Savoring Summer #33: Seed Explosion

IMG_2339 edit“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him.” (Romans 14:2-3)

This is not a verse that is talking about black and white right versus wrong.  Paul covered that earlier in the book (remember? I referenced it here.)

This is a verse talking about personal differences in opinion over things that are not clearly black and white in the Scriptures. Like…wearing masks versus not wearing masks during a pandemic, a very hotly debated topic in church and out of it.  This is such a good current example, because I’ve heard a lot of judgement being thrown around in both directions. 

People shaming mask wearers for “giving in to fear” or “giving in to overt government control”. 

People shaming non-mask wearers, saying they don’t care about people dying, and are therefore basically murderers.

Okay, ya’ll.  Wherever you stand on this, here are your instructions: “Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind…The one who eats, eats in honor of the Lord, since he gives thanks to God, while the one who abstains, abstains in honor of the Lord and gives thanks to God.” (vs. 5-6)

Research it, make sure what you’re doing and how you’re doing it truly honors the Lord, then stand firm in your convictions.  Ask loving questions if you’re curious, and engage in kind discussion, but don’t “quarrel over opinions” (vs.14) and ultimately respect the brother or sister who somehow managed to come to a complete opposite conclusion.

“…why do you despise your brother? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God…so then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)

(And, of course, masks make a good contemporary illustration here, but I’m sure you’ll have no problem inserting other scenarios!)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: Don’t these yellow goat’s beard seed heads just remind you of 4th of July fireworks along the fields and ditches right now?!

Savoring Summer #32: Blue Heron

IMG_2253 edit.jpg“Let everyone submit to the governing authorities, since there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are instituted by God.” (Romans 13:13)

As we celebrate our country’s birthday, let’s thank God for the good leaders through the years who have had the vision to found and guide our country according to what is true and right.  And even when we don’t agree with our governing authorities, it’s good to be reminded that they are ultimately placed there by God, and if only for this reason alone, deserve our respect.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.  Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.  Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” (1 Peter 2:13-17)

Also remember: it’s easy to criticize leadership, but not so easy to BE in leadership.  The higher up you are, the greater the pressure and heavier the weight of responsibility.  So in addition to honoring and submitting, let’s not forget to do this:

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  for kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour…” (1 Timothy 2:1-4)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #31: Strawberry Babies

IMG_2285 edit.jpg“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:21)

Ah, I love today’s passage from Romans, with all its pointed little nuggets of instruction for living well.  It was hard to pick just one, when they’re all so good.  Seems to me you could sit and meditate on each of these verses all day long all by itself!

But I like the way this one exhorts us to action in response to evil, instead of the easier and more tempting option of pulling into our safe shells.  In battle terms, it’s not telling you to simply stay on the defensive, huddle in your fortress and keep evil at bay with a few well-placed arrows.  It’s telling you to sally forth on the offensive, right into the battlefield, and win back the ground that evil is taking.

Of course, using the correct weapon (“good”) is key here.  There are a lot of well-meaning people who somehow get the idea that they are somehow justified in combating evil WITH evil.  It starts, for example, when we’re little, thinking that slapping the little sister who took our toy is going to somehow “solve” the problem.  When we’re adults, we justify: “I can make a snide/gossipy/sarcastic/hurtful remark about THAT person behind their back, because they did THIS to me!”  It actually multiplies the problem instead of eradicating it, but that’s where Satan too often has us blinded and fooled.

Let’s take the challenge of this verse and not let him get by with that anymore!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: Look what I found while picking strawberries!

Savoring Summer #30: Freshwater Clam

IMG_2248 edit.jpg“Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.” (Romans 12:2)

But oh, but how this “age” (or “world” or “pattern/standard of this world” in other translations) we live in begs for us to conform, and how quickly and easily our minds are clouded by its alluring priorities, causes, and agendas!

Something that stood out to me in this verse that hadn’t really before:  it suggests that perhaps the first step to understanding the will of God—something many, many people desire—is to check on your conformity versus transformity status.  Hmmm…

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #29: Black-Eyed Susans

IMG_2190 edit.jpg“Oh, the depth of the riches and the wisdom and the knowledge of God!

How unsearchable his judgments and untraceable his ways!

For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?

And who has ever given to God, that he should be repaid?

For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:33-36)

I love how this is subtitled “A Hymn of Praise” in my Bible, as Paul beautifully sums up how he feels about the complex, mysterious, yet wonderful things he had expounded on thus far. 

I think this would be the perfect hymn to turn to both when when you are in complete awe of God, and when you believe yet are struggling to understand.

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #28: In the Daisy Field

IMG_2152 edit.jpgMemory verse: “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

The fourth step on the Romans Road is about our needed response to the solution to our problem.

P.S. See this post if you’re unfamiliar with the Romans Road!  Also, see this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

Savoring Summer #27: Mother Hen

IMG_2103 edit.jpg“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

Looking back over what I read this last week, I was easily drawn back to chapter 8.  There is so much good stuff in that one chapter!  This particular verse in it is a frequently quoted one, but for good reason.  

We’ve all been through those seasons in our lives when it sure doesn’t FEEL like things are going to work together for the good, does it?  But this is a precious promise to lean on in the midst of those struggles and hard times.

This is not to say that there aren’t any consequences for mistakes or sin, but it is to say that God can use even the ugly thing and turn them around for His ultimate glory and good.  I’ve watched it happen, time and again, and it’s such a beautiful thing.

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo: The best part about this picture is what’s not pictured:  a handful or more of the tiniest brown striped chicks you ever saw, almost completely camouflaged in the weeds behind her.  The grass rippled with the movement of them all running away while she stood guard.

Savoring Summer #26: Muskrat

IMG_1988 edit“Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, though a wild olive branch, were grafted in among them and have come to share in the rich root of the cultivated olive tree, do not boast that you are better than those branches. But if you do boast—you do not sustain the root, but the root sustains you.” (Romans 11:17-18)

When I read this, I remember my grandpa doing an actual grafting demonstration in the church basement one Sunday evening to help us visualize what verses like this meant in the Bible.  He and my grandma were both passionate about praying for “the cultivated olive tree”, God’s chosen people, humbly and gratefully recognizing them as “the root”.

It’s a sweet memory of him, and the memory was a good reminder to me today to pray for the Jewish people (may they finally recognize Jesus as their true Messiah!) and, as the psalmist exhorts, the peace of Jerusalem!

“Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” (Psalm 122:6)

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

IMG_1980 editAbout the photo:  When you discover a muskrat sharing your swimming space, you either panic or count it as the highlight of your day.  We chose the latter!

Savoring Summer #25: Blush Slippers

IMG_2118 edit.jpg“I can testify about them that they have zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

Yes, it’s quite possible to be zealous for God but be incorrect about it.  He’s referring here to the Jews, who had God’s very law in their hands—and still missed the point.  This was such a good warning to me, to beware lest I ever slide into establishing my own ideas and standards of (seemingly Godly) righteousness instead of always falling back on the truth of His Word and His righteousness!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!

About the photo:  Home-school lesson of the week: an in-person introduction to our state flower.  Haven’t they been wonderful this year?!

Savoring Summer #24: Wood Anemone

IMG_1480 edit“As it also says in Hosea,

I will call Not my People, My People,

and she who is Unloved, Beloved.

And it will be in the place where they were told,

you are not my people,

there they will be called sons of the living God.” (Romans 9:25-26)

For those of us who are not part of God’s chosen people, the Jews, by birth, but believe in our hearts that Jesus is the only Way, the Truth and the Life: this is OUR promise!  God has enlarged His fold, and we, too, are chosen!

P.S. See this original post for info about this photo challenge and more about this reading plan I’m using this summer for the book of Romans (and I’d love to have you join in!)!