Tag: seasons

HOPE ! for 2021

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I once coined a definition of HOPE to be Hanging Onto Pending Expectations.

With Covid I suspended most of my expectations for the year 2020.  Did you too?

Did things you had expected to achieve, celebrate, and get done during the year get moved to a back burner and then reevaluated or even canceled as the pandemic went on and on?

It seems odd to me then, that now, many of those expectation have returned, upgraded to a “pending” status.

What seems strange, is that we are in a worse place now with Covid cases than we were in the spring and summer – when we thought we were in the middle of the pandemic and close to it being over.

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Is it simply because the calendar page has been turned there is more hope?

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God designed this world and put us in it to learn from it. To learn about Him and to learn about ourselves. And one thing we see here is the cycle of seasons. There is a time and a purpose for different seasons here on the earth and also in our lives.

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We have a time to blossom, a time to grow and be fruitful, time to let go of and harvest, a time to rest and regroup and store energy for the next coming season of blossoming, productiveness and fruitfulness. It’s an ongoing cycle.

So there has been an imposed season of rest during this coronavirus for many of us.

I have lot of respect for and appreciate those Frontline workers who have kept our grocery stores open, our streets safe, our water and electricity running, and our hospitals working to help and heal people. If you are one of those, thank you!

But for many of us it has been a time of sequestering. I’m living within the walls of our home with no immune system, minimizing outside exposure while awaiting a kidney transplant. And although I don’t know when, I’m hopeful there will be an end to the down time.

Not for the sake of getting back to what we used to call normal. But because I trust what I’ve learned by observing this beautiful world that God has given us. That something more is coming.

As I look out the window from my exercise bike every morning I appreciate blue – the blue of the sky that was taken away for many weeks with the gray of smoke and falling ash from wildfires in my state. I appreciate green – although the grass has turned yellow and brown, the pine trees are a deep green and remind me of life.

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Many people have expressed a newfound appreciation for things we used to take for granted.  How about you?

What are you thankful for – even in this time of loss?

When the time comes, I believe we will bring all the stored-up wisdom from the lessons learned in our down time, and move forward into a new productive time – seeing all the blessings God has placed in and around our lives.

Jeremiah spoke these famous words to a people who were going into captivity.  Theirs was to last 70 years.  I believe our time will be over sooner than that.

Here lies our HOPE:  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

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Do you need a rest?

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Do you find it hard to slow down or stop when you’re on a roll and being productive?

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I cut the rosebushes back today. The fence looks so plain without the 10-foot runners spreading out from the base and covering the pickets. And one of my oldest rosebushes, going on 40 years, wasn’t quite ready to give up.

In Colorado we’ve already had a couple of snows and we’ve had a hard freeze but this rosebush still had a bloom on it!

rose-1470263_640It’s hard when you’ve had a productive season to know when to stop to pause for a Rest.

We don’t think of it, but Rest is productive too.

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God gave us seasons so we could watch and learn.

The trees, the flowers and the animals all have their rhythmic behavior.  A season of birth and productivity, fruitfulness, then rest, hibernation and rebirth form a cycle that repeats.  We so often fail to learn the simple lessons God wants to teach us. We don’t want to have our productivity cut short. We don’t want to take time to rest, refuel.

Do the rosebushes understand that the splendor they showed this year was based largely on the rest and the nutrients they drank in over the winter?

Do we understand that we also have a rhythm of pouring out and then needing to be refilled before we pour out again?

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Wisdom is all around us. It’s in the beauty of God’s Creation – the skies, the mountains, animals, plants, the trees. Ask God to show you what your rhythms are.

Do you need a time of rest and refilling? Are you ready for rebirth? Is it your time of productivity?

In my backyard, I’m the gardener. I know what’s good for the plants and bushes, and for the most part I can provide fertilizer, water, and the right place for the right plant. They don’t fight me when I say it’s time for pruning, time for fertilizing, or for cutting back to rest for the winter.

hands-1838658_640In my life, God is the Gardener.

He knows what’s best for me. He places me in the right place at the right time. He provides me with the gifts I need to accomplish what he has planned for me.

He protects and shelters me. He guides me like the trellis provides structure for one of my rosebushes. Why is it then, when it’s time for pruning or cutting back I balk?

Lord help me trust You, my Gardener. When I don’t even know what season I’m in, help me accept Your leading, Your pruning and fertilizing, and even Your cutting back for a Rest.

Are you wise?

my-lakeOn my walks now, the air is  crisp, with a cool breeze where there has been stiflingly humid heat.  Low, slow moving cloud-cover makes pleasing patterns in the sky where eyes used to be met by the burning glare of the hot sun, which now rises later and sets earlier than a week ago.

The flowers are changing.  Those that held up their pompous bushy blooms to the full sunlight are beginning to droop with age, while new, fresh colors appear peeking through the fading flora.

We recognize these as signs of change in the world around us.  The seasons are changing.  We change with them.

Our iced drinks, Jell-O and sliced fruit plates give way to hot chocolate, and plates of warm, just baked cookies.  We share recipes with a neighbor for fruit pies or jams from the harvest.

people-2590555_640We change the way we dress to greet the world.  Shorts and tank tops have added an over-shirt to their look.  Slowly sweats and sweaters creep back into our daily wardrobe.  We may allow our hair to grow a bit to cover the back of our necks.  Our thoughts turn away from the pools and picnics of summer to hayrides and harvest moons.

We recognize and respond to these signs so easily and freely.  We would never want to be caught wearing an out-of-season outfit.  We think ourselves wise to have learned these customs.  Are we?

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The Bible tells us of change.  It says a time is coming when our Lord Jesus Christ will come again.  Soon, the Lamb’s Book of Life will be closed forever.  The names of the saved are written in this book. And even today, as people hear and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, names are still being added.

But the day is coming when not one more name will be allowed.

waiting-410328_640We do not know that day specifically, but we know that each passing day brings us one day closer.  Just as we don’t know the date of the first snow; we know it is coming, and we prepare for it.

How are we preparing for Jesus’ second coming?  Are we changing outwardly?

Instead of a recipe that will stay in his stomach for an hour, why don’t we share with that neighbor, a message that will stay with his soul for eternity?

20180916_193142You know the message. There are only two teams. Jesus and satan. We are all born onto Team satan.  Staying on that team ends in eternal death, a one-way ticket to hell. But you can choose to leave that team to join Team Jesus. Team Jesus has eternal life, heaven – forever.

To join Team Jesus it’s as simple as A-B-C.  Accept the free gift of God’s salvation.  Believe that Jesus died for your sin.  Confess, or say out loud, that Jesus rose from the dead and is your Savior.

Speak that in a prayer to God and you are on Team Jesus – forever! You will never play for Team satan again.

That’s the message to share.  But if you just prayed it for the first time – Congratulations!  You are on team Jesus!

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Tell someone about it – shoot me a comment, or email Josh Burris at jesusisundefeated@gmail.com.  Get Josh’s book on Amazon.com.

Get hold of a Bible and start reading it.  It is God’s love letter to you to learn more about Him and your life on Team Jesus.

 

It’s time. Clothe yourself with Jesus’ righteousness. Serve salvation to a starving world. And prepare for the days ahead in a way that you will be called “wise.”

“Let the wise listen and add to their learning.”  Proverbs 1:5

Is it Fall already?!

20180802_145757.jpegToday, walking out to my car, something yellow on the ground caught my eye. When I bent over to pick it up, I couldn‘t believe it! This couldn’t be a fall leaf. It’s still August! The kids aren’t even back in school yet. We are still in the process of figuring out who needs new notebooks, calculators, mechanical pencils and underwear!

Surely this was out of place – a joke someone was playing on me? So I looked up in the tree, and unbelievably, there were others just like it! – still green in the middle, but mixed with yellowing, and downright brown on the ends. I felt queasy, disoriented, like someone had put my life on fast-forward without my knowledge. I wanted that time back. This felt all wrong.

Why did this little occurrence upset me so?

The seasons change, I know that. It happens every year. And they always occur in the same order, so it’s not like it was totally unexpected. Yes, the days have been getting somewhat shorter, and the nights have been a little cooler to relieve the high temperatures of the day, but the leaves turning already?!

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There’s something to look forward in winter: Christmas break, hot chocolate, snowmen, the chance for a snow day at school, or a lazy, snowy winter day to curl up by a fire.

 

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And when that gets old, we can’t wait for exciting spring! A time when the earth reawakens: Easter, flowers, baby animals, light, hope. Spring is my favorite season: warm sunshiny days with cold nights to snuggle, the whole earth bursting forth with new life.

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And who among us hasn’t dreamed of and waited with excitement for summer? School is out, swimming pools, hot dogs on the grill, no homework, and long, lazy days of watching the clouds in the sky…

 

So how does fall fit in here? I think of songs we usually hear around this season:

Will I See You In September – a worry that fall will bring the end of a love relationship – not a great ode to fall

Wake Up Maggie – about a guy who realizes in the fall he’s been led on and dropped by a girl.

When I was 17 – is about the years of life, but when he gets to the autumn of his years, the days grow short and he thinks of his life as vintage wine from fine old kegs, as he says “from the brim to the dregs it pours sweet and clear…”

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The problem is that this year I’m feeling a bit like I am in the autumn of my years too. The days growing shorter reminds me of so many things I might have done with my life – which I haven’t done. I’m truly feeling there are more days behind me than in front of me.

And it makes me feel a sense of urgency about things yet to accomplish, and a sense of loss about things left undone.

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I don’t see my life as vintage wine. Or in fine old kegs. And dregs definitely do not sound good.

You could say my teens and twenties were “spring-like.” There was lot a lot of growth – things to learn and begin – lots of enthusiasm and energy.

And in my thirties and forties, there was sure a lot of busy-ness – a lot to show for all my efforts: the children growing up, involvement in church, school and community, teaching classes. So much was going on. That’s typical of summer – everything blooming and growing, looking busy.

But fall? That’s a time for the leaves to turn and wither, and blow off the trees, leaving a barren look. It’s a time of coolness turning to coldness, and a gradual darkening of the days. And I don’t think I’m ready to let go of my “leaves “– all that I’ve grown, produced – my children, my projects, my job.

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Fall is a time to gather in the harvest: freeze it, pickle it, jar it, can it up for others to enjoy throughout the next year. Is it really time to gather in my life? Is it time to “store up” all I’ve done? I can’t imagine my life in row after row of bright, pretty jars on shelves.

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And yes, the leaves are beautiful in the fall. The colors are vivid and add to the panoramic grandeur of the view. And yes, you can collect the leaves, make arrangements, even press them between sheets of waxed paper to preserve their glory. But it’s a past glory.

 

Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” King Solomon examined everything – nature, man, wisdom, foolishness, wine, women and song. And he concluded his writings with “This applies to every person: Fear God and obey Him.”

If I can say I’ve done that, then it’s all I need to do. Regardless of the season. It’s not about how showy my spring and summer were. It’s not who has more cans on the shelf.

We sang a song Sunday that gives me hope and focus. “You [God] make everything glorious. You make everything glorious and I am yours – what does that make me!” In every season of life, I am glorious! I accept that, and trust the Father is with me always. He will guide me into and through all His seasons.  And I will do all I can to honor and obey Him.

click to hear:  See you in SeptemberWhen I was 17; You make everything glorious

 

Is it Spring where you are?

 

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God knows us so well, and so like a parent prepares a nursery for a long awaited newborn, God planned earth to meet our needs and reflect His provision and love. His intelligence and compassion are shown in giving us seasons.

 

As we cycle through a year we can experience changes in the world around us and learn lessons for our own lives as God gives us both change and consistency.

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God gave us a desire for change. But He also created us with a deep, deep desire and need for stability and consistency. He knows that random change without purpose can be scary and upsetting. And so He gives us purposeful, predictable change.

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Every few months we see something new and fresh in our lives all around us. It affects our entire environment. The growing seasons bring different harvests of foods.  The climate impacts the way we dress and how we build our homes.

 

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The seasonal colors of plants impact the way we landscape our cities and homes and surround ourselves with the beauty of His creation.

 

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Like His love, which is secure and stable and never changes, He gives us the surety of knowing that the seasons always occur in a predicted order. In the midst of and in the excitement of change, we get the security of knowing that one season always follows another.

 

These same seasons of change exist in our lives. They do not occur every 3 months as the earth sees the change of seasons. Over a lifetime we experience seasons of change: waiting, testing, growth, calm, fruitfulness, pruning.

autumn-1001140_640With some issues, we can go through many seasons in a week. With some activities, relationships or circumstances, each season may last several months or years. Some things may take a lifetime.

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I believe God prepares us for these changes by reflecting change in His creation. Ask God to show you where you are – what season you are in with regard to specific issues in your life.

 

Is it a time of rebirth? Renewing interests with newfound vigor and attention?

Is it a time of growth? Should you be fertilizing a relationship, an idea, a project to prepare for fruitfulness?

Is it a time of harvest? Of enjoying the benefits and provisions of hard work, but letting go of some responsibilities? Changing over to a new focus?

Is it time for resting? Being refueled by cutting back and preparing for building deeper roots?

Ask God to show you how to recognize what He wants you to know about His timing. To hear more from God, look around you at the living, growing, 3-dimensional teachers in His creation: the animals, the plants, the environment.

And be willing to listen.