Monday, October 18, 2010

Palm Tree Religion (Part 2)

"The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, 'The Lord is upright; He is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.'" Psalms 92:12-14

It was our privilege, here in Overland Park, KS, to witness this scripture being lived out over the weekend as Esther Edwards Dotson came to speak at our Ladies' Retreat. She also did two concerts in the area on Sunday.
On Saturday, at the retreat, she talked with tears, of losing her husband, Tim, unexpectedly, with no warning when he was only 37. For one year, she felt such pain, even while trying to read her Bible and pray. Did she allow this to cause her fall away from Christ? No.
She spoke of a complete surrender of her life to Christ many years earlier, beside her bed, as her family visited Bolivia. There she felt God's presence in a very real way. She had no idea what lay ahead, and that someday her faith would be tested to this extreme.
But, God has proven Himself faithful in her life. She is flourishing, and continues to minister now as the Co-director of an after school program with public school children in her local school district in Indiana. She has truly been "planted in the house of the Lord" as she sings with her 4 beautiful children the praises of God. She is bearing fruit as she proclaims the faithfulness of God in spite of her great sorrow. She is still declaring that Christ is her "Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him."
What a challenge! No matter what may come, by His grace we can be flourishing in Christ.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Palm Tree Religion

Psalms 1:3 "He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers."

A number of years ago, Bro. Albert Barr preached a wonderful message at Kansas
State Holiness Camp called "Palm Tree Religion." In his own unique way, Bro. Barr likened the life of the Christian to the life of a palm tree. In addition to being a preacher, Bro. Barr was also a Science teacher and loved to study what God created. In this unique message, Bro. Barr explained how as Christians, we can live a life so grounded and rooted in Christ, that no matter what comes or goes, our lives can prosper and be fruitful for Christ.
One of the most interesting parts of this unique message, was when Bro. Barr described how the palm tree is some times put through a very seemingly brutal procedure which causes the tree to "weep tears." This process produces a very sweet and useful substance which is appropriately called "tears." How beautiful! God sometimes puts His children through such difficult things, that to an unbeliever would seem cruel!
I think of my own very special brother, Michael. His life was forever altered on March 20th of this year when his Femur broke unexpectedly. A diagnoses of bone cancer soon followed, and then, a complete amputation! Talk about tears! Many actual tears were shed by different ones at that time and in the weeks and months to follow as Michael has suffered unbearable pain and discouragement.
Yet, through it all, I believe God has a plan for greater sweetness in Michael's life that will indeed bring Him MORE glory than if Michael had never gone through this horrible time.
As the scripture says, "...whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers." I believe that Michael's life has only begun to bear the fruit that God has intended and only eternity will tell all the reasons why God allowed it and all the lives who have been blessed. Through the past six and a half months, Michael's tree has never withered, although it has been battered. He has remained rooted in Christ, and to this day is prospering. May God be praised!