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Angel Trumpets Talking

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In the beginning this was a beautiful Angel Trumpet. Purchased at a garden show, the health of the plant was directly related to the care it was given. And then it went home with me.

With cool weather still in the air, its initial transition went well. A bud appeared and then this beautiful purple bloom, blasting out of its stem with great poise, announcing “I am here, see my beauty!”

We admired the bloom and beauty for several days and I decided to move it to my office so more people could enjoy its spender. Not a good move. Within days not only was the bloom gone so were most of its leaves.

If you have ever owned an Angel Trumpet then you know that every part of the plant is poisonous, harmful to pets and children. Why would anyone ever have one in their home or office? Its smell and beauty make it hard to believe that it could be deadly… but it is.

Situations and relationships in our lives can often be like the Angel Trumpet, disguised by the outward beauty while hiding the deadly attributes. We think, “well I will never eat, drink, or smoke the leaves, so I can enjoy the beauty and joy it brings.

The problem is gazing often leads to tasting which in the case of the Angel Trumpet leads to death. It is much like the sin in our lives. Sin has pleasure for a moment but in the end is death. If our sin affected only our lives maybe it would not be as big a deal, but it always involves the lives of others.

God created us for relationship, founded in Him and connected to others. He offers boundless beauty with life forever if we will refuse the passing beauty for His lasting beauty.

Do you own an Angel Trumpet? What color? What analogy can you see with the plant. Leave us a comment!

Michele Morgan Morton/ TheMaxBit /www.themaxbit.com

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in Christian

 

What Is The Matter?

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What’s the matter? It is the kind of question a friend asks when you are not acting quite yourself. It is the question God asked Hagar in Genesis 21. God kept his promise to Abraham and Sarah bore a son they named Isaac (laughter). The problem was Abraham and Sarah previously tried to help God keep His promise when the barren Sarah was unable to conceive in her old age. She concocted a plan for Abraham and her servant, Hagar, to have a child, Ishmael. After Isaac, the son of covenant, was weaned the family had a celebration. Sarah witnessed Ishmael, a teenager, scoffing at his half-brother. She suggested to Abraham that he send Hagar and Ishmael away, thinking that Isaac should not have to share inheritance. This is somewhat ironic since it was Sarah’s idea in the first place.
Reluctantly, Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael into the wilderness. All Hagar knew was that she and her son were out of water in the desert and their fate was certain. Because she couldn’t bear the thought of watching her son die she told him to lie under the scrub brush and removed herself about a “bow-shot” away. As she sat there in the sand, her emotions overwhelmed her and she began to sob.
Maybe you have been there. I certainly have. It is when we get to the end of ourselves, thinking there is no way out of a circumstance that God comes to us with His locating question. “What is the matter?” Or as the King James translates “What aileth thee?”
Like a friend who can tell when something is wrong, the all-knowing God asks the question, the answer to which He already knows. Obviously she was eventually going to die of thirst and exposure to the elements. Obviously she could not bear to watch her son suffer. God asked so that Hagar could reveal the deeper than obvious emotions – the underlying sense of abandonment, rejection and betrayal. God where are you? Don’t you care about me?
I have been there. Maybe you have too. In these moments God comes to us asking the probing question of a friend. Not only did He ask “What is the matter?” but He further said, “Don’t be afraid. I have heard the boy’s cry.” Was Ishmael praying for his mother? Was he crying out to God for himself? Regardless, the Covenant-Keeping God honored His promise to Abraham and his seed.
Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw the water that was there the whole time. She was resigned to her death as the only way out until God showed her His provision. I have been there too. What about you? The text goes on to say she shared the water with Ishmael, they survived, and he grew up to become an archer and got married to an Egyptian girl. God kept His promise to the seed of Abraham and made the descendants of Ishmael a great nation.
God we invite you to open our eyes to see the answers to the overwhelming circumstances we find ourselves in. We thank you for your mercy to love us even when we lose hope. Thank you for searching our souls with probing questions like “What is the matter?” Give us the courage to be honest with our answers. May we see the streams in the desert you have already provided.
Max L. Morton, February 2017

 
 

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Why Did Sarah Laugh?

 

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God never asked a question because He needed the answer but rather to reveal what is in the heart of the person asked. God asked Abraham a question about his wife Sarah, but it was really a question to reveal Sarah’s heart. This story is recorded in Genesis 18. God promised Abraham to make him the father of many nations. This would require Abraham having children, which he did not. After years of waiting, praying, and trying Sarah came up with a plan to help God keep His promise. How many of us have done that? The idea was to allow Sarah’s servant, Hagar, to be a surrogate for Abram’s seed. This produced Abraham’s first-born son, Ishmael.

After a thirteen year wait God revisited His promise to Abraham by instituting circumcision. To add emphasis, God crystallized the covenant with a change of names. Abram (exalted father) was now known as Abraham (father of a multitude). Sarai (quarrelsome) was called Sarah (princess). God again promised Abraham that Sarah, a barren 89 year old woman would indeed have a child and she would be a mother of nations.

Abraham was known as the “father of faith” but Sarah, not so much. She carried this promise (but no babies) for 24 years! She waited eleven years before coming up with the Hagar plan. Another thirteen years passed. Then God changed her name…pretty hard for a girl named “quarrelsome” to swallow. And what happened next? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

Until one day three visitors arrived at Abraham’s tent. Abraham invited them to rest in the shade and Sarah prepared something for them to eat. The Bible refers to one of these men as “The Lord.” They asked where Sarah was and Abraham said she was there in the tent. Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him.

So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?”(Genesis 18:12)

I can sympathize with Sarah. Sometimes I have a nervous laughter when my wife asks me a pointed question I really don’t have an answer for, which only escalates the tension when she asks “Why are you laughing?”

Then God asked the question “Why did Sarah laugh? (Genesis 18:13)

I can also sympathize with the idea that God performing the impossible in my life would induce nervous laughter. Sarah had been hearing about this child for twenty-four years. Was it ever really going to happen? I think she put her hand over her mouth and could not suppress the giddy school-girl giggle that bubbled up from her eighty-nine year old heart.

The real question is not why did Sarah laugh? But God’s response, Is there anything too hard for the Lord?

How long have you and I been waiting on a promise from God? Have we lost sight of God’s faithfulness to actually do what He says? After twenty-four years? After ten minutes?

God asks people questions to reveal what is in the heart. When I ponder the question is there anything too hard for the Lord? it produces a nervous laughter, a giddy giggle in me as I think God really can, and will, do for me everything he has promised.

What has God promised you?

 

Written by Max L. Morton January 2017

 
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Posted by on January 24, 2017 in Christian

 

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Where Is Your Brother?

 

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I am fascinated with the questions God asks people. As recorded in Scripture, whenever God asks a question it is not because He lacks the answer. The all-knowing God already knows, and yet He still asks. This concept intrigues me. Why does He ask? If He already knows, why bother asking? I believe it has to do with His patient, Father-heart wanting to draw out of us the answer He already knows. In short, He does it so that we can know what He already knows.

 
Recently I wrote about God’s first question recorded in the Bible. See this link:

https://godswayinc.wordpress.com/2016/10/10/where-are-you

The next question I want to explore is when God asked Cain, “Where is your bother Abel?” Most of us who grew up in Sunday school know the answer Cain gave, “I don’t know, am I my brother’s keeper?” Thousands of sermons have been preached on this topic; even Jesus told a parable asking who the better neighbor was. But in order for us to gain some insight from God’s question to Cain we need to know more of the back story.

 
Genesis 4 records that after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden of Eden their family grew and they had two sons, Cain the older, Abel the younger. Cain was a worker of the soil (gardener) and Abel kept the flocks (shepherd). Both Cain and Abel brought offerings before the Lord from the work of their hands. Abel’s offering was looked upon with favor by God, Cain’s was not.

 
This is the first mention of offerings in the Bible. When something is mentioned for the first time we should pay especially close attention. We see this as man’s first attempt to interact with God after sin had driven a wedge in the once close relationship. It is note-worthy that God does not initiate the giving of the offerings. It was not something He required of the brothers, they took it upon themselves to do it.

 
We are not given the reason why Cain’s offering was rejected and Abel’s was accepted. Allow me to speculate. Did it have to do with Abel’s animal sacrifice involving the shedding of blood (see Hebrews 9:22)? Was Cain’s offering inferior because it was from the harvest of the ground? The sacrificial system later introduced by God and carried on for centuries until Christ supports both blood sacrifice and grain offerings, so that is probably not why.

 
Perhaps it has more to do with attitude. Cain was angry and his face downcast because his offering was not accepted by God. Maybe this has to do with the attitude he gave the offering with in the first place. When we give because we think we are supposed to, because someone else is doing it, because we think it is going to buy us some favor we are giving for the wrong reasons.

 
God looks at the heart of what we do more than the act itself. Whatever the reason, God was approaching Cain concerning his attitude more than the gift itself. The first question he asked Cain was “Why are you so angry? Followed by, “Why is your face downcast?” Obviously God knew why Cain was upset; He wanted Cain to admit it as well. God tells Cain, “If you do what is right (if you change your attitude) will you not be accepted? But if you don’t do what is right (if you don’t change your attitude) sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. “It” is not referring to sin so much as attitude in this case.

 
After this conversation with God, which was not really a conversation because Cain was sullen and didn’t say anything, Cain invites his brother out into the field and kills him.

 
Murder.

 
Over an offering.

 
Unbelievable.

 

This is another first mention in the Bible. Unfortunately, there were many more murders mentioned. Surely God’s words were ringing in Cain’s ears as his heart pounded and his adrenaline pumped in the few seconds after the fatal blow. “Sin is crouching at your door; IT (sin) desires to have you; but you must rule over IT (attitude).”

 
It is here that God approaches a second time, knowing full well what Cain has done and where Abel’s whereabouts asking, “Where is your brother, Abel?”
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?

 
“What have you done?” the Lord said. I can imagine the disappointment in God’s voice as he begged Cain to listen with Him to hear the blood of Abel, unjustly spiilled, as it cried out to Him from the ground. There were no more questions, only curses, as the consequence of sin played out.

 
The primary lesson to learn from this account is that when God asks “where is your brother?” The proper response is not “Am I my brother’s keeper?” A secondary lesson would be to learn that attitude affects everything. We must learn to rule over it so that the sin crouching at our door desiring to have us does not.

 
Where is your brother?

 
Are you your brother’s keeper?

 

It’s all about your attitude.

 
Written by Max L. Morton January 2017

 
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Posted by on January 19, 2017 in Christian

 

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What Would You Do If… You Knew You Could Not Fail??

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail? It is the kind of question you hear people ask in interviews: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It is the kind of question that paralyzes me emotionally because I never have any clue how to answer.
I started 2017 off with a personal goal setting exercise that encouraged me to write my own eulogy. It is a “start with the end in mind and work backward” line of thinking. It causes one to think about the important things in life and what kind of legacy you want to leave, and then get busy about making that kind of life happen.
I have to admit I struggled with this quite a bit. It’s not that I haven’t thought about it before, it’s just that I know the day to day life I’m living will not produce the relational results I want to be there in the end. I know I have to make changes that are going to require sacrifice, discipline and the hard work (for a man at least) of emotional connection in relationships. But I am willing to put in the work to get the desired results.
Then God gave me an amazing, unexpected gift. A friend of mine, Kimble Love III, died and I went to his funeral. I know that sounds weird that I would think that a gift but let me explain. Although Kimble and I were in different stages of life, he in his mid-thirties, I in my mid-fifties, he had no children, I’m already a grandfather, etc. the funeral was a glimpse into how others spoke of him after his passing.
Not only that, but the funeral was held in the same funeral home and cemetery where my first wife was laid to rest over 7 years ago. I was able to go the graveside and realize that Kimble was being buried just a few rows over from the plot I bought for my wife and myself when she passed. After the graveside service concluded, I strolled over to my own gravestone and read the familiar words literally etched in stone “LOVE NEVER FAILS.”

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And that is when it hit me. What would I do if I couldn’t fail? Staring back at me from the granite head stone was the obvious answer. “LOVE NEVER FAILS.” I began to see this whole thing as a gift. God was giving me the answer that for so long had eluded me. If I was to make changes daily and invest in relationships so that I could leave a legacy that will bring honor and glory to God it all boils down to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (NIV)
I don’t always get this love thing right…especially with those closest to me. But one thing I do know, in 2017 I am resolved to live a life of love, so that when my casket is lowered into the ground those that I leave behind will gather at that same cemetery and say, “Man that guy really made me feel loved.” Thank you Kimble Love III for helping me see what’s right in front of me. What would you do if you couldn’t fail?

The song, “When it’s all been said and done”

Written by Max L. Morton, January 2017

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2017 in Christian, Funeral, Life, Truth

 

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Endings & Beginnings

 

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Have you ever noticed that if a bad year has a bad ending it makes it harder to have a good beginning the next year? How we end a year often determines the direction of how the new year begins.

This principle holds true in many general areas and personal areas. For example, generally for plants, how you prepare the soil for planting most often determines the outcome of growth for the plant that is put in the soil. And not just the growth but the blooming of a plant is determined by its care in the beginning all the way through the growth process.

The Christmas Cactus, a beautiful plant this time of year, requires different care the last few weeks before it blooms than it does the rest of the year. These plants need to be watered thoroughly, allowing the top inch of the soil to dry before watering again. Yet, during the fall and winter months prior to Christmas, the Christmas Cactus should be watered less frequently in order to yield blooms.

Christmas time is the end of one year and the beginning of another. Are your last last few weeks of the year different from the rest of the year. I know mine are. My Christmas Cactus is just starting to bloom, and tomorrow is New Year’s Day. Obviously I did not take the time to treat it with the care it needed.

The photo above has one bloom on it – not dozens. In the weeks to follow blooms will come as I take better care of the plant. In my fast paced schedule often I apply the same care to every area of my life when, in reality, the different areas need special care.

I have some changes to make in 2017. Do you? Let’s end it well, one bloom and counting, and start 2017 with more blooms to come.

Michele M. Morton, Ed. D. December 31st, 2016

 

 

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2017 in Christian

 

Put Me In The Ground

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Plant Me: If you are wondering whether to plant your shrubs and trees or leave them in pots (because you think you have waited too late to plant them), put them in the ground. It will give them room to grow when the weather begins to warm up in the spring. Plants left in pots too long become root bound which causes the soil to become dense, water resistant, and difficult to plant.

Grow Me: I live in the South and here the soil stays relatively warm for planting shrubs and trees.Trees and shrubs planted in the fall are likely under stress as most of their root system is exposed waiting to be planted. Putting them in the ground gives them opportunity to grow below the ground with their roots, preparing for top growth in the spring.

Advise Me: Wayside Gardens gives this advice: Grow the garden you’ve always wanted without fear of your plants being damaged or destroyed when winter weather rolls around. We offer a wonderful selection of cold-hardy trees, shrubs, perennials, and fruit trees that are well-suited for even the chilliest USDA planting zone. You’ll love the various bloom and foliage colors, shapes, sizes, and textures, ensuring that there’s something for just about any cold-weather garden. http://www.waysidegardens.com

Use Me: Speaking of Trees.. well, it is Christmas time and one of my favorite stories is “A Tale of Three Trees,” retold by, Angela Elwell Hunt. These three trees were well planted, and had grown tall only to be cut down and used for purposes beyond their control. The story is told from each tree’s perspective, revealing the dream each tree imagined for itself. In the end, the purpose each tree served was far greater than  anything they could have planned.

During this holiday season look for ways to plant, grow, advise, and be used to help others realize there may be a greater purpose just beneath the surface.

Michele M. Morton / http://www.themaxbit.com

 

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2016 in Christian

 
 
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