May 29, 2008


Luke 6:43-49 (The Message)

"You don't get wormy apples off a healthy tree, nor good apples off a diseased tree.

The health of the apple tells the health of the tree.

You must begin with your own life-giving lives. It's who you are, not what you say and do, that counts. Your true being brims over into true words and deeds.

"Why are you so polite with me, always saying 'Yes, sir,' and 'That's right, sir,' but never doing a thing I tell you?

These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

"If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock.

When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last.

But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don't work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss."

Yesterday I had a lunch meeting in Douglasville and conversation with a friend. I have another one today (and the restaurant has free internet --- I'm writing to you from my eating meeting via laptop while I wait).

As I re-filled my drink at the fountain yesterday, I heard a voice: "Check that house lately?"

Admittedly, I couldn't put that sentence in context, or really figure out why the large, deep-voice man who spoke it might be directing it at me.

Then I saw him. He was seated, alone, at the booth just next to me. I'd never seen him before, but I recognized the white and red uniform, and the tie. An "Orkin" man.

"Termites?" I said...

"Yeah, termites," he said...

"Yes, I've got a service...the one we were set up with when we bought the house."

"Oh," he said, dejected. "Everybody's got a service."

I didn't really know what to say, so I said something silly. "Well...there are a lot of termites out there to kill. Good luck."

And with that, our encounter ended. But somehow, I swear, looking back 24 hours later, it reminds me a lot of Jesus in this passage.

"Check that house?" "How's the foundation?" "What are you building on?" "Could something be eating the structure from the inside while you don't even know it?"

Or perhaps I could have encountered a fruit farmer instead of a termite man.

Jesus uses that analogy, too. A tree will be known by its fruit.

As I sit in this restaurant today (and I do other things than just go to restaurants, hang out and eat, I promise), I can't help overhearing a conversation.

An older woman sits with her friend. I can't make out every word, but I can hear enough, and I can definitely get the tone.

She's angry. She's complained about kids that run through her grass. She's complained about her family. She's pointing and gesturing to drive home her meaning. She's said, "I'll tell you what..." more than once.

Is that fruit? Perhaps.

What would a stranger think or perceive if they overheard our conversation?

Would they see the fruit of peace, love, joy and happiness?

Would they feel anger and frustration, depression and loss?

How can we become a different kind of tree? ...Well, we're going to need good roots. It's the foundation, you see.

"Your true being brims over into true words and deeds."

Connection to God, "the roots," of who we are...the foundation of the house...that is the way that we stand in storms, and produce fruit worthy of harvest.

"If you just use my words in Bible Studies, and don't work them into your life..."

Ouch. Those are my toes Jesus is stepping on. So I hope I can learn to connect to him, to have real roots, to find the bedrock foundation, and to work his teachings through and through the pages of my life story.

Prayer: Father, we want to know you...and work your words into our lives. May we produce fruit in keeping with the trees of your orchard, and build spiritual houses upon the real rock that doesn't change.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be. World without end. Amen.

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