Friday, June 30, 2006

I am Dirt

In Mark 4:1-20 Jesus is talking to a gathered crowd. He tells them a parable about sowing seeds, and four kinds of soil. His twelve disciples are there and they go away with Him and ask what it meant, so He explains it to them.

It is a unique situation -- it is the only parable He explained. And He implied it was a key of some sort, saying if we could not understand this parable, we would have considerable difficulty understanding any other parables.

I've always thought of this parable as being about evangelism -- sharing my journey of faith with people who aren't following Jesus. I am supposed to live a life that is simple and real, no matter who I am around, and through this, The Sower (God working in and through me) scatters seeds willy-nilly, not paying much attention to where the seeds fall. Then, if someone is "good soil" the seeds of the life of Jesus and His Kingdom will grow. The upshot is this: it is not my responsibility to worry about the soil quality; only to scatter seeds.

I was pondering this and praying the other day when I came to a sort of new (for me, anyway) perspective on this parable.

Maybe I am the soil.

What if The Sower is Jesus and the seeds He is scattering are His words to my heart?

He is scattering seeds like that all the time, but the question is, what is the condition of my heart?

Is my heart like the "footpath" -- hard, compressed, & flattened from people walking on me? Have become so jaded I can't believe good will come of anything? If so, I can see how the enemy of my soul could snatch away any possibility for growth.

Is my heart like the "rocky places" -- shallow and flighty; unable to support roots?

Have I come to the place where, after I hear something from God I am all excited about it for a little while but then when times get rough I give up really easy?

Maybe my heart is like the place of "thorns" -- where I hear God clearly, and things grow deep...

...but as they do the "weeds" of worries and materialism choke out any possibility of fruit being produced in my life.



So I've been asking myself over the past few weeks what I can do to make my heart "good soil" -- where I hear what God has to say to my heart, and really accept it; really own and incarnate it in my life? I haven't come up with any real answers except to ask God to make me that way. Sure, I can try to avoid weeds, and look out for becoming shallow, and maybe try not to let myself get too packed down. But I don't think that is enough. I've heard it said:
The absence of war is not peace.
I think it will take more than my effort in avoiding these (although it is good to avoid them) things to make me good soil.

King David of ancient Israel wrote a lot of songs and poems about life. He was fond of saying things like "Search me and test my heart God -- see if there is any wicked way in me, and then root it out".

So I guess I have been spending time allowing my heart to reflect on this, and sort of ask:
God, please make me good soil.
For more stretching of the analogy on making good soil, here is a good agricultural link. What do you think about these suggestions? Are there any good correlations here?

I really want to bear fruit -- I want my life to make a sweet and nourishing difference in the world around me, now and into the future.

In his book To Be Told author Dan Allender says:
God is the Potter, and we are the clay. Even the word human -- derived from the Latin word humus, meaning "dirt" -- shouts loudly about our origin. We are dirt. The name Adam (Hebrew, 'adama) means "red," the color of clay. God shaped, molded, and formed us to reveal something about himself. He is a Being who loves to reveal and who invites us to join the process of revelation by calling us to ask, seek, and knock. God always intended for His children to join Him in completing creation. We are not inanimate entities that merely reveal glory but living stories that are meant to create glory.
That's what I want my life to be like.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hearts & Stones

I was out for as hike the other day with my good friend E^2. He is a good guy and one of my favorite ways to hang out with him is to go for a long hike and just talk and listen and stuff.

As we walked along and talked, I glanced down and saw a small heart-shaped rock! Cool -- a rock that looks like a heart!

I bent down to pick it up and got confused. Once it was in my hand, it was just a rock. Nothing special.

As I walked along for a minute, I considererd maybe it was a matter of perspective.

I began to turn the rock over in my hands and look at it from various angles. Sure enough, from a very specific angle, the heart shape could again be seen. FYI: the photo below doesn't do it justice. If I hold it just right, and cover the parts that were covered in road-dust, then it is an almost perfect heart shape.

As I walked along there with this rock in my hand, I heard God speak to my soul. It was quiet and happened similar to what I described in Split Second Prophet. One second I was walking along holding a rock, the next second I was being loved-on by our Heavenly Dad. He said:
You noticed something again...
Something others would have overlooked...
And the first thing you saw was a heart...
The first thing others would have seen was a rock...

You see people like that too...
Often the first thing you see about a person is their heart.
Others see their rough exteriors, but you see their heart.

I love that about you...
I made you that way!
You're like Me in that way!

And if you ever lose sight of the heart...
And start seeing just a rock...
You make the choice to turn it over and over...
Until you see the heart again...

I'll be bringing more people your way...
Who will need that kind of perseverence...
So good job!

I love you!
And then as quick as it had come, it was gone, but I was feeling warm and fuzzy for a long time

God rocks!

~ cob

Sunday, June 18, 2006

A Card & A Prayer

There was a time in my life when finding a card for Father's Day was not easy. No one makes a card that says:
Your dad wasn't the greatest.
As a kid you were really messed up
By what he did and what he left undone.
(He was probably messed up as a kid by his dad)
That never really got worked out.
So as a kid I got messed up
By what you did and what you left undone.

Inside (left):
That's finally being worked out.
Because I'm making choices
Which is really hard work.
I know my ability to do this
Is only by the grace of
Our Father in Heaven

Inside (right):
So I'm trying to honour you both in some small way
As a way of deciding to do something different and say
I'm choosing to believe there were things behind the scenes
Which had a part to play
So thanks for what you were able to do


Happy Father's Day
For years this was my dilemma.

But through the Grace-empowered choices I made, I became a different person. I saw my father change as well, but that was neither my doing, nor did it seem very necessary to my own health anymore. It took time, but God worked it in me and my dad, and I am so very thankful for the place He has brought us both. In fact, Father's Day cards are now a joy to write and are filled with encouragement and honest thankfulness. And even on days not specifically set aside for the purpose, I find it a joy to honour my dad, like here in this blog post about Why I Love My Dad.

Today of all days I am thankful to my Heavenly Father because this particular difficult stretch of my own path now seems so many miles behind me, in my rear-view mirror. But, today of all days, I also grieve with those closest to me as we share our journeys alongside one another.

I grieve with them because this stretch of road we share is, for them, still so very rough. They've veered and screeched around it so many times, and still it remains inescapably in their way, challenging their driving skills. Challenging their patience; their faith. So I grieve with them, because they're doing the hard work of going through it, gripping the wheel tightly, knuckles white, brow furrowed, sweating as they navigate the bumps and ruts; the slick patches and the loose gravel which all threaten to send them careening off the road.

I grieve with them because I've been there; driven through that stretch of road.

How I long to take the wheel for them! Even for a moment...but this respite is not mine to give.

How I long to shout from my own window sage advice for navigating this trecherous path. This, far from being helpful, would only distract us both from our road ahead.

No, this is their road. Theirs alone. All I can offer is what helped me most on my own journey: the presence of a friend alongside who has already passed this mile marker. A friend who sees, understands, knows, cares, prays; loves. May this be of some comfort to them.

My only comfort; their only hope: they are not alone in their journey. The passenger seat next to them is occupied.

Join me, today, in a prayer for these weary travellers:
Heavenly Father
You who know all
You who offer tender guidance
Guard the path of these precious ones
These emasculated sons
These defiled daughters
May your Love so surround them
Your Peace so enfold them
May they find Your strength within them
To continue travelling on


~ cob

Sunday, June 04, 2006

What is Our Marriage Built For?

Here is the Design Statement HCWB and I created for our marriage.

It answers the questions:
What are we built to do together?
What is the purpose of our marriage?

It covers:
  • who we are in relation to God,
  • what we do,
  • how we do it, and
  • what results we expect to see
    when we do what we're designed for.
We're friends of God
Loving all those He brings our way.
We walk beside them
Encouraging them, championing them, and
Sharing our life with them.
As they experience God's love through us
They come fully alive, and
Find their place in His family.
As we face decisions together in life, and opportunities come our way, we can assess these against the grid of what we're designed for, helping us move forward in life expressing God's love and care.

This will be our spiritual legacy.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Forever & Always

On the day we met
Your hair was gold
And you were lovely
You smiled
As you said hello
How could I know
That this would change me?

For I was just a boy
Beginning life
With new-found laughter
So I smiled
And just returned your 'hello'
How could I know
This would last
Forever after?

You became my friend
You gave me your heart
You became the light in my days
Forever & always

On the day we wed
Your hair was gold
And you were lovely
We smiled
As we said our 'I do'-s
How could we know
What we were getting into?

'Cause times
Most good, some bad
Have come our way
And we've shared sorrow
But we've shared
So much more laughter I know
I couldn't go on living without you tomorrow

You became my friend
You gave me your heart
You became the light in my days

Forever & always
There will be
A part of you that lives in me
And in my life I've found it's true
That the better half of me
Is found in you

I see a day
When we've grown old
Your hair is grey
But you're more lovely
I smile
As I think about that time
And yet today
We have so many blessings

I am so content
To have you here
To have you only
So I've tried
To somehow write this all down
To let you know
How much I love you Cathy

You became my friend
You gave me your heart
You became the light in my days
Forever & always

You are my best friend
You have my heart
You are the brightest light in my days
Forever & always

Forever & always
~ cob