Sunday, November 22, 2015

The "Plowed" Life

From a farmer's perspective, there are two kinds of ground: fallow ground and ground that has been broken up by the plow. Both yield very different things. The same thinking can be applied to the acquired "fields" of our lives (either fertile or infertile) ... yielding very different produce depending on how open and receptive we are to the One who plows, and the choice of our reactions to what we may encounter in our unfolding experience of it. Throw down the protecting fences.
"The fallow field is smug, contented, protected from the shock of the plow and the agitation of the harrow. Such a field, as it lies year after year, becomes a familiar landmark to the crow and the blue jay ... safe and undisturbed, it sprawls lazily in the sunshine, the picture of sleepy contentment ... fruit it can never know because it is afraid of the plow and the harrow. 
In direct opposite to this, the cultivated field has yielded itself to the adventure of living. The protecting fence has opened to admit the plow, and the plow has come as plows always come: practical, cruel, business-like, and in a hurry. Peace has been shattered by the shouting farmer and the rattle of machinery. The field . . . has been upset, turned over, bruised, and broken, but its rewards come hard upon its labors. The seed shoots up into the daylight, its miracle of life, curious, exploring the new world above it. Nature’s wonders follow the plow.
There are two kinds of lives also: the fallow and the plowed. The man of fallow life is contented with himself and the fruit he once bore. He does not want to be disturbed. He smiles in silent superiority at revivals, fastings, self-searchings, and all the travail of fruit bearing and the anguish of advance. The spirit of adventure is dead within him ... he has fenced himself in, and by the same act he has fenced out God and the miracle. 
The plowed life is the life that has thrown down the protecting fences and sent the plow of confession into the soul ... such a life has put away defense and has forsaken the safety of death for the peril of life. Discontent, yearning, contrition, courageous obedience to the will of God ... these have bruised and broken the soil till it is ready again for the seed. And as always fruit follows the plow." 
- A.W. Tozer, Paths to Power

Sunday, September 27, 2015


" 'My first direct view of Titanic lasted less than two minutes, but the stark sight of her immense black hull towering above the ocean floor will remain forever ingrained in my memory. My lifelong dream was to find this great ship, and during the past thirteen years the quest for her had dominated my life. Now, finally, the quest was over.'

So wrote Robert Ballard after discovering the ghostly hulk of the R.M.S. Titanic in her lonely berth more than two miles deep in the North Atlantic. For nearly three-quarters of a century, since early April 1912, the great ship had been celebrated in legend, along with the 1,522 souls who had disappeared with her beneath the icy waters hundreds of miles off the coast of Newfoundland.

On several occasions, the explorer used the same word to describe his lifelong dream: 'quest.' It means a pursuit, a search, or, as Webster colorfully adds, 'a chivalrous enterprise in medieval romance usually involving an adventurous journey.'

What is your 'quest'? Do you have a 'lifelong dream'? Anything 'dominating your life' enough to hold your attention for thirteen or more years? Without a quest, life is quickly reduced to bleak black and wimpy white, a diet too bland to get anybody out of bed in the morning. A quest fuels our fire. It refuses to let us drift downstream, gathering debris. It keeps our mind in gear, makes us press on.

God is forever on a quest, too. Ever thought about that? In fact, His adventurous journey is woven throughout the fabric of the New Testament. One thread is in Romans 8:29, where he mentions that He is conforming us to His Son's image: 'God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love Him along the same lines as the life of His Son. The Son stands first in the line of humanity He restored. We see the original and intended shape of our lives there in Him.' [MSG] Another is in Philippians 1:6, where we're told that He began His 'good work' in us and He isn't about to stop. Elsewhere He even calls us His 'workmanship' (Ephesians 2:10). Peter's second letter goes so far as to list some of the things included in this quest: 'faith ... moral excellence ... knowledge ... self-control ... perseverance ... godliness ... brotherly kindness ... love' (2 Peter 1:5-7, NASB).

Character qualities in His children - that's His quest. And He won't quit until He completes His checklist. When will that be? When we rest in peace ... and not one day sooner. Thanks, Lord."


"All of us are surrounded by and benefit from the results of someone's quest. Let me name a few:

Above my head is a bright electric light. Thanks, Tom.

On my nose are eyeglasses that enable me to focus. Thanks, Ben.

In my driveway is a car ready to take me wherever I choose to steer it. Thanks, Henry.

Across my shelves are books full of interesting and carefully researched pages. Thanks, authors.

Flashing through my mind are ideas, memories, and creative skills. Thanks, teachers.

Tucked away in the folds of my life are discipline and determination, a refusal to quit when the going gets rough, a love for our country's freedom, a respect for authority. Thanks, marines.

Coming into my ears is beautiful music - a wonderful mix of melody and rhythm and lyrics that linger. Thanks, composers.

Deep inside me are personality traits, strong convictions, a sense of right and wrong, a love for God, an ethical compass, a commitment to my wife and family. Thanks, parents.

At home is a peaceful surrounding of eye - pleasing design, colorful wallpaper, tasteful and comfortable furnishings, hugs of affirmation - a shelter in a time of storm. Thanks, Cynthia.

My list could go on and on. So could yours.

Because some cared enough to dream, to pursue, to follow through and complete their quest, our lives are more comfortable, more stable.

That's enough to spur me on. How about you?"

The above is from "Day by Day with Charles Swindoll"

Monday, March 9, 2015

Live In The Present

Love this excerpt of a conversation between Jesus and Mack, the main character in William P. Young's fine book, "The Shack." Live in the present ... not the past or the future.

" 'Tell me what you are afraid of, Mack.' 'Well, let me see. What am I afraid of?', began Mack. 'Well, I am afraid of looking like an idiot. I am afraid that you are making fun of me and that I will sink like a rock. I imagine that -' "

" 'Exactly,' Jesus interrupted. 'You imagine. Such a powerful ability, the imagination! That power alone makes you so like us. But without wisdom, imagination is a cruel taskmaster. If I may prove my case, do you think humans were designed to live in the present, or the past, or the future?' 'Well,' said Mack, hesitating, 'I think the most obvious answer is that we were designed to live in the present. Is that wrong?' Jesus chuckled. 'Relax, Mack. This is not a test, it's a conversation. You are exactly correct, by the way. But now tell me, where do you spend most of your time in your mind, in your imagination: in the present, in the past, or in the future?' Mack thought for a moment before answering. 'I suppose I would have to say that I spend very little time in the present. I spend a big piece in the past, but most of the rest of the time, I am trying to figure out the future.' "

" 'Not unlike most people. When I dwell with you, I do so in the present - I live in the present. Not the past, although much can be remembered and learned by looking back, but only for a visit, not an extended stay. And for sure, I do not dwell in the future you visualize or imagine. Mack, do you realize that your imagination of the future, which is almost always dictated by fear of some kind, rarely, if ever, pictures me there with you?' Again, Mack stopped and thought. It was true. He spent a lot of time fretting and worrying about the future, and in his imagination it was usually pretty gloomy and depressing, if not outright horrible. And Jesus was also correct in saying that in Mack's thoughts of the future, God was always absent."

" 'Why do I do that?' asked Mack. 'It is your desperate attempt to get some control over something you can't. It is impossible for you to take power over the future because it isn't even real, nor will it ever be real. You try to play God, imagining the evil that you fear becoming reality, and then you try to make plans and contingencies to avoid what you fear.' 'Yeah, that's basically what Sarayu [the Spirit of God] was saying,' responded Mack. 'So why do I have so much fear in my life?' "

" 'Because you don't believe. You don't know that we love you. The person who lives by his fears will not find freedom in my love. I am not talking about rational fears regarding legitimate dangers, but imagined fears, and especially the projections of those into the future. To the degree that those fears have a place in your life, you neither believe I am good nor know deep in your heart that I love you. You sing about it, you talk about it, but you don't know it.' "


"Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

- Jesus of Nazareth, from the Good News according to Matthew (6:33-34, MSG)