Monthly Archives: August 2016


Zinnias & Morning Glories 8-16 Several years ago I decided to disguise the cyclone fence surrounding my vegetable garden by planting morning glories that would vine on it.  I planted the seeds, and they sprouted, and they grew, and the vines did, indeed, cover the ugly fence, and the flowers greeted me every morning that summer. And the next. And the next. And the next. Morning glories are persistent.

But then two summers ago, I put in the bed of  zinnias in front of the fence.  The morning glories did not get the memo that their services were no longer needed.  They again sprouted, multiplied, put out tendrils that wrapped around anything they touched, and grew many inches a day. They cheerfully invaded the whole flower bed of zinnias. Every skinny horizontal stem visible in the photo is a morning glory vine–zinnia stems are thick and vertical. The tendrils and leaves are even the same color as the zinnias, and make the plants appear, at first glance, to be lush and healthy. But the morning glory vines’ weight eventually bends the tall stems of the zinnias and pulls them to the ground.

Sometimes habits start out as good, purposeful, under control, and initiated with the best intentions, like my morning glories. But when we become more mature, more intentional, and ready to move on, their seeds are still there, buried in the ground of our mind and heart, and they sprout and grow, and their pretty, once-welcome, innocent-looking  tendrils wiggle their way right into the new life we lead and pull us down. We need to search for them daily and pull them out. Yes, they’re beautiful flowers, but if they destroy better things in our lives, they need to treated like weeds and be banished to the compost pile.



CONTEXT: Too Much Context?

Bible Open, Coffee IMG_7228I strongly believe that virtually everything we perceive is affected by its context, and we ignore that at our own peril.  But being aware of our context does not mean allowing it to dictate our actions or responses.

Recently I’ve been wondering if we allow our context to dictate how we pray.  I did an intensive study of prayer a few years ago:  I read books by men and women of widely different times and theological backgrounds, and the Old and New Testaments.  Jesus’ instructions and models are in the Gospels, and the Epistles contain a surprising numbers of Paul’s prayers.

The biggest surprise was not what I found, but what I didn’t find:  I found no mention of group prayer!  Kings prayed in front of Israel on behalf of Israel, but the king alone was praying. When Samuel saw Hannah praying in public, he assumed she was drunk, so he obviously wasn’t used to seeing public prayer.  Jesus often went off alone to pray, and sometimes he took his disciples, then asked them to wait and WATCH (not pray) while he went on alone.  After trekking with him daily for three years, they asked him to teach them to pray.  They obviously hadn’t been doing it together, or they would have known how. When he gave them specific instructions about how to pray, he told them to go in a room and close the door and pray “in secret,” and assured them that their Father would hear them.

Wow!  That’s a lot different from the seminary class I heard about in which students were taught to “preach in their prayers”!  So instead of really, personally talking to God, the future pastors were taught to say what they wanted their listeners to hear, and just pretend they’re talking to God?  Pretend that God needs to be reminded of the three-point outline of the sermon just preached? Or the meeting someone forgot to mention earlier in the service?

Last Sunday our pastor warned us against “performance religion.”  I’m wondering if we’ve become accustomed to “performance prayer.” Soul-searching time, here.