Take the good and learn from the bad

We have an old orchard here are Safe Haven Farm. It’s nothing fancy. Not even close to fancy. It’s just mainly old. But we’ve got apricots and mulberries and pears. But these aren’t nice pears. Oh, no. These are wood pears. Not sure if that’s really what they’re called or not, but that’s what folks around here call them. They’re fibrous and tough and hard as rocks. Seriously, you get conked on the head with one of these pears, and you’ll be nursing a lump for a week or more (ask me how I know).

That being said, if you can get a knife into them to cut out the bad parts, they’ve got really great flavor. So if you don’t mind doing a lot of work (and I mean a lot of work), you can actually end up with some pretty tasty preserves. It’s quite a labor intensive process, but we think it’s mostly worth it. Thankfully, we have a revolutionary thing in our home–a Squeezo. I’m sure I’ve posted about the Squeezo before, but it really makes pear processing so much easier.

It’s awesome because you take the cooked pears, dump them inside the hopper, crank them through, and good pear sauce comes out, while the bad stuff like the fibrous bits and pieces of core come out in a different bowl. It’s really handy because it separates the bad from the good.

The Squeezo machine for processing canned goods

The Squeezo machine for processing canned goods

Today’s verses are Colossians 4:5-6.

Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Eat the watermelon and spit out the seeds. Eat the chicken around the bones. There’s a lot of idiom about how to get through life, and a lot of it has to do with eating. That isn’t really relevant. Just interesting.

We all know that life is a mixed bag. Sometimes you end up in situations that are half-good. Other times you end up in situations that are mostly bad. But it’s rare that you’re ever in a circumstances that’s truly ALL good or ALL bad. No matter how bad your circumstances may be, you can always find something good about it.

You may be in a really low place today. That’s okay. Everyone has been there (yes, I promise, everyone has been there before). And maybe the only good thing you can find is that God loves you unconditionally, and you know what? If you know God loves you unconditionally, that’s enough good to tackle any bad circumstance, even if that’s the only good thing you know.

Life will throw you curve balls. People will disappoint you. Your job won’t be what you expected. You might be abandoned or betrayed or lied on or disliked, but it’s your choice to focus on those things. Just like processing pears, you’ve got a Squeezo for your life. Not to be cutesy about it, but if you look at your life through the Bible, you’ll get a much clearer picture on what is good and what isn’t.

When God says something is true and right and good, hold on to it. When God says something is wrong, let it go. Just let that lie or that rumor or those hurtful words roll right off into the trash bowl, because they’re not useful for anything except to be thrown away. Focus instead on the good that will come out of the situation–what you’ll learn, what you’ll know, how you’ll be able to better help someone else.

Regardless if the situation you’re facing is good or bad, you can make the most of it with God’s help. Ask God to come alongside you and show you what you’re missing, and He’ll point out ways that you can overcome this circumstance that you’re facing. God’s Word will help you to sort out what’s true and what isn’t, but you have to use it if you want it to work.

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Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Your ticket to one wild ride

Do you take God seriously? I mean, do you trust Him when He promises to bless you for obedience? When God tells you to do something and you do it, what do you expect will happen? Do you think He’s just going to turn His back on you? Do you think He’s asked you to do something just to watch you dance like a puppet on a string?

God doesn’t work like that. Yes, there are many times when we’ll encounter situations in our lives that will test our faith, but it’s never God dangling a carrot in front of our faces to see if we’ll bite.

So when you obey, when you do what God has told you to do, are you ready for what comes afterward?

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Wheat nearly ready to harvest at Safe Haven Farm, Haven, KS

Today’s verses are Ephesians 5:15-16.

So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

God told me to do something a few years back, or at least He put the germ of an idea in my head. At the time, it wouldn’t have worked. If I would have tried, I would have failed. And even though the idea fascinated me, I didn’t hear Him telling me to jump up and do it.

And throughout the years, God kept bringing it up every now and then, kind of like a tickle at the back of my brain. “Hey, don’t forget about this! This is something I want you to do, but you’re not ready yet.”

A few years later, actually in August of last year, that idea came rushing back on me again stronger and louder than ever before. And this time I couldn’t tune it out. This time I couldn’t ignore it.

So I didn’t. I did what He was telling me to do. And guess what? He held up His end of the bargain. Way more than I expected Him to. In fact, He’s opening doors so fast that I can’t keep up. It’s all I can do to keep holding on as He takes me on what will probably be the craziest ride of my life, and I couldn’t be more excited.

But why does that surprise me? Why do I expect failure when God has never given me reason to doubt Him? I guess it’s not that I doubt Him; I just doubt my interpretation of what He tells me. And that’s why it’s important to have people around you who are on the same page as  you spiritually, to confirm what you think you’re hearing.

But how many times has fear of failure stopped me in my tracks? How many times have I not done what God was clearly telling me to do because I was afraid. I don’t want to think about it. But I need to. We all need to.

I learned today’s passage in an older translation that used the phrase “redeeming the time.” I always used to wonder what that meant. And, it’s true, it does mean to make the most of every opportunity like the newer translation says, but there’s something really beautiful in that phrase: redeeming the time.

Taking the time that might be wasted otherwise (in worrying, in anxiety, in purposeless pursuits) and using it to accomplish something for God. That’s redeeming the time. And that’s what we’re called to do. Why? Because the days are evil.

And they are. We’ve never lived in darker days. More people are persecuted for their faith in Christ today than ever before. More people are trapped in darkness than ever before. More churches are being closed due to scandal than ever before.

Frankly, Believers, we don’t have time to waste. So if God has called you to do something, don’t just stand there. Do it. You have a certain amount of time that’s been allotted to you. Some have more than others. But whatever you have God gave you for a reason, and He doesn’t make mistakes. He hasn’t put you where you are for no reason. He hasn’t walked you through all your difficult circumstances just to test your mettle. He’s got a plan for you, and because He’s good, so are His plans.

So do you trust Him? Do you take Him seriously? And if you do what He’s asking you to do, are you ready for the ride He’s going to take you on?

Don’t doubt that it’ll be wild. Because once you tell Him yes, you’re going to see amazing things happen, things that no one else will be able to explain, things that may only mean something to you–but they’ll mean something to you. And that will be enough to remind you just Who you’re working for.

You aren’t guaranteed tomorrow. Neither am I. Nobody is. The clock is ticking, and time is running out. So stop fooling around and get busy doing something that will matter when eternity gets here.