Garden Principles (Part Three)

More thoughts from guest writer, Melissa Bickish continued….

A Permissive Garden 


Image result for old fashioned flower buds just opening

Watchman Nee wrote, “Whether the one in authority is right or wrong does not concern us, since that authority has to be directly responsible to God. The obedient needs only to obey; the Lord will not hold us responsible for any mistaken obedience, rather will He hold the delegated authority responsible for his erroneous act.”

Whenever I was studying this subject and thinking a lot about what I wanted to say and how, the Lord led me to two books that were both very helpful. On is called ‘A tale of three kings: a study in brokenness.” By Gene Edwards and the other is ‘Spiritual Authority” by Watchman Nee. They both were insightful. Gene Edward’s book is summed up as the story of how God will use the authorities in your life to crucify you! And Nee’s book on authority is a lot more in depth on the how’s, why’s and wherefores of God’s plan for authority in our lives. (*anyone can borrow these)

The Lord may be using your authority to crucify YOUR flesh!

Here I quote Gene Edwards as he is speaking of David’s struggles with King Saul.

… “ David had a question. What do you do when someone (in authority) throws spears at you? Does it not seem odd to you that David did not know the answer to this question? After all, everyone else in the world knows what to do when a spear is thrown at them. Why, you pick up the spear and throw it right back!… absolutely everyone else does, you can be sure. And in doing this small feat of returning thrown spears, you will prove many things: You are courageous. You stand for the right. You boldly stand against the wrong. You are tough and can’t be pushed around. You will not stand for injustice or unfair treatment. You are the defender of the faith, keeper of the flame, detector of all heresy. You will not be wronged. All of these attributes then combine to prove that you are also, obviously, a candidate for kingship. Yes, perhaps YOU are the Lord’s anointed… After the order of King Saul. There is a possibility that some 20 years after your coronation, YOU will be the most incredibly skilled spear thrower in all the realm. And, most assuredly by then… Quite mad.” He continues by ‘answering’ the question of “Is my authority truly anointed by God?” with this section.

My kind is mad. At least, I perceive him so. What can I do? First, recognize this immutable fact: YOU CANNOT TELL( none of us can) who is the Lord’s anointed and who is not. ….I’m in David’s situation and I’m in agony. What do I do when the kingdom (or home) I’m in is ruled by a spear-wielding king? Should I leave? If so, how? Just what does a man do in the middle of a knife-throwing contest? Well,… you won’t like the answer. The answer is, ‘You get stabbed to death.’”

Gene Edwards: “A tale of three kings: a study in brokenness”

There was something about this book and the way he wrote it that had me laughing and deeply thinking. I know that not ALL authorities are King Sauls… and ladies we have godly fathers that are not Kind Saul’s at heart. However, King Saul still lives inside of your Dad’s flesh as much as he does inside of your own. How often God uses flesh to reveal flesh! No one can irritate me more than my dad! Haha I SEE so clearly all of his faults because they are also mine! It’s like trying to pluck the King Saul out of your father’s life, while ignoring his reign in your own kingdom.

I also wanted to point out that hot water reveals what is already inside of a tea bag. In the same way shaking a tree reveals the kind of fruit it produces. When God allows our authority to decide something wrong, or that we just do not like, it is hot water on our tea bag and a good shake to our tree. It REVEALS a lot. God TESTS us often to prove to us what He’s already seen lies beneath the surface. When your authority is clearly and biblically wrong it is an opportunity to see just what kind of person you truly are. Watchman Nee took 2 Bible stories and explained them for me in a way I’d never thought of them and made them make so much sense to me. I’d like to just read a bit of what he said on this idea of being tested by our authority’s wrong choices.

The Rebellion of Ham. (Read Gen. 9:20-27)

“… So far as Noah’s conduct was concerned, he certainly was wrong; he should not have been drunk. Yet Ham failed to see the dignity of authority. The father is God’s instituted authority in the home, but the flesh delights in seeing a defect in authority so as to throw off all restraint. When Ham saw his father’s improper conduct he did not have the slightest sense of shame or sorrow, no did he try to cover his father’s fault. This reveals that he had a rebellious spirit. He went out instead and told his brethren, pointing out to them his father’s ugliness and so adding to himself the sin of reviling. Observe, though, how Shem and Japheth managed the situation. They entered the ten backwards- thus avoiding seeing their father’s nakedness- and covered their father… It is seen then that the failure of Noah became a TEST to Shem, Ham and Japheth. It revealed who was obedient and who was rebellious. Noah’s fall unveiled Ham’s rebellion.”

Ham was ‘tested’ by God through Noah’s wrong actions… and was found to be full of rebellion. It was interesting to note that the sin he was most guilty of was ‘reviling’ his authority. He ‘bragged’ about his authority’s sins and made them his excuse for his own behavior. How often have you heard children blaming their parents for their own sinful choices? How many times have you failed this same test and spoken against your authority’s faults to someone else? Even a sibling?

Strange fire offered by Nadab and Abihu ( Read Lev.10:1-2)

In all matters of service Aaron was the chief; his sons were mere helpers, serving beside the altar in obedience to Arron… They thought they could offer sacrifices by themselves and so they offered without Aaron’s order. The meaning of strange fire is to serve without an order, to serve without obedience to authority.”

Watchman Nee: “Spiritual Authority”

This thought truly intrigued me. I have wondered so many times if my authorities were ‘keeping’ me from serving God as I should. I have speculated if they truly can know God’s will for ME in service. I have pondered the possibility of them no ALLOWING me to do what GOD has called me to do. Are we playing with fire? Strange fire is to serve OUTSIDE of authority. God DOESN’T ask you to do something He won’t allow you to do! God doesn’t work outside of your authority. You can be sure, if your father has ‘restrained’ you from some form of service you thought your duty, God has clearly ‘restrained’ you from offering Him strange fire.

God gave you….

4. Your Parameters.

As a bird that wandereth from her nest, so is a man that wandereth from his place.” Proverbs 27:8

Do you ever feel like a ‘caged’ bird? Do you ever feel that your wings have been clipped so much that they may be no good when once you can fly? Do you feel ‘hindered’ much more than others? Are you kept from doing a lot of things you want to do? Do you feel ‘socially’ stifled? Are you always seeming to be told ‘No’ anytime an opportunity arises to have fun? You are not alone!

Parents spell love “protection”. One of your parents responsibilities before God is to protect their children. That means you… yes, you need protecting. We often feel we could manage just fine on our own (and perhaps we could) but for now, while you are in your parent’s home you will be given parameters. You may feel smothered, over-protected, withheld or even controlled. Don’t compare your cages, little birds! Your walls may be a LOT higher and a LOT narrower than the next garden’s. Christ is the one who ultimately determined your boundaries…. Through your loving, protective parents.

Read (Acts 17:26) “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;”

The Lord designed your walls, your cage and your bounds. Your habitation is hand picked. When you buck against the walls of your boundaries you are bucking against God’s protection in your life.

Rom 13: 1,2,4,5,7,9. Rom 16:16,19,26. Not only are we meant to be subject to someone, but we also are said to be able to be an influence in obedience. Your willing surrender to your confinements could help someone else in their struggle. Freedom is possible INSIDE a cage.

Every young person and young adult desires freedom. Everyone wants to spread their wings and see if they can fly. One of the most desirable things that I coveted at a wedding I attended was their apparent freedom and ability to choose. As they drove away I kept imaging how fun it would be to choose for yourself how to live your life, and what to do with it, where to go, where to live, etc. Your entire life is not dictated by you. Even if you drove off into the sunset a ‘free’ woman, you’d have to submit to your husband and God. As women we are NEVER truly free to choose for ourselves. Instead we are commanded to live under obedience. Does that bother you?

1Co 14:34 ¶ Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

1Pe 1:2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

God’s entire plan for your life as His child is that you remain, rest and rejoice in obedience. As God’s own we are to be a ‘show case’ for His glory and He cannot receive Glory out of a disobedient vessel.

Because thou still lovest thyself inordinately, thou art afraid to resign theyself wholly to the will of others!” Thomas a’Kempis

God gave you…

5. Your Power.

God has given you, Yes YOU, the power to submit. It may not feel like it, but it also doesn’t depend upon you. God has the power to obey through you even the most difficult of authorities. Christ learned obedience and so can we.

To be filled with Christ is to be filled with obedience… Christ learned obedience through His suffering (Heb 5:8)… He did not bring obedience to this earth; He learned it- and He did so through suffering. Our usefulness is not determined by whether or not we have suffered, but by how much obedience we have learned through that suffering. The obedient ones alone are useful to God.”

Watchman Nee

If you are not able to accept your authority’s decisions as ultimately FROM the Lord you will struggle to submit. God does not ask you to obey a fallen authority as much as He has asked you to obey Him through that authority. If you separate the two, you will continue to struggle. “Struggling is a sign of life, but it is not abundant life.” (Pastor Coulson) If you struggle with an unsubmissive attitude and a hoarish heart than that is a sign you have not completely yielded to your rebellious nature, but also a sign that you have also not completely yielded to Christ’s Spirit of Submission either. You’re struggling, but not abiding. In Christ we have all the POWER of a Triune God head available to us for the asking. (Mt 28:18 “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”) In Christ you have the power of the One who learned so well His lesson of obedience as to become obedient to taste death for every man.( Rom. 5:19 “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous”. In Christ we have all the power of the One who said He did nothing apart from submitting to the Father’s will. (John 8:28 “Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.”) He IS submission. He IS the personification of everything that is obedience. The Lord never commands us to do something that we are truly unable to do in Him. Struggling shows that there is a spark of life…. But it may not be HIS life. We HAVE the Spirit of Obedience living within our beings. It is not hard for Christ to obey your parents through you. Are you willing to be submissive? Are you willing to learn obedience even if your instructor is pain or sorrow or chains?

It is humbling to submit. It is hard to ‘debase’ yourself in the eyes of the world and appear to them as weak. We are taught from a young age that the strong are the ones who will not be bent and will not bow their will to anyone. It can feel strange and even humbling to place yourself in the vulnerable position under an authority. “He that refuseth instruction despiseth his own soul: but he that heareth reproof getteth understanding. The fear of the LORD is the instruction of wisdom; and before honour is humility.”Proverbs 15:32-33

DISOBEDIENCE IS PUNISHED, BUT OBEDIENCE IS BLESSED. You’ll find this principle scattered all through out the Word of God. I don’t know about all of you, but I like the sound of blessings a lot more than chastenings. The Lord said of Israel in Ezekiel 20:37-38 “I will cause you to pass under the rod,… and I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against ME….” Israel in rebelling against Ezekiel’s sayings, truly rebelled against God.

We have no power in and of ourselves.

2Ch 14:11 “And Asa cried unto the LORD his God, and said, LORD, it is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O LORD our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O LORD, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.”

2Co 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

God has ALL power:

Mt 22:29 Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

Ps 21:13 Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Ps 62:11 God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.

Ps 71:18 Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come.

Ps 147:5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite

Job 36:22 Behold, God exalteth by his power: who teacheth like him?

God gives us His power when we ask:

Mt 9:8 But when the multitudes saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.

Job 26:2 How hast thou helped him that is without power? how savest thou the arm that hath no strength?

Isa 40:29 He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth

strength.

Mic 3:8 But truly I am full of power by the spirit of the LORD, and of judgment, and of might, to declare unto Jacob his transgression, and to Israel his sin.

You are not an exception. God wants to give you the power and humility and grace that you need in order to obey a less than perfect authority. Christ is willing and waiting to give you all that you need to truly obey Him. Will you be a permissive garden?

1Pe 5:5-6 “ Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God,..”

He that endeavoreth to withdraw himself from OBEDIENCE,

withdraweth himself from GRACE.” -Thomas a’Kempis-

Garden Principles (Part Two)

More from guest writer Melissa Bickish…

 “The Permissive Garden”
Image result for old fashioned flower buds just opening

A Garden must be Permissive. (or submissive)

He that endeavoreth to withdraw himself from OBEDIENCE,

withdraweth himself from GRACE.” -Thomas a’Kempis

Submission’s simplest definition is: ‘being willing to obey someone else’. Submission is an attitude and obedience is an action. I am not going to take the time to quote all the verses on being in subjection, and submissive daughters because we all have read them. Our struggle here isn’t a lack of understanding that we are supposed to submit, but a struggle to willingly agree to this God given design in our lives. Submission stinks. Let’s get real… even that definition isn’t enjoyable to read… “giving up what I want for what someone else decides they want” doesn’t sound like a thing I’ll willingly, gladly or easily accept into my life. We are all natural, born rebels. It goes against our very nature and the fiber of our beings to be told what to do by someone else. The Lord knows this. He never once said that submission was easy, convenient or even enjoyable.

I went through ‘submission’ school for the past 2 months in preparation for this lesson. Do I have it all figured out now? Absolutely not. I am as much in need of ‘practice’ and ‘exercise’ in this area as anyone else. I hope that the Lord can use what I’ve been learning in order to encourage someone else along this uphill climb on ‘Mount Obedience’.

I want to begin by talking about how we are not naturally submissive… in fact we are naturally completely the opposite.

A Harlot’s heart: or the disobedient heart.

A while ago the Lord gave me a lot of thoughts out of reading Proverbs. I don’t know why but the subject of the ‘strange’ woman and the harlots that are mentioned always sort of disturbed or disgusted me, and I felt that these women’s examples were ‘irrelevant’ to my life! God used them to teach me what the HEART of these women looked like and how ours looks the same! Shocked! Well, let’s look at it….

The ‘strange women’ mentioned in Proverbs has several characteristics that appear several times. She is described for us as…

  • Manipulative (Proverb 5:1-5) “My son, attend unto my wisdom, and bow thine ear to my understanding: That thou mayest regard discretion, and that thy lips may keep knowledge. For the lips of a strange woman drop as an honeycomb, and her mouth is smoother than oil: But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a twoedged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”

This heart will cunningly use words to get what it wants. When have we used our words, or a compliment, or waited for the ‘right’ mood to hit our authority before we ask for something we want?

  • Disobedient (Prov. 2:16-19) “To deliver thee from the strange woman, even from the stranger which flattereth with her words;Which forsaketh the guide of her youth, and forgetteth the covenant of her God. For her house inclineth unto death, and her paths unto the dead.None that go unto her return again, neither take they hold of the paths of life.”

This heart has left and forgotten the covenant she once made to her Lord and has forsaken the guide of her youth. Who is put in charge of GUIDING our youth? She decided to rebel against her father first and what naturally follows is rebellion against God. She first chose to ignore the instruction of her parents and thus ignored God’s working in her life. How often have you chosen (in your heart) to ignore the ‘wishes’ of a parent, knowing full well what they want of you? When was the last time you decided that your way was ‘best’ and ‘right’ (and all of theses lovely words we use to label our disobedience with) and that your authority was ‘wrong’, ‘selfish’ or ‘didn’t understand’ you?

Jeremiah 3:3-7 “Therefore the showers have been withholden, and there hath been no latter rain; and thou hadst a whore’s forehead, thou refusedst to be ashamed. Wilt thou not from this time cry unto me, My father, thou art the guide of my youth? Will he reserve his anger for ever? will he keep it to the end? Behold, thou hast spoken and done evil things as thou couldest. The LORD said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not.”

Don’t sit here and think that because you are not a literal harlot that the same evilness of heart doesn’t reside in your human flesh. Her #1 step, her beginning down a path of harlotry, was simply “forsaking the guide of her youth.” This doesn’t seem that bad. She decided she wanted to follow a different path than her parents or God had chosen for her. She DECIDED she was going to do what she felt was ‘right’! Her parents just didn’t understand her ‘call’. I truly believe that if God WANTS you to be DOING something than He will work through your authority… and if not, you have to submit to being told NO (by God) through your earthly ‘guide’. Harlotry doesn’t begin with the ‘act’ of sexual sin or adultery, it starts much earlier…. In our thoughts and intents of our heart and surprisingly enough in rebellion against authority!

  • Rebellious. It is also said of this girl in Proverbs 7 that “her feet abide not in her house.” I personally don’t believe that you have to always be home, never allowed to venture forth, however, if you never want to be home, avoid contact with you parents, are always ‘out’, it shows a heart problem. Abide means to dwell, or live. It seems to me that this girl is described more as having ‘moved out on her own’ and becoming independent of her father’s authority.

Read Proverbs 7: 10-12And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart. (She is loud and stubborn; her feet abide not in her house: Now is she without, now in the streets, and lieth in wait at every corner.)”

Proverbs continues to describe this woman’s heart very well. She is called…

  • Subtil

  • Loud

  • Stubborn

  • Impudent

  • Says to the young man “I’ve found thee” ( this implies that she is actively SEEKING for a young man to make her happy.)

  • “Let us solace ourselves.” This girl is very unhappy and seeking in all the wrong places for SOLACE or comfort.

  • It also says her words FORCED him. She was most definitely the iniciator of this relationship.

  • She ‘slays and wounds’ these strong men. She selfishly injures them for her own satisfaction. When was the last time you enjoyed a man’s honest admiration and consumed it upon your own lust?

  • “her path” She chose her way, her desire, her fulfillment. Sound familiar?

  • Foolish

  • Simple

  • Knoweth nothing

  • To call passengers ‘who go right on their way.’ When we get far enough down, we’ll actually enjoy bringing other’s down to our level to make ourselves feel better about what we are.

  • Brawling

  • Contentious

  • Angry

  • Plucketh down with her own hands all that she strove to achieve and acquire. Self-destruction.

  • A Deep ditch

  • A narrow pit

  • The earth is said to be disquieted by this odious woman when she is married! Rebellious behavior and attitudes aren’t the best preparation for practicing submission in marriage!

  • She wouldn’t blush over her sin, but instead claimed she did nothing wrong.

This is a pretty grim picture, but I wanted to somehow show you that this woman that we read about in disgust and righteous annoyance, is truly the woman that lies deeply buried in every woman’s heart. Our heart is deceitful, wicked and truly harlotous.

In Jeremiah 5: 25 God tells us that He cannot give us the good things that He so wants to bestow because of our own sin. (read it). Our own personal choice to rebel against Him blocks the otherwise good things He intended to do though and in our life.

Rebellion isn’t a small sin. Rebellion is the root of all other sins and was the cause of Satan’s fall and 1/3rd of the angels of Heaven. It isn’t something to be tampered with, held onto, or even to be looked at as something desirable. Our country as a whole has done an amazing job making rebellion seem glamorous. It’s harolded as the ‘foundation’ of our freedoms, the sounding peel of the bells of liberty to choose, and is celebrated by all who do not understand the authority and blessings of God. Our media is full of portraying rebellion as a good thing, such as kids who through off their parent’s selfish dreams and fulfill their own instead, novels where the heroines are the ‘strong’ ones who revolt from their protection and face the world alone, female heroes who have no head and no protection, the list is endless.

So, you’re a rebellious harlot. Isn’t that encouraging? Well, I can’t say it encouraged me either, but it is helpful when you realize that you are fighting against your nature in attempting to submit and obey the Lord in following Him and your authorities. You’re starting out ‘behind’ girls. That’s not your fault. What we choose to do with it is! Realize that submission doesn’t just naturally flow through you veins. It is a learned response, and as with all learning, God lovingly gives us areas to ‘practice’.

God Gave you…

1.Your Parents

Have you ever stopped to ponder why you were born to your parents? And not someone else’s parents? Why God chose your dad as your authority and head? The Lord personally designed your head to fit you. Sometimes we excuse ourselves by saying that our ‘personalities’ just clash, or I just ‘struggle’ because of said head’s own issues. Remember, you are ‘matched’ to perfection! God NEVER has made a mistake yet… He didn’t make one in choosing you father either.

I can just hear you all saying in your minds, ‘but you don’t know his issues!’. ‘It’s hard to follow him’, etc. Let me just tell you that in the eyes of the Lord your authorities imperfections, faults and problems were tailor made to help you LEARN submission. The fact that an authority isn’t ‘perfect’ does not disqualify them from being your head.

If you don’t TRUST your authority than you don’t TRUST God! Most often we like to ‘separate’ in our minds our parent’s authority and our obedience to God… the twain cannot be split! If you have trouble surrendering to your dad’s rule over you, do not ‘deceive’ yourself… you have trouble surrendering to God’s authority over you!

Have you ever complained about a decision your parents made, regretted that your parents decided to do ‘this’ or ‘that’, told someone how much you were struggling to ‘accept’ this decision of your parents…………all of these are signs of an inner, deeper struggle of setting aside what you want for the sake of following and obeying Christ. If you have a problem with your parent’s authority, you have a problem with God’s authority.

If you dishonor you authority you are dishonoring God. The Lord’s authority is ‘displayed’ in us. When we choose to follow our own way and ignore God’s plan we are not bringing Glory to Him as we’re designed to do, but the opposite… we are shaming the One we claim to love so much.

If you do not willingly and gladly obey your parents then you are disobeying the Lord! This point is where the ‘rubber-meets-the-road’. If you cannot GRACIOUSLY, GLADLY AND THANKFULLY submit to your dad or mom than you are disobeying them in your heart! Even if you ‘act’ the right way and outwardly obey and ‘grumble’ or even complain to the LORD (or God-forbid ANOTHER PERSON) about your authority’s decision for you: then YOU ARE NOT OBEYING GOD!!! NO MATTER HOW YOU SUGAR-COAT IT rebellion usually sounds something like this…. “Oh, I’m just struggling to accept this decision, or I’m just finding it hard to believe it is for my good, Or I don’t know how this could be ‘right’ “… all of these excuses are PROOF of an inner REBELLION to your authority’s decisions and God’s leading in your life through that decision by that authority.

Girls, submission require a deep-rooted faith and TRUST in a God that is bigger than the authorities HE HAS CHOSEN AND DESIGNED TO RULE OVER YOU!

Also… Don’t for a moment think that your dad’s authority over you is paramount and your mother’s authority is any less important. I find that obeying my mother with grace and honor can be an even HARDER TASK than my dad. Somehow the father’s demand more respect than your mother might. I know that all of us feel that our Dad’s are ‘stronger’ authorities and that our mom’s aren’t as strong… but She is also a large section of your protective wall! Don’t dishonor her in this! She deserves just as much respect and submission as your father does. “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Prov. 30:17

Let’s face it, if we struggle obeying our parents, and obeying God, we WILL STRUGGLE in being REBELLIOUS to our future husband. If you find it hard obeying a Godly 50+ year old man, how much harder will it be to trust and follow a not-so-godly 20-something ‘boy’ who hasn’t learned how to lead! The odds aren’t in our favor as to making things easier for ourselves.

The Lord is using these lessons we are learning right now, in our own homes, with our own parents to teach us how to submit. He is using the tool of submission to weed out of us the plant of rebellion.

God Gave you…

2. Your Personalities

If any of you are human you’ve all felt the difficulties that arise from being created individual human beings. There are times that your parents will do something that will completely drive you insane, embarrass you (like no one else can! ) or just rub you up and down the wrong way. It happens. It’s not a clash of wills so much as personalities. I am not excusing any of us from obeying, or submitting, but there is the reality that some people seem to struggle less than others. This doesn’t always mean that you are more rebellious than another sibling, but struggle more to relate to your parent than they do. I just happen to be a lot like my dad and it has made it easier for me to understand ( SOMETIMES!) where he’s coming from or why he’s thinking what he is about an issue. Lynea, on the other hand, is like oil and water with dad’s personality. We don’t CHOOSE our personalities anymore than we choose our parents. I just want to encourage you that you aren’t ‘extra’ rebellious, but very different. The Lord is trying to teach you something very valuable through this experience of being opposites that will be a very valuable lesson your whole life. Learning to relate to others, even when you don’t fully understand them, is a very good thing to know. You’ll need it your whole life, everywhere you go. Because we are all so different, often ‘conflicts’ arise and the ‘problems’ in our lives can often we traced to this. God gave you these problems. We all value peace to some degree, and often it cannot be maintained with out the high price of someone giving of themselves for someone else. That is EXACTLY what submission is…. death to your wants. This is what God requires of you.

He that doth no cheerfully and freely submit himself to his superior, showeth that his flesh is not as yet perfectly brought into subjection, but often-times struggleth and murmureth against him.” Thomas a’Kempis

God gave you…

3. Your Personal Responsibility.

I can just hear those questions now, that I’ve asked myself dozens of times over, “But, what if my authority is wrong?” orWhat do I do when my authority is wrong, obviously wrong…. Possibly even being selfish and going against what I believe God wants me to be doing?

This can be a hard pill to swallow, but in the eyes of the Lord, He isn’t wrong. I can just hear the tumult in your heads,….. “but HE IS WRONG!” Once your authority has made a decision for you even if it is clearly wrong and even selfish, God has allowed this to happen to you. Some of the hardest things in life to accept is God allowing someone else’s sin to affect you. But it does. Let me just mention here that you are RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU ALONE! It is so easy to feel like we are excused from our ‘reactions’ to something if the one we are reacting to is wrong as well! This is a lie! You are RESPONSIBLE FOR YOU… and NO ONE ELSE! If your authority is wrong, God knows, God sees and He will judge that case. You are responsible to OBEY that authority regardless of how he or she personally is behaving. God blesses Obedience…. Over and over and over in the Bible… God blesses obedience. The buck stops at authority. If your authority has chosen incorrectly for you, God holds that authority responsible for that decision…. NOT YOU. This can be freeing. The Lord never intended you to obey something that is clearly sinful and against God’s authority. We are to obey God rather than men. However, usually the case is that your father has said NO to something you deemed God’s call or God’s will for your life. If this is true, he will give account for himself and that decision and YOU will give account for your response to his authority… not that decision. So, What do I do when my authority is WRONG… First let me ask this… “How do you know?”…. how do you KNOW that your authority is ‘wrong.’ It may seem wrong, feel wrong, smell wrong and actually be God’s direct plan for your life! I have ALWAYS been ‘wrong’ whenever I truly believed I was ‘right’… and that belief went against my authority’s decisions!! No matter how ‘unselfish’ even you feel you motives, they are WRONG when they are not in agreement with you Authority’s leadership! (Ill. Story about Tiff)

More often then not, we are struggling against God’s direct ‘hindering’ in our life. When something is what He truly wants you to be doing, He WILL work out the details and LEAD through your authority. I believe Christ honors obedience to even lost authorities. Thankfully, we don’t have to debate whether or not our father’s are trying to follow Christ or not. God can USE your authority’s mistakes, failures and even sins for your good. Do you really believe this? We have to trust God, not our authority’s leadership abilities or good choices. You have to believe that God is GREATER than your authority… and can change your authority’s heart on a subject when needed. Ultimately God is in control.

To be continued…

Garden Principles (Part One)

Guest writer Melissa Bickish has been teaching a girls class for the past few months.  I asked if she would share her thoughts with us on Maid Arise.  I know this will be a blessing.

“A Garden Enclosed”:

or The PROTECTED Garden.

The Lord has given me a lot of thoughts recently on gardens. I believe that the illustration of our lives being a garden or vineyard is one of His personal favorites. Spurgeon said in his book “ Evening by Evening” that “Sin ruined that fair abode of all delights( the garden of Eden) … There is another garden which the King watered with His bloody sweat- Gethsemane…. At Gethsemane, the mischief of the serpent in the first garden was undone…. This is the garden of gardens where the soul may see the guilt of sin and the power of love. My heart should also be His garden. How do the flowers flourish? Do any choice fruits appear? Does the King walk within and rest in the shelter of my spirit?…let the spices of Your garden flow abroad.” – Spurgeon

The greatest events in the history of the world were wrought in a garden! It was in a garden that the life of man first began, in a garden that sin and separation first separated us from God, it was in a garden that the struggle to submit to the plan of salvation was won, and in another that death and the grave were conquered at the resurrection. God loves gardens! He makes them all over the world, even ones that no one sees unless that happen to step into some remote glen untouched by human eye or hand. He loves beautiful things. He has a special place in His heart for gardens.

Gen 2: 8 says, “And the LORD God planted a garden..” God loves to plant gardens and vineyards and then cultivate them to be what He sees them becoming.

Joh 19:41 Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein was never man yet laid. Just an interesting note to think about, throughout the Bible gardens are often listed a Burial places. Sepulchres were most often found in gardens.

Kings almost always had a private garden. God just happens to have a very vast multitude of gardens. He calls Himself the Husbandman in so many verse, in other words the ‘keeper’ of the garden, the gardener if you will.

The Lord loves to take barren waste land and plots of dry ground and transform them into beautiful gardens for His own Glory.

Isa 51:3“ For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.”

Is. 58:11 “And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.

Jer. 31:12 “…and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.”

Ezek. 36:35, “And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.”

Is 5:1, “Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes,..”

Jesus when he walked on earth often retired to a garden, or a place alone with nature to refresh Himself. He loved gardens. John 18:1 “When Jesus had spoken these words, he went forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a garden, into the which he entered, and his disciples.”

After all, what is a garden? Webster defines it as: an enclosure, a plot of ground where herbs, flowers, fruits or vegetables are cultivated. To cultivate is: to prepare, to loosen or break up soil, to foster, to grow, improve, refine, encourage or further.

-A garden is Property:

This means they are pieces of land that belong to Someone. When we were lost the garden or plot of land in our heart belonged to us. Now that Christ has created our land, paid for our land, and redeemed our land, our garden no longer belongs to us. .It has been purchased and paid for It is His garden, His fruit, His place to abide.

S.S 6:2 and 11 My beloved is gone down into his garden, to the beds of spices, to feed in the gardens, and to gather lilies…. I went down into the garden of nuts to see the fruits of the valley, and to see whether the vine flourished, and the pomegranates budded.”

Our hearts are God’s little plot of land to be grown, encouraged and furthered in order to bring forth something useful. He considers this to be one of the most beloved of His walking places.

The Lord is the dweller of our garden. We are to be enclosed from the things outside and ‘shut up’ to His own personal Presence. God delights in walking though His garden, talking to His plants and personally cultivating us! We are HIS garden.

Francis Ridley Havergal says in her book, “kept for the master’s use.” That we are like a plot of land that needs care.

Suppose you make over a piece of ground to another person. You give it up, then and there, entirely to that other; it is no longer in your own possession; you no longer dig and sow, plant and reap, at your discretion or for your own profit. His occupation of it is total; no other has any right to an inch of it: it is His affair thenceforth what crops to arrange for and how to make the most of it. But His practical occupation of it may not appear all at once. There may be waste land which He will take into full cultivation only by degrees, space wasted for want of draining or by over-fencing, and odd corners lost for want of enclosing; because of hedgerows too wide and shady, and trees too many and spreading, and strips of good soil trampled into uselessness for want of defined pathways. Just so it is with our lives. The transaction of , so to speak, making them over to God is definite and complete. But then begins the practical development of consecration. And here He leads on softly, according as the children be able to endure…And so, season by season, we shall be sometimes not a little startled, yet always very glad, as we find that bit by bit the Master shows how much more may be made of our ground, how much more He is able to make of it than we did; and we shall be willing to work under Him and do exactly what He points out, even if it comes to cutting down a shady tree or clearing out a ditch full of pretty weeds and wild-flowers. “

Protected (or Enclosed).

Malachi 3:11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.” This one is a BEAUTIFUL thought. God hedges us in and protects our ‘tender grapes’ from the foxes of this world and Satan! Here He says He will keep us protected from the ‘spoiler’. God never allows anything to touch your garden that isn’t His will for your garden. If you ‘wall’ is under siege by Satan, rest assured, God hasn’t left you undefended. He always takes care of his own.

Let’s read from Song of Solomon Chapter 4 verses 9 through 5:1.

Thou hast ravished my heart, my sister, my spouse; thou hast ravished my heart with one of thine eyes, with one chain of thy neck. How fair is thy love, my sister, my spouse! how much better is thy love than wine! and the smell of thine ointments than all spices! Thy lips, O my spouse, drop as the honeycomb: honey and milk are under thy tongue; and the smell of thy garments is like the smell of Lebanon. A garden inclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed. Thy plants are an orchard of pomegranates, with pleasant fruits; camphire, with spikenard, Spikenard and saffron; calamus and cinnamon, with all trees of frankincense; myrrh and aloes, with all the chief spices: A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon. Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits.”

Verse 12 calls His beloved “A garden inclosed, a spring shut up and a fountain sealed.” I want to talk about the meaning of this in the garden of our hearts.

A. We are to be protected in purity! We do have the ability to open this wall, tear it down, or unlock this gate and allow impure thoughts to enter… thereby ‘cheating’ upon our gardener. We sometimes willingly allow these ‘foxes’ of IMAGINATION to damage our tender grapes and destroy the small plants by digging at their roots. I recently researched what Foxes actually do to grapevines due to curiosity about the verses about “little foxes” spoiling the vines. This is what I found out.

Foxes or little foxes could also be jackals. Foxes destroy vines by…

“…gnawing the branches, biting the bark, making bare the roots, devouring the ripe grapes… jackals eat only grapes, not the vine flowers; but they need to be driven out in time before the grapes are ripe.”

This reference is talking about both when the grapes are RIPE and when they are still TENDER… meaning not yet ripe. The Foxes destroy the plant itself, damaging the ability to produce fruit… and when there is fruit it also consumes it. Jackals don’t destroy the vine, but eat all the fruit.

I want to talk about the importance of being an Enclosed Garden when you are younger. The habits you form before you become a woman help you in continuing in these habits of purity whenever you are faced with strong physical temptations. The older you grow the stronger the natural desire for human love grows. Beginning at a young age in casting down imaginations can make a HUGE difference when there is ‘fruit’ at stake.

What does a garden that is enclosed look like? Webster defines being Enclosed as: to close in, surround, to fence off for individual use, to hold in, or confine. For some reason when I read this definition my heart doesn’t like the sound of being confined, or restrained… or what might feel lonely. The Lord doesn’t view our garden this way though. In the Bible He calls us His beloved. When we are enclosed FROM the world and harms and enclose TO Him in safety. God’s rules are never to harm us, they are always to protect us. When He thus mentions “evil imaginations” and “falsehoods” or things that aren’t true: we know that these are not acceptable because they can harm us. Jer. 13:10, 25 and 10:14 say…

This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing….thou hast forgotten me, and trusted in falsehood….every founder is confounded by the graven image: for his molten image is falsehood, and there is no breath in them.”

The Lord rebukes Israel as a nation over and over for the evil imaginations of their own hearts. This is where the rubber-meets-the-road so to speak about purity. None of us ever intend to actually physically LOSE our purity, but do we truly guard it in all areas? Are we just as convicted from a frivolous, untrue thought that is ‘romantically based’ as we would blush to think of the actual act of love? They are truly the beginning, the ‘tender grapes” if you will, or our heart’s imaginations. We are to have our minds submitted to Chrsit! This is the purity-war-zone… the battle is fought and LOST or WON in your mind first before it ever moves to actions. God requires purity of heart, and thought, not just action. He knows better than we do, how our thoughts affect and lead to actions. If you are thinking how un-contented you are with being single, it will affect your actions.. you may notice shortness of temper, irritability, and outward actions that symbolize a deeper heart issue… it is the same with purity. Before you would ever actually sin physically in impurity, you will think a ‘romantic’ thought that Satan convinces us in ‘enjoyable’ and ‘harmless’. These thoughts are not harmless! They have an affect. If nothing else they will make you un-content that your Gardener hasn’t decided that you are ready to be joined to someone else’s garden yet. These are SERIOUS issues. In Song of Solomon there is ONE verse that is REAPEATED over and over again.

It says ” I charge you, O ye daughters of Jerusalem, by the roes, and by the hinds of the field, that ye stir not up, nor awake my love, till he please.” (S.s.2:7, 3:5, and 8:4)

Why would the Lord repeat this same verse to the DAUGHTERS ( the unmarried single women) of Jerusalem 3 times if it wasn’t important. To “Stir up” implies a purposeful, curiosity and intentionally awakening something that is to remain dormant and or asleep. The Greek word carries a connotation of ‘WHY” stir up? What good will it do? Also in Song of Solomon we find the principle of the younger woman’s purity carrying her through her later years.

S.S. 8:6-10

Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.We have a little sister, and she hath no breasts: what shall we do for our sister in the day when she shall be spoken for?If she be a wall, we will build upon her a palace of silver: and if she be a door, we will inclose her with boards of cedar.I am a wall, and my breasts like towers: then was I in his eyes as one that found favour.”

This is a perfect example of a younger women and how her desire for purity is protected. Her FAMILY was a part of protecting her. In verse 9 If she is only a wall, we’ll enclose it all the way around… if she be but a door… we’ll frame it. It shows a joint protection. She is a wall, she is trying to guard herself and needs to be surrounded completely around by safety. If she is a door and trying to block out the world and it’s impure ways then we’ll help by building a frame. Look at verse 10… It is a joyful declaration of being a WALL when we are older. We have practiced at a younger age this casting down imaginations and it has lead us to be Wall of strength for purity when we are older. The same DESIRE for purity in her youth held her through her days of temptations. And because of this she has found favor in the eyes of her beloved. Are you keeping yourself pure for your future husband or for Christ???

Stir not up… but what if they are ‘stirred up’ and I struggle with this feeling of wanting to be loved, cherished, kissed, held, by a man? Let me just say you are NORMAL! Just because we are not to purpously awaken these desires for physical love, does not mean that we won’t ever have any. As a matter of fact we all do! You aren’t alone if you’ve ever had this desire. It is truly more than a desire, it is a natural, God-given instinct to be loved this way. We are created with it built into who we are. The truth is that this natural, God-given instinct needs to be submitted, surrendered and given back to the one who gave it to you. It isn’t wrong…. if you’re married. However, we obviously aren’t. To desire this love outside of marriage is dangerous. The God who gave you these desires and instincts knows better than you how to deal with them. Purity is attacked, because it’s beautiful, innocent and Godly. Satan hates you for being pure!!! And if he can’t destroy you’re literal physical purity, he’ll try and destroy your purity of heart. We don’t HAVE pure hearts, instead our hearts are deceitful and wicked. They must as our garden plots be submitted and yielded to the God of all purity and entrusted to Him to be kept safe. I’d like to quote Toni Hutto here and read what she recently wrote that encouraged my heart so much.

The enemy often attacks us in places God has chosen to prove strong in. If your thought life is under attack, and your purity under siege, know that it is because God has a plan for your life… It’s okay to be weak in these areas. It only means we will rely all the more readily on Someone mightier than we are!”

We are ALL weak in this area of protecting our own purity. We are ALL attacked in our purity, We ALL desire to be married and loved, We ALL struggle to surrender this are. You aren’t alone, and most certainly not left UNPROTECTED by God and your family.

C. We are to be protected by our Priest.

How do you respond whenever the Lord asks of you a higher standard in your conduct and what He allows in your life than He may ask in someone else’s life? Do you feel ‘restricted’ or do you feel ‘protected’? However you heart honestly answers this question makes a huge difference on how you will respond to the Lord. God PROTECTS us by removing IDOLS from our hearts. It is never a pleasant experience to have an idol revealed to you and be asked to let go of it altogether… however this is the primary way that Christ protects us as individuals. You may have heard people talking about how they are permitted to do things that you are not, perhaps your Keeper seems to be a very Jealous one indeed and you feel you’ve been ‘restricted’ from so many things… let me encourage your heart… you must be very precious to the Lord indeed if He is so JEALOUS over you!!!!

Deut. 5:9a “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God,..”

I’d like to talk about idols here… because these are those little “images” of the heart that truly DAMAGE our walk with God more than anything. We have idolatrous hearts by nature! We are made with the innate desire to ADMIRE and WORSHIP SOMEONE.

I want you to think about the word IDOL and divide its individual letters in your mind. An idol is an..

I-nordinate

D-egree

O-f

L-ove.

If we were to seriously get on our knees and ask that there be ‘nothing between’ our souls and our Savior we are almost always faced with something to confess, repent of and forsake!

An Idol is ANYTHING or ANYONE who has an Inordinate Degree Of Love in your heart. Idols are most easily recognized in our responses to being asked to relinquish them. They are most easily discerned whenever you FEEL THAT RELUCTANCE TO LET GO of something.

These idols can be literally anything: from a garment that you like that is ‘questionable’ as far as it’s modesty, to a man you are desperately in ‘like’ with and seem to constantly think about. I’m not saying that attraction for someone is an idol, it is when we are asked to let go of our hold over that emotion that it becomes an idol. A feeling of attraction once handed to the Lord becomes HIS PROBLEM!

Whenever you feel you are STUBBORNLY holding onto anything it is an Idol.

1 Sam. 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” The proof of iniquity and idolatry is your stubborn tenacious clinging onto them. For fun I found a ‘p-word’ for stubbornness. 😉

Pertinacious: “holding firmly to an opinion or a course of action.”

Whenever you are pertinaciously clinging to something Christ has asked you to free from you are guilty of the sin of idolatry.

The only reason that the Lord desires your heart to be only, always, all for Him is because He is a Jealous God who protects His bride even whenever she accuses Him of being ‘unfair’ in the process. CHRIST ONLY EVER ASKS YOU TO GIVE UP WHAT IS NOT GOOD FOR YOU!!!!

I get this image of a garden with a wretched Thorn-bush right in the middle… and the gardener is attempting to uproot this ugly thorn bush and the whole time the garden is resisting and crying that it’s beloved and special thorn-bush be spared… He will never forcibly remove your thorn bush without your consent and yielding… Is there a bush that is prickly, harmful and painful to you that you are stubbornly refusing to allow God to uproot from your garden?

I’d like to end with the thought that the only safe IDOL you can have in your life is one that is worthy of all praise and glory. Christ can be our idol! We can worship, love and adore Him as having the first place in our heart whenever we truly believe He only ever removes what is harmful to HIS GARDEN.