Food For Thought

Working The Soil - Annette Wells

One of the goals I have given myself for this year (the year I turn half a century) is to conquer the clutter that I have managed to acquire. I am very aware that one of the main areas I am going to struggle with is books. It is really hard for me to get rid of books. Some I still hope to read (even if there are people who say if you haven't read it in a year, you won't!), and others I think I might read again. I realize that a lot of people just read a book once, and even that might be hard to do, but there really are books that I have read more than once.

If you find that strange, just let me ask -- Are there any movies or television shows that you have watched more than once? My guess is that there is. And why do we like to see or read things over and over? One reason is that the familiarity is comforting or pleasing, the other is that we often notice something that we missed the first, or susequent time. That's the way it is for me with some books -- so I struggle with passing them on in case I want to read the story again.

I had the experience of seeing something new in one of Jesus parables this week. I couldn't tell you how many times I have read, or heard the parable of the sower and the seeds; -- too many to count. But, for some reason this week I thought of the soil in particular. Usually I have thought of the seed,or the sower, or the "people" that the "fruit" represent. But this week, it was the soil that struck me.

There are four types of soil mentioned:
--the hard packed soil along the path where the birds could eaily take the seed
--the rocky soil that prevented the seed from taking root
--the thorny soil where the seed took root and grew, but was then choked out
--and lastly, the good soil, where the seeds took root, grew and bore fruit

This is one of the few parables that Jesus told his disciples what it meant -- he compared the soil to the hearts of people who heard or listened to the Word of God. The type of soil compares to the reaction of the people who hear.

What struck me is that in a garden, the soil can be changed. I have to admit, I don't garden, but I do know enough that when the ground is hard, you can dig it up, use a rototiller, get it so that it is able to be re-planted and germinate the seed. Rocks can be removed. I have heard how the early settlers to North America in particular used to have the rock sleds to take the rocks out before seeds were planted. And of course, any gardener has to contend with thorns. Thorns can be dealt with in many ways, but when they are removed, the seeds flourish again.

This made me think that missions, whether close to home or on the other side of the world, is an act of re-working the "soil" where the Word of God lands. Sometimes we have to be patient and really work on changing the way someone views the church and God. They might seem hardened to hear, but with time,and patience, and God's help, the "soil" can be changed and made earth that will bear wonderful plants.

The "rocks" that get in the way of someone growing in Christ can be removed too. That also takes time. It can be very heavy work. But it is possible, and that is what we are called to do -- to build relationships with people that allow those rocks to be addressed and broken up so that God's Word can really change a person.

Thorns, too, can be removed. They come in all sizes and from many sources. People who have heard God's word, started to change, but then gotten distracted by other demands in their life, or perhaps were hurt by something or someone in a church. They still consider themselves to be a Christian, but they don't live like a growing disciple of Christ because of the "thorns." Again, missions is about working on removing those thorns and producing healthy plants.

What kind of soil do you see around you? What can you do to re-work the soil so that the seed of God's Word will take hold and change people in a truly magnificent way? The job is ours as the sower of the seed. Thankfully, we also know the master farmer who is concerned for all the plants

A Choice For Life - Annette Wells

Consider the plight of a 17-year old girl who discovers she is pregnant in our society today. She might be scared, she might be angry, she might think that having a baby will be the best thing to happen to her. There is a lot of pressure put on any girl by our society. For a pregnant teenager there may be friends who ask immediately who the father is, and what he plans to do -- or someone might say she would be better to decide all on her own what to do.

The choices that an expectant mother has in reacting to a positive pregnancy are many -- but not easy to make. It doesn't really matter what the circumstances were that lead up to her becoming pregnant; at 17 she is still young. While we hear of many teen pregnancies, there are also a lot of women giving birth later in life too. 

We know that abortion is easier to get today than it would have been in the past -- but still not an easy choice. Pregnancy of a single woman does not come with the same stigma that it would have done years ago. While there is still shame attached for many, we don't tend to hear of families throwing a girl out of the house when she becomes pregnant, and there aren't as many stories of "shotgun" weddings either. (Then again, that doesn't mean it isn't happening.)

As Christians who are trying to live and make choices according to God's Word, there are a lot of issues that come into play in a situation like this. Ignoring the question of how a girl became pregnant, there are serious issues regarding the life of the baby that is growing in her body.

The Bible very clearly tells us God is involved in the creation of all living beings -- Psalm 139 says that God knit us together in our mother's womb. In Jeremiah it says that God knew Jeremiah before he was ever born -- inferring that same knowledge for all of us. Humans are the only part of creation in Genesis that are described as having been made in the image of God -- we are special.

Human life is special -- human life is not something that we should end before it even starts outside the womb. As Christians we believe in the value of each human life, no matter how insignificant they may seem, or the stage of development they are at. 

Of course, this belief does not sit well with many in our modern society. There are many who say that a woman must have the right to decide what happens to her body. In a sense, I agree with that -- but I think that a baby growing inside her has no voice, and that life should take precedence in importance over the "choice" of a mother.

I have a personal stake in this belief. Fifty years ago, there was a seventeen year old who became pregnant before she was married. (I don't know if she had even really considered marrying her boyfried before she knew she was going to have a baby.) That couple got married, (he was just 20), and made a life together.

I remember learning in Grade 13 Sociology that the majority of teen marriages didn't last -- but this one has lasted for fifty years now. You see, I was the baby that came from that relationship. I am humbled and mystified when I think of what could have happened, and thankful to God that abortion was not the choice that seemed best.

I asked my grandmother once what she thought when her seventeen year old daughter told her she was pregnant -- her response then was that she had hoped God would use the baby and that there would be a purpose for what had happened. -- Well, I would say that God does have a purpose for my life -- I still sometimes wonder exactly what it is, but I am so very thankful that God guided that 17 year old and 20 year old to keep their pregnancy and to have a baby.

By the way, it is this type of situation that Atlantic Baptist Women help with through the support we give to the Pregnancy Support Centres in the Atlantic provinces. There are seven of these centres in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and PEI that our Home Missions revenues help. There are a lot of seventeen year olds (and others) who need to know that someone will help them in protecting the life that God has allowed to start in them.

Just a Night Light - Gail Whalen-Dunn

Our bathroom does not have a window so last night I plugged a night light in my bathroom.  When I plugged it in I thought that it was not going to be very useful as it seem to provide such little light. However, when I arose in the morning and went to the bathroom, I was amazed just how bright that light was shinning in the darkness of the bathroom. 

It got me to thinking about how we as Christians are to be a light in the midst of darkness. Someone recently said to me, "that the darker the world gets the brighter we as Christians need to shine." So true!!!!! I realized that often we feel that it is the big things that we do that make a difference and the little stuff, well that is just not worth doing. However when I saw how much light came from that one little nightlight, I realized how just one small act of kindness, one act of forgiveness, one kind word, one small something can shed a lot of light in the middle of darkness. As Christians we are called to be light in this dark world. So this week, think of one small way you can share the love and light of Jesus Christ with someone you know or don't know. It does not have to be something big as "little is much when God is in it" just let your light shine.

Wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! - Gail Whalen-Dunn

Happy Summer Everyone. I just love this time of year, the green of the grass, the warmth of the morning, the flowers. the birds singing, I could go on. We truly wait for this time of the year and all its warmth and beauty. I am involved in a Bible Study on the book of Esther and last week the topic was waiting. I don't know about you but I am not the most patient person and we do not live in a society that promotes waiting. We want it yesterday. We have no patience when we have to wait for something. I am guilty if I go to a drive through of getting upset when there are a few cars ahead of me and I have to wait. It is as if they should know I am coming.

As my holidays approach, I have to admit that I have been waiting for this break. In my devotional time I reflected on the fact that I have been waiting all year for this holiday time. Then something hit me, instead of waiting on this holiday time all year to renew my strength, I need to be waiting on the Lord each day all year round. Wait on the Lord, not an easy thing to do as often when we wait on the Lord it is not an instant fix but sometimes a long process. God's timing is not our timing. As hard as waiting on God is we are told through Isiaih 40:31, "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Yes, my holiday time will be a time to relax, but waiting on the Lord will renew! May we today in all that life will unfold  take the time to wait on the Lord earnestly asking God to renew our strength, seeking God's presence in all that we see, say and do and may we through it all know that it is through God and God alone, that we are renewed. Let us wait upon the Lord.

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