Monthly Archives: August 2013

We Got Trouble, Trouble with a Capital “T”

We got trouble

Right here in River City.

Trouble with a capital “T”

And that rhymes with “B”

And that stands for “bee!”

barb sunflower bee very close

Bees (and wasps) are trouble.

Big ones, little ones,  bumble bees, yellow jackets,  honey bees.  They’re all the send-me-to-the-emergency-room-if-they-sting-me kind of trouble.

Trouble with a capital “T.”

But who is there that doesn’t have some kind of trouble?  Becoming a Christian doesn’t give us a get-out-of-jail-free card and exempt us from all difficulties in life. We can expect trouble.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 16:33  NIV

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What happens when (not if) troubles come into our lives?  Does God just give us a quick pat on the head, saying,  “Yeah, life is tough . . . See ya later?”  No, Jesus cares about the condition of our heart, and He wants to give us His peace in place of fear.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John14:27

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

John 16:33  NIV

God is there in the middle of our difficulties to strengthen and help us.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.

2 Corinthians 1:3, 4  NIV

It’s hard to see how anything good can come out of our troubles, but this verse in 2 Corinthians give us a clue.  The comfort that God extends to us is multiplied as we share that comfort with others going through their own difficult times.  We see how this multiplying works with the sunflower.  One sunflower, grown from one seed, visited and pollinated by troublesome (to me) bees can produce hundreds of seeds, and those hundreds of plants could produce thousands of seeds.

So the next time

sunflower and bee clos up Barbs

 Ya got trouble, terrible trouble

Right here in River City.

(right where you live)

Trouble with a capital “T”

And that rhymes with “P”

And that rhymes with “C”

And that stands for “pool”  “peace”

And that stands for “comfort”

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“Ya Got Trouble” from “The Music Man”

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photos by Barb Briggs

“Birds or Blooms” or “Can You Hear Me Now?”

IMG_7158

photo by Barb Briggs

As I drove down rural roads last June, my three-year-old grandson and I played a game to pass the time and practice identifying colors and shapes.  I would tell him what I saw, and he would look for it.

“I see a yellow sign shaped like a triangle.”

“I see a red barn.”

“I see blue flowers.” I pointed to the plants lining the shoulder of the highway.  “They’re called chickory.”

“Chickadee,” said my grandson, thinking he was repeating what I’d said.

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photo by Terry Landers

“Chickory.” I corrected.

“Chickadee.”

“Chickory.”

“Chickadee.”

“Chick-or-ree.

“Chickory?”

“Yes.”

He was familiar with “chickadee,” so that was the word he heard.

New is hard.  It takes a while to twist our tongue around a new word or to open the door a crack to a new idea.

When the apostle Paul was on the road to Damascus, he saw a bright light and heard a voice saying, “I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.”  I might have answered, “So, God, I keep persecuting the Christians, right?” but Paul answered, “What shall I do, Lord?”  Paul was willing to hear something new.

Perhaps none of us will see a blinding light, and few will be asked to take the gospel to far-away nations, but all of us may be asked to speak to someone we don’t know, think about a Bible verse in a different way, or consider a new ministry.

Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new. It’s bursting out!

Isaiah 43:19  The Message

So if you sense God is talking to you, take your fingers out of your ears, and be ready to hear something new.  Chickory!

background photo by Barb Briggs

Ah! Sunflower or The Forbidden City (part 2)

Ah! Sunflower Part 1

Imagine that you’re shopping, and you see a sweater that you like very much in a nice shade of sunflower yellow .  It fits you (and your budget), so you place it on the counter near the cash register and announce, “I’ll take it.”

The clerk replies, “I’m sorry.  Only members of the Royal Family can buy that color.  May I interest you in the blue sweater instead?”

Flickr_free_The_Forbidden_City_By Pete Stewart from Perth, Australia

Forbidden City, Beijing, China

Sound implausible?  The color yellow was so identified with the Chinese imperial family (a symbol of their “celestial nature”), that only they could wear it.  Even the roofs of nearly all the buildings in the imperial palace complex were constructed of yellow, glazed tiles. This complex of religious, political, and residential buildings, called the Forbidden City, is surrounded by a 26′ high wall and a 20′ deep moat.  Commoners and royalty  were forbidden to enter without permission of the Emperor.

Thankfully, there are no walls or moats between us and God.  We have access to him because of Jesus’ self-sacrifice on the cross.

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us—set us right with him, make us fit for him—we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us.

Romans 5:1 The Message

We can return to the metaphor of God as sun and believers as sunflowers in the next verse in Romans 5.  Now that we have access to God, we can be in His presence and worship Him.

We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.

Romans 5:2 The Message

photo by Barb Briggs

Whenever, though, they turn to face God as Moses did, God removes the veil and there they are—face-to-face! . . .Nothing between us and God, our faces shining with the brightness of his face. And so we are transfigured much like the Messiah, our lives gradually becoming brighter and more beautiful as God enters our lives and we become like him.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18 (The Message)

If we are like sunflowers facing the east, toward God, we are becoming “brighter and more beautiful”  because He  is not only sharing his presence with us, but his  “celestial nature.”  The restrictions of imperial China are long gone. We common sunflowers are allowed to wear yellow, but our color is a gift of the sun (not a sweater we buy in a store).  When the sun shines on a sunflower, the flower absorbs all the other color wavelengths (think rainbow) and reflects yellow.  So we see golden, yellow flowers.

“We were created to reflect God’s glory, born to bear his image, and he ransomed us to reflect that glory again. ”

Waking the Dead by John Eldredge

God loved us enough to send his Son

  • to reestablish access to Him,
  • to restore relationship with us,
  • so we might reflect his glory.

The Lord delights in seeing us become more like Him and therefore a better version of ourselves–a more wonderful sunflower.

The glory of God is man fully alive.   St. Irenaeus

I can imagine the Lord shining on us, saying “Ah!  Sunflower!”

photo by Barb Briggs

photo by Barb Briggs

background photo by Barb Briggs

Forbidden City photo by Pete Stewart from Perth, Australia

Ah! Sunflower or Heliotropism (part 1)

Sunflowers have inspired

paintings,

Van_Gogh_Sunflowers wiki CC

Sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh

 poetry,

Blake Ah sunflower

“Ah! Sunflower” by William Blake

and worship.

The ancient Aztecs and Incas used sunflowers in ceremonies honoring their sun-god–a natural connection, since the color and shape of the flower echoes the sun.

The sunflower, however, is more than a pretty, golden face, reminding us of the sun. The flower seems to “worship” the sun because of the way the buds and leaves of sunflowers orient themselves to face the sun, following its movement from east to west across the sky.  (This is called heliotropism.)

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By the time the sunflower matures and is in full bloom, the flowers permanently face east.

This video (from Indiana University, Department of Biology) shows a young sunflower plant tracking the sun over a 24-hour period.

The dance of the sunflowers and the sun is a wonderful (full of wonder) picture of the relationship between believer and God.  Sunflowers, like any plant, need the sun to survive.  This is the process of photosynthesis where light energy is converted into chemical energy that the plant can use.

For in him we live and move and have our being.  Acts 17:28

English-speaking Christians have often taken advantage of the happy coincidence of the homonym of sun/son, but there is some Biblical basis for idea of God as the “sun.”

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; . . . Psalm 84:11

The Lord is God, and he has made his light shine upon us.  Psalm 118:27

His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.  Revelation1:16

We “sunflowers” turn our faces toward the Lord.

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.  2 Chronicles 7:13-15

Your face, Lord, I will seek. Psalm 27:8

Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.  Psalm 105:4

Too much information?  Is it all Greek to you?  Just remember God shines his light on us, and we seek his face like the sunflower. “Shine” and “seek.”

sunflowerwallpaper.jpg

sunflower field photo by Trey Ratcliff StuckInCustoms.com

background photo by Barb Briggs

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