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Just dropping by... The Lord looks on the heart

Yevet Tenney Published on 25 August 2009

God gave us a way to judge. He said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Men have track records. They make choices, and live lives that reflect what is in their hearts.

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Often we go day to day without really thinking about the people behind the scenes who make our lives easier. We go to the store and pick a can off the shelf, we inspect the label for carbs and fat content and the price, but we seldom think of the person who came to the store in the middle of the night to put the can on the shelf.

We don't think of the label designer who painstakingly perfected the label to make it pleasing and attractive. We don't think of the factory worker who made the can, and least of all we don't think of the farmer, who planted the seed, sweated through the growing season, praying that the crop would not fail, finally harvesting the crop and loading it on the trucks to be shipped to market.

We don't even think of the truck drivers who spend a myriad of hours on the road, often in heavy traffic, to bring the food to the canneries and the stores where we pick it up to inspect it and put it back because there is a dent in the can. We pick up another and move on without a backwards glance.

When my great-great-grandfather, John Tanner, moved west with the pioneers, he provided a great service to those who came behind. He and his sons would plow a field, plant it and care for it, make sure it was growing, then move on, hoping that the pioneers who came behind them would have something to eat. He didn't expect payment or even a thank you. He wanted to bless the lives of people, and he did.

Johnny Appleseed used to be mentioned in all the textbooks because he provided such a service to mankind, by planting apple trees as he came west. I am not sure he is mentioned in our classrooms today because the curriculum is so teach-to-test oriented, but his name lived for hundreds of years because he wanted to leave a legacy of love to the strangers who came after him.

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When I think of my garden and the effort it takes to prepare the ground, make the rows, plant the seeds and keep the weeds from taking over, I can't help but wonder if I am making a difference. Am I leaving a legacy that my children will take with them, or will they just pick up a can off the shelf, inspect it for dents and move on?

Farming was the first profession. The Lord told Adam to make a living by the sweat of his brow. He may have hunted for beasts for food, but he did teach Cain to farm. I would imagine that Abel did some farming also. And the tradition was passed on from generation to generation.

Oh, it wasn't as sophisticated or as productive as it is today, but the point is, the techniques were passed down to the next generation. In the manic-paced technology age we live in, I fear that the traditions of the past are systematically being abandoned for outward appearances.

We have forgotten the farmer and look only at the can. We have forgotten the weaver and think only of the cut of the dress or pair of jeans, how they look on our bodies and how they will impress our peers. We have forgotten God for political correctness.

When the prophet Samuel, under God's direction, went to David's father to choose a king from his sons, David's father brought in his strong, handsome older sons. Samuel was disappointed and wanted to know if there were any more sons. He brought in David, and the Lord witnessed to Samuel that David was to be king. Samuel explained to the puzzled father, "The Lord looketh on the heart."

Today we see politicians strut across the stage in their tailored suits, waving at the cheering crowds, making promises and forgetting promises. We see them bowing at the altar of self-gratification and pride without a thought of what the future will be for our children and grandchildren. We see them sit at mahogany desks in elegant rooms, and with a sweep of the pen change laws and traditions that cost the best of American blood to put in place.

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We watch and ooh and ahh because they look so impressive in their suits as they stand in front of the flag and sound so convincing with their million-dollar flattery and pre-made speeches that they read from teleprompters and Blackberries.

We go to the voting booth and vote for the image, not the heart. We believe their rhetoric because they promise the things we want to hear. We don't check to see if they resemble the white-washed sepulchers of Jesus' time; they look great on the outside, but on the inside are filled with dead mens' bones.

At a glance Jesus could see what kind of men the Pharisees and Sadducees were. They were men who were more concerned with money and appearance than they were with doing the right thing. When they brought their money to feed the poor, they let each coin drop so others could hear the sound and know how much money they put in. Jesus praised the widow's mite because she gave from the heart. At the wailing wall, the Pharisees spoke in great swelling words so everyone could hear their words of grandeur and poetic excellence, while the sinner spoke quietly only to God.

We are not Jesus, and we cannot always see what is in a man's heart, but God gave us a way to judge. He said, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

Men have track records. They make choices, and live lives that reflect what is in their hearts. A man's voting record is a good indication of where his heart is. The words can flow like honey, but a man's actions are set in concrete and become a monument for all to see. The friends he chooses are also a reflection of his heart. Men don't stay where they are not comfortable. They may sit next to a murderer on an airplane, but they do not go to dinner and spend time on the golf course with him or her.

There are other ways to look on the heart. We can use the same method Samuel the prophet used when the Lord told him to choose a king. God will tell us. The gift of discernment is a gift of the Spirit. If we ask, God will let us know what is in a man's heart. We are not left to wander blindly. Our nation is in trouble only because we have forgotten how to ask God to help us choose righteous leaders.

It is true: "When the wicked rule, the people mourn."

We are the Johnny Appleseeds and Grandfather Tanners of our day. We are walking through the forest of a different world, but we can still leave a legacy. We probably won't plant apple trees or gardens as we move west, but we can plant seeds of faith and prayer in the hearts of our children. We can turn our hearts back to the traditions of our forefathers.

We can teach our children to be discerning and become more concerned about what is in a man's heart and their own hearts than they are in the brand of jeans they will wear to the next rock concert or the dress they will wear to the prom. We can also teach them not to be so concerned about the label as where the contents of a can came from.

We can teach them to turn their lives over to God. He can make so much more out of our lives than we can do by ourselves. PD

Marsha's Hawaiian BBQ sauce for chicken and ribs
1 lg. can tomato juice
1 family-size bottle of ketchup
1 bottle Bar-B-Q sauce (any brand)
1 small can tomato paste
1 Tblsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 medium onion, chopped
1 lemon, sliced into wheels

Combine ingredients; simmer 10 minutes. Add raw chicken pieces with skin (not whole chicken) and return to simmer. Continue simmer for 30 minutes. Let sit at least eight hours in fridge (overnight is best). Bar-B-Q over coals until temperature reads 165ºF or until done.

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