I know not everybody grew up on a farm so I will give you a quick lesson on farming. When you eat an apple, that apple was not born at the local grocery store. It was grown on a tree. That tree didn’t just show up either. That tree grew from a seed. An apple seed to be more precise. It took years and years for it to go from a seed to a sapling, to a full grown tree. If I gave an apple to you and you ate it down to its core and you gave me the seeds and I planted them and something started growing from that seed, you would not come up to me and say, your grapefruit tree is growing. Right? Why not? Because there is a law of nature. You don’t plant a peach pit and get strawberries. There is a consistency between what is planted, what is grown and what is harvested. An apple seed will grow an apple tree from which you will be able to harvest apples from.
The Bible is a Truth to be obeyed or given adherence to. So, what happens when we don’t obey? It usually doesn’t end well! Obeying creates safety for us that God provides because of his great love for us.
I grew up on a farm and one of the things I hated the most was during the summer was when my mom would make a list of chores for me to finish before I could do anything else. The thing that I wanted to do more than anything else was to go fishing but I knew I had to do chores first. Of all the chores that my mom could write down, the worst ones were cleaning. This wasn’t vacuuming or dusting, no it was cleaning up after animals. You see we had a fair number of chickens and horses and they would spend their nights in the coop or stall and they would make their mess inside. Someone, usually me, had to keep these buildings clean. It was a hot, dirty, smelly job. In the 1500’s, people would look at someone who did those kinds of jobs and think, only people who work in the church are really doing the work of God. Today I am going to talk briefly about an idea that Martin Luther brought forward during the reformation that was completely revolutionary for its time. It was the idea of calling. He insisted that the farmer shoveling manure and the maid milking her cow could please God as much as the minister preaching or praying.
Who do you think talks to you the most? Your teacher? Your parents? Your annoying brother or sister who won’t be quiet? I think the answer may surprise you. The person who talks to you the most is you. No one talks to yourself more than you do. It is helpful if you keep the conversation in your head and not talk to yourself out loud because people may think you’re a bit weird. God created you and me to try to make sense out of life. We are constantly trying to figure out what in the world is going on and we do that by talking to ourselves.
Last week we talked about how every thought, every word, and every deed is moving us in a direction. We are going somewhere. In Psalm 1, David says you will be blessed if you don’t go the way of the ungodly, the sinner, and the scornful. It starts with going for a walk, standing, and eventually sitting. It never happens all at once.
As “there are no small things” we are told to “work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23), something as simple as making your bed can do wonders for your happiness and health, and carefulness is a virtue, according to Aristotle, then paying attention to details and concentrating on bettering seemingly unimportant small skills is important for the overall well-being, success, and fulfillment of a student. Thus, the insistence when a teacher makes you put your heading in the correct corner with each piece of information, or makes you use graph paper for math, or makes you re-do an answer that she cannot read—are all examples of an effort to help a student realize the importance of being careful with details.
The sermon uses the metaphor of games for resource allocation and human cooperation to help understand the story of the creation of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in Genesis 2. Students were challenged to ask themselves about the goals of the various games they play in life (family, school, religious, etc) and whether or not the strategies they employ will lead them to desirable outcomes. The standard is God’s claim that the world is a better place with humanity than without it (Genesis 1:26-31). Are you handling your life in a way that allows you to assess it the way God originally assessed man’s presence in his creation?
I am going to let you all in on a parenting secret. The night before Christmas or a big birthday is not always all joy and happiness. It can be extremely stressful. In fact, the weeks leading up to a big celebration are very tense. For example, trying to get the perfect Christmas gift has meant fighting large crowds and driving all over the place to go to the right store that has the right gift. Or it has meant spending hours and hours on the internet searching for something that you end up overpaying for shipping and handling to make sure it gets here on time. When that big day arrives, we as parents are all thinking, it will be worth it to see the smile on our child’s face and as they throw themselves at our feet and wrap their arms around our knees and gush forth in humble gratitude. However, especially when a child is young, they open the gift and…meh. We rush down there and show them how it works and all the noises and buttons. The child begins to play with it and we run around the room giving ourselves high fives. But when we look over again, they are eating the wrapping paper and playing with the box it came in while the toy is lying by itself on the floor.
In Genesis, we see that man is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Part of what this means can be found in the way God creates. He first creates a formless mass of chaos (Genesis 1:2) and then progressively organizes the world after a fashion that makes it amenable to human beings and their experience of God’s presence. This is capitulated in the story of Eden (Genesis 2:7-15), where God creates a space for man to meet with God that is the ideal composition between chaos and order. If we see God’s creative work as a symbol of what it means to be a human being in God’s image, we can see that man is the being that negotiates between chaos and order on the earth. We do this by finding ways to cultivate nature in a way that brings something new out of it that was not there before without eliminating its potential entirely. A good example might be a garden in which there are no insects. Without bugs, the garden will produce no fruit. It is too orderly. But in a field without cultivation there may or may not be food fit for humans depending upon weather and animal activity. In connection with John 1:1-18 and Colossians 1:15-20, we can see that
I wasn’t born in Nebraska. My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around a lot when I was young but we finally settled in Nebraska and I consider it home. I started attending a public school until my dad made the decision to quit his job and become a Christian school teacher. I joined the school a year later as a student. The school was not like Annapolis but I appreciated being taught in a Christian environment. I participated in junior high band and enjoyed choir. I acted in One Act and in one of the school plays, Anne of Green Gables. I was in the pivotal role as “farmhand #2”. I also played sports. The sport I excelled in the most was volleyball. My dad was the assistant girls’ volleyball coach and he was my ride home so, out of boredom, I began playing volleyball. After high school, I went to a Christian college where I played college volleyball and got a teaching degree. My first teaching job after graduation was back in Nebraska, where I spent the last 20 years in education.