Dirty and dirtier

One seasonal task that my daughter and I enjoy doing near the end of summer is making our trademark herb vinegars.

There are important things to consider when working with fresh herbs. You don’t want to bruise the leaves while putting them into the jars. We always try for the best, most artistic composition of the herbs as we carefully place them down through the narrow bottle neck into the glass bottles. Continue reading “Dirty and dirtier”

Replowing the parable of the sower

When Jesus sketched out for the crowd the divergent destinies of seed sown by a farmer, his parable analyzed different responses to the message of the kingdom (Matthew 13:1-23).

Jesus’ story goes beyond being merely descriptive to also functioning as an alert against danger. Accordingly, further insight can be gleaned if we step into the typical thought processes behind the various behaviors Jesus described.

Consider the type of thoughts ricocheting around in the head of those who hear the message but do not embrace it. Perhaps she is highly educated and convinced in her own ability to accurately understand how life works. Upon hearing about a Creator sending his Son to die that he might rise from the dead creating a people for God and ruling over them, she thinks, “That’s just outdated superstition. I’m too sophisticated to fall for that!”

Maybe his life experiences had been rougher than normal. In a dog-eat-dog world, there seemed to be no place for justice or a God who loves him. With a wry smile he thought, “You expect me to believe in a God who loves me and cares for me? Where has he been?”

These are some of the ways the hard packed soil might think.

Those whose hearts represent good soil, even if raised in a secular home, are open-minded enough to consider, “I am going to check out whether or not God’s word is credible.” Having examined the evidence and finding the claims reasonable, this person reflects, “I need to respond to Jesus.”

How might the rocky soil think? As a new Christian she quickly discovered that her work environment not only frowned on Christians revealing their beliefs, the company promoted immoral lifestyles and her boss encouraged ethical practices contrary to her new life in Christ. She thought, “I had better tone down this Christianity thing or I will hurt my chances at career advancement.”

On the other hand, the good soil might muse in such an environment: “I am to be an influence for God’s kingdom in this potentially hostile world” or perhaps, “While I value career advancement, I measure success by how I am serving God.”

Thorny soil thinking seems to abound in America. Viewing the world as resting solely upon one’s own shoulders, this individual discovers in unemployment, credit card debt, or numerous other difficulties the opportunity to think, “I don’t have time to worship this week.”

Nevertheless, in the same situations the good soil remembers God’s promises of provision and care. Rather than withdrawing from God, the good soil ponders: “I will rely upon God’s promises.” “God will get me through this day by day.” “What matters most is that I remain faithful to God.”

Reflecting on some samples of divergent mindsets can provide us with a barometer for measuring our own hearts. With what type of soil does our thinking resonate? Who are we?