This is a better week.  It started on Sunday when we were guests at Tallowood Baptist Church in Houston.  Jim preached the morning services and my son, Ryan, preached the evening service.  I don’t really have words except to say, it was a “moment.”  A really proud moment.  We left Houston and arrived home to find three huge piles of tree limbs on our sidewalk.  Part of the foundation work on our home was a “root barrier.”  We needed to thin out our big trees so they wouldn’t need to pull so much water from our soil.  Tomorrow a truck will arrive, pick up all of those tree branches, and we will be able to put this “mess” behind us.  I went to the mail box and was shocked at the amount of sunlight hitting the ground after those trees branches were thinned.  I had been praying on my way to the mailbox, asking the Lord what I should blog about.  The sunlight was my answer.  Last week was tough in a lot of ways.  This week, the work has been done, the trees are thinned out and the sunshine can come through.  I’m looking forward to watching the grass return.  My thinned out trees made me wonder what other areas of my life could use the same treatment.  This is a good time to do a mid-year inventory.  What needs to be thinned out in your life?

OK….let’s just get this out of the way.  I’m probably not the only one who just thought about my waistline – but that isn’t what I meant.  (It’s what I NEED – but it isn’t what I meant….)  I’m talking about the areas of your life that are overgrown, and are pulling out the joy and fulfillment.  It’s time to simplify and let some light back in.  A man requested prayer on Sunday because he is about to take his first child to college, drop him off and come home to a “new normal.”  THAT prayer request brought back a LOT of memories.  There are some key “moments” in life and that is one of them.  Maybe you are taking your last child to college or your first child to Kindergarten.  Maybe you are like me, watching the back-to-school commercials with nostalgia.  Wherever you are at in life – this is a good time of year to think about the upcoming months, and decide what to include in your schedule and what to exclude.  How do you know which activities to “thin out?”  That’s an easy answer.  Ask God.  People are going to come at you from every direction with a sign-up sheet for events, committees, and other important or non-important tasks.  Don’t sign up because you think you should, sign up because you know you should.  Pray and then commit.

I love the book of James.  James was the half-brother of Jesus and one of the most practical Christians ever born.  He said, “Why, you don’t even know what will happen tomorrow.  What is your life?  You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, if it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:14-15).  How is that for a self-esteem verse?  But I mention it to make a point.  People will work to make you feel as if your presence is essential – because if you believe that, you are going to sign on the dotted line.  James would tell you that you are only essential if God says you are.  Is your life scheduled by God, or by you?  Is your life about meeting the expectations of other people or the expectations of God? 

What does God expect?  It depends.  That is why he expects us to ask.  James puts it this way, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5).  In my un-theological opinion, the reason we don’t get long range plans from God, is because he likes to talk with us – often.  The Christian life is set up to work well, only if we spend a lot of time checking with God.  He loves us and enjoys our conversations with him.  Our lives will be full of nonsense unless they are full of God.  Is it time to thin things out?  Ask God and he will show you which branches ought to be cut off and stacked at the curb!  Then, enjoy the light that come shining through as the result. 

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