connections is the first step in repairing them.
The young Jeremiah was called by God at one of the darkest times in his nation’s history. He was given a dangerous and potentially deadly task. God told him that he would be rejected and hated. But, despite this, and Jeremiah’s traumatic reaction to this divine mandate, God gave him a priceless promise:
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the LORD.”
When would you most appreciate hearing God promise you, “I will be with you!” — in good times or bad? Jeremiah didn’t have this choice. God promised him that He would be with him. We might be forgiven for thinking that if God was with us, it would result in us being successful. After all, this is what …