Pickle Heaven Press-James R. Johnson

something to help you laugh and think about life with Christ

making a dent — January 27, 2021

making a dent

It’s a good thing to make a dent – if you are a peach tree. 

In my reading, I discovered some really interesting information about the reproduction process of a fruit tree.  (sounds kind of nerdish doesn’t it?)

My source is Dr. Paul Brand who tended orchards as a hobby and was also a surgeon (but not of the tree variety) 

I already knew about the method where man and animals whisk away ripe fruit and leave the seeds far and wide. But I did not know about the dent method of reproduction. 

This is how I understand it.  When the fruit, say a peach, is ripe to the eye, the seed within is also fully developed. 

The tree, if left to itself, kindly releases the peach.  Each heavy piece drops to the ground where it impacts the soil with a small dent.  This dent is of a strategic design.  It essentially creates a small bowl in which the new tree is birthed.

The peach sits in the dent and decomposes around the seed allowing its organic nutrients to seep into the soil.  The dent retains it providing the fruit with a fertile place to grow.

When it rains, the water puddles up and remains in that dent, thus providing for that need.  And the movement of the water also carries soil which again collects in the dent and buries the seed under a protective blanket.

Eventually there’s a sprout, that become a sapling and before you know it – a mature peach tree capable a reproducing itself. 

_______

Brilliant!  God gave us the dent method of reproduction for fruit trees – and for Christians as well. 

So, here’s the deal.  We Christians are planted in the soil of a hard and often hostile world.  It sometimes feels like the Gospel we embrace is on the retreat rather than advancing. 

There continues to be a desperate need for us to make a dent in this world.  How?

By dropping our fruit. 

The apostle Paul argued that we were saved from our sins, “in order that we might bear fruit for God.”  – Rom 7:4.

This fruit is measured by the kind of character we develop.  “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23)

I knew a fellow that took great delight in attacking me and what I believe.  When we met, it was a one-way tirade designed to strip me of my convictions.  I knew it was dumb to argue, so I listened instead as God enabled me with the fruits of patience, kindness and gentleness.

These days my friend seeks to be with me and is warmly receptive to what I have to say. 

It seems that my fruit made a dent.

Paul also says that fruit is measured by the good deeds that we do.  “So that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed…”   Colossians 1:10

Good deeds!  A theme that Jesus also addressed in Matthew 5:15, “Let your light shine before people, so that they can see your good deeds and give honor to your Father in heaven.” 

I have a number of friends – a physician, an accountant, and an engineer who have been involved for many years with the local homeless mission.  They have served these displaced folks in the boardroom and in the dining room. 

They are motivated by their faith in Jesus, and their compassion for the downtrodden and their reward is in seeing many of these homeless folks come to faith in Jesus each year and becoming productive people again.

It appears that their fruit is making a dent.

So, is your tree bearing fruit?  Are you making a dent?  Is your Christlike character opening the eyes of the lost around you?   Are your good works attracting the attention of this old calloused world? 

You don’t have to go to Katmandu to do this.  Like the peach tree, our primary area of impact will be nearby – with those with whom we often relate.   Think of your neighbors, fellow workers, your grandkids, or even the wait staff at your favorite restaurant – and determine to make a dent. 

A PRAYER: Lord help me make a dent in my world. 

Scripture references are from the NETBible ®

an encounter with the Holy Spirit — November 20, 2019

an encounter with the Holy Spirit

I officiated at a wedding that took place in a spacious homey log cabin.  The place was packed including the huge loft area that overlooked the ceremony.  The decor included festive votive candles that were artfully placed throughout the house. 

During my biblical charge to the couple, someone in the loft accidentally kicked one of the candles.  It plummeted to the ground floor and landed squarely on a man’s head – burning wick, hot wax and all.  He survived it with a small bump.  

I felt badly for him, but I was encouraged about my preaching.  I mean how many other pastors can say that while they preached, tongues of fire descended from above and rested on each head.

Not only that, I think I heard the man grumbling in an unknown tongue just after he got hit!

Maybe I shouldn’t be so glib about one of the most earth-shaking sensational happenings in human history.  The day that the Holy Spirit descended from heaven to indwell His people was a watershed event.

In the Old Testament era, the Spirit was given on a temporary basis, to special people that they might perform a certain God ordained task.  

It was the Spirit of God that enabled Joseph to interpret Pharaoh’s dream (Genesis 41:38).  He infused creative ability into those who crafted the tabernacle (Exodus 31:3). The Spirit made wise Moses and the 70 Elders of Israel (Numbers 11:17). 

He breathed courage into whimpering Gideon (Judges 6:34) and fortified the spent muscles of Samson (Judges 14:6) and He imparted a host of savvy skills to young King David. (1 Samuel 16:13) I could use power like that. 

In some cases, God withdrew His Spirit as with king Saul because of his sin. (1 Samuel 16:14) Saul became like a deflated balloon, which may be why his successor David prayed, “Do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.” (Psalm 51:11)

When the Spirit came upon an Old Testament personality, it was front page news.  It rarely happened but when it did, there was always spectacular, God honoring events that followed.   Everyone else would watch and wonder and wish for just a small taste of that power in their own lives.

But then God changed the rules at Pentecost.  “Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them.  All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.”  – Acts 2:2-4 NET Bible ®

At Pentecost, every believer – man and woman – received the gift of the Holy Spirit, and they were immediately filled with courage, power and new supernatural abilities.  Since then, every person that enters the Kingdom of God, has had the Spirit come to dwell.  (Romans 8:9) 

And He comes to stay for good.  We may impede His work in and through us (Ephesians 4:30) but He will never leave or forsake us. 

The Spirit was given, not simply as a badge of belonging, but as an energy source for service.  Like the men of old, the Spirit empowers us to serve God’s purposes.  Paul said, “To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.”  (1 Corinthians 12:7)

So, what difference does the Spirit make?  It’s mostly about quality.  When we allow ourselves to be filled and controlled by His Spirit, it is manifested in the way we live and relate to others.  We will bear the fruits of the Spirit which are, “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”  – Galatians 5:22-23, NET Bible ®

Unfortunately, some of us have more in common with a porcupine.  If that’s you, take a moment to transfer control of your life to the Holy Spirit – once again. 

When you said “I do” to your spouse, you surrendered a lot.  Implicit in your vows was a commitment to honor and listen to the person that you wed.   Yield to the Spirit of God in that way, and He will fill you and use you and bless you. 

And I promise it won’t be as painful as getting clobbered with a votive candle.

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