Leaves of Trees

A leaf has one purpose, to receive light from the sun and convert it to sugar which the tree exchanges for water from the root. The leaf buds as a tender shoot, but matures and reaches toward the brightest position in the sunlight it’s position on its branch and limb allow. Some limbs become shaded and eventually dry up, new ones sense the light and spring forth from the trunk. At the end of its season the leaves change color and shrivel from the colder climate and reduced moisture. Eventually, they break loose and fall to the ground in winter’s long sleep. The leaves are transformed into nutrients for the roots that once gave and received from the leaves. It is the root which sustains the tree through seasons and years. Leaves fulfill a marvelous purpose in both seasons from light to darkness of sleeps decay. New generations of leaves come every season, budding out, swaying in the breeze with a beauty and unique makeup that serves its purpose through life and death. 

There is a spiritual connection to all of Creation. This world was made in dualism with light and dark, waking and sleeping, seasons hot/dry and cold/wet, male and female, good and bad, life and death, righteousness and wicked, right appendages and left, and many more, but it is not a repudiation of the One God, nor evidence of Yen and Yang. Dualism was created by God, so that mankind would reach out, seek Him and know that it is He who made us. Creations testimony is of God almighty, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)  Yeshua, (Jesus’ Hebrew name) illustrated our relationship to God with plants, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”(John 15:5-7) God is bringing everything to completion and rebirth into Holiness, with the destruction of the enemy, his followers, sin and lastly death. The dualism in Creation will made new, eternal: “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 22:1-5)

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Two Realms of Men

There are two realms of Mankind. The land of the living and land of the dead. Sheol or hades are names for the realm of the dead. There people have finished their time on earth and they are waiting judgment. Yeshua went to the land of the dead after He was crucified and preached to the dead, those who existed long before, who had never heard of the Messiah. (1 Peter 4:6) God is just, so He gave those who had never heard an opportunity to hear the truth and Messiah. It took Him three days of earth time when He was in the Land of the dead to accomplish all He did in three years of living among men. When Yeshua rose He had accomplished everything necessary at that time in Heaven, Earth, and Sheol. He took His seat at the right hand of God. 

Yeshua told a parable of poor Lazarus and the rich man, both of whom died and found themselves in the realm of the dead. Lazarus of in Abrahams embrace while the rich man was in torment. The rich man expressed concern for his family still living, that they would avoid his path that brought him to torment and asked if someone from the dead to be sent back to warn them. Abraham replied they have the prophets and if they will not listen to them they would neither listen if one was to rise from the dead. (Luke 16:1-31, v. 30) There are many who have died and come back to life, it’s called a “Near Death experience”. Most describe seeing a great light then being welcomed by deceased loved ones, eventually being sent back. Some of these have been children, one of these accounts describes a boy talking with his grandfather in heaven and later he pointed him out in the family picture album, but he died before the child was born. (See Heaven is for Real, by Todd Burpo) There is a lot of skepticism regarding these out of body accounts. Some of them describe a fearful terror of hellish experience with fire and torment. Abraham was right in saying some people will not believe, even if someone comes from the realm of the dead. 

Mankind was made to be eternally with God in His presence, but the fall in sin, brought death. Yeshua, our Savior, defeated Satan who had deceived Eve and caused her and Adam to sin. He redeemed every Believer, purchasing them with His blood sacrifice shed on the Cross on 1 AD. Two thousand years later, His message of God’s love for mankind has been carried all around the world. Today, it is in written form in the Bible and on the internet, available even in Communist and other closed societies. Those who hear and believe are saved, those who refuse to believe wait in Sheol for Judgment day when Yeshua will judge the living and the dead. Will you be known by Yeshua on Judgment day?

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The Coming Lion

“I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”” (Revelation 5:2, 4-13)

The King of Kings is coming back to finish what He promised when He was on earth. He came as a lamb, but will return as the Lion of the tribe of Judah. He will save His people Israel with a mighty victory over the nations  set on their destruction. Great and mighty will be His victory and Israel will accept the one whom they pierced. “On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem. “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:9-10) Yeshua Messiah lives and will return to earth, Lord come quickly.

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God’s Presence

I’m waiting for the next time His presence overwhelms me. I can’t predict it or make it happen, but I’ve known it on numerous occasions. In groups, by myself isolated in lonely places, driving in my car, generally unannounced, but He is always purposeful. Yes, He never leaves me, just as He fills the universe and beyond. (Ps. 139:8-12) We can consider all the occasions recorded in the Bible where God revealed Himself to humans. Many prophets had conversations, Saul of Tarsus had a life altering encounter, king David sang about Him, in my experience, they are all significant. I would like to hear the encounters you’ve had with God. A church sign in my neighborhood says, “The presence of the Lord is here.” What better reason could there be to go there?

“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13) “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god. They will receive blessing from the Lord and vindication from God their Savior. Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.”

(Psalms 24:3-6) If we are responsible for holiness, then God had provided a means for it – the blood of the spotless lamb. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalms 103:11-12) “Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:16) “My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.” (Psalms 51:17) 

“One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalms 27:4) When David brought the Ark back, he said, “Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always.” (1 Chronicles 16:10-11)

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.” (Isaiah 55:6) When the opportunity arises be ready and alert! “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) The Lord will reward my longing and desire for Him. He awaits me more than I wait for Him. Love calls out, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Tears fill my eyes and run down my cheek as the Love of God washes over me. The Spirit recalls, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32) “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;”(Lamentations 3:25) All our longing for God is met by His longing for His children. He is good and will not hold any good think back from us. “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek.” (Psalms 27:8)

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American Superficiality

While events, actions and mandates of unique and unprecedented nature are creeping into the public square, America is dazzled and mystified in a superficiality that defies explanation. It refers to lack of thoroughness, depth of character, or serious thought that our society has chosen or become incapable of producing. High tech electronic communications may facilitate the medias use of pictures and images over words, but this cannot explain a noticeable and frequent focus on trivial aspects, rather than depth of analysis, character and substance of the critical and essential aspects of what is happening, it’s purpose and meaning to each of us collectively and significantly. There have always been casual social topics and discussion about fashion, opinions, and fluff of all sorts from those who have time, money and influence to rattle on about their selfish egos, but that is not what I’m addressing here, the topics and subjects are not the issue, nor merely the use of simple words. The superficially I’m describing spans spheres of politics, society, religion, science and technical subjects from top to bottom. We have experienced a dumbing down of our collective ability to articulate issues of substance. What is important and should be deep within the character of our national identity forming a purpose and calling worth living and dying for has evaporated into thin air before our very eyes and become hidden from the masses.

It is said that Nero fiddled while Rome was burning. Is this the state of America today? Have we lost our way with distractions that blinded us and set a course in circles? Have we inherited the wind as a consequence of our sins? Scientists vote on what is fact, rather than applying the scientific method. Politicians make speeches about not doing that which they have just done. Leaders in business, media and technology represent the most despicable, selfish, immoral, devious and unworthy people among us. Even these sad facts are surface issues; what has happened to the heart and soul of America? Like a spoiled brat who is an unhappy undisciplined bully bringing shame and misery to his negligent parents, the answer is found in tribulation, hard times, suffering and want. Consider the prodigal son, who had good parenting, but chose a selfish path, suffering brought him to his senses. (Luke 15:11-31) Suffering, destitution and sadness will evaporate the superficialities of this present malaise. Then perhaps a new generation will learn what character, nobility and honor mean along with the necessity of a life filled with purpose and meaning. If not, it may not be merely the end of democracy, but the end of the worlds only bastion of freedom and liberty. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” (Psalms 127:1) Have mercy, Lord God Almighty.

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The Bad Guys

In Hollywood movies the good guy often has to eliminate the Bad guy, along the premise getting rid of the Bad guy solves the problem, removes the barrier and or restores peace and happiness. Darth Vader who was the bad guy actually finds redemption after he destroyed the evil Emperor. Clint Eastwood almost always kills the bad guy, whether as Blondy or Dirty Harry. In real life it occasionally turns out that way, but not always through the efforts of the good guys. Germany was defeated and Hitler was eliminated, but it appears Hitler killed himself. Haman the enemy of the captive Jews was hanged on the gallows he had built for Mordecia, Esther’s uncle.(Esther 2:7) King David understood God’s authority and refused three clear opportunities to dispatch Saul, but clung to God’s word that no man should harm the King. (1 Sam. 26:9-10) Under the old Covenant, the law was an eye for an eye. However, Yeshua provided the new Covenant of mercy, forgiveness and grace through faith in His blood sacrifice. He taught us to forgive our enemies and leave justice in God’s hands. It is this submission, not necessarily to the bad guys, but to God and His sovereign rule that distinguishes a Believer’s worldview from that of the secular world. 

All sorts of scenarios are constructed in our imaginations to find or describe justice, but God’s will is perfect and He deals with the bad guys in His own way and time. King Saul was removed as king over Israel in battle. Scripture gives us a picture of why God restrains His wrath upon the wicked. “Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared. “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “ ‘An enemy did this,’ he replied. “The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “ ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ ” (Matthew 13:24-30) God loves the wheat, His children, and removing the weeds, the lost, would harm His people and their destiny to bare fruit. We might find it difficult to understand how God can care for His people and allow the wicked to go about their evil deeds, and merely listening to the worlds news suggests God has overlooked things. However, we do not know the full story, nor do we see the final outcome of every set of events. “if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.” (2 Peter 2:9)

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Small Things and Big

We are cautioned not to compare ourselves with others. (2 Cor. 10:12) It doesn’t produce good, if you are bigger and better you will be prideful or get complacent; if you are smaller and not as good, you will be discouraged, envious and depressed. However, there may be other reasons, such as the measurements are not equal or applicable in different circumstances. How can an English speaker say that English is better or worse than Spanish or Korean? Is a landscape better than a portrait or a color photography better than black and white? Still, I think we do an awful lot of this in our mind without the analysis, particularly with respect to money, wealth and social status which are too glorified and publicized in our society. I dare say, if we were honest we could describe exactly where we fit in one of several scales of measurement, just as we learned in high school. Some may be more occupied with this than others but it is built into the world system, a competitiveness and ranking that drives and feeds upon the fallen human natures pride and ego. 

The kingdom of God is opposite and His children are free from this because the Spiritual realm is infinite and perfect. God’s love is unconditional, unmerited and substitutionary. Freely we have received and freely we give. (Matt. 10:8) With our focus on Yeshua and the indwelling Holy Spirit, our reference is humility and contrition rather than pride and ego. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else,” (Galatians 6:4) There is a way to test our actions and that is in the light of God’s word. “Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble.”

(1 John 2:9-10) “Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” (John 3:20-21) Get in the light, let it shine and expose the dirt and shadows. What is pure is a gift from God, an offering for Him and his glory. 

I remember making a right decision by faith and faith alone. It struck me like a bright light, clear and unwavering. I knew it was something I must do, irrespective of anyone else or any obstacle, objection, fear, or consequence. It wasn’t the result of reasoned analysis or decided by weights and measures, advised, consulted, recommended, or from a majority of opinions. That’s faith, a rock upon which to take a stand.

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Missed Opportunity

I’m not sure I always valued or properly prepared for opportunities that might present themselves. Since we can only live in the present, we tend to make it our sole focus, particularly as children, but we can learn to plan for the future and take advantage of opportunities that start today, but maybe fulfilled later. This is called delayed gratification and physiological testing revealed that children who forgo one piece of candy now, for two pieces later, eventually do much better and are happier later in life. We aren’t always offered opportunities directly. We might plan and prepare for some event, but something else may come along. Moreover, we might choose one path that causes us to miss a turn along another path. This situation seems most devastating, where a minor or inconsequential choice effectively eliminates a major decision. The parable of the wise and foolish virgins is a prime example. Ten unmarried women prepared to meet the bridegroom, five prepared well, five didn’t and when the meeting was delayed the unprepared women had to go elsewhere to make provisions due to the delay. While they were gone doing this, the bridegroom came and they missed the wedding festivities altogether. 

If we chose to go out having fun with our friends instead of studying or completing our assignment or preparing for the next workday, some delay or change or test or necessity may cause us to miss out on the opportunity we would have accepted. What we considered a minor choice, became a major devastating factor in a missed opportunity. This can be the situation on a much smaller, but perhaps just as important level. For example, we may be praying or seeking something from God which is spiritual in nature, but we get distracted by temporary fleshly desires or wants and miss out on the answer to our prayer because we were distracted by the natural. Regarding the Revelation given to John he said, “I, John, your brother and companion in the suffering and kingdom and patient endurance that are ours in Jesus, was on the island of Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. On the Lord’s Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet,…” (Revelation 1:9-10) Was John ready to receive the revelation because he was “in the Spirit”? Paul addresses this saying, “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”(Ephesians 6:18) He is saying to pray in the Spirit and be alert to continue therein. How many Spiritual blessings, impartations, or revelations have we missed because we were preoccupied with temporal concerns of sleep, hunger, boredom, wanting entertainment, physical comfort, etc? “The Lord answered, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns. Truly I tell you, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.” (Luke 12:42-44) Nicodemus was trying to understand the Spiritual meaning of being born again, but with his natural mind and reasoning. Yeshua replied to him, “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8) Believers understand Spiritual matters through the indwelling Spirit, but not when distracted and under the influence of fleshly temporal reasoning.

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Making Fertile Soil

Perhaps my most successful project has been my Composting project which produces fertile soil. We needed compost for a garden as our top soil was thin and weak just above solid sandstone, even weeds would hardly grow. I did some research about Carbon (Browns) and Nitrogen (Greens) when mixed in air and water could rapidly decay into expensive powerful fertilizer called Compost. I was familiar with a compost pile that generally took all year to decompose, but a proper approach could accelerate the process to a matter of days. There was something else I liked, but didn’t know until much later. As an artist I like raw materials which can be formulated into something of beauty, value or utility. Arranging colors on a canvas in just the right fashion produces a portrait or landscape; carving wood or chiseling stone in just the right way produces a sculpture, vase or statue. Composting is gathering raw materials, even refuse, and producing something highly valued and desired, rich fertile soil/fertilizer. Somehow this idea of using things such as grass clippings, rotting hay, dead leaves, wood ashes, kitchen waste, food scraps and peels, egg shells, sawdust, and rotten wood chips to produce a valuable product was very appealing to me. You can see it at https://makingfertilesoil.wordpress.com/.

There are spiritual principles in this project as described in Yeshua’s parable of the Sower and its explanation given to the disciples. “This is the meaning of the parable: The seed is the word of God.” (Luke 8:11) The word of God is like seed planted in the hearer, meeting with receptive fertile soil it produces growth and fruit. Seed falling on places other than fertile soil do not survive to produce fruit. Yeshua’s explanation of why He used parables parallels the parable itself. Just as some seed failed because it had no fertile soil, some people would hear the message, but not understand in their minds and heart. “For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”(Matthew 13:15) We become fertile souls where God’s word bears fruit as we yield ourselves to His message and seek His presence and ways. The world is His field and the Congregation of Believers are His crop bearing good fruit in His Kingdom. “…and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.” (Isaiah 61:3) 

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He Is For You

This is a lyric in the song, “The Blessing”, by Kari Jobe and others. The words shock me their boldness and alarmed me in their focus. I am small and weak, but God who is with me is the highest authority, supreme God over all. I am who He says I am. I can do what He says I can. He has purified me from all my sin. I am righteous in His sight because of the blood of Yeshua. “Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) In the name of Yeshua I have authority to drive out demons. (Mark 16:17) “…no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) Some may think, this was spoken for Israel and its true, however, every Believer has been brought near by the blood of Yeshua Messiah into citizenship in Israel, native to the covenants of promise, with hope and God. (Ephesians 2:11-13) Believers inherited the promises together with Israel when we were grafted into Messiah. Moreover, there is a current reality that can not be overlooked, Yeshua intercedes for us. “For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.” (Hebrews 9:24) When you sense the presence of God you are entering there by virtue of Messiah, Yeshua. His righteousness granted to us, makes us worthy. This is true, even though we may not see it or sense it. 

“I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.’” (Ezekiel 14:5) The Lord is jealous for His people, therefore, He takes whatever steps are necessary to regather His people to Himself. Even it it takes “…sword and famine and wild beasts and plague—to kill its men and their animals…for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign Lord.” (Ezekiel 14:21, 23) God is merciful, and in His mercy He does whatever it takes to accomplish His good and perfect will. The trouble, hardship, disaster, and destruction of the wicked and their livelihood may be necessary to save the young generation that will turn to God. Believers in Yeshua, God is with you and He is for you!

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