Saturday, October 2, 2010

Bread and Seed


Isaiah 55
8 "For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," says the Lord.
9 "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.
10 For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven, And do not return there, But water the earth, And make it bring forth and bud, That it may give seed to the sower And bread to the eater,
11 So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”

I have always been a “hands-on” kind of guy preferring action to mere words. Whenever possible I attempt to demonstrate a life truth instead of only talking about it. Both the administrative and the pastoral members of our church staff can attest to this. It seems I am always explaining something to them by drawing diagrams on the two, not one – but two, white marker boards in my office. This has been my life practice. My children used to say, and actually still do say, that if you ask me what time it is, I will build you a clock. As I said, I believe actions and demonstration speak louder than words.

Given to this theory, in the spring of 1982 I thought it would be a good time to teach my two young children, ages 4 ½ & 3 years old, a lesson about seeds. We had a disciplined habit of enjoying family bible studies in our home and since the Word of God had so much to say about sowing and reaping, seedtime and harvest, and the like, I wanted them to experience the process firsthand.

I asked one of the deacons in my church, Little Joe Kruse, to bring his tractor down to my place and plow me up a little garden. I was renting a house and 5 acres from Mr. Clarence Poer in Simms, Texas, where we had a peach orchard, golden delicious apple trees, 3 types of plum trees and a good bit of wild dew and black berries. We raised chickens, ducks, rabbits, calves, goats, donkeys and horses. We had a regular Old McDonald’s farm … why not enlarge our garden a bit.

It turned out that Little Joe had a bigger vision than I had imagined. He liked to pull pranks on the preacher, so when he came to plow me up a garden and found that I was not at home, he just picked out a place kept going and going and going until he had a 5 acre fenced off section of Mr. Poer’s pasture, which was not included in my rental agreement, all cultivated and ready to plant. Now listen, 5 acres is a pretty big spot. I really was not prepared for such a learning experience. It seems that my children were not the only ones who were going to get a “hands-on” education that year.

Well, I called Mr. Poer and made arrangements to give him $5 extra each month for the additional 5 acres and then went to town to buy seeds. I told Brenda and the children, along with everyone else in the church, that they could plant anything they wanted, but they had to take care of whatever they planted. This ended up being easier to say than to manage.

I explained to my children how important it was to get certified seeds whenever available. Certified seeds are guaranteed to produce. We all found some of our favorite foods to grow such as cucumbers, carrots, eggplant, okra, corn, black eyed peas, tomatoes, radishes, and all kinds of peppers. I also got some more interesting seeds to plant like watermelon, cantaloupe, peanuts, and I even found some popcorn seeds.

Several people from the church came out on a Saturday and we all planted the huge garden together. Everyone was so excited to think how much they would enjoy the fruit of their labor, and they were right … everyone would have enjoyed a harvest if only everyone would have worked.

As the weeks went along it soon became evident who was working their part of the garden and who wasn’t. It seemed that a few people had bigger dreams and more initial energy than they could sustain, especially when it got a little hotter outside. I too experienced some second guessing as to how much I really should have planted. However, once in the ground, these bountiful blessings of God deserved to be cared for and not wasted due to my laziness or other distractions.

Yep, we all learned a lot that year, my children, some folks in the church, and especially me. Through the years I have continued to treasure that summer in the garden as one of the best schools I ever attended. It taught me about ministry, it taught me about me, but most of all it taught me about seeds.

Seeds are opportunities waiting for someone to care. Every seed is designed by God who has written into its DNA a prerecorded message of success. Given the chance it will produce every time. Sure, it might take work, but the seed will work as hard as you do.

Seeds are opportunities …

When Jesus wanted to describe what the Kingdom of heaven was like He told His disciples 7 parables of the Kingdom as recorded in Matthew 13. The first 3 of these parables describing the Kingdom of Heaven are about parallel truths concerning seeds.

Matthew 13:1-23 The parable of the kingdom which likens it to 4 types of soil upon which the seed of God’s Word falls.
1. The Wayside
2. Stony Places
3. Among Thorns
4. Good Ground

Matthew 13:24-30 The parable of the kingdom likening it to a man who sowed good seed in his field only to realize that the enemy had come behind him and sown tares among the wheat.

Matthew 13:31-32 The parable likening the kingdom to a grain of mustard seed sown in a field which is the least of all seeds but ends up becoming a tree with large branches.

In each of these parables Jesus portrays seeds as opportunities for the one who is willing to be wise and work hard.

Two days ago I buried my mother.
Just before she passed away I spent a few days with her. Me, my brother and two sisters gathered around her bed and enjoyed the all too rare moments of us all being together in one place, reminiscing, catching up and as always, encouraging one another. We are all basically two years apart in age, me being the youngest. In all my life we have never had a substantial disagreement or experienced anything less than a healthy, mutually respect-filled relationship with each other. Our family was filled with love and we were expected to love one another, as modeled and monitored by our mother.

I sat by her bedside last Thursday and Friday, singing, praying, laughing and recalling so many of the wonderful moments we shared. She was unable to speak but listened tirelessly and seemed to understand every word. I thanked her for leading me to the Lord, and for teaching me about love, faith and patience. Late Friday night Brenda and I a little too tired to drive home and wanting to spend more time with my mom, decided to find a hotel room and get some sleep.

Now, like my mom was, I too am given to dreams – spiritual dreams, not the pizza dreams which make no sense and have no point. And, that Friday night I had a dream. In the dream my mother appeared to me and with her serious, yet caring look she said, “Son, I bought you a truckload of watermelons.”

I thought just a moment as I replayed what she had said in my mind: A truckload of watermelons. Then I looked back at her and she stretched out her hand and handed me one watermelon seed. When I took the seed from her fingers into mine it sparkled with a flicker of light. I looked back at her to see her smile with that glint of almost a wink in her eye like she always did when she knew I had heard what she was hoping to say. Then I woke up.

I got up to the news that my mom wasn’t expected to make it much longer and I headed back to her bedside. We all stood around her and I took her hand. She opened her eyes and looked at me and I told her, “Thanks for the watermelons mom.” She smiled at me before closing her eyes and drifting off to sleep.

I’m here to tell you: My mom bought me a truckload of watermelons. Sure it required work, but everything worth anything does. She paid a dear price for that seed. In fact, she gave her life to give me a chance in this life. It was just a chance, just an opportunity – but it was a certified seed – guaranteed to produce if only I would take the care of it.

I thank God for the opportunity my mom gave me and for the personal price she paid on my behalf. But, it pales in comparison to the price paid by Jesus who gave His life on the cross of Calvary for your sins and the sins of all mankind. Jesus has given you the greatest opportunity known to man, the chance to become a child of God and spend eternity with Him.

Salvation is free but the Kingdom of Heaven is like a seed … if you want all it offers, you may need to work on it. God is looking for someone who cares, someone who will work, someone who will take His Word into their life like a seed and work with it to produce a truckload of blessings, both bread and seed, for a world of sinners who are waiting on their chance of a lifetime.

Don’t miss your opportunity!

While you ponder this reality, let me give you four truths about seeds as I close:

Four Truths About Seeds
1. Where there is no seed there is no future.
2. Every seed has its season.
3. One man’s seed is another man’s bread.
4. Seeds won’t tend themselves.

Gardens take work … even the garden of the Lord – even the Garden of Eden. God put Adam and Eve in the garden to guard it and to tend it … you won’t get a better chance than that! Now, let’s go to work …