Faith

Now is the perfect time to get a little selfish and make sure you are giving yourself the TLC you need! We are here to boost your self-esteem, get you through rough times, and just be a nice reminder that you ROCK! Chances are you don’t hear it enough, so we want to fill that void. But, this is one blog you won’t get sick of…

Interested in submitting your own faith blog content? Think you have what it takes to be a GREAT Relate blogger? Send your writing to mary@relatemag.com. We would LOVE to hear from you!

Lessons From a Master Gardener


When I was in San Francisco I toured the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park. It was created by Makoto Hagiwara in 1894. Mr. Hagiwara was clearly a master gardener. I was awed by the cultured beauty and peace of the garden, but I particularly loved the Bonsai trees. How did they grow so perfectly shaped? I knew there must be a story behind each one, just like each of us. I found the answer in the Bible.

Through my brief study of the art of Bonsai, I learned the trees are actually regular size trees or shrubs that have been cultivated to a small size. To maintain the tree’s small size, constant  pruning must be done to control growth. Roots must be cut back so the tree will not grow beyond the size of the container. Branches are wired to shape them into the desired position. The trees require regular maintenance to keep their design intact.

When I began to read my Bible regularly, I realized a Christian is like a bonsai tree. We start out as a new believer, ignorant, eager, and desirous of becoming like our Lord and Savior. We are raw material waiting for our Lord to teach and train us, so that we may be pleasing to Him and able to do the work He calls us to do.  

Jesus explained this in John 10:10b, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

Most importantly, God wants us to bear fruit. Jesus said in John 15:1-2: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away:  and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

In John 15, we learn about the true vine. Who is the vine? Jesus. God, the Father, is the husbandman or gardener. The branches are Believers. In a biblical sense, we find that abiding is the result of a personal relationship with Jesus. If we are not part of the vine of Jesus, we will wither and die.

Just like the Bonsai master prunes his tree, so does the Lord prune His children. The beautiful form of the bonsai is accomplished by placing wires around the branches to bend each one gradually into the desired shape. Through God’s shaping process, the Believer is groomed to better produce fruit.

The Lord shapes us through His Word and through life experiences. He trains us to put aside the selfish and self-interested tendencies of the natural person. He reminds us that we are rooted in Him through the Holy Spirit. He keeps us, just as the Bonsai master keeps his trees.

The Bible says in Ephesians 2:10:  “for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

As a Believer, we are expected to obey God’s Word because we love Him. We recognize the sacrifice He paid so we might be saved from the punishment for sin. Abiding is about love, commitment to Jesus, and obedience to His commands. As we grow and develop as Believers we will be used to reach others. Our Lord created each of us for a purpose that He reveals to us in His good time.

Change in us and in a bonsai tree is gradual and oh so slow. I am thankful that my Lord is patient and kind to me, giving His life that I might have eternal life.

Written by Linda Hull

 

More about the Bonsai…

*Here is a link to the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco:

http://japaneseteagardensf.com/

http://sfrecpark.org/destination/golden-gate-park/japanese-tea-garden/

 

*If you would like more information about bonsai trees, check out this website:

https://www.bonsaiempire.com/

*Here is a link to the United States National Arboretum’s page about The National Bonsai & Penjing Museum which features a bonsai photo gallery.

http://www.usna.usda.gov/PhotoGallery/BonsaiGallery/index.html



Save The Lost...The Game!


There are lots of fun games out there — but how many of them teach meaningful Christian principles?  Of those that do, how many are cool enough that kids and teens WANT to play them?  The obvious answer: “not many!”

That’s why we created Save the Lost.  It’s similar to classic outdoor games like Hide and Seek, Tag and Capture the Flag — but unlike those games, it’s played with specialty glowing lights.  LED Candles mark important boundaries. Players wear illuminated cross necklaces and flashing red bracelets.  The game’s objective revolves around one beautifully lit orb, called “The Light.”

This is not a “sit around and talk” kind of game.  This is a glow-in-the-dark adventure game, one that’s active, that calls for hiding, searching, running, even sneaking up on people!   It really is FUN — but it also teaches profound Christian principles.

Check out this video of the game in action:

Interested in learning more?

Visit the official website:

http://www.savethelostgame.com/

Or check out it out on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LX3WQ6X



Lose the Weight!


Concerned about weight gain, I started trying to exercise more. Walking became a favorite way to exercise. Yet, I wasn’t losing the pounds. So why was I still overweight? I was disappointed that exercise alone had not solved my problem.  

Then during my quiet time, I read Hebrews 12:1 (KJV).

“Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,”

This confirmed my need to lose weight! Even the Bible said so! What contributes to weight gain? Eating too many calories! I needed a healthier diet. What a difference that made on my scale! With diligence, I started watching my weight go down.

But wait, Hebrews 12:1 isn’t about dieting. It’s about a life change.

When I was in high school, one of my acquaintances came to school high on drugs. She could barely make it up the stairs to the gym class. That’s when she asked for help from me and my best friend. As we were struggling to get her up the stairs she begged us not to do drugs ever. She told us how her drug use was ruining her life. That’s why she was so intent on making it to class. One more miss, and she would have been in trouble, possibly suspended.

I remembered hearing the rumors of her last drug overdose. She almost died. She told us while we struggled up the stairs that we were two of the nicest girls in school. She made us both promise not to ever get started on drug use. She didn’t want us to make her mistake. Of course we promised. That weight of drug addiction she carried around was a heavy burden. The damage to her body and her reputation could be repaired, but only if she could stay off drugs.

There are other weights that rob us of our joy and keep us from becoming who God created us to be. Unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking rob us of our money and health. Habits such as lying and cheating rob us of our credibility. There are personal habits that further demonstrate irresponsibility like being chronically late, spending all our money, or never keeping a promise.

Sin so easily captivates us because it seems harmless, but in the end it’s a destroyer. In the Bible, weight is something that keeps us from doing what is righteous in God’s eyes.  It holds us down; trapped, and miserable.

Hebrews 12:1 is encouraging to me because it is a reminder that weight is often something we carry around and don’t necessarily need. On our own, we can’t get rid of the weights that are ruining our lives. We need God’s help.

God changes lives when our trust is placed in Him and in His Word. Each of us can know for sure we will have a place with Him in Heaven if we will call upon His name and ask Him to save us. We can know for sure our sin is forgiven if we will confess it and turn away from it.  

We need to be changed! Let’s lose the weights that hold us back from being the people we were created to be!

For more information about getting right with God, check out this presentation at: http://evangelismexplosion.org/resources/steps-to-life/

Written by: Linda Hull

 



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