Bloom Where You Are Planted

Read Time: 3 minutes

Sometimes, a simple word or piece of advice is all that is needed. Simple, short statements stick with us. They are easy to remember.

I want to share a phrase that entered my mind a few weeks ago. I am not sure that it is from the Lord, but I have a hunch it might be. It has truly been helpful. Here it is:

Bloom where you are planted.

Yep, that’s it. For Christians, it is related to trusting God’s providential guidance in your life, being a good steward of what you have (rather than focusing on what you don’t), and ultimately living faithful to the command and call to glorify God in all things.

Christians are notorious for quoting Jeremiah 29:11. I am not even going to write it here. However, this is a word that God spoke to Jeremiah about the 70 years of captivity that were just beginning at the hands of the Babylonians (who would reign until they were defeated by Cyrus and the Persians in 539 B.C., which was to the political and religious benefit of the Jews). God does not tell Jeremiah that he will rescue his people from that captivity. Instead, he tells Jeremiah what the nation of Israel should focus on in that less-than-ideal set of circumstances. God tells them, “Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:5–7).

In other words, “Bloom where you are planted.”

Here are verses that are helpful.

1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV): So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Colossians 3:17 (NIV): And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

At Least Try

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Many of us spend a lot of time telling ourselves, “No.” Add to this the unfortunate fact that sometimes we are surrounded by others that enjoy saying, “No,” and you end up with a “No” culture both in and around your heart.

But what if you ignored it?

What is the worst thing that can happen if you try and fail? Maybe the consequences would be serious, but maybe they wouldn’t be (or at least they might be bearable compared with not trying at all).

And what if you tried and actually succeeded?

Recently, I was eaten up with a desire to write a children’s book. I had to do it. Forgive me ladies for using the metaphor, but I literally had to “birth” it in order to find peace. Any writer knows the tormenting yet glorious feeling.

Is the book good? I hope. But more importantly, I said “yes.” I tried. I am not going to reach 50 or 60 or 80 years of age and wonder, “What if?” Sometimes, it simply feels rewarding to know, “I took the leap. I tried.” And then you let the chips fall where they may.

So what is in your heart? What do you need to try? More importantly, what has God deposited in your heart that has your name written on it?

I would rather fail than not try, because along the way, I am bound to be pleasantly surprised at least some of the time. If you are interested in reading my first attempt at a children’s book, click here. It is a creative retelling of Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, and I had so much fun writing it. Better yet, my very talented seven-year-old son illustrated the entire book, and although I may be partial, I must say: Wow is he talented. Hopefully it is something he will cherish for the rest of his life.

Seek the Lord. Think about it. Journal some. Talk to someone you trust. And at some point, take the leap and try.

Please Read This Book On Psalms 23

Reading time: 3 minutes

While living in Edinburgh, we had the wonderful privilege of joining with a new church plant (it was only 3-4 months old when we joined). Due to very tight governmental regulations in Scotland, they have had their Sunday gatherings online via Zoom for a long time. A few weeks ago, they started a four-week series on Psalms 23, and asked if I would speak on one of the Sundays. I was delighted.

Seeing that I was concluding the series, I attempted to provide a birds-eye view of the chapter. I spent several hours preparing and decided in the process that I would write a book on Psalms 23 that consisted of a collection of meditations. I began the book in the process of preparing the talk and wrote somewhere in the neighborhood of 7,000 words.

I then stopped.

In my preparation, I came across the following audiobook on Scribd (far superior to Audible!!!) that grabbed my attention: A Shepherd Looks at Psalms 23 by Phillip Keller. The description reads: As a shepherd, Phillip Keller shares his insights into the life and character of sheep—and of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for them . . . . this beloved classic will give new meaning to the ageless Shepherd Psalm, enriching your trust in and love for the Lord who watches closely over you.

At times, I was deeply moved. I was also blown away by how much I had missed in prior readings of the beloved Psalm that unfortunately is often relegated to the funeral pile of Scriptures. Even after spending a couple of weeks reading and rereading the Psalm as well as plowing through multiple commentaries in Logos, nothing compared to Keller’s insight. The bottom line is this: he spent a significant amount of time working as a shepherd in East Africa. He had experience which I didn’t have, and it made all of the difference.

The book was so insightful, informative, encouraging, comforting, and challenging that it only took a few hours of listening to decide that any book I write on the topic would be a disappointment both to me and others. Besides, I would probably begin the book with, “Please put my book down and read Keller’s,” which would not exactly be a good marketing strategy.

Suffice it to say that Keller’s book is rich with insight and makes this Psalm come alive as never before. There are some things that you simply cannot see in this Psalm if you have never been a shepherd. Also, Keller does a wonderful job explaining that many of the blessings in Psalm 23 depend not so much on the sheep as on the shepherd. Who doesn’t need to be reminded of this grace-filled message?

The message in this book is a powerful reminder that Christianity is a humble faith, not a power-grab strategy for those wanting to get ahead in our performance-saturated culture. So if you are looking for a book to read, need help trusting in the Lord, and want to grow in the peace and rest that results from trusting the Lord, this book is for you. Please read it. I believe it will really impact you as it did me.

Soli Deo Gloria.

He is Risen

He is risen.

As followers of Christ, we believe that this is a historical event with spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, intellectual, and eternal ramifications.

Neither wishful thinking nor a neurosis (Freud).

Not merely a psychological crutch (Nietzsche), although a wonderful crutch.

Not an “opium” for when the average Joe is suffering economically at the hands of an oppressive bourgeoisie (Marx).

Not a made-up meaning for those wanting an “essence” in what is otherwise an absurd and Godless universe (Sartre).

No.

We believe that Jesus is the long-awaited Jewish messiah, Moses’ snake in the wilderness, Rehab’s scarlet thread, and humanity’s only eternal hope.

Easter is this declaration: He came, he died, but the story doesn’t end there.

He rose from the dead so that he can now live in us, with us, and through us.

May our good and gracious Lord remind us today that no matter what we face, he has already overcome. Let hope abound!

Come Lord Jesus.

I Did It! Facebook is Gone!

This will be the shortest blog I have ever written, but since several of you have recently followed my blog after my announcement on Facebook, I thought it was appropriate to send a quick message. Here it is:

I DID IT!

I have come up with so many reasons in the past for not cancelling my Facebook account. What did I do instead? Waste too much time scrolling through mostly useless information. Distract myself from more important tasks. Update mostly strangers on issues rather than use that time to connect more deeply with REAL friends.

Needless to say, I feel so great about the decision. My wife and I cancelled our Instagram accounts in December, and now I have cancelled my Facebook. I did not even choose the option to keep Messenger. It is all gone, and my information will be more private because of it. Also, I can focus on desires and tasks that God has put in my heart.

*Sigh of relief*

To those that have recently followed, thank you so much. Also, if you don’t mind, share my blog with others if what I write over time blesses you.

Thank you.