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Bits of Art
Wednesday, July 16, 2014 • Posted July 18, 2014

“In a bulb, there is a flower, in the seed, an apple tree,…”

Happy birthday today, July 16th, to Karen Toone on July16th and happy birthday to Caroline Jordan on July 17th. And happy birthday to Lori Slocum on July 20th. It is time for a large and joyful celebration.

Remember that Vacation Bible School starts on Monday, July 28th and ends on Friday. Tyra Jordan is collecting money to purchase food and snacks for the children and workers.

Our expressions of sympathy are extended to the family of Steve Jordan who was buried on Monday.

Prayers are needed for Etta Marie Mutschink, Dick and Dorris Ann Pierson, Aaron Hughes, Dena Anderson, Israel, the Christians in Syria, and the humanitarian crisis in South Texas.

Rev. Alsbrooks’ message was titled “Seeds are Really Miraculous”. Stephen Mutschink read the scripture from Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 about the sowers of the seed.

The following words are the inspiring words of Pastor John.

The parable of the Sower teaches us that Jesus throws good seed everywhere, knowing that most of it is going to be destroyed. And, as fowowers of Jesus, we should be doing ministry and missions in the very same way. Perhaps “the same careless abandon should characterize the church’s ministry,” suggests Donald Juel; “speaking gracious words without carefully calculating the potential for success.” This means welcoming oothers as Jesus has welcomed us, and oreaching a message of unconditional love and unlimited grace. After all, Jesus calls us to be faithful to Him and to the kingdom of God.

But there is more to this parable. Whe Jesus explains the meaning of the story to His disciples, the focus suddently shifts from the Sower to the Soil. In fact, you could even call it “The Parable of the Four Kinds of Soil.” Each soil represents a different spiritual deficiency that that keeps the Word of God from growing in the hearts of the bearer.

Some of the seeds fall upon well-trodden paths that have become hardened, so that the seeds can’t sink in. These bearers have hardened their hearts to being able to hear the Gospel. Maybe they are angry about something that has happened in their life in the past, or they are angry at God or someone at the church, or they carry resentment about something that they haven’t been able to resolve. Or maybe they are just so tired that all they can do when they go to church on Sunday morning is shut down. The seed of the Gospel falls on them, but their hearts are not open to hearing what is being said.

The poor condition of their spiritual selves blinds them to being able to see the joy of Christ living in people, and it blocks their ears from being able to hear the good news. They see only what they want to see, and they shut down their ears before they walk in the door. They come in expecting to get nothing. And so, that’s what they get. The seeds that are being offered can’t penetrate the hardened surface of their hearts, and so those seed just lay there until some hungry scavenger comes along and steals them away.

Other seeds fall on soil like the deserts of the southwest or Palestine, soil that is shallow, with too many rocks in it. This kind of soil represents people who are excited when they first come to hear the word, but then they don’t really do anything more to till and nourish the soil of their hearts. They just expect to keep feeling excited over and over. And so, week after week, when they come back, the seeds of God’s word fall upon hearts with no deep foundation in which faith may grow. And you know what happens? Their faith dies at the first sign of trouble.

A third group of seeds falls among thorns and weeds – false teachings and interpretations that choke out the fullness and truth of the Gospel message. Weeds and thorns are things like the very popular prosperity interpretation of the scriptures that is being spread around the globe right now, where only Scriptures that teach a certain message that people love to hear are preached. Over time, the fullness of Jesus’ teachings becomes choked out by a singular angle on the faith that is very well received.

There is a fourth kind of soil that Jesus mentions. It is the soil of the hearts that are ready to welcome the seed and who will nourish it in the depths of their soils, eventually producing a harvest of thirty, or sixty, or even a hundredfold. These are the hearts that have been carefully nourished and tilled and prepared to receive the Word, and who not only receive it, but allow I to grow in every aspect of their lives, from the inner workings of their spirit to the very movements of their bodies. These are the hearts of the disciples.

So, the question for us who are hearing the Word today is this: How can this idea of preparing the soil for planting be likened to the cultivation of our hearts for the reception of the Gospel? In other words, how can we have hearts of disciples? What do we need to do to nourish and prepare our hearts so that when the seeds of God’s Word fall on us they will take root and row? How do we fertilize our soil?

The answer is not simple, but not easy to do: Find a good recipe dirt, make sure there is an ample water supply and plenty of sunshine, keep out the weeds, and make sure to provide some time for the fields to lie fallow on a regular schedule.

For Methodist, these are the ingredients for a heart of disciples: a means of grace, spiritual disciples. Prayer, Bible Study, Receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion, Fasting, Christian community and service.

Take these five items in equal parts, add a dose of sunshine, water the good soil. The seeds will be planted by spiritual disciples. Hoe the weeds and pray for rain.

From the past will come the future, what it holds, a mystery,

Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

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