Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Consecrate" OR "Concentrate"

One of the hymns we sang last Sunday was "Draw Me Nearer". It seemed very appropriate and the longing of us all after the great revival we had just finished the week before. As we sang the second line I noticed that more than one person sang "Concentrate me now, to Thy service Lord" instead of the actual words of the verse which say "Consecrate me now, to Thy service Lord". I've heard many people mis-speak this line over the years and always before I would think, "Why don't they pay attention to what the words are!" And yet Sunday when I heard them using "concentrate" instead of "consecrate" it started me thinking. I thought about the definition of both the words. The word "consecrate" that Fanny Crosby penned down in the second verse means: To declare or set apart as sacred; Dedicated to a sacred purpose; sanctified. These are decisions every Christian should make. We should dedicate our lives to Christ and we should be set apart from the world as we live for Him.

Then I thought about the other word so often mistakenly used in this verse: "concentrate". This word means: To direct or draw toward a common center; focus; To bring into one main body; To make less dilute; To direct one's thoughts or attention. I realized that this is also something that I want to do for the Lord. I want to direct others to focus on Him and be born into the Body of Christ. I don't want to be diluted but strong. I want my thoughts and attention to be on God.

So from now on when I hear the song "Draw Me Nearer", it will really not matter which word the congregation uses when they sing the second verse! Either one will draw us nearer to God.

Hebrews 7:19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mending Fences

Years ago this fence was part of what we called the "calf pasture"...a small, fenced in place behind the barn. It could be cut off from the regular pasture which covered many acres so that the newly born calves could be kept close to or even inside the barn for protection. Today as I looked at all that's left of the fence beside the barn I saw that years of neglect had taken its toll. Weeds and vines and briers had grown up on the fence and pulled it down. It's not fit to keep anything in...or anything out. If my memory serves me correctly, the fences were one of the deciding factors in our selling our cows several years ago. Or maybe it was the lack of fences! Either way, we could not afford to buy all new barbed wire to build new fences for our 80 acres and we could not keep the old fences in good enough repair to keep the cows from getting out......often!!

Which reminded me....in our current Moore Bible study she talked about fences one week. About how we need fences in our lives. For protection. For security. We must have boundaries. We need fences. The laws in our government serve as a kind of fence in our lives. We are protected by laws that say one person is not allowed to kill another person. We are protected from wrecks by having red lights or stop signs. You may be thinking, "But people still get killed! People still have wrecks!" Yes, but that is because someone tore down the fence and broke the law!

In Week Three of our study, Beth talked about a magazine article she read which told of a woman who raised minature horses. The woman's neighbors had a small wildlife park with a variety of exotic animals. There was, of course, a fence between their properties. Evidently neither of these property owners kept a very close eye on their fence to check and see if it needed mending. But, indeed, it did need mending. How did they find this out? One day the lady who raised the minature horses looked out her window and a male lion was tearing her favorite horse to shreds. True story. Then Beth added this statement: "Tragically, we often don't realize part of our fence is down until Satan, the roaring lion, is devouring something precious to us right on our own property!"

Is it time to mend some fences? Maybe just walk the fence just to see how things are? I don't mean this in a literal sense but in more of a spiritual sense. Are there things that you used to not feel comfortable doing that don't bother you anymore? Are there "colorful" words in your vocabulary that you never would have let slip from your mouth in years past? Sometimes we just stop paying attention to whether or not our lives are pleasing to God and we let little things slip in here and there. Just like that fence I was looking at today down by the barn. The vines that weigh it down today were once just little baby vines that could have easily been cut back. Had we not sold our cows, I'm sure Benny would have kept them cut off the fence. Or else, he would have been chasing baby calves everywhere!

But unless we practice checking and mending our fences, we are liable to let all kinds of sin weigh down our lives until we have gaps in the fence and then we've got trouble! Robert Frost wrote a poem called "Mending Wall" where he talks about walking his "wall" (or fence) in the spring looking for gaps or breaks. Here's a line from the poem:

"The gaps I mean, No one has seen them made or heard them made, But at spring mending-time we find them there."

How true...sometimes we don't see or hear them made....but when we walk the fence, "we find them there"!

I imagine we all need to take time this spring to "walk our fences" to see if they need a little mending here and there. We don't want to wait until Satan devours something precious!