The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist in Residence

Bethany Lutheran Worship on
Ustream


NT Greek Lessons - Thursdays, 7 PM.

Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Bente's Historical Introductions,
and Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Monday, June 30, 2014

Creation Gardening Links

Creation gardening and doctrine.


Compost belongs on top, not mixed around.



Earthworms and newspaper and bacteria. Temperatures of compost bacteria.

Malabar spinach is a hot weather substitute for spinach.


When you pray for spinach, reach for a hoe.



Invasion of the body snatchers - one explanation for apostasy.

Radish seedpods taste good, a mild version of the hot root.

Young radishes.


Thunderstorms and radishes.



The engrafted Word - and rose grafts.

Cypress mulch.



The living seed.

Gruss an Aachen - Greetings to Aachen, Germany


Gruss an Aachen rose.



Garden birds.



Malabar spinach and earthworms. Uncle Jim's Earthworm Farm.



Worked soil and the efficacy of the Word.

Touch of Class hosta likes shade.


Hosta la vida loca.

Identifying plants by their fruits.

Critters and cold weather plants.



Various seeds to plant. The soaker hose.

Giant alium is a member of the garlic/onion family.


Sassy supervises the garden. Giant alium.

Sassy wanted to make me smile after refusing to pose with Ronald McDonald alone.

Straw Bale Gardening



Birds and Insects


The Big Myth Exposed - Predators Do Not Control Populations of Prey


Gardens Unite People Around the Beauty of Creation

Gruss an Aachen - Greetings to Aachen,
a beautiful rose that tolerates shade.
Our neighbor asked to sit in the rose viewing platform with Mrs. I yesterday. The ladies sat on the porch, an elevated concrete pad, and had a great conversation.

Our neighbor needs their lawn mowed, so our helper will have more work. That couple will have a neat lawn again. Kids no longer ask, "Do you want your lawn mowed. Need your sidewalks shoveled?" My grandchildren volunteer to rake leaves, and they like earning money in helping out. They are from another age.
Green kale is full of vitamin C, K, and A, calcium, and fiber.

Our helper is excited about the next garden expansions. One is to create the second garden, stage left, out the back door. That will grow vegetables. Chris wants kale, which she loved before it became popular. I have dug green kale out from under snow drifts - and it very nutritious.

The second expansion is for Gruss an Aachen around the base of the maple tree in front. I have already put solar lighting on the tree, which was easy to do.

The gardening neighbor and I regularly discuss our plans and methods.

One of the best books I read on organic gardening came from the Midland Library - Compost Gardening by Shewell-Cooper. Once I caught his message, the follies of osterizer gardening were laid bare.

The British are at their best in writing about military history and gardening. They boast of lawns that have been managed for 700 years. They love gardening. I read the profile of the typical 17th century English gentleman. That included joking and gardening. I said to Mrs. I - "That's the English in me." In fact, the whole profile read like a bio.

Germans are also great gardeners, but the British enjoy being quirky. The best joke of all is to garden contrary to trends and shock people with the results.

Shewell-Cooper did all his gardening the same way. He created vast compost heaps and only put them on the top of the soil, arguing that the earthworms would pull it down. He used compost to amend the soil and to serve as mulch. I do not have production facilities for bins of compost, so I reverse the process. I mulch to create compost on top.

Do not confuse the soil God created with cake dough mixed at high speed.

I recall a clergy friend bragging about mix-mastering autumn leaves into his garden each fall. I was appalled, but kept that to myself, except for brief interruptions of "But" and "Of course you..." He was enjoying his delirium.

Opinions do not matter in Creation gardening. The creating Word established rules for all time, which are only set aside for miracles, not for fads. The best soil is in the top 12 inches. Earthworms travel to the top to pull down debris, digesting organic material and depositing the casts on the surface or in their tunnels. There are many types of earthworms, and their digestive habits vary somewhat. They are united in their ability to chew tough material, digest it, grind it down in their tiny gizzards, and sweeten it with their calcium glands.

Picture the dormant garden in autumn. There is an abundance of leaves to cover it. If someone is blessed with indestructible sycamore leaves, he can mow them into fragments and mulch the entire area with fragments. What will happen next? The insulating and moisture holding leaf blanket will reduce the stray weeds and add them to the process. Sowbugs, pillbugs, centipedes, millipedes, spiders, mold, bacteria, and earthworms will begin their work.

During winter, the cold weather bacteria will continue to work. Protected by the blanket of warm organic material, the soil creatures will continue to work, weather permitting. Digestion creates warmth Snow makes bacterial work easier, since the crystals trap heat, as the Eskimos learned. Composting requires moisture, which is never lacking here during winter.

While others are pining for spring, the composting gardener is working all winter - or having it done for him. The foundation for all growth and nutrition is being laid by the soil creatures, especially when the workers are blanketed and protected by leaves, newspapers, garden trash, and lawn clippings.

What do people send away from their property? Stacks of newspapers, bags of leaves, and grass. They starve the soil and try to make it up with inorganic compounds.

Water conservation begins with adding humus (organic matter) to the soil. The humus is a gelatin-lie sponge that holds water and keeps the soil stuck together. When people see household trash as an investment in their soil, the results of gardening will change. The leaves, grass, and newspapers will disappear into the soil, and healthy soil will beg for more.



Sunday, June 29, 2014

Second Sunday after Trinity, 2014. Luke 14:16-24.
The Parable of the Great Supper


Cover design by Norma Boeckler.
 


The Second Sunday after Trinity 


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn # 361 O Jesus King 4.1
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual
The Gospel
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn #471       Jesus Thy Blood                       4.6

The Word Falls on Deaf Ears

The Communion Hymn # 305   Soul Adorn Thyself
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #657                  Beautiful Savior           4.24

KJV 1 John 3:13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you. 14 We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. 15 Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him. 16 Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. 18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. 21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

Second Sunday After Trinity
Lord God, heavenly Father, we give thanks unto Thee, that through Thy holy word Thou hast called us to Thy great supper, and we beseech Thee: Quicken our hearts by Thy Holy Spirit, that we may not hear Thy word without fruit, but that we may prepare ourselves rightly for Thy kingdom, and not suffer ourselves to be hindered by any worldly care, through Thy beloved Son. Jesus Christ, our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

Martin Chemnitz has been quietly forgotten
by all the "conservative" Lutherans.


The Word Falls on Deaf Ears
KJV Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade many: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.

A certain man means - this is a parable. There are many literary devices in the New Testament that give us clues about the content. They are like - Once upon a time. Every child knows what follows those words - at least we did long ago.

This parable has a double emphasis. One is upon the gracious invitation of God to enjoy the blessings of the Kingdom of God. The other emphasis is the human reaction to the Gospel.

The Gospel is the message of forgiveness and salvation that God sends out through the Holy Spirit. He calls people into the ministry and sends those people to others to bring the Gospel to them. 

The terms call and invite are synonymous. The disciples did not sign up to be among the Twelve. Jesus invited them.

I make my Greek students say "Jesus phoned the disciples" because phone comes from the Greek word for invite or call. That makes it more personal and easier to remember.

The invitation is sent with the assurance that everything has already been done for this banquet. All things are ready. When misguided and ignorant clergy make worship a task or obligation, they turn Gospel into law. One belittled worship as not really worship if "you are not using all your talents." That sounds more like qualifying for grace.

This always needs repeating. Christianity is the only religion where God gives to man, instead of man giving to God.

God determined forgiveness and salvation from the beginning of Creation, giving the Promise to Adam and Eve in the midst of the expulsion from the Garden. Abraham believed the Promises of God, and he was counted righteous, forgiven, saved - justified by faith. Genesis 15.  The prophets all preached the coming of the Messiah. People heard and believed, although the people treated prophets miserably.

18 And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.  

"With one consent" is used for positive actions in Luke, but here it expresses the amount of excuse giving among those who hear the Gospel. The excuses are humorous because they are irrelevant when we match them with the great invitation being given.

The excuses are especially ridiculous because they are not justified - to play on words - and they are a great contrast with what is offered.

This is good parable to remember, because some leaders manipulate people by making them feel guilty for the people who have no interest in the Gospel, in spite of being invited repeatedly. Countries have paid a horrible price for giving up the Gospel from times of persecution or from the invasion of false doctrine.

Northern Africa was Christian until the Muslim invasion. America looked up to the intellectuals of Europe, so Biblical training from Europe was considered a great career move for many generations. That made Biblical Protestant groups Unitarian or worse in outlook. They changed from the top down and no one resisted. 

In a blink of an eye, a congregation can become the latest Marxist cell or the newest addition to the Barnum and Bailey Ringling Brothers circus franchise. A few will say, "What happened?" and they are gently told, "We have to adjust to the times."

What has God done? Everything. If we look at the material world - all of Creation exists to provide for us in abundance. Someone with experience can say, "Here are the universal rules. Follow them for an abundant garden with relatively little work."

Watching the intricate coordination of the natural world is a daily lesson in the Word of God. All this was declared by the Son of God - All things came about through Him. Nothing that was made was made apart from Him.

One book I read over and over had this story - My Grandfather's Earthworm Farm. The book included the description of a grandfather who gathered all the crop trash and animal contributions into pits, where he composted them and spread them in his fields. He always had good crops that made it through droughts because the soil retained moisture so well. His crops were healthy and his farm prospered through many different types of crises caused by weather, panics, and crop disease.

Creation means God has arranged our lives thus, "I will do all this for your food, if you only use experience and some common sense. I can beauty your lives with flowers of all types and grow medicine for you form herbs."

This has already been done. And we have glimpses of it from the mineral world. The West was not well explored until the push came to settle new lands. States with relatively few people suddenly had droves of pioneers settling down. Indians found copper lying around on Mingus Mountain, the Jerome Arizona area. Miners found $5 billion worth of copper in that mountain. It had no great use until we began to use electricity.

Other miners found slabs of pure silver under the ground. In Pennysylvania, that annoying rock oil was fractioned at Yale and became a useful fuel - petroleum, kerosine, gasoline.

21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room. 23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.

This has been acted out through history. The Gospel rain moves on. Before it does, those who listen sincerely to the Word pay attention to the words of Jesus and study the Scriptures. They guard the Word, to use an expression of Jesus and do not listen to false shepherds, however popular they may be (up until the cops come with arrest warrants).

Those who are invited and excuse themselves away have blinded themselves and hardened their hearts against the Gospel. 


More Compost Research Bears Fruit - Or Perhaps Earthworms

You can never have too much compost, too much mulch,
or too many gardening books.

We stopped at our big mall today, so I went to the bookstore to drink coffee and check out new books. Instead, I found an old favorite - Let It Rot, by Stu Campbell.

I remembered the contents, almost word for word. I used Let It Rot - and many other books - to write The Wormhaven Gardening Book.

I lost my typewritten notes, rewrote the entire set, and found the originals when the notes were completed a second time. However, that proved to me that going over the same material one more time could create a synthesis that I missed before.

Today, I learned three new things about earthworms that made sense, based on my experience.

1. Newsprint Fanciers
One is that earthworms are especially good at attacking newsprint, which does not decompose easily, due to its lignin content. Lignin is the tough part of the cell, and earthworms love it.

Leave a stack of newspapers outside on the grass and they they will have a family reunion underneath.

I had a stump left on a concrete set of steps in Midland. When I finally moved the stump, about five plump earthworms were dwelling in peace and harmony beneath, with nothing more than wood to eat.

ELCA's failing seminary in Chicago bought compost tumblers
and sanctified them to the cause of Mother Earth.


2. Cows Grazing on Bacteria
The second new/old fact concerns a description of the earthworm as "a cow grazing on bacteria." That explains why they get along so well in manure and reduce it so well. Bacteria are mostly protein, and earthworms are mostly muscle. The common element is nitrogen, the building block of all life, plant and animal.

All the soil/compost creatures also work to eliminate pathogens and toxins.

3. Temperature Zones for Bacteria
Composters get obsessed with their pile of debris heating up. Buy a compost thermometer! Buy the Ace Compost Tumbler to heat up the compost faster!

Various bacteria work in three different zones. The cold weather ones can work all winter, but they impart heat on the pile by digesting food, just as we do. Each human gives off as much heat as a light bulb.

Even in the freezer, bacteria increase in ice cream over time - reason enough to eat it quickly.

If the cold weather bacteria work too well, they warm it up for the mid-range bacteria. So the cold ones go away and the mid-range guys take over. As you might have guessed, the mid-range bacteria can repeat this and turn the work over to the heat-loving bacteria.

Thus God created bacteria for each kind of composting. A leaf pile may not warm up that much, because it lacks a concentration of nitrogen. Still, it will rot away in time, as my two years of leaves have shown. I have put in enough for three piles but they have reduced to 1/2 bin full.

This gardener has layered soil, grass, and straw.
I only put leaves in mine, because I mulch the grass back into the lawn.
Some gardening books are just plain wrong about the simplest facts, with these errors repeated as people borrow their phony research.

Some are misled by modernism, spending time and trouble to defeat Creation while glorying in nature. Big machines must be better. If I buy one, I have to use it - and repair it.

My helper and I laid down newspaper and mulch and created an instant veggie garden, with only the alternate rows to be dug by hand. That took $20 in mulch and $0 in newspapers. All over the yard, sod is rotting under the mulch and feeding the plants

I read research tonight that tilling decimates the earthworm population, the very souls that decrease soil erosion with their constant tunneling. More farmers have moved to no-till and low-till for that reason and other considerations.

Farmers and gardeners value manure. An earthworm produces his own weight in castings every day. "That is so tiny, insignificant," say the scoffers. A ton of worms produces a ton of castings each day. As I recall, that is easily the weight of the worms in one acre of grassland. The numbers can be much higher. Anything that will produce that much improvement to the soil - for free - is going to be on Team Jackson, Garden Division.

Man's solo efforts with the soil are just like his work with the Word of God, when he imagines it belongs to him.

Some farm plots have turned to concrete from excess tilling and heavy use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides. The soil dies and is no longer an ocean of life. In contrast, organic soil teems with creatures of all sizes and tasks, yet they work together in perfect harmony.

When man attacks the Word of God with human reason, he employs the same decimating skills. He makes up rules about the text and says, "Aha, that verse has to go." And he decides that the poor foolish disciples could not have been literate. Paul was literate, they allow, but he was a woman-hating obsessive kook. Worse, they tell everyone how they will improve their beloved church. They rip out the pipe organs to make room for coffee bars and ticky-tacky bands. Finding discord in doctrine, they avoid such trivia, in favor of the generics of love, joy, and fund-raising. Unable to write a sermon about what they do not believe, they steal the words of other apostates.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

When You Pray for Spinach, Reach for a Hoe

LI modeled my plan for watering the garden - at Niagara Falls.
Every so often the perfect photo from childhood survives. I liked this so much that I had posters made for the grandparents - long before Facebook.

I asked Mrs. I if she wanted spinach. She said yes, so that meant I had to go out and plant my new Malabar spinach vines. They produce enormous leaves and love heat.

Rain is on the way, but I watered everything anyway. Long ago I learned that the second stage of gardening is watering the seedlings. Planting the seed is not enough. The seedlings are quite vulnerable when they are starting, so I find it best to keep them well watered.

The ground was protected by rank weed growth, around the chain-link fence, so I had to cut and dig and rake. I created some broken ground where I sowed pole beans, Malabar spinach vines, and radishes. I put MiracleGro soil on top and tamped it down.

Soil in a bag is going to win over digging soil into a wheelbarrow - any day. Besides, I have no wheelbarrow.

The new sunflower row got mulch on top, to reduce weeds around the sunflower and hold in the water. I noticed that the alternate rows of mulch were still moist underneath the top layer. The newspapers were still soaked.

Sunflowers apparently send out a root chemical to suppress competition, so they take care of their own area well. I have tried to grow pole beans up their stalks, without any real success. Their broad leaves can effectively eliminate smaller plants that need sunlight.

Sassy Sue supervised my work, but only after a walk. She sat there barking at me until I gave in. She went outside for one reason only, and she seemed to think I tricked her. We went for a walk and came back to play with her squeaky ball. She had renewed her interest in chasing and catching her ball, so we cleared more of the limbs in the backyard.

We have a good gardening area in the back, a middle section in the shade, and the back area with a fair amount of sunshine. Once we got rid of the low-hanging branches, the middle area began to look more like a park.




Invasion of the Body Snatchers - One Possible Explanation for Apostasy



In the classic Invasion of the Body Snatchers, everyone looks the same. However, the pod people have taken over  various human bodies and continue to spread their menace by looking innocent. The normal ones warn the rest, but soon the unpodded get absorbed into the new weird order.



Here is the key description:

The invaders replace human beings with duplicates that appear identical on the surface, but are devoid of emotion or individuality. Wikipedia

I have a list of pod Lutherans who once thought publishing the truth was a good idea.
They contributed a lot of material, then began hissing and acting odd.

Men in Black, another classic sci-fi movie, argues persuasively that key people are from other planets, identifying Newt Gingrich as one. Tony Robbins is from Jupiter, as I recall.

I look at the denominations and wonder why no one is running around in circles, hair on fire. The Episcopalians elected a Presiding Bishop with almost no parish or executive experience. She began immediately to sue congregations to grab their properties, naming bishops and laity, but using church money to drive people out and shutter their once-prosperous congregations. The bishops resisted a bit, but enough to stop PB Katie Schori.

A total of four Canadian and US Episcopal/Lutheran groups -
Three unqualified women are running them into the ground.


ELCA has done the same with ELCA's Mark Hanson and soon with Elizabeth Eaton, who sent him packing. Like her hero Katie Schorie, Eaton has little experience, but a powerful faction behind her.

But the so-called conservative Lutherans really astonish me. They are actively dismembering everything while calling themselves confessional and even orthodox! They may fuss about something once or twice, but go along with it as soon as the tide turns.

My explanation goes deeper than Universal Objective Justification, that bizarre dogma excreted from Halle University as it declined into pure rationalism and honest Universalist Unitarianism.



Apostasy Originated with Creation Deniers and City Slickers
Which is worse - Creation deniers or city slickers? I have fun with undergraduates who have little appreciation for the natural world. Although they are Christian and confess the truth of the Scriptures, their practical knowledge of their own world is limited.

America was once a rural country, where a large share of the population lived from the land. They had to know animals, weather, soil, crops, weeds, insects, and disease to survive. My maternal grandfather earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Illinois. My paternal grandfather was also a farmer. 

As a result of her farming background and interest in science, my mother knew the weeds, butterflies, insects, spiders, and wildflowers of each area where she lived. As a Blackhawk hiking club member, she had additional mentors in nature as they explored new areas. Three of those hikers reached the ages of 90, 95, and 105. 

Most of the parables and sermons of Jesus are based upon Creation.

  • The Sower and the Seed
  • The Mustard Seed
  • The Seed Growing Secretly
  • The Tares
  • The True Vine
  • The Good Shepherd, Psalm 23, and Isaiah 40
  • The Leaven Hidden in a Lump of Dough
  • Birds of the air, flowers of the field - Sermon on the Mount
  • Fig tree
  • Fish caught in a net
  • Sending rain on the just and unjust, Isaiah 55, etc.


When people lose touch with the world created by the Word, they fail to see the connection in the Word of God.

The Good Shepherd loses some meaning when the members do not know about sheep, except from a petting zoo.



Sow abundantly, from Paul, must be alien to most people. When I buy seed by the pound, they say, "Why so much?" I had our pool area in Phoenix covered in zinnias, the desert rose, because I found a large, inexpensive supply of them. I remember old Precious sitting in the zinnias, watching us swim. Shelties are shepherding dogs that shepherd their owners whether asked to or not.

When I planted pounds of edible pod peas, we had enough and to spare - and even far too much. We ate peas. Our rabbits ate pea vines. Our friends came over to harvest peas. I cut dragon's talons (end of the vines) for a Hong Kong couple. "Are you sure? Do you know how valuable these are in Hong Kong?" They were a bit shy and embarrassed over getting so much - and the pea vines thrived on the harvesting and cutting.


The pod people have replaced faith with human reason.
Luther was a gardener.


Friday, June 27, 2014

Creation and Doctrine



The Michigander writes:

The bird posts and flower posts combining care and feeding and doctrine are excellent.  They are becoming my favorites.  I have a bird question.

Are your feeders close to windows?  Mine are some 7 feet front the living room window and birds keep flying into the window pane.  Some learn that's not the direction to leave the feeders, some don't.  I wonder, with the feeders were closer to the window, if the birds would not fly away toward the window.  Or should the feeders be farther away from the house, spoiling the viewing prospects?

***

GJ - I am guessing that the birds, after feeding, see the sky in the reflection in the windows. They fly into the image. When my windows had a mirror effect in Phoenix, from a reflective film, we had quite a few bird strikes.

I keep feeders close to the window. They get used to flying there for rest and a snack. In the summer the feeder is empty because the starlings and squirrels eat everything. In Bella Vista I had so many feeders going at once that driving up to the house was like arriving at a bird sanctuary. That was ideal for birds, since we had a creek, a lawn, bushes, and oak trees - all convenient for their food and housing.

I will use a lot of suet for the winter, since fat-eating birds are also insect-eaters. I will hang a number of mesh bags on trees if I can get suet for a good price and the raccoons do not feast on them.

For now I am growing sunflowers in three different places. I enjoy watching them grow so tall (except for the Japanese one-footers) and turn into seedheads of massive size.

Writing about Creation and doctrine is easy, because so many illustrations from the Bible are based upon common knowledge of the natural world.

Mark's Gospel is known for the seed growing secretly parable - the only passage truly unique to Mark.

Mark 4:26 And he said, So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;
27 And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.
28 For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself; first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.
29 But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.
The living seed is like the Word, ready to grow when broadcast.
We are like the sower who has no idea how this happens. We can look at charts and study terms. But the complexity of the seed waking up in moisture and soil, sending down a little root and a tiny plant upward - that is a mystery to us.
We know as little about how the Word will grow as we do about the seed growing.
I planted a lot of seed along the fenceline, because the dead leaves and grass formed a natural mulch. Some of them will use the support of the chain-link fence. But most of those seeds have not shown up. Some weeds responded well to the watering, so I am suspicious that my bird friends watched my work a little too carefully.
Still, some plants will germinate slowly. Some seeds will rot in the soil. Some will definitely be eaten by a wide variety of animals. Seed purchases are estimated thus - an old gardeners rhyme:
1. One for the mouse.
2. One for the crow.
3. One to rot.
4. One to grow.
Malabar spinach is good for soups.

I now have some spinach, lettuce, and a place to plant them. Some will say, "Why did you wait until it was hot, when spinach and lettuce will bolt (go to seed)?"
Like Hamlet, I was dithering about how to open up garden space. I did not want to rototill - or shovel until I experienced once more the pain of rotator cuff injuries. One might harm the utilities, flagged or not. The other might force me to drink coffee two-handed, again. That happened with snow-shoveling. One day of glory, one year of pain.
If I do a really bad job with both crops, I will still have a fair amount of fresh lettuce and spinach before they go to seed. After that, I will have Malabar spinach growing and loving the heat, providing huge leaves that some people prefer to spinach.
I can count on many failures and successes in the garden, but even the poor performances are far better than not sowing seed at all, not planting anything.
I need a good Delphic saying like, "If you are not planting, you are still planting, because the weeds are planting theirselves." Bad grammar makes it more homespun, and user-friendly for WELS.
I still get troubled when clergy tell me they are disappointed by their numbers. I learned early to count anything above zero as a success. Why scowl and get upset at those who are there for the Means of Grace? How can we measure how the living seed of the Word will flourish and grow in the future?
Equally alarming are those assemblies where the participants are gulled into accepting their Babtist training at the hands of "conservative" Lutherans. The leaders will say, "It was a great success!" And I will say - for which Kingdom, the Kingdom of Christ or the Kingdom of Satan? Those are the Two Kingdoms at war with each other until the end of time, according to Luther.


Sowing seed abundantly is always going to favor the birds, butterflies, and bees. Food is concentrated. Insects flourish, and so do their predators. Those hated spiders spin beautiful webs that glisten in the morning dew. Birds wake up to sing Matins each morning and turn the insect population into little songbirds, a good equation.
When I spend time in the garden, birds become friendly and do not rush away. They quickly learn that the rose garden will have treats from berries and grapes too old to eat. Scraps from the peanut jar go outside as well. 
The result is hearing bird-calls when I go outside. Bluejays and robins have landed above me in a tree and called out, something like, "Where's my snack?"
The compost pile becomes another feeder when the materials are almost finished. The moist interior supports a crop of noisy, moving arthropods (all joint-footed creatures). Birds perch on the wire and dive in for a real meal.
I have seen several "compost piles" that were really garbage piles. The clergy owners did not understand the concept, so they produced a smelly pile of rotting food.
So it is when people want to be teachers of the Word but do not understand what they are handling. They wander from one fad to another, one popular writer after another.
Here are the basics for compost:
  • It might as well be fairly large, because there will never be enough of it when finished - perhaps five feet high and seven feet across. I enclose mine in chicken-wire. Other designs require more labor.
  • Compost should be in the shade as much as possible.
  • The materials rest on bare soil or sod, because the soil creatures climb into the pile as required - or as designed by the Creator.
  • Good materials include anything that has been alive, but not meat. Food garbage will attract bigger animals, unless it is just leafy leftovers. Kids - help the compost with your stewed, creamed spinach. 
  • Animal manures are good, except for cat and dog offerings, which may host organisms that spread to humans. 
  • Fresh green materials like grass are hot - warming up the compost fast and starting the process. Weeds can go in, and their seeds will be killed if everything is done well. I would put in dandelions, which are really an herb, but not witchgrass. Some interesting flowers will spread through compost if they are put in. Feverfew is one.
  • Dead leaves are great in compost but do not heat up. Some mix green stuff with leaves. I toss it all in together.
  • Soil can be added in layers, since it is alive with bacteria, molds, and soil creatures. Soil has the effect of sanitizing rot and suppressing bad aromas.
  • I put a few rotten fruits in the compost from time to time, but I fire them into the soft inner core of leaves, so we do not create a village dump aroma. A rotten apple is mostly water and will help keep the compost moist and the creatures of rot happy. "You eat my apple, but centipedes will eat you. Bwa-ha-ha."
  • Here are the denizens of compost - a great chart from Cornell.

Invertebrates of the Compost Pile

  • In small-scale outdoor composting systems, such as backyard compost piles, soil invertebrates are likely to contribute to the decomposition process. Together with bacteria, fungi, and other microbes, these organisms make up a complex food web or energy pyramid with primary, secondary, and tertiary level consumers. The base of the pyramid, or energy source, is made up of organic matter including plant and animal residues.


    Tertiary Consumers
    (organisms that eat secondary consumers)
    centipedes, predatory mites,
    rove beetles, fomicid ants,
    carabid beetles

    Secondary Consumers
    (organisms that eat primary consumers)
    springtails, some types of mites, feather-winged beetles
    nematodes, protozoa, rotifera, soil flatworms

    Primary Consumers
    (organisms that eat organic residues)
    bacteria, fungi, actinomycetes,
    nematodes, some types of mites, snails, slugs,
    earthworms, millipedes, sowbugs, whiteworms

    Organic Residues
    leaves, grass clippings, other plant debris,
    food scraps,
    fecal matter and animal bodies including those of soil invertebrates

    As you can see in this pyramid, organic residues such leaves or other plant materials are eaten by some types of invertebrates such as millipedes, sow bugs, snails and slugs. These invertebrates shred the plant materials, creating more surface area for action by fungi, bacteria, and actinomycetes (a group of organisms intermediate between bacteria and true fungi), which are in turn eaten by organisms such as mites and springtails.
    Many kinds of worms, including earthworms, nematodes, red worms and potworms eat decaying vegetation and microbes and excrete organic compounds that enrich compost. Their tunneling aerates the compost, and their feeding increases the surface area of organic matter for microbes to act upon. As each decomposer dies or excretes, more food is added to web for other decomposers.
    Nematodes: These tiny, cylindrical, often transparent microscopic worms are the most abundant of the physical decomposers - a handful of decaying compost contains several million. It has been estimated that one rotting apple contains 90,000. Under a magnifying lens they resemble fine human hair.
    Some species scavenge on decaying vegetation, some feed on bacteria, fungi, protozoa and other nematodes, and some suck the juices of plant roots, especially root vegetables.
    Mites: Mites are the second most common invertebrate found in compost. They have eight leg-like jointed appendages. Some can be seen with the naked eye and others are microscopic. Some can be seen hitching rides on the back of other faster moving invertebrates such as sowbugs, millipedes and beetles. Some scavenge on leaves, rotten wood, and other organic debris. Some species eat fungi, yet others are predators and feed on nematodes, eggs, insect larvae and other mites and springtails. Some are both free living and parasitic. One very common compost mite is globular in appearance, with bristling hairs on its back and red-orange in color.
    Springtails: Springtails are extremely numerous in compost. They are very small wingless insects and can be distinguished by their ability to jump when disturbed. They run in and around the particles in the compost and have a small spring-like structure under the belly that catapults them into the air when the spring catch is triggered. They chew on decomposing plants, pollen, grains, and fungi. They also eat nematodes and droppings of other arthropods and then meticulously clean themselves after feeding.
    Earthworms: Earthworms do the lion's share of the decomposition work among the larger compost organisms. They are constantly tunneling and feeding on dead plants and decaying insects during the daylight hours. Their tunneling aerates the compost and enables water, nutrients and oxygen to filter down. "As soil or organic matter is passed through an earthworm's digestive system, it is broken up and neutralized by secretions of calcium carbonate from calciferous glands near the worm's gizzard. Once in the gizzard, material is finely ground prior to digestion. Digestive intestinal juices rich in hormones, enzymes, and other fermenting substances continue the breakdown process. The matter passes out of the worm's body in the form of casts, which are the richest and finest quality of all humus material. Fresh casts are markedly higher in bacteria, organic material, and available nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium than soil itself." (Rodale)
    Slugs and snails (left): Slugs and snails generally feed on living plant material but will attack fresh garbage and plant debris and will therefore appear in the compost heap.
    Centipedes (right): Centipedes are fast moving predators found mostly in the top few inches of the compost heap. They have formidable claws behind their head which possess poison glands that paralyze small red worms, insect larvae, newly hatched earthworms, and arthropods - mainly insects and spiders. To view a QuickTime movie of the centipede click on this image


    Millipedes: They are slower and more cylindrical than centipedes and have two pairs of appendages on each body segment. They feed mainly on decaying plant tissue but will eat insect carcasses and excrement.

    Sow Bugs (right): Sow Bugs are fat bodied crustaceans with delicate plate-like gills along the lower surface of their abdomens which must be kept moist. They move slowly grazing on decaying vegetation.

    Beetles (left): The most common beetles in compost are the rove beetle, ground beetle and feather-winged beetle. Feather-winged beetles feed on fungal spores, while the larger rove and ground beetles prey on other insects, snails, slugs and other small animals.

    Ants: Ants feed on aphid honey-dew, fungi, seeds, sweets, scraps, other insects and sometimes other ants. Compost provides some of these foods and it also provides shelter for nests and hills. Ants may benefit the compost heap by moving minerals especially phosphorus and potassium around by bringing fungi and other organisms into their nests.
    Flies: During the early stages of the composting process, flies provide ideal airborne transportation for bacteria on their way to the pile. Flies spend their larval phase in compost as maggots, which do not survive thermophilic temperatures. Adults feed upon organic vegetation.
    Spiders: Spiders feed on insects and other small invertebrates.
    Pseudoscorpions: Pseudoscorpions are predators which seize victims with their visible front claws, then inject poison from glands located at the tips of the claws. Prey include minute nematode worms, mites, larvae, and small earthworms.
    Earwigs: Earwigs are large predators, easily seen with the naked eye. They move about quickly. Some are predators. Others feed chiefly on decayed vegetation.


Compost liturgy
The creatures do their work in the proper order. Have you even sung a recessional hymn first? It may be a great hymn, but it does not feel exactly right, like singing "How Firm a Foundation" to "O Come All Ye Faithful."
Earthworms are going to melt during the initial warmup. They stay away. In fact, their appearance means the compost is mostly complete, so they can feast. They should be called Blister, because they don't show up until the work is done. But they do work hard in the soil itself, which is why all gardeners love them.
Thermophilic organisms love nitrogen and help heat up the compost to break it down. Put hot (high nitrogen) ingredients in and the compost will smoke. Grass plus rabbit manure = smoke signals. Pure sod will heat up and break down quickly - simply because all the ingredients are present in each lump. That is why I mulch to kill sod, because it is actually acquiring a new life as composted soil teeming with earthworms. Or perhaps teaming with earthworms. Either way, composted sod is great.
I read various scientific posts to support my information. Most of them spout evolutionary doctrine while describing a well organized, self-directed process, which happens all over the world. What if the organisms did not arrive? The soil would stop rejuvenating; the plants would grow weaker, and the entire foundation of life on earth would fade into blackness.
That is why Luther said God was a good manager, Someone we should trust to keep things going well.