Digging up weeds

“Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.”
Matthew 15:13 NIV

There is a small garden in front of my house that goes around my front porch. I am not a gardener by any stretch of the term, so this bed has grown over with weeds and perennials that try to squeeze in between the vines. Considering this is the first thing someone sees when visiting my house, it is not a grand first impression.  I asked my mother for advice and she suggested replacing the whole garden with one kind of tree or shrub that I could take care of and that would make my yard look more uniform and appealing. Thankfully, when I visited her last fall she gave me some maidenhair grass from her own garden that I could take home and plant in my own.

The hard part came when I got home and had to clear all of the weeds, vines, and assorted perennials out of the ground. As I worked down in the soil with a shovel to pull out more and more roots that were longer and deeper than I had initially suspected, I chuckled and compared this to the work of pulling out the old roots of sin in our hearts. Just as there is no room for the new healthy grasses in my garden if I don’t pull out the old weeds, there is no room for God in our hearts if we don’t get rid of the old habits in our lives.

In Matthew 15:13 NIV, Jesus said “every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots.” He was referring to the Pharisees that were preaching a misguided message, but we can apply this illustration to our own lives by pulling up every root that does not glorify God. In John 15:2 NIV, Jesus explained that “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

If I hadn’t cleared out the old weeds before I planted the new grasses, they wouldn’t have had a chance to grow. Digging deep old sins out of the soil is hard sweaty work but the goal is becoming more like God. In Luke 8:7-8 NIV, during the parable of the sower, Jesus said “other seed fell among the thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.” It takes good soil (or a clean heart) to grow more with God than we could ever accomplish ourselves.

In Christ,

Erin Tabor

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Despite Your Circumstances

“And I want you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, that everything that has happened to me here has helped to spread the Good News.”
Philippians 1:12 NLT

As we sat around the tables in Bible study class sharing prayer requests, it was almost depressing. Health issues resulting from disease, trauma, or unknown reasons; loved ones who needed Jesus in their lives; job and financial woes; relationship issues; a need for more affordable housing; personal struggles; ministry opportunities. The needs were real and sobering.

The apostle Paul was certainly a man who understood the hard stuff of life. Imprisoned for his faith in God, many scholars believe Paul was literally chained to a guard 24/7. Despite his chains, his letter to the Philippian church was filled with encouragement and joy; it revealed his great love and constant prayers for the believers.

While in confinement, Paul is not found whining and complaining about his bonds. Instead, his letter records him giving thanks to God because people are hearing about Jesus. Even the new believers were finding courage to speak out about Christ because of Paul’s example while in prison.

As Jesus followers, we are never promised a life of ease. We certainly see that all through the Bible and specifically in Paul’s life. Hardships are going to come sooner or later. Like Paul, will we use those circumstances to advance the gospel of Jesus Christ?

As we learn from the examples of others in the Scriptures, we should ask ourselves, “What are others learning through my example?” Are they seeing the love, peace, hope, and deep joy of Jesus regardless of my difficulty, or are they seeing worry, fear, anger, and anxiety instead? Our lives and situations influence others one way or the other depending on our actions and reactions to adversity. Only with God’s help can our lives bring support and encouragement to others.

May the following prayer be a source of strength during the tough times as we seek to proclaim the message of Christ despite our circumstances.

            “I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in             knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you             may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return. May you always be filled with     the fruit of your salvation – the righteous character produced in your life by Jesus Christ – for       this will bring much glory and praise to God.” Philippians 1:9-11 NLT

[Digging deeper – Philippians 1:12-30]

Proclaiming Him in all things,

Beverly <><



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The House on the Rock

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”
Matthew 7:24-25 NIV

My husband is active duty Army, and we have lived in many places. In 2004 we moved to Okinawa Japan, which was one of the most memorable. Okinawa is a tropical island where farmers grow sugar cane and pineapples; there are beautiful parks with flowers, and beaches where the ocean is turquoise and filled with reefs. However, the cities are made up of square concrete buildings as far as the eye can see. These buildings were such a contrast to the beautiful nature that we were surrounded by, that it made us wonder why houses would be built like this. When we finally received our assigned address and drove into the military post housing, we noticed that our house was the same square concrete. Even the shed in the back was concrete.

We discovered the answer to this mystery the first time there was a typhoon (the western Pacific is the most active area for tropical cyclones in the world). The island uses a colored flag system to let everyone know how close a storm is, and when the flags turn black, everyone goes into their homes. There is no panic, no evacuations, and not even any debris because everything outside goes into those backyard sheds. Even the trees are tied down. Everyone already has their groceries because the flag system told them to prepare, and and no one goes outside. During a typhoon I was able to relax with my coffee and play with my young children in the living room because even though the storm was raging outside (the wind roared like a train around the house), I knew that my concrete walls would stand strong.

Those wise people of Okinawa know how to build a solid house that will withstand a storm. In Matthew 7:24-25 Jesus said that “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” If we put our trust in God and do his will, we will keep standing no matter how strong the storms of this world are, because our foundation is on the rock.

Standing with you on God’s promises,

Erin Tabor




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