Why? Why not….

Why? Why not…

Someone asked me once, about a million different times, why I do what I do, and why I like what I like. Often my response was simply, “Why not?” A few weeks ago, someone asked why I blog? I paused, and thought about all the previous 1400+ blog posts, and thought, “Why not?” It’s easy. It doesn’t cost me anything. It often brings clarity as I argue the side of a post that might be unpopular, but represents me so very well.

And, I like talking to myself…

When you have no one else to argue with, then, like Jeff Dunham does with his dummies, you argue with yourself. Before you can have a successful conversation, you have to be willing to listen. But then, you cannot only be happy with discussing pro’s and con’s with your own self, no matter how much you feed your mind with opposing ideas. Even unpopular sources. If you are not strong to receive such ideas, then you must paint yourself into your corner of believing what you have allowed within and be happy that you cannot see the other side of another’s point of view.

Part of what I hoped the blogging would accomplish is presenting an insight that is needed by some, and wished for by others. Maybe it’s like a local news team that spoke of the presidential debates before the election, “We listen so you don’t have to.” Well, I did not listen to the debates, nor could I bring myself to listen to the news team present a possibly weighted view of the results. No matter what they said, it would be slanted from their own personal, and corporate, focus.

The other part of what I desperately wanted my blogging to accomplish was the application of spiritual insight to anything we face daily. Why? There seems to be a shallowness to the world that focuses on emotion, perceived slights and rights, my way and who cares what you think…

It’s a hollow world that can only see surface and miss the undertow of dangerous, or profitable ideas.

Who speaks that you listen to? What books or news sources flow into your world? When you say, “I can’t handle it anymore…”, there needs to be someone who can help bring clarity you can grasp like a drowning man clings to the only thing around that floats.

When I was about 6 or 7, we began taking swimming lessons. Since we acted like fish that desperately needed the water, the lifeguard-instructor moved us into tougher classes. He would pretend to be drowning in the deep end and it was our job to try and save him. How many times did he push me down to the bottom of the pool as he taught me to think about life saving a different way? Too many to think… 

I was in a college class a few years ago, out of state and on campus, and a dissenting point of theology could be expressed in such a way to cause an unwary neophyte to be confused with their own belief system. I shared backwards that a new kid on the block may not be strong enough in their own belief system to withstand the onslaught. Think about it. Is this not what happens on every college campus around the country? Fresh minds are being focused down a singular path that makes them doubt everything they believed as a child? They are rewarded for thinking for themselves, but in reality they are only thinking the way the professor intends them to think.

This is probably true for anything we get involved in – career, business, family, hobby… You name it. There is one way we should think, the right way, and learn to refuse all other view points. Right? Well, this is true if you are easily swayed. This view has been around for centuries.  Example?

“…that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting…” (Ephesians 4:14 NKJV)

What Paul focused on was a clear view of scripture that keeps followers of Christ on a singular path. Why? It is easy to fill the pool of knowledge with wayward ideas and thoughts that will keep people confused and arguing pro’s and con’s while the mission of life is missed.

Yet, Paul obviously had the ability to deal with these ideas and put them under the microscope of scripture and present them in a clear fashion.

How? Besides being “Spirit filled”, he was also highly educated by a Pharisee, a Doctor of The Law, named Gamaliel. Gamaliel name means, “Reward of God.” Paul had a great background! If anyone could keep the church moving forward, surely it was he. It’s like he had razor insight that could laser away every distraction, every wind of doctrine.

Not everyone has this ability.

It is the mark of an educated mind
to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” ~Aristotle

One more thing about Paul. God had a plan for him. In the midst of his conversion, God sent Ananias to pray for him. Ananias was afraid of Paul’s reputation that preceded him everywhere he went.

But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  (Acts 9:15-17 NKJV)

But let’s take this one deeper step. Paul received his “good news” training not by man, but through direct revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 1:11-12). This was a far deeper school of learning that any man could teach, and without the Holy Spirit it is deeper still than any man could comprehend.

We all find within ourselves a result of some of Paul’s specific teaching, but under the umbrella of God’s great grace that gave us someone like him who could be that voice in the darkness pointing the church to a great light.

Here’s my thought. I believe God has a plan for each of us. Some can handle weightier matters of Law, others are simply true followers of a better path. Some of us are trapped between two worlds. So, like me, we preach to our congregation, witness to every person we can, and write to an audience we do not see. Am I doing a good job? Time will tell. Will I ever change my approach? Perhaps. But for the time being I work hard to reach this world the only way I know how to do… Will you join me?

Through my years of writing I have a paltry 24,000+ readers, and only a few hundred subscribers. But these readers represent much of the globe! Again, will you join me?

 

 

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Paint By Numbers

Paint By Numbers:

(Click for Audio) There are some in my family that are very artistic. Freehand sketches and drawings, along with color coordination and application to make the result look real, or at least something you want to save. Better quality than something you would hang on a refrigerator door at the end of a school day. I’m just saying, I know folks who do a beautiful job with their craft, and some of it is framed in my domicile.

But this does not include me.

One person says I’m too “left brained” and have no artistic flair. Perhaps that’s true. On the other hand I think it’s simply that I never perfected the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy the creation of “things”. Somewhere around here are samples of what I did in grade school, and it’s better left to being “somewhere around here”! There’s nothing to brag on here! Just saying. I would much rather read a book than create something called Art! If the book were a mystery, then I would work ahead in my mind with the clues provided. It was a joy figuring out the punch line…and that was the focus of my artistic flair!

I was entering the 8th grade and trying out for basketball, one summer. The doctor discovered a hernia, and suddenly I’m bound to being a homebody for 6 more weeks…after spending nearly a week in the hospital bed. This was back during the days of old time surgery techniques. Not the in-n-out routine of modern times. I got some nice gifts from family and friends, things to fill my day with while recuperating.

Distinctly, I remember a “Paint by Number” set. Suddenly, I’m unsure what to call it. A Box? A Hobby? A Disaster? The end result looked nothing like the picture on the box, and I grew weary looking for all the little shapes with a certain number that matched to a certain color. You had to prep your work area, and then clean everything up afterwards…I remember it being a chore un-enjoyed. Perhaps it was simply the subject matter?

It’s like putting together a model car. Follow the instructions in a defined order, and my ending vehicle never looked like the picture on the box! Glue. Paint. Broken pieces. Maybe that’s why we enjoyed some brief moments of pyrotechnics as we rolled a model down the hill, burning match glued to the bumper, and a little cup of flammable liquid at the bottom! Of course, no parents were harmed in the fun of this destruction!

I’ve determined that even a Paint By Numbers kit needs a “flair” of artistic ability, just like the model, to make the final product match the creators thought! And I certainly do not claim this skill one iota!

Abolish the thought that I cannot follow instructions, for I can. And I do it very well all the time, just not on every thing before me. I’ve learned that there is a fluidity to my thought, action and reaction. You know, multitasking, daydreaming down rabbit trails, and mentally working on my others important tasks of the day, just to limit myself to following the instructions set before me.

Yet, when I devote my attention to something, then nothing else will shatter my focus. It’s just trying to find something to focus my attention on! In today’s alphabet world, there would probably be a coded set of letters that would pigeon hole me into a certain identifiable personality. I reject that. It seems we want to control by letters and drugs, instead of learning how to channel the natural ability of a person. My son’s teacher recognized his writing skill and just simply let him write in class instead of trying to focus him down a certain path of work that would not be challenging – what happened? Well, he’s a published author with a lot of zeal for the craft! Check out Jason Gurley.

One more example. It’s like assembling a puzzle. When I was younger I did not have the patience, nor eye, for the small scale work to create a larger end product. Today, my mind works through this exercise and it’s a pleasant past time. A cup of coffee, a little music and conversation, and an afternoon spent in the pleasure of tasks and company.

Maybe it’s an aging thing. The older I get the more interested I am in things I would have once rejected. IDK. Maybe, just maybe, well, maybe not. I was thinking I should get one of those adult “coloring” books that seem to be the rage these days. It better be something I want to frame afterwards, or I’m sure it will become another chore… But wait, I do need some fire starters for the winter!

 

Traditional Wednesday, December 14th

It seems like attending Church is becoming less important…

My Favorite Bible
My Favorite Bible

Growing up, I remember three important Church events of the week.

  • Sunday School and Sunday morning worship
  • Sunday Evening, often evangelistic
  • Wednesday Night Bible Study – pure teaching

Today, most are satisfied to take in one service at some point on Sunday morning…or even Saturday night. I understand the world has changed and we find other things to occupy our schedule, but if God and our hunger to see the world reached are important – then why do we allow so much of our schedule to become polluted with life?

When did attending Church become less important? I may agree that we “go” to Church too much, yet the less we go to Church, the less we are like the Christian experience I grew up in.  Has Church become a place of ease and comfort? As churches grow it becomes a place of “herding” one congregation out so the next can take its place as we stack service on top of service. Facilities are not large enough and congregations have grown so huge!

Memories of my younger time revolves around hard wooden pews, no carpet, no sound system, no drums and no A/C! Prayer rooms in the Attic on a summer day can be miserable, but they were often full.  Sunday school classrooms were full. No one came to church late, everyone was on time, and no one dreamed of allowing food or drink in the sanctuary.  Preaching was often hard, but we sure loved and respected our pastors and did not want to disappoint them. Sunday afternoon lunches, and maybe a friend joined us. Then we all rested quickly (do you remember those Sunday afternoon naps?), changed clothes and went back to church by 6 or 7 pm. Songs always came out of the song book and seldom did we sing something that was not in the book.  The Bible was King James, yet none of us talked like that old style English and we all felt like Jesus did!

However, I remember Wednesday night always being the toughest of all services.

Most of those days we started around 7:30 p.m. and it was not considered a good night if we got out before 9 pm. It was generally no different than Sunday night, except there was seldom a special song, or a choir song. But everything else was the same. We often made it home closer to 10 pm than most enjoyed on a school night, but this is definitely something that we all expected.

In fact, Wednesday night Bible study was so respected in the neighborhood that we had nothing to interfere with church. No ball games. No school events. No social interference. Society respected the normal life of a Christian experience. Take this a step deeper. We grew up in a state that enforced a “Blue Law.” I do not know why it was called “blue” but essentially it meant that stores could not stay open seven days per week. Close on Saturday, or Sunday, but you will give yourself a rest from the driving force of business. Most stores were closed on Sunday. But we knew which one was closed on Saturday… Some Sunday afternoon shopping was always enjoyed at the Globe on the Gulf Freeway.

I have not studied this of late, but as Texas grew in population with “outsiders” then the law was voted down by the time I was in my mid-teens.

Some may say the south is uniquely different than everyone else. Even the TV schedule is different than the West Coast. It has never been fully explained to my satisfaction, but the southern schedule ended the night with a 10 o’clock news. One of the stations, and there were only three (ABC, CBS, NBC), began with this phrase on the screen: “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where you children are?” Even today, when the west coast starts all of its programming later in the evening, the South still stays on the same schedule. Of course, entertainment has changed so much and you can now find over 500 stations to watch whatever you want. Whenever you want.

What does this have to do with Church?

Our levels of distraction have changed so much. We have allowed distractions to dictate to us what we expect life to be like. We cannot give up a Wednesday night for the study of God’s Word, but we can use every other night of the week to stay up late and enjoy dinner out, celebrations, or entertainment.

I have pastored for over 20 years now, and I have been in the ministry for way over 30 years. During my years of starting and pastoring two churches I made a decision to not have two services on Sunday. Partly because we existed in rented facilities, and partly because I want our church to experience some quality family time instead of focusing the entire Sunday on church attendance. In fact, I seldom plan anything for Saturday for the same reason.

So, this means Wednesday is an important service. This is where we dig into the Word and learn how to be a Christian. I used this scripture within the past few days, but Jesus said we are to “learn” of Him.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV)

How do we learn if we do not study?  Most do not set aside time to study the Word on their own… They may have a devotion and prayer time, but without intently studying His Word we are inept in living for Him.

So, we must learn together. This is the purpose of Wednesday night…

What else has happened on December 14th?

  • 1503 – Physician, astrologer and clairvoyant Nostradamus was born at St. Remy, Provence, France.
  • 1799 – The first president of the United States, George Washington, died at the age 67.
  • 1903 – Orville Wright made the first attempt at powered flight. The engine stalled during take-off and the plane was damaged in the attempt. Three days later, after repairs were made, the modern aviation age was born when the plane stayed aloft for 12 seconds and flew 102 feet.
  • 1911 – Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole. He reached the destination 35 days ahead of Captain Robert F. Scott.
  • 1962 – The U.S. space probe Mariner II approached Venus. It transmitted information about the planet’s atmosphere and surface temperature.
  • 1981 – Israel annexed the Golan Heights, seized from Syria in war in 1967.
  • 1988 – The first transatlantic underwater fiber-optic cable went into service.
  • 1999 – Charles M. Schulz announced he was retiring the “Peanuts” comic strip. The last original “Peanuts” comic strip was published on February 13, 2000.

Facebook over the past 8 years.

  • 2015 – It’s 2:40 am
  • 2014 – Just thinking about the past 10 years of pastoring in Lacey and all the wonderful people who passed through the doors of First Church of Lacey. Each of you have been important to this church and are a blessing of memories. May God bless you richly through these holidays with love, peace and joy. Michael Gurley and Brenda Foshee Gurley

Favored 12/14 scripture:

A man will be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, And the recompense of a man’s hands will be rendered to him. (Proverbs 12:14 NKJV)

For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 NKJV)

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. (Romans 12:14 NKJV)

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (Hebrews 12:14 NKJV)

Can You Trust Your Compass?

A compass is a remarkable tool.

Compass - GurleyBack in my scouting days I learned how to make one with a needle, water, soap and a magnet or piece of silk.

Explorers make decisions that affect their life by what they see when they hold it in their hand and they go where no one has gone before. It gives them focus and a sense of direction. The further you travel east and west you have to understand that a compass points to Magnetic North, and not True North.

There is a difference. Since our planet tilts 23.5 degrees away from the center of the top of the planet that is in line with the orbit of Earth. It’s called the Axial tilt,, or Obliquity. (Source) Essentially, the magnetic center line does not point directly up, nor down.

So, as the compass is a magnetic tool, it points to the true magnetic North – if you are north of the equator. 

W & LE Gurley has been making measuring equipment since the mid-1800’s. This pictured compass, though fragile and missing various components, still has characteristics that are common to all magnetic compasses. It survived many days and years in the field of its designated use. It’s more modern now than back in the days when surveyors depended upon rudimentary measuring tools to mark boundaries based on lines that can not be seen in the earth.

Compass readings are affected by the presence of iron and steel objects.

“A rusty nail placed near a faithful compass, will sway it from the truth, and wreck the argosy.” ~Walter Scott

The magnetic compass has been used for navigation for hundreds of years. At one time, it was the only reliable means of direction-finding. Today sophisticated equipment is available that is more accurate in locating direction and bearings.

However, such equipment has not made the compass obsolete. It is still a very practical tool. Even airplanes and ships equipped with more sophisticated equipment often carry compasses as backups.

If we were to draw spiritual lessons from the compass I would begin by having you see that God’s Word is the compass in our lives. From it we derive our direction, seeing behind and before us, aiming us to a destination that we are striving to reach, and it helps to mark how determined we are in arriving by our dedication to the task. Additionally, we scan sway the power of the compass by putting other items near it so that we bend the directive power of the compass to say what we want it to say…

Think about all the versions and variety of churches and doctrines that exist. They all come about from that single book we know as the Bible. Drill down through every layer of person that believes something about God, and you will reach back to a family or church bible that pointed the way to God.

“Sink the Bible to the bottom of the sea, and man’s obligation to God would be unchanged. He would have the same path to tread, only his lamp and his guide would be gone; he would have the same voyage to make, only his compass and chart would be overboard.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

Many trust in man’s studies to define the source of life. The problem with science is that it is a constantly changing set of parameters, still many believe in it over any other explanation of life. I’ve seen the fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls, and those that study the source of scripture can unequivocally state that these oldest known fragments are the foundation that our modern scriptures come from. For Thousands of Years the Word of God has survived mankind.

Choose the compass that sets the pathway of your life… As for me, my compass is the Word of God…

2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV) Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

I believe in that trusty Word of God will keep me pointed in the correct direction…

Apophenia, Revisited

Apophenia…. Palindrome… Onomatopoeia…

(Revisited, and Updated!)

Scrabble - WordsWhile making a little trip with my wife yesterday, I commented that the day was unique day for those of us who like to see pattern in things. I pulled over to the side of the road and grabbed my cell phone and opened it up to the calendar page and, at the appropriate time, I screen copied 11/11/11 at 11:11 a.m. … Don’t believe me? Well, consider this – I made sure that at 11:11 p.m. I duplicated my morning effort! Still don’t believe me?

Here’s a screen shot of my files on my iPhone!

11/11/11 - 11:11 a.m. and p.m.
11/11/11 – 11:11 a.m. and p.m.

I know my mind works differently than others around me. I am not a conspiracy theorist, nor a gazer at stars and planets to find patterns, nor even a gambler trying to find patterns in the world around me to gain the upper hand on a randomly selected group of numbers. Still, I do pay attention to things around me to find balance.

Patterns are a fact of life. We see them in numbering schemes to help memorize charts of ascending and descending counts. When someone tells me it’s 240,000 miles to the moon (average distance) and it’s 25,000 miles around the earth (rounded), then I determine that it’s nearly 10 times as far to the moon as it is to travel around our globe (actually, it’s 9.6 times, but who’s counting extra digits of rounding?!!). Then when we see that it’s 93 million miles from earth to the sun, I figure out we would have to go around the earth 67 times (rounded). Oh, I wished I had studied math better in school!!

Having been a programmer for many years, I often noticed the pattern of code that helps to point to problem resolution, or even to code successfully. Especially, if code is aligned to certain columns. A broken pattern can point to broken code… Trust me. I know what “I’m” talking about!

Where does this pattern noticing come from? Those pictures you would often see in a mall that required you to let you eyes sort of lose focus so that you can see the hidden picture – these generally baffle me and I seldom see what others so easily see. Still, my subconscious works through the world around me and every so often a pattern emerges and for those I cannot help but to stop and think about it.

In fact, most of my work career has shown me that there is indeed a “pattern” to numbers, letters, and words. My uncle Henry showed me a phrase that can be read the same forward, or backward, while making allowance for spacing of letters to make the words appear. These are called “palindromes”… I have shared this a lot, what Henry showed me nearly 30 years ago!  Here’s what I remember:

A Man, A Plan, A Canal – Panama

Try it… Read it from the backwards forward, making allowances for spaces to form the words! Many sentences and paragraphs have been written just so this event can happen! It’s a real mind twister…

Still, this is not a pattern easy to discern. It is easier to see patterns in numbers. Repeating numbers, sequentially ordered numbers, and even numbers that can be uniquely calculated to show a result that has patternicity.  This new millennium has given us an opportunity to see these patterns that show up every 100 years.

01/01/01, 02/02/02, 03/03/03, 04/04/04,
05/05/05, 06/06/06 (some like the fact that this was 6/6/6),
07/07/07, 08/08/08, 09/09/09, 10/10/10, 11/11/11, 12/12/12

Then, add the same time of the day, and you have created a very pattern! Capture it at the correct time and you have living proof of a pattern! We have one more year to see this work out and then we move into higher numbers that will goof up our synchronicity view point.

The questions is, does this mean anything? The answer is – you tell me!

In 1958 Klaus Conrad penned the word, “apophenia” that:

“… described this phenomenon in relation to the distortion of reality present in psychosis, but it has become more widely used to describe this tendency without necessarily implying the presence of neurological differences or mental illness.”

Uh oh… He’s likening the focus of seeing patterns in things as something related to mental illness! Quick, quit thinking… hey did you notice that the first two words of this sentence began with “qui” (is this a pattern of something and where do I find how to fit this into meaning in my life?) and this makes me realize that most words that begin with Q are often followed by U and a vowel. You know. A, E, I, O or U. Makes it quite interesting to the quick mind who has quit trying to be dis-quieted by seemingly inconsequential (okay, maybe an E falls into place every so often) patterns in things that mean absolutely nothing!

Essentially then, apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. This phenomenon has found application in many different areas of life:

  • Some use these patterns to define opportunity to gamble on an opportunity with the hopes of winning big
  • Some see conspiracy theories evolve as these patterns show forth. And, in fact, many popular novels of late have delved into the study of patterns – the authors have made great sums of money feeding off of our desire to assume these theories might be based in reality.
  • Even in religion, regardless of which one you choose, patterns often emerge and followers base past, present and future understanding of events on these patterns. Although some may be truth, many are just our desire to search out for the pattern that will explain the mysteries of life.

Other similar scientific sounding words are often used to document this pattern seeking process – patternicity, onomatopoeia, synchronicity…

Regardless, there are definitely patterns of numbers that can be found in anything.

Yesterday (11/11/11) and the day before (11/10/11) can be arranged into numerical streams of numbers that read 111111 and 111011 respectively. To any programmer we see these numbers as binary – the original coding language of all computers. Even today binary code is simply the storage location of data where one bit (it takes 8 bits to make a byte or character of data) is either charged (1) or not charged (0), and like a light switch, electricity (magnetism) is either on (1) or off (0). Still, 6 digits of binary stream must be manipulated in order to make it into a binary code, because you need 8 bits to decode. Do we assume then that “00” is added to the front of the number stream or behind?

  • If it’s before then 00111111 = ? and 00111011 = ;
  • If it’s after then the data becomes essentially garbage and that makes no sense for this blog

Of course, in order for all of this to work we have to ignore the fact that the year is really 2011, not simply 11. In binary, the only numbers that work are “1” and “0”. Again, in reality it only works because we like shortcuts to everything around us. All you need to do is read the text of this modern world to see how we like to shorten things. Imagine if Shakespeare had been able to text: 2B or not 2B…! An artist might think he’s talking about the selection of a pencil, while a texter might realize he’s actually saying: To be or not to be…

So, this is  how my mind works. I take off down these quirky (qui…) paths and file away the knowledge until such day that a pattern emerges and I can be satisfied that I “already knew that”!!!

One last thing… I do not know Hollywood, but they did create a movie and called it 111111… I’m sure there’s nothing there, do you think? Besides, if you were to watch it today you would be one day too late… Hmmm… One Day… Is a pattern emerging?

 

Be Productive With Your Planting

I remember the joy of cutting down trees… The bigger the better!
Favorite Trees
Favorite Trees

When we were tasked to remove a cottonwood near the house we gave no thought of success, only that we tied a rope to the top, began chopping at the bottom, and then pulling it in the direction we wanted. Of course, it was onto the neighbors property, and it was only 4 feet from our home…The danger of where it would fall was more about us guiding it with a rope from the tallest branches than by any skill in proper cutting.

This was pure enjoyment when I was younger.

The older I get the more distressed I am when trees are brought down. Not the kind that are raised as a crop, but the ones that identify the yard, give shade to the home, or blossom for no apparent reason except to be enjoyed.

The 5 acres we call home was harvested for valuable trees some 20 years ago. Instead of replanting, my yard was allowed to slowly come back to some form of natural life. We had plenty of trees 11 years ago, but I wanted more! We have planted approximately 150 trees of various breeds and purpose – but still, I want more!

Give me a forest!

We have bought trees from several favorite places: Weyerhauser Tree Farm, Lawyer Nursery, Pioneer Nursery, and a few other local place. Tall trees. Established trees. And bare root trees. I have transplanted them all throughout the yard, and still that’s not enough. More! More!

Many trees we have planted are married (spliced) to a root ball that is very capable of surviving our soil type. We even have an ornamental tree wrapped up from the root with an apple tree, and it produces lots of apples!

Emma Loves Trees
Emma Loves Trees

We even took a tree brought to us by our granddaughter from Oregon and planted it in a special place. She even named it! “Emma Loves Trees”… A girl after my own heart!

When it comes to planting new trees you must take into consideration the tree requirements – soil conditions, sun requirements, drainage, or even proximity to other barriers – every tree has requirements. Disobey the instructions and your results, well, they will be surprising. Probably surprisingly bad!

Of all the trees we have planted – some have not survived. Others are struggling with location, for whatever reason, and others are blooming there they are planted!

Take these pictured trees. I planted them as bare root stock, a foot tall, about 7 years ago, watered them religiously their first year and watched them head for the skies! Look how they have grown! Notice the next picture and you will see a tree from the same time period planted along the edge of my “woods”… It gets an evening sun and competes for root space with other trees who send out runners to start a new growth. In fact, it seems to be crowded and not very productive. And it is the same age as the first pictured tree…

2014-06-17 08.56.36

Buried deeper among the “woods” are other firs that are growing like crazy. Why is this one struggling? Poor planting location? Root competition? Not enough sun? Or was it simply a poor specimen.

It does matter where you plant what you plant!

This is also true about each of us.

There are some appropriate places where we grow quickly, and other places we are stunted. There are places where we are encouraged to grow, and some where we are constantly thrust back into the crowd and not allowed to become.

Jesus speaks a parable about sowing some seed. Back then seed was spread by hand. It was not planted in neat rows, nor by some mechanized method. It was scattered by hand and stayed where it landed – some in the pathway, some in the thorns, some among the rocks, and even some was found in good earth (Matthew 13:3-9).

Each location had challenges. Along the hard pressed and frequently traveled pathway, seed was snatched away by the birds because there was no good place to root. Some were choked out by thorns and weeds, and other seed landed in the rocks where there was not enough soil to do any good. Of course, most seed was focused on the good ground – the right earth combination to allow production.

I have worked secular jobs throughout my adult life, and I have ministered in a number of locations. Some of these places were hard pressed to allow anything to grow (pathway), some were prickly with multitude of thorny attitudes and everything you did was choked out of existence. Some places were simply craggy with hard rocks, hard attitudes … almost an impossibility to make a difference and a waste of planting. Still, there have been some really good places where much growth and production happened.

There are multiple lessons found in this parable. Jesus gives me a thought about a particular point I want to leave you with today.

When any one heareth the word of the kingdom…” Matthew 13:19 (KJV)

Thought: Notice how the explanation of the parable seems to define a single person hearing the Word. One person. This one person contains all the conditions of soil from the parable. Hard ground, prickly and thorny ground, rocky crevasses with little potential for growth, and of course, there are some areas considered good ground. Some areas of my life are hard, prickly and rocky – and will bear virtually no fruit. Other areas are ripe to receive and produce as necessary.

It seems to me,
there are many who have a disproportionate percentage
of one type of ground or the other!

Truly, we cannot blossom where planted unless we are willing to take the unproductive portions of our lives and make them productive…

Soften up that hard trodden pathway of life,
get rid of the thorns and weeds,
remove the rocks and make sure there is tillable soil…
Then be productive where you are planted!

Do you want to productive where you are planted? Then you need to see what changes are required in your life!

Personal Choice or Not

True Texans Drink Dr Pepper!
True Texans Drink Dr Pepper!

It continues to happen… Everyone has a choice…

Or do they?

I remember telling Dad, “I want an orange Coke.” because everything was a “coke” back then. Royal Crown Cola was favored because you could buy a 16oz drink for the same price at smaller quantities.

But when you force your choice on me, then it is no longer a choice.