Was There a Solar Eclipse?

It's the same with most any really big event ... the build up and anticipation of it outweighs the actual event itself which passes so, so quickly.  Keep in mind, I'm writing from the perspective of someone who didn't travel north to be in the path of totality. Rather I chose, as did most of us, to stay here and witness this heavenly phenomena in it's 93% version.  We made our viewing boxes, went outside, saw the crescent shaped shadows everywhere, watched the sun get mostly covered and uncovered by the moon, and then returned to the normal work of the day.

While it was a fascinating and eerie experience I sort of have to agree with a number of others I talked to about being a bit disappointed.  Perhaps the build up was so big that my expectations were too high. But I wanted it to get a lot darker than it did.  I know, it wasn't a total eclipse here in Moody and those who did travel and saw the full eclipse may have an entirely different story to tell, but still, I was hoping for something greater!

But in the midst of this experience the Lord really impressed three things on me. The first is that disappointment is okay; it's just a reminder that there really is something greater and my heart longs for it. We all long for something more ... something greater ... something more satisfying. However, this side of heaven we're going to be disappointed more often than not. Relationships, job, church, family, etc. is never going to measure up to what we want it to.  Yet God tell us to embrace that feeling and let it point you to eternal things in Christ that never disappoint.

Secondly, I was reminded that light always overpowers darkness. You'd think that when 93% of the sun is covered it would get really dark. Yet even that very small percentage of the sun that was showing was more than sufficient to drive away the darkness.  As we carry forth the light of the Gospel into this dark world, God's purposes will be accomplished. Sure, it may not look exactly like we think it should, but the light overcomes the dark. There is always hope when the Gospel is proclaimed and believed. So whatever dark situation some of us (or family members) may be facing, let's rest in the knowledge that the light of the Gospel is going to do its work.

And thirdly, how big, holy, awesome, and powerful God must be! Here's a quote I came across from Luke Walker: "The sun will burn your eyes out from a distance of 92 million miles and do you expect to casually stroll into the presence of its Maker?"  We really do tend to minimize His holiness and this is seen by how we seek to relate to Him. Do we quickly, fully, and brutally repent of our sin? Do we aggressively run to the cross of Christ? Do we spend any time preparing for worship? Do we actively seek to spend time with Him on a daily basis? Or do we (like Walker suggests) "expect to casually stroll" into His presence if and when we think of it and in whatever manner we please? Even after just one week in Leviticus we've hopefully seen that God is holy, that He truly cares how we worship Him, and that serious preparation must be made on our part.

Anyway, the eclipse has come and gone. Apparently the USA gets another one on April 8, 2024. Go ahead and make plans to travel to Texas, Arkansas, Indiana, Maine, or another state in the path of totality!

Leviticus ... Here We Go!

I continue to say that this study of Leviticus may be the dumbest thing I've ever done!  This Sunday I'm going to share a story of how Leviticus almost cost me my ordination ... but I'm saving that for Sunday ... hope you're there to hear about it. But here's the problem with a sermon series through Leviticus - there's just too much good stuff in there to adequately cover and do real justice to it. However, we're gonna give it a shot and see what the Lord does over these next few months. If you haven't started reading Leviticus yet, that's okay.  Actually, let me encourage you to read through Genesis and Exodus which really provide a context for our study. And then read through Leviticus!

Leviticus answers a very basic and important question for us - "How can sinful man live in the presence of a holy God?" While we've probably been conditioned to view this book as rather burdensome and hard the Israelites viewed it as a blessing because it answered this question for them.  Sure, there are lots and lots of rules, laws, rituals, etc. throughout the book but they are all given to help God's people better know their King as well as return to the original purpose for which they were called and set apart. I trust this same thing will happen among us as we go through Leviticus.

Here are some themes we're going to see throughout this book: God is holy, eternal and living, personal, powerful, righteous, sovereign, gracious, jealous; God's people are set apart as a holy nation and kingdom of priests, bear His image, are to live in community, and must have their sin atoned for through a perfect sacrifice, and live in faith according to the covenant God made with them. Pretty interesting huh ... all this sounds very new testamentish of sorts doesn't it?!?! I'm confident we're going to see Jesus all through Leviticus.

We'll be going through the book in fairly large chunks. For instance, this Sunday we'll cover the entire first chapter. That may not happen every week but it certainly won't be unusual. With that in mind, I do ask you to invest time in reading these sections each week and prayerfully asking God to instruct your heart in the Gospel. As I mentioned this past Sunday at the conclusion of our Galatians series, I want us to leave each service utterly stunned and in awe of what God has done for us in Christ rather than just wondering what we're now supposed to do as good Christians. This will be the work of God's Spirit so I beg you to pray ... pray for God to give you discernment to see Jesus but also pray for me as I prepare and deliver these messages. The big challenge in preaching through something like Leviticus is definitely not struggling to find enough material to preach each week; there's more than enough for a 3 hour weekly sermon. Rather it is trying to wisely discern what not to say so we won't be there all day.

Anyway, I look forward to this study and I trust you are to. May God grant us all eyes to see more clearly and hearts to believe the amazing love, grace, and work of our King and Savior, Jesus Christ. I really hope to see you this Sunday. And invite a friend to come along in order to be exposed to God’s Word and God’s people.

Sin and Wrecks

Yesterday morning, Tuesday July 8, I had to drive to our Evangel Presbytery meeting over at Altadena Presbyterian Church off Caldwell Mill Road near the Colonnade off I459.  That's really not a long or difficult drive ... except during a deluge of a rainstorm!  Maybe some of you reading this were caught in that same torrential rain. It was crazy for a while ... especially crazy for those involved in any of the 8 separate wrecks I saw on the way there.  Though I don't have any specific details on how any of these wrecks actually happened, you'd have to suspect that the heavy rain had something to do with it.

Because there was some obvious delays in travel time, because of both the accidents themselves and the heavy rain, I was able to notice there was a lot of variety to these wrecks. It appeared that some were obvious commuters on their way to work while others seemed to perhaps be on vacation; there were male drivers and female drivers; some involved multiple cars and others were single car accidents; some involved old rough looking cars while others involved $70K ones. The point here is that the rain didn't target any particular group upon which to pour itself on and create dangerous driving conditions, rather it indiscriminately wreaked havoc on everyone. There was something else I noticed ... each of these wrecks were being attended to by someone. The police, highway patrol, fire departments, and wreckers had a busy morning!

This is sort of like sin ... it doesn't particularly target any one group over the other, no one is exempt from the devastating consequences of it, and its consequences impact many others. We'd like to think that our cars are capable of handling such conditions, that our driving ability is superior to others, that because we made it through the last storm we really don't have to worry about this one. But the harsh reality is that sin and its consequences can hit us at any time, no matter how prepared we think we might be, and no matter how many rough times we've previously endured.

Of course, let's live (and drive) cautiously; let's keep constant guard over our hearts and minds which are being relentlessly assaulted by temptation; let's do all we can to prepare ourselves to battle against the daily struggles of life. But let's also remember that when we do fall to temptation and sin, there is Someone who is there to rescue us. He never fails to come. He's never late. He's always ready, willing, and able to offer grace, forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Sooner or later (probably sooner) we're going to find ourselves in a spiritual ditch or accident. When we do, let's remember that Jesus, on our behalf, endured the most devastating wreck in history and is now here to comfort, forgive, strengthen, and love us in our own wrecks. Sort of frees us up to love and help others during their wrecks too, doesn't it!!

 

Peanut Butter

Who doesn't like peanut butter? I know some folks are highly allergic to nuts and don't want to make light of that, but peanut butter has been and is a staple of the American culture since around 1900.  Actually, peanuts aren't native to the USA. The peanut plant was originally discovered in South America (Brazil or Peru) and eventually found its way here. Peanuts became a commercial crop in the early 1800's and this greatly expanded in the later part of that century as PT Barnum's Circus and baseball helped make them popular.  In the early 1900's, with the wisdom of George Washington Carver, the peanut actually helped save the South's economy as the boll weevil wreaked havoc on the cotton crops. 

Peanut butter was likely invented here in the USA by Dr. John Henry Kellogg (think cereal) in 1895. Soon it was introduced at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair. Peanut butter was used widely during World Wars I and II and it was likely during WWII that the Army popularized the peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a way to sustain and nourish the troops during maneuvers. 

Peanut butter has been used for many things over the years ... concealing a pill for kids to swallow, clean leather, bait mouse trap, lubricate squeaky hinges, remove gum, clean windshield, repair scratches on wood, moisturize hair, and even as shaving cream. But inmates at Walker County Jail here in Alabama apparently have found another use ... reconfigure numbers on cell doors to trick employees to open the door to the outside so they can escape. Sounds crazy ... but it happened. I'm trusting you saw this report from earlier this week and I don't think it is something Dr. Carver or Dr. Kellogg ever imagined.

This just illustrates how creatively evil the human mind and heart is and can be. We can take something so very good and use it for wicked, deceptive, and evil purposes.  Any blessing the Lord gives us is potentially something we can (and eventually probably will) use against His Kingdom purposes. This is a call for us to examine our blessings and make sure we've not exalted the blessing over and above the Giver of the blessing. It's a reminder to us that we need the wisdom, counsel, and help of fellow believers who love us and can help us see when we're using good things for the wrong reasons.  This is a solemn warning to never trust something to be "good" just because it "works" and accomplishes a desired result. 

Yet instead of simply living in fear of messing up and doing something wrong, it's also a reminder that God's good gifts to us are meant to be enjoyed by us and others as we use them in the way He intends. We don't need a new law against peanut butter, we don't need to put a warning label on every jar, we don't need to add to school curriculum a lesson on the right purposes of peanut butter, etc. Rather, just enjoy your next peanut butter and jelly sandwich and realize it's a blessing from God. And if you see someone using peanut butter in an inappropriate way, love them enough to challenge them to stop wasting it for ungodly purposes and remind them how delicious that sandwich was you just ate!

From the Atlantic Coast

I'm writing from beautiful St. Simons, GA while Anita and I, with all our unmarried boys, are enjoying a little vacation time! So far, we've had all the right ingredients - good weather, good food, reading, resting, some more good food, nice walks, beach time, etc. I think I made my first trip here in 1979 soon after Anita and I started dating. It's fun looking through the many photo albums here that include pictures of all our kids who've made this trek with us over the years. Kids sure do grow up in a hurry ... but, of course, Anita and I look almost exactly like we did back then ;). Anita's sister, Cindy, who lives here, is a most gracious host and we appreciate the opportunity to invade her home.

You can find research that shows being near the ocean has therapeutic and health benefits. It supposedly helps us relax, relieves stress, breath fresh air, inspires creative brain activity, even helps our sleep patterns. I remember reading one such report in the past that says the ocean invokes feelings of awe and that we're connected to something greater than ourselves, and as a result it moves us from a "me" orientation to a "we" orientation. Wow ... shocking isn't it!!! Consider these selected verses from God's Word.

·         Isaiah 40:12 - Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand and marked off the heavens with a span, enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance?

·         Isaiah 40:15 - Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.

·         Isaiah 40:28 - Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

·         Psalm 33:6-9 - By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host. He gathers the waters of the sea as a heap; he puts the deeps in storehouses. Let all the earth fear the Lord; let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him! For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

·         Psalm 89:5-9 - Let the heavens praise your wonders, O Lord, your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones! For who in the skies can be compared to the Lord? Who among the heavenly beings is like the Lord, a God greatly to be feared in the council of the holy ones, and awesome above all who are around him? O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty as you are, O Lord, with your faithfulness all around you? You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.

·         Psalm 95:3-6 - For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

Fascinating that scientific research is catching up with what God has revealed about Himself in His Word. The beauty, majesty, power, and expanse of God's creation actually inspires a sense of awe in us that helps us realize we're a part of something much bigger than ourselves. Our problem is we sometimes forget what that "something bigger" really is. It's not a movement,  agenda, trend, cause, program, or crusade but rather the Kingdom of an eternal and infinite King who has brought us close to Himself through the person and work of His Son Jesus Christ. And while sitting on the shore or pier and looking out over the ocean is never a substitute for meeting our King in the corporate service of worship He has prescribed for us, it is very nice to catch a glimpse of His greatness while here at St. Simons. I'm grateful for this time of rest and look forward to being back in worship with my church family this Sunday!

The Times They Are A-Changin'

Maybe you've already heard by now but in the near future the times for our worship service and Sunday School will be changing. Essentially, we'll be flip-flopping the two ... instead of worship first at 9:30, followed by Sunday School at 11:00 we'll have Sunday School first at 9:30, followed by worship at 10:30. This is actually a much more traditional schedule and sequence than what we've been doing for years.

The obvious question is "why?" There are probably a few other "why" questions that should be answered. Why did we move worship to 9:30 am in the first place? Many years ago we offered two worship services - 8:30 and 10:45 - with the hope that the differing style of the two services would attract more people. That move didn't really pay the dividends we hoped for, rather it merely created more of a divide between our existing people. In God's providence, a tornado necessitated a move out of the sanctuary and into the gym during the summer of 2011. The decision was made to schedule the worship service at 9:30 as sort of a compromise between the two previous times. But during that discussion the Session also developed the conviction that this order of worship first and then Sunday School might have real merit. Worship truly is the most important thing we do as a church and everything else should flow out of it. All our ministries, events, groups, programs, classes, strategies, meetings, service, etc. must be rooted and grounded in our worship and be the natural overflow of it. Community Church can exist without most any and everything we do except worship. Thus, the Session saw value in having it first and allowing all else to flow out of that.

Over the years the Session heard several reasons as to why CPC should change the schedule and have Sunday School first and worship second. Yet all the reasons were aimed to make it easier to do everything else except worship. So why the change now? Is worship no longer so important? Have the elders caved in to special interests?  Rest assured the Session has not changed their conviction about worship ... it is, and always will be the most important thing we do as a church and everything else we do must be rooted and grounded in it. Yet I have seen our elders show an increasing willingness to listen, to learn, to adjust, to adapt, and to act while maintaining very solid convictions. In regard to this worship time change the elders are, in fact, asking that we as a congregation actually use a portion of the Sunday School time to better prepare ourselves for our corporate worship.

Also, the elders understand that the current schedule hinders some from participating in worship as they might would otherwise. As it is now, if the service runs a bit too long people get anxious about it cutting into Sunday School time and, as a result, likely zone out during the latter portion of the service. Sunday School teachers are distracted and panicked toward the end of the service thinking they need to rush to their classrooms to prepare to receive their students. Many who want to invite our worship guests to lunch feel frustrated because of the current schedule (guests typically won't want to stay for Sunday School). These and other issues have actually hindered some of our folks from putting a priority on worship. Thus, the Session has decided that a shift is needed to better facilitate the primacy of worship as well as meet the needs of the congregation.

When will it happen? No sooner than September 3, but hopefully on that day. But before it can happen we must find a suitable place for the Ambassadors Sunday School class to meet on a permanent basis. The loose gravel behind the gym makes it difficult for many to walk from their car to their old classroom so they've been meeting in the sanctuary for the past couple of months. The deacons are feverishly working on a few options and will hopefully have this matter resolved soon.

So be listening for the timing of when this worship and Sunday School time flip-flop will happen. And be praying that the people of Community Presbyterian will be better served by this move and be able to better worship our Savior Jesus Christ.

 

Last, Lost, Least, Little

I've been reading through the parables of Jesus lately and have been again greatly challenged by Jesus' teaching. How fascinating to see Him engage with others and instruct them in the ways of the Kingdom, of grace, and of judgment.  Parables aren't always the easiest things to understand but they truly are packed with beauty and significance and grace. 

However, there's a troubling theme I've picked up on (with the help of commentators) as I've navigated through these passages. It seems that the salvation God deals in comes in some strange and uncomfortable packaging - the last, the lost, the least, the little, and dare I say the dead. This is always hard for me to comprehend. I was brought up and instructed in a Christianity that taught strength, success, victory, overcoming, accomplishment, triumph, power, winning, etc. Of course, it's true that Jesus did all that, but only through the means of weakness, suffering, death, and resurrection. I was also trained for ministry in this same vein ... the minister and the church must be strong, successful, powerful, significant, effective, etc.  Of course, all those terms are Biblical and good ... but not when we define them from a worldly perspective where they become harmful and destructive to the purposes of the Kingdom. 

I believe most all of us can relate to the parable in Luke 12:13-21. It's a fairly straightforward story of a farmer who has had a bountiful harvest, so much so that it creates a storage problem. His solution was to tear down the old barns and build larger ones which, by the way, sounds like a very reasonable and logical decision. Jesus then imagines the conversation this man has with himself - "You know, I have plenty and it's time to relax, eat, drink, and be merry." Before we start applying this to someone else we need realize we all dream of "bigger barns" to store up our stuff ... i.e. there are more self-storage units in the US than there are McDonald's and Starbucks combined. Of course, Jesus goes on to say that abundance of stuff doesn't define or add to our lives at all. I see myself in this farmer (often identified as the "rich fool"). Though my land produced an abundant harvest I'm not thankful ... I proceed as if it was about me rather than the One who blessed me (note Jesus' repeated use of "I" when describing the man). I worry about protecting my stuff more than addressing the needs of others. I'm very self-absorbed because I view everything as it relates to my comfort. This farmer in the parable and I do exactly what the world insists that we do ... cling tightly to life! Jesus then highlights the foolishness of this man and clearly notes that no matter how tightly he was holding on to his stuff, when he dies it's all gone. He spent his life doing and accumulating stuff that, in the end, amounted to nothing.

In God's economy things are totally upside down:  poverty, not abundance, is the way of contentment ... others, not myself, is the path of joy ... weakness, not strength, is the means of success ... death, not life, is the way of Christianity. 

So, are you willing to be the last, the lost, the least, the little ... and take up your cross today and die?

 

It's Good to Have a Name!

Ever since people heard I was going to be a grandfather I have been asked a very consistent question - "What are you going to be called?" And my answer has been pretty consistent as well - "Whatever my granddaughter wants to call me." And I truly meant that. Our first baby, Dane, decided to call his grandfather "Papa."  Nobody schemed or suggested that name ... it came solely from Dane and that name stuck.  

Well, this past weekend Dane's daughter, Ella, revealed her name for me ... Papa.  Everyone had been calling me "Grandpa" for a while but Ella decided that my name is to be Papa. I'm very much okay with that, not just because it's what Dane called his grandfather but because it's Ella's decision and she seems pretty committed to it. It's a beautiful thing to hear her little voice call me "Papa" ... my heart simply melts every time she says it!

It feels good to finally have a name but this particular name carries a lot of weight in our family. Anita's dad (Dr. Wilbur New / Papa) was most certainly in the 99th percentile of all grandparents who ever lived! In some ways I feel very honored to bear that name but it's also very intimidating to think I have to live up to the standard he set for our kids. He was relentless in his love for our children, in his involvement in their lives, in his willingness to provide for them whatever he could, in his support for them, in his patience during awkward times, in his acceptance of their friends, in his listening ear, in his sacrifice for their well-being. But most impressive of all was his non-stop desire for them to know Christ! I know he prayed for them and spoke to them often of his faith in the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. This is the trait I most appreciate about him and want to see replicated in my role as "Papa."

Have you ever thought about what God calls you? As believers we have several titles, all of which carry a lot of responsibility - disciple, Christian, ambassador, follower, fisher, servant, priest, citizen, image-bearer, workmanship, living sacrifice, witness, salt, light, called, etc. This is a very intimidating list. But let's also not forgot that God calls us His beloved, forgiven, heir, redeemed, treasured possession, chosen, saint, new creature, bride, blameless, child, etc. Keep in mind that it's only because of Jesus that God refers to us with such affectionate terms. We've certainly done nothing to earn this love ... rather, Jesus Christ did it for us and we now get to be in this Father / child relationship with the eternal, infinite, holy, Creator, King of all creation.  To understand that God calls me "son" and I can call Him "Father" and I have this relationship with Him for eternity ... again, my heart simply melts!

Do you ever wrestle with a cold and hard heart? Of course you do, we all do. Thus, I invite you to reacquaint yourself with God's loving and gracious voice toward you. Feed upon the Gospel each and every day through His Word, don't neglect the importance of the Lord's Supper when offered, and converse with Him in prayer. See if your heart doesn't melt as you hear Him call you "son" or "daughter."

Stray Cats

There's been a stray cat hanging around the Boykin house lately.  He's just sort of made himself at home ... lounges on our deck, hangs out in our garage, walks around in the yard, etc. Though he's still very skiddish around us he's certainly not afraid to keep coming around and acting like he's at home.

Of course, Anita and I know we're not the reason this cat keeps coming back. Rather it's our own two cats, Tobias and Sagwa, who make our house an appealing place for this visitor. For some reason our cats have allowed this stranger to feel welcome ... sure, they still act suspicious around each other and have an occasional cat fight, but for the most part Tobias and Sagwa are okay with this stranger. So I guess the principle here is that cats attract other cats.

This is a principle that I have seen confirmed in much of my recent work in evangelism. Just as cats attract other cats, sinners attract other sinners. And what does that have to do with evangelism? Consider this ... often those who profess to be Christian feel the need to present themselves as something other than sinners; feel they must show how good they are; feel that while it's okay to admit to being a "sinner" in a generic sense it's just unbecoming to actually struggle with real sin. These are the type Christians who are unattractive to unbelieving "sinners." These unbelievers (sinners), at least in our culture, typically know they are struggling with life, and while they may not verbalize it as "sin" they know things aren't the way they're supposed to be. 

So how do we reach them? Should we intentionally sin more so that we can relate to them in a better way? In the words of the Apostle Paul, "By no means!" (Rom 6:1 & 15). We should never intentionally sin in order to relate to sinners or to experience more of God's grace. The uncomfortable truth is that we already sin ... plenty, knowingly, abundantly, frequently ... so let's stop pretending we don't. The key in relating to unbelievers (sinners) is to admit our sin. Other "sinners" will feel much more comfortable around us as we admit we wrestle with our own frequent and abundant sin.  There's a big difference in trying to present ourselves as having it "all together" and presenting the One (Jesus) who did and does have it all together. We no longer have to "have all the answers" when we can point to the One who is the answer.  Unbelievers are longing to have us Christians come alongside them and simply listen, hurt, grieve, weep, and wonder with them. Once we start trying to fix them they check out. And to be honest who can blame them for that? They know what we know - that humans can't fix each other. But here's what we can do:  love, care for, listen, and support one another as we point one another to the sufficiency of Jesus Christ.

I guess the question we must ask ourselves is, "Do we really want sinners around us?" We could, like certain cats, become very territorial and fight off any visiting sinners who may disrupt our comfort. That can easily be accomplished by our being self-righteous. Or we could be like Tobias and Sagwa, maybe a bit suspicious and involved in an occasional cat fight, but generally welcoming of the stray.  My prayer for Community Presbyterian is that we'd be a welcoming place where strays, visitors, sinners, etc. would feel very welcomed. I'm convinced this can and will happen as we live more honest and transparent lives, admitting we struggle with sin, yet constantly pointing to the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Will you help us take in some strays who need a home?

It Was Only A Week

I noticed right before I left home to drive to Greensboro, NC for last week's PCA General Assembly that the grass in the yard was getting a little high. I really wasn't too worried about it ... the grass has been much higher in the past and I'll be back in less than a week anyway. But when I did return I started to worry! It's just unreal how fast things can grow when given the right conditions. (in my yard the term "grass" should be interpreted more literally as "weeds" because that's mostly what we have growing at our place. What little grass we do have doesn't grow nearly as fast as do all the weeds.)

I've noticed that my spiritual life is very similar to my yard ... given the right conditions things can grow very quickly, both the good and the bad stuff.  When I abundantly avail myself of the means of grace - God's Word, prayer, sacrament - then I see good spiritual growth in my life. When I'm faithfully involved with God's people in fellowship, when I'm consistent in personal and corporate weekly worship, when I'm right relationship with the authority over me, when I'm preaching the Gospel to myself ... this is when I see healthy spiritual growth take place. But when I don't do these things, when I limit my involvement with the means of grace, when I distance myself from God's people, when I'm sporadic in worship, etc. ... this is when the weeds grow. And guess which grows faster in my heart and life - yes, the weeds! Healthy spiritual growth is typically a slower process than we'd like it to be while unsightly and unwanted "weeds" grow much faster in our lives that we'd like. 

So what's the solution? Do we just try harder to make good things grow and hope the weeds don't? Just cutting the weeds every so often doesn't seem to help - they keep coming back. But there is yet hope ... Round Up! The goal is to kill the weed at the root and this is what Round Up (or other similar product; I've actually found Spectracide to be just as or more effective) is all about.

The Gospel is Round Up ... kills sin at the root rather than just trimming back visible growth. The Gospel addresses such heart issues as pride and unbelief rather than just surface levels of behavior management.  The Gospel is poison to our sin and shows us that we have nothing to be proud and self-righteous about but rather shows us that the person and work of Jesus Christ is the only object worthy object of our faith and trust. When consumed with the Gospel of Jesus His goodness, grace, and glory become much more attractive to us than anything the world could offer and we then naturally develop the desire to quickly repent when our hearts are drawn to things other than Christ. 

How are you going to deal with the "weeds" in your life? Apply generous portions of the Gospel and watch those weeds die away and healthy stuff grow in its place. Are you in a place, relationship, group, etc. where you will be saturated with the Gospel? If not, get used to the weeds.