Time to eat

bread-1643951_1920Here’s an obscure little paragraph of a story that I find interesting buried away in the Old Testament: 

“One day a man from Baal-shalishah brought the man of God a sack of fresh grain and twenty loaves of barley bread made from the first grain of his harvest. Elisha said, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat.

‘What?’ his servant exclaimed. ‘Feed a hundred people with only this?’

But Elisha repeated, ‘Give it to the people so they can eat, for this is what the Lord says: Everyone will eat, and there will even be some left over!’ And when they gave it to the people, there was plenty for all and some left over, just as the Lord had promised.”

Sound familiar?  Fast forward a few chapters and several hundred years, and we see Jesus likewise feeding a crowd, the whole famous “loaves and fishes” picnic on the side of a hill. Continue reading “Time to eat”

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Hey, where’d YOU come from?!

garden lastHot, humid, it’s southern Missouri and the first official day of summer, so what else is new?  I’m already a sweaty mess working in the yard, and the compost needs turning, so out comes the pitchfork (à la American Gothic) and the back muscles are put on notice. 

It’s during this little exercise in semi-organic gardening that I observe a real surprise—two tomato plants growing, quite well I might add, to the side of my large, homemade compost bin, hidden between the garage and the fence line. 

tomato

Huh?!?  And they’re as large or larger than some of the ones I have growing now in my suped-up garden with my organic, sore-muscled compost mixed with expensive dirt that grows things “miraculously”, and is watered with our very, very expensive third-stage (whatever that is) city water!  Continue reading “Hey, where’d YOU come from?!”

Cramped quarters

neuschwanstein-castle-467116_1280The story of the Old Testament prophet, Jonah, is an intriguing one, and is not without a mild undercurrent of a Providential sense of humor.  Not to poke fun at Jonah’s dire straits, but he did, after all, open himself wide to at least some form of discipline.  Interestingly, as the story unfolds, Jonah never denies that he worships the God of the Hebrew people; he just persistently argues with Him, at least concerning God’s intended task for His wayward prophet.  I have to wonder what brought the man to this extreme—maybe someone from Nineveh had harmed his family somehow, causing a hatred so intense that it created a prejudice toward the whole town (along the lines of the comment about Jesus: “can anything good come out of Nazareth”.)  Maybe Jonah considered God to be unjust in His patient treatment of anyone “not Jewish”. 

Or maybe he was just having a bad day…?

Regardless, a massive storm blows up to buffet the ship carrying Continue reading “Cramped quarters”

Just throw it out there

garden lastIt’s March—woo-hoo!!  Know what that means here in the lower part of the Midwest??  Okay, yeah, tornadoes…but besides that?  IT’S PLANTING SEASON!!  Bring out the seeds and point me to the dirt!  (Bob, honey, if you’re reading this, go ahead and just TRY to keep me away from the Walmart garden section…!)

I have some good friends who are professional farmers.  The term, “professional farmer”, distinguishes them from gardeners, even Master Gardeners (which, as Bob will tell you, I am not.)  Master Gardeners have it all together, but farmers, that’s a whole different category.  We’re talking equipment that costs more than my house and car put together. Unfortunately, last harvest season our friends’ combine had an oil leak and caught fire…. 

Yeesh!  Before it got this far, one of the guys was crawling through the machine trying to salvage some of the expensive equipment, like the GPS they use to know where to plant the seeds.  Thankfully, there were no casualties, except the siding on the house nearby that melted, and the bank accounts of those involved. 

Once again, farmers just amaze me, and have my upmost respect.  Of course, in Jesus’ day, they didn’t have the fancy tech like my friends have today that helps feed the world. Planting was done much differently, and Jesus seemed to think it an apt metaphor for spreading His very good news:

“Listen! A farmer went out to plant some seeds.  As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them.  Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow.  But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died.  Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants.  Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted!  Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

At first glance, this seems quite wasteful—even I know how be a little more careful in my planting (not much, mind you, but a little.)  And yet, Jesus likens this to teaching us to become “fishers of men”.  Huh?

Here’s the point.  Among my other temptations to not “sow” His good news is my own hidden selfish (and yes, even bigoted in some ways) perspective/bias/expectations that just out right get in the way.  Here are some of things the Enemy might whisper in my ear:

  • Don’t waste your breath.
  • They already hate your guts so why would they listen?
  • They’re too far gone. (This can be applied in a variety of ways, BTW.)
  • I’m too far gone. (This one can also be applied in a variety of ways, particularly after working all day.)

Here’s what I seem to hear my Lord saying: Sow liberally, knowing that some of it will fall on unfruitful and even hostile ground.  Sow anyway.  Making the determination of what the soil of someone’s heart is like is not up to me. That’s in the Holy Spirit’s job description. 

When it comes to planting the Gospel, He alone is God’s heavenly GPS.

kevin

Matthew 13:3-9  Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved

Prepare-practice-repeat, ad nauseam

IMG_20150103_172451138Standing in the waiting room of a local shop waiting on my car tire to be fixed up, my cell phone went off.  It was our daughter from southern California, but where she was living at the time, the cell phone reception was less than optimal, so I only heard snatches of her conversation.  It went something like this:

“Hi, mom…(static)…thought you might have seen the news…(static)…fires…(static)…we’re fine…(static)…”

Ah, parenthood.

Not being from that area, I have since learned that they have a “fire season” much like tornado season where I live.  Even when they see the smoke in the distance, locals are well-informed in the drill.

tornado-541911_1280To modify a culturally well known phrase, “disasters happen”.  From nature-born Midwest tornadoes to man-made terrorist exploits, we live in a dangerous environment this Continue reading “Prepare-practice-repeat, ad nauseam”