RSS Feed

Tag Archives: farming

The Ground to Play

If it wasn’t for recess, I wouldn’t have survived my twelve years in public education. The playground was a place of refuge for me. This was the only place in school where talking wasn’t necessary. Despite being short for my age until high school, my passion for sports quickly shined through. I may not have been strong, but I was fast and obsessed with winning. Meanwhile, this ground to play hid my severe stuttering from my peers. The more I competed at recess opened my eyes to the kind of athlete I could become.

Listen then to the [meaning of the] parable of the sower: 19 [h]While anyone is hearing the Word of the kingdom and does not grasp and comprehend it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is what was sown along the roadside. 20 As for what was sown on thin (rocky) soil, this is he who hears the Word and at once welcomes and accepts it with joy; 21 Yet it has no real root in him, but is temporary (inconstant, [i]lasts but a little while); and when affliction or trouble or persecution comes on account of the Word, at once he is caused to stumble [he is repelled and [j]begins to distrust and desert Him Whom he ought to trust and obey] and he falls away, Matthew 13:18-21.

At a recent LIV Golf clinic for kids in New Jersey, Commissioner Greg Norman shared a power message about competing in sports. Norman encouraged these youngsters to play as more sports as possible as these avenues provide a ground to play. Sports helps you see your strengths while revealing weaknesses as well. Meanwhile, if you want to get better, sports teach the competitive discipline to reach your full potential in life. Yet, for now sports provide the ground to compete and play for kids.

As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the pleasure and delight and glamour and deceitfulness of riches choke and suffocate the Word, and it yields no fruit. 23 As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and grasps and comprehends it; he indeed bears fruit and yields in one case a hundred times as much as was sown, in another sixty times as much, and in another thirty, Matthew 13:22-23.

Jesus shared a first century parable based upon the different environment’s children are born into and are forced to confront in life. After speaking to a crowd, the disciples wanted to know further details about Jesus’ parable. Uses farming an analogy, there are 4 different types of soils farmers face. The first three all have limitations that stunts growth. The ultimate goal is to manage farms so that after years of discipline and hard work, fertile soil yields a great harvest. In the meantime, find ground to play with.

by Jay Mankus

What You Don’t Plant Never Blooms

Planning and Planting share one crucial ingredient: timing is everything. If you plant crops or a garden too soon, cold weather and frost can ruin all of your hard work. Meanwhile, if you wait too long to plant each spring, arid and wet weather can diminish and or nullify every seed that was soon. My last season of snap peas in Delaware never came up due to several inches of rain; swamping my garden for a week.

He who observes the wind [and waits for all conditions to be favorable] will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap. As you know not what is the way of the wind, or how the spirit comes to the bones in the womb of a pregnant woman, even so you know not the work of God, Who does all. In the morning sow your seed, and in the evening withhold not your hands, for you know not which shall prosper, whether this or that, or whether both alike will be good, Ecclesiastes 11:4-6.

One of my favorite classes in college was Economic Geography. Most of this class was based upon simulations using natural resources and climate. One unit was farming, using the Farmer’s Almanac to determine what crop or crops you were going to plant based upon previous weather patterns. I decided to diversify, planting two different crops. While I did okay, planting anything involves taking a risk.

Other seeds fell on good soil, and yielded grain—some a hundred times as much as was sown, some sixty times as much, and some thirty. He who has ears [to hear], let him be listening and let him [a]consider and [b]perceive and comprehend by hearing, Matthew 13:8-9.

In the parable of the Sower, Jesus explains the meaning of this story to his disciples. Most soils that you plant in will have limitations. Some regions are too arid, others too rocky and a few are so wild that thorns and vines can overwhelm anything you try to plant. The goal for any homeowner is to improve your environment (soil) annually. Although the weather may not cooperate for you, what you don’t plant never blooms.

by Jay Mankus

Educating Yourself Out of the Supernatural Realm

As a former Bible teacher, I learned that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t reach everyone. Yet, this didn’t stop me from using a variety of teaching methods to relate to a broad audience. Like a farmer preparing their soil for another season, all I could do was sow spiritual seeds, hoping and praying for these to take root. However, even if you reach someone in high school, it doesn’t mean that individuals won’t become prodigals, drifting, leaving or venturing away from God for an extended period.

As for myself, brethren, when I came to you, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony and evidence or mystery and secret of God [concerning what He has done through Christ for the salvation of men] in lofty words of eloquence or human philosophy and wisdom; 1 Corinthians 2:1.

Unfortunately, after attending a semester or year of higher education, many students develop a superiority complex. According to Healthline.com, a superiority complex is a behavior that suggests a person believes they’re somehow superior to others. In the context of college, the more knowledge individuals absorb, this can go to their heads like first century philosophers. Upon visiting the Church at Corinth, the apostle Paul was disappointed by many believers who put their faith in logic and science rather than God.

And we are setting these truths forth in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the [Holy] Spirit, combining and interpreting spiritual truths with spiritual language [to those who possess the Holy Spirit]. 14 But the natural, nonspiritual man does not accept or welcome or admit into his heart the gifts and teachings and revelations of the Spirit of God, for they are folly (meaningless nonsense) to him; and he is incapable of knowing them [of progressively recognizing, understanding, and becoming better acquainted with them] because they are spiritually discerned and estimated and appreciated, 1 Corinthians 2:13-14.

Based upon the passage above, it’s possible to educate yourself out of the supernatural realm. Every year, I receive word of former students who were convinced to reject God at some point before graduating from college. Like the movie God is Not Dead, sharing your faith with atheist professors can ruin any chances of getting a good grade. Maintaining your faith throughout your college experience is a difficult task. Although I wavered from time to time, I’m a firm believer in supernatural powers available via the Holy Spirit, 2 Peter 1:3-4. May you overcome the temptations of the world’s wisdom to cling on to the truth that miracles still happen.

by Jay Mankus

The Spark that Makes Dreams Come True

Modern plows are large farming structures that implement one or more blades fixed in a frame drawn by a tractor. These expensive pieces of equipment are essential for farmers who own hundreds of acres of land. Back in biblical days, this technology wasn’t available, forced to rely on horses, mules or oxen. These animal driven plows were used for cutting furrows in the soil and turning it over, to prepare for the planting of crops.

Do I say this only on human authority and as a man reasons? Does not the Law endorse the same principle? For in the Law of Moses it is written, You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the corn. Is it [only] for oxen that God cares? – 1 Corinthians 9:8-9

As the first son of Adam, Cain found farming to be a thankless trade. This likely explains why Abel decides to become a shepherd, moving his flock once the land became arid. Abel’s initial success combined with Cain’s struggles sowed a seed of jealousy within Cain’s heart. This is the exact opposite thought that the apostle Paul suggests in a letter to the church of Corinth. When you begin to plow, you should expect God to bless your effort as long as you give 100%.

Or does He speak certainly and entirely for our sakes? [Assuredly] it is written for our sakes, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest. 11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, [is it too] much if we reap from your material benefits? – 1 Corinthians 9:10-11

Paul seems to be referring to self fulfilled prophecies. If you think you are going to have a bad day, the probability increases that a bad day will come. However, if you remember how God has provided for you in the past, you’ll be more optimistic about plowing in hope of a productive harvest. Therefore, if you want to claim God’s promises in the Bible, faith is the spark that makes dreams come true.

by Jay Mankus

When You Need to be Propped Up

A farmer developed an unusual way of ending his prayer at church. Whenever called upon to close Sunday’s service in prayer, this farmer opted to skip the typically Amen. Instead, this man of God would close using the phrase, “God prop us up on our leaning side.” Curious, the senior pastor wanted to understand the meaning of this expression. This was conceived after noticing an old barn on his property began to lean to one side. To avoid losing this barn, the farmer braced it on one to secure it’s future.

[Strive to] save others, snatching [them] out of [the] fire; on others take pity [but] with fear, loathing even the garment spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality, Jude 1:23.

In the 17th chapter of Exodus, Moses recalls a memorable battle. Instead of fighting, Moses delegates this task to his successor Joshua. According to Exodus 17:9-10, Moses played the role of cheerleader, holding up the rod of God. As long as Moses arms were held high, Israel was winning. However, as soon as Moses’ arms grew weak, Amalek prevailed. To ensure a victory, the Lord sent Aaron and Hur to prop up Moses’ arms. This is another form of being propped up.

Now to Him Who is able to keep you without stumbling or slipping or falling, and to present [you] unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory in triumphant joy and exultation [with unspeakable, ecstatic delight]—Jude 1:24.

Due to our fallen nature, Romans 3:11, every human being has a tendency to lean toward the sinful nature, Galatians 5:19-21. Instead of continuing leaning until you stumble and fall, Jude provides an alternative. Just as the apostle Paul urges believers to set your heart and mind and things above, Jude wants us to prop others up before they fall over. The more you focus your attention on helping other, the less likely you’ll find yourself indulging your sinful nature. The next time you see someone leaning, ask God to prop them up on their leaning side.

by Jay Mankus

Pushed to the Brink of Letting Go

Whenever your job description changes over night, an unsettling feeling may overwhelm your soul.  As you search for answers, your nerves may be calmed or a dysfunctional situation only gets worse.  Depending upon your state of mind, anger may brew, bitterness boil and frustration mount.  Yet, perhaps all this has happened to you, pushed to the brink by stress to let go of control by allowing God to take the reigns.

And [later] she gave birth to his brother Abel. Now Abel kept the flocks [of sheep and goats], but Cain cultivated the ground. And in the course of time Cain brought to the Lord an offering of the fruit of the ground. But Abel brought [an offering of] the [finest] firstborn of his flock and the fat portions. And the Lord had respect (regard) for Abel and for his offering; but for Cain and his offering He had no respect. So Cain became extremely angry (indignant), and he looked annoyed and hostile, Genesis 4:2-5.

In the passage above, an older brother becomes jealous of his younger brother.  The long hours of farming gradually took a toll on Cain’s state of mind.  After coming home dirty and exhausted, Abel appeared to have a much better job and life.  However, when Cain was pushed to the brink, he chose to question God as detailed below.  This venting session provided Cain with advice on what to do next, toward an open door to escape temptation, 1 Corinthians 10:13.

And the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you so angry? And why do you look annoyed? If you do well [believing Me and doing what is acceptable and pleasing to Me], will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well [but ignore My instruction], sin crouches at your door; its desire is for you [to overpower you], but you must master it,” Genesis 4:6-7.

Anyone who is about to lose it emotionally needs to reflect upon the passage above.  Every day sin crouches at your door, waiting for foolish souls to welcome it in.  Unless you practice the self discipline referred to in 2 Timothy 1:6-7, sin will overpower you.  Thus, if you want to avoid the same fate of Cain, you must learn to control your body like a competitive athlete.  This pursuit results in a calm and well balanced mind.  Thus, if you are prepared, the next time you are pushed to the brink of frustration, letting go by trusting God will become a natural transition.

by Jay Mankus

Living Under Satan’s Yoke

In the context of farming, yokes are a wooden crosspiece that is fastened over the necks of two animals and attached to the plow or cart that they are to pull. This devise unite donkeys, oxen or mules to work together. As a pet owner, if I didn’t have my dog on a collar, harness or leash, she would run free, wandering aimlessly through my neighborhood. This is a positive example of a yoke.

For such men are counterfeit apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, since Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great surprise if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness, but their end will correspond with their deeds, 2 Corinthians 11:13-15.

On the flip side, yokes have a negative connotation. Groups like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have put touring Circus’ out of business. Banning previously legal practices has made it impossible to safely control wild animals used in traveling Circuses. From a spiritual sense, one of Jesus’ disciples compares the Devil to a lion on the prowl, searching for his next victim, 1 Peter 5:8. When human beings lose control of their flesh, Satan uses your sinful nature to oppress you. Bondage is how souls begin to be held captive, living under Satan’s yoke.

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light,” Matthew 11:28-30.

In the passage below, Jesus eludes to spiritual yokes. Some people are burdened by religious practices that focus on traditions rather than a relationship with God. Jesus hates seeing individuals weighed down by the worries of life. Thus, the process toward healing is laid out above by laying down your burdens at the feet of Jesus. Some try to fix their problems on their own, but only Jesus can provide permanent healing. If this blog finds you worn out by being under Satan’s yoke, come to Jesus on your knees, using prayer as a vehicle for change.

by Jay Mankus

Unplowed Ground to Cover

The phrase unplowed ground refers to fallow ground. This comes from the Hebrew word nir meaning tillable but untilled ground. In the passage below, the prophet Hosea is talking about land that could be productive, but for whatever reason has not been broken up, tilled, plowed, and prepared for planting. To anyone who is willing to take an honest assessment of their life, everyone has unplowed ground to cover.

Sow with a view to righteousness [that righteousness, like seed, may germinate]; Reap in accordance with mercy and lovingkindness.
Break up your uncultivated ground, for it is time to seek
and search diligently for the Lord [and to long for His blessing] until He comes to rain righteousness and His gift of salvation on you. You have plowed and planted wickedness, you have reaped the [willful] injustice [of oppressors], you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and your chariots, and in your many warriors, Hosea 10:12-13.

In the film Facing the Giants, a janitor stops by to tell a high school football coach on the verge of being fired something God put on his heart. After sharing this rhema, a message from the Bible, the janitor recalls a story about two farmers. During a severe drought, both farmers prayed for rain, but only one went out to his fields to prepare his land. If you expect God to help you cover the unplowed areas of your life, faith should inspire action.

Since by your obedience to the truth you have purified yourselves for a sincere love of the believers, [see that you] love one another from the heart [always unselfishly seeking the best for one another], 23 for you have been born again [that is, reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, and set apart for His purpose] not of seed which is perishable but [from that which is] imperishable and immortal, that is, through the living and everlasting word of God, 1 Peter 1:22-23.

One of Jesus’ disciples refers to an imperishable seed. This analogy represents the living Word of God, the Bible. Hebrews 4:12 details the power of the Bible, calling the words in this book as living and active. Each time individuals open up these pages to read, souls are convicted and inspired to cover unplowed ground. Therefore, if you want to experience a physical and spiritual harvest, let God’s principles renew and transform your mind. As you do, God will sow seeds within newly tilled areas.

by Jay Mankus

The Place of the Unknown

Getting lost can take on many forms.  Your GPS device of choice may lead you astray.  The place where you are in life is puzzling with few who have experienced this or understand.  Meanwhile, the various stages of parenting can be challenging, often unsure of what to do next.  These are just some examples of entering the place of the unknown.

For 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, Matthew 13:15.

Jesus uses a parable based upon farming to describe the place of the unknown.  One of the reasons why people are in the dark spiritually is due to calloused hearts.  This condition is fueled by stubbornness, preventing individuals from picking up subtle clues from God.  This lack of clarity, discernment and insight hinders people from escaping darkness.

When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path, Matthew 13:19.

The conditions, environment and surroundings in which you live often dictate the direction you will go in life.  While there are always exceptions to this rule, soil types restrict the overall harvest of farmers.  Obstructions like rocks, sticker bushes and weeds entangle the healthy.  Careless acts can damage, harm or uproot spiritual foundations.  In view of this hazardous threat, may the power of the Holy Spirit inspire believers to seek fertile soil for the soul.  By doing this, you will discover the way out of the place of the unknown.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

The Thorns of Life

 

When speaking to someone was impossible, Jesus became an engaging figure, using stories to captivate his audience.  Like tiny little morsels, Jesus’ parables contain a wealth of knowledge about life.  On this particular Sabbath in Matthew 13:1-9, the crowds grew so extensive that Jesus entered a boat just off shore, sitting down as his followers gathered around the beach to listen.

 

As he continued, Jesus had the farmers in the palm of his hands, speaking about the different terrains each encounters.  Since cursing the land in Genesis 3:17-18, finding ideal conditions was rare, leaving compacted, rocky and weed infested areas to grow crops.  God’s words in Genesis foreshadowed current conditions with painful toil resulting in thorns, thistles and some plants to eat, Matthew 13:22.

 

Within my own yard, I see the thorns of life more than ever before.  It seems like the older I get, briar patches of worry begin to choke the joy out of life.  Meanwhile, sticker bushes leave marks, wounds to my soul, often tearing my heart in the wrong direction.  Thistles have become like sand on the seashore, sticking like burrs, embedding within my body like a parasite.  If I don’t seek spiritual medical attention soon, even my mind is in danger of being poisoned like Peter, Matthew 16:23.

Unfortunately, these thorns aren’t going anywhere until Jesus returns.  Therefore, you must use your Bible as a spiritual Farmers Almanac, getting clued in daily about impending droughts, famine or trials.  Although you have no control over the soil, you can place yourself into a healthier social environment.  Change is hard, but its a step in God’s direction.  May the Holy Spirit serve as a spiritual Round Up to stop, thorns, thistles and weeds of life before they wrap around your soul.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: