Welcome to the Mimi Tree, please have a seat there where you can get some shade. Forgive me if I don't have many leaves and branches to sit under, but I am in the process of growing branches and harvesting fruit for my visitors. Please feel free to reach up and take a piece any time, although pick'ins are slim for now.
If you are like the others, I'll bet you're weary from your travels. It's like a jungle out there! I hear that people are fighting over the darndest things, like what Truth is, and if it even exists! How sad, when so many people are hungry.
Well, I shouldn't keep rambling. I'am sure you're busy like the rest of them or maybe you just have a hard time sitting still. I'am so glad that you wandered over to my tree. I do hope that you will come back any time, and sit under my shade. I love the company, and in time there will be food for you, apples of gold that have grown through many years of famine, rain and shine. You are free to pick and choose as you wish. Of course, I cannot take credit for the fruit and the shade, what you may find here. That's the Master Gardener's job. I am just a tree in His Vineyard with the hopes that some weary, hungry traveler may find a little rest for his mind and food for his soul.
Yesterday I was in a particularly tedious and uninspiring meeting at work (which is where I do my best writing, by the way)and I was thinking about the STILL, SMALL voice. Still, I thought, is still, as opposed to active and busy. Hence, it is frequently stressed that one should slow down to hear that voice, which is quite true. And yet, there is more. Reasoning and rationalizing is not still and small, it is active, striving, and rather noisy. Reasoning comes to alter the truth of what is simply known in the stillness of inactivity. It is the voice that came to Eve in the garden to cast doubt. After God gave the command, the doubt came through the evil one (in her own thoughts, I believe). "Well, maybe I can have that fruit after all. Certainly all good things are from Him and He really wouldn't come down on me too hard. And besides, maybe it's true, maybe he just wants to keep me from seeing as He sees." And so Eve begins to doubt what she KNOWS by reasoning through her own thoughts, and God's character comes into question. If Eve would have quieted her own thoughts and faulty reasoning, which conveniently served her own lusts and misguided desires, she would have known the truth. And she would have remained free! ("The truth shall set you free." That's the difference between Eve and us. Eve was free, rejected the truth and lost her freedom. We are not free until we receive the truth and gain our freedom. But if we submit to our own reasoning and lusts, we too will lose that freedom. Trust me, I know this from personal experience and I can find many others who will attest to this fact. And the amazing thing is that it all begins with the mind. The mind leads and the heart follows, but this is a topic for another time!
So by staying still the truth is obvious: God said, "Don't eat of the fruit of the tree of life." That truth did not NEED an explanation or rationale in order to know it. It just IS. You look at a flower, and you know it is a flower. You need no convincing. Someone slaps you and calls you a name. You need no convincing that you were mistreated. Someone could talk you into believing otherwise, through reasoning with you and twisting the truth. And, herein lies the "acid test", I believe, for discerning the truth from a lie. (Of course, the longer we set our heart on knowing Him and following his truth, the more we will grow in recognizing his voice, and there is no substitute for the maturation over time. This is only to be expected and applys to any relationship.) But I have learned that applying this rule has saved me from a heap of heartache and that ever imposing and deceiving voice of self-doubt. And that rule is to back away from the voice of my own reasoning when it comes to discerning His will for my life. Our rationale and reasoning is an amazing gift of God, and I am so grateful to have the capacity to reason when it is applied to anything other than discerning His will. I need it to think, plan, argue, in shorth, to carry out my work here on earth. But I do not employ this gift to discern ultimate truth and guidance. Everything has it's place. Using my rationale this way is a misuse of that gift. To use a really poor analogy, it is like trying to listen to the radio with your eyes, or watch T.V with you sense of touch.
So I have learned that the voice of my own rationale and reasoning is more than happy to oblige my personal lusts and desires which are contrary to God's will. And I have noticed that His will in any given matter does not often seek to satisfy me selfish desires. So I run from that voice like the plague. I do not trust it or give it any credence. It has never led me into paths of righteousness or peace. The will of God for me is in the stillness of my "knower". Someone once asked a paticulary perceptive woman of God, "How do you know so much?" Her reply, "I know it in my knower." On a final note, while I believe that our human thoughts and reasonings will often twist the truth, when it comes to discerning His will or leading in a matter, that does not mean that His will is unreasonable, or irrationale. In actuality, His will is the most rational, reasonable thing in the Universe! I have found that it usually only appears irrational to my human understanding until I make a step in His direction, which involves surrendering my own way. Often times this causes a lightbulb to go off and it all becomes clear. And very, very rational.
If you still are not sold on this idea, consider a con artist, or good politician. What does he do? He takes the facts, that which is obvious ,and through words, through twisting the truth, he convinces you to disbelieve the obvious. A good con is incredibly scary, because they have an amazing ability to convince you to disbelieve what you believe. And they do this through talking, reasoning, twisting the facts. Slowly you begin to see things differently, you doubt what seemed so obvious to you a minute ago. This is the game of the deciever, and he does it well. That is why self-doubt is so trecherous. For me, self-doubt is just another clever disquise of the enemy of my soul, and I resist any thought that casts doubt on what I simply know. Surely the good Shepherd does not speak to his children in this fearful and cowardly voice. "Gee, I wonder if I just have a problem, maybe I'm just paranoid." Or through somone else, "Are you sure you are doing the right thing?"
With the reformation of the church and the resulting emphasis on salvation by faith alone, we seemed to have lost the understanding that faith and works are inseparable twins. James 2:17 says that "...faith without works is dead." In other words, faith that does not produce an outward action is not really true faith. We can say that we believe many things, but in reality, what we say we believe is not always what we TRULY believe. What we believe will always be lived out through our actions. Jesus said that you will know a tree by it's fruit. The fruit is the outward sign and it is evidence of what is on the inside. How can we tell what someone really believes? Very simple. By what they do. The old chiche, "actions speak louder than words," applies here. This does not mean that we can expect to see perfect, fully mature fruit on every tree that professes faith, because trees need time to grow. You cannot drop a seed in the ground today and have a full grown Oak tomarrow. Growth takes time and patience, and this is what distinguishes the seed that fell in the good soil from the seed that fell on the wayside. Time, perseverance, and patience. With patience, in time the faith that begins as a seed will grow into an Oak tree and become a refuge and home for the birds of the air, and shade for the animals and beasts of the field. That is His good and perfect will for us, and in fulfilling this will, we partake in His unspeakable joy. Jesus said that "...my meat (my sustenance, fulfillment) is to do the will of Him who sent me." And so is ours.
So we need to be patient with ourselves and other young trees. Tree's need time to mature through the seasons and the years, until finally the branches will be heavy with fruit that will feed the multitudes! One brilliant writer, commenting on Christian growth, observed that "When God wants to make a squash, he takes six months, but when he wants to make a tree, he takes six years". Eventually, if we hold fast our profession, we will begin to grow in faith, and bring fruit to maturity.
So God continually showers us with sunshine and rain? Not quite. There are long seasons of darkness and doubt, and it is during this time that our faith is matured and strengthened. Look at the Bible, the great heroes of the faith that persevered with God despite years of trials, darkness and confusion! A tree's bark has a period of about three months where the bark grows quickly and rapidly. Following this is a period of six to nine months in which there is very little activity. During this time the bark is transformed from the green, soft material of immaturity to the strong, solid wood of a mature tree. And so it is with us. If we hold fast our faith, in time we will bring forth fruit, and this is what God is looking for in our lives, and what gives us that deep-down soul satisfaction! Do not be like the seed that grew up too quickly and failed to develop strong, solid, deep, roots in Christ! And do not be like the seed that was choked by the cares of the world! In the parable of the seed, it is not the obvious sins that choke the seed and prevent growth. No, it's much more subtle than that. Look closely. It's those innocent cares of this life,bills, comittments, busy schedules, entertainment, tv, the internet(!), and the desire for other things. Anything but Him and His Kingdom.
A good "fruit check" is always helpful, to ensure that when He returns, or we unexpectedly return to Him, he will find that we have been about "the masters business." (see Luke 5:21) And what is his business? All we have to do is look to the life that Jesus led, and we see that his business is people, the spiritual and physical needs of his children.
I will conclude with a quote from a first century Christian philosopher, Aristides, who wrote concerning the Christian church in 125 A.D.. He provides a glimpse into the first century church which should inspire and spur us on in our pursuit of Him. I can think of no better way to step away from the stale air of this 21st century culture than to breathe in the fresh air of another time and place. It opens the mind to new ideas and perspectives to which we are normally unaware.
"They walk in all humility and kindness, and falsehood is not found among them, and they love one another. They despise not the widow, and grieve not the orphan. He that hath distributes liberally to him that hath not. If they seee a stranger, they bring him under their roof, and rejoice over him as if he were their own brother: for they call themselves brethren, not after the flesh, but after the Spirit of God: but when one of their poor passes away from the world, and any of them see him, then he provides for his burial according to his ability; and if they hear that any of their number is imprisoned or oppressed for the name of their Messiah, all of them provide for his nees, and if it is possible that he may be delivered, they deliver him. And if there is among them a man that is poor and needy, and they have not an abundance of necessaries, they fast two or three days that they may supply the needy with their necessary food." -exerpt from the book, Freedom of Simplicity,(Foster,p.55)
Makes me wonder what they would think about our consumer driven, do-what-it-takes-to-get-ahead, look-out-for-number-one, self-actualized society.
Jesus said that "what you do unto the LEAST of these, you do unto Me."
Currently bringing in the harvest
Currently out gathering pesticides for your battle against the pesky little mites!
I often think about how our society values personal happiness above the welfare of our families and communities. From what I understand, this has not always been the case. There was a time when people used to see themselves in relationship to others, and decisions were made based on that relationship, not just on individual satisfaction and personal happiness. I wonder what would happen if people began thinking about themselves in relationship to their families, and began to value responsiblity to others as much as their own personal satisfaction.
Pestisides to counteract the demoralizing influences of the culture on the role of fathers.
I happened upon a classic series by James Dobson entitled "Where's Dad?" I listened attentively for three days and I was moved to tears by Dobson's genuine and transparent sharing of his own experience as a father, and his plea to men everywhere to father their children as God intented. This is a power packed pestiside guaranteed to inspire fathers to turn their hearts back to their families. Even I was inspired to be a good father, and I'am a single woman! Go figure! To order the tapes, you can contact Focus on the Family. The address fell out of the tree, but I'll post their link when I find it.
Consider this popular bumper sticker: "How far do you have to open your mind before it falls out?"
If you think about it, the term "politically correct" is just another word for brain washed. Think about it. You need to be "correct" about politics, and believe it or not, "politics" have become more about moral issues than we care to realize. Actually, you probably could argue that politics have always involved moral issues. So by definition, the term is promoting a way of thinking that is correct, which means that any expressed philosophy or value system that is contrary to this is incorrect. Scary, very scary. But what amazes me is how the same people that espouse "tolerance" are very intolerant of any view that does not agree with their own. It's not okay to hold to absolute truth. You must be open minded and accept and agree with every other moral and spiritual philosophy under the sun. It's the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, didn't you know? Get with it!
As my new cyber-friend astutely observed, the same people that reject moral absolutes fail to realize that they adhere to an absolute, ie; there are no absolutes.
Something else to ponder. While browsing through a photography book the other day, I happened upon a statement by a famous photographer by the name of Alfred Stieglitz. I know nothing of this man's life, but his observation about art helped me to understand why I find most modern art and entertainment so meaningless and devoid of truth. I don't know about you, but I hunger for art that lifts my heart and mind above what the eye beholds, art that reflects a tiny bit of ultimate reality, truth, and beauty. I hate to say this, but "Ace Ventura" just doesn't do it for me. Here is what he had to say: "All art is an equivalent of the artists most profound experience of life." For me, this helped to explain why modern art is so shallow and uninspired. And it also spurred me on in my search for good art, be it literature or music. I want to transcend the mental and spiritual walls of this emaciated culture!
IS IT SAFE TO COME OUT NOW?
"He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose." - Jim Elliot, missionary martyred bringing the gospel to an unreached people group.
You can read more about his life and testimony in the books, "Through Gates of Splendour" and "Under the Shadow of the Almighty." The best fertilizer around!
Now that you're comfortable, take a moment to ask yourself some questions, and try not to jump up and run away before you've had a chance to answer them. Come to think of it, we don't often take time to reflect in this society. We are just too busy reacting to everything and everyone else around us. Makes me wonder just how much of what we are doing is what we really want to do?
That makes me think of a survey that was conducted of people who were nearing the end of their lives. They were each asked what they would do differently if they could do it all over again. The top two answers were:
1. I would spend more time doing things that are "meaningful" and,
2. I would take more time to "reflect".
Now I don't know about you, but I always prefer to learn from other peoples mistakes whenever possible.
So now that you're here, take some time to reflect. Maybe you could just think about your life. Most people aren't used to reflecting much, so I'll give you a few questions to start you on your way. Or you could just sit for a few minutes with your eyes closed, and listen to the silence. It's amazing what apples of gold will grow in the silence!
Think about where you are spending your energy? Is it meaningful? When all is said and done, will you have something meaningful to take with you? I once heard a song that said, "when I die, all that I can take with me is what I can carry in my heart." The rest stays here.
A slow re-entry into the jungle is always best. Goodbye for now, and feel free to tell your friends about the Mimi Tree. There's always room under the tree for one more!
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