"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Seed & The Soil (Part 1)

Agriculture: the science, art, or occupation concerned with cultivating land, raising crops, and feeding, breeding, and raising livestock; farming.

 "Then He told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed."
-Matthew 13:3

The Old Farm 

In Tom Brokaw's book "The Greatest Generation" he describes a generation that grew up in America during the Great Depression and went on to fight in World War II. In his book the journalist Brokaw lamented the values, the strength, and the contribution of a generation that put their country, family and others first. The broadcaster and journalist wrote in his 1998 book, "it is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced." He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. And when they returned from war they rebuilt America into a superpower. 

They fought to protect American and they fought to rebuild America. 

The greatest generation was made up of many different people, but one of the truest signs of America's patience and strength was the farmer.

Farmers like Houston Pannell.

Houston Pannell was a member of the 'Greatest Generation'; a group of men and women that die at the rate of a 1,000-plus per day.

Houston Pannell died in September of 2010.

Below is an excerpt written by  Hembree Brandon  in Western Farm Press entitled "America's Greatest Generation of Farmers"

Except for his time in the U.S. Army, he was a farmer his entire life, rooted in the small community of Ellistown in northeast Mississippi. He started with pretty much nothing, and through hard work and saving (not to mention an innate knack for horse trading), managed to gradually acquire land that resulted in a fairly sizable farming operation.

All, of course, with the unflagging support of his wife, Sue, who herself had known firsthand the back-aching, long days of dragging a cotton sack down the rows, but still managed, as their farm grew, to keep house, look after children, tend a garden, can and freeze a bountiful store of things she’d grown, cultivate masses of gorgeous flowers, and set a heaping table, including to-die-for cakes, pies, cobblers, and banana pudding. They were married for 66 years.

Because he grew up and lived in a cotton-based agriculture, Houston grew and loved cotton, although he also had beans and corn. He was a good farmer, a good citizen, and as was attested by the hundreds who came for visitation and filled the church for his funeral, a good man.

The Greatest Generation is made up of people like Houston Pannell; good men and good women who did what was needed to be done with little fanfare or praise.

They just did what they had to do. 

And they often did their best.

Doing our best is vital and paramount to sustainable growth and success in our lives. Doing our best enables us to experience life at its fullest and aids us into becoming of value to everyone we come in contact with.

This past Sunday Pastor Ken Murphy spoke on the topic of doing our best, asking those in attendance: "How do you achieve the best of what God wants for you in your personal life, family life and professional life."

The sermon was the beginning of a sermon series entitled Agriculture 1.0 based on God's word in Matthew 13:1-9; the story of the farmer scattering seed.

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. 2 Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. 3 Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. 4 As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. 5 Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. 6 But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. 7 Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. 8 Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. 9 Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
-Matthew 13:1-9

The obvious interpretation of this parable is that four types of people are described by the four different paths; paths with soils that were hardened, rocky, full of thorns and productive.

Let me explain further.

Hardened: The first path that the seed was scattered on was one of hardened soil and because of this the birds snatched the seed away quickly. Many times if we are not careful our hearts can become hardened like dry soil and lack the ability to recognize and accept something good that is surrounding us. Remember, a path is usually how you get from one destination to another and like going from destination to destination we can live life on a path that is just living for one big event to the next big event missing everything in between. Couple that short sighted living with a harden heart to God's daily mercies and grace, and it becomes easy to lose sight of God's day by day faithfulness & miss what God had planned for us. Our hearts must be fertile soil for us to be able to acknowledge, entertain and accept God's best for us while we walk this path called "life's journey".

Rocky: The rocky path is depicted as a soil that produces a quick sprout but fizzles out and dies quickly thereafter. This soil represents those who jump in quickly to different tasks but do not follow through and finish to completion. We have all met people like this in our lives. Some reside in our family, neighborhood, place of employment and church. And if we're to be honest with ourselves and examine closer we too will see that we have been that very person; a person that is characterized by no visible depth of character or spiritual roots. I must admit there have been times in my life that "no depth" was the order of the day and it was during those times that my priorities were out of wack and true direction was lacking. It was, and still can be, a miserable place to live. It affects everything and everyone around you.

Thorns: A thorny path with soil full of weeds might be the most destructive of all. Thorns have the ability to choke out any good. Often times the path that is full of thorns is also full of weeds and vines. Vines, unlike weeds, can be beautiful, but they also can be destructive if not monitored. In the book "The Power of One" by Bryce Courtenay he describes the vines of our lives this way: 

"Everything fits Peekay. Nothing is unexplained. Nature is a chain reaction. One thing follows the other; everything is dependent on something else. The smallest is as important as the largest. 'See,' he would say, pointing to a tiny vine curled around a sapling, 'that is a stinkwood sapling which can grow thirty meters, but the vine will win and the tree will be chocked to death long before it will ever see the sky.'

He would often use an analogy from nature. 'Ja, Peekay, always in life the idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea so big it could have grown thirty meters through the dark canopy of leaves and touche the face of the sky.' He looked at me and continued. 'The vines are people who are afraid of originality, of new thinking. Most people you encounter will be vines; when you are young plant they are very dangerous." His piercing blue eyes looked into mine. 'Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than to simply follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you will grow stronger. If you are right, you have taken another step toward a fulfilling life'." 

The one thing that I learned is that if, and when, some areas of life are going well, other areas can be experiencing failure and because of that misery can creep up like weeds, and if those areas are left unattended they have the ability to choke the life out of all the good things that are going on in our lives. Also, people can become weeds in our lives with their discouraging spirit and disqualifying tongue. They can speak anxiety and stress, negative thinking and doubt into our lives just to name a few. Listen for God only; He will direct us to good soil. 

His soil. 

Good Soil: Good soil, like good decisions, can, and will, produce a crop of 100 / 60 / 30 fold. We all have the ability to be "good soil" for others and to live in "good soil" ourselves. The decision is ours and the joyful experiences that go along with it are ours too.

As I reflect on this passage of scripture and it's message I realize that it's not as simple as defining and acknowledging the four different paths one can take, and the soil we can tread upon, because I can think of certain areas of my life which may fit one category and another area which may fall into a different category. Many times I feel strong about my faith only to fail miserably in another area that I thought I had moved past. I start out with vitality and strength only to fizzle and die when the heat of temptation pours its heat on me bringing me to the realization that my roots aren't as deep as I once thought and that I'm more immature than I am mature. Or there are other times that my heart is hard to another's need and I miss the blessing that God had prepared for me and the other person. And then there are the times that I allow myself to be surrounded by weeds and vines only to have my thoughts and beliefs sabotaged, albeit for a short time, but nevertheless still sabotaged.

I'm going to end here and finish tomorrow. 

Tomorrow I will discuss three observations beneath the soil.

But for the balance of today I'm going to reflect upon what categories of life I am walking down. Is it the rocky path, a thorny path or a hardened path? And in what area of my life am I doing it? I also want to identify the good soil in my life and ask myself what am I doing in those areas that I'm experiencing the goodness of God's favor?

Then I'm going to pray for His direction, discernment and forgiveness.

And then I'm going to pray for God's favor in every area of my life and on every path I take.

I hope you do the same today.

sbb 19.7.11


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While the message was nice I felt Ken's side note of the news story on Fox news about California "teaching homosexuality" and how it might plant a seed. They are not going to teach kids HOW TO BE GAY for crying out loud. Teaching kids "hey this guy did that thing and guess what he's gay" isn't going to turn anyone gay. More shocking is that comment comes a few weeks after the guest speaker (lady from world hope) listed all the work that needs done and listed all the bad things in the world and then slapped on 1.5 billion muslims. Whatever happened to freedom of religion?