Let's be reasonable with one another, shall we?

Thursday, June 29, 2006

A Parable - A Sower Went out to Sow

I am not going to professionally exegete the parable of the sower. Two bloggers have submitted exegesis of two related parables in the comments of the former post. One is here and the other is there. There are many wide-ranging interpretations of these. I don't agree with many of them, but I think they happen because every detail of exactly what is meant is not spelled out. I am good at offering personal illustrations, so that is what I will start by doing.

When I was converted at the age of 20, I was very zealous for the Lord. At this time, I was living at home with my Catholic mother and going to college. My life changed dramatically as I was discipled by a very charismatic and influential man. I believe God used him to separate me from many of the bad influences in my life. He constantly talked about the Bible and the gospel and my feet became solidly planted on the Word of God. I was very zealous for witnessing and studying the Bible.

A few years later, I went out from my mother’s house and into the real world of living, working, paying bills, etc. etc. John and I had become married and were making a life together, living in a small apartment and trying to save for the monumental goal of owning a small home someday. Suffice it to say, when you grow up with everything easily provided for … and then you and your husband find that material things are not to be taken for granted as you had once done, it is a shock. I did not handle this shock so well. I went through a brief period of depression as I became worried and anxious, especially at the prospect of having a family. I questioned God about different circumstances and became not a very good example of a faith-filled Christian. I can remember unsaved members of my family asking me, “Where’s your faith?” Don’t get me wrong, my husband provided, but I was more intimately familiar with the mechanisms of this than I had been when I was brought up the upper-middle class home that I had been. I became very distracted, fretful and care-filled.

This time of fret subsided VERY slowly. I can remember sitting in church services on at least two different occasions, over a number of years and hearing the Parable of the Sower being read. Both times, I leaned over to my husband, John, as the portion about the seed that was choked by the cares and concerns of this world, and said “That’s me.” I also had this same thought when reading it alone. No doubt – I was the plant that was unfruitful because of thorns that had choked me. Matthew 13:

Behold, a sower went out to sow. 4 And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them.
No plants there. There is no plant and no plant life – just a wasted seed.

5 Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. 6 But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away.
There were plants, but they became withered. The life situation is not conducive to a flourishing plant. I think of people who may hear and receive the gospel and then perhaps get caught up in a cult. I also think of someone who hears the gospel, believes and has saving faith and then has no one to disciple him – no Bible to read or no one to encourage and spur him on. He hadn’t had time for the root of his faith to develop and strengthen ... and then the heat is turned up. But wait - does this have to be the end of the story? With a little water, a little removal of some rocks, a little TLC, this plant could revive and become healthy. – I had some on my porch a couple of weeks ago. Did I need to plant new seed? Did this plant need to be reborn? No, it needed water!

7 And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them.
There was plant life here, but it wasn’t fruitful. Note what He says later on down in the chapter:

22 And the one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful.
Does Jesus say the plant died? No. Is there any reason to believe that the thorny plants couldn’t be cut back by the farmer and that with a little TLC, this plant could become fruitful at a later time? It received the Word, and became a plant, but was an unfruitful plant. Would it have to become a seed again and be re-germinated? Think about that. Don’t you know any Christians who fit this description? Couldn’t it have been said of you ever?

8 But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.
This is God’s ideal for the Christian life. The life is ready to produce. This is God’s best for us!

That is my simple understanding of this parable, but as I have mentioned already, it doesn’t seem that simple to others. I guess if your theology doesn't bear the concept of an unfruitful Christian, then you couldn't accept this view. I personally believe that the unfruitful Christian is a valid Biblical concept, revealed in many non-parabolic passages, so I have thought of this parable this way for as long as I can remember since being a believer. I don’t see why anyone would insist that this story is conveying a message that only the seeds yielding a crop had been given life – that just doesn’t seem to be the obvious meaning to me. But who am I?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Why Parables?

I have been thinking for a while about parables. I wonder why Jesus used them so much.

Matthew 13 says:
13This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. 14In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: " 'You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. 15For this people's heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.'
I am not sure what this means in regards to those readers of the parables today. He has spoken in hidden language to a particular group back then and for a specific reason - because He knew they wouldn't receive His truth anyway. But what of the church? We read these parables and I think they are remain confusing! There are many interpretations that are quite wide-ranging.

One thing is for sure - it is difficult to dogmatically hold doctrine that you conclude from a parable. It often sounds so unproven and unclear.

I do think they are beneficial, perhaps to get us to think? (2 Tim. 3:16)

The next few posts are going to be on parables. I am going to pick a few and delve into my own interpretations of them and discuss some of the other ones I've read - and even some of my own battling interpretations of each. Maybe it will be fun - maybe you will add your two cents.

Monday, June 26, 2006

A Hymn I Love

Words & Music by: Philip Bliss

Man of Sorrows! what a name
For the Son of God, Who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Monday, June 19, 2006

A Very Morbid Subject

I am sorry if any of you reading this have recently experienced the loss of a loved one. This is in no way meant to offend you or hurt. I will write plainly ... and possibly bluntly. I will touch on the practices we have of “visitation” “viewing” and “burial” because they have been on my mind for quite some time.

Following is a little personal background.

When I was 11, my one-year-old dog, Benny, ran headlong into a car and died. It broke my heart. I remember crying intermittently for about a month. It was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. We got another dog, Charlie, shortly after and I eventually got over my feelings of loss. About a year later, when Charlie was one year old, my parents were planning a trip to Mexico.

My older sister, Mary, her husband and child were going to stay with us - me and my four-year-old and sixteen-year-old brothers, while our parents were away. During the week leading up to the trip, we kids and parents had many conversations about the plane crashing and what would happen if Mom and Dad died … and never came back form Mexico. It was all very tongue-in-cheek, of course.

On the Friday they were to leave, I went to school as usual, knowing that when I came home, my parents would be gone and my sister Mary would be there. When I got home from school, I found things just as I expected. Mary and a couple of my brothers were in the family room. I said “hi” and no one answered. I then said something cocky and sat down. I noticed that Mary started to cry. I asked what was wrong and she didn’t answer. I stood and repeated my question … still, no answer from anyone. I began to think that my dog Charlie had died! I then raised my voice, demanding to know what was wrong. Charlie came in the room, barking. Oh no - it must be the plane had crashed … Mom and Dad!!! My mother followed Charlie into the room, reaching down and shushing the dog after I had continued to call out “what is wrong with everyone?!” Then, when I saw my mother, I just knew. She looked at me and said the words I will never forget, “Rosie, honey, Daddy has died.” He had suffered a fatal heart attack in the morning and died before they ever were to leave for the airport. He was 48 years old.

My father had a “Memorial Service.” He had donated his body to science … and so there was no “viewing,” no casket, no funeral home with “visitation,” and no burial … or grave. My mom’s sisters thought this was terrible. They said that they were never really sure that Bill (that was my Dad’s name) was really gone - because they never saw the body (this strikes me as a very strange thing to say.)

I, on the other hand, am glad for the way he did it. I don’t have any Scriptural reasons - I don’t think - I am just glad that I don’t have a memory of seeing my father’s still and lifeless body lying in a box. I think it would have been awful and that it would have made a very sad occasion more morbid then it already was. Maybe I am wrong, but that is what I think.


The week before last, there were two funerals at our church. I did both of the funeral “bulletins” and cried for both as I did the work. These things make me very sad - even though I am confident that the people are with the Lord. I feel so bad for the pain that the families must go through. The worst was that of a 20 year old boy who was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle across a busy highway. It was dreadful. His funeral took place on Saturday when I was on vacation. His poor, poor family.

The other death was that of a very beloved associate pastor of ours. He was 82 years old. His “visitation” was held in our chapel and the main memorial service (funeral?) was in the larger auditorium on Friday when I was at work (before I left for the lake). If I thought that any of his family or close friends would read this, I would not mention the following self-centered thoughts.

The casket made me feel very disturbed. I had to walk through the chapel to get paper to print the bulletin and I glanced at the open casket. I deliberately avoided the immediate area. I felt very guilty for not walking up and greeting his wife and fine children and grandchildren. They probably did not notice me – there were many visitors - but how bad of me not to stop. I told myself I would come back in a little while. Then, it was conveniently too late. I felt guilty … and selfish. Why did his body need to be there? It would not be uncomfortable if they were standing there alone.

I have been to a few funerals and seen a couple of open caskets.

My mom’s mother died in the year 2000. I walked up to that casket. There were two flies on her face. My oldest son, who was four at the time, tried to get the flies to leave her alone. I thought this was very awkward and inappropriate. Why should I look at my grandmother’s dead body and see her with flies bothering her lifeless body? I knew she was dead ... seeing her body was not necessary. Why is this done?

John and I are working these things out and I think I want to donate my body to science. I have heard Christians say this is wrong because they desecrate your body.

What about cremation? Is this unbiblical?
Is it biblical to roll a dead body into the house of worship?
Why do we do these things?
Do they do it this way in other civilized coutries?

I am sorry if these words have offended anyone. I know it was very frank and I hope I have not been too selfish by posting it.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Where was I?

People that read here - you are so kind. I just wanted to tell you where I was! John, the kids and I went to a little cottage on a little lake in the "Irish Hills" of Michigan. It was beautiful and very relaxing. We spent time fishing, canoeing, swimming and bike riding. It was so nice to be away from the busy-ness. I would love to post pictures of the kids ... and the great big fish Elliot caught, but I am a little paranoid about posting pictures of my young kids.

The lake is called Pickerel Lake, but we never saw any Pickerel. John said the cottage was built on a skewed foundation and that because nothing was level and plum (sp?), it made him dizzy. I had no such problem. What does that mean? Am I already dizzy ... or do I adapt more easily?

We are happy to be back to the cleanliness and comforts of home. (and level-ness). I don't know if I can catch up with reading all your blogs, but I will look here and there and pick up with the new.

Next post - hopefully coming Monday: A Morbid Subject

Saturday, June 10, 2006

TTFN (ta-ta for now)

RR will be inactive for one week. May you be blessed by other parts of the blogosphere and internet. There are some good links in my sidebar.

Every Blessing in Christ!

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

2 Corinthians 5

Please, read this passage with me and think with me about some questions that came to my mind:

11 Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade men. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.
12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to take pride in us, so that you can answer those who take pride in what is seen rather than in what is in the heart.
13 If we are out of our mind, it is for the sake of God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you.
14 For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.
15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
20 We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God.
21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Cor. 5)

Who are the men of verse 11 and who is the you of verse 20?
I think it is pretty clear that the anyone and the us of verse 17 and 18 are saved people.
What about the world and men of verse 19?
Who is the you of verse 20?

This is a re-post from another time and place, but the topic got de-railed and I never got to the bottom of it. Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Dinner Last Night

Last night I enjoyed a meal of Pizza. It was from a new joint around town called Jets. The pizza was deep dish and very delicious. I like deep dish pizza that is crispy in the bottom. I don't know if this place is local or is a national chain. I drank a store brand lime flavored cola. The weather was cooler and I finished up on moving some of my own clothes around.

Inspiration for this type of post: Dyspraxic Fundamentalist

I have ideas in mind for some of my more usual types of posts - upcoming. I have needed this break.


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