Who is Welcome?

I posted on Facebook yesterday what I thought was a pretty innocuous thought about unity in the church. Wow I was dismayed and surprised to see the “controversy this stirred up! My hope is that if we each ask ourselves this one simple question and be willing to take personal responsibility to reach out that each of our churches will be the better. Have a blessed day!

“Will folks who think or look differently than we do feel welcome at our church? If God wanted us all the same He would have used plastic and not dust when He was forming man.”

 

All kinds of folks

The Farmer and the Harvest

Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop – a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Matthew 13:3-8

When we were looking at those seed catalogue it is interesting to remember that each variety in the book was accompanied by a photograph but it was not of the seed, it was always of luscious melons, red ripe tomatoes or deep green broccoli. No one was ever much wanted to see shriveled up corn kernels, dried beans or tiny carrot seeds. In the same way the heavenly Father sends people out to our hearts to plant the seeds, But it doesn’t really matter much how the sermon looks or how the hymn sounds because it is only the seed. What God is looking for is a harvest.

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Of all people perhaps the farmer’s work requires the most faith. He begins his plans in winter when snow drifts are still filling his fields. He plows in early spring never knowing when the weather will be warm enough for planting. He plants his seed in the soil and waits because he has one all he can do. Unless God sends the right amount of rain, warmth and sunshine his crops will never grow. Then each summer as the Lord permits the farmer harvests goes to market to get the best price he can for purchasing all his family’s needs for the year plus new tools and seed so he can start it all over again next year!

 

God chooses to do the work of the farmer in our own lives. He sees us when we are as cold and hard as a snow filled field. Then He sends workers day after day, month after month and sometimes year after year to break up the field of our hearts for planting. Last He sent His son to die on the cross and fall like a grain of wheat into the ground of our hearts. And God does all that He does in hope that the most precious of all seeds which He has planted in us will grow strong and pure in our hearts to yield an eternal harvest of life!

8th Christmas Gift

Eighth Gift of Christmas – Rest

In all the hurry towards Christmas, it is easy for us to forget to rest for a moment at the manger. But He patiently lingered the unhurried nine months in the waiting room of Mary’s womb. Shepherds were the first to know as they rested with their flocks. Then Jesus was born and quietly grew up in the tiny village of Nazareth. He didn’t burst forth with proclamations of greatness but rather in the back of Joseph’s carpenter shop. He had brothers and sisters with whom He had to share a straw mattress on the floor and what simple meals were put before them. Never do we hear of a complaint, or detect an attitude of frustration. Jesus simply waited for the day when His work would begin and rested in the place where God had placed Him. It was there in Nazareth that He learned to give thanks for bread and fish. In the ordinary circumstances of His quiet life He learned how to wash feet, celebrate weddings and how to handle wood and nails. The same God who in Christ rested in the boat in the storm has also invited us to come and rest our souls in Him!  p1010967

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls Matthew 11:29

The Seed and the Sower – Part One

P1010815A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering his seed, some fell along the path and the birds came and ate it up Luke 13:4

Everyone had the same farmer. Everyone got the same seed. The difference in the harvest is all about preparation. Every day God is speaking.  If we are not prepared to listen then we are never giving a chance for His word to enter our hearts. It will be like the rain on the other side of the window. We may see it falling but it will never enter our house. Are you listening to Him as He speaks to you today?

Preparing for Planting

He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:6

Whether Winter has been mild or harsh, it has still been long. Nothing is green and our eyes are color starved as we look out over the brown grass and leafless trees. Everything may seem to be at a standstill, but behind the scenes preparations for Spring planting are already underway.

Seed and fertilizer have been ordered, machinery has been repaired and serviced and plans laid out for where to put the corn, the hay or the oats this year. Money is low, but the demands for spending are high. Even in today’s world we catch a glimpse of what it meant to “go forth weeping”. The seed that was to be planted may have been a large part of what was left from last year’s harvest. It was a temptation to be resisted to not grind that wheat or corn into flour for the family to eat. The farmer and his family knew that in spite of the sacrifice, the harvest for next year depended on them preparing the fields and putting a large part of their meager supply into the ground.

What is your store of seed today? Do you have just a small amount of hope? Do you hold on to just a bit of joy? Is there only a little space left at your table for a guest? The promise of God this morning is that when we plant in hope, that one day we will reap with joy. What will you choose to plant today?

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Purple Thistles

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He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yetno one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11

When our boys were small we used to read to them Richard Scarry’s  “Cars and Trucks and Things that Go” The greatest delight they had was to find on each page, where the illustrator had hidden the little character named Goldbug. Sometimes Goldbug would be waving from the back of a bus and on the next page he would be riding next to a fireman in the fire truck. No matter what the story line or the featured vehicles, we were always sure to spend a moment looking for our little friend. Then when the boys spotted him they would point and cry out with glee, “There’s Goldbug!”  Solomon tells us that In the same way, God has painted a detail into every page of creation and then plants within our hearts the unexplainable longing to understand His eternal plan.

The often hated Purple Thistle shows off his beauty in September. He has grown unnoticed all year. No one has wanted him or looked out for his success. But here he is, showing off the deep purple colors of his flowers behind a well protected circle of spines. Not many will try to browse on him so he will delightedly spread his seed through all the fields around for the far future generations of his own kind.

In our neighborhood, maybe in our our family or at our jobs, we are sometimes like him. No one sees a value in the life God has planted within us. But quietly protected by God’s side we will have our own moment to bloom. There between the petals of our flower, are eternal seeds that by God’s grace spread of the message of Jesus Christ. The blossom is for just an season, but the eternity of God is enclosed within every seed. Close you eyes and imagine for a moment, that seed falling on another heart. In the midst of their difficulties and right in the center of their daily routine. The seed slowly settles in then germinates and a light suddenly switches on and they cry out with glee, “There’s Jesus!”