|Thursday, June 10, 2021|
Our two garden boxes are nothing to brag about. But come July or August, they will produce: beans, tomatoes, onions and peppers (sweet and spicy). We have every expectation of enjoying our own organic crops.
The soil we used was pre-loaded with plant minerals. We’ve watered regularly and there’s been plenty of sun. I even yanked a couple of weeds earlier today. So there’s every reason to hope for a harvest.
The other day, in a weird warped moment, I asked myself, how would I feel if after all the work (mostly my wife’s) of planting, watering, fertilizing and weeding we got nothing for our return. Not one tomato or pepper. Or maybe just a handful of string beans. What then?
Honestly, I’d feel ripped off. More than that, I think I’d feel a sense of righteous indignation: “How dare those plants take in water and nutrients and have every opportunity to thrive—but give back nothing! After all, they were planted to produce!”
My harvest harangue was quickly interrupted with the thought, “What about you, Jon? Doesn’t God have the right to expect a harvest from your life?”
Consider the rich soil of my heritage—a godly family upbringing. Consider the fertilization and watering of my faith in an education at Moody Bible Institute...the mentorship of several strong believers...the faithful teaching of our pastor.
How could it be “normal” or “acceptable” for there to be little or no harvest from my life? Or yours?
We don’t all enjoy the same rich background, spiritually. But we’ve all been bought by Christ at a price. And He has expectations for every one of us. In John 15:8 Jesus asserts, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” Catch that? Bearing fruit is the proof of our discipleship.
Planted to produce. That’s you. That’s me. Call it—God’s holy expectation.
So how’s it growing?
|A Curious Collection
|Thursday, June 03, 2021|
Harriet Miller Ellwood passed away quietly on July 16, 1910.
You say you’re not familiar with Harriet? She married Isaac Ellwood, a fabulously wealthy businessman who earned his millions selling and distributing barbed wire.
Diana and I visited their estate in DeKalb, Illinois—a town known for corn more than wire. Apart from the stately home the Ellwoods built, what caught my eye was an unusual collection of, well, stuff.
I refer to the lot of minerals, relics, and curiosities made by Mrs. Issac L. Elwood. Its treasures number in the hundreds and include:
Such an eclectic mix begs questions like: Why did Mrs. Elwood want these things in the first place? How much did she pay for all that stuff (the petrified fish, for starters)? Precisely what was the going price for a flower from Lincoln’s coffin—or a hunk of Washington’s flagstaff?
It's easy to paint Mrs. Elwood as a strange lady with even more eccentric tastes. But we collect, too: stamps, coins, dolls—and remember Beanie Babies? We’ll leave them all behind, of course, when death comes knocking. But I hope when that day comes, I am known less for the collection of my physical stuff (my garage is embarrassingly cluttered) and more for the invisible:
Now there’s a collection worth sharing.
|94 Years Young
|Thursday, May 27, 2021|
“I'm an electrical engineer turned Bible teacher and theologian. I hope that's not shocking.” Fred Dickason has a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. He is 94 years young—and I do mean young.
He zips around his apartment complex, greeting just about everyone by name, then welcomes us into his home. There, we record an interview for an upcoming Moody Radio broadcast.
Fred's answers and reflexes are lightning-fast. We are discussing his newest book, Dangers of the Spirit World. Though several of Fred’s books are considered classroom standards in seminaries and Christian colleges, he’s lately given Amazon eBooks a whirl.
After the interview, we head down to the cafe for lunch. Fred opts for a Rueben sandwich and coffee. Here, we learn that during his college years, he helped develop infrared technology for Texas Instruments. But God had other plans for Dr. Dickason, who ultimately spent 34 years on the faculty of Moody Bible Institute, where my wife and I met him.
To say Fred is still active is to say Bill Gates is still rich. “I have counseled over 650 people with demonic problems for over 46 years. I have seen the Lord Jesus free Christians from oppression and lead them into a life of fellowship and victory.”
Fred quotes Scripture easily—and confidently. He misses his wife, loves his kids, and glows about his grandkids. And—he’s working on another book project.
As our time runs out, he escorts us to the lobby, where we walk by a grand piano. He offers to play a quick song as we depart. Fred is no wannabe. He plays musically and meaningfully.
In the sixties, the Beatles playfully asked, "Will you still need me, will you still feed me when I'm 64?" At 94, Fred Dickason is still feeding others spiritually.
You might say he’s in it—for the long haul.
|Worth Just 49 Cents?
|Thursday, May 20, 2021|
Can you name this author? Two clues:
Who was he? William Shakespeare, of course (“a rose by any other name....parting is such sweet sorrow...”). He wrote 37 plays that total 884,429 words. By comparison, the King James Bible contains 783,137 words.
If the pen is mightier than the sword, Shakespeare was among the mightiest. That’s why I was so stunned when I saw the offer from Amazon Kindle.
I could buy the complete works of Shakespeare for the princely sum of...(cue the minstrel)...49 cents! Though I love a good bargain, this struck me as criminal. All that beautifully crafted dialogue, all those spectacular sonnets valued at less than half a buck? It didn’t seem right.
And that takes me to the point of this blog. How much do we value—truly value—the Word of God? What if I shared some metrics that could prove how much you love (or merely like) the Word of God?
If we love the Word of God, we...
What do our lives say about how much we value the Bible? Is the Word always on our hearts and minds? Can we quote from it as easily as we do the latest episode of the Mandalorian? Or do we give it—say—49 cents worth of attention?
|Thursday, May 13, 2021|
How to ruin a perfectly sunny morning:
STEP 1: Find yourself snarled in stop-and-go traffic.
STEP 2: Come to a complete stop and wait until...
STEP 3: Another car bumps into yours.
That was us. In God's kindness, the collision claimed no casualties. The airbags didn't go off, and when we surveyed the damage, it seemed apparent this was a rather minor accident. Thankfully, the other driver was insured, and the fender-bender left our car drivable. No drama, mama.
One month later, we were reminded that things are not always as they appear. The voice on the other end of the line explained that the insurance company was going to total our nicely maintained minivan.
“No way!” we gasped.
It turns out the car that hit us was just small enough that upon impact, it slid under our bumper and bent the frame. The lay-flat seats in the back were not quite flat—because of the bend in the frame. And the list of problems went on.
The thing is, if all you saw were the mashed tailgate and bumper, you would never believe the vehicle was that bad off. Did I mention it ruined a perfectly sunny morning?
Pondering the prospect of hunting for another car (used cars are now priced at a premium, and dealers have few new ones in stock), a new thought came to me about personal hurt and loss.
What we see in someone else's life as a mere fender bender may well be for them a devastating—even life-defining—moment. Things are not always as they appear. And pain is a mysterious—if not personal—thing.
Upon seeing the (apparent) fender bender a friend has gone through, it's human nature to suggest we genuinely know the pain they feel because—after all—who hasn't been through a fender bender?
But maybe—just maybe—there’s more to it than meets the eye. Things, after all, are not always as they appear.
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