Monday, August 02, 2010

Better count the cost

The baby barn swallows are leaving the nest. One flew away and the others are thinking about it. It's a scary new world for them with many dangers, including our dogs who watch intently.

8/2/10 Monday
It’s the start of another month. There is so much going on at so many different levels. Church was great at the new little one we attended. There was a fellowship dinner there yesterday evening and it was nice to talk with a local farmer for once. I told about the lack of knowledge I have and we discussed various options regarding what could be grown and what it takes to grow it. It’s hard for me to gauge how well I am received in social situations but it seemed ok. I’m just a little paranoid after the cold rejections we’ve received in the past locally. I always wonder about how I act and am perceived, knowing that I often have sent out “vibes” that aren’t accepted well.

It’s going to be a triple digit day, with temps soaring to 101 degrees, so I’m out the door quick this morning to get as much done as I can before it hits. There is always so much to do. Dave helped me stretch fence around half of one of the plots. The other half will have to wait till later. I started to hoe weeds around the blackeyed peas yesterday and plan on tackling that again this morning. Then at some point I need to run drip irrigation down those rows. Half of the peas I planted didn’t come up because I got there too late after the rains. Still need to finish pruning and guiding the tomato plants up the trellis lines. Only did about twenty percent of them with a whole day dedicated just to that task.

Today Ron flies in. I’ll pick him up at the airport around 4:00. We both look forward to seeing him. He inspires us and feeds our spirits. In this world of comfortable Christianity he’s a shining light of what the truth is, that being a Christian isn’t about making money and being popular with the world. Ron’s an engineer who could make big bucks, and did at one time, designing state of the art and innovative glass furnaces for one of the glass giants. I think, but am not sure, that he’s responsible for the developments that make Corning Ware. But Ron gave that up to serve the Lord, not chasing after comfort and money but putting his life on the line regularly to serve the persecuted Christians in Muslim countries.

Just imagine (the only way I can do it) what it’s like to be born a Muslim and then learn the truth about Jesus and the lies you were fed regarding Islam. So you see and understand that God truly loves you, enough that He sent His son to pay the price for all the wrong you’ve ever done, death, and knowing the truth decide to accept it and become a Christian. Only you know that the moment you do and it becomes known that you and all of your family are ejected from your house, lose everything, bank accounts seized, you’re handed a death certificate and tattooed on your hand to designate this. Then you and your family are bussed to the garbage dump for you are now considered garbage. In some muslim countries this would be the ideal because the option is often to be killed. This happens every day, hundreds of thousands are killed for choosing Christ and there are literally millions living in the garbage dumps. This is where Ron ministers. I can’t get into details or name the countries for he has often had his life threatened for doing this.

So what kind of Christian are you? So many have just had an emotional experience where they run down to an alter while music is playing and pressure is there and “get saved”. But walking away they soon forget. They accept Christ as their savior but not as their Lord. They don’t count the cost and are not willing to give up much of anything for their new found God. This is the God they’ve been presented with, this is the way it’s been taught, the easy and broad path, one that requires no sacrifice, a real “feel good” Christianity. What is the TRUTH? Lets look at what Jesus said in the bible, a book that an associate of mine said “it has man’s fingerprints all over it” as he decried it’s validity to my astonishment. Ron has written a book, used in Harvard University’s Roman history courses, called “Search for Historical Jesus” that reveals the non biblical historical documentations of Jesus’ life and ministry that confirms the validity of the scriptures in undeniable ways.

Luke 14.25 Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: 26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters--yes, even his own life--he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 28 "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? 29 For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, 30 saying, 'This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.' 31 "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? 32 If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace. 33 In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. 34 "Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? 35 It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; it is thrown out. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear."

It’s pretty clear here that there is an expected sacrifice to being a Christian. The Muslims who convert to Christianity know the price they will pay before they even do it, and weigh that cost. But despite knowing they will lose all, including their lives, they choose Christ. They put me to shame but I draw from their strength of conviction. When I whine about how hard it is I remember the stories Ron has told me and am thankful for the blessings we have. I know that we have an enemy, and that enemy has many tools in the form of people who’s life style and desires make them easily manipulated and deceived, doing the devils will and thinking they are doing well all the time.

Luke 13.23 Someone asked him, "LORD, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, 24 "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. 25 Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' 26 "Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' 27 "But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!' 28 "There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. 29 People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. 30 Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.

Throughout the recorded words of Jesus there is this constant theme, one about those who make it and the many who thought they would and don’t. There are principles about dying to your self and worldly desires, of surrendering your will and submitting to God. Principles about sacrifice and separating yourself from that which is evil and not pleasing to the creator of all. And all these sacrifices come with rewards, not earthly rewards, not the “prosperity” gospel preached in some corners that feed on peoples greed and lust for earthly possessions and popularity, but eternal rewards that truly matter and last.

Luke 12.13 Someone in the crowd said to him, "Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me." 14 Jesus replied, "Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?" 15 Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." 16 And he told them this parable: "The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17 He thought to himself, 'What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.' 18 "Then he said, 'This is what I'll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19 And I'll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." ' 20 "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself ?' 21 "This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God."

Another prevailing theme in the words of Jesus deals with wealth and poverty. Throughout the bible, both old testament and new, this topic is brought forward. In fact there are over 800 references to the poor and disadvantaged in life in the bible, more times than the word love appears. It is a consistent reason mentioned regarding the judgment of God coming down on the nation if Israel and God’s people. You find example after example of how the rich and influential take advantage of those who are poor and less able to fend for themselves, with the rich getting richer at the expense of those who thus end up with less and in debt. Payday loans are nothing new so this not only goes on today but is a growing trend.

So I ask again, “What kind of Christian are you?”. Jesus said we are the salt of the earth and a light to the world. “No one lights a lamp and hides it under a basket” He said and as you read in the Luke 14.34 scripture I posted at the beginning of this discourse if salt loses it’s taste it’s not good for anything anymore, but to be thrown out. Note that it started out salty but lost it’s taste over time. I hope to never lose my saltiness again. I lost it once and lost everything I once thought was important, along with my life. In Luke 16 Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, who was poor and ate the scraps off the rich man’s table. We can relate to this well as we have been blessed with many peoples leftovers. At the end of the parable, when the rich man begged Abraham to send someone from the dead to warn his relatives of what was to come he was told “31 "He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "

Folks, I was raised from the dead, literally. Was declared dead and am still listed as a fatality by the state of Oklahoma, so my life is a gift I did not deserve. It is because of Grace and Mercy that I am able to even write this. So please listen, count the cost, weigh the scales, and choose life, true life, not the illusion that comes with wealth and popularity but the one that comes with sacrifice and giving of yourself. True love is one that chooses for the highest good of the other, not what’s best for you. Love you all. Time to get to work.

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