Out here on the Arkansas Grand Prairie, we’ve finished up this year’s harvest. The soybeans are cut, the rice is at the mill, and the corn’s gone to the river. It’s now time to start doing a little field work to get ready for next year. Some farms will get this done and get wheat in the ground, while others will flood fields to grow a lucrative crop: duck hunters from the city. (Duck hunters from the city is a prized crop for winter time in these parts.)
Most everyone right now, though, is out in the fields with a tractor, discing up the ground. The discs cut up the stubble that remains from the harvested crops. It’s the rice straw or the corn stalks, the soybean leaves and corn cobs (the way we harvest corn around here, the machine cuts it off the cob and dumps the cob). The work is crucial. There’s no reason to have old, unproductive stalks pulling nutrients from the ground, and leaving lots of old, dead lying about is a recipe for bad wildfires. And bad wildfires prevent duck hunters from the city from growing. Discing is crucial for being able to have a returning, good harvest in the years to come.
Nearly every reader is now saying “Who cares?” Well, this may not be purely a “pastor’s blog” but this post is written by a pastor. I don’t just learn the farming for farming’s sake, though I do need to know how it’s done. I’m looking for the sermon illustration. And here it is:
If we want to see the harvest in our lives, we occasionally have to spend some time in field prep work. Whether the harvest we’re after is the salvation of mankind or the fruit of the Spirit in our lives, we’re going to have to start by doing a little discing:
DISCipline: no, not church discipline. That’s a different post. Self-discipline. As in, get yourself doing what you ought to be doing. That line of discussion has been had and re-had across so many venues, I won’t dwell on it long. Here it is: if you are willing to put your own effort out, you will get basically nothing. God will not beam holiness into you whilst you lay upon your couch, watch TV, and hope for it. When you are a follower of Christ, you have been made able by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit to read and grow and do. If you don’t do it, it’s your fault. Lost people don’t do it because they’re dead in sin. You, however, if you are alive in Christ need to do more than lay around.
We do tend to think negatively about discipline, and that’s a mental block that’s worth clearing. Don’t discipline yourself about what you don’t like. Discipline yourself to accomplish and do what you want to do the most. Whether physical (I want to fit back into that suit, so I discipline myself to accomplish that), mental (I want to read that book in the original language, so I discipline myself), or spiritual (I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant” so I discipline myself to be one). Discipline is a focus on what we want and a commitment to ignore the rest.
DISCernment: this is a big one. Guess what we’re all supposed to do? Exercise discernment. Every Believer has the responsibility to learn to discern right from wrong. You learn this by studying God’s Word and keeping your eyes open to the world around you. By comparing what you see with the Word of God. By seeking wisdom from others and comparing what they say to the Word of God. You don’t get it just by checking your Twitter stream. Or, for that matter, by checking your favorite blog to see if they’ve commented. Discernment may take those sources under advice, but it comes back to you, the Spirit of the Holy God, and the Word of God. Just because your favorite blogger liked it, hated it, or ignored does not make it so, but rather the Word of God is what controls. And you can substitute for “blogger” any of the following people: pastor, teacher, author, radio host, sportstalk guy, parent, child, deacon, or denominational executive.
DISCiple: when we focus, our goal is to make disciples. Not just of the nations, but of ourselves. Disciples are lifelong students and followers of a master, and we are to be the Disciples of Christ. (No, not those “Disciples of Christ” but, well, great, now we need a task force to fix that.) We spend a lot of time chasing our tails to fix problems that we would not have if we were walking as disciples. It starts with us.
So, let’s get to discing the ground around us and within us. Might help a lot.