Graze: To feed on growing grasses.

The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.

-Ps. 23:1-6

Growing up on a farm, I used to watch the cows, sheep & horses graze in the pasture. Each morning we would open the gate to the barnyard and they knew there was freedom from that small pen they were in. They also knew there was nice green grass beyond the barnyard. Once the gate was open, look out because those animals wanted to get where the tall, green grass grew – the pasture! They would take off sometimes even running up the old fenced lane that went up over the hill through the cornfield to the lush green pasture on the other side of the farm. There they would graze for a while then lay down and rest for a while then graze some more. They did this all day long. Come evening we would go over to the pasture’s edge and call the cows – 'come boss, 'come boss. They would gather at the pasture gate. Sometimes we would have to go round up a few stragglers and when all were accounted for, we’d open the lane gate and back over the hill they would go to the barnyard for the night. The next morning was the same routine, day after day.
What a life, huh?!

Oh that we could just graze and rest in shady green pastures all day long! But we can rest and graze in God’s green pastures and restore our souls . . . The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. (Ps. 23:1) I believe God wants us to slow down and “rest” and “graze” and “feed” on His Word. Life throws so many things our way and we are so busy – busy doing good things. But are we running on empty a good share of the time? Are we feeling stretched to extreme? Are we content with who we are in God’s divine providence? Slow down and take some time to just leisurely graze, rest a while, then graze and feed on the good things God has provided for you. Graze, rest, and enjoy the “shady green pastures” of God’s abundant love, grace, and mercy.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Flickering Fire

A member of a certain church, who previously had been attending services regularly, suddenly stopped coming to church. After a few weeks, the pastor decided to visit.

The pastor found the man at home alone, sitting before a blazing fire. Guessing the reason for his pastor's visit, the man welcomed him, led him to a comfortable chair near the fireplace, and waited. The pastor made himself at home but said nothing. 

In the grave silence, he contemplated the dance of the flames around the burning logs. After some minutes, the pastor took the fire tongs, carefully picked up a brightly burning ember and placed it to one side of the hearth all alone. Then he sat back in his chair and engaged the man in small talk.

As the one lone ember's flame flickered and diminished, there was a momentary glow and then its fire was no more. Soon it was cold and lifeless.

The pastor glanced at his watch and realized it was time to leave, he slowly stood up, picked up the cold, dead ember and placed it back in the middle of the fire. Immediately it began to glow, once more with the light and warmth of the burning coals around it.

As the pastor reached the door to leave, his host said with a tear running down his cheek, "Thank you so much for your visit and especially for the fiery sermon. I will be back in church next Sunday."    (Unknown)

I have sat around many, many campfires in my lifetime.  I totally enjoy sitting there roasting hot dogs, marshmallows, talking and visiting with other "campfire-friends".  Sometimes, someone even pulls out the guitar and we sing "Kum-By-Ya, My Lord"!!!  But it is interesting as we sit there watching the sun go down and the darkness begins to surround us, the stars begin to get brighter and if there is a moon it shines on us so brightly.  Then as the chill of the dark night air surrounds us and begins to chill our "backsides"!  It seems we all begin to rearrange our chairs or stumps of wood so they are a little closer to the fire.  As the night goes on and the discussion leads from one thing to another, before the night is over we can almost feel the heat of that fire nearly melting out shoes.  As we watch the fire burn down, someone finally gets up and throws another log onto the fire and it catches and the smoke rises as the flames dance!  My folks and aunt and uncle go camping and this is the job of my dad and my uncle Bob - they are the "keepers of the fire"!!  I love to go join them when I am able to. We will sit around that fire and watch it for hours as we talk and share, as it burns down and then as it flares up and we have to move our chairs back because it is now too hot!  But I love the closeness we have as we watch this process and as we talk and grow in our relationships together as we share our thoughts, experiences, wisdom, & knowledge.  I have learned many things just sitting around some of those campfires! 

"but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ".  2 Peter 3:18

"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together , as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching".  -Hebrews 10:24-25

Sometimes, just as we need to stir up the campfire and get the fire blazing hot by throwing on another log, so we must stir up the fire within us.  Sometimes we need to smell the smoke of the campfire and refuel and refresh our own hearts and lives.  How do we do that?  Prayer, meditating on God's Word, listening to preaching, teaching, Bible studies, talking with other Christians, trusting and believing God is Who He says He is and simply "living" these things out in our day-to-day walk.  We need God and we need each other!  Just like that fire will crackle and pop so we must "live out our walk with Christ".

And like the sermon in the story above . . .
we grow from each other and we can all learn from a
"fiery sermon" like the pastor shared!

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