They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Arare Tree

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Matthew 7:15-20

This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:5-8

Arare Fruit

Arare Fruit

This tree was definitely the most interesting and strangest tree we saw while in the desert. Its real name is “Tapua Sadoma” (“Tapuach Sdom”) which translates “Sodom Apple”. It has a woody branch and big jungle green magnolia type leaves on it. It grows quite of bit of fruit on it during the season. The bright green fruit is the size and look of a grapefruit, but it has nothing but a milky substance inside and is not edible. The plant supposedly has extremely deep roots and can survive harsh desert conditions. When we were on the Scout trip to Egypt, we saw several of the trees growing in the wadis. However, the one RVL picked out to film and talk about was dead when we got back to it the next year. He was real disappointed, but we filmed anyway.

If you look in the Jeremiah passage, the bush in the wasteland, translated in English (Strong’s #6199), is the Arare tree in Hebrew. “Cursed is the man…” the passage starts out and the same root word for cursed is the root word for arare.

The picture painted in the Jeremiah passage is of someone who trusts in themselves, or tries to make it on their own strength or talent. This is where the arare tree comparison comes in. You will look like the arare tree – good on the outside, but when we see the fruit there is nothing there.

Burst Fruit

Burst Fruit

Then it goes on to say,” blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, he will be like the tree planted by the water”, (this is the acacia tree that was on a previous post). Both plants grow in the same wadi, the same desert, in the same water. One gives back after drawing from the water source, the other drinks and looks good but offers nothing. Will you depend on God or will you try to do it yourself? Will you bring forth fruit and not wither when the heat comes, or will you just be a hollow shell that won’t be able to take the heat? These are some more great thoughts from the desert images.

post scriptum: In addition to the faith lesson, I wanted to share a few additional side notes about the Arare tree (Calotropis procera) which I found interesteing:.

  • The sap of the plant is a skin irritant and the latex (juice) is poisonous to both to humans and animals.
  • The plant is also known as: “Giant Milkweed”, “Apple of Sodom”, “Mudar”, “Dead Sea Fruit”, and “Kisher”/”Usher”/”Osher”(Arabic)
  • Josephus describes this plant in Jewish Wars Book IV 8:4:

    …The country of Sodom borders upon it. It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a colour as if they were fit to be eaten; but if you pluck them with your hands they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility, which our very sight affords us.

  • “John Milton alludes to this plant in his epic poem, Paradise Lost, while describing the fruit that Satan and his cohorts eat after having tempted Adam and Eve to eat an apple from the Tree of Good and Evil:”1 (book 10):

    “…greedy they pluck’d
    The Frutage fair to sight, like that which grew
    Neer that bituminous Lake where Sodom flam’d;
    This more delusive, not the touch, but taste
    Deceav’d; they fondly thinking to allay
    Thir appetite with gust, instead of Fruit
    Chewd bitter Ashes, which th’ offended taste
    With spattering noise rejected: oft they assayd
    Hunger and thirst constraining…”

  • Deuteronomy32:32 contains a possible additional reference to the tree:

    For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
    and from the fields of Gomorrah;
    their grapes are grapes of poison;
    their clusters are bitter;

How Beautiful

How beautiful, the hands that served. The wine and the bread, and the sons of the earth.

How beautiful, the feet that walked. The long dusty roads, and the hill to the cross.

How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful, is the body of Christ.

How beautiful, the heart that bled. That took all my sin and bore it instead.

How beautiful, the tender eyes. That choose to forgive and never despise.

How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful, is the body of Christ.

And as He laid down His life. We offer this sacrifice. That we will live, just as He died.

Willing to pay – to pay the price. Willing to pay the price.

How beautiful, the radiant bride. Who waits for her Groom with His light in her eyes.

How beautiful, when humble hearts give. The fruit of pure lives so that others may live.

How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful, is the body of Christ.

How beautiful, the feet that bring. The sound of good news, and the love of the King.

How beautiful, the hands that serve. The wine and the bread, and the sons of the earth.

How beautiful, how beautiful, how beautiful, is the body of Christ.

— Twila Paris

What will they say at your funeral?

I wrote this in Feb. of 2005 after attending Kedric Hobbs’ funeral. I gave a copy to Randy Hobbs,his dad, not knowing that I would be attending his funeral only a short time later. A funeral service, at my age, gives me somber pause as I reflect on my own mortality. As Dr. Dobson says, “None of us are going to get out of this journey alive”. I am hoping that my thoughts will ring true to you and you will approach every day with a purpose to make it count for the Lord. We all need to remember to “number our days”..

Sands of Time

Sands of Time

This question leapt out at me recently as I attended a young man’s funeral service. This bright, physically fit, well-liked 21-year-old had been snatched from his parents and from this life prematurely and unfairly by a drunk driver. Hundreds of people were at the funeral and many testimonies to this wonderful young man were given. He had been an uncharacteristically mature Christian, compared to most of his peers. He studied his Bible, had prayer time, was a soul winner, and had a heart for his fellow man. It was a horrible loss for mankind, not just his family.

I thought about myself as a 21-year-old What if f God had come to take me then? What would they have said about me as far as my walk with Christ was concerned? What about my two boys? What would they say about them? What about me now?

Psalm 90:12 keeps coming to my mind. “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” I looked and found Psalm 39:4-6:

“Show me, O LORD, my life’s end
and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting is my life.

You have made my days a mere handbreadth;
the span of my years is as nothing before you.
Each man’s life is but a breath.

Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:
He bustles about, but only in vain;
he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it…

I remember my dad and my mom’s funerals and how pleased I was that so many people had come to pay their respects. Surely, their life had counted – they had helped and influenced and made an impact on the people who had come. I remember the strong thoughts coming to my mind; that this is really all there is — if you have helped your fellow man, if you have shown him or encouraged him in his walk with the Lord. These are things that matter when you’re gone. This is the eternal, heavenly things the Bible tells us to focus on.

Lord, please don’t let me waste what’s left of my days. Don’t let me spend any unnecessary time trying to accumulate stuff that won’t matter when I’m gone. Give me a heart for people, make me take time to help them bear their burdens and give them a little heaven on earth. Give me the attentiveness and the “chutzpah” to tell people about you and what you have to offer. Let me delight in you and seek you first. You have reminded me often, that if people want to know what you are like, they are supposed to be able to see it in me.

Teach me to number my days. Don’t let me waste them. When my time comes, I want people to say, “he told me about Jesus”, “he was a big influence on my walk with the Lord”; “he prayed”, “he was a man of the text”, he helped me out when I was down”, all of these things that will matter for eternity.

Colossians 3:17, “7And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Lord, at my funeral, please let them say I was like you, and was one of your witnesses so that the world may know.