The Well

December 13, 2012

by: Staci Stallings

Last time I had you listen to a song by Casting Crowns called The Well.  (You can go here to listen to it:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vLxdxw4Gj6g )

I hope you listened several times.  I know I have.

There are many truths woven into this beautiful song, but I want to take a moment today to elaborate on the wisdom of one word:  Come.

In the first video I watched of the song, there was one incarnation of this word that was misspelled.  However, I probably would have misspelled it as well if I would just have been transcribing based on the way you would think it would be said, rather than the profound truth of how they chose to say it.

This time happens toward the end when they sing about after you have come to the well and others begin to see the living water flowing in your life.  It says, “Soon all the world will see, living water is found in Me, ’cause you come to the well.”

In the first video, the lyric was “’cause you came to the well.”  That’s how I would have written it, but that’s not right.  See, we think, okay, you’re empty and broken, and you go to the well, and God fixes you.  Period. End of story.  You CAME to the well, and now you’re healed and can go on with life.  Ah, but that’s not what the actual lyric says!

In the video I gave you here, it says, “cause you’ve come to the well.”  And honestly that might be what the actual lyric says.  However, I think that too is a fundamental misinterpretation of the true lesson here.  “You’ve…”  you have… again past tense.

But that’s NOT what God wants.  And from deep personal experience, that’s not the way it works!

God truly working in you is not a one-and-done thing.  You don’t go to the well and get healed and you’re done.

Life will continually throw things at you–new challenges, new issues, new incarnations of old hurts.  And you have to KEEP going to the well.  Yes, your salvation is worked out in the first trip if you accept what Jesus is holding out to you, but your LIFE must be going back to the well.

I know for me, I can be going along great and then BAM!  I’m thrown off-track.  Maybe it’s an illness or a serious challenge, maybe it’s something with my kids, my friends or my husband.  And once again, I’m empty and scared.  I don’t know which way to go, where I’m going or how to get there.

The secret I’ve found is in going back to The Well–The Answer… Jesus.

I didn’t go to the well once.  I go every day, often multiple times each day.

I don’t shine because I came to the well once.  I shine because I COME to the well often.  I recognize my need for The Well.  I recognize how often I have asked the world to fill that need, and how poorly it has done.  We will talk about some of those things pointed out so beautifully in the song next time.  For now, know that you can go to the well any time you need, and Jesus will always be right there to let you simply rest for a moment in His arms.  Ahhh!

 

 


Questions that Make You Go Hmmm… #5

November 12, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So far we’ve examined some interesting questions about God and our relationship to Him.

If you’re like me, there are days I so feel God’s Presence and days He feels very far away.  I know from my studies and personal experience that when God feels far away, He didn’t move. I did.  Thus we come to this very important question:

What is between me and God?

Let’s say that you and a friend are at a party, but neither knows the other is there.  Let’s also say it’s a rather large gathering that’s divided into sections or rooms.  Now, you might, of course, get fortunate and run into your friend, but it is equally likely that you miss each other altogether.  Why?

Well for one, you’re not looking for your friend.  You don’t know they are there.

Two, if they are in a different room than you the whole day, how are you ever going to see them?

I think the same thing happens with God.  For wont of a better metaphor, we put up walls between ourselves and God and then get mad when we don’t feel Him.

What are these walls?  Oh, they can be lots of things.  Worries, doubts, fears. Activities, meetings, schedules.  Sheer busyness is often a culprit.  Stress can be too as well as impossible expectations of ourselves, our God and others.

In short, anything that separates us from God is what is between us.

The thing to know, however, is that it is never God that put up the barrier.  Once we are saved, the barrier is removed and the only way it goes back up is if we put it there.

So what is between you and God?

Maybe it’s the events of the world that plunge you into fear.  Remove them by taking your gaze off of them and putting it on God.  Spend more time in prayer and in seeking Him.

Maybe it’s personal stuff–the death of a loved one or an illness.  Again, learn to see “through” those things to God who is right there.

I know after my brother’s death, my emotions were in a swirl of chaos, never so bad as at night. I would lay there, and fear and anger and sorrow would just about overwhelm me.  It was in those moments that I learned to say over and over, “God is here and He loves me.”  When there was nothing else to hold onto, I held onto those two baseline truths.

What I did, repeatedly, was to consciously remove every other barrier between me and God.  I held onto Him, clung to Him, pulled Him close and refused to let go.

So if you’re in a state of loneliness, fear, or worry, work on consciously removing any barrier that stands between you and God.  You can remove them by casting Satan and his minions out by the Blood Jesus Christ.  You can remove them by conscious focus on prayer to God.  You can remove them by taking your eyes off of those things and fastening them to God.

Doing so is an act of will, but it is also an act of faith.

Try it.  See how much difference it makes.

*~*

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Life As Rocket Science, Part 7: Christian Walking

September 27, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

So far we’ve covered a lot of different kinds of experiments you can do with your life–weight loss, homework, life, etc.

Today I want to look at how the concept of experiments works in our Christian walk.

I think we have been conditioned to believe there is “one right way” to be with God.  We think it involves praying a certain way for a certain amount of time at a certain time of day or day of the week.  We think it involves doing certain good things and avoiding certain bad things.  And we believe if we will just “do all of that,” our experiment called the Christian life will be a success.

Here’s the thing though… Much like my son with spelling, no two of us are exactly alike.  So what works for Janet down the street might not work for you at all.

However, we get trapped in thinking that doing it “right” has nothing to do with our way of doing it.  So we keep doing what doesn’t work for us because it looks right to someone else.

I recently read something that said, “Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”  I’m not sure if that’s from the Bible or not, but I know it’s true.

My sister was a good example of this.  She had been doing her praying, reading, meditating before bed each night, and it was working great for her.  She is not much of a morning person AT ALL .  Her children and husband all are.  So her mornings were filled with noise and people needing this, that, or the other thing.  Waking up earlier than them was not possible nor even advisable for her.  That would only have made her more irritable and less awake and able to deal with things.

So she was enjoying her nightly time with God.  Then she got a book that said the way you are “supposed” to pray is to get up early in the morning, an hour before everyone else, and sit in the quiet and pray.

Immediately she felt like a complete failure in her prayer life!  She called one night sounding really defeated.  “I just don’t know how to do that.  If I try, I’m just going to be exhausted…”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I have a friend who hit the same wall.  She went to a retreat and at the end of it, the liturgy director invited us into her “living room” one morning to pray with her.  It was very peaceful and wonderful.  My friend decided THIS was what she should do.  So she did an experiment (okay, she called it “what I’m going to do from now on”).

She got up earlier than the sun, sat in her chair and read and prayed.  The first morning this worked.  The second morning, she nearly fell asleep.  So she decided to have her coffee with her prayer.  That worked a little better until about the fifth morning when she really did fall asleep and was very nearly late for work!

She called… also sounding completely defeated.  “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.  It worked so good for Carrie.”

Pray as you can.  Don’t pray as you can’t.

I’m the third example.  From the time I was very small, we prayed the rosary.  My grandmother was a huge rosary pray-er.  She loved it.  Me?  Uh…

Oh, I had the best intentions.  But when I’d start praying, my mind would wander–mostly to the beads.  “Was that #7 or did we already switch beads?  I don’t remember.  Am I behind?  Or ahead?  Maybe I should switch beads now…”  The thing you have to know is my sister loves the rosary, and she would expound on how wonderful it is.  So I would hunker down, determined to get this.  It still didn’t work.

Then one day at a retreat I was praying it behind a wall, waiting to play music at the end.  I got really frustrated with myself.  Why couldn’t I keep my mind on the prayers?  Then the Holy Spirit gently said, “Just hold the beads.  Don’t count.  Just hold and trust the person leading… Me.”  I literally lost it, bawling so hard I thought they would surely hear me.

Why?

Because I’d finally found what worked for me.  And all I could think was, “Thank You, Jesus.  Thank You for letting me be me and loving me anyway!”

So stop trying to pray as you can’t and start praying as you can.  That’s what God put in your heart to pray like!  If you love gardening, garden!  And don’t let anyone tell you that something else is the only way to pray.  If you love a set of prayers, pray them!  If you are called to work with the elderly, don’t get roped into working with pre-K because that would be more “holy” or “worthwhile.”

I know that sounds crazy, but it happens all the time to people of good faith, people who are sincerely trying.  And their light slowly gets dimmer and dimmer because they are trying to be in a place they were never meant to occupy!

Experiment in your Christian walk.  Find what works for you, where your spirit is released and relaxed and open!  It’s a great place to be!
*~*

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Beware: The Wall

September 4, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Now I don’t know why this happens, but I want you to be prepared for it because when it happens, it can be downright dis-spiriting.

It goes like this:

You’ve been sowing God Seeds and things have been going very well.  One person that you’ve put God time and effort into is starting to really get it.  They are moving ahead, taking great leaps of faith, and then all of a sudden BAM!

It’s like you slam into a wall going full speed.

Again, I don’t know why this happens, but I can assure you, it does and it will.

First, understand that this is normal.  It is not something you did.  In many ways, it’s almost like peeling an onion a layer at a time and then suddenly hitting a layer that just doesn’t want to move.

I think for the most part what is happening is that the person has gotten down to a layer they didn’t think you–or anyone–could reach.  It’s a layer they’ve protected for a long time, and a layer they are terrified to see underneath.

Let me tell you “the wall” is going to take a LOT of patience and love on your part because most of the time, defense of the wall comes out as an attack against you.  Suddenly the person will pull away or act hurt or angry at something you’ve done (or not done).  This is not about what you did or didn’t do.  This is a passive-aggressive way to tell you to “back off.”

Our problem is, often we are dealing with our own hurts and places in our Spirit Gardens that need weeded, and this rejection can really blindside us.

The best thing I have learned in this situation is to back up.  Don’t pursue!  Don’t get desperate to find out what you did.  Don’t attack back.

Just breathe and back off.  Be patient.  Go to God.  Talk to Him about your own hurt over the situation.  Pray for the person by putting them in the Holy Spirit’s hands over and over–every time you think about them.

Walls take an unbelievable amount of patience and unconditional love–more maybe than you even feel you have to give.  That’s okay.  Remember, “I can’t but God can, and He will… if I let Him”?  Well, now’s the time to use that in spades!

When you see the person, smile, make small talk if they seem willing.  Don’t push.  Let them come to you.

It may take a very long time (and that time will seem even longer to you!).  That’s okay.  You and God have an eternity to convince them that you’re really serious about loving them even when they are being quite unlovable.

Stand in love.  Just stand, believing in God’s love for you and for them.  And you will be amazed at the walls that will eventually fall at your feet.

*~*

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Speaking God into Life

August 6, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

God is the great I Am.

It isn’t about “He was” or He “will be.”  HE IS.  Right here.  Right now. Present.  This minute.

The next minute.

And the next.

There was never a time He didn’t exist, and there will never be a time He doesn’t exist.

He’s kind of like air in that it just… is.

It was here before man realized it was.  Man can do nothing to make more of it.  It just.. is.  Except someday, it might not be.  That’s where God and air are different.

Hard concept to grasp, but important for Prophets and Sowers to understand.

Why?  Because until you grasp that God is here, it’s hard to speak Him into anyone’s life.

If you believe that God existed a long time ago, but He doesn’t now.  Or that He set the earth into motion and is just kind of watching it twirl, what’s the point of speaking Him into anyone’s life?

So first understand that God is here.  Second, that God really is love.  The essence of God’s Being is love.  There is no part of God that is not love.  He is perfect love–merciful, kind, just, ever-present, unconditional love.  The wrath of God toward evil is borne out of His immense love for us.  He doesn’t want us hurt.  He wants us all to love and to learn to love.  When we do that, we are speaking God into other people’s lives.

God is also life itself.  Without God, there would be no life.  So when you speak God’s love into someone else, you are literally speaking His life into them.

Has anyone ever spoken God’s love and life into you?  Have you ever been discouraged, downtrodden, hurt, and someone came along and gave you the courage and encouragement to get up again?

Prophets and Sowers know this is no easy task.

Most of the time it is not a one-shot-and-done deal.  Look at Isaiah who lived approximately 100 years.  He spent most of his life speaking God into people’s lives, and still not everyone was changed.  Look at John the Baptist who gave his very life for the cause of speaking God and the coming of Jesus into people’s lives.

This is not an easy calling.

Even if you don’t have to die for the cause of Jesus, speaking God into people’s lives is not easy.  People will reject you.  They will berate you and call you stupid.  They will beat you up emotionally and question your sanity.  You will have to get very good at going to God and God alone for your acceptance, worth, and love, because frankly the hard-paved people of the world can be downright vicious.

The ones who do listen may have lots of rocks in their soil that you are going to have to clear away, and that is going to take time and being willing to forgo your own time and agenda to the belief that this is worth it.  Further, while you’re clearing the rocks, they may be confronted with thorns–or you may be.

Make no mistake, speaking God into lives is not for the feint of heart.  So you are going to have to make a decision–cutting yourself away from all other options–if you truly want to be a Prophet and a Sower in the lives of those around you.

And then you’re going to have to commit time, talents, and treasure to the cause.  That may mean making time on Sundays to go to church and staying afterward to teach.  It may mean going to a meeting during the week that you’d rather not.  Being a Prophet and a Sower is going to require something of you, and only you can make the choice.

But the truth is you have been given a great gift.  A gift that surpasses all other gifts.  The Jesus Seed has been planted in your life, in your heart.  The question is, what are you going to do with it now?

*~*


Seed Stories: The Sower & The Prophet

August 2, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

In our last conversation we spoke about the circular nature of the seed and sower story from Luke.  We talked about how a person first is the soil where the Jesus Seed is planted and how he or she then grows up in their Christian faith and becomes the sower–planting Jesus Seeds in other people’s lives.

Well, the Bible also has a name for these people.  They are called “prophets.”

Prophets are those people who speak God’s Word into the lives of others.  You probably know some of them by name:  Jeremiah, Isaiah, Ezekiel, John the Baptist.  These are men who at great risk to their own lives and often forfeiting their own lives over it, chose to spread God’s Word to as many people as they could.

The Seed of God (Jesus, but for John the Baptist, had not yet arrived) was planted in their hearts, and they did everything they could to tell as many others about Him as possible.

Now, I think there were prophets after Jesus as well, but we called them by the name “saints.”  People like St. Paul and St. Barnabas, St. Peter and St. John.  These men wrote about the Jesus Seed, the spoke about the Jesus Seed, they witnessed about what the Jesus Seed had done in their lives.

And because of them, the Jesus Seed began sprouting up in all kinds of places like Greece and Macedonia and to the far ends of what was then considered “the earth.”  It has spread, literally, for over 2,000 years–through sowers and harvests and seasons, all the way down to us.

I remember once hearing Mike Warnke, a Christian comedian, say that if he was alive during the rapture, he was going to grab one sinner by the collar in one hand and another in the other hand, and he was going to say, “So, do you get saved now, or do I let go?”

Maybe not so dramatically, but I think that’s what we’re all called to do:  take as many people with us as possible.

How do you do that?  By becoming the prophet you were always meant to be.  And how do you do that?  By nurturing the Jesus Seed in your own heart and then sowing it into the lives of those around you.

Becoming a prophet sounds hard, but it’s really not.  It’s extending forgiveness and grace into someone’s life.  It’s holding someone’s hand and giving comfort.  It’s encouraging people and being a living (not just talking) witness to what God has done in your life!

Come to think of it, I think sower is synonymous with prophet, which is then synonymous with Christian.  In your Christian journey, are you consciously spreading the Word and inviting other people along?  Or like the third man with the talents, have you hidden what you have hoping no one will try to steal it?

I challenge you today to be BOLD in your faith.  Step out and share what you have been given.  When you do, the harvest really will be amazing!

*~*

Staci is proud to launch the second book in The Courage Series…

White Knight
~ The Courage Series~
Book 2

“Expect the unexpected…”

“Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live.”

–Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman

The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves…

Buy your copy today for:

Kindle Ebook: http://ow.ly/ckyuq

B&N Nook: http://ow.ly/ckyMh

Read the First Chapter!


Seed Story #6: A Circular Parable

July 30, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Now we get to one of the coolest insights into our seed stories, but stay tuned because they don’t even end here!

We’ve been studying Luke 8:4-15

“He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “ He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “ To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

Now instead of reading this as a single parable, I want you to go deep and see that it is not a single parable, but a circular parable.  That is one reason I have been a little “scattered” myself in talking about it.  Why?  Because we are both the soil and the sower!

You see, it works something like this:

A seed is planted by a sower:

Simple enough, right?  You have seeds.  You plant them.  You water them, nurture them, protect them, and… then they sprout:

Now you wait, water, nurture, protect, and they begin to grow:

Eventually if given the right time to grow and the right nurturing, what happens?

They produce their own seed:

This is where our parable becomes circular.  See, at one time you were the soil where the Jesus Seed was planted, and He grew up in your life and His presence changed you.  When He grew up and died, His seed was joined with your life to create not a single plant but multiple plants!

Notice how the stalk of wheat has many seeds?  That’s what happens in believer’s life.  It might start off looking little, insignificant and pitiful.  But if that single Jesus Seed is allowed to grow, it becomes many Jesus Seeds that can then be spread into different soil–other people’s lives.

And at that point, you somehow continue to be the soil where new Jesus Seeds are planted and you become the sower into other people’s lives by sharing what has been given to you!

So you are the soil, and you should take your cue from that part of the story for the seeds Jesus is planting in your heart.  Be open.  Let Him clear your soil.  Nurture the seeds that are planted there, and when they are fully grown, embrace now being a sower who goes out and spreads the Jesus Seeds that have grown in your heart to everyone!

*~*

Today…

Staci is proud to launch the second book in The Courage Series…

White Knight
~ The Courage Series~
Book 2

“Expect the unexpected…”

“Through a series of entertaining twists and turns and a lot of suspense, two very unlikely people find in each other a reason to laugh and love and live.”

–Amazon Reviewer, Myrna Brorman

The hardest part is losing the person someone else loves… 

Buy your copy today for:

Kindle Ebook: http://ow.ly/ckyuq

B&N Nook: http://ow.ly/ckyMh


Seed Story #5

July 26, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

Finally we’ve made it to that last type of soil.  First, here’s our story from Luke 8:4-15 once again:

“He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “ He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “ To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

We’ve examined the seed fallen to the path, in the rocky soil, and into the thorns.  Now we turn our attention to the seed that falls on the good soil.

When you scatter Jesus Seed, some will fall on people who are ready to receive it.  This may be people who have been in the church for a long time or people who have never been to a church.  I think one of the things that can make “good soil,” is if someone has been bad soil for a long time and is just sick of being miserable.

I know that’s how I was when “Grace Walk” and “The Ragamuffin Gospel” came into my life.  I was sick of being miserable.  I was tired of being burned out and ready to try something different.

Interestingly recently I have noticed two friends of mine who have physical issues.  They have tried some things to get well that haven’t worked–or haven’t worked as well as they wanted them to.  A new type of healing treatment has also recently come our way, but they are both skeptical and wary.  Why will this work when the others haven’t?  How much will it cost?  How much time will it take?  Will I have to go back or can they fix it with one visit? I want a guarantee or I don’t even want to try it.

In a way, it’s almost humorous (if they weren’t really in physical pain).

Twice in my life, if you don’t count all the physical things I’ve been through, have I tried one thing after another after another that seemingly “didn’t work.”  The first would be with my spiritual life.  I did a lot of things that were supposed to be Christian, and they ended up burning me out.  The good news is, I didn’t quit searching for the answer that turned out to be the Answer!  I kept trying, kept reading, kept searching until I found that treasure buried in the field.

The other challenge was with my son’s dyslexia.  When I found a program, I got it.  When that didn’t work, I tried physical cures.  When that didn’t work (and God showed up to show me how to help his little eyes), I tried that.  Had that not worked, I would still be trying something new.  Does everything work?  No.  But just because something didn’t work before doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try something new.

To me, that’s being good soil.  It doesn’t mean everything’s going to grow with no tending and no effort.  It means you are open and soft and receptive to what God is putting in your life.

As a sower, these types of people are often easier to deal with–though they will come with plenty of hidden rocks and thorn bushes as well.

So for today, resolve to be good soil.  Open yourself to the possibility of hope and the hope of love.  Experience the transformation that God can make in a life open to Him and His Word.  Plant a Jesus Seed.  Nurture it.  Take care of it.  Watch it grow and multiply in your life.  You will be glad you did!

*~*

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A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS

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Seed Story #4

July 23, 2012

by:  Staci Stallings

We’ve been talking about Jesus as the Seed in some of the stories in the Bible.  Right now, we are specifically focusing on the story of the seed that is scattered and lands in different places and the lessons this story gives us for we who are “sowers” of the seed.

Here is the story from Luke 8:4-15:

“He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “ He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “ To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

So far we have looked at the first seed scattered that landed on the road and the second that landed in the rocky soil.  Let’s look today at the third seed that landed among the thorns, and when it grew up, the thorns choked it out.

For parent-sowers, I think this one is incredibly important.  That whole “be careful of your friends for you will go the direction they do” is a direct reflection of this verse.  You see, some of the Jesus Seed here landed in good soil.  It was so good that it raised thorn bushes–weeds that grew with no tending at all.

Now I live in Texas where very few things will grow without tending them.  One of the things that will grow without tending is ironweeds (the things that turn into tumbleweeds!).  Ironweed seed must be indigenous to our soil or something because if you don’t plant something in a field, guess what?  You’ve got ironweeds.

Also, there’s a reason they call them “iron” weeds.

When I was young, we had pigs… and a lot of ironweeds.  One of my jobs on the farm was to go out and chop ironweeds every day to feed to the pigs.  I’m assuming the pigs ate them, but that wasn’t part of my job.  No, instead, I took a wagon about the size of a small wheelbarrow and I was to fill it with weeds.

Now finding the ironweeds was not a problem as they were EVERYWHERE.  If you didn’t drive there, walk there, or specifically plant something else there, the ironweeds would take over.

At first in the early Spring and Summer, they weren’t too hard to chop.  The stalks were relatively soft.  But, let me tell you, as the season went on, those things lived up to the name “iron.” I could chop, pull, push, chop, yank, pull, and they STILL wouldn’t come out!

So when I think of this verse, I always think of the ironweeds rather than thorns (as we didn’t have any of those).  But here’s the other thing about the ironweeds.  If you weren’t careful, they would take over something you wanted to grow in a heartbeat.  A vegetable garden?  Better pull those ironweeds when they are little.  Flowers?  Oh, yeah, in no time your little flower patch would be full of ironweeds.  Even fields of cotton.  If you’ve ever heard about people “chopping cotton,” you can pretty much guess that most of what they were chopping out was ironweeds.

In life, we have our own ironweeds.  They are those little shoots that we don’t even see half the time until they are so rooted in our soil, we can hardly pull them out.  Bad habits fall in this category.  Things like overeating and alcohol can too.  Maybe at first these don’t even seem like a problem, and then they start taking over.

From the sower’s perspective, much like the rocks, you are going to have to de-thorn the soil around your seeds.  Notice that thorns are different than rocks.  Rocks are inherent in the soil, but thorns “grow up” around the seeds in what is otherwise good soil.  These are things that “just happen” in life.  Maybe your seeds are doing really good–you’ve taken out the rocks of unforgiveness and anger, but then “life happens.”  You get busy.  You get tired.  You get stressed.

These are the weeds.

For kids (and us too), the weeds can be the influence of our friends.  “Why do you go to church?” “Stop being a goody-goody.”  “That’s so old-fashioned. Get with the times.”

These “weed” influences must be dealt with.  You can’t wish them away or hope them away.  They, like those old ironweeds on my parents’ farm, need to be pulled up, chopped down, and gotten rid of however you can.

What are some of your rocks?  What are some of your weeds?  And what are you doing about them with your Father’s help?

*~*

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Seed Story #3

July 19, 2012

By:  Staci Stallings

We’ve been taking a look at the Bible parable about the seeds scattered by the sower in light of understanding that Jesus Himself is the seed.

Last time we looked at the seed that was scattered on the hard road, how it got trampled and the birds ate it.  Remember as well how we said that in the story you are both the sower and you can be the receiver–the road or the other places we will talk about.

Let’s now continue with our discussion by first reviewing the Bible verses.

The story comes from Luke 8:4-15

“He spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled under foot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out. Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As He said these things, He would call out, “ He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

His disciples began questioning Him as to what this parable meant. 10 And He said, “ To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is in parables, so that seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand.

11 “Now the parable is this: the seed is the word of God. 12 Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved. 13 Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away. 14 The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. 15 But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.”

Let’s look at the second place the seeds can go when you scatter them.  We see this in verse 6:   “Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.”

From the sower’s perspective, I think this one is particularly interesting in light of how some Christians “spread the word.”  They take sharing their faith as a one-shot deal.  Think of a big revival in town.  The revivalist comes to town, jazzes everybody up, and then what?  He leaves.

Now there is a place for this jolt of excitement, but if all you get three nights of wonderful followed by weeks, months, or years of awful, how long are you going to stick with it?

Hebrews 3:13 says that we should “encourage each other daily.”  I think these two verses are linked from a sower’s perspective.  When you spread Jesus Seed, you can’t just toss it out there and let it fend for itself.  It must be tended!

Remember in our opening discussion how the farmer tended the field but hadn’t planted anything?  Well, this is the opposite problem–planting and not tending.

For example, how would this part of the parable have ended differently if it had gone:

Other seed fell on the rocky soil, but the sower took pains to clear the rocks away and make the soil suitable for the seed to grow.  The sower then watered and fertilized the seed… until it grew up strong and matured.

See, I think this is where our ministry breaks down oftentimes.  We scatter the seed–say we teach Sunday School.  But by the next year we have a whole new crop of kids, and we’ve forgotten the ones from last year’s names!  That is one of the lessons, I think, from this verse.

And let me tell you from experience, clearing those rocks out is not a fun nor a short process.  It takes getting down in the soil.  It takes listening and forgiving and wisdom.  It can take years.

I have two friends (okay, I have more than that, but these two are different).  I met them both about the same time.  Strangely, they both began to really latch onto God’s love for them (neither feeling guilty about it nor rejecting it) at about the same time–7 years into our relationships!  It took that long to clear their soil of the yuck and rocks of their pasts.  Being a sower means more than scattering some seeds.  It also means being and becoming a good farmer–with your Father’s help.

Rocky soil is also very different than the road.  Roads are hard.  Yes, they can be broken up and the hardness taken away, but it is much more difficult.  Rocks in our field might be holding unforgiveness toward another or toward ourselves, it might be stupid choices we have made that caused others pain, it might be trying to climb the wrong ladder thinking that will bring us success, it might be worldly living, or not living at all.  Rocks can be removed and they must be for the Jesus Seed to have a chance–both in the lives of others and in our own lives.

There is another verse in Job that talks about a tree planted in rocks.  As the rocks are removed, the tree falls because it was never forced to put its roots down deeply into the soil.  Same principle.  We have to let the Jesus Seed in our lives “get past the rocks.”  It must dig deeply into our soil and change us.

Or it will do as little good as that revival that is here and gone never to be seen again.

*~*

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