Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Parable of the Three Trees

Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carvings and everyone would see the beauty.”


Then the second tree said, “Someday I will be a mighty ship. I will take kings and queens across the waters and sail to the corners of the world. Everyone will feel safe in me because of the strength of my hull.”

Finally, the third tree said, “I want to grow to be the tallest and straightest tree in the forest. People will see me on top of the hill and look up to my branches and think of the heavens and God and how close to them I am reaching. I will be the greatest tree of all time and people will always remember me.”

After a few years of praying that their dreams would come true, a group of woodsmen came upon the trees. When one came to the first tree he said, “This looks like a strong tree, I think I should be able to sell the wood to a carpenter,” and he began cutting it down. The tree was happy, because he knew that the carpenter would make him into a treasure chest.

At the second tree the woodsman said, “This looks like a strong tree. I should be able to sell it to the shipyard.” The second tree was happy because he knew he was on his way to becoming a mighty ship.

When the woodsmen came upon the third tree, the tree was frightened because he knew that if they cut him down his dreams would not come true. One of the woodsmen said, “I don't need anything special from my tree. I'll take this one,” and he cut it down.

When the first tree arrived at the carpenters, he was made into a feed box for animals. He was then placed in a barn and filled with hay. This was not at all for which he had prayed.

The second tree was cut and made into a small fishing boat. His dreams of being a mighty ship and carrying kings had come to an end.

The third tree was cut into large pieces and left alone in the dark.

The years went by and the trees forgot about their dreams.

Then one day, a man and woman came to the barn. She gave birth and they placed the baby in the hay in the feed box that was made from the first tree. The man wished that he could have made a crib for the baby, but this manger would have to do. The tree could feel the importance of this event and knew that it had held the greatest treasure of all time.

Years later, a group of men got in the fishing boat made from the second tree. One of them was tired and went to sleep. While they were out on the water, a great storm arose and the tree did not think it was strong enough to keep the men safe. The men woke the sleeping man, and He stood and said “Peace” and the storm stopped. At this time, the tree knew that it had carried the King of Kings in its boat.

Finally, someone came and got the third tree. It was carried through the streets as the people mocked the man who was carrying it. When they came to a stop, the man was nailed to the tree and raised in the air to die at the top of a hill. When Sunday came, the tree came to realize that it was strong enough to stand at the top of the hill and be as close to God as was possible, because Jesus had been crucified on it.

The moral of this story is that when things don't seem to be going your way, always know that God has a plan for you. Indeed, if you place your trust in Him, God will give you great gifts.

Each of the trees got what they had wished and prayed for, just not in the way they had imagined.

We don't always know what God's plans are for us. We just know that His Ways are not our ways, but with His unfailing sight and love, His ways for us are always best.



H/T Flamminio

24 comments:

John Myste said...

This very inspiring, Mr. Paine: almost enough to make me pray to hold a crucified religious idol and cut out the middle man.

However, there were not just three trees. There were other trees, their branches held high in supplicant entreaty who were used for firewood.

God’s plan may have worked for the three trees in your parable, but it is a big forest, and if there is a God, I don’t think he works for us, no matter how much anthropomorphism we use to understand Him.

I apologize if I seem to always play Devil’s advocate. In this case, I am saying that God uses some trees for firewood, and that is OK because if He exists, He probably has a bigger purpose than humans.

Amen.

T. Paine said...

John, all I can do is smile and offer up a prayer for you, my friend.

Just the Facts said...

Mr. Paine,
If I may ask you a personal question, I understand you may not wish to answer it, here goes.
What did you convert from to convert to Catholicism?

Thanks you sir.

T. Paine said...

JTF, I was raised as a Methodist. I had drifted away from all faith in God for many years after the death of my father when I was twelve. I basically researched my way back into faith in God, and returned to my roots as a Methodist until my conversion to Catholicism five years ago.

Why do you ask, sir?

John Myste said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Just the Facts! said...

Mr.Paine,

Thanks for answering my question, as it was personal, you didn't have to.
I asked because I often hear people answer when asked what religion are they, the name of a denomination, instead of a religion, IE Methodist, Baptist, VS Christan, Hindu, Muslim. I wanted to better understand where you were coming from and with your answer I do.

For example I am a Christian who belongs to the denomination of the Christian religion called the PCA (Presbyterian Church in America). I do not believe I was a necessarily a Christian at birth because I was baptized at birth,nor do I beleive, since I was dead in my sin, and the dead can make no choices, that I, by my free will, picked God, but it was He that picked me.(Reformed, Calvinism theology).
Therefore because it was God who did the picking, I can not "unpick" Him nor will He unpick me.
However, in saying this, I am in no way doubting those who belong to other Christian denominations, and call themselves Christians, as being just that, brothers and sisters in Christ! Why? Because I am not equipped as human to understand the fullness of God's plan for mankind. I just rest in the knowledge that He has a plan and as stated in answer to the first question of the Westminster Catechism, the purpose of man is know God and enjoy him forever.

In closing, liberals are man centered in their view of the world. Which is why, I believe, they so much want bigger and bigger government. They don't trust man, rightfully so, to do the right because they denied the effects of a man change by God. Net result is they hold out for government to do the right thing for man kind, but since the fall of man, it is a misplaced hope.
An example of this belief system is my question to Dave Dubya to explain the difference between share the wealth and Karl Marx's quote of 1875. I really want to know what the difference is.
My gosh, I've gone way to long, sorry but thanks for the answer and question.

John Myste said...

Just, liberals don't trust man to do the right thing because man often does not. Liberals don't trust God to do the right thing, because the will of God rarely exceeds the will of the wealthy and strong. And liberals don't trust the government to do the right thing because it is made of elected officials whose careers will end if they don't do the will of those with the funds to back them.

In short, liberals are not gullible.

Just the Facts! said...

John

I agree with all of your post except for "Liberals don't trust God to do the right thing, because the will of God rarely exceeds the will of the wealthy and strong." I agree that is liberals belief, but I do not believe that God rarely exceeds the will of the wealth or strong.
Jesus him self said the poor will always be with us, which recognizes it is the natural state of man since the fail of man to have rich and to have poor. To have weak and to have strong. To have sickness and to have health, to have famine and to have feast. It is the result of man kind believing they can do just a good as God can in running their lives and this world with out God's influence.

It is not that God can not over come the will of some men, it is for His own glory and plan that He decides not too. Never forget that it is this God, who you feel can not over come the will of the rich and strong, who allows the same rain to fall on the unrighteous and righteous. The sun to do the same, and the earth to remain in orbit in a way which allows for life on this planet.
I do not beleive that God expects us to believe that He conforms to our will, but expects of us the other way around. I beleive as it is said that we are the clay He is the potter, what right does the jar have to tell the potter how to make it self?

Could it come down to this, Liberals do not beleive in a just, all powerful God?

T. Paine said...

JTF, you make an interesting point about most folks in America claiming a specific denomination when asked what faith they are instead of saying “Christianity”. What I am about to say is not meant to denigrate or discard the faith and works of my fellow brothers and sisters in other Christian denominations. In other words, I do not mean to offend people with my beliefs, but let me say that until Martin Luther came around in the 16th century, the ONLY Christian Church which had been in existence since Christ founded it on earth by placing Peter at its head was and is the Catholic Church. “You are the rock upon which I will build my church, and not even the gates of hell will prevail against it.” It stood as the sole Christian Church for a millennium and a half.

My wife was born and raised Catholic. She asked that I look into it years ago. I tried to enter the year long process of the Catholic Rite of Initiation for Adults to learn about it with an open mind; however, I held many wrongly held preconceived notions on Catholicism. When reading history of the early church, reading scripture, reading on sacred tradition as taught by Christ and the apostolic succession from the time of Peter to Pope Benedict the XVI today, I had to overcome those fallacies and consider that the Christian Church that Christ founded, the Catholic Church, from which all other Christian denominations splintered, is indeed the Church that has the most fullness of the Holy Spirit and of our Lord and his teachings accordingly.

That is not to say that other Christian denominations do not have invaluable things to offer. Indeed, Catholics can learn much from our fellow brothers and sisters in other denominations. Anyway, my long about way of getting to the point is that this is why I called myself Catholic and why I say I converted from Methodism. The reason is that Catholicism is the very trunk of the tree of Christianity. In my mind it is synonymous with Christianity. Other Christian denominations are simply the branches thereof that universal church, which indeed “universal” is the meaning of the word catholic.

JTF, I would also absolutely agree that God picked us. Indeed He made us in His image. His Son redeemed all of us, if we will only accept that gift of redemption.

As for liberals being man-centered, I think there is a huge swath of liberals that do indeed fit that mold. I also know of some very good Christian liberals that are very God-centric. They are simply misguided, in my opinion, in thinking that the government is the tool in which to do God’s will of loving one another as you would love yourself.

By the way, JTF, Mr. Myste is indeed a progressive man and an atheist. (Just wanted to give you a heads up.) Beware though, because he is indeed knowledgeable, if not always wise regarding scripture and Christianity. To assume he is one of these reactionary liberal atheists that haven’t a clue about God and faith is to fall into his trap. Entering into a theological debate with him will definitely challenge most Christians that are not well versed or strongly rooted in their faith. That said, I consider John a friend and a good man. Indeed, I even said a prayer for him again today at Mass. The Christian in me hopes that John Myste will come to believe in Christ eventually. The sinner in me takes some small pleasure in possibly tweaking him with a prayer on his behalf to a God in which he does not believe. I guess that just means I need to go to confession again… ;)

Just the Facts! said...

Thank you for your answer again Mr. Paine. Just as a note, my wife who is Greek would take exception with your holding the Church of Rome as the trunk of the Christian faith, she would argue that it is the Greek Orthodox church. At that point I always crawl back into my Scottish/English Presbyterian mud hut and agree with her. Because as she reminds me, when the Greek Church was started, we northern Europeans were almost cave dwellers.

BTW nothing you said offended me. I do not hold that it is we who pick God but He who picks us, but that is not a disagreement that is worth calling anyone who doesn't see it my way a heretic and to bring out the stake and kindling wood. Since that is my belief, I have no problem with John being an atheist, because God has not picked him, not because of anything I have done or not done.
I hope you will allow me to post on your site. I would like to have my name Just the Facts! highlighted as yours and John's are, any insight on how to do so would be appreciated.

Regards,

John Myste said...

[Part I]

First, thanks for the prayers, Mr. Paine. I need all the help I can get.

TF, I would also absolutely agree that God picked us. Indeed He made us in His image. Actually, as I understand things, They made us in Their image, but I am loath to pick nits. I would also like to point out that the last time I tried to quibble over text, you zinged me with the “thou shalt not kill” vs. “thou shalt not murder” fact, and much to my chagrin, you were shown to be right, so I have to be very careful now. Therefore, I shall look it up. Be right back.

As I told you before, my Hebrew is pretty rusty, but it appears to me that the text says something like “the gods said let us create man as a silhouette of us.” What is very clear is that it says, the “gods,” not God, which makes perfect sense, since at the time of creation Gods typically ruled, not one God. I guess I was OK with picking nits after all.

As for Jesus inventing Christianity, I have no time to debate it, so I will just say without evidence that He did not. Paul and some lesser heretics invented Christianity. Jesus, as we know, was a rebellious Jew, not a Christian. He kept the commandments, feats and laws of the Father. He did not claim to abolish the law, but to fulfill it, which happens to be the spot where He went off the rails. He was unable to fulfill it, as God’s law is an ongoing process, not something He could suddenly complete.

Mr. Paine, you make a strong argument for Catholicism. However, Judaism existed before that and so did some of the other religions that are packaged in the label “paganism,” such as Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Greek and Roman God collections. All of these religions have footprints in Christianity and it is a compromise of all of them.

Even Catholicism itself must slowly evolve. If it cannot bend, it will break. Slavery is no longer endorsed, for example. The Trinity was officially concocted and endorsed, for example. The Inquisition is no longer respected, for example. The Church is made up of people with ideas. Protestantism is made up of the exact same thing. That said, if I were a Christian, I would not be able to successfully argue that any denomination is more credible than Catholicism. I don’t really see how people even try to debate that. However, I would probably be a Methodist or a Unitarian, for obvious reasons: pragmatic ones, not religious ones. I think tolerance of other denominations has to come from the fact that Jesus was clearly rebellious against the Father because He had different ideas than the Father had (and rightfully so). He kept the good and threw the barbarism out. Perhaps this is OK. God must evolve as man evolves, or God becomes a caveman. God was created with the emotions and the images of what a God should or would be. The reverse is not the case. Paul certainly understood this better than most, and he fixed God, and all denominations accept the writings of Paul.

Also keep in mind that the Church decided which scrolls would become a portion of the Bible. Were they to decide today, the book of John would probably be excluded, for example, as it does not fit well with the synoptic story of Christ. Committees, not God, decided which words would be honored as divinely inspired. We cannot assume that Christianity is an exact science. Perhaps following the gist of God’s will is the best we can do.

[To Be Continued ...]

John Myste said...

[Part II Conclusion]

Could it come down to this, Liberals do not believe in a just, all powerful God?. It could and should come down to that, but alas, it does not. It seems to me that most of the liberals I know believe in a just omnipotent God, even though the documented history of God that they use relates countless tales of His injustice and even though the concept of an omnipotent anything is illogical. Note: I do not wish to engage you in this matter. I am too busy right now and it really serves no purpose anyway. I am just answering the question. I do like toying with Mr. Paine because he realizes that this is all I am doing. He and Burr Deming are the only ones I typically play with in this manner, though. In your case, I am just answering your question.

As I stated previously, liberals do not trust man; they do not trust God; they do not trust the government. They are skeptical by nature and they are not a cohesive group. They don’t even trust each other and they argue among themselves incessantly. Some of my most heated online debates have been liberal vs. liberal. We mistrust everyone and find it hard to agree on anything. It almost makes me want to be a republican.

On a side, note, my wife has informed me that we are to start attending a church soon. The horror!

[THE END]

John Myste said...

Just,

Perhaps your name is not highlighted because you are not logged into blogger at the time of your posting?

I think it highlights your name if a URL is attached to it, so if you were to manually type one in, assuming you have the option or if you were logged into blogger and have a blogger blog, then it would be highlighted.

John Myste said...

Mr. Paine,

Someone expressed the problem I have with the parable of the three trees much more succinctly than I was able to do:

Thank you, Jesus

By the way, I did like the parable except for that one aspect of it. I always like a good parable.

P.S. No need to read the article. I did not read it. The picture said it all.

T. Paine said...

Mr. JTF, you are indeed a wise man. It would serve you no good purpose to argue with your beloved wife, even if you were correct. I love my wife very much, but have found out that in disagreements I am always the one in error.  What’s the saying? There are two theories on how to argue with a woman and neither one works.

I appreciate your comments, JTF, and you are always welcome to comment exactly as you see fit, sir. I really don’t have any rules other than I get irritated when people gratuitously use vulgarity on my site and I get real short tempered when good debate is derailed by juvenile name calling. Other than that, feel free to agree, disagree, point out things I missed or might not ever even considered. I thought many of your comments were excellent on Dubya’s site and welcome your thoughts here too, sir.

As for highlighting your name, when I created my BlogSpot profile, I attached the picture of me and my daughter on horseback on vacation. Whenever I signed in after that, my moniker always had the picture attached.

John, my first instinct was to argue your comment point by point, but then I realized again that you already know everything I would say about correct and ACCURATE Christian theology. You were simply trying to lure me into your trap yet again. I almost took the bait again too.

I will say that Judaism did of course exist before Catholicism. It is the Pentateuch and Jewish faith that is the roots of the Christian faith. As you yourself noted, Christ came to fulfill Old Testament prophecies of a messiah. Sadly not all Jews acknowledged that Christ does indeed fulfill their prophetic scriptures, particularly in Isaiah, hence the fact that we still have Jews waiting on the coming of a messiah today.

While the outward appearance of Catholicism has evolved, its doctrine has remained steadfast for two millennia. Now that is not to say that corruptible men, even popes, did not always faithfully follow Christ’s dictates, hence the inquisition etc. It is when we ignore God’s law and assume to speak for God ourselves in doing what we wish while trying to find some justification by twisting His commandments that we commit such evils. The Catholic Church realizes and has acknowledged many of the sins it has committed accordingly. There is a saying that goes, “If you find the perfect church, do not join it, for it will cease being perfect.” Only Christ is perfection, and all we can do is try to live by His example despite our being flawed.

Catholicism though has indeed undergone changes, of course, over two thousand years. Ironically, one of the biggest changes was the Vatican II council. Before that, Mass was offered only in Latin with the Priest facing the altar. After that, the Mass is now done in the vernacular with the Priest facing the congregation. If by evolving though, you mean it must accept the social mores of today, I vehemently disagree, John. The core doctrine of the sanctity of life is one such example. For the Vatican to come out and say that abortion is now acceptable in order to stay up with the times, is not only wrong, but it is impossible. Christ promised that He would protect His church and thus through the Holy Spirit make the Pope infallible on matters of doctrine of the faith.

T. Paine said...

(continued)
It is for this reason that when birth control pills first came out that many denominations said they were acceptable. The Catholic Church still claimed that they were not. Those other churches assumed that the pill would not permit the sperm to fertilize the egg, thus no human being was created. Years later, it has been proven that the pill can in some rare occasions act as an abortifacient. It can kill an unborn baby. I believe the Holy Spirit protected the church from “evolving” with the times and giving permission to use the pill accordingly.

Your insistence of a plurality of Gods in the Christian faith notwithstanding, you are correct that all Christian denominations accept the letters of St. Paul. Of course there is often vastly different interpretations of those writings. Most Protestants believe that “once saved, you are always saved”, while Catholics are taught that your grace and salvation was indeed purchased by our savior, but you can choose to lose that state of grace through the conduct of mortal sin. Penance and absolution before God in confession are required to return that grace. This is just one huge example of the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism.

Next, you make an excellent point, Mr. Myste, regarding John’s Gospel being so radically different from the other three synoptic Gospels. I can only assume that when the Catholic Church determined which books would be contained within the canon of the Bible that they were indeed guided by the Holy Spirit, and thus would place the exact same books in there today that they did way back then.
Indeed, it was man in the form of Martin Luther that decided to REMOVE books from the Bible with which he had theological heartburn. That is why the Protestant Bible contains seven fewer books today than does the Catholic Bible.

Continuing, Liberals may indeed be skeptical of most things by nature, as you claim, John. But it would seem that in the grand scheme of things, they tend to be MORE trusting of government than is the typical conservative.

I am laughing uproariously at the next two sentences of your posting, sir. You claim that the arguing amongst liberals almost makes you want to be a Republican and then your wife informs you that you will be attending church. I can only hope that there is indeed hope for you, my friend!

Finally, as for your link to that picture, that is indeed the overly-simplistic view of someone that doesn’t know any better and assumes that evil and suffering in the world occur according to God’s will. As I have pointed out in the past, evil is by definition not a part of God. Evil is the absence of God, just as darkness is nothing but an absence of light.

So much for not being lured into your trap with a point by point rebuttal… GRRRR! :)

Oso said...

T Paine,
A nice parable, I enjoyed it.Thank you man, and thanks for the visit.

I get a little frustrated when some Christians speak of liberals as if we are somehow different in God's eyes.It's like partisan football fans thinking God favors the Packers over the Bears.

T. Paine said...

I have met many a good Christian that also happened to be a liberal, many in my own parish.

As for God being partisan for the Packers, well that is just silly.

I do have it on excellent authority that God strongly favors the Seahawks over the Raiders, though! :)

John Myste said...

I must say, Mr. Paine, you did not answer, point by point, my points. I am OK with that, but I just wanted to point it out.

For example, I pointed out that Judaism existed before that and so did some of the other religions that are packaged in the label “paganism,” such as Zoroastrianism, Mithraism, Greek and Roman God collections. All of these religions have footprints in Christianity and it is a compromise of all of them. I think you realize this, but I was really interested in a more direct response from you, since each of these faiths pre-date Catholicism. Jesus was Jewish and not Christian. He would not have followed a religion that did not recognize the Jewish feasts and observation ordained by His Father.

You have never given me a satisfactory explanation of the advent of the Trinity or how Jesus can disavow the main precepts of the Christian Gods before him, namely, guilt by association, terrorism to enforce justice, emotions of jealousy and anger as prelude to divine action, divine selfishness and a need to be worshipped by Their creations. Jesus would seem to be a mutation in our immutable God. So long as these odd concepts stand, I am not sure how any specific denomination can claim to be much better than the others. When we abandon the instructions of the Gods, and anthropomorphically select a single Man as our master, yet still use the text of the other Gods in our worship services, everything gets jumbled.

Clearly, Catholicism is the evolution of much older religions. It is a collage, which can be seen from the two creation stories in Genesis, from the Book of John, or from the fact that we keep the words of the older Gods in the Old Testament, still pledge allegiance to Them, and yet claim to follow a Man that rejected most of what They stood for. In this context, it is hard to truly embrace one denomination over another, but one thing is certain: we clearly accept the evolution of religion and Catholicism is not the beginning of this evolutionary chain. It is somewhere in the middle. If the beginning is best, then we need to back up and abandon Catholicism; or if each iteration gets better, perhaps Martin Luther knew something that we can also learn.

As for me, I am very confused by the whole thing. By reading the words of the Gods I cannot even determine the simplest of things, such as when Jesus rose from the tomb, was it still dark or not? Was mankind created first or were his “help meets” created before him? Was John speaking of the same Jesus as Matthew, Mark and Luke? Was he just senile? Why was the prophesy of the virgin birth added to the Old Testament? I think it was to match the virgin births of older pagan Gods. However, I am unclear on who originally added it. I am sure you have studied this, Mr. Paine. When did the prophesy of the virgin birth get added to translations of the original Hebrew and who added them? Could it be that even if Mary was a virgin, this was not prophesied? Was Jesus perfect, or is the Father the only perfect one? Why don’t we keep the Passover and the proper Sabbath anymore? Who authorized us to stop?

I have to reluctantly agree with Burr Deming, that perhaps trying to follow the spirit of the God we find in the New Testament is better than trying to personify God into someone we can follow. If there is a God, we cannot know Him by studying the incongruous text of the Bible. If there is a God, He provides a more workable alternative, and it is not in the form of denominations or disciplines. If there is a God, only faith and revelation can discover Him. If there is a God, trying to match our holy text or the church of our choosing with Him, will only mask Him from our view. If there is a good, He will find us if He so chooses, and we could never stumble upon Him while picking through all the rubble left by those who sought Him before us.

As Emerson said while speaking as the voice of Nature, which he saw as inseparable from the voice of God: “Find me and turn thy back on heaven.”

Just the Facts! said...

Mr. Myste,
I totally agree with this part of your post "if there is a God, only faith and revelation can discover Him."
I beleive that the faith needed can only come from God. And the revelation needed to believe that there is a God can only come from God Himself
Takes your free will right out of the picture.
Either God opens you mind to Him or He doesn't.

Mr. Paine, regarding politically liberal Christians, it has been my experience that they are many times they are also liberal in their theologically. I hope someone could post and prove me wrong.

T. Paine said...

John, against my far greater judgment, I am going to make a surely futile attempt to adequately answer some of your deeper theological questions to your satisfaction.

I was beginning my response here in the comments section and realized how gargantuan this piece would end up being. That said, if you will be patient, I will do a separate posting addressing each of your questions to the best of my meager abilities, sir.

JTF, I would absolutely concur that most progressives are indeed also rather "liberal" in their theology regarding God too. I think that is simply ingrained within their nature. I surely wouldn't know where to start in drafting a post arguing contrary to your assertion, sir! ;)

John Myste said...

JTF,

I completely agree with you that those who are open-minded in politics tend to be more open-minded in religion also

Gay or straight, less fortunate vs. lazy, literal interpretation of the Bible or relaxed interpretation, they are all questions with muddy answers, steeped in uncertainty. We must be accepting of other people and other notions of God, and not place too much emphasis on our own version of truth. One man's right is another's wrong. One man's truth is another's lie.

We must be lax in our understanding of right and wrong, morality and immorality, and all philosophical and ethical considerations.

It is like T. Paine says:

Morality seems to be some amorphous mist which we are unable to grasp and hold on to accordingly.

John Myste said...

May God be with you, Mr. Paine.

T. Paine said...

John, you are killing me! I absolutely hate that I ever said that line of which you now quote! Lol!

That said, your moral relativism is showing once again, my friend.

Go back and read my posting on this again; This time take notes! ha ha!

http://savingcommonsense.blogspot.com/2011/03/theory-of-moral-relativity.html