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“If I had known I was going to live here so long, I would have planted better trees.”

It was just an off handed comment from a friend in the middle of a conversation, but it stuck in my head, or possibly my heart, and made a lasting impression. 

Planting a tree requires vision.  Planting an expensive tree requires vision and faith.  When you plant a tree, you make an investment into the future.  You plant in hopes of the shade it will provide, the fruit it will bear, or, if you have great vision, the tire swing your grandchildren will swing from some day.

The key to planting a tree is the start it gets in the early years.  You condition the soil to give the roots room to take hold.  You keep it watered and fertilized.  And, those of you here in West Texas know full well, you hold that newly planted tree in place with guide wires.  Those guide wires protect the young tree from the wind and provide a steady and consistent pressure that trains the tree in the direction it should grow.

In the book of Proverbs, King Solomon uses the analogy of a young tree as a picture of how to raise our children.  Every praying parent is familiar with those wise words.

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  –Proverbs 22:6

This little proverb has given parents much hope over the years, but it has also been a source of frustration for those dealing with a child in rebellion, as many a mom and dad have questioned the future of their child.

Much like the planting of a tree, the raising of a child requires vision, faith, hard work, and strong guide wires.  But, understanding the truth of those guide wires is the key to the promise of the Proverb.

In which direction are we to train the child?  “In the way he should go.”

The responsibility of a parent is not to attempt to pour their child into a mold of what they want their child to become.  We have been called by God to discover the gifts and desires He has placed in our children and create an atmosphere that will allow them to grow in that direction.  We are to provide the kind of nurturing environment that will empower our children to follow their hearts in the grace of God.

I believe this promise and principle applies to the training we do in every area of our life.  At home, when wives are training their husbands, remember the direction of their hearts in the process of “domesticating” them.  At work, when we are training employees, do not let the personality of your workers get lost in the pursuit of productivity.  In the mirror, when you are giving yourself the pep talk about the person you want to become, remember to listen to your heart, to listen to your body, as you train yourself in the direction God has designed you to go.

Determine today to live your life with a vision for the future.  Plant trees that will last.  Invest in those you love in a way that doesn’t just provide convenience for the moment, but in a way that will bear fruit in the days and years to come.

Podcast

Did you miss yesterday’s message?  Do you need to hear it one more time?  You can find yesterday’s message from Pastor Eric von Atzigen on the church web site.  Click to listen.

Links

We are so excited to announce the return of Loran and Tiffany Rule, back to Sweetwater and to EFC!  Visit the website to learn more about this awesome couple who will be ministering to our youth in Sweetwater.

On the Radar

Make plans to join in the after church Fellowship Meal this Sunday, January 31.  It’ll be a great day of fun and family time.  More info (and even recipes!) at www.efcsweetwater.com. Click the FELLOWSHIP MEAL icon.

Looking to find a church in Sweetwater, Texas?  We invite you to discover the joy and friendship of a Lifegroup this week.

Revelation Bible study this Tuesday from 12:00 – 1:00 pm in my office.  Everyone is welcome to join in, just bring your Bible and a lunch box.  Keep up with the progress at The Watchman’s Gaze.

A Membership Dessert is just around the corner for those of you who are new to EFC, or are interested in joining.  Come let us feed you yummy treats as we share with you the vision of this Spirit-filled church in Sweetwater!

Family Connection

Parents, be sure to check out the Worldchangers website.  We align our Bible curriculum from the nursery all the way up to our youth.  Access the Family Connection page on the website to bring you children’s Bible lesson home to the kitchen table. 

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday, for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Beautiful One” by Tim Hughes
  2. “I Adore You” Chris Quilala version
  3. “A Little Longer” by Jenn Johnson
  4. “Your Love Never Fails” Chris Quilala version

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, January 31, 2010, is the last Sunday in January, a time we set aside for the annual State of the Church Address.  We look forward to sharing a report from 2009 and looking ahead to 2010 as a congregation.  We will conclude our Vision 2010 series with a look at the mission of the church to “Send.”  Make plans to stay for the fellowship meal after church and get to know our new Youth Pastors, Loran and Tiffany Rule.

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