FIRST FRUITS FARM: COURAGE, FAITH & HOPE

Growing A Greener World” is a national gardening series on public television that features organic gardening, green living and farm-to-table cooking. Each episode focuses on “compelling and inspirational people making a difference through gardening.”  (growingagreenerworld.com)

Watching an episode of “Growing A Greener World” inspired today’s blogpost. It first aired a couple of years ago, but I just saw it for the first time. Host Joe Lamp’l used “courage” and “faith” to describe it; I will add “hope.”

Jason Brown and his story give me hope because of his courage and faith. Jason desired to know and follow God’s plan for His life — even if it meant trading fame and future wealth for a life of giving and service.

Brown was not only a professional football player, he was the highest paid Center in the history of the National Football League. That is a high achievement for an athlete in the world’s eyes, but Brown felt a higher call. His deep and real faith led him to choose a path away from the NFL and away from a 35 million dollar contract with the St. Louis Rams. Instead the 27 year old followed God’s call to be a farmer — despite never having been a farmer.

Answers to prayers came as Jason and his wife, Tay, found and secured 1,000 acres that they named First Fruits Farm. This name resulted from a covenant Jason made with God that he would donate the first fruits of the farm’s harvest.

The veteran NFL player now rookie farmer learned from youtube videos how to plant and care for crops. Amazing stories are associated with First Fruits Farm. Acts of faith and service were sown and blessings reaped. Answers to prayers continued… from a network of volunteer harvestors… to a tractor. Providence met his needs even when he did not know his needs when a neighbor gifted him with a donkey to protect his goats from coyotes.

First Fruits Farm exceeded donations of “first” fruits and instead donated “all” crops to those in need. God chose agriculture to bless the Browns to bless others. Tours, special events, and youth outreach programs are designed to inspire participants to make a difference themselves.

Jason has experienced God’s provision over and over and freely shares his personal story. The more you learn of it, the more you will be blessed with hope that may lead you to a deeper walk of service.

growingagreenerworld.com

“Trading Cleats for Beets:  From Football to Farming for Jason Brown,” Episode 908, (Growing A Greener World TV 10/20/18)

https://wisdomforlife.org/firstfruitsfarm/

MINI MONET: ART, GENEROSITY & HOPE

Today I am pleased to introduce an extraordinary ten year old from the United Kingdom. Daisy Watt is being called “mini Monet.” She uses her artistic gift and talent to create beautiful works of art.

Daisy has a spirit of generosity that makes her an example for the rest of us. She gives hope to others by donating proceeds ($65,000 so far) from art sales to cancer organizations and patients.

I am pleased that Pilot Pens has awarded Daisy $1,000 to continue her art endeavors. I appreciate her family that encourages her
artistic expression. I am thankful that many will reap benefits from her generous giving.

I love seeing a kid who has learned to share — that is an important life lesson that many adults have yet to learn. Thank you, Daisy Watt, for making a difference in our world!

Visit daisywattart.com to learn more of Daisy’s story.

And do not neglect doing good and sharing for with such sacrifices God is pleased.”
(Hebrews 13: 16)

But whoever has worldly goods and sees his brother or sister in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God remain in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.”
(1 John 3: 17, 18)

WINTER STORMS:  GOOD NEIGHBORS & HOPEFUL MESSENGERS

The following is inspired by Scriptures during this time of winter storms with freezing temperatures and below-freezing brutal cold in many areas.

These are opportunities to be good neighbors. Generously donate blankets, coats, gloves, scarves, socks, and more to the homeless and others in need.

Now, friends, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in our community that in a great ordeal of affliction your abundance of joy and your kindness overflowed in the wealth of your liberality. For I testify that according to your ability, and beyond your ability, you will give voluntarily for the favor of participation in the support of our neighbors, but first give yourselves to the Lord by the will of God. So we urged all that as you had previously made a beginning, so He would also complete in you this gracious work as well.

But just as you excel in everything in faith, speaking, knowledge, and in all earnestness and in the love inspired in you, see that you also excel in this gracious work. I am not saying this as a command but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love as well. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor so that you through His poverty might become rich.

I give my opinion in this matter for this is to your advantage, who began to do this but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also so that just as there was the willingness to desire it so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the willingness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has and not according to what he does not have.

For this is not for the relief of others and for your hardship but by way of equality — at this present time your abundance will serve as assistance for their need so that their abundance also may serve as assistance for your need so that there may be equality; as it is written: “The one who had gathered much did not have too much, and the one who had gathered little did not have too little.”

But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness in your behalf in your hearts. For you not only accepted our appeal but being yourselves very earnest, some have gone to others of their own accord. We have sent along neighbors, whose fame in the things of the gospel has spread through all the churches; and not only that but they have also been appointed by the churches to travel in this gracious work, which is being administered for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our readiness, taking precaution so that no one will discredit you in our administration of this generous gift; for we have regard for what is honorable not only in the sight of the Lord but also in the sight of others.

We have sent with them our neighbors, whom we have often tested and found diligent in many things but now even more diligent because of our great confidence in you. As for you, you are my partners and fellow workers among you; as for our friends, they are messengers of hope, a glory to Christ. Therefore, openly before the community show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.

(The above message was inspired by 2 Corinthians 8. It is NOT Holy Scripture but only presented to encourage readers to share love and hope and to help others in need when possible.)

“I AM WHO I AM”:  TRUTH, GOODNESS, BEAUTY, & HOPE

If you have ever seriously considered Who God is… if you continue to ponder His immenseness and vastness… and if you long to know Him better, then you may want to read a book by John Piper.

I think that Piper, author of I AM WHO I AM, has presented a good understanding of the Judeo-Christian God. This post lists 10 things from Piper’s book. Pondering such attributes of God gives hope to this human heart and may to yours as well.

Based on Biblical teachings, there are at least 10 things the name Yahweh, “I AM,” says about God. Following is an excerpt from “I AM WHO I AM” by John Piper:

“He never had a beginning….

God will never end….

God is absolute reality….

God is utterly independent….

Everything that is not God depends totally on God….

All the universe is by comparison to God as nothing….

God is constant….

God is the absolute standard of truth and goodness and beauty….

God does whatever He pleases, and it is always right and always beautiful and always in accord with truth….

God is the most important and most valuable reality and Person in the universe….”  (Piper)

I hope today’s post leads you to further study and meditation. May you experience God’s truth, goodness, beauty, and hope as your reward.

And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’; and He said, ‘This is what you shall say to the sons of Israel: I AM has sent me to you.’”

(Exodus 3: 14)

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.'”  (John 14: 6)

Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”   (Romans 10: 13)

 

FOCUS ON LIFE: LIVES & HOPE

Last week the March for Life (largest pro-life event in the world) was held virtually during this pandemic because hope continues in supporters of this important cause.

Also last week President Joe Biden signed an executive order to rescind the “Mexico City Policy” that had prohibited American taxpayer money from funding abortions overseas. I strongly disapprove of this move by this longtime advocate of abortion.

I do not stand with the new president on issues of life and death of innocent preborn children. Instead I stand with 77% of Americans who oppose this action according to a recent poll.

Today I will focus on life, especially innocent pre-born lives, and the hope that leads to pro-life views.

I agree with Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, who said he is “… grateful for those who will be standing in solidarity for the innocent children who have no voice.”

I invite readers everywhere to visit roseday.life for hope regarding lives at risk. You may attend an important event on Wednesday, February 3, 2021, starting at 11:30 AM.

Rose Day Pro-life Rally this year is a virtual online-only event that will include an interview with Abby Johnson whose life inspired the movie, “Unplanned.” As in past decades Rose Day and its many supporters offer hope.

If you support pro-life views, then continue to work and pray. If you do not, then I challenge you to view the live stream at roseday.life with an open mind and heart.

Innocent lives depend on others to be their voice. Pre-born lives matter if any lives matter. Hope matters, too, and there is no hope anywhere if it does not include those who need it most.

And He [Jesus] took a child and placed him among them, and taking him in His arms, He said to them, “Whoever receives one child like this in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me does not receive Me but Him who sent Me.”  (Mark 9: 36, 37)

THE GIVING SAVIOR: HOPE & BLESSING

I recently read “Anything and Everything,” a devotional by Shawn McEvoy that related spiritual significance of a children’s book by Shel Silverstein. I think McEnvoy’s summary of The Giving Tree, a book meaningful to children, parents, and teachers for decades, was summed up beautifully.

“A tree and a boy are the best of friends during an idyllic childhood for the young man where he eats apples from the tree, climbs her trunk, swings from her branches, and rests in her shade.

Then things change as things do, and we see the boy approach the tree at all the various stages of his life, caught up — understandably even — more in wanting and needing than in just being.

Every time he has a ‘need,’ the tree obliges… and is happy for having done so. She doesn’t have much but gives all she has until eventually she is nothing but a stump.

At the end of all things however, it turns out a stump is just what the old man needs — a quiet place to sit down and rest and reflect. ‘And the tree was happy. The end.'”  (SM)

McEnvoy’s emotional ties to the book are meaningful to him because of his wife, his father, and his Savior. He ties his personal experiences with Silverstein’s story and presents a clear message of the sacrificial giving of Jesus Christ. Christ alone is THE GIVING SAVIOR at all stages of our lives.

McEnvoy’s devotionals and those of others are found at crosswalk.com where I often find needed HOPE and BLESSING. I encourage you to visit crosswalk.com for a daily dose of HOPE and BLESSING.

“and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”  (1 Peter 2: 24)

“Therefore be imitators of God as beloved children; and walk in love just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”  (Ephesians 5: 1, 2)

“SOAPSUDS & TOY SOLDIERS”:  GRACE & HOPE

I recently discovered a poem by Jason Reynolds. I recognized the importance of its message and will feature the poem today. I want to share it and how it relates to hope.

When poets (or others) express ideas that help the rest of us realize meaningful thoughts it gives me hope. Maybe you will find hope in it also. At least maybe you will enjoy reading a son’s appreciation for His mother as I did.

May this poem be our reminder to express appreciation for our loved ones when we have opportunities.

One specific verse in the Bible book of Ephesians teaches us to share good words and edify others. May we learn well how to use our words to edify others. By doing this we give grace and hope.

I appreciate Jason Reynolds’ poem below for the grace and hope it gives me.

My mother
Is coming home
From the hospital
Tomorrow

And it has occurred
To me  that
Somewhere
Between being bathed
In a bathtub
Overflowing with
“Soapsuds and toy soldiers”

And today

I have learned to appreciate her

Seems like sickness
Becomes signals
To selfish sons
Saying

Trouble don’t last always
Nor do mothers

(Jason Reynolds)

Let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but if there is any good word for edification according to the need of the moment, say that so that it will give grace to those who hear.”  (Ephesians 4: 29)

“WAKE UP, AMERICA!”: PEACE, LIBERTY, LAW, HOPE

In Sunday’s message Rev. John Hagee of Cornerstone Church in San Antonio, Texas, criticized the assault on Congress by what he called “a rebellious mob.”

He described a sad event in American history that occurred the previous week, “The Secret Service had to escort the Vice-president of the United States to safety out of the Capitol building. Gun shots were fired. Tear gas was deployed in the Capitol Rotunda. People were killed…. This was an assault on law. Attacking the Capitol was not patriotism, it was anarchy.”

Weak applause followed, but soon Hagee received a standing ovation when he focused on law enforcement: “This is what happens when you mob the police. This is what happens when you fire the police.”

“This is what happens when you watch a policeman shot and belittle his sacrifice for the public…. Wake up, America! America and democracy cannot function without the rule of law. We back the blue.”

I find hope in Hagee’s words and in the standing ovation by Texans in support of law enforcement. These words bear repeating: “WAKE UP, AMERICA! America and democracy cannot function without the rule of law. We back the blue.”

Unfortunately we may see other incidents or even worse in our future, but I believe there will always be patriotic Americans who proudly — and rightly — promote peace, liberty, law, and hope. I have hope when Americans realize important aspects of society that honor God. He wants peace, liberty, law, and hope for His people. Life will be better in a future where they are strong and will continue to be.

“The Lord will give strength to His people;
The Lord will bless His people with peace.”  (Psalm 29:11)

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”
(2 Corinthians 3: 17)

“Those who love Your law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble.” 
(Psalm 119: 165)

“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” 
(Romans 15:13)

The above post was inspired by an AP News article, “Trump-supporting Christian Leaders and Their Sunday Messages,” 10/10/2021, by Mariam Fam, Elana Schor, and David Crary.

PSALM 23: SHEPHERD’S HOPE

“The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me. Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies. Thou anointest my head with oil. My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23)

Any day is a good day to read God’s Word to find hope. Recently a sweet friend reminded me of hope to be found in Psalm 23. Those Old Testament verses are so full of the loving benefits of knowing God that I want to share this hopeful reminder here.

The author of the message below that features Psalm 23 is unknown, but I am confident that person knew the Lord as personal Shepherd and was blessed by His hope.

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD

“The Lord is my Shepherd
That’s RELATIONSHIP!

I shall not want —
That’s SUPPLY!

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures —
That’s REST!

He leadeth me beside still waters —
That’s REFRESHMENT!

He restoreth my soul —
That’s HEALING!

He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness —
That’s GUIDANCE!

For His name’s sake —
That’s PURPOSE!

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil —
That’s PROTECTION!

For Thou art with me —
That’s FAITHFULNESS!

Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me —
That’s COMFORT!

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies —
That’s HOPE!

Thou anointest my head with oil —
That’s CONSECRATION!

My cup runneth over —
That’s ABUNDANCE!

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life —
That’s BLESSING!

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord —
That’s SECURITY!

Forever — That’s ETERNITY!”  (author unknown)

If you know the Good Shepherd, then the above message will be a reminder to you. If you do not, then read it again and ponder the benefits that are available to you when you are His.

ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING:  KEEP CALM & HAVE HOPE

As this new year begins, I believe that God has a message for us. It was given in the New Testament book of Philippians.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
(Philippians 4: 6-7)

For anyone plagued by anxiety, I recommend a book by Max Lucado entitled ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World. I recommend any of his books for any time, but today in our current situation this one meets a definite need.

This author is gifted to write and has used his gifts to bring hope and to bless many hearts including mine. Inspired by teachings from Philippians 4 and Lucado’s insight, Shawn McEnvoy shares an acrostic, C-A-L-M, for “Philippians 4’s Prescription for Anxiety.”

“Beloved pastor and author Max Lucado sees, via his giftedness in plumbing the depths of Scripture, if not a cure, at least a healing balm. And it’s hiding right in plain sight, right among Paul’s oft-quoted directive to ‘be anxious for nothing’ (Philippians 4:6).” (McEvoy)

McEnvoy interviewed Lucado about why he wrote on the issue of anxiety and chose his title from Philippians: ANXIOUS FOR NOTHING: Finding Calm in a Chaotic World.”

“The book is built around the passage in Philippians 4 that the Apostle Paul wrote. And that gives birth to the title of the book when the Apostle Paul said, ‘be anxious for nothing.’ When he writes, ‘be anxious for nothing,’ by the way, he doesn’t mean ‘never feel anxiety.’ The way that he constructed his Greek verb there is ‘do not allow yourself to be perpetually anxious,’ don’t allow yourself to slip into a mindset of perpetual anxiety. Anxiety is an option, but the Prison of Anxiety is not an option.

And he gives us such a wonderful teaching to deal with anxiety. First he says, ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ And then he says, ‘Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and petition let your requests be made known to God.’ And then he says, ‘With thanksgiving.’  And then he says, ‘Meditate on these things.’

So those are the four big ideas. And I took those four big ideas and created this little acronym C-A-L-M: first we Celebrate God, then we Ask God for help, we Leave the problem with God, and then we Meditate on good things.” (McEnvoy)

Max shared his reason for the book. “So basically the idea of the book is to help people have this as a tool with which to respond to the presence of anxiety. Again anxiety’s gonna come; anxiety will always knock at the door, but we don’t have to invite anxiety in for dinner. We respond by Celebrating God, Asking God for help, Leaving the problem with Him, and then Meditating on good things.” (Lucado)

I think “CALM” is one acrostic that will be helpful to remember. Of course it will only serve its purpose if I follow its ideas. In 2021 I intend to Celebrate God, Ask God for help, Leave the problem with Him, and then Meditate on good things. I am looking forward to a calm new year!