"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #16

“The Warrior is a child.” (Part Two)

Let’s go deeper into the spiritual rabbit hole of the child-warrior. I have come to understand just how important it is for every child to have a “childhood”. This time of love, innocence, play, creativity, imagination, exploration, learning to trust, is very important in our development. If you were robbed of your childhood in some way, and you struggle with difficult to explain issues, that might be the reason. Even Michael Jackson complained often that he had no childhood.

Deeper into the rabbit hole we plunge. Jesus had very strong words for anyone who breaks the innocence of a child before their time!

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if you cause one of these little ones who trust in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matt. 18:5-6)

Very strong words from the one we know to be Love with a capitol “L”. Evidently, God understands how important our childhood is to our development. After watching the movie: “Beyond the Black Board”, I began thinking more about how we get damaged in our childhood. I was so inspired by the show that I bought her book. What I have read so far has moved me even more than the movie.

I think I know why childlike faith has always come so easy to me, even to the point of catching a lot of flack from people who think I have been foolish in many of my choices, and yet I find myself at age 64 very happy in the garden I have grown, while I watch others still stressing and running their fool heads off chasing temporary things.

At grade level 5 my childhood life took a very big change. I’ve always wondered about the purpose of that change? In grade 4 I was a popular kid. I lived close to the school and my friends were the “in click”. It was easy to be popular as long as I was with them, and it just happened to be so, because we lived close enough to be friends even outside of school. This “popular kid” childhood would have shaped me into one kind of person, maybe a person not in God’s plan for me?

Suddenly we were moving an hour’s drive away! My dad would spend the next 20 years of his life car-pooling an hour to and from work! And I went from having close neighbors to total isolation! In the country! My grandma was ready for a smaller and simpler house and my mom wanted to live in the country. Dad bought the farmhouse and away we went! Goodbye friends and school! Hello cornfields, the wind, and isolation! Also a long bus ride to school. Big changes for a child, but I adapted and became something different than I would have been before.

Adding to the change, I never was a popular kid again. I never made that connection. The few friends I made, we were mostly the loners and outcast. Living in the country, the city kids mostly ruled the school. But in some ways I had an ideal childhood to become a person of vision. I lived in books and nature. My imagination grew very strong in the quiet of that country setting, and when I read something, it is REAL to me. If I believe it to be true, if I believe it to be worth visualizing, it is one of my superpowers, to see it as absolutely REAL, just like a child.

Many children do not get that. Children do not ask to be born into what they are born into. I’m so blessed to be birthed in America. Why did God choose that for me? I don’t know. The child has no power over any of these things.

But here’s the bottom line, this child-likeness is very powerful in the Kingdom of God. The child makes the greatest warrior. So even if you may be damaged from your childhood…the work of the Holy Spirit in us tries to heal all that, and show us what it means to be a child in our heavenly Father’s House.

Jesus said > “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s house.” (John 14:1-2a)

We are finally making some progress in the depth of this subject, but there is still too much for any one article. I found this spiritual rabbit hole under the Willow Tree. As I spend time there, listening to the Wind and pondering things, like I did in my childhood after I was kidnapped into isolation, and it became my superpower.

Jesus says bring the children to me. He says for such is the Kingdom of God. Unfortunately, the American way has become one of seeking pleasure and wealth. Our way is to always prosper and climb the food chain into blessings. But God is still looking for children of a sacred battlefield, not material. My superpower enables me to visualize it very vividly. I think the lady in “Beyond the Black Board” has my same superpower. I hope you do too, here under the Willow Tree. I hope you will trust Jesus enough, to let His Holy Spirit lead you into a child-likeness that realizes this world should not be taken so seriously, and our inheritance in our Father’s House should be the joy that fills us every day, giving us great purpose and meaning now, and great experiences in the future we have not even been able to imagine, no matter how strong our childlike superpower may be. Amen!

In the next episode I hope to look more at “My Father’s House”.

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #15

“The Warrior is a child.” – (Part One).

Jesus said> “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not accept and receive and welcome the kingdom of God as a little child (does), shall not in any way enter it (at all).” Luke 18:17 Ampl.

Jesus tells us straight out that if we’re above being childlike, then we will not enter the kingdom of God, not at all. In my preparations to teach this I was surprised how deep this analogy goes. I found myself in deep waters! There is a powerful message here if the teacher can get it right! Let me show you a little of what I mean.

Jesus challenges us to be childlike. He does this not only once, but five times in the Gospels. And yet we have the Apostle Paul telling us in First Corinthians 13 to put away childish things. When I was a child I spoke like a child and thought like a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things. Is there a difference between childlike and childish? Was Jesus childlike? Childish? If the greatest in heaven is like a child then surely Jesus himself must be an example of this child-likeness, and yet he seemed so serious and responsible all the time. What is this great mystery of being like a child?

I chose my quote from Luke 18 for a reason, this is also where after speaking of being like a child, Jesus is immediately confronted by the rich young ruler. Their conversation is very interesting, and when studied while keeping what Jesus has just said about the child in mind, you realize Jesus actually ends up inviting the rich young ruler into a child-like life of following him! Of which the rich guy walked away sad. And then Jesus talks about how hard it is for the rich to enter heaven. Is all this just coincidence? No. But in all this you begin to see how deep this spiritual rabbit hole is.

So… I’ve decided not to try and explain much in this first teaching, but simply point out a few things children are good at and adults usually not so good. See if you can see why child-likeness might be powerful in heaven

1.) Children don’t live in their own power! (They are too weak and depend on parents, or someone, to provide and protect them. They live by way of a power not their own! And that mindset is natural for them. God is our parent, but are we living in his power, or our own?)

2.) Children believe! You can convince a child that Santa is real! Children have great imaginations, great faith, they see the invisible! It is real to them! If people they trust tell them something, they believe it! Do we trust God like that?

3.) Speaking of the rich young ruler, children are innocent about MONEY! Unless someone has introduced them to it, they are not motivated by money!

4.) They keep things simple and are happy with little. When I was a child I was happy with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, but then one day I tasted steak, and now feeding me is much more expensive. I have to make more money and work more if I want to eat steak. But if I were still happy with simple, I’d have more time to do things I love.

5.) Children want to play and live carefree. I could do that more too, if I hadn’t got hooked on steak!

6.) Children are still soft hearted. The world has not beat them up yet, because someone who loves them is still protecting them.

7.) Children are still in innocence. They are not sexually motivated.

8.) Children are humble because they know they still can’t take care of themself. They need the help of someone stronger. They live as dependents.

If you look back on this list you will see many qualities that are powerful virtues in the kingdom of God. Jesus was very childlike. He walked in the earth knowing his heavenly Father was always with him, protecting and providing. He was completely content with whatever his Father provided. He trusted his Father completely. In the Sermon on the Mount, he taught to be like the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field, who neither toil nor spin, but their Father takes care of them. But as adults we are taught not to be childish. It’s irresponsible to be carefree and careless.

But what if…? What if you’re only being careless in worldly affairs, and you’re very responsible in the things of God? Has not our Father told us to put our priorities in the Spirit, and things of the flesh will be taken care of?

Children are forced to grow up too soon when no one protects them. This can result in a damaged human being. All children need someone who truly loves them. But many children are hit with the hardness of life way to soon and they strain to survive.

With our human parents we know we have to grow up and move out at some point, but as a child of God we never leave our home and we never lose our Provider Protector. There is a care free childlike warrior we can be! It’s a position of power and peace for those who grasp it!

The Apostle Paul spoke of his peace and contentment whether he was in need, lack, or abundance. He said when he was weak (like a child?) then he was strong! What is this weakness that is actually great power in the kingdom of God? Can we actually live this way? Jesus did. The Apostles did. Others have. (Hebrews 11). But only a childlike faith is powerful enough to do it. I’ts not blind faith, It’s childlike faith. There is a huge difference.

The rich young ruler walked away very sad because he knew he would not give up his riches to follow Jesus in childlike faith. Peter gave up his boats, his business, everything to follow Christ like a child. He suffered many things during his short time on earth, but now lives in great glory for eternity. That’s what our Bible tells us, but do we believe it like a child?

I wanted to share this under the Willow Tree as much for my own understanding as anyone else. Do we resist the work of the Holy Spirit in our life because we fear going back to being a child in our Father’s house? There is nothing to fear, and great wisdom is to be found in our Father’s house. Dare we have the simplicity of a child, and the courage of childlike faith?

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #14

“Darkness always feels attacked by light.”

Has the light in you ever caused anger in others? The light in Jesus caused great transformation in some, but great anger in others. Have you ever had to rise from bed in the middle of the night to use the restroom? Did you turn the light on when you did, or leave it off, maybe have a night light, a softer light?

When you’re driving down a road at night, and someone is coming at you with their “brights” on, ever experience pain, get angry, have difficulty seeing, feel like your life was being threatened? So we hit them with our brights. “Take that, buddy! Get your dimmers on. I’ll blast you just as long as you’re blasting me!”

Yes, light can cause REAL pain, and especially the DEEPER the darkness the greater the pain! Human nature tries to avoid pain! It does make witnessing for Christ challenging. It is not for the faint of heart, but for true lovers.

So as a warrior of the Lord, a defender of truth, we try to come to people with our dimmers on, but sooner or later there must be a moment of truth, it is unavoidable. Will the person embrace, fight, or flee? The reaction you get could be any of the three. You might gain a disciple, or end up in a fight, or lose a potential friend as they begin avoiding you like the plague. Two of those three, hurt.

When we think of warriors we often focus on the destruction more than the saving. God’s warriors are called to seek and to save that which is lost, those who have fallen into enemy hands. Our focus is not to destroy, but to save. God has already defeated the devil. We are called to resist him, and seek to save those who are still lost. Ours is a life-giving mission, not life-taking, but we still contend with the powers of darkness, both by way of Satan and very real darkness in those who embrace his ways.

The light in us does cause pain in others. Unavoidable, unless you lower your light. May we become more skillful, not less bright.

Let us consider the Sword we carry. It is very sharp and very bright. It bypasses flesh and penetrates “soul”. It speaks only truth, but we are to speak it in wisdom and love. Therefore, the Sword we carry is very powerful, and must always be carried in a sheath of LOVE.

But again, once that Sword comes out… darkness always feels attacked by light. There is no painless transformation. For those unwilling to take up a cross and follow Jesus, their is no salvation. This is the painful truth. But does the Bible give us a picture of what it looks like when we draw God’s sword?

“He wore a robe dipped in blood, and his title was the Word of God. The armies of heaven, dressed in the finest of pure white linen, followed him on white horses. From his mouth came a sharp sword to strike down the nations.” Revelation 19, starting in verse 13.

God’s Sword comes out of our heart and out our mouth. That is one reason it is more powerful than any other sword. Words…Truth…Vision…Revelation…Wisdom… Inspiration… the pen has always been mightier than the steel bladed sword. We are affected by words in ways a steel sword could never ever touch. Steel can’t touch our soul.

Note this quote from Myamoto Musashi, a Samurai warrior who also wrote the book: “Book of Five Rings”> “It is said that warriors should follow the two-fold way of pen and sword, and they should have a taste for both. Even if one has no natural ability in one or the other, they can be a warrior by sticking diligently to both the pen and the sword.”

This should be an encouragement to all you blogging Christians, of which I am one. The two-fold way of pen and sword.

As servants of the Lord, are we called to drive with our dimmers on? Is that what Jesus did? Or the Apostles? Early church? Does scripture support such a teaching? Not really. As a matter of fact, Jesus did not make the way easy, he challenged people with strong words and then asked if his disciples would leave him too? But I would say the church of our modern day has managed to dim their light considerably, by offering a much “dimmed” version of Jesus. A more worldly version of church. Something more complicated, expensive, and business like. My words may be causing pain even now, for some. Because they are true? If they are not, then pay them no heed. Do you embrace, fight, or run? I stand my ground.

If transformation could be accomplished without pain, I’d be all for it. Put me asleep, doctor, while you do your cutting with your sword. But when I wake? Guess what’s still waiting for you? Pain. So we take pain pills. Human nature loves to avoid pain. It takes a warrior spirit to brave battlefields, no matter what kind of battlefield we speak of. Many are so busy with worldly battlefields, they waste their warrior spirit on temporary pleasures and have little left for God.

Many who claim to be followers of Christ today have lost their taste for godly battlefields. It’s all about being “blessed”. The truth is a battlefield requires a lot of sacrifice. It requires real sweat and tears training, risk of life, leaving comfort zones and traveling light, and it involves the “weapons” of “our” warfare. Is it possible to follow Christ and not become a warrior? “No.” If you think so, you’re probably not following the Jesus of the early church.

Test yourself. What are the weapons of our warfare and what are we personally doing with them? Is going to a big church every week the fulfillment of using your weapons to seek and save that which is lost? Or are we just paying someone else to be a warrior? And what true warrior preacher would teach that’s enough?

Test yourself again. What are the weapons of our warfare? You may say “love”, and that would be true, but real love drives us to take up our weapons and make sacrifices for the sake of others. When was the last time you fasted for the sake of seeking more of the Holy Spirit, more of God’s fire in you? What’s your prayer life really like? Do you study the Bible, or just keep reading it? When was the last real revelation God gave you? Can you name the personal battlefield God has you fighting? Is this battlefield for the sake of others, or mostly just you?

I know, my words are hard today. So will you leave? Many do.

Well…the title is “A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree”, and we may write 100 episodes before this is done. So don’t expect dimmers anytime soon. It is a weeping willow tree. A place where hearts break for the pain and darkness in this world. If you are drawn to embrace such things, you’ve found a place to stand here.

A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #13

“Beyond the Blackboard”

What kind of warrior are you, if any at all? Many people have “fight” in them, but what are they fighting for? Is it a good cause, or bad? And who’s to be the judge whether good or bad? Is it something we believe in, or simply things we desire for personal reasons. Are we fighting for the benefit of others, or mostly the benefit of our own? The world needs more true warriors who fight for the benefit of others in a world that can be very cruel and unfair.

As our movie collection continues, I would like to follow “The Kid Who Would Be King”, a movie I consider to be a fictional picture of the invisible battle of spiritual warfare. If you tried to make the Sword of the Spirit visible, and you placed God’s children into a battlefield in which the demons, darkness, and threats were visible, I think the movie: “The Kid Who Would Be King”, is about as close to a visual picture as you could get. It should inspire us to take up our spiritual Sword and not slack in all the armor God had given us.

However, if “The Kid Who Would Be King” is a type of picture of what we “don’t’ see; then what would be a picture of what we “do” see? In other words, not in fiction, but in real life, what would a warrior fighting for the benefit of others look like? Enter “Beyond the Blackboard”. I love following “The Kid” with a reality check. A true story of what one incredible person with love and fighting spirit did for a bunch of homeless kids. This should also be what God’s warriors look like.

There are many battlefields on this planet, and many of them are just about battling for our own gains and pleasures, sometimes even at the expense of others. But who do we “claim” to be? Are we real? What choice do we desire to make, and what choice have we actually made? Our actions, not our words, speak truth. Only when words and actions agree, do both speak truth. The movie “Beyond the Blackboard” will inspire you to become a real warrior for the benefit of others, and not spend your life just on you and yours. Here’s a picture of the two movies:

Here’s some plot from back of the case: When Stacey Bess gets her first teaching job, she’s shocked. It’s not at all what she expected. Stacey is assigned to something called the School With No Name, a space in a homeless shelter that’s supposed to be a classroom. The children are all ages, many from broken families, thrown together in a ‘classroom’ lacking essentials like desks and books.

This amazing woman struggles to overcome her own fears, the lack of proper facility and tools, the disadvantages of damaged parents and hard circumstances, children whose lives are lost in chaos, and added to all that, politicians who don’t seem to really care, and the challenges of still trying to hold together a normal life for her own family. It is an incredible undertaking that she could have easily backed out of, seriously considered if she should back out of, but did not! This spiritual warrior made an incredible difference in the lives of these kids who were born into circumstances they never asked for.

Here is a quote from her book: “Nobody Don’t Love Nobody” > “One thing I was certain about: once I had made it through these few months, I’d quit. I had gone into teaching for the highest of purposes: I wanted to change the world. I believed kids needed to be told they were valuable and talented. I believed they needed to have opinions and power. And I believed I could help. Sure, I could be a little cocky, and I’d always thought I was strong — but I certainly wasn’t strong enough for this.”

I believe everyone has some good in them if you can find it and bring it out. Who are the warriors bringing the good out in you and I? There sure seem to be plenty of people glorifying evil, inspiring to bring the “bad” out. What sense does any of that make, except they are making lots of money on it.

We need more warriors not ashamed to call evil, evil. To call bad, stupid and the wasting of your life. It also usually harms others, even your own loved ones. There is very little sin that does not harm others. The old excuse of “I’m only hurting myself” is just another “evil” lie. Lying is evil! It’s bad, it’s wrong! It hurts you and others too. Truth may feel unpleasant at times, but truth is good. The world needs more of it but now days there is no true standard of truth anymore. Some say that is good, but they would be wrong. The tides of evil rise more every day, because truth has fallen in the streets.

As a samurai for Christ I often say I’m not here to be a good person, but a godly person. I say that because true godliness brings goodness automatically. It’s a by-product. My focus is God and it brings about goodness also. But this movie is not about God or godliness. This woman did a very good thing that puts most Christians and their form of godliness to shame!

The Bible speaks of true religion involves helping widows and people in real need. Loving your neighbor as ourself. The modern church seems to have misplaced the true mission of Jesus Christ and failed to create true disciples who walk in his nonmaterialistic ways in the service of others.

From what I could tell, this special lady and her special family actually gave of their own goods and money sacrificing in this cause. What she actually made as income from the job she was working so hard at, she probably could have made more driving a truck! Or maybe just staying home! But the world you and I live in today, and tomorrow, might be a little richer because of the sacrifices her and her family made. You and I may be benefiting in some round-about way from any of these kids who grew up to be “better”, more “fulfilled”, and “productive” people, because Stacey Bess was willing to pay a price in both her body and soul.

This lady strikes me as a kind person who would not laugh at me and my Bible ways, even my thoughts on samurai for Christ, BUT EVEN IF SHE DID, I would very much respect her and hope that something I have done, or will do, could make such a difference for some group of people, as she did. Way to go, Stacey Bess. You certainly are Samurai in my mind. I want both my words and actions to be true.

Are we willing, like a true warrior to take up our sword and fight to find and bring out the good, and even the godly if our faith be so, in others? This is our message from under the Willow Tree today. I hope you will let both of these movies impact you in such a powerful way as they can. When put together, they are like a Dynamic Dou!

#12 Continued…

“…but ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit.”

Today’s challenge under the Willow Tree is to be literally “transformed”. No big deal, right? And this is how we are going to do it …but ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit. (Eph. 5:18) This is serenity – simplicity – Spirit – and following Jesus unto God. This is the motto of our Willow Tree and the Fellowship I started with our small group. This is the church getting back to being the church!

God’s church either works by the power of the Holy Spirit or it does not work at all. If were not filled and stimulated by the Holy Spirit, then we have settled for far less than the treasure God has for us, and far less than His will!

The Amplified version of the Bible sets the stage for this declaration with this very plain challenge: (Verse 17) > “Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”

This is what I call “Plain Speak”. There is no wiggle room in those words. Our “Sword of Significance” is calling us to something supernatural because it is empowered by a Ghost! And not a friendly ghost, but “The Holy Ghost”!

God has not called us to be good people in the earth, but to be godly people, and for that we need power from heaven! Can I live a samurai life unto Christ? One who serves? Devoted to my Master?

Jesus had spent over three years personally training his disciples in the Word and Will of God, and yet he knew they still lacked the most important thing. Even as he was leaving this earth, he had to tell them to WAIT. You’re not ready yet. If you run out to save the world now, YOU WILL FAIL! And fail miserably.

“And while being in their company and eating at the table with them, he commanded them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait for what the Father had promised, Of which, he said, you have heard me speak. For John baptized you with water, but not many days from now you shall be baptized with — placed in, introduced into — the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 1: 4-5 Ampl.)

In verse 8 Jesus adds: “But you shall receive power — ability, efficiency and might — when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

Want to be transformed? Do you want to have ability, efficiency and might that does not come from your own power? How does it happen? Our Sword of Significance tells us in Romans 12:2 that first of all we must break away from conformity to this world and be transformed by the entire renewing of our minds. This is a supernatural renewal that must be sought through the power of the Holy Spirit in us.

Most Christians in modern churches today need to stop what they are doing and WAIT. Waiting is one of the hardest things for us to do, but we got to get back to “the true will of God”! And the true way of God.

“Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is.”

How firm is your grasp on the will of God, oh thou warrior of Christ? And how firm is His grasp on you? “They call me Lord, but do not what I say.”

Do not be discouraged, but rise up in spiritual valor (courage) and be challenged! Be inspired! Enter the fire! Become a true Sword tempered in the flames of Christ, his Holy Spirit! I write these things not only to encourage you, but to encourage myself as well!

God will give us all we need to succeed in our quest if we ask from a pure heart. If we metaphorically WAIT in Jerusalem (the City of Peace, Prince of Peace, true faith) to be empowered of Spirit and not flesh.

Yes, this means real prayer will have to become more important. Study and renewing of our mind higher on our priority list. When we call Him Lord our words speak true. And then…ACTION! For God will use us in a greater way than we have ever known if we will simply wait, seek, trust, and OBEY.

The true church is the only hope this world has. It is the only hope it has ever had, a city of light set on a hill. Without seeing that pure STANDARD, the world is slowly sucked into the blackness of the Days of Noah. On who’s watch shall it occur?

The weeping willow welcomes you to a peaceful place, even in spite of all the chaos of this world, where the beauty of God can be renewed in us, and others. Invite your friends to the Willow Tree. Amen. (Our series continues.)

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #12

Live Pure. Speak Truth. Right Wrong. Follow the King.

25 years ago I painted those words on our basement wall. I pulled out an old Bible today that I’ve had for 40 years. I found I had written those words in the opening pages of that Bible, and that sent me down into my basement to see if those words were still there, and if they could still be read? My basement is not a pretty place to go.

It’s only a partial basement, almost like a large storm cellar. The walls leak. A sump pump carries the water out but doesn’t do much for the dankness of this chilly cave under our house. As I’ve shared before, we are working on this place and trying to bring beauty out of ashes. Our water heater and furnace use to be in the basement, but I’ve changed all that. They have been replaced with new and have beautiful locations upstairs free of all fear of flooding. Progress made.

So this ugly basement is mostly a tornado escape and also a place I have built support beams to level and strengthen our floors. More progress made. But as I saw those words in my oldest Bible, I remembered a day 25 years ago and the events of that time, leading me to clean that basement as best I could, and create my own little cave where I fellowshipped with God. We had a street ministry at that time reaching out to youth. Every Friday night 30-45 youth came to this old beat up house. Believe me, I needed a lot of alone time with God during that time.

The story of that youth ministry reaching street kids is a tale in itself. We had church support for the first year, until… the Pastor decided it did not fit his church vision and it was too risky and growing to fast. Something bad would happen. They asked me to shut it down. I said I could not. They left us alone with the street ministry. We ran another two years without their help and nothing bad happened. Oh it could have, many times! But God delivered us out of every one. They had no faith. I saw miracles. They did not. The head pastor even got caught in an affair many years later. Go figure. And now today, I’m still running rogue with God.

When God showed me those words in my Bible I knew I could not go to the next movie yet. After considering the Chivalric Code, and the Knighthood Code, I kept contemplating a “Christian Code”. And as I mentioned before Philippians 4:8, and I also highly recommend the Beatitudes, but there is one other, perhaps the most important of all? Before I reveal it, here’s a few pictures of my own condensed form of a Christian Knighthood Code I formed 25 years ago during the time of that street ministry.

Like I said, it’s not a pretty place. This last summer I did spend much time digging against our house and laying drainage pipe. It has helped. Progress made. But the Christian Code I’d like to recommend most of all this day, I believe to hold the key to it all, a key our modern churches have lost.

This Christian life is supernatural or it is nothing at all. We don’t please God through our own force of will-power. The good we do accomplish is by way of God working in us and moving us to do some good. Don’t kid yourself that you’ve accomplished God’s will through the power of your own hand. Fire will test all our works one day, and most will be shocked how little comes out the other side! The modern church has lost the truth of seeking the Holy Spirit. He is the power that charges us to accomplish godly things, even to live holy so God can do mighty things through us. When was the last time you heard a good message in your church about “holiness”?

True holiness is born out of fire, not will-power. It is born out of love, not law. It is a natural fruit within as we hunger and thirst for more of the Holy Spirit. But how many of us are doing that anymore? Does anyone truly fast and pray for more of the Holy Spirit these days? Does anyone spend such time out of love, and not because someone said you “had” to, or shamed you into it? Hhmmm.

I have lost my way on this for a while. These “Codes” have challenged me to get back to some more of the “Old Ways”, a journey I began when I went rogue from the modern Church. With that in mind these scriptures have become my new “Christian Code” of following Christ>>>

This is quoted from my 40 year old Bible, which survived a trailer fire we once lived in, and happens to be an Amplified Bible: “Therefore do not be vague and thoughtless and foolish, but understanding and firmly grasping what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but ever be filled and stimulated with the (Holy) Spirit. Speak out to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, offering praise with voices (and instruments), and making melody with all your heart to the Lord, At all times and for everything giving thanks in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.” Ephesians 5: 17-20 Ampl.)

We got to get back to the power of God, not man. If we are filled and stimulated with the Holy Spirit, then everything following in that verse will happen by the power of God blooming in me, and my own will-power will only be a small part of it. It is involved, but it is not the powerhouse! One of the joys of my walk with Christ is most of the time I do find a melody in my heart unto God and life, and I know it’s not there because of any goodness or power in me, other than the Spirit of Christ. It is supernatural.

25 years ago when I spray painted those words, I also hung a jigsaw puzzle I had put together and framed. I hung it next to those words. It was a picture of a warrior in golden armor. He had a sword, a shield with a bright red cross, and he was riding a white winged horse! He was in heated battle with another warrior in black armor riding a huge black dragon! I found that picture so inspiring at that time, but for some reason when I finally stopped using the basement, I never took that picture with me. Here’s a few pictures of what it looks like now, after 25 years of time in a dank basement. If you look hard you might make out the head of the horse, approximately center in the picture.

I don’t know about you, but I want to start seeking more of the Holy Spirit in me in a very real way, here under the Willow Tree. And remember… it is a weeping willow. Thank you for sharing the Willow Tree with me.

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #11

“The Kid Who Would Be King”

I have looked so forward to begin the sharing of movies I have collected as “special”. Movies of significance, in my opinion. We spent some time in “Star Wars”, and they will probably be mentioned from time to time. I believe God has called us to be “warriors” of heaven, not just comfort seeking citizens. But our battle is to “give life”, not take. And we have a Sword that is a life-bringer, not taker! And what does such a warrior look like? Put in simplest terms, Jesus, the one I am called to serve. I am called to raise up “disciples”, not self-seeking immature children.

The vision I live by is filled with a gleaming Sword of Significance, the Word of God. Because of my personal perspective, I have found there have been movies made with swords, not all of them, but some of them really speak to me in a significant way, and I have delighted in sharing them with friends, family, and the Fellowship. I have collected these special movies over the years of my life and now hope to share them at this site.

I never know what order God will lead me to share them in. But I will attempt to put some kind of possible order here, but nothing is written in stone or stuck in stone as Excalibur was. Swords of Significance we seek, but not all swords can be seen in some of these movies, such as the movie I expect to follow today’s chosen one. We start with: “The Kid Who Would Be King”.

Here is what is written on the back of the case: “Young Alex is just another bullied kid until he discovers the legendary sword of Excalibur, and begins training as a knight with wizard Merlin. Alex must turn schoolyard enemies into allies, and become the leader he never dreamed he could be to defeat the wicked Morgana and save the world.”

Of course this is another movie of good against evil, but with all the “supernatural” involved, it takes on a certain relationship to the Christian battle as well. The special effects are very well done. I was actually surprised how much I enjoyed this show, because I thought it would be more for children, and it can be, my grandchildren very much enjoy it, but I think any adult of a pure heart will also enjoy it too.

Warning> Spoilers follow.

This movie also involves two bullies, named Lance and Kaye. Alex and his friend, Bedders, are constantly tormented by these two mean spirited youth who are larger and stronger. Lance and Kaye plot to harm Alex as he walks home, but Alex hides in a construction site where he finds and extracts a mysterious sword from solid concrete! Lance and Kaye do not see this happen, and of course, we know, this sword must be Excalibur! But Alex has no understanding of this, yet.

The next day a very strange new kid shows up at their school. Merlin has come to the sword! But in disguise! And everything begins happening from there. An eclipse is to occur in just a few days, and when it does, the evil Morgana will rise from the earth along with her supernatural army! Unless Alex and his team defeat her, the earth will be enslaved and destroyed!

A very interesting element in Alex’s challenge is, he chooses the two bullies, Lance and Kaye as part of his team! The only people who can actually see Morgana and her attacks are people who have been “knighted” by Alex with Excalibur! This is a huge problem! Because Lance and Kaye are anything but prime knighthood material! They are mean! Self-centered! And now they must live by “Chivalric Code”???!

This is where I want to spend a little time. Of course when we think of the sword, Excalibur, we think of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Legend has it these knights were sworn to a code of honor to live by and uphold. The Christian also has a Code of honor, a code of pure heart, a Code of Christ. It is said in many ways in our Sword of Significance. I especially like Philippians 4: 8 >

“Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

This movie has a little different list, but still an excellent code to live by. Merlin begins to instruct the four youth in this code, and he starts by explaining this way:

“The Chilvaric Code is the set of rules by which all noble knights live. Obeying the Code from the moment the sword is drawn is what makes you pure of heart. And only a pure heart can slay Morgana. 1.) Honor those you love. 2.) Refrain from deliberate or unprovoked offense. (Bullying?) 3.) Speak the truth at all times. 4.) Persevere in any enterprise until the end. Break any of these rules from the moment the sword was drawn and your quest is lost before it is even begun.”

I love it. I thought it an interesting point to say the Code begins from the moment you draw the sword. Of course Lance and Kaye have problems with every one of these rules. It is explained that a difficult childhood has probably caused them to be this way. But even Alex has a problem too.

I wonder what promises we have made to Christ in which we often fail, or struggle not to fail, in more than an ordinary way? We all seem to have our particular weaknesses, but it is imperative we do not give up or give in! The moment we stop hating the evil, stop fighting and decide to embrace it, that is when we could lose our very soul. None of us are perfect, but when we stop fighting, and surrender to embracing, that’s a whole different thing. We have taken on a new master, and no man can serve two masters. I always want to be samurai to Christ.

I would like to share one thing from another favorite movie of mine that relates to this. It also is a Code of Knighthood as shared in the very first movie of “Dragon Heart”. It went like this: 1.) A knight is sworn to valor! 2.) His heart knows only virtue! 3.) His blade defends the helpless! 4.) His might upholds the weak! 5.) His words speak only truth! 6.) His wrath undoes the wicked!

We need “standards” in our life. How many good Codes still exist today in this world of moral compromise and seek your own truth? How many Codes of honor and valor lie broken and twisted upon bloody spiritual battlefields of the soul because the warriors forsook their warrior ways and raised a flag of surrender?

“When the enemy comes in like a flood, the spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him.” (Isa. 59:20)

In truth, God’s answer is a standard. The church is to be that city upon a hill shining the light of such a standard, inspiring all mankind not to slowly slide into the days of Noah! But this modern church we have today, does not seem to shine so bright anymore, as all her warriors embrace worldly ways and material pleasures. But God always has his Remnant, and they shall find David, even if he be living in caves.

This movie is a fantasy fiction. I believe it to be an excellent analogy of spiritual warfare when viewed from the right perspective. It is a visual picture of what is actually invisible to us. So I like to follow this movie with one based on a true story. What does this spiritual warrior life look like in reality? What do we see with our eyes? I follow it with a movie entitled: “Beyond the Black Board”. Another very excellent show about a real person, an incredible person, who made something really special happen. She brought beauty out of ashes. She may not have been a Christian, the movie does not say, but Christians ought to be known for doing such things. Coming next! Save your seat under the Willow Tree!

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #10

I’m writing this episode for a longtime friend, and to her children who are also dear to us. There is a need…a great need…so many do not understand.

“And the Lord said, my spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” (Gen.6:3)

Modern thinking is there can be no God, because if there were, he would surely put a stop to the unfair things of this earth, and if he does not, then who wants to serve a God like that anyway? But your thinking is so very small, and God has put in writing, a whole book actually, the Book of Revelation, when he will do exactly what you are asking for. IS THAT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT?

And here is why he is waiting: I believe there is coming a day when no one else is going to “Believe In God”, and so… he can return…judge the earth as he will… and no souls are lost other than the ones who have already chosen to be.

Do you find this hard to believe? No one else getting saved? Total unbelief filling the earth? I did at first. (Sodom and Gomorrah had become the same. Also Noah’s time.) When the possibility first popped in my head I doubted it. But our Bible almost spells it out when you put together the clues. Do you remember what Jesus so plainly said about the last days?

Jesus said: “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realize what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” (Matt. 24: 36-39)

This scripture says the people did not know this horrible flood was coming, and yet how can that be? Because II Peter chapter 2 plainly states Noah was a preacher of righteousness, and he did not stop preaching while he was building the boat! It says he “warned” the people during all those years of building! But they did not believe. Not one person! As in the days of Noah? (Jesus said.)

Yes…once I really began looking at this, I began seeing when Jesus asked the question: When I return, will I find faith on the earth? This was not an idle question, but a serious clue. Noah the preacher was preaching it, but no one cared. They had all become smarter than the old fool. They were the enlightened ones. They laughed at him. I’m not even sure his own family really believed, but God saved them just because they were immediate family who was still willing to obey their crazy dad! They ended up being mentally blown away when it all began happening. “Our old man wasn’t crazy after all? Oh my God!” (My interpretation of events.)

Why do we want to blame God for what we have done? God did not give man this mess. He put his perfect creation into the “dominion”- “the hands of” of man. We’re told this from the very start! Genesis chapter one! God has not violated his promise of man’s free will. Not until the appointed time when no one else is going to get saved anyway. If he took back over now, who knows how many souls would still be separated from God in their sins? Cut off from God! And the God I serve is not going to let that happen. “His” children will be saved. You might even be one of them. You might be the prodigal right now, but God still loves you even in your prodigal condition. Having a pig party in the slime. Oh the deeds that are done in secret. God sees them all.

Something else you might want to explore, the Jewish calendar seems to indicate there could be a lot more time left before Jesus would be “late” on his return. Our Gregorian calendar is not in synch with the Jews, in which most of God’s prophecies center around. I happen to believe there is a lot more “unbelief” to develop before we enter the last days. But the unbelief is growing, and a lot of it is in the worldly materialistic modern churches. They don’t even realize. Jesus would call it the condition of Laodicea. (Again, Book of Revelation.)

The mysterious Book of Revelation, which is easy to understand on the important points, indicates a Mark of the beast will come. I know you know this. And this Mark forces everyone to make a choice. The choices are being forced! No more waiting to decide. If you take the Mark, your decision is eternally made. Those who refuse the Mark are hunted down and killed. Revelation 6, and starting in verse 9 reveals a horrible state of affairs on the earth, and God’s people asking how much longer will you wait?

“When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, ‘Oh Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” (Notice the word “avenge”? God will avenge? Hhmmm. Does that fit my theology?)

God actually answers their question. They are told “a little longer”… “until the full number of their brothers and sisters… their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred… had joined them.” (HINT: If there is a rapture, you don’t want to miss it. It’s not a “cool” thing.)

And who is murdering these good people? Is it God? If you take the Mark, then you are! Who ruined God’s perfect creation? Who could not resist one simple temptation and decided to listen to a devil rather than God? Who should have a righteous anger over what man is doing? GOD!!!

Here’s the bottom line, folks. Here’s the truth. God is love until… the time of salvation and grace in Christ is over… then comes a judgement day…but he is still the lover of all things good and righteous. This is your Book of Revelation. Whether you like this or not… whether this fits your theology or not… God has said, Vengeance is mine! And the souls under the altar are calling for it. I might even be one of them. You might be one of them. He will pass judgement on Satan and all those who chose to follow darkness. That day is coming. Maybe this is not the picture you had in mind when you asked why doesn’t God just stop all this bad stuff? (Which bad stuff? Your bad stuff, or someone else’s?)

You got to understand eternal things of the spirit realm. We only understand flesh and blood. Sin literally has separated us from God and it is a terminal condition, except through God’s grace he has offered through his Son. If we reject such a righteous one as Jesus himself, and trample his blood underfoot as if it is no special thing… if nothing is sacred and righteous to us… and we love the ways of darkness… then Light will drive the darkness away. That day will come. Light obliterates darkness. Darkness, and all those who belong to it, will flee to whatever place it can find that the Light allows it to still exist, and evidently that is a place called hell, and all this is eternal. Your soul is eternal. We were created eternal beings. The flesh is just a lie, we don’t die and cease to exist. We are eternal. We will eternally exist somewhere. God gave us the gift of eternity, but WE messed it up. He does not take it back.

We can realize how incredible the God is who created Adam and Eve and gave us all this amazing opportunity to go on with him, or we can be like the people in Noah’s day, who thought they knew it all and Noah was just an old fool.

See… here’s one thing… you can’t prove your “belief” either. Your science theology of faith. Yes, we’re all deciding what we believe by what we put our “faith” in. The unseen world is the unseen world, and it cannot be proven. We are all living in our chosen faith. You can’t laugh at me for having faith, you’re doing the same, and I can laugh at you if you don’t realize you’re also living by faith. If you are in denial of that fact.

I think we can all see there is a “Mark” coming. That is only one small thing the Bible predicted thousands of years before it happens. It takes more faith to believe all this happened by some impossible freak’n huge accident, than it does to believe in a supernatural supreme Being. All strong evidence points towards a supernatural Being, and supernatural world.

One more thing Jesus said. He said those who live by the sword shall die by the sword. Well, I have chosen the Sword I have lived and will die by: The Sword of God’s Spirit! The Word of God! My Bible! Which this world has tried so hard to destroy, but it has multiplied far beyond all other words. I am samurai for Christ. I have lived as a warrior, and shall continue doing so. I have a supernatural Sword of Significance. Laugh at me if you will, it does not matter in the least, other than the pain if we do not enjoy eternity “together”. I am completely convinced in what I believe.

From my personal perspective, the evidence is overwhelming. We are surrounded by it, and only the blind do not see. All they see is an old man building a boat where there is no water. If that is all you see, then I pray God has even more mercy and love to open your spirit eyes, before it is too late. We welcome all true “Believers” upon this “Good News Ship”. The angels proclaimed it, peace on earth and good will towards man. God is offering, but will you believe and see? Jesus is our “Peace Treaty with God”. He is the Prince of Peace. Amen. This is today’s word from the Willow Tree.

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #9

When a person decides to climb a mountain just because it’s there…why?

What is the satisfaction that comes when we answer something “calling to us”?

It might not make sense to anyone else, but it calls to “us”. It does not call to them. It is not in them. And as we answer that call, we find others who have a similar passion, we are not alone, and we find comrades.

Not answering a true calling leaves a very big hole in a person, but climbing a mountain requires strength, and strength is a product of fire! Do we have the temperance to the task? Are we the blade for that battle? Have we become the warrior who has a fire burning in his own belly? If we have short changed the tempering process of God, we will break in the battle. We will fail on the mountain.

There are many mountains before us, whether literal and physical, or metaphorical and spiritual. I’ve always enjoyed both. The young lady I spoke of in previous article has not found her mountain. No fire burns in her belly. I do not know her well enough to guess what her “calling” and gifting may be, but if she never develops a fire in her belly, she will fail, and her life will be hollow, no fulfillment.

“And now behold, the Lord has kept me alive, as he said these forty and five years, even since the Lord spake the word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, lo, I am this day eighty-five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me; as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain…” (Joshua 14: 10,11, and 12a)

Caleb had his eyes on a mountain. A fire still burned in his belly. The Lord honored his obedience and gave him uncanny strength born out of a lot of fire. He was still willing to answer the call, even in his old age.

I took early retirement from secular work feeling a similar call. I have felt it all my life, and now I have words to write and a work to do as long as the strength in this body does not fail. Only God knows if I will succeed, but I’d rather fail on the mountain than be found lazy in the low lands.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a baptism of fire? Most of us on planet earth will face such a thing multiple times in our life, but what did you do with it? Did you accept it? Go through it? Gain temperance, self-control, focus, patience, endurance, and strength in the fire? become the warrior? Or did you run? Raise a white flag of surrender? Is there little fight in you? No warrior to be found?

To finish the story of my own baptism of fire straight out of High School, I hired onto a construction crew belonging to a deacon in our Church. It seemed as if about a third of that Church was employed by this man, and he was a great man to work for. He changed the course of my life. He was so hard on me, but it was exactly what I needed. He has a position of great respect in my life to this day.

This construction company was young and growing, so they did not have all the bells and whistles yet. A lot of things had to be done the hard way. We framed houses and poured cement basements. It was hard hot work right out in the summer sun and winter freezing cold. It was dangerous work, too. Climbing two story walls with ice on them and a strong wind blowing. Carrying cement panels on your back across rough terrain, that weighed 140 pounds, and I only weighed 140 pounds! Most days during the summer were 10 to 12 hours long.

As it just happened to be, the day I signed on I got shipped off to a week long job in a neighboring state! Most of their jobs were closer and you came home each night, but no, not my first job with them. No, it just had to be many miles away! And good thing it was, because my second day on the job, when I woke up, I never knew how many places I could hurt! I was tired, sore, and facing four more 12 hour days? Are you kidding me?

But these were friends of mine. Three of us had just graduated High School and signed on at the same time, and I had other friends here too. Was I going to embarrass myself in front of them? I was afraid I might have to. I was afraid I might break! But a warrior’s fire rose up somewhere in my belly, and this 140 pound skinny guy decided to fight, even if it killed me, but it did not, it made me stronger. That set the course for the rest of my life.

I learned construction skills and have saved a lot of money fixing my own house. I eventually did four years in the Army, and excelled while there, because the Army’s Boot Camp ( Basic Training) was just as hard, but no harder than, what I had already been doing for two years! I did two summers and two winters on that crew. I have been a warrior born out of the fire ever since. And like Caleb said, I still have a mountain calling to me, and I’m ready to test the strength God has given to the climb!

In a time when the Church has compromised with the world and is sliding more and more into Laodicea, God is calling his Samuel’s to offer a different priesthood from the Eli’s of this world. Samuel is yet a young boy growing, but he is in the temple and gaining strength. He will become the spiritual warrior for the last days he is called to. I do not want to fail or miss whatever may be my part in this mountain!

So… a warrior sits under the Willow Tree, and if you identify with this site, then you know the fire in the belly I speak of. We welcome all warriors to this site, and those in training, to the shade of this willow.

It is a weeping willow. We must be aware of the pain in others if we are to fight any battles. You cannot be the young lady dumping her work on the others around her, and does not seem to care. She collects her paycheck every week, and has no concern she has not earned it. If this is our way, then it is not the Way of Jesus, for he was always aware of the suffering and needs of others, and he entered those battles in our defense! Now we can have His strength to enter such battles too.

I will be sharing more of the mountain we are climbing with God. The things I did while working full time and raising five children, seem like some other life to me now. That was then and this is now. That was one mountain and this is another. But we build a spiritual retreat and a House Church. We offer teaching, by way of writing and personal teaching. I was limited in what I could do before taking early retirement, but now the flood gates are open and I am full of zeal for the task!

After my 9 Day God quest in the Black Hills of South Dakota, I came home from those mountains and God had me build a mountain of my own, at the spiritual retreat. This mountain was huge to me, as I built it alone in the heat of two summers. It is a teepee, made of wood! (Of all things. LOL.) I also could not have built it without what I learned in the fire of that construction crew, in my youth. Our house, spiritual retreat, ministry, and writings are progressing nicely. Momentum is building. The vision is strong and God’s fire burns in my belly.

I hope you have a mountain of your own that gives you cause to rise each day. If not, then search your heart to find what God put in you. There is a God-given treasure in each of us, but it must be discovered, uncovered, and then put into use. May God bless you on your journey to higher places. Here’s a few pictures of the teepee, my little man-made mountain. It stands forty feet tall, and you can swing on a rope inside it! My kids and Grandkids love it.

"A Warrior sat under the Willow Tree" #8

The fire made her stronger.

I’m sorry, but as of yesterday, I discover I have one more story to write relating to “Rey” of Star Wars. I did not plan this, but I wash dishes part time. I work the weekends since I do not want to work a lot of hours, usually 6 hours on Saturday and Sunday. I figure if I work the hours they most need help, then it is worth it to them, even though my hours are short. I work those critical hours when the place is getting “slammed”, if you know what I mean.

The manager was a little worried as he talked to me after my first two days of work. I could hear it in his voice. “How are you feeling?” he asked. I said, “Tired, but I feel fine.” He looked at me again, “So you think it’s not too much? You can handle this?”

“I can handle this,” I answered. It had not dawned on me yet why he was asking these questions until he ended with these statements, “Well, we like your work. This ‘time slot’ is yours if you want it. But if it ever gets to be too much for you, just let me know.” I smiled, thanked him, and said, “I’ll take it.”

I’ve been there going on 5 months now. My wife, who is a waitress there, when I told her I was going to apply as a dishwasher, she was immediately shocked and laughed as she said, “You won’t last two weeks in that dish room! It’s crazy! (She was right about that.)

You see, at age 64, I’ve got at least 20 years on every other person in there. Most of them are in their twenty’s or teens. One guy is around 40, and he complains all the time. The manager was seriously worried about my age! That did not dawn on me until after he walked away and I pondered our conversation. But after about a week in that place, I was already beginning to be accepted by the best workers in there, and within 3 weeks was as good as any of them. You may think that should not be so hard… I mean… it’s just washing dishes…right? How hard can it be?

Well… much to my own amazement… I’ve seen how people “wilt” and crumble in that room. I see what my wife meant, but she never knew just how hard I’ve worked all my life. She knew what I did, but until you actually do something, you just don’t realize. She has seen first hand what that dish room does to people. She’s watched it over many years. She’s seen the few that excel, and the many who fold, or they settle into a “weakness”, just hanging on until fired or they quit, but they have no fight in them. They do not fight! They become LAZY WEAK people who put their work off on the warriors in the room!

That dish room is a FIRE! Some people grow stronger in the fire, but others melt. And yesterday I was stuck working with a young woman who should be full of life and energy, but she is so weak I can’t believe it. I think she should see a doctor! What kind of sheltered life has she lived to be so weak and lifeless? She’s been there longer than I and should be an expert by now, but is not!

They know I don’t like working with her because of her laziness, so they don’t usually put us together. I must admit, I do struggle with patience for lazy people, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. I’ve had words with her before. She probably requested not to be with me. But the “break room” is very close to the dish room, and she slips in and out of there constantly, and everyone is too busy working, and doing her part, to keep track of her. But I did confront her one day.

Anyway, this job is hard for many reasons. It’s not a good set-up for one thing. The dirty dishes, glasses, etc. are dumped into plastic totes on carts outside the dish room, not inside. We have to constantly run out there and grab these heavy totes and bring them in. This place uses real plates and platters. Heavy plates and platters. These totes are heavy and almost spilling over as we grab them. Even the silverware gets heavy!

We’ve tried dragging the carts into the room and changing them out, but our room is so small, and it actually takes longer to fight those carts in and out, than to just keep running and grabbing the totes. Then when the dishes come out on the clean side, they have to be carried to the cooks, down the grill line, another crowded and busy area. You run back and forth the whole time carrying as many of these plates as you can as fast as you can the whole time! Because these are the weekend busy hours. The job is hard, hot, nasty, stressful, physical, very fast paced for hours on end, and did I mention hard? (But it’s not rocket science. It is simple.)

Okay, so I admit not everyone is going to be good at this job, but if you find you’re too weak, you don’t put your work on everyone else. You either get stronger or find a different job! But this young lady just keeps slowly going through the motions, taking the easy task whenever possible, taking multiple bathroom breaks, slipping in and out of break room constantly, putting her work on others, and worst of all… she evidently is so self-centered that she does not even care everyone else is doing half her work! She loves to be carried!

When she carries plates down the line, she takes about one-third the amount she should, and moves at half the speed a normal person moves. She actually gets in the way and slows us down! Why has she not been fired? I honestly don’t know. I’ve seen managers almost yell at her, they’ve had conversations with her, but they do not fire her, and she just keeps going on as if she never heard a word anyone said, and as if whats going on around her is not real. It’s as if she is in a different world than the rest of us the whole time she is there. A world that could care less what her lack of effort puts on everyone around her. (I really do think she should see a doctor.)

So… after working with her for six frustrating hours yesterday, I found myself again thinking about the many lessons of Star Wars and how hard times can create strong people, just like a fire creates a fine sword, a Sword of Significance.

In my quiet time today I realized I could have turned out like her, but after High School I got thrown into a FIRE! I almost quit. I did not understand. But I was many miles from home and had no ride. So I endured five days and by the time I survived the fire of those five days I was beginning to survive and get stronger. For me, it was mostly mental strength I needed.

My childhood was very isolated in the country on a small farm, but we were not farmers! My Grandpa had been before he passed away, but my dad worked in an auto factory. My only real job growing up was mowing grass and taking out trash. During the winter it was mostly just going to school, which I hated. And in my day, college was still pretty uncertain and all I wanted to do was get out of classrooms so I could be in motion! I didn’t like sitting! I liked action! And that saved me, because all those lonely years on the farm I spent my hours being very physical! But not the same kind of “physical” as “working”. You know, “labor”.

But God had a FIRE planned for me, and there was a fork in the road I could have taken in which my life would have become “weakness”, rather than strength, had I surrendered and gone down that path. Thank God I was stuck with these guys and could not easily leave. Thank God I loved movies about heroes and wanted to be like them. I did not want to be a weak person. A vision lived in me and the fork of the road forced a choice, whether I would become the vision, or not.

This is “Bushido”“the way of the warrior”. The Samurai used the word Bushido to describe the warrior way. It is not the civilian lifestyle of the soft and lazy looking for more and more selfish comfort zones. It is a life of serving and sacrificing for others. Like Jesus did. Jesus was “EXTREMELY” Bushido! And he raised up others in His Way. The 12 Apostles being some of the best known of them. And he has his Book, our Bible, and it is His Sword! And our Sword.

It looks like the story of my Baptism of Fire will come next episode. There is simply too much good stuff needing to be said. The weak girl in our dish room would never survive if she were thrown into a situation like “Rey”. We have girls in that dish room who have excelled. They have bushido, the warrior spirit in them, but not her. She either refuses, or is incapable of it. It is very easy to recognize the warriors of life from the civilians who expect the warriors to do all their fighting.

There is much more to come on this subject as we take a sit under the Willow Tree, and we realize planet earth is not a nice place for the weak. It “IS” a FIRE! Warriors rise while the weak fall. Warriors do things of significance while the weak “settle”. Warriors thrive in the fire, because they see the vision of what it means that life is full of mountains to climb, rather than wallowing in the mud of the low lands just waiting to die, suffering through life as a painful thing, but to be ALIVE! Without passion and fire, we are not truly living. We’re just going through the motions. These are today’s words from the Willow Tree, and we have only just begun.

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