Archive for the ‘Plant’ Tag

No Yellowing   1 comment

I continue my posts inspired by my Lucky Bamboo…..Lucky Bamboo

There is a commercial on television right now that tells us, “If you are not whitening, you are yellowing.”  Today’s post has to do with the instruction for my plant that says:

If my leaves start to turn yellow, I’m getting too much sun or your water is making me sick. 

The last two posts were based on instructions to keep the plant out of the sun and moist at all times.  This one talks about too much sun and bad water.  As I read this instruction, I saw clear applications to my life.

First is that when there is something going wrong in my life, there will eventually be obvious signs.  For my plant, the sign is a change of color regarding the leaves.  They will change from green to yellow.  While, in most cases, there will not be a change in color noticeable on my skin if there is something wrong in my life, there will be signs.  I may be more irritable with people, especially those close to me.  I may struggle with focusing or concentrating.  I may have difficulties sleeping or eating.  These signs and others give a clear indication that something is wrong.

In my post last week regarding the sun, I likened the sun with the stresses in my life.  Too much heat (stress) was not a good thing.  I am not going to go into a lot of depth regarding this point other than to say that too much stress in my life will clearly present signs.  Signs that if go unnoticed can have a negative impact on my health and life overall.

The message regarding the water in this message reminds me of the importance of being cautious what I allow into my life.  Sometimes even those individuals or situations that may appear helpful, may instead be destructive.  They can make us “sick.”  When I took a computing course in college, the professor would often say to us,”Garbage in, garbage out.”  I think this applies to this situation.  If we allow garbage (bad water) into our lives, we can expect that it will have a damaging impact on our lives.  So I must be alert to what I am inviting into my life.

The last item worth noting is that this instruction reminds me of the importance of being alert to the signs in other people’s lives.  Just like my plant is dependent upon me to watch the color of the leaves to help insure a healthy plant, I need to be alert to the signs that may appear in others.  By noticing changes in their lives, I can be of assistance in reducing the stresses and/or changing what they are using to water their lives.

So the goal here is “no yellowing”!


Posted January 29, 2013 by thoughtfulbeliever in Christian Living, Experiences, Life

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Need Watered   1 comment

Continuing my lessons from the plant on my desk, today’s instruction is:

Keep me moist at all times

One of the things that I really enjoy about my lucky bamboo is that since it grows in a bed of rocks and I have it in a clear, glass container, it is really easy for me to monitor the amount of water it has available with just a glance.  One of the reasons that I struggle with growing other plants is that I either forget to water them or I over water them.  This plant makes that virtually impossible.

Lucky Bamboo

As I pondered this instruction, I thought about the importance of keeping myself hydrated.  We all know that medical experts tell us that we can survive a lot longer without food than we can without water or some form of hydration.  So physically it is vital that I have regular intake of fluids.

I think this can also be said about our intellect and our spirit.  I must have regular watering of information to keep my intellect alive and thriving.  I must
My spirit also needs watering.  As a believer, I know that the Spirit provides the water that I need.  Sometimes the Spirit does the watering through the actions or words of others.  Sometimes I need to be the one that the Spirit uses to water the spirits of other people.  hear voices of individuals with varying perspectives.  I must read and expand my knowledge.  I must witness and experience life and understand what those things teach me.

So keeping my body, my mind, and my spirit watered is just as important as keeping my Lucky Bamboo watered for survival.



Out of the Sun   2 comments

This week I began a series of blog posts inspired by the plant on my desk.  My first post had to do with Being Alive.  Today, I want to start addressing the care instructions that came on a card with my plant.  The first item listed says this:

Keep me out of the sun!

While some plants need a lot of sunlight to thrive, my plant prefers less sunlight.  This is probably a very good thing since I have a limited amount of sunlight that enters my office.  This instruction has spoken to me in regards not just to my plant but also in regards Lucky Bambooto people.

I am the type of person that needs sunlight.  Long periods of cloudy days have a very negative impact on my mood and energy.  However, being fully exposed to the sunlight for lengthy periods of time are not beneficial to me.  Last summer on one of my trips I spent too much time in the sun and got a very intense sunburn.  I still see the effects of that sunburn on my skin today.  I need sun but must have it in moderation.

Beyond a physical application of this instruction, I think that a much more important application is in  regards to a person’s mental well-being.  One of the benefits that we receive from the sun is warmth.  During these cold months, I greatly value the heat that comes from sunshine and warms my day.  In the summer, the heat the sun provides can cause me to complain because it is too much.  Some times in life, the stress and the pressures of the day can be compared to too much heat that comes from the sun during the summer.  It causes fatigue and has a negative impact on my life.

As a leader, I have come to realize the importance of assisting individuals to stay out of the sun.  I need to help reduce the stress and pressure in a person’s life as much as I have the power to do so.  I need to take the “heat” off of them.  This will allow them to thrive instead of withering from the pressure and stress.  This will encourage them to be alive instead of dying under the stress and pressure.

So I need to keep the people in my life out of the sun so they can benefit in life and grow.

Posted January 24, 2013 by thoughtfulbeliever in Experiences, Leadership, Life

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Being Alive   2 comments

Lucky Bamboo

What does it mean to be alive?  When I think about being alive, I think about growth.  If something is growing, that means it is not going to stay the same.

I have a plant that sits on my desk.  It is called a Lucky Bamboo.  When I received this plant as a gift some time ago, it was three small shoots.  I like this plant because it is a low maintenance plant.  All I have to do is keep the container filled with water around the rocks and it seems to thrive on its own.  The one thing that I have noticed is that the original shoots that varied in size from 1″ to 2″ are now 2″ to 5″ in height.  It has also acquired more leaves on each of the shoots.  The plant is not the same.  Why?  Because growth has taken place.

If my plant had shriveled up and become smaller with no leaves or curled up leaves, I would have said that the plant is dead.  Therefore, I declare that lack of growth is equated with death.  So if something is alive, then it will experience growth.

Since humans are living animals, I think the lessons from my plant can be applied to each human.  If there is growth in a person (not just physical in this case) then there is evidence that the individual is alive.  If growth has discontinued in a person’s life, then in most cases, the person is no longer alive.  I have heard many people say that when a person stops learning and experiencing, the person stops growing.  The other reality about growth is that it produces change.  So change is inevitable with growth and growth is evidence of being alive.

Just like individual humans, the church is the same.  If the church is alive, then it is going to be growing.  If the church is not growing, then it must no longer be alive.  Many people want to jump right to a change of numbers of people attending worship as a sign of a church growing.  While this may be true in some cases, I do not think that numbers of attendees at worship services are the only indicators of church growth.  In fact, I would argue that a more important measure of church growth is the way that the individuals associated to a particular congregation change in their faith.  Since change indicates growth, this would be an important element to watch.

The lessons that I am learning from my plant this week, will be the focus on my future blog posts.  So let me reiterate the starting lesson of today – Growth means something is alive and so measuring growth is a strong determinate of the life of an individual and/or church.

Good Soil   Leave a comment

Yesterday’s warm weather and today’s talk of rain has got me thinking a lot about spring.  I love spring except that it marks the start of allergy season for me.  However, I love the way that the earth and trees turn green again.  I love watching the flowers come up out of the ground and add color and beauty to the landscape.  I love the sound of birds and the increased activity of people outside.  Spring is a time when I see new life and I feel an increase of hope.

With spring comes the arrival of planting season in Iowa.  I am not fond of all the increased farm equipment that is on the roads during this season but being an Iowa boy, I do enjoy seeing all the activities of planting season.  I enjoy watching the land being worked over and the rich black soil prepared to receive the seeds.  I enjoy watching the young plants sprout up and identifying which fields are soybeans and which are corn.  This is the landscape in which I have spent most of my life.

Planting season causes me to think about the soil.  Having lived most of my life in Iowa, I take rich soil a bit for granted.  I just assume that when I turn over a piece of ground, I am going to find a nice black soil that is ready to receive whatever I am choosing to plant in it.  Having lived a short time in Nebraska, I came to realize that this is not always the case.  I used to live near the sandhills of Nebraska and on my brief visits up into those sandhills, I found a much different type of soil.  The richness of the soil has a big impact on the type of plants that can grow and the quality of plants that are produced.

All of this has reminded me of the story that Jesus told about the seeds and the soil.  He told of the scatter of the seeds on four different types of soil.  Depending on the type of soil on which the seed fell, the outcome of the seed was significantly different.  Ultimately, he pointed out the importance of having good soil on which the seed can fall so that it can take root, develop into a healthy plant, and produce an abundance of seeds.  Jesus was trying to explain the importance of us being rich soil so that the seeds of faith may become rooted in us and produce a great harvest.

I reminded through this story of the importance for me to strive to be good soil.  I have to work the soil of my spirit very carefully, much like a farmer takes very good care of the soil of his/her fields.  I have to make sure that I am prepared to receive the seeds that the Lord scatters on my spirit.  Only then can I truly provide a good harvest for my Lord.

Time for Pruning   Leave a comment

Pruning shears.

Image via Wikipedia

Let me start by saying that I am definitely not a gardener.  I have the ability to plant seeds or bulbs and then I left nature take its course.  If something survives then I credit it to the Creator and nothing that I have done.  But as I have read and observed some, there appears to be value in pruning trees, rose bushes, and shrubs.  From what I have read, through the process of pruning you can actually make the plant healthier.  Again, since I am not a gardener, I will take other’s word for it.

I began thinking about all of this because of a conversation that I had earlier this week about the state of the church.  I am referring not to a specific congregation but instead to the church universal, or at least in the United States.  There appears to be much angst about the declining membership in churches.  Along with declining membership (and actually probably the largest cause of angst) is the decline in contributions that many congregations are experiencing.  Easily we can see a link in the two situations but I do not think that reduced contributions is solely due to a reduction in worship attendance but that is a different blog post.  It is becoming difficult for congregations to afford supporting salaries for staff and the upkeep on buildings.  Many of the long-standing congregations have buildings that were built in the early part of the 20th century or earlier and those buildings are far from efficient.

This was the starting point of the conversation that I had earlier in the week.  As the conversation progressed, we engaged in discussion about the changing nature of Christianity and the Christian Church in the United States.  I shared viewpoints that I had read in Phyllis Tickle‘s book, The Great Emergence.  (A book that I highly recommend if you want insight on what is happening in our culture and the church.)  The reality is that we are in a period of transition and that whenever you are in transition, it is very difficult to grasp what the end result is going to be.  This period brings both fear and excitement.  Fear, because all of our norms are being shaken and what we thought we knew is now being brought into question.  Excitement, because we are agents in this period of change who are helping to shape the new course and the new reality of what we are becoming.

One aspect of this transition period I believe is the pruning of the church.  As congregations face budget issues and redesigns of the church are being explored, I believe we are being led to do some pruning in the church.  We are forced to examine how we live out our faith in community.  We are questioning all aspects of our structure, our programs and approaches, our priorities, our areas of emphasis.  As we do this examination, I believe that we will find the need to remove some aspects of the various elements of the church.  We may even find that the number of congregations and the number of buildings needs to be reduced.  We may find that where we commit our resources and our energies need to be redirected.

The concept of pruning in the church is scary and painful.  None of us want to see aspects that we enjoy or in which we have passion experience a reduction or elimination.  What happens if we cut away too much?  It hurts when the cuttings take place (I often wonder how the plant feels when that occurs; assuming the plant has feelings.).  Where there is pain there usually is fighting and resistance. 

Yet, if we believe what gardeners tell us about plants – that pruning actually makes the plant healthy and encourages growth, then maybe we need to apply that to the church.  Maybe if we go through that scary and painful process of pruning, what we will come out with in the end is a much healthier church that grows instead of one that is unhealthy and dying. 

An interesting concept – pruning the church.  How would you go about it?  Is it even necessary?