New Beginnings

by Kim Warf

It’s hard to see that Spring has arrived up in the great state of Maine! But, soon the lawns will grow green and the trees will bud and bloom showing forth the evidence of this season of New Beginnings. The life of a Christian is much like this. We pray, believing to see our requests bud and bloom into reality even though many times there is no seen evidence. However, by faith, we must trust that God is working even when everything seems contrary.

A time of protection!

In the realm of nature, one of the most important things for growing occurs in the winter season called vernalization. This is a biological function meant to ensure that plants do not break dormancy and start to grow until winter is over. God has controls in place to hold and keep the plants until they are READY to flower or bear fruit. Amazing—these parallels from nature and what God does with us! These times of waiting God has prepared beforehand for our PROTECTION – when we are in the cold – when it seems like nothing is going on – and we are tired of waiting – when we want it now!

However, these are necessary times of protection in order for us to be able to eventually and healthily bloom. During this cold rest period, (ironically called Chill Hours) the leaf growth on lawns stop but the root system is still growing and forming foods to bolster the spurt of new growth in the spring. Without this rest, the lawns would not survive !! Did you catch that…did you? The root system is still growing even though everything else that you can see on the surface is not! As we cooperate with the Word and Spirit, God is forming our foundation and our character. He forming food/sustenance to enable us in our next season!

A proper root system

It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been a Christian. God is still working things out in us so we may have a proper root system so that Godly character is firmly planted in our hearts. Godly character can be defined as “the ability to discern God’s right way from the wrong, and to voluntarily surrender one’s own will to do what is right in God’s sight and, with the promised supernatural help, to resist the wrong even under pressure and temptation.” A shorter definition is: “Godly character is consistently doing the RIGHT THING at the RIGHT TIME in the RIGHT WAY for the RIGHT REASON.”

Remember as you pray, even if we can’t see anything happening, God is always working behind the scenes in our lives and in our loved ones’ lives. Believe and understand that He is most interested in growing our roots before we see the fruit. Philippians 2:13 says, “for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Kim Warf is Associate Pastor and Women’s Ministry Director at New Beginnings Church in Bangor, Maine. She is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word and has chaired several WOW conferences in Maine. She and her husband Paul have two daughters and a granddaughter.

Watchful Gardeners

by Kim Warf

Let us be watchful gardeners and keepers of the inner treasure.

As natural gardeners of our flowers and vegetables, there is much care and foresight given. The necessity for proper soil and healthy seeds and seedlings are understood and due diligence is given for the hope of an abundant harvest.

What of the garden of our hearts? It is from there, the Bible tells us, that the issues or the overflow of our lives will stem. So, the condition of our heart foretells the condition of our lives.

Take care that seeds of discontentment are not allowed to flourish there. Those are like the pesky weeds that grow deep roots and choke out the wonderful things you are trying to grow .

The Bible refers to this in Hebrews 12:15, ‘See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled’. These deep, dark roots of offense become tangled and twisted causing distress for oneself and will spread to others if not dealt with immediately.

In Mark 4, we see another scenario. Here, the condition of our heart is addressed. “Other seed fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked it, and it yielded no crop.” Even when good seed is sown (God’s word), if the condition of our heart isn’t right, it will not flourish and produce properly.

If good seed can be choked, what happens when “bad seed” (negativity, divisiveness) evil is sown? Be vigilant over the soil of your heart and do not receive these words as truth. At the very least, take the time to get the “whole story”.

Do you remember when we first came to know the Lord?

There were strongholds that were deeply rooted in our hearts and minds. Over time, our minds and hearts were renewed by the good seed of the Word of God. We need the truth and the love of God to realign our mind and thinking. This is true for every season of life.

Let’s be watchful gardeners of our hearts. Proverbs 4:23 warns us to “Keep our heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.”

Thankfully, we are then instructed how to do this:
Verse 24 “ Put away from you a deceitful mouth, And put perverse lips far from you.”
Verse 25 “Let your eyes look straight ahead, And your eyelids look right before you.”
Verse 26 “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established.”
Verse 27 “Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.”

How do I know what is good seed and what is bad seed? The good seed brings forth the peaceable fruit of righteousness and the bad seed brings forth distress. The watchful gardener will reap what is sown.

Kim Warf is the associate pastor, alongside her husband Paul of New Beginnings Church in Bangor, ME.  She is also a Board Member of Women of the Word and has served as Conference Chairman of several WOW conferences in Maine. Paul and Kim have two grown daughters and a beautiful grand-daughter.