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Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Sower?

There was a land-owner who owned the land as far as the eye can see, no matter where you went. He gave his servant a large, abundantly full sack of seed, and told him to go out and sow it.

The servant took the large, abundantly full sack of seed and went out-into the back yard. Although the master owned the land as far as the eye can see, the servant had come to think of the back yard as his own.

He set the large, abundantly full sack of seed down and dug up a plot of ground. He made it square, about 10 by 10, just right. He dug up the soil and removed the sod. He tilled and added mulch and manure until the organic content was just right. He worked the soil until it was a pleasure to turn. Then he smoothed it all out, just right. Finally, he made rows, straight and even. Each row was 12 inches from the last one, so he would have room to go between and pull weeds as the plants grew. He stepped back and surveyed his work with satisfaction.

At last he turned around and opened the large, abundantly full sack of seed. He reached in with his left hand and pulled out a handfull of seed and went to the first row. He planted 2-3 seeds per inch all along the row, covering the seed with the rich soil and tamping it down as he went. When he finished with the first row, he went on to the next and planted in the same way. He worked diligently in this manner, row after row, returning to the large, abundantly full sack of seed when his hand became empty.

When all ten rows were properly sown, he closed the large, still abundantly full sack of seed, and stepped back. He surveyed his work with great satisfaction.

He noticed that the sky was clear so he watered the plot. As the days and weeks went by he watered the plot, aerated the soil, weeded the rows, and surveyed his work with great satisfaction.

He put up a scarecrow to keep the birds away from the seed. He built a fence around to keep rabbits from eating the young plants. He even cut down a nearby tree because he noticed that it shaded his plot from the sun in the early afternoon.

As the weeks went by some of the seed rotted because of mildew or fungus in the soil. Some were left exposed by the rain or watering hose and were eaten by birds who were not fooled by the scarecrow. Some grew, but maybe their roots found the rocks that the servant had missed, or they were crowded by a weed that sprang up as quickly as they did; and they remained small and weak, and were scorched by the sun in the early afternoons. Some of the seed grew, strong and straight. These plants produced much fruit --40, 60, 100 times the little that was sown.

"This is what was written: The Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance and forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:46&47)


"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)


The Apostles respond in obedience, even when persecuted:

"The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been counted worthy of suffering digrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:41-42)

6 comments:

Hind's Feet said...

I have been pondering this since Wednesday night.

Here is my thought, and guess what, it comes from our study.

BEFORE God's chosen people could reach to those around them, they had to do the FIRST thing God told them, which was to build the walls. If you look at the very next study lesson I think you may see what the pastors were trying to say.

Nehemiah knew first he had to build the walls for the people. Once the walls were built the people could use the wall.
#1 people for the wall
#2 wall for the people

I forget, more often than I wish to confess, that God has a perfect order and I am not the director of that order. I do often question those in leadership. Mostly I question them in my head or to my husband. Occasionally I ask them face to face. I may disagree for a while, but then God shows me a truth. This does not mean they are always correct, but very often they are.

The question you were concerned about I think begins here. First we build the "walls" for our church. This does not mean JUST the physical walls, but also the spiritual walls. Once the walls are built we then have a place of "safety" --in our day and age not necessarily a place to hide from physical attack, but definitely a place to count as home and haven from spiritual attack. Also, there is no reason that the church (people not building) can't just go out and evnangelize on their own.

The church is a body and each part has its appointed task. Feet can't be hands, eyes can't be tongues. We each will have a place.

I remember for a long while Michal was our outreach. She spent a lot of time among people with whom most of us would not even go near, let alone strike up a conversation. She brought people to church and at least introduced them to the ideas of Christ as Savior, God as Father, the Holy Spirit as our helper.

I hope this is on track. I think this may have had to do with the quesiton asked at the meeting, hence this HUGE long answer.

Then again, I may be all wet.
In the meantime, I can't put Nehemiah out of my mind. What a great book! More importantly, what an awesome God!

Rachel Pierson said...

I don't think you're all wet, just a little. I don't want to be grumbling against the leadership of this church, but to influence the people that I have personal contact with to care that others around them are perishing; to see that they are commanded to. (If I am grumbling, please talk to me. This whole thing about seeking out elders and stuff is new to me, and I haven't got a handle on it.) I am not trying to influence church policy; I cannot fathom that non-evangelism would be a church policy, I'm sure they didn't mean that.

I think we can use the analogy of Nehemiah, or abuse it. God wanted the walls of Jerusalem rebuilt. He had judged Israel, and planned to restore her in order to have everything in place when the Messiah came. This does have lessons for us today, but some of the lessons we want to squeeze out of this turnip don't apply.

The apostles and early Christians gathered together for all the reasons we gather together, but the safety of the place did not superseed the spreading of the gospel, I don't think...and we are certainly not worried about the dangers first century Christians must have considered, before casting them at Jesus' feet.

In point of fact, the question of the building program is not an issue in this discussion. Isreal was a chosen people and they were primarily geneticly grown. Although some peole di join them, they were not commanded to gather outsiders in, but to separate themselves. The new Covenant Church is not genetic. By Jesus command, we are to reach out to others. Are we as a church going to be an evangelizing people? Do we have a heart for the lost? Do we care? Do we have that choice?

Jesus said to go into all the world preaching the gospel to all nations and making disciples.

In the real parable of the sower, the sower broadcast the seed, without regard for rows and such. Looking at that picture, we should be abundantly generous with our witness of Christ's good news, trusting God to grow the faith.

You think I am bold, and laugh at me when I say that I am timid. That is because you only hear me speaking (spreading seed) in my own garden. That plot of ground can be the church or our own families. For me it is the church. I can speak boldly amoung brothers and sisters, because I know that we have a basis of agreement. However, speaking at work or to my family is different.

How will they believe without hearing? How will they hear without a preacher?

Faith is not of ourselves, but a gift of God. God has predestined us to the likeness of His Son. (Ephessians) If he has predestined that neighbor, that person you are always running into at the market, that co-worker and you speak not (see Ezekiel 3), then he will accomplish His will by some other means, but who knows but that He has brought you to this place for this express purpose? (Esther)

In Acts 5:41 and on, the apostles had just left prison, and a beating for preaching the gospel and they didn't run for shelter or wait for a building to be built to go to the temple and from house to house to preach some more.

Later in Acts, (chapter 7 I think) Stephen was killed for proclaiming the truth about Jesus. This began a persecusion that drove the Christians out of Jerusalem. Jesus had told them to be His witness in Jerusalem , Judea, Samaria and the uttermost parts of the world, but we do are loathe to move unless we have to. Persecusion has always been a means of getting Christians out of their comfort zones and on the mountains with the good news. How beautiful on the mountains are the feet that bring good news.

Yes, some of us are feet and some of us are hands and some of us are mouthy, but we as a body need to be about our Father's business.

Hind's Feet said...

Okey dokey. Good points. My point was, their answer did tie in with the building program.

Because, we at this time are building our church we have limited finances. We have to choose how to spend. So, what I think they were saying was, "We are not working on a specific evangelism program, but rather hope to see the congregation work on that on their own." In other words, money is being used, FOR NOW, to support our staff and pay for the building and present programs. Financially they are not going to begin a "new program" . Does that make sense?

Yes, we do NOT need the saftey of walls in a physical sense, however I do believe that our walls can help us to feel secure knowing we have a "home" to retreat to where we can regroup and meet with likeminded people. Kind of like small groups as well...

Anyway, keep conversing. I am learning. Thanks!

Rachel Pierson said...

I wasn't talking about programs or money.

More later.

Hind's Feet said...

I think I got mixed up. When the answer was given on Sunday I thought it was linked to limited finances, hence my answer above. I never believed that our leaders did not want evangelism to happen, they just believe that we should be the hands, feet and mouth in this area.

Perahps it was that the question was not understood. Was the question, "do you see this happening and how?" Or, was the question "are we as a church doing something and what?" See the difference? Depending on which question was in actuality asked AND if that is what this is about, then my answer would apply. But, what I am beginning to see is that this is a general concern you have for all believers, yourself included, that we spread the gospel. So, I think what has happened is I have been talking at cross purposes. I was answering a question that wasn't asked.

How about we chalk it up to "lame brain?" Okay, yeah, that's it. I got lost somewhere and my brain stayed behind when I went home. Or, as David likes to say now and again, I have a large gaping rip in my marble bag. i.e. I have lost my marbles!

And, just for clarity, it is not that I distrust the leaders, it is just that when I have a concern or "don't get it" I go to someone and ask that way I do not let things build in my heart that do not belong there, I hope. So, for me I talk to David and Carole and seek their wisdom. It's not like I am going around bashing the church. Which, when I reread my statement sounded like what I was saying.

From past experience I have learned: 1. go to the source to find the answer, 2. don't spread it around if it isn't yours, and 3. more often than not I am mixed up. So, there we are back to my original premise of "lost my marbles."

Okay, sorry again for my lack of understanding.

Rachel Pierson said...

This is a common problem I think with blogging. So much of communication is lost in this form, so I need to keep that in mind and make myself more clear.

You have been incredibly gracious to me, Kim. I am sorry if I have been too radical or harsh. I'm still working on that Gentle and quiet spirit. :c)

I think my mind-set may have been influenced by a link suggested to me on another blog. It was supposed to straighten me out on another issue, but it was eye-popping if I understood the implications correctly: http://www.faithtacoma.org/covenant2.htm. I admit, I didn't spend much time there, but it
seemed like they were giving up totally on the lost world and were just
going to settle in, shut their doors and procreate. This is probably
what came to my mind when I thought I heard the question of whether or
not we would be an evangelizing church. Quite frankly, I was afraid we
were thinking of giving up on the lost and were going to settle in,
shut our doors and intellectualize.

I should have known better:
I hear Tim clearly and strongly challenging us to be sowing the seed Sunday after Sunday. I would therefore be shocked to be completely confident that our church were condoning or encouraging non-evangilism.

I actually didn't want to focus so much on that statement, because it may have been taken out of context. I wanted to focus instead on what Jesus said and on our natural tendencies.

I think our natural tendency is to tend our garden and I just wanted to challenge this little group and whoever stopped by to be watching for and even praying for opportunities to share the Word of God with those who don't know Him. I think your answer applies, and very well, I just think that we don't have to say "let's get together and protect ourselves" because that is what we want; it feels good. I think we do have to tell people, like me, to get out of their (my) own back yard and talk to people about things that matter, because that doesn't feel good. That's scarey!

Rather than programs or money, I was talking about having a heart for the lost. I was talking about
being generous with the Word of God as a flock and as an individual.

If you look at a forest, although there may be various trees within it,
you can charactorize the forest itself. It might be deciduous or
...well, you know what I mean, right? Groups of people are the same
way. IU may be characterized as a party school, even though many of
it's students and faculty are not of that type. New York City seems to
have a generalized characterization that is distinct from Chicago or
Omaha.

When my company holds a real estate class here in our Bloomington facility, I
have noticed that some classes are serious, some are light-hearted,
some are rude or considerate. Sometimes, someone will not pass a class
and they have to retake it. That person's behaviour sometimes will be
affected by the different character of the different class he is in.

Churches have distinguishing characteristics as well. I want our church to have the theology right, and have a heart for the lost. I want our flock to be full of sheep who have followed their shepherd in lighting themselves on fire for Jesus! Like Pastor Tim said, "It ain't no big deal."

I want to encourage people to be individuals within this flock who go to the lost with the only message of hope and salvation, thus giving this flock the reputation of being goers and doers.

I want you to know that you made some awesome points. I need to guard my heart against grumbling. It did not sound like you go around bashing at all. It sounded like you, if you have questions, go home and ask your husband, and seek wisdom from elders. It sounded like a good and timely warning to me, and I thank you for it. I look to you for an example of someone who is willing to humble herself to ask another human being for help, strength, correction, and wisdom. I'm a do-it-yourselfer and I get it from my Dad. I am trying to fight against this tendency and become part of the flock.

Love,
Rachel