Practicing the way of Jesus, together, for the Renewal of Bend, Oregon.

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Pine Hills Church @
Silver Rail Elementary
61530 SE Stone Creek Ln
Bend, OR 97702

New church community in Bend, Oregon. 

Pine Hills Church desires to be a community where people feel comfortable in exploring who Jesus is, what He was like, and what that might mean for their lives. We want to connect with people who don't yet know Jesus, people who have tried church but never engaged well with Jesus’ way of doing life, and we want to help people connect their vocation with God's greater purposes. We want Bend, Oregon to be just a bit better because we collectively strive to love to the city well through our gifts, talents, and passions. 

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Community Groups
Community Groups across Bend, Oregon:
Thursday Group: 6:00 pm-8:00 pm
We gather around the table, eat good food, talk about life, and pray together. Childcare is provided most weeks.

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We also have a second community group for young adult men that gather for coffee, talk about life, discuss the scriptures, and pray together.

Please click the box below to get more information about either of these groups. Many people who move to Bend don't have roots in the area, community groups are a great place to get connected with a few people around a table and develop friendships that will last a lifetime. 

Rhythm of Life

“Following Jesus has to make it onto your schedule and into your practices or it will simply never happen."
John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

Pine Hills Church wants to be a community that takes formation seriously because we are all being formed into something through the things that we allow to be lived out in our daily experiences.

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Most recent teaching at Pine Hills Church:

Summary
In Week 7 of the "This I Believe" series, the focus is on Mark 4:1-20, where Jesus teaches the parable of the sower. The parable describes a farmer scattering seeds on different types of soil, representing various responses to the gospel. The seeds fall on the footpath, rocky soil, among thorns, and good soil, illustrating how some people hear and accept God's word while others do not due to hardened hearts, shallow faith, or being preoccupied with worldly concerns. The parable emphasizes the importance of being receptive to God's teachings and the need for faith in Jesus to truly understand and grow spiritually. The sermon encourages listeners to reflect on their own openness to God and to help others become more receptive to the gospel.
Discussion Questions:
Discussion Questions
  1. Self-Reflection on Soil Types: Considering the different types of soil in the parable, which type do you feel most accurately represents your current spiritual state, and why? How can you cultivate a more receptive heart towards God's word?
  2. Impact of Worldly Concerns: In what ways do the "worries of this life, the lure of wealth, and the desire for other things" impact your faith journey? What steps can you take to prevent these concerns from crowding out your spiritual growth?
  3. Role of Community in Faith: How can your community of faith help you deepen your roots and grow stronger in your relationship with God? What practices or habits can you adopt to ensure that your faith remains strong and fruitful even in challenging times?
Transcript
  Hey everybody. Welcome back to the Pine Hills Church podcast. My name is Aaron. So grateful that you are gathering with us as we continue our conversation and this, I believe we're even walking through Mark together. Hopefully you've been enjoying and learning more about who Jesus is, what he was like, and why that matters for our lives today.

But today we're going into Mark chapter four. So let's get into the reading text for today. Mark. Chapter 4, verses 1 through 9, it says, He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one. Listen,  a farmer went out to plant some seed as he scattered it across his field. Some of the seed fell on the footpath  and the birds came and ate it.

Other seed fell on the shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprout seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow, but the plant soon withered under the hot sun. And since it didn't have deep roots, it died.  Other seed fell among the thorns and grew up and choked out the tender plants so  they produced no grain.

Still other seeds fell on the fertile soil and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was 30, 60, and even 100 times as much as had been planted. Then he said anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.  See, Mark has been writing this story about Jesus to communicate who Jesus was, what he was like, why it matters for us.

As we get into chapter 4, Mark finally gets to share with us a few parables that Jesus used to teach about the kingdom of God. Now you might be asking, what are parables? Parables were used would use common imagery or word pictures to persuade the audience of a spiritual truth. Parables were used It's an inductive way of communicating a truth instead of just coming out and saying it.

It's a way of connecting dots, and Jesus was a really creative teacher in this regard. It was like finding a reference point in culture, and then drawing the line to how things worked within the kingdom of God.  And the purpose of the parables, according to Ben Witherington III, was to communicate in a way that would elicit whether one was responding in faith or not.

And Ben goes on to say, Mark shows that listening intently is closely associated, if not equated, with understanding and knowing.  It's not enough that you hear the information, but that you actually understand and begin to know what it is saying.  It requires open ears and an open mind. So we all have to ask ourselves the question, are we listening to understand and to know?

Are we open to what God might want to teach, or are we closed to that?  And maybe even ask yourself right now, with wherever you're at, however you're listening, Maybe just to take a self evaluation, am I open to what God might want to say to me? Because there's some thinkers out there that even if God audibly spoke to them, they still would not believe in God.

I think knowing our motives actually matter because it affects the way that we listen and interpret.  And so if we want to come to the Word of God, if we want to hear the Word of God, hear what Jesus has to say, hear what this parable means, we need to evaluate, are we open to what Jesus might want to teach us through this parable?

Are we open to the implications of what that might mean for our lives?

With that, Mark shares this parable that Jesus used to teach. It was a story about seeds and soils. Which is an agrarian society, so they would have picked up on that and what he was doing. But in the story, Jesus is contrasting three failed seeds with three productive ones.  So I want you to imagine like having an herb garden in your backyard, right?

Cause you're that urban farmer in Oregon and you're trying to produce just enough to put some stuff on the table for your family or just to enjoy doing that as self care, whatever that might be. You spread out a lot of these different seeds and some of them take and they're productive, but other seeds don't quite.

Take and they're not productive. And this is what Jesus is essentially getting at. There's these three seeds that are productive and yielded a crop, but then there's these three other ones that did not, we need to understand why those didn't,  and we need to note that regardless of the situation in the story, the seeds stay the same.

It's the outcome of the soil, the outcome of the receptivity that is really in question here, because the seeds the same.  And this story, the gospel is the same. But it's not always received by the same people in the same way. And so it yields a different outcome for people.  So a lot of times maybe we even can't compare how this person is responding compared to that person, because it's not about the seed.

It's about the soils, what's happening in people's lives. How are they hearing?  How are they striving to understand? Is their mind open? Is their mind closed? So with that, let's pick back up the story as we see behind the scenes conversation between the disciples and Jesus as they ask some questions around the meaning behind the parables that Jesus was sharing.

Mark chapter 4 verse 10 It says, later when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around they asked him what the parable meant.  Essentially, this is like a church gathering being over and you walk away wondering, what the heck did the speaker actually talk about today?

Then I find comfort in knowing that this happened to Jesus as well. It just doesn't happen to us today. It doesn't happen even at the end of this podcast when you're like, what in the world did I just listen to?  And so.  Yeah, even Jesus sharing things in creative ways, leaves people asking questions. And maybe that's a good thing.

Maybe having people responding questions and strive to understand, maybe that's a really good thing. Maybe sometimes. We get it wrong where we strive to like give everyone everything right there. And we don't require that people kind of do the work on their own with the Holy Spirit of hearing the word of God and asking those questions.

What does this mean? What does this mean for my life? How can I apply this in a way that's, that's good and helpful. And so maybe we do need to do it amid of that may, maybe Jesus is on purpose. Leaving things ambiguous for reason that people would strive to understand at a deeper level. Let's keep going.

Mark chapter 4 verse 11. He replied to these disciples, You are permitted to understand the secret of the kingdom of God, but I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,  so that scriptures might be fulfilled. When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand.

Otherwise they will turn to me and be forgiven.  They'll turn to me and be forgiven.  We need to remember that it is difficult to translate  one language into another. We see this all the time. Even in Spanish, we, that's one of the common languages in our country. Like even words that are said in Spanish, don't.

Quite translate into English really well. And so you have someone who's an interpreter trying to like translate one for one, what that might mean. And they get to a point where they get a word that doesn't make sense in our culture, or maybe we have a word that doesn't make sense in their culture. And so there's gotta be a little bit of work around that.

Like, what does that mean in our language? They've got to use a lot more words to describe one particular word. That's what could be happening here because we got this word.  Here for secret, right? That's what we hear, and we hear the word secret. We think God's somehow holding back on people. God's not making his way plain, and that's not fair, and we have all kinds of objections to all of that stuff.

But here the word that we're translating secret in English is actually closer to a word maybe like mystery.  See, God isn't interested in keeping any secret knowledge from people.  So that only a select group of people will know things. In fact, people who like go to the Bible and some kind of trying to be on a treasure hunt to find the secret knowledge of things, you should probably be aware of those type of readers because God is making things plain.

He's making it plain. Like. If it's not obvious, he's calling people to follow after him who, who aren't the brightest, not the cream of the crop, but he's saying, Hey, come follow after me and I'll show you my ways.  And the scriptures are being communicated and in a particular language that was like street language for their day.

So he's not interested in all like keeping things hidden from people.  But everything is a bit of a mystery until you understand that everything about God.  Hinges on Jesus.  He's the, he's the thing that puts everything else together. I don't know if you've ever done a puzzle and you get to a point where you kind of stuck  and you're like, you can't quite make the, all the next connections.

You don't know quite what to do. You've kind of put together what you could. And all of a sudden that one particular puzzle piece is like the hinge piece almost, and everything just comes together after that. See, Jesus is that hinge piece.  He's the filter to all of life and understanding things of God requires faith in Jesus because even the scriptures say Jesus is the the image of the invisible God.

So if you want to know what God looks like, if you want to know what God sounds like, if you want to know what God does, then we look at Jesus. That's why we read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is why we gather our community around Jesus because in Jesus we see who God is, but if we don't receive Jesus.

If we just see him quite like a, he's a good teacher. We just don't quite understand that he's actually Messiah. He sent by God to be the savior of the world. Until we begin to understand all of those things, we won't understand anything else. He's the filter for everything. And the people that Jesus is teaching isn't, they aren't getting it.

The religious leaders don't get it. And if we're not careful, we won't get it either. But to those who turn to Jesus. As their great teacher, as their Messiah, as their savior, as they dedicate their lives to apprenticing under a rabbi, Jesus, the great teacher, then under his leadership by daily being with him, becoming like him and doing the things that he would ask us to do.

We get to grow more and more into our knowledge of God.  Knowledge just isn't about information. Knowledge is.  A relational thing. The more we live in relationship with God, the more that we truly understand and in our bones.  See, even my spouse, there's things on paper that I can know about her.  Like if it were a baseball trading card, like there's statistics I could put on the back about my wife, but then there's a way of living life every day with her with the highs and the lows and the stresses and all the different things that are going on that I truly get to know her.

This is why relationship with Jesus matters, because the more we live in relationship with Him, the more we get to know Him, and to know God, and to know what life within God actually looks like. But is your mind open? Is your heart open? Or is it closed?  And when Jesus says as he's teaching his people, as he's explaining the parables, he says when they see what I do, they will learn nothing.

We see this in the people who are, just after a miraculous meal or a miracle, we see that the religious leaders miss it when they would have memorized every sign that pointed to Jesus as the long awaited Messiah. And they see all of these things as proof that Jesus is who he says that he is.  And they learn nothing.

They're confused by all the things that he does. And so for us who pray all the time, God, if you would do this one particular thing, God, I'll believe in you. Let me tell you, even if he does that thing, you probably won't believe in him.  You probably won't. There's people who saw miracle after miracle after miracle, people who are fed from a Lunchable.

5, 000 people fed from a Lunchable still walk away from Jesus confused about who he is,  because if we don't understand him, we don't understand the things that he does.  And so that's why Jesus is saying they're going to see all this stuff I'm doing, but they won't understand. And  instead of leaning in and learning, they lean away and they slowly harden their hearts more and more to who Jesus is because these type of people are just after what can Jesus do for me.

Then Jesus says, when they hear what I say, they will not understand. They don't understand because Jesus doesn't fit their mental maps. They're stuck in their ways of thinking that are not leading them in a good direction  Jesus says otherwise they would turn to me and be forgiven now the last few verses jesus has been quoting isaiah 6 9 through 10 Which is great because he's speaking to people who would have had these things memorized as these are the signposts to the messiah coming And jesus just even quoting that would have been saying i'm the one that you've been looking for I'm the one you've been looking for but you're not You You're not understanding.

You don't see me and see that I came from God. And then he even changes the last word that happens in Isaiah 6, 9 through 10. Isaiah says, turn to me and be healed.  And Jesus swaps it for forgiven. It's like us, if we drop like a really famous quote, or if we dropped a really famous lyric from a song, and then all of a sudden we just changed a word in that, all of a sudden people who had been so keen on hearing in a specific way would tune in to what that different word was.

That was what Jesus was doing.  He was saying, probably, that  if they saw all the miracles,  and they saw that if it pointed to the truth of the kingdom of God, and they actually drew close to Jesus. And they repented and they turned to him that they would actually be forgiven, that they would find healing through forgiveness.

What they really needed to be healed of was a spiritual condition of accumulated sin that formed a rift in their relationship with God. But healing was on offer for that rift through forgiveness in Jesus alone.  And maybe some of us have been looking for one thing to happen. And Jesus is most concerned with healing the thing behind the thing first.

Maybe we're so inclined to know, God, if you just did all of these things for me. And Jesus is just most interested in your heart, having a relationship with you.  And he wants to provide these things in your life, and he wants to come through in particular ways, or to lead you into things that are probably better for you anyway.

But he wants to heal that spiritual condition. And when we respond to Jesus by living a life of faith, following after him,  We get to have help from the Holy Spirit to understand what Jesus is doing, what Jesus is saying, what these scriptures mean, and what that mean in our life today. And God's Word says that if you lack wisdom, you can actually ask the Heavenly Father, who is more than generous to give it to you, to guide you through the power of His Spirit.

Now let's pick up on the explanation because again you have Jesus teach his parable to the crowd you have the disciples getting alone with Jesus the behind the scenes stuff is there like Jesus Can you please explain this stuff because we don't even understand and Jesus says yeah, because you're following after me You put your faith in me Repented like you've you've been following the way you're permitted to know this the stuff that's Remaining a mystery to other people That's a bit cloaked and veiled and people quite don't understand because they're not putting on the lens of Jesus and they won't be able to clearly see it until they put on those Jesus lenses and then all of a sudden everything is dialed in and people's minds get to be open and their hearts get to be open because they come to Jesus in faith.

Remember the hinge point is Jesus coming to him in faith. Mark chapter 4. There's 13 through 14  it says, then Jesus said to them,  if you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The father plants seed by taking God's word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message only to have Satan come at once and to take it away.

Jesus says, if you can't understand this parable, you can't understand the others. The truth behind this parable really actually matters. And he's probably giving us a clue that Jesus taught many more parables than the ones recorded in the scriptures. But this one is the one that Jesus cherry picks to explain as the base for everything else.

In the story, Jesus is the sower  of the seed of the gospel, the sower of the gospel of the kingdom of God. And that seed falls on all different types of soil, representing our reception to the gospel. Doesn't say anything about the seed. The seed is always good. The seed will always deliver. But when it falls on particular soils, it might not take it.

In a way that's actually productive.  Jesus explaining why some people respond to God and why some people do not. The focus isn't on that seat. As we said, it's not on the gospel. It's it's on how the hearers respond to the gospel. The seed first falls on the footpath or the path that is hardened by being walked over constantly.

So I don't know if you ever go walk on trails around bend. Like if you go on a path that is well hiked, it's, it's really hard that people have just padded it down. It's actually. A nice path though to walk on, but there's nothing getting below that top soil because it's been so packed down.  And some might ask why in the world would you throw a seed on a footpath?

Well, for one, I'm no farmer, so you might have to cut me a break if I get this wrong a bit. But being the book nerd that I am, I spent my Tuesday morning reading about first century farming practices just for you. And over coffee in my warm office, I had learned that farmers would actually get up and they would just scatter seed everywhere.

And after scattering the seed kind of indiscriminately over this entire area, they would then go plow the field and in plowing the field, it would then sow the seed into the soil.  They clearly would plow up  all the stuff leading up to the footpath, or they would plow along those footpaths, but they would not plow the footpath.

for having us.  And so to see that happened to fall on or alongside beside these footpaths would ultimately just feed the birds. And again, don't miss the point for all the details in the story. The point Jesus was making was that some people do not respond to the gospel because when they hear the message, Satan immediately comes and snatches away the truth, giving a nod to this cosmic battle between good and evil, that some people have been so hardened by life.

That their hearts are so closed off to Jesus, their ears are so closed off to Jesus, that even when Jesus continues to show up in their story time and time and time again, they're so closed off to it and so open to what Satan wants to do in their life that, that Satan actually takes away the goodness of this truth, because Satan doesn't want us to go after things that bring us life.

Satan's job is to steal away anything that's good, to kill off life. That ultimately leads us to death. So Mark chapter 4 verses 16 through 17. It's the second type of soil. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they, it don't last long.

They fall away as soon as they have problems and are persecuted for believing God's words. These type of people hear the gospel, But they don't begin to orient their life around the ways of Jesus. They don't begin to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into unlearning, ingrained habits that have been forming us away from Jesus by replacing them with habits that will actually form us towards the way of Jesus.

Remember, John Mark Comer teaches, formation is not optional. All of us are being formed by something, but it would be intentional about the things and the forces that are actually forming us. Are we intentional about who that's making us become?  Formation's not optional. So as you're following Jesus, are you unlearning ways that are forming you away from who God wants you to be?

Are you intentionally allowing habits to show up in your daily practice that form you more into who Jesus wants you to be?  See, we have to grow deep in our faith. I said earlier that it can't just be someone just kind of spoon feeding you all of this stuff. You've got to get a mind of curiosity. You've got to begin to go to God's word.

You've got to begin to get deep into it. What is the story of God? What is God doing? You've got to bring your questions to the scriptures and, and listen to what the scriptures say, and then respond to what the scriptures say. Remember, we just don't want information. I don't want to. Community of people that just know their Bibles really well.

I want a community of people that have listened to their Bible and responded to the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit's asking of their lives. People who hear and people who do  these habits of, of devotion that show up. And our life, it's, it looks like reading scripture, prayer, gratitude, listening to God, these things matter because these help our roots to grow down into something substantive that  will help us in all of life.

This is why weekly community connection matters, whether it's a large group or a smaller group. These help our roots to grow with others, helping us to be stronger together, because we can't do life alone. The moment that you buy into that lie, you buy into. The lie of the enemy, which begins to form you away from Jesus.

This is why being watchful over all of the things that you allow into your life  that are formative matter  formative for your family formative for you, because this will help you and the next generation become rooted in things that are life giving instead of being washed away by the confusion of our day.

So the question I want to ask is what are you doing each day to be rooted in the stuff that matters?  What are you doing each day to be rude in the stuff that matters? Mark chapter 4 verse 18 through 19. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's Word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of life, the lure of wealth, the desire for other things.

So no fruit  is produced.  This is when we are so preoccupied by the worries and the drives of the world instead of the things of God.  Maybe we've responded to the gospel and begin to grow deeper in our faith, but then these other things begin to grow unchecked in our hearts, minds, and spirits.  It is those things that don't seem like such a big deal, but over time these things become the things that kill you.

The lure of wealth, so you continue to grind to make even more money, neglecting family rhythms and spiritual rhythms to the neglect of all of that. And eventually you find yourself with as much money as you could ever imagine, but you don't have anyone around you who authentically actually wants to be with you.

You don't have that relationship with God because you've shut that out in order to cut corners, to go after what was ultimately in your heart anyway, which was money,  serving money, going after money, making that the idol or whatever this thing might be for you. The worries, the desires for things that we see other people have, the bigger house, the bigger car and bend.

It's like the more toys, the more bikes, the more paddle boards, the more kayaks, the more skis, the more, whatever you can imagine, like the more stuff that I can do, the better, or maybe it's. It's the lore of having the job where I could just be a nomad and be everywhere.  And so we go after those things, neglecting relationships, neglecting our spiritual life, maybe neglecting some other parts of our life.

And that ends up shipwrecking us. This is what Jesus is getting at.  These things will shipwreck our faith if we're not careful.  So just to review, there's three types of seeds that fell on unpredicted,  Unproductive soil. And that was the hard path, the shallow soil and among the thorns and an attempt to translate it more  for our culture, maybe it looks like.

Having a closed heart and mind.  Having a closed heart and mind that Satan steals away these things.  Maybe it's having shallow faith.  So we don't actually put into practice God's ways. Or we don't work to actually deepen our faith. We allow it to be shallow.  So we don't grow or maybe it's being preoccupied with worldly things like greed or unhealthy desires or just things that the world is driven by thinking it's going to make them happy and it will never deliver.

So where are you at? And that mixes or anything in your own life  that you've not been receptive to maybe what God wants to do. It's closing you off to him. Let's just evaluate our hearts. Even now, wherever we might be at, are we closed? Is our mind closed? Is our heart closed? Have we been so hardened by life?

We're frustrated with why God didn't come through in a certain way, why God didn't do this. And we just slowly start closing our hearts and our minds off instead of just bringing that to God and saying, God, I'm not happy about this.  But I trust that you're good and I trust that you'll bring me through this.

And I just want to bring that to you. And I want to open my heart to you and open my mind to you. I want you to help me to, to get through this. Remember God's, God's not going to answer all your whys, but he's always going to show up to your whys with his presence and his goodness. Maybe your faith has been a bit shallow.

You've just been kind of showing up in community or listen to a podcast here or there. You're listening to like the you version, like. Verse of the day. And that's kind of just where faith has remained for you. Which isn't a bad thing on the surface. Remember that's an entry point, but at some point you've got to start deepening your faith.

Maybe the call for you is to begin to pursue God on a deeper level, to apply more spiritual disciplines in your life, to get other things out of your life, to make space for God. Maybe it's getting in the scriptures to learning at a deeper level or getting in community where you can talk about scriptures in a deeper level.

What is that step that God. Want you to make today  and get to the last type of soil,  the type that  has a productive result. Remember, we've got to evaluate these things for our lives. And so whatever the Holy Spirit brings up, just begin to say, God, would you help me with those? Things.  So with that, as we prepared our hearts, we've prepared our minds.

We're open ourself to him. We've realized these things that could lead us away from Jesus that close us off. What are those things that would help us to be productive? Mark chapter four, verse 20. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest 30, 60, and even a hundred times as much as has been planted.

See, the gospel heard by a receptive heart, by people who are open to God, not hardened by life, to people who are willing to go deeper in their faith, to ask better questions, to seek after God. Remember, Jesus has seek first the kingdom of God. Everything else in life will be added to you. People who are like going to say, Hey, I'm not going to get preoccupied with all these other worries and things of life, these things of the world.

Like I realized that they actually don't deliver. And I'm going to go after Jesus and take them up on his offer. If he delivers, I'm going to go full in on it and see if he does deliver. And those are the people that have the gospel that's put into good soil. And that, that's, that's, that's, that's what I'm That seed's going to eventually start sprouting just a bit.

You're going to see more beautiful things coming through the soil. It's going to start growing into this beautiful plant and eventually it's going to produce fruit that has the capacity to produce more fruit in the lives of other people. And this is the amazing thing. This is what happens in the hands of Jesus as we trust his loving touch and his loving guidance to help us through the hard stuff of life, it will consistently and faithfully produce in good seasons and in bad seasons.

And we remember in their day, a tenfold harvest would have been a really, really good year. So Jesus, to say a harvest that produces 30, 60, or even a hundred times as much has been planted would have been a miraculous thing. See, faith is a journey. And we need to be aware that every day the Holy Spirit is on offer to help lead us and our families in the right direction.

But we also need to be aware of the forces that would attempt to pull us away from God. The world is not a neutral place. There's a war that's happening and we need to be aware of that and recognize evil for evil. Sometimes evil things happen in our life and we confuse that with God thinking God somehow did that or allowed that to happen and No, we just need to recognize we live in a broken and evil world and call evil What is evil?

but also to recognize the good in the world and what God is doing and recognize that there's this Big war that's happening the war of wills all this different stuff taking place. It can be confusing It can be hard but take heart. You are not alone. Jesus is with you And so this week is you Begin to open your life to God, of having good soil, of making those conditions right, for God to plant that in your life and begin to grow.

What does that look like? Maybe it looks like listening to God through the scriptures with an open mind and an open heart.  Thinking through, what is the scripture saying? What does it say about life and what do I need to apply to my life today? How do I need to practice this out? Second one, put into practice the things that you see in His word so that you will grow deeper in your faith.

Put into practice. Don't be just hearers of God's Word, but be people who hear and do God's Word.  And then continue to keep your eyes on the things that matter most and be content with whatever God actually provides you. Today's actually the gift. You don't need more. You don't need more. You need God. So be content with God.

Go find a spot in the warm sun. Like, be outside. Just get alone. Feel the warmth of the sun on you and remember that God is present with you and God is good. And be content. Maybe you're going through difficult things and hard things, but be content that God is with you in the midst of that. You don't have to do it alone.

See, the truth of our culture is that they think we can do life alone. So that way when we go through hard stuff, you have to have the power to be able to do that alone.  There's no good in that. But we don't have to do it alone because God is always with us. Now the last thing we need to Do to pull all of this together in the passage is not only understand what this means for our personal heart checks, as we've thought through, like, what is the soil in my life look like?

Have I've been hardened by things in life? Have I had shallow faith? Have I been lured in by the worries of the world or. On the opposite side of that, man, have I responded and allowed God in faith to open my heart, open my mind? Have I deepened my faith by pursuing God? Have I focused on Jesus being content in him?

The last piece of this is to remember that the story is being constructed by Mark and given to a particular group of people at a particular time who are going through really difficult things. Life was tough that they were communicating the gospel, attempting to spread it. And persecution was happening because of it.

They're being socially ostracized because of it. People are not understanding any of that.  So we need to remember that, that as we spend time with Jesus, we become more like, and we then began to do the things that he would have us to do, which means we then carry on his mission of spreading out that seed to other people.

And we get to partner with Jesus on the mission of being an expression of renewal to others. And this could be difficult.  And we have seen in the past couple of weeks that we can be rejected by those who are close to us, that people are going to misunderstand us. They're going to judge us and maybe even do hateful things towards us.

But perhaps,  perhaps  as we prayerfully walk alongside with other people who might negatively respond to us, we can continue to extend that offer of relationship.  Maybe we can carefully and prayerfully pray that people whose minds are closed to God would suddenly start to open more and more.  That people who have shallow faith would begin to deepen their faith, to walk alongside someone to know, hey, this is exciting, they've responded here, but in relationship with them, keep challenging them.

Hey, let's grow in our faith. Maybe it's inviting someone to coffee, reading through a book together, discussing the scriptures together, or if you want a softball,  Listen to these podcasts together and then go out for coffee and say, Hey, what does this look like in your life? What is God saying to you and what does God want you to do, man?

Your faith will grow so much. Or if people have been preoccupied with the world, pray God that they wouldn't fall into this trap.  And as we journey with people,  as we deepen the relationship with people, as we pray for people consistently by name and specifically by need, over time, there is the possibility that there will be faith that begins to sprout in their life, that will begin to grow and they'll begin to produce fruit exponentially.

And so that, that's what Mark has for us today, reflecting on the parables, and we're going to go through some more parables, but just remembering what, what, what it is that's here. Remember, like go through this text this week, read through Mark chapter four and just pray like, what has my life been looking like if I've been receptive to what God is trying to do in me, or do I need to clean something out?

And as I'm on mission, building  relationships with others.  Prayerfully praying for others, hanging out with people, doing the bike rides, doing the kayaks, doing all that stuff, deepening the relationship. I want to pray that the Holy Spirit helps me genuinely authentically begin to, to talk people about the deeper things of life.

And I'm telling you, it will have an exponential effect. You might get discouraged by like, Hey, the seed that fell on tough soil, like that's hard and I'm frustrated by that, but stay the course Jesus is with you because he didn't give up on you. When you were that way. So don't give up on other people.

And remember that as that seed starts to grow, it's going to have this exponential, amazing effect. And so say the course, stay on mission, partner with us or partner with a community like us, and let's continue to engage our world openly to whatever God wants to do through the power of his spirit, helping us to become more like him so we can then do the things that he would have us do.

But we're praying for you if you want any information about our community Please reach out at pinehillschurch. org. If not, I'll see you in the next episode. Have a great day. Bye

  📍  Hey

everybody. Welcome back to the Pine Hills Church podcast. My name is Aaron. So grateful that you are gathering with us as we continue our conversation and this, I believe we're even walking through Mark together. Hopefully you've been enjoying and learning more about who Jesus is, what he was like, and why that matters for our lives today.

But today we're going into Mark chapter four. So let's get into the reading text for today. Mark. Chapter 4, verses 1 through 9, it says, He taught them by telling many stories in the form of parables, such as this one. Listen,  a farmer went out to plant some seed as he scattered it across his field. Some of the seed fell on the footpath  and the birds came and ate it.

Other seed fell on the shallow soil with underlying rock. The seed sprout seed sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow, but the plant soon withered under the hot sun. And since it didn't have deep roots, it died.  Other seed fell among the thorns and grew up and choked out the tender plants so  they produced no grain.

Still other seeds fell on the fertile soil and they sprouted, grew, and produced a crop that was 30, 60, and even 100 times as much as had been planted. Then he said anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand.  See, Mark has been writing this story about Jesus to communicate who Jesus was, what he was like, why it matters for us.

As we get into chapter 4, Mark finally gets to share with us a few parables that Jesus used to teach about the kingdom of God. Now you might be asking, what are parables? Parables were used would use common imagery or word pictures to persuade the audience of a spiritual truth. Parables were used It's an inductive way of communicating a truth instead of just coming out and saying it.

It's a way of connecting dots, and Jesus was a really creative teacher in this regard. It was like finding a reference point in culture, and then drawing the line to how things worked within the kingdom of God.  And the purpose of the parables, according to Ben Witherington III, was to communicate in a way that would elicit whether one was responding in faith or not.

And Ben goes on to say, Mark shows that listening intently is closely associated, if not equated, with understanding and knowing.  It's not enough that you hear the information, but that you actually understand and begin to know what it is saying.  It requires open ears and an open mind. So we all have to ask ourselves the question, are we listening to understand and to know?

Are we open to what God might want to teach, or are we closed to that?  And maybe even ask yourself right now, with wherever you're at, however you're listening, Maybe just to take a self evaluation, am I open to what God might want to say to me? Because there's some thinkers out there that even if God audibly spoke to them, they still would not believe in God.

I think knowing our motives actually matter because it affects the way that we listen and interpret.  And so if we want to come to the Word of God, if we want to hear the Word of God, hear what Jesus has to say, hear what this parable means, we need to evaluate, are we open to what Jesus might want to teach us through this parable?

Are we open to the implications of what that might mean for our lives?

With that, Mark shares this parable that Jesus used to teach. It was a story about seeds and soils. Which is an agrarian society, so they would have picked up on that and what he was doing. But in the story, Jesus is contrasting three failed seeds with three productive ones.  So I want you to imagine like having an herb garden in your backyard, right?

Cause you're that urban farmer in Oregon and you're trying to produce just enough to put some stuff on the table for your family or just to enjoy doing that as self care, whatever that might be. You spread out a lot of these different seeds and some of them take and they're productive, but other seeds don't quite.

Take and they're not productive. And this is what Jesus is essentially getting at. There's these three seeds that are productive and yielded a crop, but then there's these three other ones that did not, we need to understand why those didn't,  and we need to note that regardless of the situation in the story, the seeds stay the same.

It's the outcome of the soil, the outcome of the receptivity that is really in question here, because the seeds the same.  And this story, the gospel is the same. But it's not always received by the same people in the same way. And so it yields a different outcome for people.  So a lot of times maybe we even can't compare how this person is responding compared to that person, because it's not about the seed.

It's about the soils, what's happening in people's lives. How are they hearing?  How are they striving to understand? Is their mind open? Is their mind closed? So with that, let's pick back up the story as we see behind the scenes conversation between the disciples and Jesus as they ask some questions around the meaning behind the parables that Jesus was sharing.

Mark chapter 4 verse 10 It says, later when Jesus was alone with the twelve disciples and with the others who were gathered around they asked him what the parable meant.  Essentially, this is like a church gathering being over and you walk away wondering, what the heck did the speaker actually talk about today?

Then I find comfort in knowing that this happened to Jesus as well. It just doesn't happen to us today. It doesn't happen even at the end of this podcast when you're like, what in the world did I just listen to?  And so.  Yeah, even Jesus sharing things in creative ways, leaves people asking questions. And maybe that's a good thing.

Maybe having people responding questions and strive to understand, maybe that's a really good thing. Maybe sometimes. We get it wrong where we strive to like give everyone everything right there. And we don't require that people kind of do the work on their own with the Holy Spirit of hearing the word of God and asking those questions.

What does this mean? What does this mean for my life? How can I apply this in a way that's, that's good and helpful. And so maybe we do need to do it amid of that may, maybe Jesus is on purpose. Leaving things ambiguous for reason that people would strive to understand at a deeper level. Let's keep going.

Mark chapter 4 verse 11. He replied to these disciples, You are permitted to understand the secret of the kingdom of God, but I use parables for everything I say to outsiders,  so that scriptures might be fulfilled. When they see what I do, they will learn nothing. When they hear what I say, they will not understand.

Otherwise they will turn to me and be forgiven.  They'll turn to me and be forgiven.  We need to remember that it is difficult to translate  one language into another. We see this all the time. Even in Spanish, we, that's one of the common languages in our country. Like even words that are said in Spanish, don't.

Quite translate into English really well. And so you have someone who's an interpreter trying to like translate one for one, what that might mean. And they get to a point where they get a word that doesn't make sense in our culture, or maybe we have a word that doesn't make sense in their culture. And so there's gotta be a little bit of work around that.

Like, what does that mean in our language? They've got to use a lot more words to describe one particular word. That's what could be happening here because we got this word.  Here for secret, right? That's what we hear, and we hear the word secret. We think God's somehow holding back on people. God's not making his way plain, and that's not fair, and we have all kinds of objections to all of that stuff.

But here the word that we're translating secret in English is actually closer to a word maybe like mystery.  See, God isn't interested in keeping any secret knowledge from people.  So that only a select group of people will know things. In fact, people who like go to the Bible and some kind of trying to be on a treasure hunt to find the secret knowledge of things, you should probably be aware of those type of readers because God is making things plain.

He's making it plain. Like. If it's not obvious, he's calling people to follow after him who, who aren't the brightest, not the cream of the crop, but he's saying, Hey, come follow after me and I'll show you my ways.  And the scriptures are being communicated and in a particular language that was like street language for their day.

So he's not interested in all like keeping things hidden from people.  But everything is a bit of a mystery until you understand that everything about God.  Hinges on Jesus.  He's the, he's the thing that puts everything else together. I don't know if you've ever done a puzzle and you get to a point where you kind of stuck  and you're like, you can't quite make the, all the next connections.

You don't know quite what to do. You've kind of put together what you could. And all of a sudden that one particular puzzle piece is like the hinge piece almost, and everything just comes together after that. See, Jesus is that hinge piece.  He's the filter to all of life and understanding things of God requires faith in Jesus because even the scriptures say Jesus is the the image of the invisible God.

So if you want to know what God looks like, if you want to know what God sounds like, if you want to know what God does, then we look at Jesus. That's why we read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. This is why we gather our community around Jesus because in Jesus we see who God is, but if we don't receive Jesus.

If we just see him quite like a, he's a good teacher. We just don't quite understand that he's actually Messiah. He sent by God to be the savior of the world. Until we begin to understand all of those things, we won't understand anything else. He's the filter for everything. And the people that Jesus is teaching isn't, they aren't getting it.

The religious leaders don't get it. And if we're not careful, we won't get it either. But to those who turn to Jesus. As their great teacher, as their Messiah, as their savior, as they dedicate their lives to apprenticing under a rabbi, Jesus, the great teacher, then under his leadership by daily being with him, becoming like him and doing the things that he would ask us to do.

We get to grow more and more into our knowledge of God.  Knowledge just isn't about information. Knowledge is.  A relational thing. The more we live in relationship with God, the more that we truly understand and in our bones.  See, even my spouse, there's things on paper that I can know about her.  Like if it were a baseball trading card, like there's statistics I could put on the back about my wife, but then there's a way of living life every day with her with the highs and the lows and the stresses and all the different things that are going on that I truly get to know her.

This is why relationship with Jesus matters, because the more we live in relationship with Him, the more we get to know Him, and to know God, and to know what life within God actually looks like. But is your mind open? Is your heart open? Or is it closed?  And when Jesus says as he's teaching his people, as he's explaining the parables, he says when they see what I do, they will learn nothing.

We see this in the people who are, just after a miraculous meal or a miracle, we see that the religious leaders miss it when they would have memorized every sign that pointed to Jesus as the long awaited Messiah. And they see all of these things as proof that Jesus is who he says that he is.  And they learn nothing.

They're confused by all the things that he does. And so for us who pray all the time, God, if you would do this one particular thing, God, I'll believe in you. Let me tell you, even if he does that thing, you probably won't believe in him.  You probably won't. There's people who saw miracle after miracle after miracle, people who are fed from a Lunchable.

5, 000 people fed from a Lunchable still walk away from Jesus confused about who he is,  because if we don't understand him, we don't understand the things that he does.  And so that's why Jesus is saying they're going to see all this stuff I'm doing, but they won't understand. And  instead of leaning in and learning, they lean away and they slowly harden their hearts more and more to who Jesus is because these type of people are just after what can Jesus do for me.

Then Jesus says, when they hear what I say, they will not understand. They don't understand because Jesus doesn't fit their mental maps. They're stuck in their ways of thinking that are not leading them in a good direction  Jesus says otherwise they would turn to me and be forgiven now the last few verses jesus has been quoting isaiah 6 9 through 10 Which is great because he's speaking to people who would have had these things memorized as these are the signposts to the messiah coming And jesus just even quoting that would have been saying i'm the one that you've been looking for I'm the one you've been looking for but you're not You You're not understanding.

You don't see me and see that I came from God. And then he even changes the last word that happens in Isaiah 6, 9 through 10. Isaiah says, turn to me and be healed.  And Jesus swaps it for forgiven. It's like us, if we drop like a really famous quote, or if we dropped a really famous lyric from a song, and then all of a sudden we just changed a word in that, all of a sudden people who had been so keen on hearing in a specific way would tune in to what that different word was.

That was what Jesus was doing.  He was saying, probably, that  if they saw all the miracles,  and they saw that if it pointed to the truth of the kingdom of God, and they actually drew close to Jesus. And they repented and they turned to him that they would actually be forgiven, that they would find healing through forgiveness.

What they really needed to be healed of was a spiritual condition of accumulated sin that formed a rift in their relationship with God. But healing was on offer for that rift through forgiveness in Jesus alone.  And maybe some of us have been looking for one thing to happen. And Jesus is most concerned with healing the thing behind the thing first.

Maybe we're so inclined to know, God, if you just did all of these things for me. And Jesus is just most interested in your heart, having a relationship with you.  And he wants to provide these things in your life, and he wants to come through in particular ways, or to lead you into things that are probably better for you anyway.

But he wants to heal that spiritual condition. And when we respond to Jesus by living a life of faith, following after him,  We get to have help from the Holy Spirit to understand what Jesus is doing, what Jesus is saying, what these scriptures mean, and what that mean in our life today. And God's Word says that if you lack wisdom, you can actually ask the Heavenly Father, who is more than generous to give it to you, to guide you through the power of His Spirit.

Now let's pick up on the explanation because again you have Jesus teach his parable to the crowd you have the disciples getting alone with Jesus the behind the scenes stuff is there like Jesus Can you please explain this stuff because we don't even understand and Jesus says yeah, because you're following after me You put your faith in me Repented like you've you've been following the way you're permitted to know this the stuff that's Remaining a mystery to other people That's a bit cloaked and veiled and people quite don't understand because they're not putting on the lens of Jesus and they won't be able to clearly see it until they put on those Jesus lenses and then all of a sudden everything is dialed in and people's minds get to be open and their hearts get to be open because they come to Jesus in faith.

Remember the hinge point is Jesus coming to him in faith. Mark chapter 4. There's 13 through 14  it says, then Jesus said to them,  if you can't understand the meaning of this parable, how will you understand all the other parables? The father plants seed by taking God's word to others. The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message only to have Satan come at once and to take it away.

Jesus says, if you can't understand this parable, you can't understand the others. The truth behind this parable really actually matters. And he's probably giving us a clue that Jesus taught many more parables than the ones recorded in the scriptures. But this one is the one that Jesus cherry picks to explain as the base for everything else.

In the story, Jesus is the sower  of the seed of the gospel, the sower of the gospel of the kingdom of God. And that seed falls on all different types of soil, representing our reception to the gospel. Doesn't say anything about the seed. The seed is always good. The seed will always deliver. But when it falls on particular soils, it might not take it.

In a way that's actually productive.  Jesus explaining why some people respond to God and why some people do not. The focus isn't on that seat. As we said, it's not on the gospel. It's it's on how the hearers respond to the gospel. The seed first falls on the footpath or the path that is hardened by being walked over constantly.

So I don't know if you ever go walk on trails around bend. Like if you go on a path that is well hiked, it's, it's really hard that people have just padded it down. It's actually. A nice path though to walk on, but there's nothing getting below that top soil because it's been so packed down.  And some might ask why in the world would you throw a seed on a footpath?

Well, for one, I'm no farmer, so you might have to cut me a break if I get this wrong a bit. But being the book nerd that I am, I spent my Tuesday morning reading about first century farming practices just for you. And over coffee in my warm office, I had learned that farmers would actually get up and they would just scatter seed everywhere.

And after scattering the seed kind of indiscriminately over this entire area, they would then go plow the field and in plowing the field, it would then sow the seed into the soil.  They clearly would plow up  all the stuff leading up to the footpath, or they would plow along those footpaths, but they would not plow the footpath.

for having us.  And so to see that happened to fall on or alongside beside these footpaths would ultimately just feed the birds. And again, don't miss the point for all the details in the story. The point Jesus was making was that some people do not respond to the gospel because when they hear the message, Satan immediately comes and snatches away the truth, giving a nod to this cosmic battle between good and evil, that some people have been so hardened by life.

That their hearts are so closed off to Jesus, their ears are so closed off to Jesus, that even when Jesus continues to show up in their story time and time and time again, they're so closed off to it and so open to what Satan wants to do in their life that, that Satan actually takes away the goodness of this truth, because Satan doesn't want us to go after things that bring us life.

Satan's job is to steal away anything that's good, to kill off life. That ultimately leads us to death. So Mark chapter 4 verses 16 through 17. It's the second type of soil. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don't have deep roots, they, it don't last long.

They fall away as soon as they have problems and are persecuted for believing God's words. These type of people hear the gospel, But they don't begin to orient their life around the ways of Jesus. They don't begin to take the time to allow the Holy Spirit to guide them into unlearning, ingrained habits that have been forming us away from Jesus by replacing them with habits that will actually form us towards the way of Jesus.

Remember, John Mark Comer teaches, formation is not optional. All of us are being formed by something, but it would be intentional about the things and the forces that are actually forming us. Are we intentional about who that's making us become?  Formation's not optional. So as you're following Jesus, are you unlearning ways that are forming you away from who God wants you to be?

Are you intentionally allowing habits to show up in your daily practice that form you more into who Jesus wants you to be?  See, we have to grow deep in our faith. I said earlier that it can't just be someone just kind of spoon feeding you all of this stuff. You've got to get a mind of curiosity. You've got to begin to go to God's word.

You've got to begin to get deep into it. What is the story of God? What is God doing? You've got to bring your questions to the scriptures and, and listen to what the scriptures say, and then respond to what the scriptures say. Remember, we just don't want information. I don't want to. Community of people that just know their Bibles really well.

I want a community of people that have listened to their Bible and responded to the Holy Spirit and what the Holy Spirit's asking of their lives. People who hear and people who do  these habits of, of devotion that show up. And our life, it's, it looks like reading scripture, prayer, gratitude, listening to God, these things matter because these help our roots to grow down into something substantive that  will help us in all of life.

This is why weekly community connection matters, whether it's a large group or a smaller group. These help our roots to grow with others, helping us to be stronger together, because we can't do life alone. The moment that you buy into that lie, you buy into. The lie of the enemy, which begins to form you away from Jesus.

This is why being watchful over all of the things that you allow into your life  that are formative matter  formative for your family formative for you, because this will help you and the next generation become rooted in things that are life giving instead of being washed away by the confusion of our day.

So the question I want to ask is what are you doing each day to be rooted in the stuff that matters?  What are you doing each day to be rude in the stuff that matters? Mark chapter 4 verse 18 through 19. The seed that fell among the thorns represents others who hear God's Word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of life, the lure of wealth, the desire for other things.

So no fruit  is produced.  This is when we are so preoccupied by the worries and the drives of the world instead of the things of God.  Maybe we've responded to the gospel and begin to grow deeper in our faith, but then these other things begin to grow unchecked in our hearts, minds, and spirits.  It is those things that don't seem like such a big deal, but over time these things become the things that kill you.

The lure of wealth, so you continue to grind to make even more money, neglecting family rhythms and spiritual rhythms to the neglect of all of that. And eventually you find yourself with as much money as you could ever imagine, but you don't have anyone around you who authentically actually wants to be with you.

You don't have that relationship with God because you've shut that out in order to cut corners, to go after what was ultimately in your heart anyway, which was money,  serving money, going after money, making that the idol or whatever this thing might be for you. The worries, the desires for things that we see other people have, the bigger house, the bigger car and bend.

It's like the more toys, the more bikes, the more paddle boards, the more kayaks, the more skis, the more, whatever you can imagine, like the more stuff that I can do, the better, or maybe it's. It's the lore of having the job where I could just be a nomad and be everywhere.  And so we go after those things, neglecting relationships, neglecting our spiritual life, maybe neglecting some other parts of our life.

And that ends up shipwrecking us. This is what Jesus is getting at.  These things will shipwreck our faith if we're not careful.  So just to review, there's three types of seeds that fell on unpredicted,  Unproductive soil. And that was the hard path, the shallow soil and among the thorns and an attempt to translate it more  for our culture, maybe it looks like.

Having a closed heart and mind.  Having a closed heart and mind that Satan steals away these things.  Maybe it's having shallow faith.  So we don't actually put into practice God's ways. Or we don't work to actually deepen our faith. We allow it to be shallow.  So we don't grow or maybe it's being preoccupied with worldly things like greed or unhealthy desires or just things that the world is driven by thinking it's going to make them happy and it will never deliver.

So where are you at? And that mixes or anything in your own life  that you've not been receptive to maybe what God wants to do. It's closing you off to him. Let's just evaluate our hearts. Even now, wherever we might be at, are we closed? Is our mind closed? Is our heart closed? Have we been so hardened by life?

We're frustrated with why God didn't come through in a certain way, why God didn't do this. And we just slowly start closing our hearts and our minds off instead of just bringing that to God and saying, God, I'm not happy about this.  But I trust that you're good and I trust that you'll bring me through this.

And I just want to bring that to you. And I want to open my heart to you and open my mind to you. I want you to help me to, to get through this. Remember God's, God's not going to answer all your whys, but he's always going to show up to your whys with his presence and his goodness. Maybe your faith has been a bit shallow.

You've just been kind of showing up in community or listen to a podcast here or there. You're listening to like the you version, like. Verse of the day. And that's kind of just where faith has remained for you. Which isn't a bad thing on the surface. Remember that's an entry point, but at some point you've got to start deepening your faith.

Maybe the call for you is to begin to pursue God on a deeper level, to apply more spiritual disciplines in your life, to get other things out of your life, to make space for God. Maybe it's getting in the scriptures to learning at a deeper level or getting in community where you can talk about scriptures in a deeper level.

What is that step that God. Want you to make today  and get to the last type of soil,  the type that  has a productive result. Remember, we've got to evaluate these things for our lives. And so whatever the Holy Spirit brings up, just begin to say, God, would you help me with those? Things.  So with that, as we prepared our hearts, we've prepared our minds.

We're open ourself to him. We've realized these things that could lead us away from Jesus that close us off. What are those things that would help us to be productive? Mark chapter four, verse 20. And the seed that fell on good soil represents those who hear and accept God's word and produce a harvest 30, 60, and even a hundred times as much as has been planted.

See, the gospel heard by a receptive heart, by people who are open to God, not hardened by life, to people who are willing to go deeper in their faith, to ask better questions, to seek after God. Remember, Jesus has seek first the kingdom of God. Everything else in life will be added to you. People who are like going to say, Hey, I'm not going to get preoccupied with all these other worries and things of life, these things of the world.

Like I realized that they actually don't deliver. And I'm going to go after Jesus and take them up on his offer. If he delivers, I'm going to go full in on it and see if he does deliver. And those are the people that have the gospel that's put into good soil. And that, that's, that's, that's, that's what I'm That seed's going to eventually start sprouting just a bit.

You're going to see more beautiful things coming through the soil. It's going to start growing into this beautiful plant and eventually it's going to produce fruit that has the capacity to produce more fruit in the lives of other people. And this is the amazing thing. This is what happens in the hands of Jesus as we trust his loving touch and his loving guidance to help us through the hard stuff of life, it will consistently and faithfully produce in good seasons and in bad seasons.

And we remember in their day, a tenfold harvest would have been a really, really good year. So Jesus, to say a harvest that produces 30, 60, or even a hundred times as much has been planted would have been a miraculous thing. See, faith is a journey. And we need to be aware that every day the Holy Spirit is on offer to help lead us and our families in the right direction.

But we also need to be aware of the forces that would attempt to pull us away from God. The world is not a neutral place. There's a war that's happening and we need to be aware of that and recognize evil for evil. Sometimes evil things happen in our life and we confuse that with God thinking God somehow did that or allowed that to happen and No, we just need to recognize we live in a broken and evil world and call evil What is evil?

but also to recognize the good in the world and what God is doing and recognize that there's this Big war that's happening the war of wills all this different stuff taking place. It can be confusing It can be hard but take heart. You are not alone. Jesus is with you And so this week is you Begin to open your life to God, of having good soil, of making those conditions right, for God to plant that in your life and begin to grow.

What does that look like? Maybe it looks like listening to God through the scriptures with an open mind and an open heart.  Thinking through, what is the scripture saying? What does it say about life and what do I need to apply to my life today? How do I need to practice this out? Second one, put into practice the things that you see in His word so that you will grow deeper in your faith.

Put into practice. Don't be just hearers of God's Word, but be people who hear and do God's Word.  And then continue to keep your eyes on the things that matter most and be content with whatever God actually provides you. Today's actually the gift. You don't need more. You don't need more. You need God. So be content with God.

Go find a spot in the warm sun. Like, be outside. Just get alone. Feel the warmth of the sun on you and remember that God is present with you and God is good. And be content. Maybe you're going through difficult things and hard things, but be content that God is with you in the midst of that. You don't have to do it alone.

See, the truth of our culture is that they think we can do life alone. So that way when we go through hard stuff, you have to have the power to be able to do that alone.  There's no good in that. But we don't have to do it alone because God is always with us. Now the last thing we need to Do to pull all of this together in the passage is not only understand what this means for our personal heart checks, as we've thought through, like, what is the soil in my life look like?

Have I've been hardened by things in life? Have I had shallow faith? Have I been lured in by the worries of the world or. On the opposite side of that, man, have I responded and allowed God in faith to open my heart, open my mind? Have I deepened my faith by pursuing God? Have I focused on Jesus being content in him?

The last piece of this is to remember that the story is being constructed by Mark and given to a particular group of people at a particular time who are going through really difficult things. Life was tough that they were communicating the gospel, attempting to spread it. And persecution was happening because of it.

They're being socially ostracized because of it. People are not understanding any of that.  So we need to remember that, that as we spend time with Jesus, we become more like, and we then began to do the things that he would have us to do, which means we then carry on his mission of spreading out that seed to other people.

And we get to partner with Jesus on the mission of being an expression of renewal to others. And this could be difficult.  And we have seen in the past couple of weeks that we can be rejected by those who are close to us, that people are going to misunderstand us. They're going to judge us and maybe even do hateful things towards us.

But perhaps,  perhaps  as we prayerfully walk alongside with other people who might negatively respond to us, we can continue to extend that offer of relationship.  Maybe we can carefully and prayerfully pray that people whose minds are closed to God would suddenly start to open more and more.  That people who have shallow faith would begin to deepen their faith, to walk alongside someone to know, hey, this is exciting, they've responded here, but in relationship with them, keep challenging them.

Hey, let's grow in our faith. Maybe it's inviting someone to coffee, reading through a book together, discussing the scriptures together, or if you want a softball,  Listen to these podcasts together and then go out for coffee and say, Hey, what does this look like in your life? What is God saying to you and what does God want you to do, man?

Your faith will grow so much. Or if people have been preoccupied with the world, pray God that they wouldn't fall into this trap.  And as we journey with people,  as we deepen the relationship with people, as we pray for people consistently by name and specifically by need, over time, there is the possibility that there will be faith that begins to sprout in their life, that will begin to grow and they'll begin to produce fruit exponentially.

And so that, that's what Mark has for us today, reflecting on the parables, and we're going to go through some more parables, but just remembering what, what, what it is that's here. Remember, like go through this text this week, read through Mark chapter four and just pray like, what has my life been looking like if I've been receptive to what God is trying to do in me, or do I need to clean something out?

And as I'm on mission, building  relationships with others.  Prayerfully praying for others, hanging out with people, doing the bike rides, doing the kayaks, doing all that stuff, deepening the relationship. I want to pray that the Holy Spirit helps me genuinely authentically begin to, to talk people about the deeper things of life.

And I'm telling you, it will have an exponential effect. You might get discouraged by like, Hey, the seed that fell on tough soil, like that's hard and I'm frustrated by that, but stay the course Jesus is with you because he didn't give up on you. When you were that way. So don't give up on other people.

And remember that as that seed starts to grow, it's going to have this exponential, amazing effect. And so say the course, stay on mission, partner with us or partner with a community like us, and let's continue to engage our world openly to whatever God wants to do through the power of his spirit, helping us to become more like him so we can then do the things that he would have us do.

But we're praying for you if you want any information about our community Please reach out at pinehillschurch. org. If not, I'll see you in the next episode. Have a great day. Bye