Luke 13:8,9—He answered him, “Sir, leave it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you shall cut it down.”
Jesus shared the parable of the barren fig tree to His listeners about a man who, frustrated with the fact that his fig three after three years was still not producing figs, told his vinedresser to cut it down. The vinedresser was more patient and felt like corrective steps were necessary before just killing the tree.
It was truly an implausible act. She lived behind fortified walls yet chose to be vulnerable. For a woman of the street she possessed great insight. She knew that her city would be destroyed because she believed the reports of the Destroyer. As new stories meandered along hot, dusty streets and through bustling merchant shops, hearts despaired and courage disappeared. She saw things differently; embracing faith from a heaven and earthperspective.
Why did the spies go to her house? She could easily have reported them. Even the king knew they visited her and dispatched messengers who told her to bring them out for arrest. No, she knew a lot about men, and these two were different. So she hid them on her roof and lied about them leaving the city. Later under the cover of darkness she gave them a rope so they could escape down her wall. She was an audacious woman with a simple request.
Jeb spread a false rumor about another leader in the church. His pastor after confirming the report was untrue, confronted him about the report and asked him to recant. Jeb refused and shortly thereafter, left the church. Unfortunately, in a bizarre twist of events, Jeb’s departure ended up in the elders expelling their pastor and church founder. The body of Christ lost a talented leader and in hearing this true story I was reminded of Jesus’ warning to his disciples.
On Tuesday I flew into my headquarters to get ready for a key week. The next day with three of my leaders we would interview four candidates to choose our next deputy commander. My current deputy is superb—not just a great officer, but a man who will be a lifetime friend. Unfortunately, I’ve also had the challenge of working with executives who were inept or toxic. So knowing how vital it is to find the right leader, I did not get much sleep. When I woke up on Wednesday morning I felt led to get down on my knees and pray by my bed for wisdom from God and His divine help in making our selection. Immediately I felt His peace.
John 15:5-I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
Imagine you were stranded in a desert for a week eventually exhausting all supplies. Around the wadi comes a camel-striding stranger who sees your plight and says, “Here, let me help you.” He then pulls out a canteen and hands it to you. Grateful, you place the container on your lips and wait for life-renewing water. But the canteen is empty. “What kind of cruel joke is this!” you ask. The stranger smiles and says, “Ah, it is not the liquid but the thought of liquid that is sufficient.”
Anticipation runs high. New Year's Eve at the symbolic center of New York City has become more than just a celebration - it's a global tradition. The world holds its breath...and cheers as the clocks strike twelve. As the famous New Year's Eve Ball descends from the flagpole atop One Times Square, 750,000 people in Times Square, millions nationwide and over a billion watching throughout the world are united in bidding a collective farewell to the departing year, and expressing our joy and hope for the year ahead.
In my backyard are several fruit trees. Each one is shielded to some degree from the traversing sun by fir, cedar and maple that are older and tower above them. What is fascinating is how the apple, cherry, plum and apricot contort their branches in the best direction possible to capture maximum sunlight.
Have our brains turned to tofu? The fastest growing jungle in our world is not the triple-canopied tropical variety but rather the explosion of information that sprouts through every conceivable device. Consider the vast amount of data delivered via the internet, television, radio, and printed material and it is astounding that we are not mentally buried. How do we determine the difference between pyrite and gold?
Acts 9:4-6--Falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”
“Who are You, Lord?” he said.“I am Jesus, the One you are persecuting,” He replied. “But get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
Here’s a nightmare! If we don’t spiritually invest in the generations that follow us who will rise up willing to carry the torch of Christ? A self-centered spiritual body is an embarrassment to the throne of the One who so loved THE WORLD—past, present and future!
When crocodiles cry, their tears are not like our tears at all. A crocodile’s glandular excretions act to expel excess salt from its eyes. When a man is remorseful but not repentant he acts like a crocodile. He sheds tears but they are not from a true sense of shame over wrongdoing, but rather to put off the one aware of the sin. Remorse is that sensation we experience when we are caught. Repentance is the revulsion we taste for the evil in our lives.
My two sons and I enjoy watching Star Trek Voyager. We regularly follow the space adventures and mini-plots that revolve around the homesick Voyager crew desperately trying to reach the Alpha Quadrant. As I sat down to view a new episode I felt a direct nudging by the Holy Spirit to go and pray.
Haughty hears Wisdom reveal what’s at stake
but he scorns being told what path he should take.
“Turn right,” says the Son, but left the man goes.
“I like it my way, the way that I chose!”
Off the edge he plunges with a cry of dismay
For left without Wisdom there is no right way.
The beginning of the year is a time when people in our society reflect. For many, new resolutions and goals are forged on the gold-embossed pages of a new journal. Yet as the past is closed for the door of tomorrow a timeless God is not concerned with another year. His word makes His question clear—are we loyal to Him?
It’s amazing what an angel will do. She sat on the low wooden bench and watched as the people passed by her. Her faded yellow dress did not match the orange socks pulled just below her knees. Tangled hair and a face unmarked by soap whispered her motherless fate. She held in one hand a beanie baby—a three legged dog, while in the other she clutched a mystery bag of who knows what treasure. Her feet lightly swung as if to some hidden melody. One shoe revealed a severed heel that if she walked would have flapped to its own rap. The other shoe no longer had lace long enough to tie a bow.
My friend Brian shared an interesting vignette about a Romanian village. Thousands of fertile acres surround the town yet the people cultivate only small strips to grow what they can eat. Decades of communist oppression and the lack of modern farm equipment rob these wonderful people of vision. Their concept of what they can attain in the future is shaped by what they could not do in the past.