Archive for May, 2011


My daughter and I have recently had the experience of planting new little vegetable plants in our new garden located in central Louisiana. It is not a large garden by any imagination, in fact; it is small; about 6 ft by 40 ft. I do realize there are readers that do not have the space for any garden and plant in pots, only. This prompts one of the deepest, most provocative, metaphysical thoughts I think I have ever had, “Why do we plant?”
To Christians, it would seem rather counterproductive, I mean, after all, didn’t God say that we would struggle with the thorns and vines as we tilled the soil by the sweat of our brow? I think I could find something else to do in life with information like that, yet….I plant.
My father planted. My father’s father planted. My mother’s father planted, in fact, I had the opportunity to plant with him (many stories here!!). I am quite sure that most of my ancestors planted.
Is it because we have been warned of the struggle that we seek the challenge?
I remember when God brought me my life-mate. One of our favorite times spent together was the planning of our first garden. We started out in apartments and, yes, we planted in pots. With our first house, we moved to the trusty “square-foot” garden. I must say that seeing watermelons grow vertically in panty hose holders was quite a site! This definitely provided motivation to think out of the box and I am quite sure my children have altered perceptions of reality because of this method of gardening. I even think the raccoons had no clue to look up for the watermelons.
Psalm 139 confirms that God knows our character so much better than we do. Perhaps it is the struggle with planting that identifies some of the innermost strengths of our character as humans created by the eternal God. Certainly, to plant, one must overcome the inertia of the “couch potato”; the dirt must be brought under submission of the “gardener” through chemical manipulation and terra-forming; seeds must be nurtured to shed their seed coats in the correct environment, send down roots, and eventually grow the fruit that will be consumed. The whole process is fraught with potential disaster every step of the way.
Some of us may never actually put the seed in the dirt, but we watch the plants grow around us. Whether we acknowledge it or not, in some way, we have a need to be part of the struggle.
We not only consume our plants, but many of us tend to grow plants to see their beauty and enjoy their fragrance. It seems, at times, that observation is our motivation rather than eventual consumption. It is almost as if some are missing the point to life by simply observing and not participating in the life cycle of the plant.
The Christian church, as a whole, has become observational and turned away from participatory behavior in the life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some in the church do not want to get the dirt of the garden on their hands. Jesus Christ does tell us that the burden of His cross is light. Could this be because all who enjoin the struggle in Christ’s cross are focused on one thing, following Jesus Christ and are no longer seeking individual recognition and achievement to satisfy their personal pride?
God notes in His scripture that He has placed within the heart of mankind His law. We know what is right and wrong, yet we seek not to engage the world, but rather to observe. We are not interested in planting, so it seems. The world has become an angrier place. Perhaps, this is the result of not doing what we know is the right thing to do. I know when I take this position it makes me quite angry with myself.
I encourage you, to engage life, fully. Learn to plant and enjoy what God has made. The struggle is good for it brings growth, strength and dependency upon the only one who has the truth, God. Planting allows us to participate in the growth of God’s Kingdom. May you be ever mindful of the “Great Commission” of Jesus Christ from Matthew 28:19-20 “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
May you find the true blessing of Gardening,

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One of the many joys of having children is that when they are allowed to ask questions of their parents, quite often, those questions bring significant learning experiences for all involved. My oldest son has found an article in Relevant magazine titled, “Is Christianity Anti-Intellectual” by Andrew Byers, which is an expansion of some material that Byers has written in a book, entitled, Faith Without Illusions: Following Jesus as a Cynic-Saint. These are very provocative ideas with catchy titles. (actually, this title provokes a desire in this author to explore the question of whether or not a Saint may be cynical – I digress, perhaps another time)
The premise is that the modern church seems to have a disdain for those individuals who would seek to study the great theological ideas of man and somehow this is worsened when our academics disconnect us from the first and second great commandments of our Lord. One responder
highlights this idea when they note that highly educated congregations tend to desire highly educated pastoral leadership in the form of the doctoral degree, where the evangelically swayed congregations seem to shun the educated pastoral leadership for those who would simply rely upon the simplicity of scripture and leadership of the Holy Spirit for their guidance in the pulpit.
One should be reminded that in 1 Corinthians 2:14 we are told, “But the natural man does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually.” This passage not only lets one know the direction the information regarding God will come from, but also provides a minor test to help one see where biblical cynicism is rooted in the life of the individual.
Moving to our title, what really is an “intellectual Christian”? Intellectual (n.) is defined in Merriam Webster’s dictionary to be “given to study, reflection, and speculation”. Christian (n.) by biblical definition as described in Romans 10:9-10: “if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation.”
One may recall that the first commandment is to love God and the second is to love man. Certainly, an order is given to establish priority. One will find in Romans 1:22a, “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,…” Clearly, God provides a caution for those who would place their intellect before His worship. Well then, how does one love God and pursue an intellectual approach? The first aspect to this is to acknowledge that in ALL things loving God must come first. In 2 Peter 1:5 one finds, “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge,…”
One must begin with faith. No surprise, here. Faith is established on the fact that God is, and for no other reason. It all begins with God, the ultimate independent function. Truth exists because God exists. Truth then becomes a dependent function. Intellect, being that which studies, reflects, and speculates can only properly focus its work upon the things of God. God, once again, shows that intellect is a dependent function established upon the premise of His truth. Otherwise, intellect establishes its own truth apart from God. This is a rather dangerous place to be when contending with the creator of everything.
There cannot be two truths regarding the same concept of God. This would suggest that two dependent variables may be located by the same independent variable, which, mathematically becomes and vertical line and is undefined.
Have no doubt that our approach agrees with Byers in premise that there can be “intellectual Christians”, however, we diverge in thought as application demonstrates that if we presume to be Christian then, by definition, we are contained within the domain of God, thus evangelical exclusion does not make sense. Otherwise, we become gods unto ourselves, and, well….good luck with that. fpb

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Hello world!

Welcome to TSP!!

The word from Pooh, today, is, “Oh Dear!!!” The world is turning upside down.

      This opening blog is written on a day when Americans face devastation, destruction, and the “great unknown” in almost every geographic area of the United States…by the way, are you an American? What does it really mean to be an American? This is an important question at a time such as this. 

       It seems that there is only one group of people who can claim to be true Americans. The rest of us are just immigrants from different places and cultures around the world. I remember living in different places in the United States where the locals would not accept you until your family had been there for at least one generation and understood how to “act, think, and talk” like everyone else.  Maybe that is what it means to be an American.

       So many people in the United States want to focus on their cultural identity rather than seeking to identify with this great cause called “America”.  Perhaps, they have forgotten that it is the very freedom that is granted through the writings of our forefathers, based on the precepts of Christianity; eg, bounded by the absolute authority of God, that has established a wonderful country where they may seek improvement in their lives; provided they are willing to work at it.

       By seeking to enhance our cultural differences, we force our dogmatic religious differences to the forefront of our daily interactions with each other, for we all practice some form of religion based within whatever or whoever we place our faith. We all have faith in something or someone.

        I wonder what life in these United States would be like if, instead of constantly highlighting our differences, we made a determined effort to celebrate those things that we have in common; like the desire for a better life in a country that has in-place the guiding principles that can make that happen.

       We face multiple geographic crises, today. The Christian God has noted that devastation will come to the land of the people who turn from Him. We have the opportunity to set aside our differences and seek to pull our strengths together to, once again, stand, shoulder to shoulder, as a formidable nation of immigrants.

       Let us seek to reconcile ourselves before the Holy God rather than depending on those things that will one day fail that we may once again have focus and purpose to our existence.  



You are encouraged to contribute to the thoughts of this blog via the comment section. Please, refrain from irrational, vitriolic hyperbole. Instead, seek the path of communication that will yield reconciliation under the banner of truth. As our guide, Winnie the Pooh, has said, “Sometimes, if you stand on the bottom rail of a bridge and lean over to watch the river slipping slowly away beneath you, you will suddenly know everything there is to be known.”  (http://thinkexist.com/quotes/winnie_the_pooh/)

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