Box of Rocks


It’s hard to write when you’re in the middle of a fight. But, I suppose, it’s usually in the middle of your greatest fights that you discover, like I do often, that’s when you have something worthwhile to say.

“This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

That sounds like pretty good advice, doesn’t it? Right up until you realize that the day you’re facing appears to suck pretty bad.  

You know the kind of day I’m talking about.  That day that starts with a 4 year old projectile vomiting all over your last clean suit, when you’re already running late for work and all out of sick days.  Or the day your landlord serves you with eviction papers only moments after you got another email saying you’re overqualified for the position you applied for (and you KNEW you were overqualified…you just need a chance to WORK), so they will not be considering your application. Or, the day when your spouse is packing up their belongings on a quest to, “find themselves,” and you are left to try to explain it to the pairs of young, frightened eyes, looking at YOU for an answer.

You would think that is the day that disqualifies that enthusiastic declaration. Nope.

This is THAT day.  That day was meant for YOU.

And, if you already knew that…this message is meant for YOU.

When I sat down to write this, that scripture jumped out at me.  I didn’t realize when it did, that it was at the tail end of a song that King David wrote, when he was in the middle of one of THOSE days.  In the 118th Psalm, David talked about his enemies surrounding him like a swarm of bees, pushing him violently to make him fall.  How, in the throes of this mess, he had determined to rely on the Lord. Because he knew, if he could stand NOW, in the midst of THAT day, and take it as a chastening, as a teachable moment, he would ALWAYS be in a place to say, “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes,” wherever he found himself.

Standing strong, like a stone, in the face of a tumultuous storm. This is what the Lord desires…REQUIRES of His beloved children. That we stand like stone in the face of days that seem insurmountable.  When it looks like there is no imaginable way that you will make it past this day to see another one.

Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone, asking us to be, “steadfast, unmovable,” and always about our Father’s business.  This means that we are, like Jesus, going to run the risk of being rejected and kicked against.  We are meant to be a monument, a testimony of God’s faithfulness. And the only way that works is if we STAY PUT.  Being consistent in our walk with God is the primary mark of one of God’s ‘standing stones.’

It’s not an easy thing to do.  If it were, everybody would do it.  And, there are a lot of people that use that as an excuse for not being that strong, that sturdy, that steadfast.  It requires that we see things, not as they are, but as we expect them to be, once God has gotten us through the process. It requires that we declare the end from the beginning, much like our Father does throughout the Bible.

And there’s that…the Bible.  We gotta read it like it’s the TRUTH.  If we can’t see it like God says it, we have no Rock to stand on. In it, we have very clear instructions on how this goes. It’s that truth that will make us strong enough to stand on those days, to call them marvelous,  and keep us from faltering and washing away on the days that really are marvelous.

It is then, that we can come together and, as in 1 Peter 2:5 says, be those, “lively stones,” that God needs to build His kingdom on the earth.  And, like Peter himself, be a part of that box of rocks from which God has built His church.

 

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Praying for Crop Failure


The Bible often refers to a person’s name and reputation. How the honor, or lack thereof, of the deeds you’ve done can follow you and your namesakes for generations.

Some days I wonder about the three Hebrew boys, the same way I sometimes wonder about Paul the apostle. Pretty much like I wonder about the prodigal son and his older brother. A lot of what happened to them was a direct result of choices they made, prior to our introductions to their stories. The terms by which their names were defined, their basic claims to fame, came from the decisions they made.

Then there’s Jabez.

Jabez’s prayer was to not live up to his name.  He obviously left an impression on God, for his story to be the non-parenthetical pause in the annals of the tribe of Judah. More than honoring Jabez, it was God honoring a scriptural truth that is a strong, fine thread in the tapestry of faith: you reap what you sow.

“While the earth remains, Seedtime and harvest, Cold and heat, Winter and summer, And day and night Shall not cease.”

And, the nutshell on that is: ignorance is no excuse. Doesn’t matter if you like it or agree with it.  Doesn’t matter if you believe it to be true. Whatever you do comes back to you…in spades. Every deed is a seed.

Just like any seed, what you get in return is exponentially MORE than what you give. You plant an apple seed, you don’t just get another apple seed; you don’t just get another apple.  You get a whole tree FULL of apples, FULL of seeds.

As much as I would love to console you about this, it’s a law, like gravity, that governs the earth. But, that does not mean there is no way to circumvent this law…sort of.

Any farmer worth his salt understands the value of deliberately sowing seeds. He pays close attention to the times and the seasons. He purchases equipment to prepare the land. He buys the best seeds and he hires enough of a crew to successfully put the seeds in the well cultivated ground, weed, nurture and regularly attend to the growing plants, and gather up the impending harvest.

This logic only works with an intentional farmer.  What happens when the seeds are deeds? Odds are, intentionality goes right out the window.  Most people don’t THINK before they do a lot of things. Most folk are reactionary.

According to Goodtherapy.org, the prefrontal cortex helps the brain determine, “Coordinating and adjusting complex behavior,” as well as, “impulse control and control and organization of emotional reactions,” among many other factors. It has also been discovered that part of the brain doesn’t develop fully until a person is somewhere around 25 years old, and THAT is based on proper stimulation for development.

How many people miss out on the opportunities to learn consequences for actions? You may want to check out, The Problem with Modern Parenting.  This is not an uncommon phenomena.

There are a whole heap of unintentional farmers, completely unprepared for their random harvest.

I have seen, first hand, what the reaping looks like when you arbitrarily do things without regard to the impact your deeds will have on the people around you, or your ability to make an impact in the future. Perhaps, you have, too…

That thought alone ought to fill you with a considerable amount of dread. I know what it does to me.  It makes me want to reexamine EVERYTHING I have ever done or said to see what pains I have encountered would be considered, ‘self inflicted wounds.’

That being said, what can we do to…undo all the negative we’ve done?  What can we do to change the future harvests so that there will be more deliberate, positive things manifesting in our lives?

If you don’t like your harvest thus far, CHANGE YOUR SEEDS and sow them ON PURPOSE.

In the Harvard Business Review, they talked about how the highest performances from project teams came from those who received six positive words for every negative one. That is just from WORDS of encouragement.  How much more of an impact would a positive DEED make on people around you?

To the intentional farmer, that is equal to pulling up the bad seed before it takes root and sowing over the negative rooted plants to choke them out, producing a much smaller negative harvest than one would normally expect.  REPENTANCE is a DEED creating a CHANGE IN DIRECTION that also employs WORDS in communication with God and His people that helps to uproot the negative seeds and make room for you to sow better seed into the tilled and cultivated soil.

Now, you have to remember, none of this can happen in your life until you become INTENTIONAL about the seeds you sow – the deeds you do, the words you say and the thoughts you think. You have to PAY ATTENTION to what seeds you sow as well as what seeds have been sown into you.

Throughout your life, there have been people who have sown into your life, in word and deed, producing patterns that you have replicated instinctively…consciously and unconsciously. Life handed you a bag of seeds.  You sowed what you were given, and probably took no thought of how or what it would impact your future.  So, if your life was good, you were lucky. If your life sucked it was bad luck. Random harvest.

But, now YOU MUST CHOOSE.  Just like the Hebrew boys. Just like the Apostle Paul. Just like the household of the prodigal son. Just like Jabez.

BE DELIBERATE in the moves you make, the words you speak, the deeds you do.  Repent when you need to and be thankful and open to the people who do right by you. Don’t just sit around, praying for crop failure.  Make plans for an intentional harvest.

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