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Post  Admin on Mon 14 Nov 2011, 4:56 pm

The Ministry of Manure
When the Chips are Down, the Lord is Up to Something Good
By James Ryle Ó2004

"Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and
dung it." Luke 13:8

It has happened to all of us sometime or another. Usually in the
spring time, but not exclusively. Fact is, it can happen anytime,
and almost anywhere “ even when and where you least expect it.
Indeed, the more unlikely the place and time, the more astonishing
it is to our unsuspecting senses. In particular, our sense of smell.

You wake up on a cheerful sunlit morning to new mercies and a fresh
cup of coffee. Birds are singing in the trees, and a few friendly
neighborhood noises hum in the background “giggling kids jumping on
a trampoline, a one-eyed dog barking at a squirrel, and the drone of
a lawn mower a block away. You step out the front door to greet the
day and “ wham! The full bodied aroma of rural America has been
dumped somewhere in your immediate proximity, and you are located
directly downwind.

Though no cattle have been seen in these parts for nigh unto fifty
years, it smells like a truck load of 'em spent the night two doors
down, laughing and drinking and having a party. Piles of manure
“fertilizer they call it these days “ sit in the middle of the street
waiting for the lawn crew to disperse it with creative dispatch in a
newly landscaped yard. As far as you're concerned, right now would
not be soon enough.

You can't breathe, at least not through your nose, 'cause the smell
will make your eyes roll back in your head. And you dare not breathe
through your mouth, 'cause that almost feels like your eating
something. So you gasp with hands cupped over your face, and your
eyes go crossed for lack of oxygen. Strangely enough, however, you
somehow adapt to the odor and manage to make it through the
unsolicited ordeal. And when its all said and done you see the worth
of it in the lush, award-winning landscaping just down the street.
Who knows, you might even order a pile or two yourself seeing how
well things turned out.

Jesus told a story along these lines one day. ""Once upon a time,"
He said, "a man had a fig-tree growing in his garden, and when he
came to look for the figs, he found none at all. Disappointed, he
said to his gardener, 'Look, I have come expecting fruit on this
fig-tree for three years and never found any. Better cut it down.
Why should it use up valuable ground? This is space we can use for
something else.' And the gardener replied, 'Master, don't touch it
this year till I have had a chance to dig round it and give it a bit
of manure. If it bears fruit after that, it will be all right. But
if it doesn't, then you can cut it down.'" (see Luke 13:6-9).

The old King James puts it this way, "Lord, let it alone this year
also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it." The phrase literally
means "to dig all about it, and throw manure throughout it." In
other words, this was not going to be a neat and tidy job, wrapped
up in a few surgical minutes. No, it was going to be prolonged,
deliberate, disruptive, messy, and stinky. Do you see any
similarities to how your life has been lately? If so, be of good
cheer, you are undergoing the Ministry of Manure. It seems that each
one of us sometimes need our roots exposed, and a good dose of
compost packed about us in order for us to grow strong, and become
our most fruitful best.

Manure is the "black gold" of the gardening world. It contains a
rich and wide range of minerals and nutrients, providing the three
main chemicals all plants need -- nitrogen, phosphorus, and
potassium. In addition, manure also adds to the composition of the
soil and promotes easier and healthier root growth. So, seeing its
great value, why wouldn't the Lord use it on us?

The Holy Spirit digs about our lives to expose our roots. He
orchestrates those invasive things that disrupt and overturn us, and
He supplies those unpredictable people who frustrate and upset us –
all to make sure we are trusting in Christ alone. Paul wrote, "Let
your roots grow down into Him and draw up nourishment from Him."
(Colossians 2:7). If you and I draw nourishment from any other
person or thing, it will be uncovered and corrected. And it must be,
if we truly want to be the very best we can be.

When we put our trust in man we will always be disappointed. Our
hopes will fade, our effectiveness diminish, and our lives become
aimless. In fact, we become so preoccupied with what others have
promised and failed to deliver, that we lose our ability to see the
good that comes from God despite our duplicity. We sulk and sag in
silence; praise long having left our hearts and lips. Such is the
estate of those who look to the arm of flesh for deliverance.

But when we trust in the Lord, He commands rich blessings upon us.
Here is what He told the prophet Jeremiah, "I will bless the person
who puts his trust in Me. He is like a tree growing near a stream
and sending out roots to the water. He is not afraid when hot
weather comes, because his leaves stay green; he has no worries when
there is no rain; he keeps on bearing fruit." (see Jeremiah 17:7-8

Are you trusting in Man or in the Lord? Is your heart set upon
riches? Is your confidence in the flesh? Here comes a shovel! Are
you trusting in your abilities, your looks, or your own wit and
charm? Here comes a herd of cattle! My friends, if we seek stability
and security in anything other than Christ, or look for safety and
significance in any one apart from Him – the scoop and the poop are
just around the corner.

"To what purpose" we ask, "is all this digging and dunging?" Nothing
but this: that we might be strong and fruitful. Would you really
want the Lord to leave you alone? Would you be content to settle for
less than you could've been? To accomplish less than you could've
done? Surely not!

So bring it on, Lord; dig me and dung me! Burrow deep into the
unseen places of my anxious heart, and leave not a single root
holding on to anything or anyone other than You. And then pack the
manure deep and wide, and pile it high as the sky! Don't let me be a
flimsy perfumed man – pale and weak, bending to the whims and
fancies of this fallen world. Make me like a tree planted by streams
of living water, that brings forth fruit in season. Make me a
prosperous man, whose leaves never wither. Amen.

Dear reader, you may as well start praying like this, 'cause He is
determined to do it anyway. Scoop, and poop, and all.

Let me conclude with a short story.

There was a bird that lived in Canada. One winter he announced to
the other birds, "I'm not flying south for the winter. I'm staying
right here!" All the other birds said he was crazy, but he answered,
"You're the ones that are crazy. You'll get down south, turn around
and fly right back up here again next year. What's the point?!"

The other birds took to flight and left him behind.

Wondering what winter in Canada would be like, the lone bird was
pleasantly surprised at the stretch of Indian Summer that lingered
long into the fall. "Aha!" he said to himself, "I was right to stay.
This is wonderful!" But then, winter hit full force in the middle of
December. Shuddering in the cold the silly bird finally realized, "I
must hurry and leave before I freeze to death!"

He took to flight and made it as far as Montana. There, in mid-air,
he froze up and tumbled to the ground; landing in a farmer's
barnyard. "Oh, what a stupid bird I am," he moaned to himself. "I
should've flown south with all the other birds, but now I am about
to die."

Just then a cow in the barnyard strolled past the fallen bird and
without realizing it dropped a big cow-plop right on top of him!
"Oh, this is just great," mumbled the buried bird. "It's not bad
enough that I'm about to die; now I'm covered with cow manure!"
But then he noticed something he had not expected. The warmth of the
plop actually began to thaw him out and restore him to life. "Why,
what do you know about that?" said the bird. "This ain't so bad
after all!" Then he began chirping and singing under the pile of poop.

Meanwhile, the barnyard cat was passing by and heard the sound of
singing coming from the pile. Curious as a cat can be, he pawed
around in the pile and uncovered the thawed bird. Their eyes met,
there was a silent moment of suspense, and then the cat ate the bird.

The moral of the story is three-fold. First, not everyone who dumps
on you is your enemy. Second, not everyone who cleans it off is your
friend. Third, when you do get dumped on, it is best to keep your
mouth shut.

The bottom line is this. When the chips are down, the Lord is up to
something good. Take heart, and place your trust in Him. You'll be
blessed in every way.

TruthWorks Epiphanies are freely distributed for the encouragement
of others.

We invite you to forward them along to your family members, friends,
and associates.

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Age : 75
Location : Wales UK

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