Summer’s Goodness



As August races to the end of itself, I see the word “harvest” cropping up everywhere as stores shift from school supplies as the lead ad to autumn leaves, apples, and pumpkins. Autumn is my favorite season in Ohio. The temperature is still delightful. It is still warm, but the sticky humidity of summer is gone and sitting on the deck in the evening might mean I want something warm to sip instead of an iced tea or lemonade.


I am not too eager to see summer end, however, and that was even true when our children were young. I wasn’t happy to see them go back to school and start the school schedule that puts new boundaries up for bedtime and almost everything else. The children have been grown and gone for some time and though I relish autumn, I don’t like to let go of summer.


Summer brings a special goodness to our table. I no longer rely on the grocery store to supply me with produce shipped in from places hundreds of miles away. In summer I can visit farmer’s markets that pop up as well as my local orchard and discover the pleasure of choosing vegetables and fruit that are ripe when they are picked. My grocery store will even have some locally grown items as well.



Don’t misunderstand me. I appreciate the plentiful variety of produce my grocery store has all through the winter and spring, but there is a huge difference to the color, fragrance, and taste of a fresh picked ripe peach or ear of corn in later summer. Green beans can actually snap when I prepare them rather than bend under my fingers. Concord grapes are just around the corner too, but the hardest part of summer’s bounty coming to an end is not finding locally grown vine-ripened tomatoes.


Oh, yes, there will be red things in the vegetable aisle at the grocery store and the sign will say tomatoes, but they will be a sad representation of the lush, juicy, red vine-ripened tomatoes we enjoy until the first frost arrives. They have little taste and nothing to entice me except to adorn a salad in the hope there might be some nutrition in them somewhere. These tomatoes seem to be imposters. How could they be anything else? They are picked when green, hard, and tough. Then they are subjected to the gas, ethylene, that makes the skins of the tomato become red and helps to ripen them.


The problem for me is that somewhere in February I am enticed by the red color and buy a few of these imposters. I forget the taste of the vine-ripened varieties that disappear by October or late September depending on the frost. One slice, one taste, and I am disappointed and reminded this is an imposter.


When the psalmist says “O taste and see that the Lord is good” at the beginning of Psalm 34, what does he want to convey?


I love what Mathew Henry’s Commentary says about this:

“The goodness of God includes both the beauty and amiableness of his being and the bounty and beneficence of his providence and grace; and accordingly, (1.) We must taste that he is a bountiful benefactor, relish the goodness of God in all his gifts to us, and reckon the savor and sweetness of them. Let God’s goodness be rolled under the tongue as a sweet morsel. (2.) We must see that he is a beautiful being, and delight in the contemplation of his infinite perfections. By taste and sight we both make discoveries and take complacency. Taste and see God’s goodness, that is, take notice of it and take the comfort of it, 1 Pt. 2:3. he is good, for he makes all those that trust in him truly blessed; let us therefore be so convinced of his goodness as thereby to be encouraged in the worst of times to trust in him.


When we “taste and see” the Lord I am not suggesting He falls in the category of a tomato, but I am suggesting that when we do “taste and see” we will discover He is genuine and real. There is nothing fake about Him. He is “the real deal.”


In other places we hear Jesus telling us to learn of Him. That adds another dimension to what the psalmist says in the verse I refer to. In both passages I am reminded that I have much to learn, but that can only happen if I am humble enough to admit there is much to learn.


In Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, she reminds us of that.


“Humility…predisposes us to believe that we always have something to learn. Because humility reminds us of our dependency and limitations, it also reminds us of the limits of our mind. It reminds us that there is always a place where our vision could be corrected or our understanding grow.”


 To embrace the wisdom she writes about, you and I will need to take time to “taste and see.”   To do that, we will also need to humble ourselves, slow our pace, and rest in His presence. Perhaps then we will gain a glimpse of the description Matthew Henry describes. If we do, I know stress and anxiety will begin to drain away and we will know His peace no matter what is happening in the world around us or the world beyond our front door.





Building on Sand



If being grafted into Jesus reduces my stress, helps to release me from the entanglement of pride, and brings me rest, what gets in the way of my arriving there tucked in with all the other branches to the vine? I know my identity is first and foremost to come from Him, but there’s the rub. Even though I know that somewhere in that theological construct in my head, do I live as though that is the case?


A long time back in Sunday School I learned the chorus about the wise man building his house upon the rock and the foolish man building his house upon the sand. It provided the foundational principle that all that I am is to be built on Jesus, the rock of my salvation. If that has shaped my identity then rest should not elude me and yet it often did.


Any of us can show ourselves to be sand builders when we compare ourselves to one another or when we try to prove ourselves as somehow more valuable or important as someone else.


In Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis wrote, “Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man…It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest.”


We betray what is happening within us when we care so deeply about what others think IMG_2637of us, how they measure us. I am not sure how any if us develops the habit of comparing ourselves, but I am persuaded that it begins very early before we even have words.


As infants we are compared to a chart of height, weight, and other characteristics that suggests whether we are developing in a healthy fashion or are somehow “less than.”  In childhood play it is not uncommon to hear one child say to another, “I’m stronger than you” or “my bike is faster than yours.” The competition and comparison sounds innocent enough, but reveals we even come into the world stained with such traits in our genetic heritage born in the Garden of Eden when we unwittingly sought to raise ourselves up to be equal with God. The wily serpent struck us where he knew we could not resist.


Putting that character flaw on the cross for good is not easy even when we try. Another place comparison shows up in our adult conversation is when someone says, “I can’t identify with her (or him, or that).” In that moment we demonstrate something about empathy, but we have also made a comparison putting ourselves above or beneath what we have used as the standard of comparison. We have made an arbitrary judgment ranking ourselves somewhere on some obscure set of guidelines.


G. K. Chesterton brings us all up short with these words:


“How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it; if you could really look at other men with common curiosity and pleasure.”


We can be so susceptible to focusing on ourselves. Some of us have missed it because we thought so little of our physical well being that we run ourselves ragged trying to be what we believe we need to be to gain acceptance, love, or appreciation. It might “look” like we aren’t thinking of ourselves at all, but a closer look underneath often reveals the source of our busy activity. We have defined our identity in something other than Jesus. We are building our resumes and want to be sure ours looks as if we are worth consideration.


But you see, He, Son of God, Jesus, soon coming King of Kings, loved us so much that He pursued us when we were far from Him. He knew we were dust. He knew what He was getting and that even after we turned and accepted His unspeakable gift of grace that we would fall again. Even so, we were worth His consideration because of who He is. And if we are grafted into Him, that settles it, but can we keep our focus on Him?


Hannah Anderson’s words in Humble Roots confirm that:


“When we are consumed with God’s glory, we forget to worry about our own. When our eyes are fixed on Him as the source of all goodness and truth and beauty, we accept that we are not. When we are enamored by His worth and majesty, we can stop being so enamored with ourselves. And fascinatingly, when we seek God’s glory, we’ll be able to appreciate it in people around us. Instead of seeing them as threats to our glory, we will see them as beautiful reflections of His.”


That brings us rest.

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Seeing Through A Glass Darkly


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When you read the title of this post most of you will recall it appears in 1 Corinthians 13:12. The verse reads:


“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” 1 Cor. 13:12 (KJV)


It comes in the well-known chapter Paul writes about love and whatever translation we choose, it serves as a reminder that we do not see well now.


We know that, but we can also get stuck. We can get stuck because sometimes we just want answers because the lack of answers or those that make no sense to us are intolerable. We can also get stuck because in the absence of light to see everything clearly, we can add things. We add things many times because we see a pattern or at least a part of a pattern. Sometimes we add things on the positive view of God or the situation and sometimes we add negative things on our view of Him.


We’re looking for clues to help us discover missing pieces of information. What we may not know is whether or not we have all the clues needed to solve the mystery we seek to uncover.


Click here to continue reading 



The blogging community is a special place where I have developed special relationships with other writers, authors, and bloggers whom I have never met in person. Through their writing and images I have come to know their hearts and love for the Lord. Today it’s my privilege to be sharing as a guest with Debbie Kitterman.


Debbie is an author, speaker, and founder of Dare 2 Hear, a ministry designed to train others to hear the Lord’s voice. She’s currently hard at work finishing a new book you will want to look for this fall.

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Symptoms and Clues



I approached the issue of tiredness and stress in my life in ways that I thought would be helpful because who likes to feel that way all the time, right? I knew I had some clues to work with and more than one symptom as well. I knew I did not get enough sleep on a regular basis and would try to make up for that on weekends by sleeping later on Saturday and taking a nap EVERY Sunday afternoon. That was a small reprieve, but not the answer. I read books and articles on diet, health, and exercise and they helped. I added some B complex to my supplement list and increased my intake of water, but that didn’t reach where I needed to be. I turned down some invitations and handed off some responsibilities, but that still wasn’t enough. Years of the “busy habit” had accumulated and there would be no easy way to deal with it.


If I am honest, I approached the spiritual side of the issue last because I didn’t recognize that it was where I would find relief. I worked in a Christian counseling practice for years and then on a church staff as well. A quiet time, a journal, and prayer were not missing from my life, but it was also true that I was not focusing as well on the times I sat with a cup of coffee to do those things.


I was overly responsible and the type of employee, friend, and ministry worker or leader that everyone loves because we show up when others don’t and we can usually be persuaded to do ‘one more thing’ because it is a good thing and “no one else can do it quite like you.”  Yikes! Why do such words snag or appeal to us?


I would not want to simplify the answer to it, but one part of it that relates to what I wrote in my previous posts is how quickly and subtly pride can infiltrate a life even if we are trying to be humble. I am sure you have heard of the term ‘false modesty’, but in Hannah Anderson’s book, Humble Roots, that I have referenced in this series she has another term for that…the humble brag.


 “A humble brag is a statement that initially sounds humble because it uses certain words like ‘humble’ or ‘thankful’ but ultimately it draws attention back to the person making it.”


 One example might be: “I’m thankful (or humbled) to be able to use my gifting to serve in this ministry.”  I could list more, but I can guess you get the drift of what I mean.


Of course, our pride shows up unbidden and sometimes obvious to others when someone congratulates us or wishes us well and we try to deflect those kind words because it would be prideful to accept them with a simple “thank you.” It might even show up when we talk about how “unworthy” we are to receive an accolade of some kind.


We get caught in those things because we have the mistaken idea that pride is something we can defeat and humility is something we can attain if we try. Hannah Anderson has a response to that as well in her book:


“But humility is not a commodity. It is not something you can achieve. It is not something you can accomplish. Being humble is something you either are or aren’t. And if you aren’t, no amount of trying can make up for it.”


Our actions, words, and attitudes give us away all the time!


The difficulty in gaining rest, peace, and humility is in part due to the truth that I/you need to set aside your own sense of identity. I need to set aside the identity of the person who always can be counted on to meet your need, the identity of the person who can always come up with a solution, the identity of the person who will never disappoint you or let you down.


If you read those sentences carefully you might discover what escapes our awareness. No one can be any of those except God. And the problem is that despite our best efforts we cannot imitate Him very well.


The only way we can, as Hannah Anderson observes (and I agree), find true rest is this:


 “We too must be grafted. If we are to find rest from our stress, if we are to have any hope of escaping our pride, we must be grafted onto the one who is humility Himself. We can no longer be content to attempt to imitate Him; we must become part of Him in order to reflect Him.”



Why Do We Resist?



What makes it so difficult to take the message of Jesus about rest and apply it to our stress-filled busy lives? Many of us know His message about this and yet we persist. As I look through the rearview mirror, I can see how often I did! The tyranny of the “should’s” and the “ought’s” kept me in tow and their influence was a powerful tool to keep me running like the gerbil on the wheel. Those two words haunted me in every area of my life.


I could tell you the family dynamics and birth order research to explain some of those, but those (though significant) took me down rabbit trails trying harder to be better. As a result of my clinical counseling graduate program, I knew a great deal about healthy boundaries. They added to the things I needed to remember and do. Even the “to do” list that I heard from many Christians added to the stress that came from not feeling good enough. I knew they were good things, but it felt a bit like the Pharisees adding to the law.


What did Paul want me to understand from 2 Corinthians 3:5? That verse is highlighted and underlined in my Bible.


“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,” 2 Cor. 3:5 (NASB)


I had felt inadequate much of my life in multiple areas, but my response was to try harder and do more. That would be a good example of how duped I/we could be by the devices Satan has used effectively for thousands of years. Perhaps when I or we do good things or important things, it makes it more difficult to detect his fingerprints on the issue. After all caring for our children, spouses, homes, ministries, jobs, neighbors, family members and friends are all important. We are not to be selfish so we press on.


Jesus tells us to take His yoke when we are weary and heavy-laden. That speaks in direct words to tiredness and stress. Matthew 11:28-30…do we even pause to consider what the verse tells us or what He means?


“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-30 (NASB)


So why do I/you resist or fear His yoke for what it means?


Hannah Anderson in Humble Roots who inspired this current series that began August 16 names the problem for what it is.


“We fear the loss of control. We fear surrender. But we must understand that without protection of a good master, we are not safe. From the manipulation of other masters. From the expectations of society. From ourselves.”


Ah, yes, that annoying nagging issue of control. How often each of us can plead guilty on that one once the Holy Spirit starts turning on the light so we see more clearly. Hannah says we need a “good master” and I can fathom no better one than Jesus. But if I/you are weary, tired, and stressed, is there another ‘master’ in charge driving us? I found it helpful to look at what other ‘masters’ might be at work in my life, those whom I gave too much control. That looks at control from the flip side I tended to view. What I saw was how easily the expectations of those ‘masters’ were behind so much of the unrest I experienced.


I hadn’t intended to give over control to other ‘masters’ who were manipulating nor had I intended to allow expectations of society to take the upper hand. Expectations of myself? I had plenty of those in abundance. By the time I reached this point, I was certain those were ineffectual and added to the drivenness creating the stress and exhaustion.


Hannah’s insightful words point to the steps needed.


“And so we must respond to Jesus’ call. We must come to Him. We must come to Him and learn (emphasis mine) of His gentleness and humility. We must come to Him to be tamed.”

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