Monthly Archives: September 2014

The serious business of gardening


I found myself outside in the pre-dawn darkness of the morning of Sept. 8th, the day of the great flooding in Phoenix. Clothed in a red raincoat, bearing a large blue tarp that the rain and fierce winds tried ripping from my grasp several times, I was on a mission.

Three weeks before, my daughter had decided to plant sunflowers from a little packet of seeds that she had found in our kitchen junk drawer.  A week later, 8 little green shoots began pushing up through the soil of the clay pots they were planted in. It was no longer a small matter; We would have to make a planter box for our seedlings, or the sunflowers would perish in their small containers.sunflowers sprout

An entire Saturday was consumed with trips to Home Depot, the boys cutting boards, pounding nails, and 8 bags of garden soil being poured into their new home. The seedlings, which now stood 12 inches high, were placed with great care into hand scooped holes.

Over the next week, I carefully monitored the hours of sunlight and intense heat. When tiny ants found the tasty leaves, I sprinkled pepper sauce and water at the base of the sprouts. Netting was installed after the imprint of a cat paw was found at the base of a snapped stalk. Then it happened, the news was predicting unprecedented storms for Phoenix.

With tarp in hand, lightning rain and wind overhead, I worked at securing a covering over pvc pipes that arched across the garden. While pounding stakes into the corners of the tarp, the wind whipped it out of my hand. With great effort, the garden was finally covered. It survived two days of storms.

This work of gardening, I was finding, took tedious attention and care. When I was watering the plants this week, I was reminded of the parable of The Sower in Mark 4 from last Sunday’s sermon. I reflected how extravagant is God’s love and care for us as we live our lives. When the stormy sea rose up under the disciples and the winds roared around them, it may have seemed that the sprouts of God’s word were wilting in their lives. The disciples experienced real fear, real difficulties, but they continued to faithfully follow Jesus. They nurtured a deeply rooted faith in Christ that resulted in a harvest that continues to this day. Gardening is definitely serious business. -Tina Stephens


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Our Deepest Wish

Whether we are the paralyzed man, the celebrity or just someone wanting to matter… we don’t need a Savior who just grants our wishes. We need someone who will go deeper than that. Someone who will lovingly and carefully, pierce our self-centeredness and remove the sin that enslaves us and distorts even our beautiful dreams. In short, we need to be forgiven. That is the only way for our discontent to be healed. It will take more than we have, more than a miracle worker or a genie – it will take a Savior. Jesus knows that to be our Savior he is going to have to die.

Here is where it all leads. The end we will discover that in the process with what we thought were our deepest wishes, Jesus has revealed an even deeper, truer one beneath – and it is for Jesus himself. He will not just have granted that true deepest wish, he will have fulfilled it. Jesus is not going to play the rotten practical joke of giving you your deepest wish – until he has shown you that it was for him all along.

Four men lowered their friend through the roof. This was an extraordinary act of faithfulness and determination. They must have been beside themselves when Jesus said, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” They had risked so much, been so determined to do this for their friend. What went through their minds after all of this when Jesus told the man to rise? Perhaps they were the ones who said were “amazed and glorified God.”

This is the other thing. When we see what Jesus is up too. What he really has for us. We can’t help but be amazed. We will want to glorify him. We will want to express our amazement, our joy – our gratitude some way… how would you do that?

Dr. Larry Anderson

Watch the Story of how Stephen Baldwin came to faith:

In an absorbingly witty confession, Stephen Baldwin takes you on a journey from a life centered around money, fame and self absorbance to a place where life centered around him no longer mattered.

His confession orbits around the divine purpose of people who entered his life, the places he went and the things that were said and done even when life seemed meaningless.  Hiring a housekeeper to free his time, she instead brought him a message that liberated his life, leaving him on an uncertain road but a sure foundation.

His testimony is a journey of maturing from the burden of people pleasing and self gratification to a life of liberation and humility.


God Loose on the earth

There is a place north of San Francisco near Fort Bragg, California called Glass Beach. It has been included on a list of The 100 Most Beautiful and Breathtaking Places in the world.

glass beach 2

glass beach3

In the early 20th century Fort Bragg residents referred to this area as “The Dumps”, because it was commonly known that this area was the place where you dumped your household garbage. The beach was littered with glass, appliances, and vehicles.  In 1967 city leaders closed the area for decades, while efforts were made to clean the area. In the meantime, waves continued to crash on the beach breaking apart the garbage, tumbling large pieces of glass and garbage into small polished gems.  A place previously known as a”The Dumps” has become a popular attraction visited by thousands of tourists every day who walk across the beach decorated with multi-colored pieces of glass.

What happens when God is loose on the earth?  What happened when Jesus met a man without a name, known only in Mark as a “leper”,  a man rejected by society, unclean like garbage?

And a leper came to him, imploring him, and kneeling said to him, “if you will, you can make me clean.”  Moved with pity, he stretched out his hand and touched him and said to him, “I will; be clean.”  And immediately the leprosy left him, and he was made clean. (Mark 1:40-41)

Much like the discarded trash that once littered Glass Beach, when God comes into our lives, He breaks us apart and creates something new. What once was something hard to look at is now a beautiful sight.

What happens when God is loose on the earth?  As Natalie Grant says in her song Your Great Name:

The lost are saved…

All condemned feel no shame…

Every fear has no place…

The enemy-he has to leave…


natalie grant

Tina Stephens