If you look at the cover of our latest album “I Can Rest Easy” you will see a basic design and picture of a fully developed tree. This picture is a reflection of a major lesson God taught us through our last season…
It is important to realize one of the basic yet profound principles involved in tree growth. A seed is planted. By “planted” I mean a hole is dug in the ground, the seed is placed in the hole, covered up and is left to grow. Notice a very important fact. The seed will not grow without the dirt. Trials and mistakes are a part of the human existence. Realizing this is not a license to continue those mistakes but an opportunity to see them for what they really are. A growth opportunity. The outside of the seed MUST actually die for the growth to begin. In this mental picture you will see a direct correlation between the outside of the seed and the flesh nature of mankind.
Encountering Christ and becoming a believer means that a person repents of their sins. This word repent has been the source of many a sermon (and yelling) for the entire church age. If you interpret what was presented to me as a child and the idea portrayed to most of the people in our western society, repentance is equal to humiliation. As a young man attending youth camps, conferences, conventions and weekly church services repentance meant I came to an altar, realizing I was a piece of filth, begging the Holiest person of all time to somehow find it in His heart to allow me just one more chance to prove I could be good enough to be called a Christian. Tears, anger and frustration with myself were all synonymous with the repentance concept. But as I grew into not just a Christ follower but one who asked the Creator to impart His wisdom and understanding to me I came to understand that repentance actually means to “change one’s mind or thinking.” Wait… Repentance was changing my mind? So when I was prodded to weep at an altar for repentance but got up in my own strength to try and keep the “Jesus rules” better next time I really wasn’t repenting? I am not downplaying the need for those types of experiences. They can be life-changing and God can, and has, used them in powerful ways. But I find it interesting that repentance is never tied to personal guilt in any scripture. When a person encounters the TRUTH on any given life subject and they choose to turn from their way of living to a new way of truth, repentance has happened.
The Bible refers to being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” which is a direct reference to this act of repenting. The transforming of your mind will happen in a variety of ways over the span of your entire lifetime. You will continue repenting of certain mindsets developed on the secret hurt chambers of life. The Holy Spirit of God will show you a way of thinking you have developed, been taught or picked up along life’s journey that may need changing. Turning from that old train of thought and following the newly revealed truth is the very act of repentance. The old man, the old way of thinking has to die and the individual must repent and follow the new path of truth laid out by the Creator. This is why the scripture, “faith without works is dead” plays such an important role. When your mind changes the actions will follow. Since the mind dictates actions if you have truly repented the natural order of things is the actions will fall in line.
The death of the outer shell of the seed is ONE of the prerequisites of seed growth and tree development. We must repent and the evidence of that mind change is our life actions. Oh, we will not be immediately perfect or disciplined. But we know when we are wrong, when something needs to change.
I also find it very interesting that when a seed needs to grow it is NOT removed from the dirt, cleaned off and then encouraged to grow. Roots are formed when the seed begins pushing through the dirt. Many people feel they have a desolate existence and not much opportunity for development as they survey the acreage of their life. But the tree grows through the soil and the deeper the dirt, the deeper the wound, the deeper the repentance, the deeper the root develops. It’s amazing how God doesn’t always deliver us from the difficulties life may offer. For if He did we may not develop the root necessary for our future stability. Part of this beginning process has to be a root of faith. Often in life we may not see the plan or detail God wants to develop through a particular season. We may not see His method when what we see is madness. But trusting the promise of God NEVER comes with a fall back plan. It ALWAYS presents an opportunity for the root of faith to grow. You see, roots begin forming well before the first sprout is seen growing up from the soil. That means roots are before branches, leaves and even fruit. That also means roots are a requirement for those who want to grow in maturity with Christ. Allow God to grow you through where you are so you can endure where He wants to take you!!!
1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He shall be like A TREE PLANTED by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
4 The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.