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Monday, September 14, 2009

Silver maple in back yard
Silver maple in our neighbor's backyard

Here's a photo of the same tree without leaves covered with snow,
which better reveals why it's such a great climbing tree!

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"Lessons from A Tree Climber"

"A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but being a short man he could not, because of the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way" (Luke 19:2-4).

We surely have some young readers who enjoy tree climbing, but the majority of our readers will have to reminisce with us today in remembering the pleasures of this wonderful youthful pastime. Do you have a memorable tree from your childhood that you recall climbing?

Stephen's memory: Where I grew up in Belton Missouri we had a sprawling mulberry tree at the side of the house. It was great for climbing and my friend Dave and I spent many pleasurable afternoons up in that tree building forts and tree houses or just seeing who could climb the highest.  There were a few times that I took a pretty nasty fall, but as a child, the recovery time was within minutes and then our tree climbing resumed.

Brooksyne's memory: There were no mature trees in my yard in Oklahoma, which had been prairie land, but there were many on the 200 acres my grandparents farmed in the mountains of Arkansas.  I fondly remember pretending that the tree was my house (I was surely influenced by "Swiss Family Robinson").  But the greatest motivation in climbing the trees was to get a much more expanded scenic view of the farm.  The visibility was altogether different from up there than walking down on the ground.

Behind our present home is a beautiful silver maple tree as seen in the photo above.  Our neighbor planted the sickly sapling over twenty years ago in memory of his dog that had died. It grew strong as it matured and has a lush symmetrical shape.  In fact it looks more like a gigantic bush than a tree. But it has stout branches good for climbing and of course the children are drawn to this. Ester has often climbed it and I am sure the silver maple will be her most memorable tree for climbing. She likes the intrigue of being in the tree but, due to the leaves hiding the branches, no one even knows she's there.

I enjoy studying trees and have been blessed with the friendships of many foresters and loggers through the years, especially when I lived in northern Pennsylvania near the Allegheny National Forest. Many remain friends to this day as Bill, Bruce, Jack, and Jeff immediately come to mind. Trees are referenced throughout the Bible from the very first chapter to the final chapter. I once did a study of famous trees in the Bible.

But I suppose if I was to query Bible students I would find for many the most famous single tree is the Sycamore that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus.  I like that story, don't you?  Like me, you may also recall this story from Sunday School or VBS. Perhaps, as a child, you sang in the children's choir, "Zacchaeus Was a Wee Little Man", motions and all.

Part of the intrigue of Zacchaeus' story is that we can identify with him, young children especially, since they often need other's assistance in reaching or seeing due to their still growing height.

Zaccheus in treeSurely Zacchaeus had heard many things about this Jesus and now he wanted to see who He was!   Being a short man he couldn't see over the crowd.  I'm sure there were many large gatherings where he ended up missing the big event due to his small stature.  When he was young he might have been hoisted up on his parent's shoulders, but of course, as an adult this was not an option.  So Zacchaeus came up with a clever plan when "he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see Him, since Jesus was coming that way" (Luke 19:4).

It doesn't seem like a very dignified position to find a fully grown rich man sitting up in a tree, but the story indicates that he had a spiritual interest and that's an excellent motivator.  The Bible story gives evidence that his position and wealth had not met his innermost needs. He didn't allow pride to keep him from seeking out Jesus.  I wonder if he really cared about what others thought of his tree climbing strategy.

"When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, 'Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today'" (Luke 19:5).  It brings a smile to my face mentally picturing Zacchaeus' quick descent to the ground after Jesus spoke directly to him.  I wonder if he had to brush off some loose tree bark or if he got some scrapes on the way down.

I don't think  Zacchaeus was expecting a personal invitation and so often the Lord meets and calls those who are seeking Him in ways we do not expect.  And He's still doing that today, for He continues to reward those, like Zacchaeus who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11:6).  Let's seek Him today!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Daily prayer:  Jesus, You see us in our hour of need.  You look beyond our supposed prestige, our accumulation of wealth, or  earthly accomplishments.  You perceive our thoughts from afar.  As You turn on the search light within our hearts You reveal anything or anyone that separates us from You.  Thank You that we can be reconciled to You and experience forgiveness for our sins through Your redeeming blood.  The riches of Your grace far exceeds the fleeting riches this world has to offer.  You lead us in the way everlasting as we earnestly seek You, for You "came to seek and to save that which was lost."

The Biblical story of Zacchaeus recorded in Luke 19:1-10

The Blessings & Intrigue of Country Living

Free tomatoes

Not only do we still have many self-serve produce stands (pay on the honor sytem) here in Lancaster County but lately we have seen offers for free produce along the road such as the photo to the right. Now that's neighborly kindness!

Hornet's nestSeveral weeks ago we noticed this large hornet's nest at eye level in a tree in our front lawn. It's about 18 inches high and the hornets are sure busy and are not bothered by my observation. I just need to be careful when I mow that I don't hit my head on the nest which would sure cause a stir! I will wait till it gets cold and then take the nest down to preserve and display it.

This song has helped reinforce this Bible story for many years. Perhap's you have sung it!

    Zacchaeus was a wee little man
    And a wee little man was he
    He climbed up in a sycamore tree
    For the Lord he wanted to see
    And as the Savior passed that way
    He looked up in that tree
    And He said, “Zacchaeus, you come down!
    For I’m going to your house today
    For I’m going to your house to stay”  

Hear it here.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

Click on the link to open and play.
(In some cases you may also need to click again to start the song.)

"Call On The Lord"  Video

"Seek Ye First The Kingdom Of God"  Video

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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