The Hedges

Luke 14:23, And the lord said unto the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

When I was growing up I spent most of my summer days at my cousins house. We’d play outside and run around the neighborhood as kids do. Swimming, tetherball, baseball, kickball, and hide-n-go seek were everyday events. My aunt and uncle’s house had bushes along the front with those pointy leaves and we learned really quickly to stay out of those hedges! They were mosquito filled, prickly, and dark and dirty underneath as well as behind.

We lost many a Frisbee and many balls have been banished because it just wasn’t worth it to get all scratched up and dirty. However, every once in a while, what had landed in the hedges was valuable enough for us to tough it out and get it. One of us would get back behind the needle tipped leaves and would recover not only what we originally intended to get, but would also find all of those toys and treasures we’d forgotten about. Things that had been lost and were hidden from our sight. Things that hadn’t seen daylight in a long time. Things that wouldn’t have been found, unless someone had searched for them.

The Bible tells us to go out into the highways and the hedges. The highways are easy. We see people standing beside them everyday holding signs declaring their need. In the spiritual, these people are easily seen and their needs are obvious. We help them all the time.

But what about the people who have been lost in the hedges? The ones who have been forgotten about and declared unworthy of rescue. The ones who aren’t on our way to work and aren’t standing in the light where God desires them to be. We’re instructed to go out INTO the hedges to compel them to come to the master’s house. Yes we may get scratched up, we may get attacked by a swarm of mosquitos who are out for blood, and we may get dirty.

But there are treasures in the hedges. There are more than we know of and we’re instructed to go in after them. We acknowledge their worth by meeting them where they are. Philippians 2:3 tells us not to do anything for selfish purposes, but with humility think of others as better than yourselves. We know that Christ came to seek that which was lost, and He now lives in us and through us. This is our duty. This is part of our purpose.

Just like it was at my aunt and uncle’s house, the hedges were in the front yard. We didn’t have to go far, and neither do you. Say yes to the master’s command today and go out into the hedges.

Norman Normalton

Norman Normalton was a normal boy in a normal neighborhood with a normal house that had an abnormally large tree in the back yard. Norman had always dreamed of building a big amazing tree house for he and his friends to play in. But Norman felt that he was just too normal to complete such a big task.

One day Norman told his friend Encouragement about his dream of building a tree house and to his surprise, Encouragement said, “I believe you can do it!”
“Really?”, said Norman. “Really!”, said Encouragement. “I’ll even help you, and I bet our friends would help too.”

Encouragement had caused Norman to believe that this really was possible.

The next day at school, Norman saw the Attitude twins, who were nothing alike might I add. Their names were Good Attitude and Bad Attitude. Norman told them about the new project and asked if they’d like to help.

“That’s dumb.” Bad Attitude grumbled. “How fun!”, said Good Attitude “I’d love to help. I know we could build an amazing tree house!” So Norman told Good Attutude to head to his house after school.

Negativity overheard the conversation and quickly budded in. “There’s no way you guys can build a tree house in your tree. It’s too big.
“Well, there’s no harm in trying.”, replied Good Attitude

So throughout the day, Norman invited all his friends to come over after school to help with the tree house.
Everyone showed up and they got to work right away. Norman, Encouragement, Good Attitude, Patience, Perseverance, Kindness, Hard Work, and of course Faithfulness, who was always there, worked hard.

“This is really coming along nice”, said Kindness.

“It sure is, this is the greatest tree house ever” exclaimed Good Attitude

Norman was so happy to see his dream coming true.

Then out of the house came Norman’s mom, Mrs. Normalton. “It’s time to eat”, said Mrs. Normalton. “Looks like you’ll have to finish tomorrow.”
“Oh no”, Norman said sadly. “I really wanted to finish today”

“It’s ok”, said Patience. “There’s always tomorrow.”

“I wish we could finish, but I’ll come back tomorrow if you want.” said Faithfulness.

The neighbor boys Optimist and Pessimist from next-door walked over to see what was going on. “We’re building a tree house”, Norman said excitingly. “But now we have to quit to eat.”

“It’s half unfinished”, Said Pessimist

“Looks half finished to me”, Optimist quickly replied

Just then Thoughtfulness showed up with sandwiches for everyone! “Hey guys, I thought you might be getting hungry!”

“Yea!” shouted everyone. “We can keep working.”

“If we keep this up, we’ll be finished in no time!”, said Perseverance.

So Norman and his friends worked and worked and finished the tree house. Norman stood back and looked at it in amazement.

“I knew you could do it”, exclaimed Encouragement

Norman smiled and replied, “I bet I could do anything with the help of Encouragement, Good Attitude, Patience, Kindness, Perseverance, Faithfulness, Thoughtfulness and Hard Work!”
And Norman was right!

Getting The Latest From The Greatest

I was watching a movie that was set back in time and I couldn’t help but to be thankful for all of the luxuries we have today. We not only have indoor plumbing, but we have toilets that flush themselves after we use them. We can use Facetime and chat face to face with someone far away in real time, and we can hop in the car and be 60 miles down the road in less than an hour.

Don’t judge, but I would totally love to go back in time and show off some of our technology. Maybe even sell it and get rich! But as I thought about it… what we have today wouldn’t work if I were to travel with it back in time because it was the gradual increase in technology and knowledge that allows us to have what we have today. Satellites had to be built, programed, and positioned in space before a GPS could work. The light bulb had to be invented before headlights on a car. We had the huge computer before the laptop and the old school TV before we were watching Netflix on our iPads. We’ve built on what we’ve learned and we’ve failed many times, which only led to us making corrections and improvements.

It’s the same in our lives. Where we are today as individuals is the product of 1 day at a time, 1 lesson at a time. The product of many mistakes, glitches, corrections and improvements that we’ve built upon in order to grow. Just like technology, we are able to constantly learn and apply new things to our lives. The Bible tells us to be wise, to listen, and to add to our learning. We serve a God who is so great that we couldn’t possibly attain all there is to know about him, even if he were to reveal a mind blowing truth about himself each day for the rest of eternity! If you are living on this planet, you know that the iPhone keeps coming out with new models. Each one has new features that make it a little different from the previous version. They’ve discovered the power of building on what they’ve learned. Learning, understanding, applying, and growing are key to success. I desire to build more and more, and to grow more and more in the Lord. I don’t want next years model of Chris Taylor to be the same as this years model. I’m learning new things about the unchangeable God I serve and love all the time. Through growth in him, I’m able to do things through Him that I wasn’t able to do before.

We live in a culture that will camp out overnight in front of a store in order to be the first in line for the latest and greatest cell phone release. They spend 600 dollars on a phone that has a few new features even though there’s nothing wrong with the one they currently own… and yet spiritually, they’re a rotary dial and perfectly content with it.

Father, I’ll be the first in line each day anticipating the latest and greatest from you! I pray that you’ll reveal yourself to me in extravagant and mind blowing ways. I ask that you reveal the glitches in my life and help me to grow in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding… and most importantly, to become more life Christ each day!

Proverbs 8:34
Blessed is the man who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at my doorpost.

Rusted To Righteous

People spend massive amounts of money to restore classic cars. I’ve watched shows where buyers have spent what seemed like a fortune for an old vehicle. Some of the most expensive cars are the ones that weren’t produced in mass quantity. So if there were only 500 made, the car, even all rusted out, often cost more than it did brand new. In this popular hobby, rarity equals value. So with that in mind, I can’t help but feel special. I knew God had paid an amount for me that seemed outrageous, but why? Like the car that to the naked eye looks like junkyard material, and yet to the collector is worth millions. I was junkyard material to a lot of people, but God saw the value. You see, he knows that I wasn’t made in mass quantity. There weren’t even only 500 made. There was only one. I’m the only original Christopher Taylor.

I’m currently in this fortress of a shop in the care and ownership of God. When we hear the word restoration, we usually think of the historic home that is now new and marvelous, or the car that is taken to all the shows for everyone to drool over. Restoration sounds like such a beautiful thing, which it is, but the process isn’t as easy or painless as I’d thought it might be. I guess I figured that since I still run, the process would be simple. Clean me up, paint me, and change my oil so I can go another 3,000 miles while looking good. My thoughts were, if I can just pass the inspection I’ll be all right. Boy was I wrong. When I came into the shop, I was completely taken apart. All the after-market parts were taken away and I was stripped to nothing. Even the parts I thought were ok, and parts I thought were useful added features were removed from me. Then God revealed to me that I had some cracks in my frame. Things were out of line, which explained why I so often went off the road, which damaged me even further. My transmission was damaged from overloading and pulling a trailer full of baggage. The consistent high speeds had burned up my motor and anything that required maintenance had been utterly neglected. Even my ability to play music was gone. My radio had been stuck on an AM news station with constant reports of the other successful cars, but never a mention of me unless it was negative. Now the only voice I hear is God’s. The great designer and mechanic himself. He’s filled me with words of worth. He affirmed to me that this process will be worth it.

Everything has to be emptied to be refilled. Cracks have to be welded, which is extremely hot and uncomfortable, even to others who are close to the sparks. The sanding down is painful and required endurance, even when I feel I’m being rubbed the wrong way. He told me, “The better the sanding job, the more things will roll right off your back!” He’s also had to rewire me. I’d gotten some things crossed. Some wired had been spliced and others were feeding electricity to dangerous places that could have fried me or someone else. He gutted my interior. I had no idea how stained and ugly it had become. It makes sense though with all of the things I’d allowed inside that should never be allowed inside a vehicle. He removed the masking smell of the paper pine tree hanging from my rear-view mirror, which was the only clean part of my car since I was always looking back at my past.
After a lot of work, I’m brand new again. I’m amazed when I look in the shop mirror. “Everything’s new”, God said to me proudly as he got out his trusty hand held mirror to show me all of the things he’d done. It’s absolutely incredible the work that God can do! No one else can do it. I’m so glad I stayed in the shop to let him finish the work he started. If I had pulled out during the difficult times, I would have never dreamed this was possible. Now I’m complete and lacking nothing.

Then a chill ran all over me as God circled around me breathing and polishing me so that he could see his reflection. He breathed on my windshield and wiped his hand across the glass to reveal the wonderful things in front of me. He said, “You are my workmanship, my work of art and a masterpiece. My fingerprints are on every part of you. I’m going to drive you places you’ve only dreamed of and show you unimaginable things. Some of the places we’re going may frighten you at first, but fear not. You see I, your builder, alone know what you’re capable of, and have I got some surprises in store for you!”

When He knocks on your door
Let Him inside
He’s got the key
But He’ll let you decide