Saturday, November 29, 2014

Show Me Your Faith

We tend to think of faith as something intangible, invisible, ethereal, like a foggy mist.  But God can see your faith.

So can you, if it’s real.  And so can others.

Faith is always on display… by our works… by what we do… by how we live.  It's visible.

“Show me your faith without works” James says, “and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18).

Any faith that does not bear spiritual fruit and obvious good works is not the kind of faith you want to rely on.  It will not take you where you want to go in eternity.

“By their fruit, you shall know them” Jesus said, (Matthew 7:16).

And yet, all around us are people who insist they have faith in Jesus Christ but manifest no fruit of salvation.  People who have never confessed Him as Lord of their life, who have never identified themselves with a local body of believers, who never go out of their way to help a stranger in His Name, who boycott church, who never demonstrate authentic life-change, are said in their obituaries to have “gone to be with Jesus.” 

By what right, one wonders.

I’ve actually had people say to me, “I know Daddy went to heaven…. because he liked gospel music when it came on the radio.”

And by the way, that doesn’t make the deceased a Christian any more than purchasing a gym membership makes him/her an athlete!

GETTING RIGHT WITH GOD is the only thing that matters.  

This means repentance.  Confessing sin, asking for forgiveness.  It means having a change of mind, and a change of heart about how you are living your life.  It means turning your life over to the will to God.

This kind of faith eventually proves itself  as saving faith because it produces visible evidence, spiritual fruit, (for you and others to see) as you grow in maturity and sanctification.

Furthermore, this “authentication" or "verification" of your faith is also what gives you the assurance of salvation.  As the apostle Peter said…

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to CONFIRM your calling and election, for if you PRACTICE THESE QUALITIES you will never fall.  For IN THIS WAY there will be richly provided for you’re an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (I Peter 1:10-11).

This is the kind of eternal security you can rely on.

Show me your faith.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Cold Temps

These are four oranges I picked (from my orange tree) before the cold temperatures arrived.  They were a little under-ripe but I knew they wouldn't survive, so I picked them a bit early.  Very happy with them.

Last night the temperatures reached 19-20 degrees... and held for eight hours.  Yikes!  This is what my turnips, kale, and collards looked like this morning.  They are wilted but appear to have survived.  By noon today they should be standing back up (cool weather greens are very cold tolerant).  An added benefit is that cold weather sweetens the green.

Turnip Greens



Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hoop House (Cold Frame)

I put this cold frame hoop house together this morning before coming into the office.  It took about 20 minutes (after buying the parts yesterday).  This is a bed of baby lettuce that probably wouldn't survive the cold temperatures predicted over the next few days.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Yesterday I spent some time thinning my turnip plants because they are too crowded to form bulbing roots.  Much to my surprise I discovered these two bulbs hiding beneath the greens. 

They (along with a bunch of greens) went straight to the stove top.  Had them as a side dish last night.  Nothing better than fresh greens and roots straight out of the garden.... especially since I know how they were grown (organically).

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Plateaued Church is NOT Always a Bad Thing

The typical church is plateaued.  Some are declining.  That’s not always a bad thing.

It’s true.

First of all, the typical church will have a 10% attrition rate annually, regardless of its health.  People move out of town, or find a new job out of state.  They get married and move away.  They go off to college.  They change churches.  They grow cold spiritually and drop out.  They die and we do funerals.

So you have to have that many newcomers coming through the front door and sticking to your church over any given twelve month period just to stay even.  And just in case you didn’t know it, growing by ten percent annually is a lot of growth!  So simply staying where you are is actually a reflection of growth.

A second reason plateaued growth is a good thing is because you made the strategic decision to not allow your church’s mission to be hijacked.  Everyone has an agenda, or a hot-button issue they want the church to address.  Only problem is:  you can’t accommodate everyone.  When their opinion doesn’t carry the day, it often results in departure.

This isn’t always bad.  A church often grows as much by “subtraction” as it does by addition.  Allowing people  to  leave and find another church that is more suited to their tastes, frees up space in your church for people who are open to your ministry style or church culture; thus making newcomers a better fit.

The church temporarily loses some ground,  (due to disgruntled departures), but they have also been freed up to pursue strategies and styles more suited to future growth.

That can be worth a short-term hit in attendance.

Third, then there are some churches (because of their location) that are  extremely limited in growth potential.  For instance, if you have a church that averages 50 people in attendance in a town that has 5,000 in population, you are achieving the exact same percentage ratio as a mega-church of 5,000 in a city of 500,000!

Take that, Andy Stanley!  And all the pastors of churches in small towns said, “Amen.”

In fact, some of the finest preaching/teaching you’ll ever hear often comes from pastors of smaller churches.  Their names will never be listed on the conference circuit, but they are this country’s best preachers.  They simply shepherd their flock, giving them the best diet of God’s Word they can offer.

Finally, though there are many other reasons for a plateaued growth, you just may be in a season of natural consolidation.  Having been in the ministry for all my adult life, I can tell you there is a natural ebb and flow to church life.  The pattern is to have a season of growth followed by a season of consolidation.

This is actually very healthy for a church.  It allows you to assimilate your recent growth, to focus on making disciples, and to rethink structure.  It lets you catch your breath and map out the next season of faithful ministry.

In fact, plateaued churches are often the most solid churches you can find anywhere!  They may not be setting the woods on fire, but they are virtually indestructible.  They simply labor faithfully, quietly, and consistently, making steady kingdom impact year after year.

Btw, don’t worry about the next season.  Just be faithful and let God do what He does.

So take heart.  A plateaued church is often the sign of a strong, solid, healthy, disciple-making machine. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Cotton Fields - Central Santa Rosa County

Renae and I went to our grandson's (Nolan) birthday party at Holland Farms yesterday.  It was a beautiful day - cold and sunny - and a perfect day for a drive in the country.  This time of year the cotton fields are in full bloom and a delight to see.  We really decided to make this stop along the way and took a few photos.  Lot's of fun.