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Saturday, July 26, 2008

A Gardening We Will Go
In the parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20), Jesus speaks of four kinds of soil:
- Hard or Compaced ("Footpath" vs.4);
- Rocky (vs. 5);
- Impure ("thistles" vs.7);
- Good (vs. 8).
These soils can represent conditions of not only the Nonbeliever's heart but also the Believer's heart (see the post from earlier in July).  Part of the role of the Gardener is soil preparation or cultivation.  This can be the same regardless of whether or not the "soil" has been reconciled to God or not.  Cultivation involves a combination of the Sower (Mentoring Disciple), the Master Gardener (God), and the will of the person being "cultivated" ("soil").
2:11 pm edt 

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sow Sow
In Matthew (13:3-23) is a fairly well known parable about a sower sowing seeds.  I have typically heard it taught in relation to the types of people who hear the salvation message.  It certainly is applicable to that audience.  As I read, prayed, and meditated on it, I believe there is some insight here for the believer and disciple of Jesus Christ.

I always came away with a picture from this parable that the Sower (the disciple of Jesus Christ who is out there doing what they were called to do - Go make disciples) was kind of just tossing seed carelessly which is why some of it landed on the path, the rocks, in the thistles, and "some" even landed in good soil.  This last time however, having just planted a garden, God challenged my thinking.

Sowers aren't careless.  They take a great deal of time to prepare the soil.  In some cases the sowing process gets down to planting an individual seed in the ground (i.e. Corn).  Have you ever seen someone planting tomato starts by just tossing them about?  Of course not.  So if the sower is being careful and a good steward, and the soil (a heart) has been prepared to receive the seed (God's Word), how did some of it land in places that didn't promote growth?

The answer is bcause our will.  We can become deaf and blind simply because we want to. 

We can harden our hearts (The path) against the message of God's Word because we don't like it, because we keep ignoring it.  When we do this the Adversary swoops in and picks off God's Word in our minds.  We can't pick and choose with God's Word.  If it says (and it does) to love your enemies, pray for the those who use you, be kind to the persecutors, then that is what we are supposed to do.  I say this because of God's Word, not because I am especially practiced at this.  This is for me as much as it is anyone else.

We can be shallow (the rocks) in receiving God's Word.  There are a huge number of "Threshold Believers".  They accept the forgiveness God offers and step across the threshold into God's house.  Then they promptly sit down and are content to just hang out in the foyer of God's home.  As a result they never turn up the "soil" of their hearts deep enough to allow God to clear the "rocks" of sin, past, hurts, etc...  When the Adversary turns up the heat of persecution (even a little), they can't take it and the small, shallow plant of faith withers and dies.  Not because of the heartiness of the plant but because there are no deep roots to sustain the plant of faith in the drought of persecution.

We can also allow God's word to get crowded out.  Jesus refers to the cares of this world and the false glamour of wealth as the primary reasons for choking out God's Word.  Busy-ness is one of the chief tactics of the Adversary.  We don't need to be entertained, exercised, stimulated every minute of every day.  We are training our children to be the same way.  I realize I may be meddling.  As parents, we do not live to serve our childrens' interests.  Our purpose is to train up a child in the way they should go.  The emphasis is on the "right way" versus the "go".  It is important to have quiet time.  It is important to experience sabbath (stopping your doing).  The pattern of this world lures us into ever more activity. For example... To be thought of the way we want to be thought of we need to have a house or a bigger house or a house in the right neighborhood or the right car or the right clothes or, or, or (you get the idea).  To have that house we need more income.  To get more income we work more hours.  All of the sudden you realize there is no time for devotions, for ministry, to allow yourself to be interrupted.  We can do the same thing with our kid's schedules.  In the beginning for "good" reasons while in the end it is at the sacrifice of the best.

What God wants is for us to allow our hearts to be "broken up", turned over, cleared so that His Word (Jesus - John 1) can penetrate the softened soil of our hearts, take root, grow deep, strong, and fruitful.  This takes time.  Time alone with God.  Time to think and meditate.  Time to talk it over with fellow disciples.

Check yourself this week as you go about your day to day.  Where are you hardened?  Where are you being shallow with God?  Where are you allowing the Adversary and the "pattern of this world" to choke out time with and for God?  Ask His Spirit to show you where He wants to tend the garden of your life.
8:19 am edt 

Thursday, July 3, 2008

What is the purpose of my life?  Your life?

Is it the pursuit and consumption of entertainment and enjoyment?  Is it to serve God and man?  Is it to amass wealth?  Is it to establish a legacy?  Is it to make my "mark"?  A cursory look around suggests "Yes" to all of the above.  God's Word says that it is to love, respect, and obey God (Ecclesiates 12:13).  If that is the case, then there may be a need for change in our lives.

John Maxwell (Author, Lecturer) observes that: "Change is inevitable.  Growth is optional."  Examine your life.  Change is inevitable.  Since it is inevitable, how do we make it work for us?  How do we grow as a result of change?

All change represents an opportunity to make a decision.  In making our decision, Bill Williams (Educator, Administrator, and Consultant) suggests that we ask two questions: 
1.  Does it compromise anything I value?  Specifically, does it compromise God's Word?
2.  Does it help me grow?

With that in mind, I want to suggest that the way we make change work for us is to initiate it whenever possible... Be a Change Agent.  Know what and where you want to be (God has a plan and a destination for you!).  Be intentional.  Make changes that initiate growth.  Seek paths that promote growth without compromise.  Don't wait for something to happen.  Cause it.  Don't hide from change.  Seek it out.  Don't push change off.  Embrace it.

Being a Change Agent, like many skills in life, becomes easier and we become better at it the more we practice it.  This is a fundamental skill of Discipleship.  Become a Change Agent.
8:09 am edt 

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