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, 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.


Stay With It

The Winans had a song that said, “It’s good to know He’ll be there if ever I fall. It’s better to know that I don’t have to fall at all.” I always liked that song.

But the truth is, more often than not, failure may not be an option, but is a likely eventuality.  Everybody screws up.  No one is immune to the employment of the phrase, “I’m sorry.”

We were designed to strive for perfection.  More importantly, we were designed for the process TO perfection. Some of us start a little bit farther from the goal than others.

I was never what you’d call an organized individual.  I had some tendencies toward order and organization, but they were certainly never cultivated at an early age.  I was just one big distraction, like a dog darting from squirrel to squirrel.  This did not make for neatness or consistency.  I never realized what something like that would cost me.

So, I struggled.  It was one of many struggles, the origins of which I would not fully understand until I was very near forty years old.  Having understood them, I still struggled.  I still struggle to this day.

Much like some of my most difficult struggles, I hated the behavior long before I was ever able to get a handle on it.  And try, though I might, even the most practical strategies produced no results.  I was tired, discouraged and frustrated.  I felt defeated.

And yet…

I kept hearing the words of the Apostle Paul to the Roman church, ringing in my heart. The things I want to do are not the things I do.  Why do I keep doing the things I hate? It’s not me doing it.  It’s the nature of sin dwelling in me. “Oh, wretched man that I am.  Who shall deliver me from this body of death?”

Sounds a lot like, “The devil made me do it.”

But that’s not altogether far from the truth.  The sin nature into which we are all born takes on different incarnations, based on the history of our individual families.  As much as we don’t want to own it, a lot of the stuff that we despise about ourselves are negative family traits that no one has taken a stand against…until we stand up and say, “This far…no farther.”

That’s a hard line to draw in the sand, especially if it is a sin nature that goes back multiple generations.  You may be the first one to take a stand against it and it may cost you what you think is EVERYTHING.   What you gain is so much more than what you lost.  You gain the assurance that the generations to follow will never struggle with those things the way you did.  You are redeeming your own heritage.

That is why I LOVE IT when Paul continues his letter with a word of comfort.  “There is, therefore, NO CONDEMNATION, to those who are in Christ Jesus…”

Each and every one of us struggle with things that turn us inside out.  We despise what they do to us and to those around us, but we just can’t shake it loose.  They leave us feeling guilty and unworthy to come before the Lord with any brand of request.  We hate the idea of coming back to Him, time and again, with the same old sin; the same bad habits.

And yet…

That is EXACTLY what He expects, even encourages us to do!

Proverbs 24:16 says a just man falls seven times but rises again.  It’s the GETTING UP TO TRY AGAIN that justifies us.  It makes us righteous.  The fact that we keep coming boldly to the throne of grace to find mercy (for our repentance) and grace (to try again) in our times of need is what brings us closer to the perfection that we seek; closer to being more like the God we love and serve.

So, here I am struggling and failing and struggling again to become just a little bit more organized and focused that I was the day before.  I’m not where I want to be, but I’m not where I was.  I am comfortable, but not complacent.  And I will get there.  WE will get there.  All we gotta do is stay with it.

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