For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3: 14-19 NIV
Yesterday a whopper of a thunderstorm/dust storm/rain storm moved through the metro Phoenix valley. Our house was on the eastern end of the “summer monsoon” storm and caught the brunt of it, though other areas of town saw powerful winds and microbursts, too. I wasn’t home when the storm came through, so it wasn’t till the winds died down and it was safer to drive that I made the drive east down Baseline road, with huge downed trees alongside the road nearly all the way. Yikes: when I got home, I heard the whole story that led me to praise God on at least three levels and sense the urgency to share the spiritual parallel I saw in our back yard.
Back story: when we bought this house, the back yard was shaded by a sissoo tree, nearly 45 feet tall, as well as a tall mesquite and a pepper tree. Shade in Arizona is a prized commodity, but (isn’t there always a “ …but…”), the roots of that lovely Indian Rosewood tree were huge AND visible atop the ground. One huge root – and I’m talking 28” in diameter where it comes off the tree base, 20” going under the fence – cracked the block wall on the east side of the lot, and one equally large shallowly digs down under the foundation of the house.
Your botany lesson for the day: Dalbergia sissoo, known commonly as North Indian rosewood, or shisham, is a fast-growing, hardy deciduous rosewood tree native to the Indian Subcontinent and Southern Iran. D. Sissoo is a large, crooked tree with long, leathery leaves and whitish or pink flowers.D. sissoo is a medium to large deciduous tree with a light crown which reproduces by seeds and suckers. It can grow up to a maximum of 25 m (82 ft) in height and 2 to 3 m (6 ft 7 in to 9 ft 10 in) in diameter, but is usually smaller. They have a long tap-root and numerous surface roots which produce suckers.D. Sissoo is native to the foothills of the Himalayas. It is primarily found growing along river banks below 900 metres (3,000 ft) elevation, but can range naturally up to 1,300 m (4,300 ft). The temperature in its native range averages 10–40 °C (50–104 °F), but varies from just below freezing to nearly 50 °C (122 °F). It can withstand average annual rainfall up to 2,000 millimetres (79 in) and droughts of 3–4 months. Soils range from pure sand and gravel to rich alluvium of river banks; shisham can grow in slightly saline soils. Seedlings are intolerant of shade. Its wood is used for cabinetry, veneers, musical instruments, plywood, and flooring. The twigs can be chewed and used as a toothbrush.The fruit has ethanolic extract, a pesticide. The wood is also used for fuel.
Such a helpful, useful tree! And from our back yard yesterday afternoon, what a potentially dangerous tree! My first PTL is that several weeks ago we had an arborist stop by to assess the tree, give us suggestions, and cut through that root going under the block wall. Why praise God? Because if that root hadn’t been cut, when the blast of wind came through that took down that 30’ tall tree in one whoosh, ripping it up at the base, the uprooting would have taken out the block wall entirely! And praise God again that the tree fell diagonally across our back yard, entirely clearing the house (and it was planted MUCH too close to the house for safety!) and falling just short of the back block wall, and even somehow sparing our new little lemon-lime tree planted just last fall. Yes ,the “limon” bent over under an upper branch, but it didn’t break.
Praise God BIG TIME, number three, that just fifteen minutes before the tree fell, Daniel felt so hot from working on the drip lines and emitters in the back yard (finishing up on the little limon tree) that he came inside to cool off and wring out his T-shirt. Fifteen minutes later, he would have been under the falling tree! Holy, holy, holy, righteous, glorious, merciful, majestic, gracious, good, powerful, loving God Almighty! Can I get an “AMEN”??!! I shake even as I write this.
Pause to praise and worship, falling before YOUR Throne:
So what’s the analogy I take away? Refer to the scripture at the beginning: ….so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…..
This house is 17 years old,so that 45’ tall sissoo tree is only that old. Unfortunately for the tree and for us, it evidently was never deeply watered, so its tap-root couldn’t go down deep into the soil, securely anchoring the tree. If it HAD been deeply watered, it wouldn’t have fallen to the wind. Watered only with the drip irrigation, its roots grew shallowly, and even though they grew large, shallow roots can never securely anchor a tree.
Where’s the parallel? I’m going to say something unpopular: Don’t be a “sucker” coming from a shallow root, falling for cultur al compromises! Our culture continually “feeds” us with a “drip” of shallow, empty, deceptive philosophy based on the traditions of men:
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy,which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. Colossians 2: 6-9a NIV
PLEASE DON’T HEAR JUDGMENT in what I’m saying; rather, hear a warning out of a compassionate, empathetic heart that doesn’t want to see ANYONE taken down by threatening winds that, let’s face it, come against us all, sometimes out of the blue like the storm here yesterday. The weather warning didn’t come till 3:30 on my phone, and by then the storm had already struck east Mesa. Daniel certainly didn’t hear a storm warning before he came inside! True confession time here: God gave me two warnings, one word I didn’t fully understand in 2000 and one dream in 2003 that I thought was just a nightmare, but I didn’t press in hard and persistently enough to God’sHoly Spiri counsel to discern what those warnings meant. Out of God’s great mercy and enormous kindness, he’s never left me on my own despite my all-too-human “Pollyanna” head in the sand, ignoring the ”storm warnings.”
So no, I don’t judge anybody who pays more attention to the flawed “wisdom” of our western contemporary culture that tells us “If it feels good, do it” and “Just follow your heart,” than God’s Word when God’s deep water pool of TRUE wisdom tells us :
The heart is deceitful above all things
and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
10 “I the Lord search the heart
and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.” Jeremiah 17: 9-10 NIV
There is nothing reliable in what they say; Their inward part is destruction itself Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.Psalm 5:9
Do not drag me away with the wicked And with those who work iniquity, Who speak peace with their neighbors, While evil is in their hearts. Psalm 28: 3
Proverbs 23:7 For as he thinks within himself, so he is. He says to you, “Eat and drink!” But his heart is not with you.
Proverbs 26:23-25 Like an earthen vessel overlaid with silver dross Are burning lips and a wicked heart. He who hates disguises it with his lips, But he lays up deceit in his heart. When he speaks graciously, do not believe him, For there are seven abominations in his heart.
Isaiah 44:20 He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside And he cannot deliver himself
1Timothy 3:13 Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived….
Does ANY of that truth sound like “If it feels good, do it”??!! Showing my age here, “Danger,Will Robinson!”
That crabby, God’s Word denying, “I did it my way” “Doctor Smith” of contemporary cultural compromise wants to shut me up by telling me ”Aw, don’t you want their ‘happiness’? You’re spoilling their fun!” and keep me and you enslaved to hollow, deceptive, flawed, mis-directing, shallow-root-producing “drip irrigation” lies and half-truths and prevent your true safety-ensuring anchoring tap-root from digging down DEEP into the pool of Living Water of God’s eternal, transforming, saving, redeeming, cleansing, nourishing TRUE WORD!
Well, the strong storm winds will come one day, and one last one for each of us, and all you’ve anchored yourself in will be tried and tested at God’s throne, if not before. Go ahead and call me Noah or fun-squashing Jeremiah or Malachi or habakkuk or Isaiah, but those deriding voices who scorned God’s prophets weren’t laughing when the floods came (yes, in geologic history and even in the Epic of Gilgamesh, there WAS a catastrophic flood the region of modern Turkey/Iran!) or when Assyria attacked or Babylon came and sacked Jerusalem and took Israel captive to Babylon. The real warning goes out to Jericho, behind those “impregnable” walls that fell to the Ark of the Covenant and God’s PRESENCE, to the praises of the priests and Levites, and to the HOLY POWER OF ALMIGHTY God, OLAM EL, YHWH ADONAI that IMPLODED the walls of Jericho without the Israelites lifting a finger or sword against them.
That wasn’t the first time God showed up for HIS Chosen People:
13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground…19 Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20 coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lorddrove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. Exodus 14: 13-15, 19-22 NIV
Jesus told us who God’s chosen ones are:
“I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ 19 “I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. 20 Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me…. 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 18-20, 34 NIV
What I say in the post, I say out of the love for mankind God put in my heart in an overwhelming eruption of God’s passionate LOVE in me at 2 a.m. in June, 2009, that woke me up with my heart exploding out of my chest. Please, please, don’t be a “sucker” on a root that can’t feed or anchor you, one of those who turn back from God’s merciful TRUTH AND GRACE, both of them endlessly, purely loving. Accept God’s Truth, yes about your sinful nature (I’m a sinner saved by Grace, too, not by my works or my “righteousness,” BUT ONLY by the Blood of Jesus), that is able to save you through the totally atoning, totally perfect, completely pure and justice-satisfying Blood of Jesus poured out for you WILLINGLY on the Cross, and turn to God’s mercy in genuine godly sorrow and true repentance so you can drink deeply OF and root your life IN the passionate, true, purely loving MERCY OF GOD.
No “but’s” about it: