Sow Where You’re Planted

SSower1

This past Sunday, our pastor spoke on the Parable of the Sower, and told us the story of the illustration, above. She and a friend, about 13 years ago, created the banner to go along with this parable when she was serving as a district superintendent for the Virginia Conference of the UMC. They purposely left the face unfinished, using it as the hook for the congregations she was visiting, telling them that they should picture the sower with their face, as it is every Christian’s responsibility to sow the Word of God in their situations.

As she was speaking about the parable, and as I was looking this banner, the old adage about growing where you are planted popped into my head. Only, it didn’t come to me as “Grow where you are planted,” but “Sow where you are planted.”

All too often we are content to live our lives and tell ourselves that we are letting our little light shine, that we are showing God’s love from the inside out. I have been guilty of that kind of thinking, myself, and so I am familiar with the mindset. After all, we know that wonderful chorus, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love. Yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”

Somehow it never gets to our message, though, does it?

Shema

I am continuing to do my research into the Jewish roots of Christianity, and I am learning about the language of the Bible, of Jesus, and how simple words that we use have deep, rich meaning in Hebrew, due to the fact that biblical Hebrew only consists of about 8,000 words (compare that with English and its 600,000).

“Shema” is the word “hear” in Hebrew, but it means so much more than listen. In many, many instances, shema means to obey. While the New Testament was written in Greek, we know that Jesus spoke in Hebrew and Aramaic, so when the teacher of the Law asked Him about the most important commandment, we know that He began his answer with the word Shema.

“Hear, O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one,” he began, citing Deut. 6:4 (the beginning of the prayer that every Jew said twice a day, btw.) That statement is a call to not only hear but commit to obeying God and His Law.

To tie this idea of hearing equaling obeying, think back to the parable of the Sower and see if you can remember how Jesus ended His teaching:

“Whoever has ears, let him hear (shema).”

Understanding that Jesus told his audience to shema, we can see that He was telling His listeners to do more than just listen to His teachings. He was telling them to obey His teaching and to begin sowing where they are planted.

CSL

Why A Rabbi?: The Silent Years?

silent

One of the popular topics of speculation in religious circles, both Christian and non-, is “what happened during Jesus’ Silent Years?” Of course, the silent years being the time in Christ’s life between His twelfth birthday and His baptism by John in the Jordan, when He went off into the desert for forty days.

But here’s the deal about those supposed silent years—while the Gospels don’t give us specifics concerning any particular event in the life of Christ prior to ministry, (other than His youthful visit to the Temple), we have enough historical writings to know what His life was like as He grew, and how He was preparing for His public ministry. Continue reading

“Why A Rabbi?”: A Slight Detour

rabbidetourAs I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I am examining the Jewish nature of Jesus’ ministry, and what it should mean to those who fashion themselves to be His disciples. I’m going to begin this post by asking a question, and then following it up into a rabbit trail that actually is quite relevant to this series of posts. Here is the question:

Who has NOT heard the statement “Jesus was born to die”?

No one, right? This is a commonly-used statement that people make to say that the purpose of Christ’s birth was to get Him to Calvary, to die as God’s sacrificial lamb to atone for the sins of the world. Continue reading

“Why A Rabbi?”, part 1

rabbi1I realize that several of my recent posts may lead some to think that I’ve become ga-ga over Judaism, that I might be a couple bubbles off-center in my fascination with the historic background for the birth of the Church due to this one book that’s gotten me all hipped on Jesus the Jew. But I have to say that seeing Jesus in a synagogue and not the cathedral has both answered a lot of questions for me and engendered a whole lot more.

But one basic question that I have been coming back to, over and over, is a simple, three-word question in the second chapter of  Sitting At The Feet Of Rabbi Jesus:

“Why a rabbi?” Continue reading

A Bend In The Journey, pt. 2

bend2

In my previous post, I spoke of the co-traveller that was always nearby as I sought to follow Jesus, the link between Christianity and Judaism. I shared about how early on in our marriage Wife and I spent time learning about Judaism as background for our faith.  In this post, I am going to present some more recent events that are having an impact on my understanding of Judaism, how it relates to Christianity, and how new knowledge is impacting my faith.

In my Apology post, last month on my Curmudgeonly Librarian blog, I spoke of three new “revelations” that I received that have shed new light on what I have believed. (And by “revelation”, I am specifically NOT claiming that God talked with me and gave me new scriptures, etc.) Continue reading

From “Hosanna” to “Crucify Him”?

calvary road

In my last post, I said that I would be writing about realizing that what I know might not be so. This isn’t that post, but I wanted to get this one up in time for Good Friday; it’s just an interim post, but given that this is Holy Week, it is timely. And it is an example of possibly knowing something that might not be so.

Hosanna! / Crucify Him!

Have you ever wondered what could have happened in just five days that would turn a crowd of worshipping pilgrims into a mob calling for Jesus to be executed as a criminal? Yes, I do get that humans are fickle and can be easily swayed, but “Crucify Him!”? Really? Continue reading

A Bend In The Journey, pt. 1

bend

I’m 67, and I’ve been a Christian since I was 19, almost 50 years now. I’ve made some interesting discoveries and surprising turns in my spiritual pilgrimage; raised Catholic, I “got saved” in a Pentecostal Holiness church as a young sailor in the Navy. By turns in a CMA church and in a charismatic church. Previously an ordained minister in a pentecostal church and currently a very satisfied nothing in a Methodist church. Continue reading

A “Method” To Their Madness

cut bible pic
Because of my heretical unorthodox heretical views, for over a decade I’ve found myself most comfortable as a Methodist. After all, anyone who hates John Calvin and Augustine can’t be all bad, right? But the events of the past year in the United Methodist Church have me worried. Did I say past year? How about four decades?

Okay, let’s just stick to the past year. I attend a UMC church in Virginia, which puts me in the Virginia Conference. Last year, for the first time ever, the Virginia  Annual Conference voted to petition the General Conference (quadrennial world-wide UMC gathering) to change the Book of Discipline (the UMC book of faith and practice) to eliminate statements saying that homosexuality is antithetical to the Christian faith. Continue reading

Ugh!!

“I’m a Great Christian,” said no Christian, ever!

With that introduction, I want to get into why Christians need to check themselves and the validity of their faith if they have any leaning toward voting for Donald Trump.

I just learned this week that the pollster George Barna, in trying to interpret polling data, created two categories for people who claimed to be Christians. When I discovered these two categories, I shouted “Amen, brother!”, because he nailed the fact that not everyone who claims “Jesus is Lord” actually means it. Barna’s two categories are creedal and notional. Continue reading