Saturday, March 11, 2017


"For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it
and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled,
receives a blessing from God;
but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless
and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you,
and things that accompany salvation,
though we are speaking in this way."

Yep it's that season, the season of planting.  I just put in a few purple pansies in a pot to celebrate. Now if I water them at the right times, they won't wilt.  That's a big "if."  I usually wait until the flowers bow their heads before I resurrect them with a little watering. 

Now, we just had a crew come in and tear out some of my plantings.  I had chosen a little butterfly bush with purple blossoms just like one I had had previously, you know, about the size of a rose bush.  I planted it about five years ago. However, the bush grew and grew until it's trunk was 10 inches thick and it took over a large portion of the backyard.  It was nearly impossible to get past it from our deck.   I happened to enjoy it because the birds and the bees liked so well.  It also let me look out into greenery instead of the backside of our neighbors.  Alas, it had to be torn out.  It must have been good soil because it grew so well.  I thought it was a blessing from God, but my man thought it only worthy to be burned. 

My view out back has changed, and it resembles more the backside of the large person in front of you at Walmart in leggings wishing that they had something to cover them. My eyes want to look anywhere else but at that.  Now my backyard is naked.  Bleak.  Stark.  Apocalyptically so.  It's a moonscape in that corner.  I need to go buy a fast growing pine tree and plant it, one with needles that will block the view of the neighbors once again.  Then I will add morning glories that will grow over the trellises that bowed under the weight of a wisteria that spent more time spreading than blooming.  It was getting down right creepy with fingers that lurked closer and closer to the house.  Now the backyard is a blank canvas to fill with color. 

They say that due to all the rain in California this year, the wildflowers have gone crazy, even in the deserts.  Ground that drinks the rain is like that.  It becomes fruitful.  It becomes tillable, ready to plant. Remember the parable of the good soil that Jesus told?  There was a Christian singer's version years ago that in part went something like this: "The word of God is like little bitty seeds scattered all around, some on the road, some in the weeds, but every where you look you find little bitty seeds scattered all around...I want the word to grow in my heart like seed on fertile ground..." 
It brings forth vegetation that is useful.  Are you being fruitful?

Thorns and Thistles,
end up being burned.

Hmm.  Do you think someone who wore a mocking crown of thorns shoved down cruelly on His head would care much for thorns?  No, I don't think so either.

"Long practice has a sure improvement found,
With kindled fires to burn the barren ground;
When the light stubble to the flames resign'd,
Is driven along, and crackles in the wind."

The native Americans practiced this.  The BLM has adopted it in some cases.  The purpose was and is to bring more productive soil.  Adam Clarke says, "Here I suppose the apostle refers to that approaching destruction...There is a good sense in which all these things may be applied to the Jews at large, who were favoured by our Lord's ministry and miracles.  They were enlightened by his preaching; tasted of the benefits of the heavenly gift--the Christian religion established among them...saw the almighty power of God exerted in working a great variety of miracles.  Yet, after being convinced that never man spake as this man, and that none could do those miracles which He did, except God were with Him; after having followed Him in thousands, for three years, while He preached to them the Gospel of the kingdom of God; they fell away from all this, crucified Him who, even in His sufferings as well as His resurrection, was demonstrated by miracles to be the Son of God; and then to vindicate their unparalleled wickedness, endeavoured to make Him a public example, by reproaches and blasphemies."

He goes on to say, "Therefore their state, which had received much moral cultivation from Moses, the prophets, Christ, and His apostles; and now bore nothing but the most vicious fruits, pride, unbelief, hardness of heart, contempt of God's word and ordinances, blasphemy, and rebellion; was rejected--reprobated, of God; was nigh unto cursing--about to be cast off from the Divine protection; and their city and temple were shortly to be burnt up by the Roman armies...which actually took place about seven years after the writing of this epistle!...It is worthy of remark, that no genuine Christian perished in the destruction of Jerusalem; they all, previously to the siege by Titus, escaped to Pelta...and it is as remarkable that not one Jew escaped!  all either fell by the sword, perished by famine, or were led into captivity!"

Do you see the layers of this prophetic epistle to the Hebrews?  Wow.  We need to pay attention to the layer that applies to our lives as well.  We too need to beware of growing thistles and thorns instead of useful vegetation.  The author goes on to say, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you..."  Praise God! 

I've been reading a couple of my treasures, original George MacDonald's fiction.  He masterfully interweaves theology, beautiful ideas about God into his stories.  He is a poetic thinker.  He is so deep that I can't understand all of what he is saying.  But I love this.  Here's an example that perhaps illustrates our verses in another way.  This story is in his book "St. George and St. Michael" set in the mid 1600's when the king is  at war with a Parliament favorable to the Puritans.  One character is approaching the end of his life and he summarizes like this.

"'Mayhap, doctor,' returned the marquis, 'when thou art as old as I, and hast learned to see how good it is, how all-good, thou wilt be able to say it without any striving. There was a time in my life when I too had to strive, for the thought that he was a hard master would come, and come again.  But now that I have learned a little more of what He meaneth with me, what He would have of me, and do for me, how He would make me pure of sin, clean from the very bottom of my heart to the crest of my soul, from spur to plume a stainless knight, verily...I cry in the night time, 'Thy will be done: Lord, let it be done, I entreat Thee:'  and in the daytime I cry, 'Thy kingdom come: Lord, let it come, I pray thee."

This is God's plan that we do a little gardening in His kingdom.  He began it for us in a Garden.  It will end in a more beautiful blooming vista in the Kingdom come than we can even imagine.  In the meanwhile, we are to be fruitful here in our own little garden plot, with a tillable pure heart.

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