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Thursday, June 4, 2009

John Deere corn planting
"A farmer went out to sow his seed"
(Matthew 13:3)
12 rows at a time!

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"Sowing Seed"

"A farmer went out to sow his seed" (Matthew 13:3).

Sowing seed by hand
I just sowed some grass seed in a bare spot in our back yard two days ago.  Grass seed is pretty easy to sow. I slightly scored up the ground with a leaf rake and then spread the seed by hand similar to the method used for thousands of years. Now I just need to keep the area damp for several days and I will have a new grassy area!  The overnight inch of rain was a great natural boost!

Amish plowing with team
Farmers use a number of different methods to prepare their fields for planting. The traditional plow completely turns the soil over. It always captures my attention when I see the Amish in our county using a large team of horses or mules to pull the plow as they continue to use this labor intensive method (both manpower and horsepower). Modern farm equipment has huge plows that cover a wide section with each pass.

However, many farmers now plant using a technique known as "no till".  Rather than plowing up the field, the soil is merely scored and the seed inserted, along with a squirt of fertilizer.  Several weeks ago they harvested the grassy barley in the field across from our home as forage and a short time later planted corn using this method. Afterwards you could see the tiny score line, but apart from that there was hardly any evidence that there had been any sowing. Now we can see the corn growing. The farmer then applies a selective herbicide that kills the weeds without harming the germinating corn kernels.  However all throughout the season the farmer will be dealing with a wide variety of weeds and other pests.

A fundamental reality in farming is the importance of weed control and that's also a fundamental truth in Christian discipleship!  In the Parable of the Sower Jesus uses a farming illustration that connects not only with His initial hearers but to all diligent students of the Bible. If you live in the city or a suburb and have no knowledge of agriculture you need to learn a little about farming to understand!

In this parable Jesus emphasized His plan that we be fruitful as His followers.  The thorns (weeds) illustrate hindrances to our growth and fruitfulness as Christians.  Some seed was sown among the thorns (weeds), which choked the Word as it developed.  Jesus elaborates on this deadly choking using three conditions we can all identify with and they're every bit as applicable today as when He shared the parable two thousand years ago; "the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things."  These are thorns that choke God's Word in our lives.  In the next several days I want to examine these three "thorns" one at a time.

So I wonder…  Is there a spiritual "herbicide" that will kill the weeds that hinder my spiritual growth?  The answer is surely "Yes".  As we submit to the Lord and His Word, denying the desires of the old nature and applying godly principles we see the weeds dying.

However it's a persistent effort since those pesky weeds keep coming back!  That's the same with the application of the herbicide to the farmer's field or to our small vegetable garden for that matter.  Weeds just keep coming back!

Is there a single method, perhaps a course or a spiritual experience, which will once for all rid us of all the weeds that hinder our spiritual life?  I think not - not on this side anyway.  But we remain faithful, all the while, pulling out those pesky weeds from our human nature that rob spiritual nutrients intended to feed our soul and grow our faith.

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily Prayer: Father, I want my spirit to be receptive of the seed You sow in my life as I read and apply Your Scriptural truths.  I don't want to be like a barren wasteland or a patch of weeds, but I want my heart to be like the rich, fertile soil that produced fruit; a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.  I avail myself to the Scriptures that teaches me to properly cultivate my spirit so that I grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  As I do so spiritual fruit is evident in my words and actions as it flows forth from my inner spirit.  Amen.

Brooksyne's Gardening Note: I certainly have put a good number of hours in the past week pulling pesky weeds – tall, short, ugly, attractive, thorny, you name it – we've got it.  I think our house was built on a former strawberry patch because I'm always pulling out strawberry runners.  It is labor intensive but as I look out on my herb patch, my ornamentals and my vegetables they look vibrant, healthy, and I think if they could do so, they'd say "thank you" to me and Matt, a friend of Ester's, who likes to pull weeds (wouldn't you gardeners like a friend like Matt!)

When we moved to our current location seven years ago the weeds were far more prominent than any plantings.  It was not a pleasant sight.  But now, with diligence and painstaking care, we have attractive, healthy gardens.  But I know it will require upkeep all summer, much like the spiritual application we share today.  We must tend to the weeds lest they choke the fruit that God intends to flow from our inner spirit.

Today I spoke to Darrel Martin, a farmer friend, as I prepared the message. Turns out the 12 row corn planter pictured above in the field across from our home is actually dwarfed by a John Deere 48 row planter (see photo here.)

Today's message gives me an opportunity
to share some of my many, many tractor photos!

John Deere Tractor

I thoroughly enjoy hearing the distinct sound of the John Deere putt putt
(here's the audio for the terminally curious and/or hopelessly sentimental). I recorded this in front of my home when my friend Jesse Lapp dropped by one day to show off his "new" 1942 John Deere tractor.  Also here's the John Deere tractor song (audio) especially dedicated to my friend John Zimmerman.

Antique John Deere tractor
Last summer I enjoyed visiting the John Deere Visitors Center in Moline, Illinois, as well as seeing all the antique tractors at the Iowa State Fair. 

Sunken tractor
I saw this tracor in eastern Iowa near the Amana Colonies  We don't know the story behind the sunken tractor, but we wonder if the farmer got stuck one day and decided he was done with farming.  Amana Colonies is a nice little German village with an interesting history. There are several quaint shops and eateries as you walk along the very clean and nicely manicured yards.

Amish mule team
I took this photo of a farm in eastern Lancaster County.
These mules were coming back in the barn after a hard day of field work.

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Field Of Souls"  Video  This song does a good job of capturing the analogy of the physical and spiritual.  I have a Brooklyn Tabernacle version that I enjoy playing as we drive through rural areas during planting season.

Send a message to Stephen & Brooksyne.

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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