A New Appreciation for Farmers in the Midwest


Hauling soybean and corn two days per week has given me a wiser appreciation for farmers here in the Midwest. The hours are long and unpredictable, since the weather largely determines when you can harvest. And even if you are blessed to avoid pestilence, and receive plenty of rain and sunshine at the appropriate times, you still depend upon the fluctuating and unpredictable commodities market that determines the price per bushel. True, farmers are backed by the government just in case they lose their shirt. But, insurance safety-net is not a replacement for the satisfaction of working hard and earning an honest living; most men enjoy the fruit of their labor, not the welfare of the state.

On a deeper level, I am amazed at the amount of food that comes from the earth. About 8 acres can yield a semi load like this – about 57 thousand pounds of corn!


The Psalmist David said,

“You visit the earth and water it; you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it” (psalm 65:9). 

But David could only say this because God once said,

“Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their see, each according to its kind, on the earth. And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good” – Genesis 1:11-12. 

It takes a lot of blind faith to believe that the earth just happens to sprout a food supply that sustains both man and beast. It is more reasonable to believe that behind all this food source is a loving God who is not only good but does good so that we may enjoy and give thanks for his abundant provisions.

Our hearts should praise and pray that the Lord would continue to sustain our lives. David prayed like this – may this be our prayer today:

“May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown, our daughters like corner pillars cut for the structure of a palace; may our granaries be full, providing all kinds of produce; may our sheep bring forth thousands and ten thousands in our fields; may our cattle be heavy with young, suffering no mishap or failure in bearing; may there be no cry of distress in our streets! Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall! Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!” – Psalm 144:12-15. 


“Autopsy of a Deceased Pastor”

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About a month ago I had the privilege of speaking with Thom Rainer on the phone for almost an hour, sharing with him how the Lord sustained a 20 year relationship between me and the church that I pastor (see previous post). I suggested to him that he should write a book on the subject of pastors dying, that is, why pastors have such short tenures with their church and end up either leaving the church or the ministry altogether. He told me that he would write a post on this. Below is the result. For more information of his ministry, click here: http://thomrainer.com

“They are the walking dead.

They are dead emotionally.

Their vision and passion is dead.

Their spiritual life has little life at all.

They are burned out.

Many have died vocationally. Others are waiting for burial.

Autopsies are not a pleasant topic. I get that. But I would be negligent if I did not share with you about the numbers of pastors who are dead in ministry. You need to know. You need to grasp this reality. You need to pray for them. You need to walk alongside them.

How did these pastors die? My figurative autopsies uncovered eight common patterns. Some pastors manifest four or five of them. Many manifest all of them.

  1. They said “yes” to too many members. In order to avoid conflict and criticism, these pastors tried to please most church members. Their path was not sustainable. Their path was unhealthy, leading to death.
  2. They said “no” to their families. For many of these pastors, their families became an afterthought or no thought at all. Many of their children are now grown and resent the church. They have pledged never to return. Their spouses felt betrayed, as if they were no longer loved, desired, or wanted. Some of these pastors have lost their families to divorce and estrangement.
  3. They got too busy to remain in the Word and in prayer. Simply stated, they got too busy for God. Read Acts 6:4 again in the context of all of Acts 6:1-7. The early church leaders saw this danger, and they took a courageous path to avoid the trap.
  4. They died a slow death from the steady drip of criticisms. Pastors are human. Yeah, I know; that’s an obvious statement. We sometimes expect them to take the ongoing criticisms from members as if they were rocks. But a steady drip can destroy even the most solid rocks.
  5. They were attacked by the cartel. Not all churches have cartels, but many do. A church cartel is an alliance of bullies, bully-followers, carnal Christians, and even non-Christians in the church. Their goal is power. Their obstacle is the pastor. Many pastors have died because cartels killed them.
  6. They lost their vision and their passion. This cause of death is both a symptom and a cause. Like high blood pressure is a symptom of other problems, it can also lead to death. Pastors without vision and passion are dying pastors.
  7. They sought to please others before God. People-pleasing pastors can fast become dying pastors. The problem is that you can never please all the members all the time. If pastors try, they die.
  8. They had no defenders in the church. Imagine a dying person with no medical intervention. That person will die. Imagine pastors without members who will stand by these leaders. Imagine pastors where members are too cowardly to stand up to cartels. If you can imagine that, then you can imagine a dying pastor. By the way, this form of death is often the most painful. The pastor is dying without anyone to help or intervene.

Autopsies are not fun. Talking about dying is not fun.

But if you are a church member, you can be a part of the solution.

Will you?”

Thom Rainer