Well this past
week, I did something I’ve wanted to do for several
years; in fact I tried to do it last year and I actually
got about a fourth of the way there and I hurt my back,
and I had to stop and come back and spent a few weeks
laying on my back while my back got better. It was terrible.
But this year, I succeeded in one of my bucket lists.
I have a bucket list and I’ve accomplished some
of those things on my bucket list, but this week I took
another one down, and that was to go and see the gray
whales, where they give birth in Scammon’s Lagoon.
From here, in Southern California, it’s a car ride.
You hop in a car and you drive south oh over 600 miles.
It’s about five hundred and some miles south of
the border to a little town called Guerrero Negro. Guerrero
Negro means black warrior. And it was named that after
the ship that discovered Scammon’s Lagoon and the
captain of the ship was captain Charles Scammon’s
and therefore it’s Scammon’s Lagoon and the
town that is built there at Scammon’s Lagoon is
the Black Warrior which in Spanish again is Guerrero Negro.
So we drove
from our home here in Southern California down to Guerrero
Negro which is halfway down Baja Peninsula on highway
one, cause they’ve got a lot of highways on Baja,
and all one of them and we drove down there, so you can’t
get lost and we went out and we saw the gray whales. Amazing
things. It reminded me of how God works in this world.
found that lagoon, he basically decimated the gray whale
population to the point where the Boston Globe in November
1857 had this headline. This is a true headline. “World
to go dark! Whale blubber scarce.” That was a true
headline. Now here’s a fascinating point. That same
year, the kerosene lamp was invented and whale blubber,
which lit the lamps around the world, was replaced with
kerosene. And 20 years later, Edison invents the light
amazing how life has its twists and its turns. How suddenly
feel like we’re down to nothing and there’s
absolutely no where to go and something comes along and
turns the lights on. And life is renewed.
I want to read
a scripture passage today, it’s a parable actually,
some teachings from Jesus Christ. It’s a parable
I think many of you may be familiar with. It’s called
the parable of the sower and Jesus is telling this parable,
a story, and here’s what He says. A farmer went
out to sow his seed and as he scattered the seeds, some
fell among the path and the birds came and ate it up,
and some fell on the rocky places where it did not have
much soil and it sprang up quickly because the soil was
shallow, but when the sun came out, the plants were scorched
and they withered because they had no roots. Other seed
fell among thorns which grew up and chocked the plants.
Still other seed fell on good soil where it produced a
crop, a hundred sixty or thirty times what was sown. Listen
then to what the parable of the sower means, said Jesus.
When anyone hears the message of the kingdom and does
not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away
what was sown in his heart. This is the seed along the
path. The one that receives the seed that fell on the
rocky places, the man who hears the word and at once receives
it with joy but since he has no roots he lasts only a
short time. When trouble and persecution comes because
of the word, he quickly falls away. The one who receives
the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears
the word, but the worries of his life and the deceitfulness
of wealth chokes it, making it unfruitful. But the one
who received the seed that fell on good soil is the man
who hears the word and understand it. He produces a crop,
yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
read this parable and this interpretation of the parable
many times. And what I want to give you today is a thought,
something to think about. Because what I believe is that
every single one of us, or every single man in this parable,
that the kingdom of God comes to us, into our hearts,
into our minds, into our thoughts, into our reality, into
our life and at times its like the seed that is thrown
on the rocky path. It just doesn’t take any root.
And sometimes it’s like the soil where it has shallow
roots but is quickly chocked out. But sometimes it sinks
deep and it produces a harvest and I believe this is a
description of our minds, that how our minds work from
day to day because we are not on a steady plateau of constantly
being productive people. And so today I want to help you
discover a way to be able to take the seeds that are planted
within our minds and our hearts and our souls, by God
Himself, and create the soil that will produce a healthy
harvest that will be tremendous and people will see the
reward of it.
So first of
all, I want us to feed our minds with the positive reality
of the kingdom of God. In order for our minds to be healthy
soil, we need to go out and plow the soil. I don’t
know how many of you have ever spent any time on a farm
but I actually spent many of my summers on my uncle’s
farm. My father’s brother was named Henry, it was
his older brother and my parents would often travel during
the summer and they sent me to his farm to help him out
because I was a young teen and could help on the farm.
It was like an old McDonald’s farm, let me see he
had chickens, pigs, cows, geese, ducks, a horse, lets
see what else did he have? It was wonderful. And it was
really a kick, I’ll tell you.
important for us to realize is that there is seed when
it’s planted in good soil, it will grow and it will
produce incredible yields. And as we prepare our minds
for the instructions that God has for us, for the direction,
for the leadership, for the realization of His love for
us, we too will produce some of the greatest harvest’
that our minds and our thoughts could ever perceive.
There is an
old tale, an Indian tale, an American Indian tale that
talks about the struggle within. The tale goes that there
is a good dog, who wants to do good and there is a bad
dog on our other side who wants to do bad. And sometimes
the good dog within our lives seems to be winning the
battle and sometimes the bad dog in our lives seems to
be winning the battle. And with that, the chief, as he
tells the story, will pause and wait for one of the braves
to finally raise his hand and say who wins the battle?
With which he gives the answer: the one you feed. And
when you take care of the good dog, when you care for
the soil of your mind and your heart and your body and
the opportunities that God gives to you, those things
will reproduce and multiply as we cultivate and care for
the good things that God continues to give to us every
single moment of every single day. But you have to tend
When I was
living on my uncle’s farm, it was more than once
that we’d walk the bean fields. Anyone here know
what I’m talking about, walking the bean fields?
Some of you know what walking bean fields is, oh yeah.
You go out there and have a machete in hand, I don’t
know if they call it a machete but that’s what we
call it here in Southern California, we call it machetes
and you walk through and all you do is whack the weeds
at the bottom and you get rid of the weeds. And then you
look out over the rows and you can see okay there’s
the rows I’ve completed, because there’s no
weeds sticking above the beans, and there’s the
rows that still need to be done because you can see the
weeds sticking up above the rows. And you walk the bean
fields. And it’s so much fun. Oh, I tell you, it’s
just a kick walking bean fields. But it makes a difference.
You get a bigger harvest.
And what weeds
do we have that come and try to choke out the bounty that
God has within us. It’s the negative thinking that
constantly wants to come along and tell us you can’t
do that. You’re not strong enough, you’re
not thin enough, you’re not good enough, you’re
not rich enough, you’re not wise enough, you’re
not connected enough, whatever it is and these negative
thoughts continue to sprout in our minds. And the sad
thing about these negative weedy thoughts is that weeds
grow really fast. Have you ever noticed that? Weeds just
spring up immediately and they’re up there and you’re
going holy mackerel, I just walked that bean field yesterday.
They’re not that fast, but I mean, they’re
fast. But have you also noticed that they don’t
last very long. They die quickly.
On the other
hand, the oak tree. The oak tree takes a long time to
grow. And its wood is strong and it’s hard. And
it lasts for centuries. And its roots are deep. And it’s
strong. And as we continue to feed the positive thoughts
that God gives to us, that I have everything I need. I
can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. And
as we continue to feed our positive thoughts with the
wonderful words of the kingdom of God, the oak within
will continue to grow. And the beauty of God’s kingdom
will be revealed. But the challenge is for us to realize
that one of the things we need to do is to turn those
negative thoughts around into the positive reality into
what they are, because every single strength, you’ve
probably know what the rest of the sentence is. Your greatest
strength is also your greatest weakness, right? Well let’s
take it the other way around. If that’s the case,
your greatest weakness is also your greatest strength.
And so if you look at where you are weak, you can know
from that position you have incredible opportunities.
like the young man who didn’t have a left arm. And
this young man wanted to do something athletic so he decided
he was going to learn judo. And he went to a judo studio
and he met the sensei and he started training and his
instructor said I want you to learn this move. And he
taught him this move. And every single day he came into
the studio, he had him practicing this one judo move,
period. That’s all he would practice. He did that
week after week, finally after several months of coming
in every day, practicing this one judo move, he said to
his sensei, ‘sensei why do I only get to practice
one move? Why do you have me practice this one move over
and over again? How can I ever learn judo and be good
in judo if I only know this one move?’ And he says,
‘you need only one move. You can do anything with
this one move.’
And so he continued
to submit to his teacher. And the next month he took him
to a tournament and in this tournament he fought for a
while and he did quite well and he actually pinned the
guy, won his first match. Second one was a little more
difficult but as it went along he finally did his one
move again and he pinned his next opponent. Finally in
the finals, it’s a very tough competition and he
finally has his opportunity to use his one move and he
pins him and he wins the tournament. On the way home,
he’s kind of flabbergasted at his success and he
talks to his instructor and he says, ‘how is it
that I was able to win this tournament with only one move?’
And he says, ‘two reasons: the move I teach you
is the hardest move to learn in judo. Number two reason,
the only counter to that move is to grab the left arm.’
weakness is an opportunity for God to come in and give
you the greatest strength you ever could imagine. And
so as we continue to allow the kingdom of God’s
seed to be planted within our minds, realize that some
of the beauty and the goodness of God and His ideas may
fall along the path and just dwindle. And others will
fall in shallow soil and they’ll grow but they’ll
just fade away. And others will be strangled out but there
will be good seed that is planted in fertile soil. And
it will succeed if you trust and obey.
Trust the master.
He tells us what to do. He tells us to love one another.
He tells us to pray together. He tells us to embrace one
another with love. The Bible tells us that whoever wants
to become great among you must be your servant. And then
the greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever
exalts himself will be humbled and whoever humbles himself
will be exalted.
So the biblical
perception of greatness is to be able to serve, to be
able to give something back, to be able to do something
for others, to be able to express love. Our greatness
is found in fulfilling the command of Jesus Christ to
love one another. And how do you love one another? You
care for the very least of these. You become a servant
and as you serve others, you find your greatness and the
seeds that are sown within your mind will take root and
it will grow.
my parents hosted a party for my daughter. Isn’t
that nice? It was an engagement party. My daughter is
engaged to be married. She met her fiancé in a
blind date that were set up by my wife and I. When we
met him, this is the truth, we met him here inside the
Cathedral. He was a guest. His name is Chris Wyatt, he’s
the founder of GodTube, he came we interviewed him talking
about GodTube. And my wife being the inquisitive one she
is, she says where are you from? He says I’m from
Dallas, oh my daughter’s from Dallas. Are you married?
She noticed he didn’t have a ring on his finger.
And he said no I’m not, she said well you should
get together with her, you know, you’re both from
California roots, you’d have somebody to talk to
there, and what we didn’t know was that he had been
praying the same prayer my daughter had been praying.
And it was only a month or so earlier that my daughter
said you know I need you to start praying that the right
man for me comes into my life. And she started, she asked
us to pray. What I didn’t know, she also asked my
father to pray. So she had everybody praying for that.
At the same time, Chris said the same prayer, about the
same time she did. When my daughter walked into the restaurant
where there was going to have a 45 minute dinner, he saw
and he heard God tell him this is the woman you’re
to marry. And my daughter heard the same thing; this is
the man you are to marry. And when I shook Chris’
hand for the very first time here in the Cathedral before
he even met my daughter, I heard God tell me you are shaking
the hand of your future son in law.
So last night,
they stood up and they said we have an arranged marriage.
We found out that we’re supposed to marry each other,
now we have to get to know each other and find out if
we like each other or not. And that’s what they’ve
been doing. It’s called trust and obey. You trust
that God’s answering your prayers at all times,
in all ways, that the seed that is being planted will
find root, that a harvest will be produced, that God will
continue to bless you day in and day out. And then you
obey, and trust and obey.