Hear, then, the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the Word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart. That is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with great joy, yet he has no root in himself. It endures for a while, and then tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, and immediately he falls away
As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the Word and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the Word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit in yield, in one case 100-fold, in another 60, and in another 30.
Iíd like to highlight some valuable parts of this wonderful verse in the Bible. First of all, hearing and not doing the Word. Jesus says, "When anyone hears the Word of the Kingdom and does not understand it, the Evil One comes and snatches it away." Weíre well aware of that. So many people were exposed to the new Word of God in the Completed Testament Age, and if they didnít grab onto it, it was gone, right? That can happen with us, too, in our ongoing course. If we hear Godís Word and we donít grab onto it then we can lose it too. The Evil One can come and snatch it away from us.
The next part talks about the rocky ground. "As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the Word and immediately receives it with joy. Yet it has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the Word, immediately he falls away." Have we seen that? How many of our dear brothers and sisters who we loved so much, when tribulation or persecution came on account of the Word, what happened? Theyíre gone.
An old friend of mine, Joseph Schratnecher, an Austrian brother, drove MFT vans for 10 years. He gave a sermon a number of years ago and said, "I had a lot of ideal, perfect members on those MFT teams. Theyíre all gone now. The only ones left are the ones of us who struggle all the time."
Actually what he meant was, weíre the people who are dealing with things. Weíre not just glossing over. Many times I found people that seemed like they were really in there, but actually their hearts were hard, and it came out somewhere along the line. This is such a deep thing. The seed canít root in hard soil or rocky soil. So we need to become soft, fertile soil. Thatís what Jesus is trying to teach us.
As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the Word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the Word and it proves unfruitful. Arenít there a lot of thorns choking things in our heart and spirit? There are in mine. Iíll admit it. Cares in the world, delight in riches Ė how much are we choked every day by being concerned by worldly things, by negative thoughts, by our own emotional problems and life problems? Jesus said, it chokes the Word.
Thatís why True Father is telling us that every morning we should read the Word, so that we can bring it back into our heart and spirit every day. Itís a spiritual discipline. Itís not easy. But we need to understand why itís there. Exactly for this reason. Otherwise we get thorny, and a lot of thorns are strangling us spiritually.
As for what was sown on good soil, Jesus said, this is he who hears the Word, understands it, and indeed he bears fruit and yields. So what we want to talk about this morning is how can we become good soil. Good fertile soil for the seed of Godís Word to be planted in our hearts, to grow deep roots and be strong. And every one of us is always going back and forth between these other extremes that Jesus talks about, being rocky hard soil, or having thorns choke our spirit and choke the Word inside us. How do we become fertile, soft, fruitful soil?
What do we need in order to do that? First of all, most of us were good soil when we first encountered the Word, werenít we? Initially I wasnít good soil. I was real hard. Loretta brought back the Word to me and I did not want to know. She heard it apart from me. Youíd really know me if you were there in 1973 when she first tried to tell me about the Word. She tried many ways, and I didnít get any softer, and finally, with her incredible faith, and being guided by God and her ancestors, and probably mine, she said, "Well, I have to do this anyway." So she moved into a center with our three-month-old daughter, and she told me later that she told Heavenly Father, if it takes three years for Henri to understand this, I will endure. That was her prayer. Please bring Henri within three years.
Well, for the next three weeks God was working on me, cultivating and breaking up the soil. I shed a lot of tears, and I even had friends who told me, hey, listen up. Read this spiritual book, or that. I cared nothing about spirituality, I knew nothing about the Bible. I was raised in a very humanistic, New Age sort of Northwest family. You have to understand what itís like out there to know what the atmosphere was. I didnít want to know anything about any of this.
A friend of mine gave me a hippie spirituality book called "Be Here Now." I couldnít put that book down. I read it overnight. God spoke to me so many times in that book. He was trying to show me that the books on my bookshelf were full of self-centered thinking, and that I had to really open up to know the truth. That book devastated me in a good way, so I became softer soil. After three weeks, my deductive reasoning mind concluded this: Loretta Hedquist Schauffler is the best person I know and one of the smartest, and thatís a problem because either sheís crazy or thereís something in all this stuff that she went off to do. Since sheís the smartest and best person I know, and she didnít go crazy, therefore there must be something in it, so Iíd better go listen. So I had to open my heart and hear the Divine Principle in June of 1973.
As I tell this story, Iím sure you can think back to when you first encountered the Completed Testament Age Word. But we need to continue being that soft, fertile soil. We even need to go back sometimes and recapture how we felt when we first understood the Word, first understood True Parents. John 1 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." It needs to do the same in us, but we need to become like we were when we first encountered it. When we become hard and thorns are choking us, we lose that ability.
Next, we need to till that soil every season, replenish the nutrients, break up the hard soil, re-seed each season, weed the garden. We have to be working on it all the time.
How do we keep ourselves as good soil? Thatís the question I want to ask this morning. We have to start with the necessary attitudes of gratitude, repentance, and humility. Without these, the thorns are there, the rocks are there, and the seeds canít really put down roots. Thatís where I have to start every day. If I canít feel these things, if Iím resentful, or not repentful, if Iím arrogant, then I know God is going to be a long way from me.
Then we have to commit to continuous growth. We have to become born again every single day, not just once. Not just June 1973, but every single day. You may have received Christ at one point in your life, but each day you have to be born again.
I want to offer you a list of "Seven Mís" as sort of spiritual checklist. Going back to the statement of vision and purpose that we wrote, itís been reworded a little bit and I want to offer it up this morning.
"Vision: We are a community of faith, working together to expand true love by living and teaching the ideal of True Parents."
"To help people MATURE in their relationship with God, build MEANINGFUL RELATIONSHIPS with each other, attain their MARRIAGE BLESSING, MASTER THEIR ENVIRONMENT, develop their gifts and abilities to serve in MINISTRIES for our community and MISSIONS in the world, and develop a personal MAGNETISM that attracts others to our community."
If we do those seven things, weíll be healthy individuals and we will also be a healthy community. As Rev. Lee likes to say, a healthy church.
First, Maturing. Second, Meaningful Relationships. Third, Marriage Blessing. Fourth, Mastering your Environment. Fifth, Mission. Sixth, Ministry. Seventh, Magnetism. Letís take a look at each one.
Itís not enough to say, Iíve got this great prayer life and I read the Word every day, but I have problems in relationships with my spouse, my children, my colleagues, my parents. Itís not enough to say, my family life is great, unless Iím challenging myself to discipline spiritually. We need to challenge both. Maturing meaningful relationships are the beginning point to get that 90 degree angle and make it complete.
Some of us have good marriages but we struggle with our children. Others of us have a terrible relationship with our spouse, but weíre doing well with our children. The Evil One, as Jesus calls him, is there waiting to mess things up in the blessing. We need to invest a tremendous amount of energy. Itís not enough to say, "Iím going to pray and do a mission, read hoon dok hae, witness and make great friendships, but Iím going to let my blessing go." Some of us are more challenged than others, but "whatever it takes" needs to be our motto. Donít give up until we find the way. This is really step one in living for the sake of others. It starts in my family, in my blessing life.
If your time, finances or environment are out of control, you need to work on that and spend time getting your life under control. Goals, plans and needs need to be put into place so that we can organize our lives and be in control and master our environment.
There are ways we can unlock our calling even though weíre crusted over, if weíve lost hope, if we donít feel value any more, if our lives are too tough, or if we never felt that we have much to offer. We can still unlock it and there are specific ways to do that. There are so many ways we can minister in our community. Some people are doing it every day of the week. Some are doing it one day a month. What these brothers are doing with music is a ministry, but also those who set up the chairs and in other ways prepare the service is a ministry. Mopping the floors at the church is a ministry. What I do up here may look like the big thing, but I think the person who mops the floors with a glad heart is doing something more important in making it all work. Certainly weíre all the same, and we all have an offering we can make.
The next step in living for the sake of others starts in your family, and then in our spiritual community. We will be offering assistance in how to unlock gifts, abilities, passion and calling.
If we are mature in our life with God, then building meaningful relationships with other people, developing our blessing, mastering our circumstances, developing our ministry and mission, then we will become magnetic people. This will be true for individuals and for our church community. This is my vision. I hope somehow it touches some of you. I refuse to believe that we just have to become elderly together alone. I want go live through my elder years with many new people that are learning from us, and their children and our children. Then we have to become magnetic people again. We have been. Magnetic families, magnetic churches.
Itís been a long time, but we can do it. It wonít start in the great programs we create, but with every one of us getting back to cultivating my spiritual soil to be a person in whom God can dwell. Thatís what we call natural witnessing. We donít have to drag people into programs. Youíre working with people you know and they ask you, where do you get this quality? How come youíre so hopeful and your family is so great? Well, itís what I experience in my community of faith. How can I learn about that? Well, you can come to my small group this week, or come to Sunday service. Thatís how it works. People will be asking us.
I refuse to believe that this scenario canít happen. The truth is too powerful and True Parents are True Parents. Therefore, it has to happen.
We need to maintain a balance with these seven Mís. Everybody would like to be balanced like that, but the reality is that weíre unbalanced Ė some areas are more cultivated than others. So this checklist helps us get back into balance by looking at our lives and finding which of these seven areas need more investment. Maybe my family relationships are good, maybe all the bills are paid, but Iím not offering anything into the community of faith, or the neighborhood or city. Then those areas need work. I know every one of us has at least one of these areas that we need to cultivate in order to become balanced.
Who would you say has mastered all seven areas? In my experience, True Parents. Iíve seen it. Thereís no question that Jesus and True Parents have mastered all of these. Heavenly Father has certainly mastered those things. If you go out in nature, itís balanced and harmonized. Thatís our challenge also.
So becoming good soil is a life-long, daily pursuit that requires diligence and right attitudes. Individual, family, group, church, organization. This checklist works on every level. Evaluate your family, our church community according to these seven Mís. I feel a calling to get our church community to stack up better against this list.
Rev. Moon said, "Leave behind something that God can praise. Ask yourself how many people, how many clans, how many tribes have you loved? Seek to become the master of love. Live your life like that and youíll never be a loser." Thatís what itís all about. Dr. Stephen Covey calls it, "leaving a legacy."
I hope you can get some use out of this list. Consider these items next time you pray. Unless you fire me, youíre going to be hearing more about these over time. Letís pray.