{re}fresh

Month: October, 2017

Harvesting a surprise

by Rob Dunne

Image by Toni Verdu CarboFlickr.com_629236570_31721a3ebd_CC BY-ND 2.0

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Galatians 6:9

One of the most rewarding aspects of youth ministry I’ve experienced, was short term mission trips. To date, I have traveled to Jamaica, Mexico, Guatemala and Uganda.  These overseas trips were particularly powerful because the students experienced how difficult life was outside of the United States. They realized just how good they had it back home!

Admittedly, students occasionally made poor choices. There were times when I wondered if my efforts were for naught.

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Tilled and Sown

by juste buzas

Image by Untilled Soybean Board_Flickr-com_9622771985_21fe5db2fe_CC BY-ND 2.0

Years ago, before I had given my heart to Christ, my life looked like a desert plain where the soil was hardened by the heat of the sun.  Through rebellion and strife, I was responsible for the fruitlessness and decay of my life.  Even so, God was always there.  In His sovereignty, God waited until I came to the end of myself that brought me to my knees.

Kneeling in the desert of my own desolation, unable to stand, parched and spent, I reached out to my loving Father and begged for mercy and escape.

God, in His compassion, met me in the field of my deficiency, stayed with me there in the parched land of my need.  It was there that the Lord began teaching me His ways. He showed me my desolate self against the mirror of His abounding holiness. He opened my eyes to my wandering places, exposed my hidden places of hurt and trespass and revealed where my resisted His love.

It was there, dry and broken, that I understood God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness.  It was there that He taught me how to be loved:

“For behold, I am for you and I will turn to you; and you shall be tilled and sown.”  (Ezekiel 36:9)

Tilled and sown.  Oh!  God does not leave us in the desert for long.  No.  He tills away our sorrow and our sin.  He turns our lives over…from old into new.  In our willingness for the work of His hand, God is faithful to till and to sow.  He plants His Word deep within our hearts.  He satisfies our thirst.  We become like a newly planted field that is watered by the rain of God’s presence and bathed in the glory of His light.  His seed of grace and goodness is planted deep within our hearts, and our lives are adorned with the fruitfulness of His righteousness.

Lessons in the Vine

by Dawn Aldrich

Grape Harvest Gouveia Vineyard, Wallingford, CT
Image by Peter Aldrich

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4 (NIV)

In the early morning sun, grapes hung fragrant, ripe and heavy from the vine.  The vineyard buzzed with activity from both man and bee as we harvested our community’s first autumn crop. I met the challenge cheerfully, anticipating time spent outdoors tending the vines alongside my husband and neighbors.


Conversations in the field were as plentiful as the grapes. Some were boisterous and jolly, awaiting the end-of-harvest drinks shared in celebration. Others were soft spoken and patient as they taught their little ones the proper way to cut the fruit from the vine.

There was so much going on around me but the more grapes I harvested the more I found my spirit contemplating the lessons in the vine.

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Love Demonstrated

by Mindy Kiker

Forgiven, Loved_Ben Husman
Flickr.com_2803463263_45751eacab_CC BY-ND 2.0

“But I don’t want to forgive him!” In coaching my children about forgiveness, the resistance I meet is familiar. Even I resist letting my offender off the hook with those three magic words, “I forgive you.” The reality is, unforgiveness feels powerful while forgiveness feels weak.

Experts agree that, while seeking healing for our broken hearts, what most commonly blocks our healing is unforgiveness. Saying it another way: the way to mend a broken heart is to forgive.

Do you recall the words of Christ on the cross? “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:24)

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