I have been involved in Christian education for over a quarter of a century. Over the years, I have found one of the major obstacles that pastors face today is believers that are frustrated in their spiritual walk. They are worn, weary and at wits-end over the fact that the spiritual harvest times in their lives are more filled with weeds, rocks and thorns than the harvest that God promises in His Word. They see a few others occasionally that do have those blessed times of harvest – but it always seems to be out of their reach.
Those of you familiar with Biblical Life know that we address things such as generation curses, cloaked pagan practices in the Church and a host of other spiritual warfare topics that can stop our blessings cold in their tracks. The source of this problem, I believe, runs even deeper. The problem is our culture in America. There are things built within our very culture that can hold back our harvest.
Now before I get started, let me say this loud and clear – what I am speaking is NOT against America or being American. I am a veteran and would pick up arms to defend this nation in a heartbeat. (You vets know what I mean. I can still put together an M-16 with my eyes closed.) It’s not the country; it is junk that has crept into our culture over the years that runs opposite to the Word of God. In the Old Testament, God continually warned Israel not to allow the cultures of other nations to influence them. Over time we forget the ungodly origins of some of the things we do, and they simply become our traditions or culture. As you read this article, my prayer is that you have one of those “selah” moments that will cause you to examine why you do what you do.
Genesis 8:22 (KJV)
22 While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.
From the very beginning, God began teaching man about spiritual things through agricultural types and shadows. Constantly in the Word we are given teachings such as:
Galatians 6:7 (KJV)
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
Galatians 6:9 (KJV)
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Matthew 21:33 (KJV)
33 Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and letit out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
Matthew 13:31 (KJV)
31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:
In all of these scriptures, God is trying to establish the correlation between how things operate spiritually and how seed matures and then develops into a harvest. Much of the Body of Christ has understood the seed principle, and we hear about it almost continually on Christian Television today.
What we have missed is the “season” principle. I believe there can be a direct correlation between the seasons in the physical and those of the spiritual. Let’s review the seasons and their spiritual application for the sake of clarity. (When everyone has the same understanding, they usually end up at the same place.)
Winter is a time of resting. There is no physical growth of plant life above the surface of the ground, but a lot is going on underground. It is the same with us. God is not doing a lot externally, but He is hard at work internally. This is a time to press into God and let your roots run deep. Remember, the Kingdom of God is first within and THEN without.
Luke 17:21 (KJV)
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
Everything starts to come alive. It seems like nature explodes with a desire for life and beauty. For us, it is a time that God is speaking. There are times of great revelation and watering of the Holy Spirit. Seeds of the Kingdom are being planted everywhere. Rhema from God falls like the spring rains, and it is so easy to see the Holy Spirit move in our midst.
The heat of the summer represents trials and toil. Satan comes to test and to steal the Word that was sown in our hearts during the springtime. Jesus taught us about the summer in the Gospel of Mark.
Mark 4:14-20 (KJV)
14 The sower soweth the word. 15 And these are they by the way side, where the word is sown; but when they have heard, Satan cometh immediately, and taketh away the word that was sown in their hearts. 16 And these are they likewise which are sown on stony ground; who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with gladness; 17 And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word’s sake, immediately they are offended. 18 And these are they which are sown among thorns; such as hear the word, 19 And the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in, choke the word, and it becometh unfruitful. 20 And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.
We always pay attention to the seed, but not to the season. The only time the seed can grow and mature is in the summer!
If you have ever gardened, you will understand what I am going to share next. Just planting the seed is not enough! All summer long you must:
· Plow in between the rows to keep the soil aerated. (Repentance)
· Pull all of the weeds. (Pulling Down Strongholds)
· Make sure adequate water and sunlight are provided. (Time with God and His Word)
· Continually pull rocks out of the garden (Developing Biblical Paradigms)
· Guard the garden from anything that would eat or destroy the crop. (Spiritual Warfare)
Over the past few years, Missouri had been in a draught. (Praise God it appears to be over!) What we learned during the draught was that it was not the spring or fall that made or killed the garden. The deciding factor was primarily the summer. A long summer of no rain and too much hot sun will destroy a crop. Actually that is the point that I want to make – our reaction to summer in America is killing much of our personal spiritual harvest!
In the springtime, ministries seem to get moving forward again. There is excitement in the Body about what God is doing and about the Kingdom of God. There are fresh words coming from Heaven. Then it happens! What happens, you might ask? Kids get out of school, our thoughts turn to vacation and we go spiritually dead for three months. “Hey! It’s the summer. Time to play, have fun – everything else will wait till fall!” Isn’t that the American way? Attendance in Church drops to a minimum as well as the offerings for all ministries across the board. (We even have many students that completely stop paying their tuition during the summer and begin again right before they get terminated for non-payment in September. ) The Church is then hit square between the eyes with the great American summer play time. Everything else comes to a screeching halt.
Friends, what happens if you plant a wonderful garden in the spring and then abandon it all summer? What are you going to find at harvest time (September – October)? How about weeds, rocks and thorns! We have been so conditioned by our culture to abandon (although we call it “putting it on hold”) our spiritual gardens during the summer that we are the ones destroying our own harvests from neglect. We do it year after year and always get mad at God and frustrated over our lack of harvest in the fall.
Here are some words of wisdom. First, summer vacation is one or two weeks sometime during the summer. Enjoy it, do wonderful things with your family and be blessed with not having to go to work for a few days. Here is a reality check – the vacation does not last for all three months! If you do not go back to work after that one or two weeks off, where will you be in September? Bankrupt! Many Christians find themselves in the same exact position spiritually.
This summer make a determination before God to not abandon your spiritual garden. The summer separates the men from the boys. All the boys want to do is go out and play. Real spiritual men and women are cultivating their spiritual fields; watering, weeding and caring for their gardens; and pulling up every stone that would in any way hinder their harvest. They work their gardens because they have their harvest in sight!
The final truth I want to express in this article is that God shares in our frustration. As God was giving me the concepts of this article, He said to me:
“You need to understand how this grieves My Spirit as well. As I move in the spring to expand My kingdom – just as the momentum starts to really pick up, the Body in America runs off to play and abandons what I am doing. That is the difference between America and other countries. People comment that I am moving so much stronger in other nations. Son, it’s not Me; it’s your culture. I used to move greatly in America. My heart longs for times like the great revivals of old. You need to understand that Satan’s countermove to those great revivals was this American summer time culture. This obsession with continual summer fun may drive the economy, but it is stalling out the Kingdom!”
Well, now you know the truth – it’s either culture or kingdom. For some, I may have answered many questions as to what has happened to their spiritual harvest. For others, I have made them mad because I kicked over a sacred cow. The latter shows us just how engrained this is within our culture and how diabolical the plan of the enemy is. Why do I say it was diabolical? Because blood washed saints are upset that I was messing with their summer fun instead of being upset that anything would ever stop the expansion of God’s Kingdom in the earth!
So here is my final question for you:
“What are your plans this summer?”
Profile on Author
Michael K. Lake, Th.D., D.R.E.
Chancellor and Founder
Dr. Lake is the chancellor and founder of Biblical Life College & Seminary and serves as an educational consultant for various Christian organizations around the world. He also serves as the Pastor of Biblical Life Assembly in Marshfield, MO. Dr. Lake is listed in the US Registry’s “Who’s Who Among Outstanding Americans,” Sterling’s “Who’s Who Executive Edition,” and the “Who’s Who Among American Teachers” for his accomplishments in ministry.