- Movies That Cook
- Things for Your Kitchen
- Walk to Emmaus- Luke
- The Unknown God- Acts 17
- Prayer for the Church
- Charlotte/ Acts 8:26-40
- Jacob/Prodigal Son
- Jacob/Romans 8
- Jacob Wrestling and Blessing
- Jacob learning to live with a limp
- FTF Timothy
- The Field is Ready, Genesis/Romans
- romans 8
- Philippians 2:1-13
- Ruth Dinsmore- Acts
- Philippians 3: 5-14
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- 1 Thessalonians 2: 1-8
- 1 Thessalonians 2:9-20
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-19
- 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
- New Page
- Advent 1 Isaiah 64
- Advent 3 Isaiah 61
- Christmas Eve Isaiah 9: 1-7
- Baptism of Jesus Mark 1
- Mark 1: 14-20
- Breathe: Mark 1:21-28
- Backyard Basics 4: Belong
- Ash Wednesday
- Backyard Basics 5/Blessings 1
- Backyard Blessings 2: Generations- Genesis 17
- Backyard Bless 3-CreationPsalm 19
- Backyard Blessings 4: Healing Ps 107
- Backyard Blessings 5: Love-Jeremiah 31
- Easter Blooms John 20:1-18
- Backyard Blooms: Luke 24:36-48
- Vines- John 15: 1-8
- John 15:9-15 Blessings: Friends
- Bkyd Blooming: COnfidence- Acts 1
- Backyard Breeze! Acts 2
- Bkyrd Breezes:Isaiah 6/Romans 8
- Bkyrd Brz: 1 Samuel 3/2 Cor
- Mustard Seed Annointing
- Bkyrd Breezes: Courage
- Mark 6:1-13, Romans 12 Bkrd Breezes: Wisdom
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding-Core- Ephesians 2
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding- Cardio- Ephes 3
- Backyard Bodybuilding: Legs, Back, Chest, Arms!
- Bkyrd Bodybuilding- Nutrition-Ep 4
- Mark 10:35-45
- Mark 8:27-38
- Mark 9:30-37 Bkyrd Stmbling:Pride
- Bkyrd Stumbling Blocks: Patriarchy
- Mark 4 Combined Service
- Mark 12: 28-34 Backyard Bounty: Love
- Backyard Bounty: Value
- Backyard Bounty: Encouragement Mark 13:1-8
- Backyard Bounty: Abundance!
- Backyard Birthing: Speak- Advent 3
- Backyard Birthing: Sing! Luke 1:39-46
- Christmas Eve- Ressurection
- Luke 2: 21-40 A Once Over
- Epiphany- Matthew- Star of Wonder
- Beyond the Backyard: The Call-
- Beyond the Backyard: The Message- Luke 4
- Beyond the Backyard: Words Matter- Jeremiah 1:4-19
- Beyond the Backyard:
- Beyond the Backyard: Compassion
- Beatitudes: Imagine 1
- Imagine: Beatitudes- Meekness
- Imagine Beatitudes: No countries: Hungry, Thirsty, Filled
- Imagine Luke 15
- Easter Sermon: Mary- Through our Tears
- Imagine: Beatitudes- Mercy and Pure Heart
- Imagine Beatitudes: Peacemakers
- Imaging: Beatitudes- Persecution/Rejoice!
- New Page
- Say yes! (Fig Tree/Potter/Ps139)
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17 Things we leave behind
- Say Yes: What we Bring- Luke 14
- Luke16- Lazarus and the Rich Man
- Luke 17:1-10- increase our faith
- Luke 18- Widows, Judges, Labels and MIrrors
- Pharisee, Tax Collector, Mirrors, and Prayer
- Luke 19:1-10 -Zacchaeus
- Luke 20:27-38 Seeing Scripture Differently
- Seeing church differently Luke 21:5-19
- John 6- Obstacles:Seeing community differently
- Compassion Advent 2
- Advent 3 Compassion 3 Mary
- Advent 4: Compassion/Joseph Mt 1
- The Nice List- Christmas Eve
- Baptism of Jesus-Matthew
- No Matter What: 1. Abraham
- No Matter What: Jacob
- No Matter What: Jacob/Tamar
- No Matter What: Rahab
- No Matter What: David
- On the Road Again: Into the Unknown
- On the Road: Nicodemus
- Woman at the Well COVID-19
- On the Road Again: Man Born Blind
- On The Road Again: The Rest of Us
- Easter: Up and On the Move-Mt. 28
- Risen? Or Fake News? Mt. 28: 11-20
- How the Virus Stole Easter
- Emmaus, On the Road...Again?
- Interruptions and Upheavals 2: Acts 2
- John 14:1-14, 1 Peter 2:2-10
- Acts 17:22-31 Interruptions and Upheavals 4
- Know, Share, Go... Together- John 17
- Acts 2: For Such a Time as This
- Christ In Us: A Living Sanctuary Matthew 10
- Christ in Us: Listening to YHWH
- Christ in Us: Love Anyway
- Christ in Us: Abundance
- Christ in Us: Abundance- Matthew Sower/Romans 8
- Christ in Us: Acceptance
- Christ in Us: Gratitude
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”... 18“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”
There is no longer any condemnation, however, for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit—the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus—has freed you from the law of sin and death. What the Law was powerless to do because human nature made it so weak, God did—by sending the Only Begotten in the likeness of sinful flesh as a sin offering, thereby condemning sin in the flesh. In this way,the just demands of the Law could be fulfilled in us, who live not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. Those who live according to the flesh have their mind set on the things of the flesh; those who live by the Spirit, on things of the Spirit. The mind of the flesh is death, but that of the Spirit is life and peace. The mind of the flesh stands in opposition to God; it is not subject to God’s law—indeed, it cannot be, since those who are in the flesh cannot please God. But you are not in the flesh; you are in the Spirit, since the Spirit of God dwells in you.
Here is the way I learned to sum up this parable:
A Sower goes out to sow seeds, and some seeds fall on the path, and some on the rocks, and some in the weeds, and some in good soil- and the good soil is the only place in which the seed takes root and grows and bears fruit.
And when Jesus interprets some verses later… the seed is the word of God, and the different types of soil are different types of people… and as the seed- the word- is sown, some of it falls on ones who don’t get it- (path people) and some on the shallow who want instant gratification, (rock people) and some on people who can’t get past the lure of money and material things (weed people) And finally, there is some that falls on people who are somehow able to internalize the word and live it out… and these ‘good soil’ people are the ones who bear fruit.
OK- so what’s left to talk about? Because when we hear about all the different types of soil that there are for the seed to fall on… I know which kind of soil I want to be… who is with me… who wants to be the good soil?
Of course! We all want to be the good soil. I want to be fertile ground- I want to hear and understand and internalize God’s word and let it take root my being so that I can live out my Christian walk as a blessing- bearing bushels of fruit wherever I go… and if God would allow it- even bearing fruit in every season, depending on my gifts of course.
That’s it baby! Good soil! And God will be so proud of me- and I’ll feel so good about myself and my willingness to be fertilized and cultivated and even pruned… I’m tough... I'm from Jersey! I can take a little pruning… it’s the fruit that’s important… lots and lots of fruit!
But you know... when I stop there, when I keep only to that interpretation- when I put myself in that mindset of ‘good soil’, or at least working toward being the good soil… the ideal Christian… I set myself up. I find myself constantly examining myself with my own homemade soil analyzer- checking to see if I am rock and weed free… in other words, judging myself as to whether I’m good enough, or doing enough, or bearing enough fruit, or at the very least that I am always in some stage of fruit production.
Of course, I need something to judge myself against… something I can compare my production level too! Good thing God provided all these other people! Because I need to know where I stand when it comes to fruit bearing… and soil health. So… as I leisurely walk down the path- (probably packing down my neighbor's soil in the process… I start looking at the folks next to me in the vineyard… I take my own inventory of rocks vs. radishes and it doesn’t take me long to determine approximately where I stand.
And man, most of us have gotten good at it! We can size up a neighbors soil in seconds, sometimes we don't even have to think about it- like we've got built in automatic soil analyzer kits, so instantly, even at first sight, we can categorize our contacts, and classify whole communities- amazing really- the ability to pick out those like us, and those, not like us- black and white really- look, there's a them, and a them, and a them…
And I don't think I need to spell out for you who the "them's" are in our lives- each of us have our own list... and for good reason, Pastor- we don't want to be like "them" do we? And good soil- well, it needs to stay good- I don't want any rocks or thorns or weeds in my dirt- obviously there is something wrong with the rock, thorn and weed people-
Production vs. Grace
After all, 'You will know a tree by its fruit.' Aren’t we supposed to examine ourselves and work to make ourselves better servants of God? Aren’t we supposed to be working out our salvation with fear and trembling? Trying to clear our fields of rocks and weeds and thorns to get to the good soil?
Absolutely. But when we begin to judge ourselves on the basis of how good the soil is on our little plot of land, as opposed to someone else's plot of land- when we fall into the trap of determining our own value and others value instead of letting God tell us our value, we set ourselves up to believe that God accepts us based on what we do…instead of who we are.
And further, when we set up a mindset of product, or works, or the attainment of the ideal, we discount the power of the Holy Spirit! We water the Spirit down into something measurable by our standards- into something that we can see with human eyes. We fail to take into account the power of the sower!
We haven’t talked much about the sower. But the truth is that it’s the sower who is the main character of this story.
A Sower went to sow some seed… this week I sowed some grass seed- I will tell you it is a messy business- I'm taking fists full of this stuff and it went everywhere... I couldnt keep it contained in my hands, it was fallling through my fingers and dropping on the sidewalk, and into the street and on the weeds and on the deck. When I finally started getting the hang of it a wind came and blew half of it into my neighbors yard. It went everywhere.
If there is an ideal in this story that I want to model, it’s not the soil, the Sower! The sower sows everywhere- on all kid of soil- on rocks and weeds and thorns and the sower kept throwing it out there- fists full falling through her fingers sowing- I want to share the love of God so lavishly and abundantly with others that I am not for a minute concerned where it lands.
That I don’t take out my ‘soil test kit’ before I give- to see if someone may be hardened, or if what I share might be snatched away by birds, or whether there might be rocks or thorns or whatever… I don't want to be worried about my investment, or whether there will be a good return on my time, or whether or not there will be a success story at the end... that I might continue to spread the word and share the love of Christ everywhere I go with whomever I meet regardless of what I might think of "them," knowing that there is so much grace out there that it covers all things and all people… that pouring out fistfuls of God’s love is never a waste, and never wasted, ever. In the words of the Lord from Isaiah, my word will not return to me empty- God know exactly where every seed goes, germinates and waters and nurtures and provides- even when we can't see it... I kind of like the fact that seed gets scattered around and taken to places and people I cant see, but God knows, praise God!
And if you'll go one step further, this is exactly the seed that God has sown in us that we have to share with others. Grace and love that never runs out! We can adopt a theology of abundant giving because we are created by an abundant giver!
OK, but then what did Jesus mean about the soil that rejected the seed? What about those who were too hard, or shallow or tempted by other things? Well, the only thing I can say to that is praise God there was seed sown there too. Because here’s what I know… that there are times on any given day when I make myself as resistant as the path… I don’t care if the birds come or not, because I don’t want to look at any more seed. And there are times in my life when I want my own way… instant gratification… and I take it, and the seed that fell on me that day didn’t have a chance. And there are days in my life that the temptations of materialism or just plain laziness in front of a wide-screen get in the way of any kind of discipleship I could have done…
But Hallelujah! The sower keeps sowing seed. Despite my rejection, despite my hardheartedness… despite whether I allow myself to be good soil or whether I put the thorns out… despite what I think of myself or anyone else… the seeds keep coming... in the words of Paul- there is now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ- we are acceptable in whatever state our soiled soul may be in... God continually pursues… God continually plants… God continually loves…
It's what Jesus modeled for us from the cross… even when everyone had turned away, even when Jesus was completely rejected... the seeds kept coming, in fact they fell like rain… and not one seed has returned to God empty...
Whatever your soil, whatever your journey, Keep sowing… keep encouraging one another to sow… keep receiving fistful of seeds from the sower in abundance... and let grace fall on you from through the fingers of the one who sows in love.