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In Hope of Changing Seasons

It was raining and 43 degrees yesterday when I stopped to look up into this tree.

Its trunk and branches are strong. Yet by its appearance, it is joining the rest of us in acknowledging that we have no power to resist the seasons of life.

Solomon, struggled for a while to make sense of a life that must bow to the relentless cycles of nature. Yet, even in the days of spiritual wandering, he sensed that, in the plan of God, there is a time for everything (Ecc 3.1)

Moses saw the seasons as a reminder of God’s mercy. After telling the story of a terrible flood in the days of Noah, he quoted God as saying that, even though our hearts are inclined toward evil from the day of our birth, yet he is committed to giving us the seasons of planting and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, and day and night for as long as this present earth remains (Gen 8:21).

Thinking about the inevitable seasons of God eventually reminded me of a prayer attributed to Francis of Assisi. In this often quoted prayer, Assisi prays for the grace to plant into our relationships the kind of seed that reflects our hope in the seasons and harvest of God. He prayed,

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace;
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

This prayer resonates so deeply in me as we once more sense together the changing of the seasons. In the unrelenting grip and step of time, there are thoughts of change:

What will be.
What could be.
What may be
What may not be…

Yet the heart of this prayer does not ask for control. It asks for the grace to “plant” seeds of peace, love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light and love. Seeds have a life of their own that anticipates a harvest that comes from God alone.

So it is with the rest of this prayer. It too does not ask for control of others, but rather for the grace to “seek” interests far greater than ourselves… so that we can share with others… and with our God… the joy of his harvest, rest, and new beginning…

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54 Responses to “In Hope of Changing Seasons”

  1. plumbape says:

    Amen Brother Mart…., Amen

  2. bubbles says:

    Wow. Mart, this has to be your best post yet. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, again.

    I have St. Francis’ prayer poster sized on the back of my bedroom door. When the door shuts, I see it. The part that is singulary special is ” O Master, grant that I may not so much to seek to be understood, as to understand, to be loved, as to love.” Very conviting.
    Surely, this was a man after God’s own heart.

    The singer Sarah McLachlan has a version of this that I love.

    This prayer goes along with the post from a few weeks ago asking is it more important to be right or to have peace.

    Thank you for your beautiful picutres!

  3. InHisHands says:

    What a beautiful post and pictures.

    Interesting, I was just thinking today about the changes of seasons and holiday festivities that come with them, and praying for the energy to be as excited and productive as I have been in the past. With 4 of our granddaughters in our care it is important for me to make those events special like I have for the children God blessed me with physically. As I get older it seem to be harder to be able to put things together. (just some of my own thougthts, sorry veered off course.)

    This post, seems to me, to be the answer for last weeks post on being misunderstood. If we strive to live the prayer of St. Francis, would we need to be concerned with being misunderstood. It seems that some of the times we are misunderstood come when we are trying to prove a point or show how we are RIGHT, but when we are trying to live as this prayer expresses – as Christ gave the example – then the love of God can show through us to others and leave no room for misunderstanding.

    I seem to have gone to babbling, so time to close – but I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed revisiting this prayer of St. Francis – and pray that I will strive to live it out in my own life.

    Thanks Mart – for the pictures, too. I am a displaced Ohioan and miss the beautiful Autumn changes. (they are only mild in the desert.)

  4. pegramsdell says:

    We are supposed to be peacemakers. I pray for this all the time. Instead of being the problem or making the problem worse, I want to show God’s love and peace.
    Thank you Mart for this post and the great pictures. Hope you and everyone here will have a wonderful Sunday.

  5. wretch-like-me says:

    that prayer has always been one of my favorites by Francis… having been raised as a catholic and introduced to Francis as my ‘patron saint’ I have read much of his works. I confess I have tried to adopt his perspective on life and have even come out of the same lifestyle he embraced prior to devoting his life to Christ.

    Francis seems to have found in Christ a ‘peace’ that gives the ability to see beyond the ‘symptoms’ to the cause of our behaviors that make us ‘unloveable’. When you achieve that level of focus (not that I have), it would appear that nothing can interrupt your ‘conversation’ with Christ. It is a mountain top that I have yet to reach; but, have had many ‘glimpses’ thru the clouds.

    I, too, have enjoyed the photos and find particular interest in the second and last. The second, with its single limb that is contrary to the rest, leads me to thoughts of a solitary life choosing to live opposite the ‘world’.

    The last is so poignant in my mind reminding me of the coming harvest when, as I and others believe, christians(represented by the two absent rows) will be raptured ahead of the rest. I confess the state of affairs of this country lead me to believe we are headed in a downward spiral to that event.

    While I take comfort in knowing that Christ’s coming will bring ‘ecstacy’ to some, I grieve for those who will suffer and die in the process as well as the souls who will choose eternal damnation.

    Final thought:
    To all dear friends, here, please pray for my brother-in-law who is dealing with the grief of losing two close relatives in less than a year. His name is Dave.


  6. saled says:

    I think we may have had Indian Summer in Maine today-65 degrees and sunny. It was great to feel the sun on bare arms again, especially since we knew it may be the last time until next April or May.

    I’m in the same season of life as InHisHands, and also feel that it is getting harder to put things together, whether it be Christmas preparations or dinner for company. I don’t have young children in my home but I work with them at school, and know the energy that’s needed to stay alert to the opportunities for seed planting (or as we say in education, the teachable moment). A new saying that I’m hearing in education is this: It’s not about today.

    It’s the autumn of 2009 and it’s the autumn of my life. My garden reminds me that planting is not instantly rewarded. I planted 36 beautiful garlic cloves two weeks ago with hope of a harvest next August. We could have eaten the garlic, but it’s with hope of an increase that I planted. Winter is coming and our garlic cloves will be waiting under the ground while our hope in changing seasons will make the winter easier to endure.

    Frank, I will pray for your brother-in-law Dave. Even though we have hope, it’s hard to accept these kinds of changes in our lives

  7. daisymarygoldr says:

    Frank, I’m sorry for Dave. Praying that the peace of God may comfort him and others in the family during this time of grief…

  8. bubbles says:

    Good grief :( obviously my eyes were closed when the earlier comments were made. duh. several of my words were flipped around. will be more careful next time.
    sorry. :(

    Frank, Dave will be in my prayers tonight.
    Deb, can we ask how your dad is doing?

  9. HEY REV says:

    through my years living in four seasons I have adapted when some years they were some seasons that came so fast and left as fast.
    You know those that make you say: what happened to spring, etc.
    Yet we cannot change the four, only except they’re length. The things we do in the cycles, again cannot be changed. I find it difficult to outdoor swiming in December or snow sledding in June.I must accept each as they come. What is difficult are the experiences, trials, situations, tests that fall into every season.Dave is finding that at this time.(Frank keeping Dave in prayer)
    Dave is experiencing a different lifestyle change he didn’t ask for. Seasons can do that which Saled shared about feeling that warm sun again even for a short time. Good things like that remind us what is going to come again as Eccl three tells us.

    I also just buried/services three (3) of my very close friends and the fourth (4) was my brother-in-law in the last 4-5 months.
    Everyone of them were all heart-attacks. The thing that helps is all of them knew the Lord Jesus. Sure they are all in the best place but still missed here.
    I’ve learned to hold on to Isaiah 57:1
    (God’s Grace) and Praise Him for it.
    Thanks Mart for the Assisi prayer reminder.
    Used to say it some years ago, but like other things that seem too go to the wayside for whatever reason (and I’m not going to look for one) this will support my personal walk with my Savior in the comming months.
    The most highest grief I carry is the LOST SOULS that will not be there with us as your pic shows and Wretch-l-m elluded too.

    It totally frightens me when I think I could have missed enternity and that is why I want all too come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. (Luke 16:19-31)
    Listen “in His hands” age is a wonderful thing. It enables me to recognize a mistake when I make it again.
    If all of us will remember “whatever we sow we will reap, so he who sows thorns should never walk barefoot.”

    God Bless all till later.
    Hey Rev.

  10. SFDBWV says:

    Frank, Hey Rev, our sympathies and prayers for all thoes whom you have lifted up for prayer and are concerned for.

    Any of us who have lived through the experiance of sitting at the hospital, while enduring heartache, have heard the helicopter come in again or the wail of another ambulance arrive. Only to realize with them comes someone elses nightmare. Life can be so painful.

    It is one of thoes wonderful things about people. The huggs and comforting words from another somehow help.

    Yesterday (Sunday) was a beautiful day here in West Virginia. The leaves are now nearly all gone and a November horizon now colors the forest. 28 degrees this morning and a sky filled with stars.

    The changing of the season is evidenced by the position of the sun as it courses now further south every day and has less effect on warming the day.

    A friend I worked in the mines with years ago, gave me the poem Mart has shared with us. He also gave me a rose petal St Francis of Assisi had blessed. These were things important to him and he wanted to share them with me. Somethings are better enjoyed when shared.

    Thank you all for sharing.


  11. SFDBWV says:

    Wanted to add that life is also better when we are able to share our pain as well, with thoes who care.


  12. refump says:

    As one who struggles with the affectualness of prayer this prayer by St Francis is again a great reminder to me that prayer is simply part of the fellowship with God that He so greatly desires in us. Throughout the day we hear from ourselves & others that we don’t have this or we don’t have that or this happening to us or not happening & we go into complaint/whinning mode. This prayer, with its emphasis on asking God to make US an instrument of His peace, brings me back to what prayer should really be about- asking God to change me to be more like Him. WLM, I will pray for Dave & REV I will also pray for you as you miss those who were called to be with our Lord.

  13. Elisha says:

    Changing of seasons reminds me of different times we face in our lives, sometimes happy, sometimes sad. It always continue as a cycle, sad times followed by happy ones. It’s the life, we can’t change it, we only have to face it. But there’s something that never changes, it’s the love of our heavenly Father. No matter what happens our heavenly Father loves us greatly and He’ll be there with us to share our happiness as well as sadness.

    As for the St. Francis’ prayer, I think it’s more than a prayer, it reminds us how we should live. To try to understand others instead of expecting others to understand us. And to give than to get. When understanding others it also includes God. We always want God to understand us. In Matthew 6:25-35 Jesus tells us not to worry about worldly things but to search His kingdom first. Because God has already understood us, he already knows what we want, he just wants us to understand him. So let’s try to understand others. It’s possible only if our heart desire it.

  14. foreverblessed says:

    Yes, how many times do I think about things that are not going well in my life? Especially with my migaine?
    But God is even mercifull in that to us.
    After praying about it earnestly, I got this answer:
    Like Eliah, I should go on praying for deliverance. Elijah was a man like me, but he kept on praying, not wavering in his faith.
    James 5:16-17,
    (7 times he prayed for rain 1 Kings 18:41-45)
    And that I should not leave the faith, but that my faith is tested and made stronger.
    It was such a comfort to me, while I am not healed as yet, I am strengthened by God.
    “where there is doubt, faith”
    “where there is despair, hope”
    I am tested, so I can encourage others afterwards.
    As God answered Elaijah, He will answer me.
    If God helped me, He will also help you.
    Because God is looking for a harvest of people who are strong in faith, who endured to the end.

  15. foreverblessed says:

    Sorry, I should have said: As God helped me, He will also help you. (you, meaning the people I am to encourage)
    As the scripture says, With the comfort you have been comforted, comfort others. 2 Corinthians 1:4

  16. paulruppert says:

    Mart, God has talked to you in depth for this article whether you realize it or not. I am inspired and heart quickened after reading this. It is interesting, I am about to go to the mountains and begin my fall photography of nature’s change. I have now a new commitment in that I can now look at God’s wonders in a new frame of mind. In my job I deal with people every day, one of God’s most difficult tasks given to man kind. I enjoy what I do, and no I am not a pastor, but a policeman. Yes difficult to deal with people, but I look into the mirror each morning and say, Um you’re as difficult to understand as the rest of the people. And I go on to work with a prayer to help save and most of all understand my fellow man, so I can place God into the picture and just maybe, I will see this soul in eternity. God bless you and your entire staff and their families. Paul Ruppert

  17. foreverblessed says:

    While I was writing about Elijah, Elisha was posting! Welcome Elisha. Yes, we should give to others. Elijah gave his mantle to Elisha. One reason Elisha was so strong in his ministry is probably because of the influence of Elijah.
    Elijah was a man like we are, his weaknesses are spelled out in the OT. (After his praying for the rain and the miraculous answers, he fell into a deep pit of depression.)
    While Elisha always was strong.
    Yet in the NT Eliaijah is still being named as the chief of the prophets.
    Pass on to others what you have received from God.

  18. wretch-like-me says:

    Paul Ruppert:
    You have my highest regard for the career you have chosen. I dont know how many times you place yourself in harms way for the safety of others. I do know that nothing of monetary value can reward you for your service and it is not for ‘worldly gain’ that your serve.

    God Bless You and Keep You From Harm.

    To All here who are praying for Dave, my deepest thanks. My wife calls her brother daily, now and he has commented that he feels ‘lifted’.
    “Oooo-RAH!!! KEEP ‘EM COMIN'” The enemy is on the run.


  19. phpatato says:

    Thanks Mart for this. It hits me square in my path of life right now. It is as though you posted it just for me.

    Thank you Lord Jesus for Mart and the encouragement he has given me. Help me to live this prayer today and every day; to be strong when I want to fold, to pardon when I’m bitter, to have hope and faith in what looks dark and sad, to be loving, kind and understanding. Thank you my Lord I pray. Amen

  20. daisymarygoldr says:

    I’m also concerned and wondering about poohpity. Hope everything is well at your end…

    Used to sing “Make me a channel of Your peace” all throughout my growing years spent in the portals of Mt. Carmel—my Alma Mater, run by the Apostolic Carmel nuns, which produces countless young women to reach out to the poor and the needy with love, compassion, mercy, grace and kindness. So, this topic is bringing back warm mem’ries of those years spent in volunteering for the Missionaries of Charity established by Mother Teresa.

    Social service was a mandatory course at school and included all sorts of activities like: tutoring underprivileged kids, making quilts and toys, collecting donations of rice, beans, potatoes, flour, used clothes and items to distribute and serve the poorest of the poor that are heavily oppressed with malnourishment and illness.

    Doing all that good stuff and sowing seeds of kindness did make us feel very good. Personally, I enjoyed it not because of passing that subject with flying colors, but it satisfied my inner urges to simply go out and help. However, doing all that good did not require one to be a Christian… i.e. there was no need for the strength of the Holy Spirit to sow seeds of peace, love, forgiveness, faith, hope, light and love.

    So, as a Christian my hope during changing seasons hinges onto the call of Jesus that extends beyond the prayer of Francis of Assisi. I am drawn to the parable that Jesus explained: “The sower sows the Word” (Mar 4:14). Jesus continued in Jn 5 “It’s harvest time! The Harvester isn’t waiting”. The field is ripe with people that are spiritually ready to have their sins forgiven by God. And laborers are wanted to help people see their spiritual need.

    Now, this kind of sowing and reaping involves the spiritual harvesting of souls and my heart beats to rescue souls to eternal life. It involves urgency to— be instant in season and out of season…it is not a choice of whether I like it or not. And oh yes, this work cannot be done only with the help of the Holy Spirit and so neither the laborers will experience any burn out nor this work will get burnt when passed through the fire… and though we weep while sowing for the Master as our souls grieves for the lost … I’m assured that in the end we will all celebrate the harvest with much rejoicing!

    James the brother of Jesus urges “My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God”. (James 5:19-20 The Msg)… and in the same chapter he also tells us to wait patiently for the valuable crops to mature, letting the rain to do its slow but sure work…to stay the course and be steady and strong because the Master could arrive at any time.

    Does the sowing of God’s word and reaping of souls require Grace or control? “The Master said, Whoever you find, ‘drag’ them in. I want my house full!” (Luke 14:23 The Msg). I don’t know about you, but as for me I know that the coming of the Lord is very near…

    “So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers]”. (Gal 6: 7-10)!

  21. SFDBWV says:

    Be at peace Daisy, Pooh is away on a little vacation and will return soon.


  22. SFDBWV says:

    Isn’t is interesting how people have faith in the changing seasons. Without understanding, or needing to, in nature.

    We know that with the beauty and cozy days of fall, winter is to follow. That the hope of spring then is fixed in our minds. So we can once again return to the comfort of summer.

    What then of the seasons of man or more to the point the seasons of our own lives?

    Many poems and songs have been written in an attempt to express their author’s thoughts on the seasons of ones life. How short it is.

    The whole of scripture seems to be such a story. From the planting of the garden to the harvest and preparations for sewing a new crop. The seasons of man, how short they are.

    The body/seed that falls to the earth and sleeps in the ground, and awaits the call of spring to once again rise and live.

    All has the familiar sound as Jesus taught from these examples. So for me. Hope springs eternal, behind the dark and cold days of winter(life), spring(Christ) will return, just in time.


  23. Mart De Haan says:

    daisymarygoldr, I’m glad you quoted from James. Like so many inspired authors of Scripture, he emphasizes not only a readiness to speak to spiritual needs– but to win a hearing by giving attention to immediate, practical concerns.

    So he writes in 2:14, “What does it profit, my brothers and sisters, though a man says he has faith, and has not works? Can faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister lacks clothing, and is destitute of daily food,16 And one of you says unto them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled”; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit? 17 Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

  24. dependent says:

    Contemplating these photos reminds me of the tension between the reality of the short term and the context of the long term. The stark beauty of daily change reflected in the cycle of new life, growth, fruitfulness and decay. All of these distinctly varying sights and smells and textures of each season displayed by a living structure whose size, shape and longevity speaks to a sense of stability and history.

    That old tree in the photos has ‘weathered’ a good number of seasons–all of them recorded internally and some of them externally. The concentric chronicles, revealed in any cross-section attest to the growth fostered by each life-giving cycle. The twisted branches and scarred bark reflect the trauma of wind and ice storms or the effects of periodic drought or growth spurts. Both disease and pests make their mark just as new growth, the weight of fruit and struggle for light and nutrients shape the branches and roots.

    In the constant change of seasons a unique shape is built almost imperceptibly over time. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. The tree seems to testify: “Been there, done that. Nothing new under the sun.”

    The beauty in the photographs is derived from from the tree’s adaption to the current season on a given day–painted on a tried and tested canvas that reminds us that the short term is a means to the long term. The fleeting beauty of a spring bud or decaying leaf reflects a plan and a purpose that reaches past the day or season, beyond the tree itself, or the place its seed first took root.

    The immediate and the plan. A God of the moment and the God of the ages. The I AM — present in the moment. Present in His plan.

  25. foreverblessed says:

    Yes, His Plan, He has thought of a Spring Harvest and a Fall Harvest.
    The joy of His Harvest.

  26. Hisgirl4life says:

    Beautiful devotion! As we all journey through joyful and painful seasons in our lives, sometimes it is easier to focus on our plans, our dreams and our way. God’s word reminds us that “His ways are higher than ours.” Like the book of Job, God allows things in our lives to sand, bend and shape us into the likeness of Christ. There is nothing more precious to Him than a gentle and humble heart, even in the midst of much suffering here on earth. Intersting, this famous prayer begins with Lord. He is our strength, our provider, our hope. Change our hearts, Father, to place our feet into the worn sandels of Christ…to go where you lead, to speak with hearts of compassion, and to serve with willing hands…no matter what the season of our lives.

  27. daisymarygoldr says:

    Steve, thanks for letting us know that poohpity’s is doing fine!

    Mart, I absolutely agree with you about giving attention to immediate, practical concerns and that is exactly what I had shared on “Care and Convictions”: “We cannot ask others to accept Christ while asking them to stay hungry, naked, homeless and sick… We can never take credit for works to care for others which God alone is working through us.” We meet practical needs not to win a hearing but to show our practical love for others and we don’t boast about those works of faith, do we?

    …and since you mentioned “faith without works is dead”, this is how Jesus applied the concept of “works” to prove the faith of believers like me who live in the most developed and wealthiest nation… in a country where it is not difficult for me to prove my faith by generous giving. Giving away $10 bucks while keeping $90 to spend on myself is no giving and it does not in anyway prove my faith. To give it ‘all’… i.e. ‘all’ of the $100 away and then have faith that Jesus will supply all my needs is genuine faith that is proved by my works!

    Now, that kind of works of faith is certainly not possible to do in my own strength… it is only possible with the enabling of the Holy Spirit, hence I can never take credit and pat myself on the back to feel good about my works of faith. So, is it even practically possible… to sell everything and give it ‘all’ away? Yes! Personally I know people who have done this and BTW, the only “work of faith” which Jesus Himself recognized was the 2 mites of the poor widow! And that should give us a proper perspective when we consider our works of faith.

    Besides, Mart, today ‘tis the season when our wallets may be bulging with money and it is easy for us to sow seeds of kind deeds to prove our faith. What is our hope when seasons change? i.e. what would we do, if tomorrow we become penniless? Would you still insist “to win a hearing by giving attention to immediate, practical concerns”? How would we then win a hearing if we are unable to attend to immediate practical concerns? This is not some unrealistic picture that I am trying to portray… this is how it is for the church in poor countries.

    How will you extend this teaching of “faith with works” to a poor man who does not have material resources to even fend for his own basic needs?… yet he is generously giving away spiritual wealth to fulfill the needs of the spiritually poor and destitute… just like Peter who did not have any gold and silver to give…

    Are you saying that Peter’s and this poor man’s faith is dead… and that you are the only one in this whole world who has a faith described in Jas 2:14 because you give attention to immediate, practical concerns?

    Moreover, to me it doesn’t make any sense as to why James who had preached and professed faith with works was eventually stoned to death? Do Christians reap death (get killed) when they sow seeds of kindness, forgiveness, love, grace, mercy and light? Just some honest Qs…

  28. wretch-like-me says:

    Help me understand your final questions of Mart?

    Are they rhetorical or do you wish a response?

    In my travels in this country and beyond, I have met many ‘poor’ people who were more than happy to share their ‘wealth’ with me and counted it a blessing. It never failed to amaze me that the poorest seem the most joyful when extending hospitality to travelers.

    In fact, I understand that the concept of ‘hospitality’ in the middle east causes some mind boggling responses including the protection of their enemies who invoked the custom of hospitality. There are many examples thru out the Old and New Testament.

    In many countries around the world to receive someone as a guest is to take responsibility for their care and protection while they are in your ‘tent’. Once someone has accepted your hospitality your honor/character is reflected in how well you provide for their needs and safety. To fail is a disgrace.

    I wonder if we, christians, understand that ‘accepting’ Christ comes with the same responsibility? I fear the concept of ‘receiving’ Christ is perhaps misunderstood by many Americans.

    I believe this is the point of Mart’s reference to James and meeting immediate needs. The most common response to receiving the generosity of the poorest among us is to be puzzled and ask this question. “Why would you be willing to share your most needed things with me(your enemy)?”

    The answer is CHRIST.

    PS Please add my close friend Jim to your prayers. He is in ICU with Pneumonia from H1N1 and not doing well. Update on Dave: Some progress, your prayers are felt and appreciated.

  29. jjhis says:

    Our hope is in the One who changes seasons and who sets appointed times. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever…”(Dan.2:20) We are reminded that He is still on His throne, and that He is in control. Praise His Name! It is such a beautiful time here in Tennessee. Even though we may be in a time or season of our life that is difficult, we can trust His faithfulness that harvest time is coming. Thanks for the encouraging pictures. May we set aside time to rest in Christ and be refreshed by His wonderful works and just listen to His words “come unto Me…..”

  30. pegramsdell says:

    Frank, I know what you mean about other countries. When we were in Kenya, the poorest among them were the kindest to us. They shared everything they had to feed us and take us around. We blessed them financially, but they taught us even more. They were honestly happy, and awesome praisers. We thought we knew how to praise and worship, but we were wrong. They praise and worship God from their hearts….not memorizing songs. They cry out to Him with tears and are truly thankful for what they have. And they help each other out with deeds and prayers. I learned so much from them.

  31. Mart De Haan says:

    daisymarygoldr, I think James is just talking about having a faith that is real and loving enough to help to others… out of what we have to give… whether spiritual or material…rather than having a self-centered, false-faith that “postures” with words.

    I didn’t mean at all to imply that I thought a certain amount of material charity is necessary to “prove ones’ faith”.

    Appreciate your clarifying the point you were making. I did misunderstand.

    Also am sure that James was not suggesting something that is necessary to qualify for “saving faith” but rather that he is pointing out the “deadness” or “uselessness” of a faith that doesn’t show itself through a love for others.

  32. daisymarygoldr says:

    Frank, Pneumonia due to H1N1 is so scary. I pray and hope for God to heal and restore Jim to good health. Glad to hear about Dave’s progress… he is also in my prayers.

    Mart, I’m glad that you understood the point and you are right, those works do not qualify for “saving faith”. If we could just think about “why James who had preached and professed faith with works was eventually stoned to death” we will know exactly what “faith with works” is all about.

    Regarding deadness/uselessness of faith, I don’t see it as faith expressed as a lack of love for others… it is a faith that lacks the love of God in us for others. In the same chapter James 2, what love did Abraham show when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

    Mart, you have rightly discerned in the Spirit to diagnose the exact spiritual problem. And though I loved your pictures, I’m not able to accept your explanation for the cause of spiritual barrenness… that is depicted by the tree which “is joining the rest of us in acknowledging that we have no power to resist the seasons of life”. How long will we try to justify our spiritual wanderings by saying that this is all part of the cycles of nature?

    We know very well that our Lord hungrily comes looking for fruit even when it is not the season to bear fruits. From what you have so rightly pointed out, I understand that human wisdom offers no hope in the changing of the seasons and has no answers for: What will be. What could be. What may be What may not be…

    However, God’s wisdom tells us that: “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God.

    They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green” (Ps 92: 12-14)!

  33. dependent says:

    Tying this back to the photos and context of Mart’s article:

    I think the key to DMG’s questions lies in the concept of “fruitfulness” (or lack thereof). If we “trees” claim to be in Christ, the proof of that will be seen by the fruit of our lives. Fruit that is consistent in nature with the One we follow and imitate.

    The fruit of good and loving works/deeds is the RESULT of being grafted into our source, the Vine. Not the REASON we are grafted into this eternal flow of living water.

    The fruit is visible, natural and unavoidable proof of our faith in God and his desire to interact with the world through us. Love God. Love People.

    Not sure why the comments/questions regarding works of faith centered on $$. While our attitude about money is a major indicator of the maturity and health of our faith, in kingdom terms, Jesus made it very clear in multiple parables that the amount of wealth with which we are entrusted is less important than what motivates the manner in which we act as stewards of what we’re given.

    I think James was pointing out what other NT authors did–our faith in Christ will transform us. And part of that transformation is learning to live like the servant Jesus, motivated by his love for people. Both people inside the sheepfold and those outside the fold.

    DMG, I’ve been trying to discern what point you are trying to make as the topic of works/charity/ministering to the family of God vs. the world seems to be a recurring thread in your comments. Admit that I just don’t get it–including your question about the circumstances of James’ death and how that would shed light on his teaching about the practical aspects of believers living out “pure religion”.

    Maybe Jesus’ response to the ‘legalist’ who tried to test him (Luke 10) sheds more light on the difference between dead religion and Kingdom love.

    He said to him, “What is written in the law? How do you understand it?”
    The expert answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
    Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
    But the expert, wanting to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    And Jesus tells a story that has less to do with resources and poverty than it does with confronting the nauseating blindness of the religious elite to the simple concept of showing mercy — even to despised outsiders.

    My question, in an effort to understand many of your recent puzzling comments about works/charity/etc is this:
    In your view should a Christ-follower distinguish between “neighbor” and “brother” when it comes to living out the obvious concern that God has for the widow, orphan, alien and stranger? Why or why not? What role do good works play in our Lord’s kingdom?

  34. dependent says:

    Ha! We were writing at the same time…

  35. dependent says:

    re “win a hearing by giving attention to immediate, practical concerns”

    1Pe 2:12 Keep your behavior excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing in which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good deeds, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.

    1Pe 2:15 For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men.

    Mat 5:16 “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

    Joh 15:8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.

    1Pe 3:1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives,
    1Pe 3:2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.

    Gal 6:9 Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.
    Gal 6:10 So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.

  36. foreverblessed says:

    Just some historical insight: since we are talking about Francis and the point of giving everything away has come up
    Francis of Assisi preached also moderation or a life devoid of luxury.
    Many were inspired to live like that. Sold everything or left everything they had and started a life in sharing the gospel in faith.
    But as many many had done that, they became hordes, that were not properly fed by the cities. And then it is difficult to live in faith and wait for God to feed you. Instead they started to steal. They became a thread to society. And that is not at all what Francis had intended.
    To sell everything you have in the literal meaning, is only for the few specially called by God. The rest of the body of believers just are to have a job, a home, a family. So they earn money and can give of the excess first to felow believers but also to the rest. Have homes to invite people in, give them a dinner, and eventually share the gospel, if the Spirit so tells you.
    Selling everything you have is more a state of mind, meaning you do not adhere to the things here on earth, but rather seeking first Gods kingdom (Matthew 6:33).

  37. foreverblessed says:

    And about loving others, I always thought you start to learn loving others by first loving fellow christians. But from there you grow and start loving others as well.
    As 2 Peter 1:5-8 show a line of increasing fruit, from brotherly kindness to love to all.
    It is not only growing from brotherly kindness to agape love, but also from the fellow brothers to all people.
    We grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, (2 Peter 3:18) so we learn to love others, meaning everybody, even your enemies.
    And Jesus loved His enemies. He loved us while we were still His enemies.
    Didn’t Jesus actually tell us to love those who hate us?
    Matthew 5: 43-48
    43″You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    And maybe what you thought was your enemy will become your brother. We do not know who God will call.

    Just sitting around the table, not opposite sides. I picture a round table.

  38. foreverblessed says:

    Thanks Mart for explaining the book of James, that book had become a stuggle for me, since over here is so much talked about showing works.
    James seems to contradict Paul in explaining Abraham, in James 2:20-24 compared to Romans 4.
    (It might seem I am up very early in the morning, but here it is actually 12.00 am)

  39. Mart De Haan says:

    daisymarygoldr, I didn’t mean to suggest that the seasons of life are an explanation for our spiritual barrenness. Wow, it’s another example of how hard it is to communicate clearly. When I referred to being like a tree in being unable to resist the seasons of life, I was only thinking in terms of the “seasons” of our own life– with respect to either the seasons of years, or the seasons of good times and hardship that to one degree or another come upon all.

  40. foreverblessed says:

    SFDBWV, I asked you a question on the pain of being misunderstood, with love.

  41. SFDBWV says:

    In rereading the topic, again, I am forever amazed how the suubject of a pleasent walk in the rain and seeing the beauty of the fall scenery, morphed into a discussion of James.

    I do see a pattern here though, it seems that whatever the subject we are given to discuss, it somehow turns into a disagreement of some sort and usually ends unpleasently.

    It would seem that some people just can’t stand to have a pleasent discussion about anything without turning it into a platform for them to espouse their rhetoric.

    Jesus argued with His critics and silenced them with His words.

    This morning I thought about setting here and rewriting scripture to explain James urging us to act on our faith. But arguing is just exhausting, and my life here needs my energy and attention.

    Love to all, Prayers for your friend Frank.


  42. phpatato says:

    Thanks for that Steve….again you are able to see through the mist.

    When I read Mart’s post, it hit me right on, for I am in a season in my life that, although exceedingly rewarding, is very sad and extremely trying. It encouraged me to remember that there is indeed a “Time for everything” and that God is in control.

    As I followed this post, I was beginning to second guess if I had even read it right…if I had missed Mart’s point altogether (which for me is so easy to do). I felt embarrassed by my post and imagined people saying “What was she thinking anyway”. I too saw it as being a calming walk in the rain contemplating life.

    I have a saying that I mostly adhere to…Keep it simple-stupid. I guess I’m not the type to delve into the innermost parts of any conversation to try and analyze it. Must be why I hated doing book reports in school. :-) So when the conversation gets too heavy and I fail to comment, you’ll know it’s because “it’s too deep for me”.

    Praying that everyone here misses that H1N1. Cases are growing as I type.


  43. Hisgirl4life says:

    Perhaps the very prayer of Francis of Assisi that Mart shared could be a loving reminder to all. I believe we are on a journey, one already predestined for us, and one that is no surprise to God. He created everything and everyone. On our journey, we are being perfected each day into the likeness of Him. In our human sinful nature, we resist, we fail, we stumble and fall. We get up. He brushes us off and extends His grace…again and again. The fruit of the spirit qualities in Galatians (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control) are Christ’s qualities we are called to live by. “Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” A gifted pastor once said, “look back over your life one year ago. Do you see any changes in your Christian walk? If the answer is no, may I suggest you are not growing at all?” We are all works in progress, works that will be made perfect in the likeness of Christ when we live eternally in glory with Him. Until then, I pray we will not continue to be a stumbling block for others that may not know Jesus.

  44. daisymarygoldr says:

    Mart, thanks for the response and please, be assured that you have communicated it very well in your main post. Must admit that sometimes I do get confused with the pictures but on this page, (Ps 92: 12-14) was quoted because I did understand that you were thinking about “seasons” of our own life– with respect to either the seasons of years, or the seasons of good times and hardship.

    You were thinking in the physical sense about seasons of years, good and hard times and sowing seeds of kindness.

    As always, I applied the physical to the spiritual… and said as spiritual beings we do not have seasons. We have to sow God’s word in and out seasons, bear fruit in all seasons and harvest in all seasons.

    As you said, physically we do change; our external bodies do decay and waste away.

    …but my point was that spiritually we do not change no matter what the season because the inner self is being renewed day after day.

    You did not mention barrenness but with spiritual eyes of understanding, the tree in the picture does represent spiritual barrenness.

    You are right it is very hard to communicate clearly because there is definitely a sky and earth difference when we are thinking in 2 different realms. Personally for me, this difference is okay because nothing is in our control. We know well enough how the wind blows this way and that. We have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next!

    Mart, Thank you so much for your patience!

  45. wretch-like-me says:

    Dear Daisy:

    Once again, I am confused and need your help understanding what your words were intended to mean to me.

    “…As always, I applied the physical to the spiritual… and said as spiritual beings we do not have seasons. We have to sow God’s word in and out seasons, bear fruit in all seasons and harvest in all seasons….”

    Would you agree that God’s timing is perfect and therefore His ‘seasons’ are different for each of us?

    It would appear to me the references in scripture to different ‘roles’ for each of us (pastors, teachers, prophets…); different spiritual gifts to serve the needs of the body(we cannot all be feet, hands, eyes, ears, nose,etc.) and the reference to ‘some plow, some sow, some water, still others cultivate and harvest’ shows that God in His infinite wisdom deals with each of us individually. (relationship)

    Could it be that seeing God’s timing (seasons) may be difficult for some because we have our own ‘calendar’?

    You said,”…but my point was that spiritually we do not change no matter what the season because the inner self is being renewed day after day…”

    I agree that the inner self has the potential to be renewed each day; however, free will always has a direct impact on that progress. Each of us progresses according to a different timetable or ‘season’.

    On a greater scale, would you agree with the concept that our existence on earth is a spiritual period of time as well as physical?

    I have been taught that we began a period (season) of spiritual progression when we accepted and received Christ as Savior (Justification)and this present season called ‘Sanctification’ will end when we physically die and receive our reward (Glorification).

    Again, it would appear that each of us has different seasons since each of us lives a time specified by God and has a limited number of days to respond not only to the Salvation message but also, to submit to the will of God for our lives while we are being Sanctified.

    Let me be the first to admit that I struggle daily with ‘picking up my cross’ or ‘pummeling my body’ as Paul might put it. How well I discipline myself is directly connected to ‘free will’ and choosing to slay the flesh with the Power of the Holy Spirit.

    I might add that being ‘contentious’, ‘pugilistic’, and causing strife amongst the body earns consequences that rob us of ‘jewels in our eternal crown’.

    Finally, You really lost me with your last paragraph.

    “…this difference (between sky & earth) is okay because NOTHING is in our control.”

    I fear the brevity of your words over-simplifies the facts and in doing so, may cause some to ‘give up because afterall, NOTHING IS IN OUR CONTROL!’

    On a lighter note. I like to quote lines from my favorite movies; one of which is ‘Princess Bride’.
    At one point in the movie one of the main characters exclaims…
    “I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    As we used to say on the CB radio days…
    “Come Back???”

    PS There is some improvement in Jim’s condition but still in ICU and serious. I thank God for all your prayers and the opportunity to pray via telephone with Jim’s family and my brother-in-law, Dave. They were genuinely moved by the experience and use of technology to Praise God together.

  46. foreverblessed says:

    phpatato, your post was very fine.
    Some of us go deeper, or much to deep. It is also a problem in our church housegroup. Some want only to discus a little, some want prayers for them, ends up in trying to find a way everybody can comfortly be together.
    Maybe that’s one reason there are so many different churches. Some want it deeper, some not so intens, some want digging, some want praising, and dancing. Some do not like dancing at all.
    Haven’t seen much dancing yet in churches, would like it though.

    There is one option here: You do not have to read everything, nor respond to everything.

  47. daisymarygoldr says:

    dependent, thanks for pointing out all those verses and I agree with you on all of them… my first comment on this page actually concluded with Gal 6: 7-10. v. 10 says to do good to all (i.e. anyone in need is my neighbor) especially to those who are of the faith i.e. brother in Christ.

    Frank, appreciate your comment and thanks also for the update on Dave and Jim. They are in our daily prayers.

    I agree that God’s timing is perfect and therefore His ’seasons’ are different for each of us. God is not limited by time and does not change like the seasons. From Gods’ view point what was and what will be, is now, today. Therefore we are called to sow God’s word in and out of seasons, bear fruit in all seasons and enter into what others have sown in order to harvest in all seasons.

    Q: Could it be that seeing God’s timing (seasons) may be difficult for some because we have our own ‘calendar’?
    A: It is only by faith we are able to see God’s time-less calendar and not stay focused on our own calendar.

    Q: On a greater scale, would you agree with the concept that our existence on earth is a spiritual period of time as well as physical?
    A: The sole purpose of our existence on earth in a physical period is to serve a spiritual period for eternity. In plain words, we view everything in this physical life with an eternal perspective… which is from God’s perspective and that is seen only by faith through spiritual eyes focused only on Him.

    “sky & earth” refers to God’s view vs. our human point of view which is the same as spiritual sense vs. physical sense. Frank, I agree “each of us has different seasons”, that is why I said this difference is okay.

    Contentions arise when we are focused on self, or others and not on Jesus. Personally, I do not see any “contentions”. I am glad this topic on changing seasons led us to some very important discussions in James. I said it is not in our control because it is God’s Spirit that leads us even in these discussions on this blog. The Spirit of God is the wind and we have no idea where it comes from or where it’s headed next Jn 3:8.

    And oh yes! The ‘jewels in our eternal crown’? They will be cast at His feet. We will not strut around with the jewels on our crowns because we are not doing His work. Regardless of the changing seasons, it is our unchanging God who is faithfully doing His work in and through us for His ultimate glory alone!

    Pray and hope that this helps… Frank, “Come Back???”:)

  48. SFDBWV says:

    Frank, just wanted you to know that the Princess Bride is one of our favorite movies as well. Matt and I love the humor and simple love story, I also liked the music.

    I am so pleased that Jim and Daves family are aided by the prayers of all who do so.

    When Matt was early in the recovery from his accident, he used to tell me he could actually hear people praying for him. There is great power in prayer and greater power in Jesus, love is quite a force.


  49. pegramsdell says:

    Amen, Steve. In the Princess Bride, love was such a strong force that it kept him alive. And she never doubted. Good example for us.
    And Frank, still praying for Jim and Dave. May God continue to bless them and hear our prayers.

  50. mslamb says:

    Sorry, I thought you meant the REAL weather!! That is what everyone here in Florida talks about!! Thank GOD
    for Air Conditioning! Any one who wants to be 80-90 degree weather in Oct and Nov is MORE than welcome to come down here!! Me, I dont like it!!

    My seasons of life are NOT good either!

  51. vcar1 says:

    I love that prayer for it shows us as Christians how we are to take the situations in life, however trying they can be, and sow goodness and rightness as a by-product of our serving Him. We are to be peacemakers [“Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God”]and live a selfless life seeking to be the hands and feet of Christ in our endeavors. The more intimate we are with Him the more we will want to serve rather than be served. In turn as we extend ourselves to others God meets us with blessings for we reap what we sow. Oh, we will still face seemingly barren times and seasons in our lives but this is sometimes to draw us closer to Him and seek His face and to see our faithfulness to Him when the answers are not there and the trials seem intense. Do we seek His heart or just His hand and what he can do for us? Being unwavering in our faith and service to others is an earmark that can give incredible joy to our hearts.

  52. poohpity says:

    Amen!! and Amen!!!

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