STEEL AND CONCRETE, January 2000
THE STEEL AND CONCRETE
MISSION FIELD NEWSLETTER
Yesterday I was watching Maryland Public Television and saw a program on the origin of fig trees. My thoughts went back to my first encounter with fig trees. As a child, I remember the little fig tree that grew below my grandparents' kitchen window. I remember very clearly waiting to pick the fresh figs and eat them on the spot. By this time of year, the figs would have already been eaten and all that would be left is just leaves. Figs (fruit) and fig trees ~ what a fitting metaphor for the Christian life. I am reminded of two analogies found in the Bible:
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. "And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down ! Why does it even use up the ground?' "And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9)
Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree withered. (Matthew 21:19)
The parable above speaks of the Lord's lack of tolerance for and his eternal punishment of those who continually remain fruitless. Apple trees grow apples, fig trees grow figs, and as God's spiritual tree, I too must grow (spiritual) fruit.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Since God is a Spirit, one might say it's the "fruit of God" that believers are expected to grow. As God lives in and through all believers it's His fruit that comes forth. It's that very fruit by which we'll be recognized.
"You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? (Matthew 7:16)
"So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:20)
Like in the scripture, when God finds me being unproductive and fruitless, I shouldn't be surprised when he begins to "dig around" my life, getting me out of my comfort zone. Then, if I'm still fruitless, should I wonder how all this "fertilizer" entered my life? I might not like the correction process, but it's better than withering away or being cut down!
God doesn't desire for any of us to be "cut down," but, like any caring father, he must get our attention. We are to bring glory to our Heavenly Father:
"My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples." (John 15:8)
Many times I've thought it was me who did this or that in my Christian walk. In all actuality, it's our Heavenly Father who's cared for us, chose and ordained us, and enables us to remain fruitful.
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you." (John 15:16)
God desires for all his believers to be truitful in every good work and to continue to grow in the knowledge him.
". . .so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. . ." (Colossians 1:10)
What loving, caring parent doesn't want their children to learn, grow, and get the best they have to offer? So I have learned it's important to make sure that there is fruit on this little spiritual fig tree. The Lord will be coming and looking for his fruit. May we always bear fruit and never "just leaves."
~ GOOD NEWS ~
If you are unsaved, then I beg you to do the following four things in prayer to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ:
1. Admit you are a sinner,
2. Be willing to repent (turn away) from all sin,
3. Believe that Jesus died to save you, and
4. Accept him into your life as Savior and Lord.
God is not into long fancy prayers. Just pray and speak to him from your heart.
by Brother Gordon Contes
While at Friendship Church of God in San Jose, California, my pastor and fellow Christians encouraged me to give my testimony. I was unable to do so because I was soon thereafter transferred to Maryland for violating my probation. Hurt, confused, and disappointed, I landed once again in C.O.C. serving a twelve year sentence. Be that as it may, all my clothes and personal belongings were left in California. I had no way to receive a package. Shame and guilt silenced me. I didn't have the nerve to contact my family hear in Maryland. So here I sat, alone and devastated, having lost contact with a very close friend in California. I felt crushed, as if all the walls were falling in on me. I remember thinking that I couldn't take it anymore: it was just too much pain. I was tired of the way I felt. I needed rest. God's Word says:
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28)
So one night while my cell-mate was out in the recreation hall, I earnestly cried out to the Lord and asked Him to come into my life. I asked Him to show me the way that was pleasing to Him. Immediately, I began to feel optimistic. I spent the next few days praying and reading the Bible. I quickly realized that devoting myself to God was much better than trying to do this time alone. I was able to humble myself and take on the hardship of prison life. With Christ, my walk became easier. Things I used to think were so important seemed to just get in the way. Today, with God in my life, He's given me hope and courage to move on.
By this time, it had begun to snow very hard. It is almost a quarter of a mile walk to the chow hall. My feet would become soaked from the holes in my shoes. I wrote the clothing department and requested a pair of boots. Much to my disappointment, I was denied the boots. I was told that boots are only issued to those who work in the kitchen, shops, or grounds. I was very upset, but continued to have faith in God. The next day, outside my door were not one, but two brand new pairs of state boots. I knew this was an act of God. Who else could have known I wore size 11? I could do nothing but praise God! I knew that from that day forward, God would supply all my needs.
I was currently not assigned to any job. One day I was led to Brother Gregory, a fellow Christian. We talked in the day-room and he shared with me valuable gifts of Bible knowledge. Talking to him was like a gift from Heaven. His "no spiritual punch-pulling," straight forward approach was just what I needed. He knew and understood my situation and offered to help. He refused to let me repay him, but on my persistence, he allowed me to decorate some of his envelopes he mails out. This was a success. He shared his artistic talents and viewpoints with me. This generated a little business for me, as other inmates were willing to pay for my amateur art work which allowed me to obtain other things I desperately needed, and even a few goodies along the way. It was approximately three months after I arrived in this institution that I was interviewed and given a job in the State Use Industries Graphic Shop. I would add that this is a preferred job. The pay and production exceeds all other work assignments. I found my fellow inmates bother happy for me and also perplexed because they couldn't understand how I got the job so fast. There are many here that have been trying for years to get such a job. Some of the guys I knew were bold enough to ask me, "Who do you know?" My answer was simple: "I know God."
Soon after that, my dear friend in California got in touch with me. My two sisters are now writing me and offering their support. Even though I'm still incarcerated, I'm at peace. The storm that seemed to have poured down upon me relentlessly has now subsided. I took the risk, which actually was no risk at all, and acted on the following scripture:
"Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me." (Revelation 3:20)
I heard Christ knocking, opened God's door, and found Jesus Christ.
~ THE POEM PAGE ~
submitted by Rosie "Contee" Stevens
Sin takes you further than you want to go,
Keeps you longer than you want to stay,
And costs you more than you want to pay.
"CREATED TO SERVE"
by Bro. Gregory Wamsley
Life's not about deserving, it's about serving;
It's about intervening in one's life or even comforting a heart-broken wife .
Satan will tell you, "It's no use ~ give up."
I say beware, remember God's always there.
If you don't believe he's there to help you,
then you're the only one to blame,
From the olden days until present,
our gifts are not in reserve.
Never forget that you're created to serve.
"The Bible in 50 Words"
submitted by Rosie "Contee" Stevens
God made, Adam bit,
Noah arked, Abraham split,
Joseph ruled, Jacob fooled,
Bush talked, Moses balked,
Pharaoh plagued, People walked,
Sea divided, Tablets guided,
Saul freaked, David peeked,
Prophets warned, Jesus born,
God walked, Love talked,
Anger crucified, Hope died,
Love rose, Spirit flamed,
Word spread, God remained.
THE PROVERBS 11:30 "JUMBLE" PUZZLE
by Brother Gregory Wamsley
Below is a scripture quote from the King James Version of the Bible. The quote is found in Proverbs 11:30. The words are jumbled. To find out what the verse says, unscramble the letters of each word. Only look the scripture up to check your answer. This souldn't be hard. Most people can solve the puzzle in under ten minutes.
"Het ruitf fo het suoethgir si het erte fo elif dan eh taht htenniw slous si siwe"
(scroll down for answer)
The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.