Getting to the Root of the Matter
“…seeing the root of the matter is found in me?” – Job 19:28
Over the last several weeks, Trees, Bees and Metaphors have been saturating my thoughts. It seems God has been helping me to understand His plan for my life through allegories, parables, music and images. I love it! After all; don’t we all enjoy a good story, good music, and good art?
Oft times I recall my favorite communicators of history; Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan and of course Jesus. All taught through storytelling with a message. Oh, and the many lessons learned from the poignant lyrics of some of my favorite musicians. Albeit some rather obscure musicians. And from the creation of the world, the stories told through the beauty of art and imagery; are too vast to catalog, recalling the tattered cliché, “A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words”.
Over the years in my walk with Christ. If I have learned anything, it is the importance of complete submission to God, in ALL things. For some, that might seem like a startling or obsessive idea: complete submission and obedience, to things unknown, and unseen. However, the word of God is not unseen, and for those in harmony with God’s Promise, God is not unknown.
Recently God has led me to write several stories that until today, I thought were mostly unconnected. Such are the ways of God. ALL things are connected, and ALL things work together for good.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28
These unrelated titles; “What Forest?”, “There is Truth in all Things”, “Are You Just A Metaphor?”, and “The Bee, The Brick, The Wall & The Honey”. Each, with their own distinct and separate message. Or so I thought.
Thinking back to where this all started, I believe it was Mother’s Day this year. On this special Sunday, I was looking forward to hearing one of my favorite speakers at Church. In what is becoming a wonderful tradition, our Pastor’s wife, Pastor Ashli Van Horn, takes to the pulpit with powerful, God inspired messages, from a Mother’s perspective. This Mother’s Day was no exception.
As usual, Pastor Ashli was ignited with God’s spirit and delivered an inspirational message. Explaining how, as the Body of Christ, we need to stand together, strong, as a family rooted in Christ. For those that weren’t there, I highly recommend watching the video. Here’s the link to the video, Mothers Day Message, Pastor Ashli Van Horn.
Pastor Ashli used an analogy based on the powerful Sequoia trees of the Sequoia National forest in California. She detailed how these magnificent trees; some that grow as tall as 250 feet, with a circumference of 30 feet, are wholly dependent on each other for stability and support. Ashli went on to explain how these glorious trees, towering so high above the earth, it hurts your neck to see the tops; are connected by an inter-locking Root system so massive, that it is only rivaled by the trees themselves. One look at an imposing Sequoia will easily take your focus off the forest.
Like the Bees that we talked about in “The Bee, The Brick, The Wall & The Honey”, the individual trees take care of one another. Through a complex, shared root system. The massive trees sustain each other by sharing water, nutrients and strength. Who would have thought that the tallest trees on the planet are wholly dependent on the Forest?
At no time, do the trees “fend” for themselves. Can you imagine what might happen if one of these brilliant creations would “take their roots and go home.”? It’s simply not an option. From their fragile beginnings, the sprout’s roots grow and intertwine with all the trees in the forest. The forest of shallow roots permeates the ground below. Forming a root system as massive as the trees themselves. The roots provide unconditional support and strength to every tree in the forest. With the sustenance of the forest, these wondrous, individual trees are completely free to grow and prosper; unhindered by the daily need to acquire the food, water and nourishment needed to survive.
Like the Bees in our earlier story, with each Bee concentrating on the wellbeing of all the bees, the Hive takes care of itself. Gone are all thought of self, and the perceived rewards of serving oneself. The Hive flourishes! So too the Forest prospers as well. The needs of every tree are met by their intertwined roots. As Humans, it is when we become the servant to all, we prosper. As Jesus taught,
“…But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44
So, as with the Body of Christ, the strength is in the body, or in this case the roots. The tallest trees on the planet find their strength in helping others. Free from the worries of the day and the fight to survive; each tree towers above all others, as does the entire forest. Isn’t this truly God’s design? This design saturates our world. We see it in Bee Hives, Ant Colonies and throughout the Animal world. Was this our sacrifice in Garden? All for the sake of knowledge?
“And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.” – Ezekiel 17:24
I’m reminded of a story from my childhood where a man visited both Heaven and Hell in a dream. He told his wife of his surprise to see the ground of Hell covered with beautiful, ripe fruit of all kinds. Seeing hordes of people walking around, the man noticed that no one had elbows; making it impossible to pick the fruit and eat it with arms that would not bend. Needless to say, there were a lot of hungry faces. As he left Hell and arrived in Heaven, the man was astonished to see almost the exact same scene. Hordes of people with no elbows. A ground covered in beautifully ripe fruit; but with one distinct difference. The people of heaven were picking up the fruit and feeding it to one another.
While reviewing my writing, I am thankful for God’s Divine guidance. It is apparent, not only in content, but also in continuity throughout all the recent stories. We talked about Bees with their “Servants Heart”, and how by serving the hive, all flourished with Gods reward of abundant Honey. We referenced a Master brick layer’s direction that taught “Focusing on the Brick, the Wall would take care of itself.” Understanding with each individual Bee selflessly working for the benefit of others, the hive would take care of itself. In a story inspired by a song from Stevie Wonder, we established that being honest and truthful was in keeping with God’s word, and an act of Love. We also recognized how being too focused on a specific obstacle, could distract from God’s vision for our lives. As we dug into the World’s view of Christians, we observed how letting others define who we are as a Metaphor, could lead to an understanding based on the Worlds interpretation, not reality. All in all, we recognized the power of God through what Jesus defined as the most important commandments; to Love God with all our heart and to Love others as ourselves.
…“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” – Matthew 22:37-39
Sure, we all want to be strong individuals. Taking complete care of our loved ones. From birth, men and women alike, are encouraged to “Stand On Our Own”, or to be the “Best We Can Be”. So often, these teachings, like so many from the World, lead us to focus on ourselves. As we talked about “by taking care of the Brick, the Wall will take care of itself.” Doesn’t Christ teach us that the best way to take care of ourselves is by loving others? When we tear down the walls of self and ask Jesus into our hearts, self-dies. As a Christian, the way to be your best, is to take all focus off self and become a servant to all.
Love God, Love People
Bees, trees, bricks, walls, roots and forests. All different ways at looking at God’s divine design. Ultimately describing the same structure.
The body needs selfless individuals, focused on others; so that ALL individuals will prosper, flourish and grow strong. The individual, when stripped of the need to provide essentials for survival, blessed with the unconditional support from the body. Is free to flourish, becoming the best, strongest and tallest individual it can be. All in a body of the strongest and best.
A simple design. God’s simple design that yields God’s divine prosperity for all.
Bee the Tree and the Forest will take care of itself.
“…do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you.” – Romans 11:18
To be a servant it just takes one step. One Drop of Love!
One Drop of Love, By Ray Charles
Please Click Below to Listen:
He’s Not the Kind That You “Wind Up” (Updated)
This Post has been updated. It includes new Text, Pictures, Music & Documents.
Here’s the thought that God touched me with early this Morning…
“I Will Find You No Matter Where You Are, and You Will Always Know It’s Me, Because I Will Speak to Your Heart, Not Your Head”.
When I was growing up I didn’t have a lot of supervision. Looking back, I could have chosen to go down some very wrong paths. When I was Eleven years old, I was going to Boy Scouts every week in the Church down the street. Like most things back then, it was hard for me to stay focused on the task at hand. In this case, Boy Scouts. So, as I sat there in Church, I couldn’t avoid reading all the stuff about Jesus and being a Christian scattered all around the building.
At that time, my Dad was traveling with work a lot, and he could be gone weeks at a time. My Mom was doing everything she could to raise me, my Brother and Sister. My Mom was raised in a very strict, mid-western Methodist Religious environment, so she was determined not to expose us kids to the same upbringing. We never went to Church, nor talked about anything to do with spirituality or religion. Instead, Mom taught us all to apply reason in understanding most situations. And, when my Dad was home, I remember mostly laughing and Great music as his approach to life.
Like most Eleven-year-old boys, I was struggling to understand school, baseball, Boy Scouts and yes; Girls. I had very little thought about what I was going to be or do, and there really weren’t any adults in my life at that time helping me to figure things out. When I was 9, my Mom’s Mom, Sadie, passed away on August 15, 1964. Then, exactly one year later, on August 15, 1965 my Mom’s Dad, Amos, passed away. While they told me, Amos died of Cancer, I always knew it was a broken heart. One of the few things I remember about Grandpa Amos was how much he loved Sadie. His face would always “light up” whenever she was around.
So, one winters day while I was walking to Boy Scouts, I was thinking about everything that I read in the Church about Jesus, along with the recent loss of my Grandparents. Wondering what happens when we die, and if there was anything to Heaven, and the afterlife? I remember it, like it was yesterday. I could still point out exactly where I was on that sidewalk yet today.
In fact, thanks to Google Satellite, I was able to find the exact spot, and it’s still there, and looks the same as I remember.
I remember thinking that from what I read at the Church, all I had to do is accept Jesus Christ into my heart as my one, and only Lord and Savior, acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, confess my mistakes (sins), and ask for forgiveness. Then he would take over my life and make sure that I found my way to Heaven, giving me eternal life. Seemed like a simple plan to me, so that day, on that sidewalk, I accepted Jesus the Christ as my Lord and Savior, asked him for forgiveness of my sins and dedicated everything I was, and would be to him.
That was pretty much it. I didn’t think about it a lot after that. After all we were in the midst of Beatlemania, the British Invasion and one of the most profound music and cultural revolutions in History. While I didn’t spend time reading scripture, or going to church, I always knew Jesus was with me, guiding my every step. He was truly my confidant and my best friend through some very tough and lonely times.
The next time that I remember thinking about Jesus a lot was in 1970 after my Dad passed away. In those days, I spent a lot of time alone, in my bedroom listening to music. I was so proud that owned my own record collection. Eleven albums that I bought myself and that were not borrowed from anyone.
Thinking about three of those albums is what prompted me to write this (rather long) diatribe.
The Power of Music:
At the time, I listened to these albums nonstop. Day or night, if I was in my room, I was listening to the Byrds “Greatest Hits”, Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” or Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Jesus Christ Superstar”. Mostly with huge headphones on.
The lessons that I learned from those three albums impacted me greatly throughout my life, with some simple truths that touched my Heart:
“Turn, Turn, Turn”:
While most will tell you that the cover of this Bible verse from “Ecclesiastes 3:1” is about changing season’s and that all things change and that God has plans for all of us. At Fifteen years old, I heard a message about getting back up after you were knocked down. “To everything, Turn, Turn, Turn”.
Here are the song and lyrics for you you to review.
While Tull’s Ian Anderson probably wasn’t writing accepted Christian teaching back then, and still not today, I learned one of my most profound lessons from this song. That the Christ Jesus is not the kind that you “Wind Up” on Sunday. And, that he is with you always and All Ways.
Here are the song and lyrics for you you to review. Please note that Ian Anderson can be a very angry poet and by default song writer. Please accept my apologies is this offends anyone. Open your heart and soul and I believe you will find a very spiritual person writing about a Church that cares more about “Pomp & Ceremony” than they do the Christ Jesus. I’ll always be very grateful for this song, as it started me down a path to really work to understand our Lord and Savior the Christ Jesus. While I’m not there yet, It’s been a wonderful journey and He’s been with me every step of the way; Monday through Saturday and on Sunday. No Wind-Up required.
Lyrics: Wind-UpGethsemane (Jesus Christ Superstar):
This “Pop” musical version of the life of Jesus taught me a lot as well. Mostly, that Jesus was a man, sent by his Father to do Miraculous things for Mankind. Including wiping us clean of our sins. As a man, he suffered physically and emotionally but his “Strength of Faith” in his Father carried him through the most horrific trials.
One of the most Powerful songs in the Opera is Gethsemane by “Deep Purples” Ian Gillan. What a Voice! In it we get a glimpse into what it “might” have been like for Jesus; alone at Gethsemane contemplating a fate that he fully understood.
Here are the song and lyrics for you to review. Please also note that this “Rock Opera” was controversial in its day. While it was never represented as the Word of God, and merely as an “Interpretation” of a well known story. It received a lot of negativity, calling it Blasphemy. I can only say that this album led a lot of people to our Lord and Savior, the Christ Jesus. I will also be forever thankful that it came into my life when it did, as it answered some questions. More importantly, it created a lot more questions that eventually led me to the True Word of God.
As a Christian, I know I’m not perfect. Just forgiven.
Thank you, my friend and confidant Jesus!
Sometimes, Love can be a Seven Letter Word…
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” -Philippians 2:3
Arguably the Best version of Respect ever!
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. -Aretha Franklin & the Blues Brothers Featuring Booker T,. Steve Cropper and Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn ENJOY!
Let Me Live the Life
Take me as I am or let me down,
I am not alone,
With Broken Wings, I Learn to Fly,
And Now the Thought of Winning Makes Me Cry.
See Me As I Am, or Look Away,
I Am Not Afraid,
By Giving What I Have to Give,
The World Has Given Me a Place to Live.
Oh, Let Me Live the Life of the Man,
Oh, Let Me Feel the Life of the Man.
“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
– Matthew 11:29
“Let Me Live the Life.” -Batdorf & Rodney Enjoy!
So many times I have heard people approach Opportunity as if it was something in their control. During my career I can’t begin to tell you how many times that I saw a PowerPoint that started with the saying: “Opportunity is Where Luck and Preparedness Meet.” Or someone would quote some celebrity like this one from Milton Berle, “If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door.”
Ever wonder where the saying “Opportunity Knocks” came from? I’m fairly certain in began with the Bible.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Anyone that understands the teaching of Jesus knows that all you have to do is Knock on the door and it will ALWAYS be Opened for you.
Throughout my career I constantly Prayed for “Open Doors” and to my Joy they were opened, starting with my first prayer to Jesus when I was Eleven years old. Don’t Knock it if you haven’t tried Knocking. 🙂
A friend once told me about a Lonely Man sitting on a Beach looking at the ships go by. When this guy walked up to him and asked, “What Cha’ Doin’?” the man said, “Waiting for my Ship to Come In.” To that the guy replied, “Have You Sent Any Ships Out?”
Here’s one of my favorite songs about Opportunity…
The Door -Keb’ Mo’ Enjoy!
You know it’s okay,
Don’t worry like that,
We all have a day,
We worry like that,
You’ve just got to say,
I like it like that,
You just got to Pray
Can any one of you by worrying
add a single hour to your life?
O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife.
Who more than self their country loved
And mercy more than life!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!
“…that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of corruption into the glorious freedom of God’s children.”
To make a Mountain of your Life,
Is just a Choice,
But I never learned Enough,
To listen to the voice that told me…
Always love… Hate will get you every time
Always love… Don’t wait till the finish line
“I say to you, I love you. I would rather die than hate you.”
-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”-1 John 4:8
“Always Love” -America Enjoy!
Right & Wrong
When Kayleen and I were on the East Coast we met a lot of interesting characters. Two of our favorites were Bob and Tom, a couple of true New Yorkers from Queens. Both taught us to truly appreciate the New York City mentality. Showing both Kayleen and I, two kids from Iowa; that for the most part New Yorkers were some of the most honest and loyal people on the planet.
Bob was an Irishman, complete with bright red hair and all the vim and vigor of a smart and savvy St. Johns graduate. He’s a story for another day.
Then there was Tom. Fitting to his name, a true Tom Cat. He and I were complete opposites, which helped to make us a formidable team. Tom and I worked as a sales team for a few years, covering the East Coast, top to bottom. Tom represented the opening and closing aspects of the sale while I focused on the technical stuff. We were the best team in the country for all the years we were together. Tom was one of the few “Natural” salesmen that I’ve ever met. He taught me a lot in our journeys, including one of the best closes I ever watched. When a customer would have doubts, Tom would say:
Mwark, “Dar’ are two t’ings ya can do in life, Da Right T’ing and da Wrong T’ing. No one wants ta do da Wrong T’ing… Right?” (My Bad attempt at capturing Tom’s Thick New Yorker’ accent. Use your imagination.)
While not eloquent at all. Almost every time Tom would use the line, we’d close the sale. While the customer’s head was spinning trying to figure out what Tom just said, Tom would move forward with the close. To Tom’s credit, we always did the “Right T’ing” for the customer.
Here’s a verse from one of my favorite songs from Katie Melua’s “Spiders Web”. She presents an unique perspective of the consequences of choices. While Right & Wrong can be black & white decisions, the ramifications can be as vast as all of the colors in the world.
“Because the line between,
Wrong and right,
Is the width of a thread,
From a spider’s web.
The piano keys are black and white,
But they sound like a million colors in your mind.”
“So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”
“A Spiders Web” -Katie Melua Enjoy!
In each beat of my heart I can hear your name,
I feel love with every breathe that I take,
With your love I’ve become awake,
In a wondrous and a beautiful place.
“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours”
Let it Grow
To tell me which way I should go to find the answer,
And all the time I know,
Plant your love and let it grow
Now this I say, he who sow sparingly, will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully, will also reap bountifully
-2 Corinthians 9:6
Everybody’s got to take a hand,
Everybody’s got t fall in love,
To make everybody understand,
Everybody’s got to give, take a hand
“For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
“Give a Hand, Take a Hand” -The Bee Gees Enjoy!
Let your light shine.
Let your love show,
It’s a short ride,
Down the long road.
When the rains come,
And the winds blow,
Let your light shine,
Wherever you go.
“And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.”
“Let your Light Shine” -Keb’ Mo’ Enjoy!
Light up the way to brotherhood,
Help us to make His dream understood!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”-Romans 15:13
People get ready
There’s a train a-coming
You don’t need no baggage
You just get on board
All you need is faith…
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
“People Get Ready” -Eva Cassidy Enjoy!
I’m gonna make my world a better place
I’m gonna keep that smile on my face
I’m gonna teach myself how to understand
I’m gonna make myself a better man
“The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever.”
“I’m Gonna Make Myself A Better Man” – Keb’ Mo’ Enjoy!
You’re gonna win the fight
It’s gonna turn out fine
You gotta hope it’ll be alright
Come on and hope it’ll turn out fine
Yeah, hope it’ll be alright, please
When the night turns to the deepest shade of black
At that point there is no reason to turn back
High above angels are falling from the sky
Lift your heart knowing
It’s gonna be alright
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.
“Hope!” -America Enjoy!
Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything-James 1:4
We ALL Live In A Yellow Submarine!
“Two constants that I’ve noticed throughout the Bible are references to Water and God’s love for Music. All my life I’ve worked to pay attention to that. With water, it’s always about the flow. So many people see things that are not flowing and they start building dams to force the water to their path. Me, I work to step back and figure out how to get with the flow, understanding it’s one of the ways God guides us.Music has always had a special part of my life. In my career, so many of my peers would try to understand people through things like astrology, birth order and various “Physcho Babel”. For me, if I could find out what kind of Music someone liked, it always told me so much about them.”
After reading my response, my friend texted me back…
“Oh. My Word. Water & Music. You will laugh out loud at what I bought you just an hour ago. I’m speechless. No, seriously. Wait till you see what I just got you. God blows me away. Absolutely. You really won’t believe it. Water & Music. Man, you are definitely on the right path.Just wait. I was standing at the store with my son, and I looked over, and I said, “I have to buy that for Mark!” So, when you sent me this, my mouth just fell open.”