Consistent Nourishment

Consistent Nutrition

A tree planted by water.

Or maybe the farmer scattering seeds is what you recall from the parable [Matthew 13:1-9] that Jesus spoke of in the Bible. As a child I was taught about the farmer sowing seeds but as an adult I enjoy the idea of a tree more. The reason for this is because trees are consistent, you’ll hear this word a lot going forward. Plants, like those sown by the farmer are seasonal. These plants grow quickly, become fruitful but almost never multiply without help. Without consistent nourishment.

While working on a devotional recently with Bethany I was reminded of this because it is exactly what we covered in the devotional which focused on Psalms 1:1-6. If there was ever a single chapter devoted to the need for consistent nourishment in the bible it is this one. So after we completed the devotional which was about this nourishment we get from our connection to God, I let it marinate in my heart some.

One of the greatest things about God is that he is an awesome father. He makes sure we get the nourishment we need whenever we need it and it is abundant. The cupboard is never ever bare!

I would be lying if I said that I was that consistent in providing a soulful nourishment for my kids or those around me. It’s hard and we don’t get it right all the time. We aren’t supposed to either because we aren’t perfect and we were never made to be perfect. God made us according to his image and according to his likeness but he did not intentionally create us as a perfect creature. He created us with free will and the choice to not only be what he created us to be (human) but also to make the choice to be in his likeness. They are two different things that I want to cover in another article.

How consistent should you be?

When it comes to God, always. When it comes to your children, always. At least that is should be. Still there is something here that we should look at and it is what the farmer and his seeds represent. I want to look at it from multiple angles and hopefully inspire you to not only get nourishment consistently but to also give nourishment consistently. This applies to anyone you meet not just a friend, not just your Pastor and certainly not just a Christian. The person may not know immediately they are being nourished by the grace God has given you but in time they will realize it.

We are eternal servants to the spiritual nourishment of others. In fact, we are charged [Matthew 5:16] to show others this consistent nourishment because we are also nourished by giving to them.

How to be more consistent

It’s harder than it sounds otherwise I wouldn’t have been moved to the point that I am writing this! However I think that the method to be more consistent is simple. Just be mindful!

I forget this sometimes because I don’t do anything half measure and I don’t give up. It leads to arguments. Be mindful of what you are projecting to your children, to your wife or significant other. Is it in God’s likeness? Then stop. Put yourself in a strangers shoes a moment and look at yourself, this man, this dad with his children or his wife. How are you being perceived when you are with them?

Even if we are experiencing rough waters within ourselves we should project kindness. Even Christ who prayed at Gethsemane went quietly with the guards when arrested knowing that his fate was death. Did he want to run? His humanity may have but he prayed fervently and God heard his prayer and saved him from the eternal separation that the sin he bore would have caused. Instead he knew that he would be separated from his father only for a little while and this gave him the strength to carry on.

This to me is so very important because how can we nourish our children if we put separation between them? We should be making every effort to speak kindness to them even if we may want to send them away when they are misbehaving or not acting to our adult standards. I forget this and I think you would be hard pressed to find a parent who has not done this.

The Farmer

If we look at the farmer we can place him in to four different categories of spiritual nourishment;

  • The seeds that fell upon the wayside were eaten by birds. These seeds signify the uninvolved Christian who jealously holds close the love that God charges them to spread. Their work is no nutritious at all.
  • The seeds that fell upon the stony places. These seeds signify the hard-hearted Christian who spreads the love God charges them to spread but not to everyone. They bear fruits swiftly and they die just as quickly because their work is not nutritious enough.
  • The seeds that fell upon the thorns. These seeds signify the inflexible Christian who does not know how to encourage the growth of other Christians. They can spread the love that God commands us to spread but often-times they will leave the new believers without a safety net. Their work is a trickle and the fruit they bear will grow but eventually it will slowly die.
  • The seeds that fell upon the good ground. These seeds signify what God commands us to do! This is the servant Christian who is involved, open-hearted and the flexible child of God who approaches the stranger and loves on them regardless of the circumstance and then after bringing them to Christ continues to walk with them and encourage them as they take their next steps. Their work will bear fruit that lasts the hard winters and seeds that carry in to new seasons.

Let me ask these bold questions of you. What kind of man are you? Are you giving consistent nutrition? Are you seeking consistent nutrition? You should be. We all should be, both man and woman. I should be.

I will. I will be a tree planted by the water.

Finding Peace in Death

Bench

My last living Grandmother died January 9th, 2015.

Her husband died December 1st, 2011.

Nan and Pop
Edna Irene Bryant and Thomas Kelsey Bryant

That is them and I miss them. Who wouldn’t miss people, that as far back as you can remember have been there and have been pillars of your identity? It’s heartbreaking when we lose loved ones and we need comfort in that storm.

Some people find it in a bottle, some find it in the form of sex and the list goes on and on. I ran to God [Psalm 18:2] and still am. Grieving is not a modular process that happens in a day and then we move on. It does not end after the funeral. Some people grieve a week, a month, and some even years. There is no definitive time to move on but having something to help you is always better than going it alone.

We are never alone. Never. The Bible explicitly tells us [Isaiah 41:10] that we are never alone. So why should you suffer feeling alone when His love is there to wrap around you and lift you in a time such as the death of someone. We should not hold our grief in, I have a terrible habit of doing this even though I know I should not [Matthew 5:4].

One of those very blessings is Bethany. I with all my heart believe God put her in my path because he was done with me running. I was the truant child that needed reminding of his place. Thank you God. Thank you for that.

Thanks is a terrible beast because we put a stigma on when it need not be that way. Thanking someone is appreciation and not weakness. Asking someone for help is community and not weakness. We should not have to feel like we are weak because we thank someone for help be it asked for or given because of the need to help others.

I say all of that to build on the fact that I did something I never thought I would do, in fact thinking about it makes me want to cry because I struggle with the beauty of the peace I found when I thanked God for taking my grandmother home. I did not thank Him for her death, it is something we are all bound to [Romans 7:6]. Instead I thanked him for ending her suffering, for bringing her to Him and for taking her to see my Poppy who she missed so dearly.

My Grandmother was integral to my life as grandmothers usually are for anyone. She was blunt and at times she could be mean but I was always Nan’s Baby and I will always be that. Thank God that he took her home and thank God that she is now there to help watch over my family as we run the race. The Lord is close to those grieving [Psalm 34:18] and I’d like to think those we loved so fiercely are there with Him.

That is why we celebrate life and not death. It is why we should be thankful for their homecoming and not angry at God. We do not have to understand the intricacies of His choices but if we embrace the event and know that it’s purpose will be known to us in time when we can see past our pain then we can grow for Him and be what we were always meant to be.

I’m still hurting but I know that God has given me something to cherish. My final memories of Nan was something I had never heard from her before, a giggle. If someone is so close to death’s doorstep can find the time to giggle from kisses on their forehead then surely I can celebrate their life and find some peace in their passing. No. Their Homecoming.

Owning Your Past to Move Forward

Own Your Past

Never fear your past.

One of the things that I took in to consideration before I jumped wholly in to this journey that God put before me was that I needed to decide if I wanted to erase who I used to be over social media or to leave it. I chose to leave it and for good reason.

To erase my past, who I presented myself as, and who I was would be a disservice to God. 

The bible tells us that in Christ we are created new [2 Corinthians 5:17] but we were moulded from that old clay and then we were plunged in the redemptive fire of Christ and cleansed. We should not fear recrimination from our fellow Christians because they, like us, were not worthy of God’s love and His Grace. The best part is that it’s free for us! It was not free for God because He gave His son, the right hand, His most precious thing because Christ said we were worth it.

If you looked at my Facebook 3 years ago and now you would see two very different people. That is how God moves and while it is a part of me it is not all of me. Jesus tells us specifically that we cannot long for the past and be fit for God’s kingdom [Luke 9:62]. To erase my past would be to not acknowledge that God grabbed my by the seat of my pants and put me where he wanted me which is doing this. Even with all of the cussing and lewd imagery I won’t erase it because if I am good enough for Jesus I should be good enough for you.

As men we face a lot of pressure to perform our duties and that can cause us to doubt ourselves and to doubt the work that God gives us. A lot of that comes from our past and the failures we endure before finding Him. We look back and see the transgressions we committed and then our resolve founders.

 

father praying

I am not insusceptible to that, in fact it happens daily but how I deal with it has changed. One of the constant things on my mind is am I doing right by Bethany and our kids. I pray over this daily, constantly asking that I be guided on the right path and constantly begging for the knowledge to give the kids so that they chase Him and not run like I did.

You have to own your past to move forward. Embrace it and accept it as being part of what you are. God put you through those trials so that where you are right now is where you are supposed to be. He doesn’t make mistakes and to hide from your past is to perform a disservice to God. Use it as your testimony and let others see Him within you. God has forgiven you and his forgiveness is to forget your sin [Isaiah 43:25] and move on to greater Godly work. If you doubt, pray. He is always listening.

Learning to be Last

It is hard for anyone to always put themselves last in this world because many of us live in a society that often times thinks of themselves first even when we profess subjugation of our own will. It is a fault of man and one that we must understand and ultimately find peace with. As a man with a family that often means our desires are put to the side in lieu of others.

When Paul and Timothy were writing to the Philippians he encouraged them to show humility like Christ [Philippians 2:3-4] and that is something we should strive for.

It has not been easy for me and is it ever fully solved? No, but because I do want to be more like Christ I have to remind myself that I am second or third or fifth. Christ could have left us to our own demise and allowed us to fester and stay permanently separated from God but instead he made himself last. Last of every soul that has came, gone and will come. He chose to come down to Earth and live as we live. He chose to understand us more intimately than we could imagine and then even though we aren’t worthy he stepped between his father and said, “They are not perfect, they are not worthy but they could be. Not all hope is lost.”

Can we be that humble? Can I? It’s a question I strive to answer every day. I don’t get it right all of the time and I won’t. I don’t expect to. You can get it right some of the time too because we could be worthy. We can be worthy of God’s love. We can be worthy of the love of our wives or significant others. We can be worthy of the love of the children in our lives. We just have to try and to give up ourselves. Much like we should be doing when we take our journey to be more like Christ.

So how do we keep this mindset of being last without feeling hopeless?

  1. Make a list either written or mental of the things you have done for others. See how it has impacted their life and admire the work you have done. It’s hard to see that sometimes but reminders are important so you don’t feel like you’re doing something in vain.
  2. Wear something that professes that so you have a visual cue. One of my favorite things is a silicone bracelet I have from I Am Second and a friend asked me about the bracelet. I explained and then I gave it to him without thought. [2 Corinthians 9:7] The next week he had a different one for me that I wear daily.
  3. Listen to your heart. Our mind often complicates things for us more than we would like. If you see someone in need, help them. [Proverbs 4:23] This was something I was happy to show Elijah (my favorite little boy in the world) one day when he was playing at the soft play area in the mall. There was a boy there that had taken one of his toys. Long story short the boy was autistic and when I asked him for the toy back his mother apologized profusely and gave me the toy. I sat down and put Elijah on my knee and explained to him that there are many toys in the world just like this one but maybe this toy was destined for the little boy. He understood what I was getting at and gave the toy to the little boy. The mom was thankful and almost in tears and I couldn’t be a more proud parent.

That is just a few ways we can keep on that path to being last and being happy. If Christ can give up everything including his life then surely we can give up some of us to enrich others. You never know how much a small act of selflessness can change someone’s world.

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