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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Achoo (04/11/13)

TITLE: Mountain Cedar and Jesus
By Linda Berg


I wiped the tears away as they fell from my eyes. With every passing minute, the itching and watering eyes was making my effort to see as I drove more difficult. “Achoo.” Great, now the sneezing is starting. “Achoo…..achoo…..achoo…..”

I was driving in the Texas Hill Country. It was a hot day in February. The air conditioning in the car wasn’t working and I had my car windows open. The Mountain Cedar was doing its thing.

It grows naturally and is the most allergenic tree in Central Texas. The Mountain Cedar (MC) is an evergreen tree with grey-brown shredding bark; it grows to a maximum height of approximately 30 feet on the limestone plateaus of central Texas, and in smaller favorable areas of Texas, New Mexico, northern Mexico, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. The Junipers have male and female plants. At the ends of its scale like leaves, the male tree proliferates numerous reddish-brown cones 3 to4 mm in diameter tipped with pollen, while female trees bear fewer 6 – 8 mm diameter dark blue-green berries (cones). The pollens from the male tree appear as some in the air if the branch is physically disturbed.

I could see the dark smoky haze of the male tree’s pollen across the landscape in front of me. I will need to stop at a store and get some allergy medicine before continuing on this journey. “Achoo….”

That was my first personal experience with the Mountain Cedar tree. Several times since then I have encountered the Mountain Cedar. Every time, I have a reaction.

It’s like Jesus.

Time and time again in God’s word we see people as they encounter Jesus react.

As the story is written in the book of Mark, “as a young man was setting out on his journey, he ran up to him and knelt before him and asked, ‘Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’” Jesus responded by asking a question and then making a statement. “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.” Jesus went on to reference some of the Ten Commandments, speaking each one to the young man. The young man responded right away with verbal affirmation that he had kept those commandments since he was young. “Looking at him, Jesus felt a love for him,” and gave him a directive to go and sell all he had and give to the poor. The young man, turning away, with shoulders slumped and head down departs from Jesus.

We don’t know if the Rich Young Ruler pondered those words of Jesus and came to a conclusion different than his original reaction. But this we know. An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.

In another instance, “As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth.” His disciples were with him and they began to question Jesus. They thought his blindness was the result of the sin of the man or his parents. As Jesus responded, we see neither was the case. Jesus’ answer indicates that because of the man’s blindness God’s works would be revealed.

Spitting on the ground, Jesus mixes his saliva with the dirt and makes some mud. Taking some of that mud in his hand, he reaches up and covers the blind man’s eyes with it, telling him to, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam.”

“So the man went and washed and came home seeing.” An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.

At dawn one day, Jesus appeared in the temple courts. Many people gathered around to hear him teach. Some of the religious folk of that day brought in a woman who had been caught in adultery. Making verbal reference to the Law of Moses that would have demanded stoning this woman for her sin, they ask Jesus, “Now, what do you say?”

Jesus bent down and began writing in the ground with his finger. Finished he stood up. Looking at them he said “Let any of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again, he bent down to the ground and wrote. This sparked a reaction, as one by one they began to leave, first the older ones, then the younger ones. When no one was left, Jesus stood up, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir.”

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

An encounter with Jesus caused a reaction.

Brooks, Dr. Edward G., Cedar: The Allergy Plague of Trees
Accessed 18th April, 2013

Scripture References: NASB Mark 10:17-27, NIV John 9:1-7, NIV John 8:1-11

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This article has been read 306 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Lori Dixon04/18/13
Jesus does cause a reaction! I like your approach to the topic and enjoyed your voice . . . felt it did not need the 'facts' about the cedar trees as it cut into the feel and flow of your own writing.
Loved the verses and the way you tied the moments with Jesus into your encounters with your sneezes! Great job and as I said, YOUR writing and voice is what readers are going to enjoy more. Then again, I'm so not a botanist or gardener so maybe that's just my opinion! :) Looking forward to reading your piece next week! CLICK!
lynn gipson 04/19/13
And what a glorious reaction it is! Your writing just gets better and better. I enjoyed this so much. Thank you for sharing your fine talent! Love your stories.
Christina Banks 04/19/13
Interesting information about the cedars. I like how you hooked an ordinary experience to a life lesson. None of us can have real contact with Christ without coming away changed.
Judith Gayle Smith04/19/13
Very informative. My empathy for your reddened nose. I have to agree with Lori on this - I almost bogged down until you started showing reactions to Jesus. I truly enjoyed this.
Alicia Renkema04/21/13
Every thing you mentioned was interesting and informative, however despite the fact that what you shared about the Mountain Cedar and the Jesus's words causing reactions it still felt like two different stories to me.
I thought your info with the cedar tree and the Bible stories both flowed well and were very descriptive, there just wasn't enough of a tie in for me. Blessings.
dub W04/22/13
I tend to agree with the above, a more natural transition perhaps and a couple of grammar issues lost in the cedars. Nevertheless, an enjoyable read.
Cheryl Harrison04/22/13
When I lived in the Dallas area the Mountain Cedar would get me every year. I enjoyed your devotional. Good message. Thanks for writing.
Dana Anders04/23/13
I don't know much about the area you referred to nor really the tree - so I was a bit switched off at the beginning for some reason. But when you started to talk about having a reaction to Jesus, you captured my attention again. I liked that part the best.