the parable of the parched grass

 

Parched-grass

A man’s front yard was covered with grass. The grass near the center of the yard always did well. It received what it needed on a regular basis – sunlight, moisture, nutrients, and protection from enemies. It needed special attention at times, but only at times; occasionally it suffered for some reason, but only occasionally. It quickly rebounded from any misfortune, for it was easy for the grass to do well there.

However, life for the grass located closer to the street was very different. Whenever it rained, passing cars splashed the chemicals and oil in the street onto the grass. This was hard on the grass and the soil in which the grass was trying to grow. The soil became very different from the soil near the center of the yard. And, given that the boundary for the grass was concrete, the sun always, and quickly, baked away any moisture that was to be had. Consequently, weeds grew in much greater abundance among the grass near the street. Between the weeds, the heat, the pollution, and other troubles, the grass near the street had a very difficult life. Suffering was a daily experience there and the grass there never knew another. And woe to that grass in the brutal heat of summer or if it was scalped!

Now try as it might every day, the grass near the street could never better its lot in life on its own. If it ever did better at all it was solely because it was given special care by the man who owned the yard and those he called to help him improve the life of the soil and grass in need.

These things remained true for the grass near the center of the yard and the grass further away from the center as long as the man owned the yard.

Hear the parable of the parched grass, for the grass is people.

By preachersmith Posted in Links

silver ingots from En Gedi

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As a part of MoSt Church‘s Bible reading project today we’re in Isaiah 5-8. Everyone familiar with Isaiah remembers the first portion of the chapter (vs.1-17), especially vs. 14. But, do you remember how the chapter ends (Isaiah 7.18-25)? It is a strong word regarding how God will whistle up Assyria to come and have its way with his people, Judah, for their sin.

“On that day, there will be thorns and thistles in every place where a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels [about 25 lbs.] once grew.” (Isa. 7.23)

While in the Israel Museum in 2013, I snapped these pics of a hoard of silver ingots that was discovered in a jar in En Gedi (in Judah, near the Dead Sea). They date back either to the time of Isaiah, or very close to it.

By preachersmith Posted in Links

a prayer for the younger & the older

 

Each Friday for the bulk of this year, I plan to share with you a brief prayer to God our Father. These prayers will address all sorts of matters and concerns and will appear in no particular order. There is no grand plan or schedule to them; just prayer, pure and simple.

Pray with me, won’t you?

Father God, thank you for the light you have given me and have enabled me to walk in thus far. Praise be to you, my God, Dispeller and Defeater of darkness, my Light and my Salvation!

Forgive me of every grain of darkness in me. I beg you to continue to be patient with me for I know that I remain so very blind to so very much more of what you would have me to see, what you would have me turn from, and what you would have me embrace. I will die in this condition, on this ceaseless journey of enlightenment, in and toward, your light. How I need your constant guidance and direction! I know this, and so, into your hands I commit my spirit.

Keep me humble, Father, about what I think I know. Never stop working on me. In your Son’s name I pray, chisel me into something useful and good for your name. Make me a good reflector of your light. Grow me!

And I ask such not for myself alone, but also for all of my brothers and sisters everywhere, in every church family. Especially for those who are very young and are so very dependent on how those who are older model the meaning and practice of a walk of faith with you. Shield their hearts and minds from being shaped wrong, lest they grow hardened or cold, misled and misleading. Grow in them great discernment and persistence, so that they pick the good and toss the chaff away.

And I pray especially for those who are up in years and are growing more limited in their options in life and company. Continue to mature in them a mind ever opening wider to your work and ways of love. Protect their spirits lest they fall prey to the manipulative ways of our enemy, the evil one, and give way to disappointment and fear or give up and quit their journey with you altogether.

Please hear my prayer in the name of your Son, my Savior.

Amen.

links: this went thru my mind

Following are links to five articles that I’ve found to be interesting and helpful.

Archaeology, Israel & Jerusalem: Nose Falls Off the Skull of Gordon’s Calvary

“Visitors to the Garden Tomb of Jerusalem are usually shown the “Skull” identified by Charles Gordon as part of the case that this spot may be the authentic site of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. On February 20 the bridge of the skull’s nose collapsed during a storm.”

Churches of Christ & church decline: The 2015 Churches of Christ in the United States

“… the average congregation size has declined … to 124 adherents per congregation. … The Christian Chronicle reports that the same figures reflect a 7.8% decline in membership since 1990, reflecting about 100,443 souls. … The 1990s were a time of plateaued growth … — essentially flat, even though it was a time of rapid population growth. … the rate of decline is accelerating. A lot. … The loss of members, adherents, and congregations is … doubling roughly every 15 to 20 years. … During this same period, the population of the United States has grown … the nation is growing at twice the rate at which the Churches of Christ are declining.”

Distraction, faith & focus: The Wheelchair or the Throne [required reading]

“Our enemy is an expert at distraction. If he can get our eyes off that throne and on the pain and uncertainty of the world, then we are doomed to walk this life in fear and agony. He knows that and he loves every minute of it. … Refuse to focus on what you can see and set your minds on things above. Look away from the evil and drama that saturate our lives and fix your eyes on the King of Glory. Only there will you find healing and hope.”

Documentaries, history, Jesus & media: Finding Jesus: Review of Part One

“… as a docu-drama, I thought this was better than many of them, and I look forward to the remaining five episodes.”

Evangelism, expectations, honesty, hypocrisy, outreach, sensitivity & transparency: Seven Lies Christians Tell [essential reading]

“We mean well, but is the truth really on our lips when we evangelize? … We lie when we claim we are more confident than we really are. … We lie when we claim that unexplainable things are in fact explainable. … We lie when we don’t acknowledge our doubts within the drama of faith. … We lie when we pretend like the Bible doesn’t say some really nasty things when in fact it does. … We lie when we claim we understand other beliefs, faiths and world views. … We lie when we claim that all of our beliefs are a ’10.’ … Finally, and most importantly, we lie (insidious and barbaric lying) when we pretend like we really, really, really love the other person when in fact we don’t.”

links: this went thru my mind

Following are links to five articles on repentance that I’ve found to be of special interest and helpfulness.

Ash Wednesday – Applied Every Day

“So what’s the point of wearing ashes on Ash Wednesday? The cinder residue is reminiscent of the biblical act of repenting in dust and ashes’ (Job 42:6). … Many Christians have no connection with Ash Wednesday’s tradition. But we all have need of what it represents. Every day. Ash Wednesday represents our need to repent.”

Not Your Typical Ash Wednesday [essential reading]

“My name is Josh Patrick. I’m a 36-year-old pastor in the Nashville area. I’m married to a beautiful strawberry-blonde haired girl named Joni, and we have three daughters, ages 8, 5, and 2. Today is unlike any Ash Wednesday I’ve ever experienced. … 4 weeks ago today … it was determined that I had stage 4 colon cancer that had spread to my liver. And just like that, our little world was turned upside down.”

Lent: Because Sometimes Rich Christians Simply Need to Starve a Little [required reading]

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

An Ash Wednesday Prayer

“I’m sorry God, I truly am … I’m sorry that I have not loved you with all of my being.”

Litany of Penitence

“Have mercy on us, Lord. … Accept our repentance, Lord. … Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.”