That’s the Way It’s Supposed to Be!

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Our church’s small sign at the corner of Highway 119 and Stilson Leefield Road was in sad shape. The paint was peeling terribly and even some of the wood had chipped away. It didn’t present a very inviting picture for folks looking for the church.

So, the sign company was called and scheduled to come get the sign and repair and paint it. Somewhere communication was mixed, and they not only removed the small sign and took it with them, but they also took a larger one that stands at the corner just up the road from the church.

As we remembered it, (since it was now gone) the larger one looked pretty good and there was some question whether we needed to spend the money to have it painted. But by the time that     conversation was held, it was too late. One of those “I thought you told them to take it. No, I figured you must have told them to take it” conversations.

The signs were fixed, painted and reinstalled. The small one in Stilson, as expected, looked fantastic. It had been obviously bad. And the bigger one near the church? It looked fantastic, too. My reaction was “Wow! It sure needed painting, too, but I didn’t notice! This is the way it’s supposed to look.”

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

We knew the piano needed tuning and mentioned it now and then when a note sounded a bit off. Even put it on the list to send an email and schedule the piano tech guy to come and tune it. But it didn’t seem that bad.

Eventually the tech guy was scheduled, and he came out and tuned the piano. I was messing around in the sound booth at the back of the sanctuary as he tinked high notes here and there on the keyboard, and poked low notes for about thirty minutes.

Then I heard him say to himself, “OK” and he strongly played and held a many-noted chord and let it resound throughout the sanctuary. The goosebumps formed on my neck and arms and I had to say “Wow! That’s the way it’s supposed to sound.” He simply replied, “that’s good” and   started packing up his stuff. It had been more in need of tuning than I thought.

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

Anytime I discuss having an asparagus garden in the backyard, I always get in the                description that when you cut some spears, take them inside, cook them and take a bite, the          reaction is “Wow, that’s the way it’s supposed to taste.” Canned or frozen asparagus isn’t close. Even what you get in the grocery store or from a produce stand isn’t the same.

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

The Book of Revelation includes a letter Jesus wrote to the church at Ephesus. He             commended the church for its diligence, labors, patience and holding to the truth. But, then in verse 2:4 Jesus says, “But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.”  With that statement we have to examine whether the “you” in his words is referring to “us.”

He then says for us to do what we used to do – love how we used to love. Get excited about Jesus and tell someone about Him. Get excited about our church and invite someone to come (or better yet, bring somebody with you.)  Go out of our way to find those in need and joyfully lend a helping hand, in Jesus’ name. And, as we love as we did at first, we will say:

“Wow, I remember! That’s the way it’s supposed to feel!”

We grow used to having things a bit less than they’re supposed to be.

Got Any Fallow Ground?

Break Up Fallow Ground

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.” Hosea 10:12
(For those unfamiliar with the term, fallow ground is ground that is left untended and unproductive. Breaking it up means plowing it to remove the weeds and get it ready for sowing seed and being  productive.)

Someone asked me the other day how my garden was going. I’m thinking they could have been referring to the theme I adopted for my retirement – “Break up Your Fallow Ground.” In the last couple of years, I’ve written and talked about my need to break up the fallow ground in my garden after a time of neglect.

I replied that I had thought long and hard about it but hadn’t made any progress. I told them I definitely decided I don’t need a big garden. When two tomato plants can supply all Sharon and I want for the summer, it’s hard to take the time and effort to plant and tend a row of them. Since Sharon no longer does any canning, you can apply that to most everything that would be grown in a big garden. But I still want to rebuild the raised beds, re-establish the cypress mulch paths, and grow a few things in part of the garden. So, maybe as the weather cools, I’ll make it out there to do some work.

But, I’ve discovered in the last couple of years that the most important “fallow ground” we need to break up isn’t “out there”, it’s within us. The Scripture above doesn’t say go out and plow up your backyard and plant a garden. It says that we should open our heart and renew our mind with the Word of God and that we should diligently pray. It says we should obey and follow Jesus (Love the Lord, Love your neighbor.) It says we should get rid of the weeds in our hearts and mind. As Hebrews 12:1 in  effect says ”lay aside every weight (distraction) and the sin that holds us back and run the race of life God has given us.”

I’m thankful the Lord has shown me areas of my “fallow ground” and helped me to start breaking some of them up. The largest chunk of rock-hard land he’s shown me concerns The Great Commission. Jesus commanded us to be witnesses and make disciples for Him. Yep, the dreaded “evangelism.” Our Bible Study class did a study on evangelism and it opened my eyes to what I was more or less ignoring. Other members of the class (and some not in the class) agreed they had, too.

But we’re working on that now. The word “evangel” means good news—the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s become clearer to me that while we should be ready to explain the basics of the Gospel (to evangelize) if opportunities arise, The Great Commission covers much more than that. It involves showing Christ in us to those around us. Telling of our relationship with Him—what He has done for us. It’s being part of the community and going out of our way to help others and to make friendships and build relationships, with believers and unbelievers alike, to open doors of opportunities to show and tell the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s inviting someone to Church or someone to return to Church. Or checking up on someone who’s been absent from Church. Etc. Etc.

So, if the Lord has used these words and His Scripture to reveal some of your fallow ground, pray hard, and get to work plowing it up! God will help as He promised.

A World of Choices

More Volunteer Flowers – thankfully, I was paying attention while cutting the grass in the “back forty” (OK, it’s only a “back one” but “back forty” sounds neater).
The other night my wife, Sharon, and I were talking about being blessed to be able to make choices. That’s deeper than you might think – start with the fact that you have a place to live and food on the table. That opens up a world of choices on what you plan to do today.
I thought about that when I realized the long list of blessings that together allowed me to be able to choose to leave these beauties alone.

Six Month Checkup

August vegetable garden

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you. Hosea 10:12 (Fallow ground – left uncultivated and unproductive)

“Hey, Bill— Didn’t you say six months ago that you were going to retire and break up your fallow ground? How’s it going on that?

Well, it depends. You can see from this photo from earlier this week, that the physical break up, rebuild, renovate of the vegetable garden’s fallow ground has stayed on hold through these six months. Now, it’s too hot these days to get started with a good spray of Roundup and have it be effective. (That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.) This garden hopefully, will rise to the top of the list in the Fall.

But, on the flower garden side of things, the Lord has blessed us with much beauty. Much fallow ground was broken up. I’ve posted a couple of photos on blog posts, and several more on Facebook. The one below is the view from our bedroom window.

On other things, I haven’t done as much writing as I had planned (but, I have done more than I was doing, so that’s progress.) My plans to spend more time with my guitar and banjo are still in their cases, so to speak—but they’re still on the list.

I’ve discovered that what happens to impede progress—is life. Like always, there are planned and unplanned things that come up that divert attention from the to-do list of items mentioned above. Also, now that I’m a bit older, I’ve discovered that just resting and staying out of the heat are needful, too.

But, the fallow ground in the above verse from Hosea isn’t referring to these physical things I’ve mentioned (although, I would hope writing and music could fit in with it). The verse is talking about the more important aspects of life—sowing righteousness, reaping love, and seeking the Lord. I’ve been working on those, too.

I won’t mention specifics. But, there have been successes and wonderful blessings (all by the grace of God), and utter failures of commission and omission (all by the humanity of Bill). I don’t plan to quit trying, but I do get discouraged at times. Then, the Lord sends me a message, like He did through our Pastor the other night. In His preface to our church conference, he talked a bit about Galatians 6:9—
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
So, with the Lord’s help, I won’t faint.

Bedroom window view

Reblog of The Comfort of a Garden

My reblog didn’t work apparently so I’ll do it this way. Christine Goodnough posted this poem on her Christine’s Collection blog. Good poem about the garden and how so many of us feel about it.

In The Garden

by Edgar Guest

I sometimes get weary of people
and weary of being polite;
I sometimes grow tired of the dull man,
and sometimes am bored by the bright.
And then when my nerves are a-tingle,
I walk in the yard that is ours,
And I thank the good Lord for the comfort
of songbirds and blue skies and flowers.

I never grow tired of the martens
which circle about overhead;
I never grow weary of robins —
there is nothing about them I dread.
I smile when I see them returning,
I sigh when at last they depart,
and perhaps it’s because they are never
vindictive or petty or smart.

And the trees don’t expect to be talked to.
I can lie there and dream in the shade
and not have to think up an answer
to some dreary question that’s made.
So I often slip into my garden
when I’m weary of hearing things said,
and thank the good Lord for my roses
and trees and the birds overhead.

From the book, Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful!

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – But be careful! (Facebook folks, click on the link to see the entire post)

wheat and tares phlox 2

Here’s some fallow ground that needed breaking up in late winter. Looks like I could just go in and turn over everything and get ready for Spring. But if you look closely you see some things that aren’t weeds. So I had to be careful breaking  up this fallow ground.

This reminded me of Jesus’ Kingdom parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24-30). There was a field a man planted with good seed (wheat) and at night an enemy came and planted bad seed (tares) in the field. When the field hands saw it (later, when both had grown enough to recognize) they asked the owner if he wanted them to pull the tares up. The owner’s reply was to wait, since pulling up the tares may also pull up the wheat.

While, I had to be careful what to pull up, and pulling some of the weeds actually unrooted a good plant, it was clear enough I could pull the weeds and leave the plants. I’ll leave it to you to study more on Jesus’ parable since it goes deeper than good plants and bad plants. But, I’ll leave a warning that we be careful when breaking up fallow ground – whether physical, spiritual, or relationships. Be sure to look closely for the good and not take it away with the bad.

It’s summer now, and here are the white phlox that were hiding in the weeds.

Phlox in bloom

Break Up Your Fallow Ground – Sometimes it’s OK

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(Fallow Ground – untended and unfruitful)
These Easter Lilies, planted last year, didn’t even get fertilizer this season, but they apparently didn’t mind. Sometimes things go well in spite of our neglect. But, we can’t take that for granted!
Hosea 10:12 needs to be in our mind all the time. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy, break up your fallow ground; For it is time to seek the Lord til he comes and rains righteousness upon you.”