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Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? - Part 2 - Todd Grover
Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? - Part 2 - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • August 02, 2021

Is Parenting Like Raising a Garden? Part II - Todd Grover


I embarked on a journey this summer of raising a garden. It has not gone totally as planned, as much of life does not, but I have learned some amazing similarities between gardening and raising a family. I stated some of these lessons in my previous blog and desire to add to the learning experience here.

As mentioned in my previous blog, I failed to place my raised garden in a location that would allow for an adequate amount of sunshine. My current location has too much shade. As a result of my miscalculation, all aspects of plant growth and vegetable production have been slowed. The growth is there, but slow. On several occasions I thought to myself, just till this garden up, cut your losses, move the raised beds, and start over next year. Without fail, after entertaining these thoughts, I would see progress in the garden. Example: my seven and a half feet tomato plants (I am not exaggerating at all). First discouragement, they would not grow. I thought I planted them wrong. Next, they were infected with a fungus. Next, they grow like weeds, but no tomatoes. Next, tomatoes, but they stayed green forever and a day. People all over Facebook were proudly displaying the fruits of their labor, canned this and canned that from the floor to their ceilings, from gardens that I know were planted after mine. Finally, one glorious morning, a slightly red tomato. Then green beans. Then peppers. Then a zucchini. Lesson: keep at it and fruit (or in this case, vegetables) will come.

Has child rearing for you been less than fruitful in your eyes? You are a little embarrassed or frustrated when other parents share their bounty of child rearing with you. How they have fruit stacked from floor to ceiling in their home. Let me share this with you, stay with it. It is tempting at times to say, what is the point, there is nothing coming from my garden. Or, my garden is coming along so slowly. You know as I look back on this whole gardening experience, nothing in my garden was dead, just painfully, gut-wrenching slow. I panicked, but none of the plants did. What my plants needed was for me to keep watering them, keep wedding them, keep securing them, keep the fungus off and not till them under. My plants just needed me to keep investing in them.

The apostle Paul makes a marvelous parenting statement in Ephesians 3:13 “So I ask you not to lose heart over what I am suffering for you, which is your glory” ESV.  Wow, is that a powerful statement. I, the apostle Paul, am suffering for you. Why? So that God can produce His glory in you. We have no idea how long Paul had been suffering, the degree of his suffering, we just know he had been suffering, so that God’s glory could be revealed in the family of God at Ephesus. This takes self-sacrifice, suffering and time. Consider how Paul said basically the same thing in Galatians 3:19. “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” KJV.  Time, self-sacrifice, personal discomfort equals, produce.

Now, you will not see my Facebook page plastered with the bounty from my garden. I barely had enough green beans to fill a bottom of a boiling pot of water. But there were green beans there. Next year, another garden will be planted making the necessary corrections learned from this year’s mistakes. I suppose next year, I will learn about more improvements that can be made. Point: do not give up on your garden, the one in your yard and the one in your home. 

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Is Raising a Garden Like Raising Kids? - Todd Grover
Is Raising a Garden Like Raising Kids? - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • July 28, 2021

Is raising a garden like raising kids? - Todd Grover


This year I attempted something totally new for me, raised gardens. Extensive planning was done, detailed research before materials were purchased, daily amount of sunlight exposure calculated for every area of my back yard to determine maximum sun exposure. Soil and fertilizer bought. Seeds purchased. Plants in hand. YouTube video’s watched on proper raised gardening procedures. Finally, the day arrived. Planting day. One week later I was telling myself, raising a garden seems a lot like raising kids. Speaking of which, I have four grown children whom I love dearly.

You may be asking what are the similarities? To be honest, there are too many to share in one blog so I will hit the highlights, and maybe there will be a part two. First of all, I was very intentional with my garden, doing everything in my power to ensure its success, produce. I find that “winging it” rarely works for anything. What type of soil, where will there be the most sunlight, etc. If I was going to attempt this, I wanted to do everything within my power to succeed. I find the same truth in parenting. Before our first child took a breath in this world, my wife and I began to plan on how we would raise our children. We would read to them every night; we would pray with them. We would go to family camps for vacations, you see what I mean. Do not misunderstand either. None of our planning interfered with each child’s individuality either. As a matter of fact, it allowed us to raise them the same within their individual personalities. A good, productive garden is not often left up to chance, and I find, either is a family. What’s your plan.

Before we get too far, let me say here, you can do all the planning in the world, but your child possesses a free will, which he will exercise. Also, without God’s amazing grace, you can do all the planning in the world to no avail. However, neither of these two realities should deter you from having a plan to raise your children.

Secondly, after the seeds where in, every day I checked for two things; growth and obstacles to growth (fungus, not enough water, weeds etc.). I made sure every day there was the appropriate amount of water for optimal growth. I made sure the weeds were pulled, not allowing these unwanted invaders a second to rob my plants of the needed nutrients for growth. I watched for diseases. As soon as I detected a produce destroyer, immediate action was taken to rid the plant of the army of microorganism invaders. If you what produce at the end of the day, you have to put in the time to ensure growth.

Parenting also requires realizing when you have errored and correcting the mistakes. In planning for my raised garden, I miscalculated how much sunlight the plants would receive. Come to find out, it was not near enough for some of the plants to reach their full potential. Solution, move the gardens eight feet to the south, which will give the plants more sunlight. If you want produce, you need adequate amount of sunlight. Do what it takes to maximize “Sunlight.” Point, realize when you have errored and make the corrections. The goal is a healthy, producing plant, not your feelings.

Might I suggest, if you are married and thinking about children and want to get a head start, plant a garden and pay attention to the lessons you learn. You may be saying, I don’t have time for that. You are about to learn lesson 1. 

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Can Liberty Enslave? - Todd Grover
Can Liberty Enslave? - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • July 10, 2021

Can Liberty Enslave?

I Corinthians 10


Watching God mold and fashion one of His children is a marvelous sight to behold. Observing the scales of the “old man” fall one by one as the “new man” takes shape brings joy unspeakable to the believer. God’s tools for molding and refining the human condition are so infinite and precise one cannot but stand in awe of our Lord. One cannot help but wonder, if this is indeed the case, why then does this spiritual transformation seem to take so long and so often hampered with setbacks? The answer to this question is long and varied. I would like to focus on one possibility: Christian liberty.

The lengthiest section on Christian liberty in your Bible is found in I Corinthians 8,9 and 10. The chapters are broken down this way. Chapter eight deals with my liberty and the impact it may have on “the weak” believer. “The weak”, is simply a designation given to a believer who registers sin regarding an action before I would, e.g., eating meat offered to idols. Chapter 9 is the Apostle Paul’s underlying philosophy of how he handles his own liberty. Paul’s “Christian Liberty” was never used to place an obstacle in the way of the gospel of Christ (I Corinthians 9:12). This noble endeavor will seem unattainable unless it is also accompanied with Paul’s mindset as described in I Corinthians 9:19 “I have made myself a servant of all.” Liberty causing one to become servant to all, almost unheard of these days. Which leads to chapter ten, a warning regarding your Christian liberty and spiritually failings (10:12).

The Apostle Paul does not argue for the fact that you have personal liberties in the Lord. The Apostle is more concerned with the impact these liberties may have on your spiritual condition; namely Christian liberties have the great potential of causing a spiritual fall (V.10). For definition’s sake, a Christian liberty is an action or activity that God does not provide explicit direction on. Painstaking meditation by the believer regarding the topic at hand is needed at this point. Mistakenly interpreting God’s silence on a subject as a green light, has the potential to be very detrimental, spiritually. I can be in God’s presence as Israel experienced God’s presence (VV 1-4), exercise liberty and find myself in the same predicament as they did, “with most of them God was not pleased (V.5).” Please observe carefully the admonition in verse 6, “ Now these things took place as examples that we might not desire evil as they did.”

God, knowing that there would be situations, when we would make the wrong choice in exercising our liberty, placed this very reassuring verse in this chapter. “ No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (v. 13).” What a safeguard. What if I get my “Christian Liberty” choice wrong, which were bound to eventually? God will provide a way out of it. An honest believer will confess, my exercising “Christian Liberty” has the potential to enslave me in sin. We must not turn a blind eye to what God is revealing in this passage. Therefore, we as believers may do well to focus less on the scope of our freedom and more on the impact. Let us pray for one another that we would not be enslaved in our liberty.

All bible references of from the ESV. 

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Amazing Grace - Todd Grover
Amazing Grace - Todd Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • June 28, 2021

Amazing Grace - Todd Grover


I have been an exerciser almost literally, all my life. It started when I was five and my dad started to take me with him to his karate lessons. Next, at age twelve came weightlifting, which continued until my first year of graduate school. At this point, I added long distance running to my routine. Running my first 25K, about 8 months after my first long distance run. So believe me, I have heard, “just one more, anyone can do something for 30 seconds, no pain, no gain. Come on, give me one more” more than enough throughout my life. I have always taken personal responsibility for my health, especially my heart health.

On June 15, 2021, all of that changed. I went to see the doctor for what I thought was gallbladder pain (which does need to be removed), but there was something much more serious going on. My EKG and my blood work indicated that I was having or had had a heart attack. I could not believe it. For the first time in my life, if my heart was going to make it, someone besides me would need to take action. Doing one more rep was not going to fix it. “Come on, give me one more,” was not going to help at all. Someone besides me would have to fix my heart. Which, thank the Lord, they did. I had a great team of health care professionals, who took exceptionally good care of me.

On that day, not so long ago, a question was asked of me I thought I would never be asked in my life, “where do you want to be transferred to in order to have your heart fixed?” Now, there are plenty of good health care systems to be transferred to, but I, without hesitation, choose the healthcare team I had absolute trust with my life. If my heart was going to get better, they would have to fix it. It would not be me.

After calming down a bit from all of this, this verse from the book of Ephesians hit me hard. It is Ephesians 2: 8,9. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Maybe read that one more time in the context of, you cannot fix your own heart. Just as I learned with my physical heart, we also need to learn about our spiritual heart. There is a condition that you cannot fix, someone else must. God does not wheel us into the cath lab in order for us to figure this out, but in front of a mirror. And while you are looking at yourself, He says, I can fix that.


What exactly is God fixing you may ask. We have a sin problem, and let me assure you, “give me one more” of whatever ritual, spiritual endeavor you are thinking of is not going to do the job. If your heart is going to make it, someone else will need to fix it. His name, Jesus Christ. Just as the Emergency Room Doctor asked me, “where do you want to be transferred to?”, you must ask yourself the same question about your heart. Where do you want it transferred to? Please do not misunderstand what I am saying. I am not asking you to transfer your heart to a church, to a cause, but to God through Jesus Christ His Son. You will love the care you receive from Him. When God, on His own volition chooses to fix your heart, this is what the Bible calls grace. And it is truly Amazing! 

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Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover
Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • June 09, 2021

Who Can Deliver Me? - Josh Grover


“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations.” II Peter 2:9a

           

           Every day sin is an option. Every situation presents two paths: do things according to God’s will as revealed through Scripture or do things according to my own will. As one of my camp directors once stated, “There are two options on the shelf – pleasing God or pleasing self.”

           Temptation comes and makes sin alluring to the Christian. It makes sin a viable option and will make it seem more rewarding and fulfilling than what God can give us. And sin seeks to weave deceit in every area of life – relationships, finances, education, religion, ministries, etc.

           So if sin has a constant presence in every area of life, is extremely deceiving, and always leads to destruction, how then can a Christian find victory? How can a Christian bear this kind of pressure? There is only one way.

           God alone delivers His people from temptation. He alone knows how to bring His children out of darkness to His light of eternal life (I Peter 2:9). If you’re a Christian, there is no temptation that Jesus can’t give you the victory over (I Corinthians 10:13). 

           The Lord knows how to deliver you from temptation and the destruction that sin brings. How does He do it? One way is to trust His Word. It’s a lamp to your feet and a light to your path so that you won’t sin against Him (in other words, you won’t give in to temptation) (Psalm 119:11, 105).

           We can’t trust ourselves to deliver us from evil. But we can completely trust God, for He knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation.

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How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover
How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • May 08, 2021

How Do I Love More of Life - Joshua Grover


“For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile (do not deceive): Let him eschew (turn from) evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue (pursue) it.” I Peter 3:10-11

 

           How do I respond when someone offends me? What should I say if someone mocks me for my faith? How much of my joy as a Christian should be affected by such mistreatment? Peter, the author of the verses given, writes to Christians undergoing persecution for their faith in Jesus Christ, and he wants to guide them on how to respond to false accusations and unjust slander.

           First, let us notice that Peter states that we as Christians can still love our lives and see good days even when we undergo forms of persecution. Of course, we don’t naturally run toward pain and suffering that others cause us, but when it happens, we can’t assume that our lives no longer have access to joy and peace. Paul and Silas singing in the Philippian jail often encourages me in moments when people make light of my faith.

           Second, Peter comes along side us and says that if we want to love life and see good days in the midst of slander, we need to keep our tongues from evil and lips from speaking deceit. Interesting how he uses the word “refrain.” “Refrain” assumes self-control. Our tongues are powerful influences that make or break people. If we want to love our lives and see good days, we need to contain our speech, though that is much easier said than done.

           Third, Peter tells his readers to turn away from evil and do good. Seeking to nourish your life with sin is like putting a plant in a dark, dry corner with no sun or water and expecting it to grow lavishly. But doing good by desiring God wholeheartedly is to expose yourself to Him who is the “way, truth, and the life.” To have Christ is to have life to the fullest. He who loves his life will do good by seeking to love God with all of his heart, soul, and mind and his neighbor as himself.

           Finally, we must dwell on why the Christian even has access to a life worth having and days that are good. Peter says in verse 12 of this chapter that God’s eyes are on the righteous and his ears are open to their prayers. We as believers are hidden in the righteousness of Christ (Colossians 3:3). We will not receive the wrath of God because Jesus took God’s wrath for us on the cross. Because we are found in Christ, God listens to our pleas and cries, our worship and praises, our petitions and yearnings when we come before His throne in prayer. When slander and injustice comes our way, we, by the self-control given by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:23), must keep our tongues and pursue good, for we are hidden in the cleft of Jesus’ righteousness, goodness, and peace. Keeping our tongues and pursuing good is how we can love more of life. Jesus Christ and His righteousness is the reason why.

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Patiently Waiting - Rebecca Trull
Patiently Waiting - Rebecca Trull

Maranatha Baptist Church • April 21, 2021

Patiently Waiting – Rebecca Trull

 

Do you ever feel like you are always waiting? We pray and then spend time waiting. Sometimes God’s answer comes quickly, but other times it can take a while. It can be hard not knowing what we are called to do with our lives, waiting for God to show us his plan. It can feel like we are navigating a valley and when we look up everything seems impossibly overwhelming. 

            As a military wife I spend a lot of time in that valley. Waiting for my husband to come home for the day, waiting for him to leave for training or deployment and then waiting for him to return. Those periods of waiting can be hours, days, weeks, or even months. In 9 years of marriage, we have spent more time apart than we have actually spent together. 

           Waiting is never easy. When will we move again? Where will we go this time? What is the time frame? Sometimes we are told we have to move and only have a few weeks to prepare, or we have months but the destination changes multiple times. The military is rarely consistent but through all the chaos, we always have one constant in our life: God. I know that even though this life is hard and sometimes extremely lonely I have him, He gives me strength to keep going. He picks me up in the morning and helps me be the best mom I can be to my girls, when all I really want to do is lay in bed. When I cannot sleep at night because my brain will not shut off, I pray and feel all the worry wash away as I finally drift asleep.    

           Waiting is hard but when the feeling of being stuck in the valley is overwhelming, remember that God is setting up the next mountain peak. His plans are bigger than we understand and life without Him is a life absent of the views you find at the top of the mountain. 

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Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover
Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • April 03, 2021

Why God Tenderly Instructs Sinners - Josh Grover


“Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8

  

What are the attributes of God by which He helps and guides sinners to learn His ways? My first thought to such a question was that it would be His mercy or grace or forgiving nature. Afterall, if He comes to me with all of the goodness and righteousness that He possesses, wouldn’t He have to judge me for my sin rather than help me escape it? And isn’t that when He would have to exercise His mercy so that He could still maintain His goodness and righteousness and still rescue me out of my sin? So, in my mind, I can think that God’s mercy is somehow up against God’s goodness and righteousness. Mercy has to enter the room otherwise God’s goodness and righteousness will ruin me for my sin. Yet this is not the case. In Psalm 25:7, David asks God not to remember David’s youthful sins but rather to remember him according to God’s steadfast love. Why? For the sake of God’s goodness. Then in verse eight David says that God is good and upright. How then does God display these attributes? He instructs sinners in His way. In other words, God cares for sinners because God is good and upright. God’s goodness, righteousness and mercy are not “opposing” virtues at all. Mercy doesn’t have to rush to the side of God’s goodness and righteousness and ask it to calm down before it wipes out all who are sinful. Rather, the goodness and righteousness of God is the catalyst for His mercy! His goodness and mercy exist in a cause-and-effect relationship. God’s goodness and righteousness tends to His mercy. How then does He display these? He displays His goodness and righteousness by teaching sinners His ways. Thus, to despise the teaching of the Lord is to despise His goodness and righteousness. To rejoice in the Law of the Lord is to rejoice in them. God is good, and we as His people respond correctly to His goodness when we cling to the Scriptures through which He leads us. Oh, that we would praise Him, for His goodness and mercy will pursue us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in His presence forever!

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Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips
Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips

Maranatha Baptist Church • March 10, 2021

Someone Named Walter - Anne Phillips


I had been on the phone all morning trying to find a human being to help me change my car lease from Leo’s name to mine. This had to be done so I could buy a current license sticker and be ‘legal’ again. I had a deadline. I was frantic.


Getting the number for the Toyota Leasing Company was easy. Finding a human being there to answer the phone was another matter. The first automated voice gave me a menu of nine options. The option that seemed most promising gave me nine more options and so it went.


I was just about to give up in tears when a voice said, “Hello. My name is Walter. How may I help you?” 


“Oh, Walter,” I gushed, “If you are real, May God bless you! I’ve been hours trying to find a human being. I’m desperate!”


“Calm down, lady. We’ll get through this together. What do you need?”


Then I proceeded to tell him my tale of woe in far more detail than he needed to hear.

“And it all has to be done by December first.” I sobbed.


“Well now, see there! You were meant to talk to me,” cooed Walter in a voice . . . “because December first is my birthday!”


Somehow this bit of inconsequential information made all the sense in the world to me just then. Of course God put Walter there for me in my hour of need. It was so obvious. “Oh, Walter you are an Angel sent from God.”


Walter laughed, but did not deny it. While I calmed down and he did the necessary paper work, we chatted about the weather and wondered why no one had created ‘pre birthday’ cards for people who like to think ahead. Four months later I was able to get my license sticker.


I would not be surprised if there was never a Walter employed by the Toyota Leasing

Company. In any case I will mentally wish Someone named Walter ‘Happy Birthday’ on December first.

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The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover
The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover

Maranatha Baptist Church • March 03, 2021

The Key to Faithfulness - Josh Grover


“Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation (lifestyle). Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and for ever. Be not carried about with diverse and strange doctrines…”

Hebrews 13:7-9a

 

The writer calls for his audience to remember their leaders who have spoken to them the Word of God, to consider the outcome of their lives, and to imitate their faith. The author then declares that Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Therefore, the audience should not be led away by diverse and strange teachings. What then about these leaders was worth remembering them about? What of them was worth analyzing and imitating? How do I know these leaders would not push and point me down paths of “diverse and strange teachings”? Simply, the answer is that these people spoke God’s Word and lived by it. No mention of charisma, wealth, popularity, or social standing. No mention of remarkable rhetoric or need for dramatic presentations. Why? Because the Word of God is enough to ground one in truth and sufficient to establish one in a faithful lifestyle. In fact, it is the key to such a thing. Afterall, the Scriptures point to Christ, who according to verse eight, is the same in the past, present, and future. Jesus Christ is eternally faithful and consistent. Therefore, to be grounded in the Teachings of Christ, the Bible, is to be rooted in Christ, a man in whom “there is no shadow of turning.” These leaders were worth imitating because they were glued to, guided with, and guarded by God through His Word. Thus, as a I seek to sustain my soul, lead my wife (and our firstborn soon to come), love my neighbor, and contribute to my local church, I must remember that people in my life don’t ultimately need my personality. They don’t ultimately need my opinion. All that people really need from me is the faithful teaching and living out of the Scriptures, for in Them is the truth – the truth which establishes a consistent, godly lifestyle that encourages others to do the same and yields all manner of praise to the Glory of God and His Kingdom. Cast yourself upon Christ and His Word, and you will always find consistency and faithfulness. 

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