Watching the Herd Run

What is fashionable draws people. We all want to be considered, “chic,” or hep to what’s “in.” Our apparel, the way we talk, the way we wear our hair, are all important to our attraction to others. That’s only true for you and I if we care what others think about us.
There are those who don’t care anything about others opinion of themselves and it shows in their lifestyles and appearance. And there are some who are oblivious about their looks, or their manner in the presence of others. All of these factors are okay, for the most part. These differences are what make our world tolerable to dwell in. It would be a dull place if we all thought, acted, and looked alike.
I have noticed a disturbing trend in our places of worship. It appears that we have come to the conclusion that we must take measures to be sure everyone is comfortable, and attend services regularly. We want growth, and having new ideas seem to draw the masses. Copying the success of others is okay, but there is a missing element, uniqueness. Today we have coffee, snacks, libraries, worship teams, and nurseries. We have home groups, special ministries, and a staff that pastors each special group. I don’t think any of these are bad, many are good and create fellowship, and that is pleasing to God. Churches really need change from the mundane or boring norms and expected.
But where has the uniqueness gone to? Furthermore, where is the electricity of restoration? I have memories from childhood that are engraved on my heart. I remember the churches we attended having a “revival” that were scheduled for a week or two, but lasted for a month or longer. I remember mom and dad taking us to people’s homes after church, and all of us kids playing in the basement of the friend’s home, and when I went upstairs for what ever reason, seeing my parents, my aunt and uncle, and the friends, all on their knees crying out to God. They were hungry for God’s presence. That may be foreign to you. You may think that people were dogmatic, or overly religious, but they got what they prayed for. God’s presence was real to them…and to me too. It was only my desire to run with the “herd,” that took my heart and mind away from that real hunger to know God’s reality. I chose to try for man’s acceptance rather than God’s.
“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found by you, says the Lord”… Jer. 29:13,14a               
“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so pants my soul for you O God.” Ps.42:1 (NKJV)
Charles Finney was a revivalist a couple of centuries ago. When he went into a city to hold a revival, entire villages came to Christ. Back in the 1800’s, if a circus came to town, everyone attended, this was a major event. People didn’t have the daily distraction of things to do we have today so a circus was highly anticipated. A circus came to a city where Finney was holding services. After a couple of days, they took their tents down and moved on…nobody attended. The people didn’t care about the circus, they were hungry for God’s presence. Isn’t that unique?
A key to Finney’s success was a man named “Father” Nash. He would arrive at the city Finney was heading to a couple of weeks early, and intercede in prayer for that community. The whole community converted, bars closed down, churches ignored their doctrinal differences, and God arrived in power.
We cannot discount the need of unity wrought by prayer for our communities and nation. Our lack of prayer for the nation and it’s people, have led us into a state of apathy in regard to spirituality, and we have replaced our desire for God’s powerful presence for the acceptance of everyone, especially the secularist and it’s “herd” worldview.
We can run with the “herd” if we want. We may drawl crowds with programs and people will come to be a part , and some will even come to accept Christ. But if we’re really wanting to see a real drawl, let’s repent for trying to be the Holy Spirit and drawl the crowd. Let’s repent for living and talking like the herd. Let’s determine to see God return to our churches and return Sunday Schools that teach kids about God, and ground them in biblical precepts. Let’s be seriously concerned for the lost, our neighbors, the elderly, and orphans. If we do, prayer will return to the home, and the schools. God will forgive the nation’s sins, and restore us to spiritual health.
I could go on, but I think you get what I’m saying. I really don’t want to run with the herd, I want to be in the “flock”, and be led. It is only the direction I see the herd heading that causes my concern, because I’m in the herd. We are in trouble and need help. Let’s pray for God’s help today.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

You, the Gardener pt.3

Word thieves, seed stealing crows, plant killing critters, dwell with us to keep us vigilant in maintaining our garden. Our lives are designed to thrive and achieve the impossible to carnal thinking, limited only by the gray matter input and outgo. Seeds planted in us to hold us in constant check, unsure of ourselves by trusting in the word-seeds planted in our lives by the jealous and envious. We need continual re-inforcement of our goodness and abilities to press forward in nearly every endeavor. Why?
Is there a choice to make that you and I know by instinct what to do? There are logically things we know are wrong for us. We know it is wrong to rob a bank, tell lies about an innocent person, kill somebody because we don’t like their hairstyle, and anything society deems wrong that will place us in prison. But the day to day decisions, or opportunities that come, we always seem to need someone’s opinion to move forward or forget the whole idea.
Our lack of self-confidence is a direct result of the seeds sown in us by others, and seeds of past actions that resulted in failure. The crime is, that we live in fear of what may be, instead of the possibility of what we can aspire to. We reap the result of seeds of unbelief, and doubt, and in turn, plant those seeds in others because of our unbelievable unbelief.
I am guilty of this more than anyone I know. The need for unanimous approval from others, the need of acceptance, and the fear of man’s rejection, caused my life to take some nasty turns and twists, landing myself on a barstool. I sowed seeds of pride, thinking I was better than that, and reaped corrupt living wreaking  havoc in others gardens as well.
“The alcoholic is like a tornado roaring his way through the lives of others.” AA’s Big Book, pg.82 Not planting humility in pride’s place causes anyone to demand their will on others without the slightest notion of what they are doing and what they will reap as a result. It is not just a individual with substance addictions that cause the tornadic effect. Anyone attempting to control others is the tornado, and leaves behind a garden of problems seemingly unfixable. These are the seed stealing birds, and crop eating critters. How do I change? How do I get rid of what has stolen,  my ambitions and joy?
“For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” Gal.6:6 Reject thoughts of failure by filling your heart and mind with Truth. Make decisions prayerfully, asking God for advice first. He will lead you to the right sources, others who have godly wisdom and knowledge of what you are seeking. Don’t even consider asking advice from negative Word-thieves. Carnally minded people have no spiritual understanding, and will take the seed of hope and of faith out of your garden. Fill your thinking by the guidance of scriptures:
“Be anxious (nervously troubled) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, WITH THANKSGIVING, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  Phil.4:5-6 “I CAN DO ALL things through Christ who strengthens me.” vs.13 “And my God shall supply ALL your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” vs.19 (NKJV)
Reject stinking thinking, get a check up from the neck up. Live your life full of promise, hope, faith, and trust in the One who knows no limitations. Plant the Seed of Christ in others and laugh at thoughts (seeds) of carnal can’t do, and failure. You do not need man’s acceptance, or approval from jealous, envious people living in darkness only thinking of themselves. Realize that “greater is He living in you, than he that’s in this world.”
I hope and pray that if you have struggled in life from living unconfidently, from poor parental guidance, or any negative environment, or perhaps you struggle with a sickness or a handicap, even you who may be bullied by a boss or a schoolmate, till up the garden in you. Re-plant seeds of life and of God-confidence. You are the gardener, grow strong and live courageously in Christ.
Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

You, the Gardener, pt.2

Attending AA or NA meetings, if you listen with open ears and an open heart your eyes will open to reality of what you have become. The best way to explain it  you grow into what have become. Words, actions, and attitudes are seeds, and our life is a garden plot. As in the physical realm, we go through springtime and/or planting season, summer cultivating and working the garden, fall for harvesting our crop, and winter…the place of life where nothing grows, and those crops we worked so hard to grow, dies, and we plan the next season.

I have had the privilege of teaming up and growing a garden from time to time. Tilling the soil, planting the seeds, watering and fertilizing, weeding, and keeping critters away, all must be done to grow a beautiful, producing crop to reap. To pull ripe tomato, pepper, or even a green onion from the garden, and taste it…mmm, tasty fresh and different from store-bought.

Springtime we experience in life is where by those seeds of words we speak, actions we perform, and attitudes we maintain, are planted in the prepared soil. We have no idea of our growing this garden, but that is what we are doing. To plant in others seeds of hope, faith, confidence, and trust; I must talk to them as equals, ensured of their abilities and building them up. The seed is planted. Summertime, I continue to express my confidence in weeding out doubt, watering with continued trust, and keeping predators away by encouragement.

The fall brings harvest, I can see that my hard work with the one God has entrusted to my stewardship, has grown into a solid, marvelous fruit bearing individual. Then comes winter. I have harvested the person-plant and now they are on their own with their wintertime and dying to self-will and receiving the annual sleeping and dreaming, resting and planning the garden they will build, as they plant seeds in their garden of others. I have grown a garden, reproducing after my kind. It was hard work, and was costly of time and effort, but its beauty was worth the effort.

God in His wisdom, established the seasons in our lives for a purpose. We have no idea how that our words, actions, and attitudes have created our lifestyle and laid future plans for a bountiful harvest. I must take care to plant the right seeds.

Each day has four seasons in it. Each day I plant seeds in myself and others. I water, weed, and harvest daily.  If I plant doubt in me or in another, I will not reap a confident other, and certainly not a confident self. If I plant slothful or procrastination actions in myself, I will not reap success in life. You get the picture. Think about what you say, each and every conversation is important, and has recompense. It is important to speak life, to speak faith, to speak in rebuke to fear, and trouble.

“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” Prov. 4:20-22 …”let your heart retain my words; keep my commands and live. Get wisdom, get understanding! Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.” vs. 4,5 “Hear, my son, and receive my sayings, and the years of your life will be many.” vs. 10

What are you planting in yourself? in others? Give thought to the above passages, especially to the children. You, the gardener, will grow a garden of good, or a garden of evil in others…and in you, by words, actions, and attitudes. Tomorrow, I plan to talk more on this, and with the thoughts that I have now, it may not be pleasant, but could be wonderful.

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith

Which One are You?

Jesus was a story teller, and by the use of parables, taught great spiritual truths. There is one parable that left every hearer baffled and none seemingly understood, even His disciples. So He explained it to the disciples when they were alone without the following crowd.

“A farmer went out to plant his seed. As he scattered it across his field, some seed fell on the footpath where it was stepped on, and the birds ate it. Other seed fell among rocks, and began to grow, but the plant soon wilted and died for lack of moisture. Other seeds fell among thorns that choked out the tender plants. Still other seed fell on fertile soil. This seed produced a crop that was a hundred times as much as had been planted…anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.”

Jesus explained the seed was the Word, the hearer is the soil. The seed that fell on the footpath and eaten by birds, were those who hear the Word, and here comes old “scratch” saying in their ear, surely you aren’t buying this crap? This guy is saying someone you don’t know actually died for you..c’mon now, you are a good guy, everyone likes you. If you believe this, everyone will laugh at you. He has had several millenia to improve his art. But the lies are always the same as with the conversation in Eden, has god said ? These hearers reject truth and believe the lies. Is this you?

Other seed fell on rocky soil and didn’t make it either. The reason, Jesus said, no moisture. They received the Word gladly, and believed with their tongue…not the heart. They went about their business and the Word was forgotten. Many of us have been there. Fair-weather believers, that fall apart the moment trouble comes. Nothing changes with this individual. These talk the same, act the same, think the same ways, but tell everyone they are a believer. The life-style is the same. I was there, confessing Jesus, living like a pure devil. Is this you?

Some of this seed fell into the weeds or thorns, and Jesus said these are the ones that believe the Word, but life here is more important. Material gain and the cares of life have preeminence in their lives. These poor folks have placed their homes, cars, their children, and jobs all ahead of God and the Word. They really want to believe, as long as their busy life and things gained aren’t disturbed. God is placed on the shelf with all of their deities, pluralistic theology. Is this you?

The last example is the ones whose hearts were fertile soil and received the Word in sincerity. These are they who are not only hearers, but doers of the Word, and devote themselves to the truth of the gospel. The doers produce because they give what they receive, they die to self, they hold nothing back. Is this you?

I am convinced by everything around my sphere of understanding, from events worldwide, that these are the days Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24, that Paul spoke of in 2Timothy 3, that Peter mentioned in 2Peter 3. These are the days that the prophets foretold, Joel, Ezekiel, Daniel, etc. The real danger for all mankind is that so many of the believers, have turned a deaf ear to the Message, the seed is being choked out, snatched away, and has died from thirst. This is us.

We, the body of Christ must, by any means receive the seed of the Word, and allow it to fully grow, shooing away the birds, weeding out the soil and the rocks, and watering and fertilizing it. In other words, putting the Word as priority in our life, in the lives of our children. If we allow its dominance, change will come in ways that we didn’t expect.

I can say without reservation, that because of our neglecting the Word in our homes, and in our churches, (all churches in general, you may think the group you are with currently is super-spiritual and New Testament in action, that will change), that this is why we seldom see demonstrations of God’s manifest presence…He shows up by the unity of the body of believers hearts in agreement with His Word and placing the Word and ways of God on a shelf of its own far above any and everything in life.

Where are the healings, miracles, prophetic utterances? Are they dead with the apostles? Has God withdrawn them because we have the Word in written form, The Holy Bible? Many think so, mainly from traditional knowledge, you know, that church teaching we have never checked in to. If it is that when the written Word arrives the gifts are withdrawn…I guess the calling must be withdrawn too. It seems that when the miraculous is present, so are people. Those who feel the gifts passed with the apostles, have boxed God in, and with unbelief eliminated healing for many, and in reality, it was over debating over the gift of speaking other tongues, or no tongues. The seed choked out by doctrinal difference, stolen from the evil one with ignorance.  Doctrinal pride robs our God-presence mentality to receive the bounty of His blessings, and realize He doesn’t withdraw, He adds, and adds, and adds.

I can say that my need for personal repentance never ceases to be a part of my walk with Christ. I must keep myself fertile soil for the sowing of seed, and the reaping of  a hundred times what was planted in me. If these days are those leading to the consummation of all things, which day do we decide to be serious about it, and receive the seed of God’s Word in our hearts for real?

Thanks for reading, God bless and keep you all. Keith