From Manure, Comes Gold

I was having a converstaion with a young friend of mine who has been struggling emotionally, physically, and spiritually the last couple of years. He’s an awesome kid, but he has just kinda gotten stuck with some “smelly stuff” that he, on his own, hasn’t been able to shake from his heart and mind.

I shared a recent analogy with him that the Lord so sweetly shared with me:

We have a driveway that runs through the middle of our two fenced fields. One of the fields has cows grazing on it, the other does not. Interestingly, the field that the cows are calling home, now has a blanket of beautiful gold flowers on it, while the other field has only tall grass (eventual hay).

Now if I were a cowgirl, I could tell you in detail about this golden process: the kind of cows that are grazing, the kind of flowers that are blooming, etc; however, I’m a half-country, half-city girl, so I resorted to google. After much research, I found DairyCarrie: “Manure is smelly and kind of gross but it is also fertilizer that’s full of nutrients that our soil needs. Gardeners like to fertilize their flowers and vegetables to make their plants grow larger and stronger and farmers do the same thing except our garden is a few hundred acres and we don’t have to run to the garden center for bags of fertilizer. We have our own fertilizer producing machines, lounging around…” ( 5/7/13). Ahh, so there you have it, the cows’ manure helps produce radiant fields of gold.

Using this image, I urged my young struggling friend to allow God to work His wonders in the midst of his mess. If He can spin manure into “gold”for the cows, just think of what He can do with the stinky stuff in the lives of the children He loves so dearly. The question I had for him, and for myself, and now for you, is, “Will you let Him do His wonderful work?” Just know this, God is ready, willing, and able; and He will do it in His time and His way. The difference between the process of nature and dealing with humans is that God allows nature to take its course; but with us, He waits on our hearts to soften towards Him before He begins His work. The Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion. (Is 30:18) He will never force His way on you, because that’s not true love. He is however, always pursuing, and patiently waiting to bring beauty from ashes. (Is 61:3)

So the choice is there for each of us: let Him “fertilize our soul” with His truth and love, and then reap His radiant glory, or well, just continue on alone in our mess, which only exudes the stench of anger and bitterness. I urge you, let the Gardner in…

And instead of the thronbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. Is. 55:13
And instead of manure, the gold flowers will bloom… Yes, as a friend of mine reminded me this morning, God let’s nothing go to waste.

Our neighbor’s pasture. More manure, thus more gold.

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Monday, May 14, 2018
By Chris Baxter

God has put Me in a Box!

There is a familiar expression, "You can't put God in a box." Agreed. The God of the Universe can never fit in a man-made contraption comprised of mere ideas and speculations concerning His character. If you want to know God, read His word; there, you will find Him. And there, if your heart is humbly willing, He will never stop amazing you with His unbound grace and free flowing love.

BUT, Godcan "put us in a box." Listen to His words of truth:

For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  I Cor. 3:11

You hem me in behind and before, and You lay Your hand upon me.  Psalm 139:5-6

So we, as Christians, stand on the solid rock of Jesus Christ. When we believe in Him, our footsteps become unshakebly firm because of His truths beneath us. And as we walk step by step, God Himself puts His protective hand behind, before, and over us. We are enclosed on all sides; not constrained as some might speculate, but enclosed with the marvelous mystery of who He is and what He does.

Inside these borders are His wisdom and knowledge, His compassion and kindness, His security and peace, His faithfulness and steadfast love...and these attributes of His character are unending. It doesn't matter what goes on around me, as long as I am hemmed in by His hand. When I dare to step outside of His boundry, the weight and the struggle and the pull this world hits me full in the face like a fierce wind in a winter storm. So quickly, I step back inside to find His warmth once again.

You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with shouts of deliverance. Psalm 32:7

Yes, God of the Universe, I want to thank You for grace-fully putting me in Your "box", now and forever.

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Monday, April 9, 2018
By Chris Baxter

The Puzzle Working God

Our lives can be compared to one large puzzle, with God Himself being the puzzle-worker. All the pieces are present from the beginning, and there is a beautiful masterpiece waiting to be put together by its Creator. He knows where each piece fits, and He knows exactly when to put it in its place. Every piece is different in shape and markings; some are bright and full of color, while others are drab and dreary, serving as a neccessary backdrop to the revealed glory by its side.

Do you trust your Puzzle-Working God? In other words, do you undoubtedly believe that God knows best in both the timing and the order of your days? Or, do you find yourself becoming impatient, wanting to yank the "puzzle pieces" from His hand and do life yourself? Be careful, the bible teaches that there will be consequences to this method. Think of Sarai, Abram's wife, who decided to take matters into her own hands in order to fulfill God's promise of bearing a son (Genesis 16).
Do you find joy in your Puzzle-Working God? Or are you upset with Him because your picture is not the one you would have picked for yourself? The bible speaks of this as well in the Potter/Clay analogy: You turn things upside down, as if the potter were thought to be like the clay! Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, "He did not make me"? Can the pot say of the potter, "He knows nothing?" (Isaiah 29:16). I know there have been specific times in my life when I have had to beg the Lord to change my embittered clinched fists to joyful hands of praise... and He gracefully answers my repentant prayers.I encourage you to rest your impatient hands and your questioning heart in a God who is fully trustworthy and entirely faithful--even in the drab and dreary times of your life! These pieces, too, are a significant and irreplacable part of your beautiful picture. God promises hope and contentment in His word when you just can't see or understand what He is up to in your days. There is no challenge too difficult or no project too confusing for this Grand Puzzle-Worker. He longs to willingly and winsomely create your life's portrait, piece by piece, peace by peace.

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Monday, March 19, 2018
By Chris Baxter

Two Are Knocking, One Can Enter

This year, I felt lead to read through the Bible. It may take me longer than a year, but I started at Genesis 1 and am slowly working my way through the living pages.A verse that has been stuck in my mind for weeks now is this: ...Sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it (Genesis 4:7). I recently learned that the word crouching in this verse is much like that of a roaring lion. These words were spoken by the Lord to Cain, who was angry because the Lord accepted Abel's sacrifice and not his own. God graciously came to Cain and gave him a warning to repent and do what was right, but he ignored it. In the very next verse, Cain lead his brother Abel out into a field and killed him. Sin, because it was not mastered, had entered through the door. In this case, sin was: anger, jealousy, then murder.In contrast, I can't help but think of another scripture reference to Someone knocking at the door. Revelation 3:20 says: Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. Ahhh, the Master Jesus is knocking, the Prince of Peace, the Comforter, the Helper, the Encourager, the Overcomer. When He enters, a trustworthy and caring relationship enters with Him. This Master is the only Master that can master sin. No one can overcome sin alone.

So the way I see it, two are knocking, but only one can enter. When temptation comes (not if temptation comes, but when), will I let my enemy enter in "and dine with me"? Or, will I let the Master who conquered sin come in? I have a choice every time there is a knock, every time there is a temptation in thought, word, or deed. Who will I allow to invade my mind and heart, the spirit of sin, or the Holy Spirit that helps me conquer it?What about you, my friend? When temptation comes, who will you choose to cross the threshold of your heart? One brings havoc; he is the adversary that prowls around like aroaring lion seeking to devour (1 Peter 5:8). The other brings peace, and He eagerly waits to do His marvelous work. Let's both choose the right One."Please Lord Jesus, help me to choose You! When the spirit of fear, discouragement, pride, anger, or deception comes knocking, help me also to hear Your knock as well. Your knock is inviting me toward Your love, the other is only luring me further away. Please come in; invade me with Your holy presence. I need your Spirit to overcome the temptation of my flesh, and I need your Truth to conquer the way of the Deceiver. Yes, come in, dine with me today, Lord Jesus, my Savior, my Master." Amen.No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and detest the other. Matthew 6:24

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Monday, February 5, 2018
By Chris Baxter

You Were Made for This

Creation reflects the creator. When you see a wonderful work of art, or watch an awesome movie, or read an incredible book, you naturally applaud the one who "birthed" the masterpiece.Now look around you. Whether you're in the mountain range of Colorado, or by the oceanside of the Florida beaches, or in the hills and valleys of Tennessee, a majestic Creator can be applauded. All of His creation praises Him! I love how Scripture attests to this truth: Let the heavens rejoice, and the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it; let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them. Then all the trees of the forest will sing for joy (Psalm 96:11-12)

Let us remember and take to heart that we, too, are His creation. As a matter of fact, we are His crowning glory, the ones fashioned with hearts and souls and minds. He made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor (Psalm 8:5).So if the sun, moon, and stars, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, the mountains, hills, and valleys, if all of these things are praising His name, shouldn't we as well? And shouldn't we be leading the way?Choose to praise Him today. Shout "thank You's" and sing adorations to the Creator of your unique and gifted self; because, human being, you were made for this...Arise shine, your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. Isaiah 60:1

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017
By Chris Baxter

The Healthy Habit of Casting

A bible verse that I revisit over and over again is this one:
...casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you. (I Peter 5:7)And this one:
Cast your burden upon the Lord, and He will sustain you... (Psalm 55:22)The word "cast" means to throw forcefully in a specified direction. In these two verses, we are given the simple instruction to throw all our anxieties and burdens off of our hearts and minds, into the direction of the Lord, who will then take them upon Himself. I wish this straightforward instruction was as simple to obey. Why do I hold onto things I cannnot control?
For example, I have four children in their twenties, each with their own set of predicaments, large and small. As their mother, I have a tendency to take on the dangerous attitude of ownership, making their problems, my problems. I then can add my husband's "stuff", as well as both of our aging parents, not to mention my own personal struggles. If I'm not careful, in a matter of only minutes, I've gathered in my arms stressful stones, burdensome bricks, and worrisome rocks. Oh how they weigh me down! In this condition, I'm not only useless to my kids, my husband, my parents, myself, but also to others in my path who may need a helping hand.Therefore, I must continue to develop and strengthen the healthy habit of casting. I must name each worry that I naturally accumulate, and then hurl it in the direction of the One who can not only catch it (He never misses), but also can do something about it (He's always productive). In His hands, each troublesome pebble has the opportunity to become a precious stone, but I must choose to let it go.

So friend, if you are holding a heap of havoc, start hurling it with hope. Throw it forcefully into the direction of your Savior. Your healthy habit of casting is His earnest heart's desire.
Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears our burden, the God who is our salvation. (Psalm 68:19)

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Sunday, August 13, 2017
By Chris Baxter

Daily Prayer

God of Those Who Wait

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord. - Psalm 27:14

Dear Lord, help me to remember that as I am waiting patiently You are working perfectly. Build my trust in You. Yes, in the waiting, I will praise You. In the waiting, I will obey You. In the waiting, I will declare Your name to the world.