Mindy Belz, in an article in the September 1, 2018, World Magazine, shared her experience with root rot in her garden this past summer. Apparently her area had received so much rain that the soil became so saturated that no air could enter in, causing the roots to dissolve and her plants to die.
Belz came to realize, “In the garden and in life, we can be lulled by why seems a buoyant ride into ignoring underlying perils.”
The only way to remedy root rot is to lift the plant from the saturated soil while at least some of the roots are still intact and move the plant to completely fresh soil. There the plant can thrive once again.
This story about root rot reminds me of Colossians 2:6-7:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
When we find ourselves swimming along and trying to root our lives in material things or our own accomplishments, the roots can quickly dissolve when things break or are lost or when our accomplishments don’t get us anywhere.
It is then that we need to be transplanted, if you will, into the rich soil of faith in Christ. Only there can our lives develop deep roots, nourished and fed by him. Only there can we thrive and bear fruit for him. And only there will we continue to grow for all eternity into the plantings he wants us to be.
Be routed and grounded in Christ today and always … and overflow with thankfulness!
Have you ever heard of “Dunbar’s Number”? Discovered by British evolutionary anthropologist Robin Dunbar, it is the human norm that the number of genuinely personal relationships a person can actively maintain is 150, give or take. Dunbar and his colleagues note that “150 people is both the approximate size of a typical small-scale human village and about the number of people who can live or work together without needing power structures to enforce cooperation. The group is small enough that social pressures can keep people in line” (“Does Your Pastor Need a Friend?” Christianity Today, October 2017, p. 62).
I find this interesting because at a recent conference I attended, the keynote speaker said that currently a majority of congregations in America have an average weekly attendance of guess what? 150 members.
It occurs to me that this is not simply a coincidence. 150 appears to be the sweet spot for most churches for the very reasons that research for Dumbar’s Number indicates:
It keeps the group manageable. People do not become just a number. People know them by name. Functions can happen without an overflow of people and not in an oversize room.
It keeps the group personal. Everybody knows each other and can keep relationships functioning. People care about one another because they know them well and see them often.
It keeps the group accountable. People notice when others are missing and can follow up with them. People can see when fellow members are straying and can bring them back into the fold. There is a sense that people are expected to be present at certain times and be there for one another in times of need.
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Have you heard of the popular online trend of monthly box subscription services? Amanda Monroe, a director of children’s and family ministry at Grace Lutheran Church in Loves Park, IL, applied the concept to develop faith formation at home. Her online store is faithfixbox.com. Faith Fix Boxes can be purchased by families or congregations to use.
The idea is to provide devotional materials and faith-based activities for families to use and work on together to strengthen their individual commitment to Christ and build relationships of faith with one another.
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Andrée Seu Peterson, in an article entitled “Learning Curves” in World magazine asks the question. “Why would you ever assume that you can’t do all things by Christ who strengthens you?” (World Magazine, March 4, 2017, p. 63). The Bible tells us we can, of course, but the devil and our human nature keep telling us we can’t.
We should never let stumbles or setbacks along the way in our Christian walk prevent us from moving forward, from carrying on, from dusting ourselves off and getting back to work. We must always look at any failure (large or small, real or perceived) as a learning experience. “How can I do that better the next time?” “What can I do to adjust my approach?” “What do I need to avoid?”
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I attended a prayer breakfast last month in which acclaimed author and speaker Walter Wangerin. Jr., spoke on the “Ani Ahm.” Roughly translated, “Ani Ahm” means “the poor people of God.”
Wangerin spoke of the poor widow whom Elijah encountered in 1 Kings 17 during a time of drought. Though she had only “a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug,” she trusted Elijah when he said, “For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth’” (1 Kings 17:12, 14). She made a little cake for Elijah and then something for her and her son. And by the grace of God, “The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah” (1Kings 17:15).
The poor fed Elijah. Continue reading →
I recently had to deal with an infestation of mice in my home. I would see the signs that they were there: Food eaten out of the trash, dish towels chewed through and the droppings.
I put out those simple wooden traps with the metal bar that snapped on intruders when they tried to eat the bit of peanut butter I had placed there.
Several mornings in a row, I cheered with delight that another mouse had been caught, which I quickly put into the dumpster out back, trap and all.
Then it was time to scour the kitchen with soap and water and wash all the dishes and silverware and get rid of any food that I saw the mice had gotten into. An exhausting and irritating job.
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