Grafted to Jesus +Words With Winter Link Up

This week I was studying Colossians and a verse in chapter 2 lead me back to a passage of scripture in John. Chapter 15 starts out with Jesus telling us He is the true grapevine and his Father is the gardener. I attended a youth leader conference a few years ago that had a workshop based on these verses in John 15, while there the leader of this workshop showed a video of how gardeners graft plants together. It was such an amazing video to watch and think about in the context of our lives being grafted on to Jesus.

 

This is what Jesus is talking about. He doesn’t say WE are the grapevine, we are only the branches. We have been grafted on to Him by the Gardener.

berries

A gardener doesn’t just take a piece of a branch and tape it to a vine. Oh, no my friends, it is way more complex than that!  I would not refer to myself as a green thumb so I had no idea of this amazing process. The gardener must first prepare the vine or root stock that the “transplant” is being grafted to. The root stock is cut down to just the base and the bark is taken off and the grapevine is cut in a deep V pattern so the the new branch can be grafted on. The newly grafted branch is taped onto the vine.

 

Umm, does this sound familiar to anyone else? Jesus was stripped, cut and bleeding for me. Because of His willingness to suffer I was able to be grafted on to Him, so that I might produce fruit.

 

Jesus says in verse 5 that “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.”

 

 

fruit

 

So this tells us we have a choice we can chose to remain in Him and produce fruit. The other option would be to not remain in Him and the result will be to suffer being thrown out. Yes that sounds harsh, until you think of the reward of option one.

 

Because He says in verse 9: “if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.”

 

 

Wow, I think option one sounds great but what does that look like lived out? What does it take to bear fruit? And what does it mean when Jesus says in verse 2 “he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more”?

 

So what does it look like to bear fruit as a branch on the grapevine of Jesus? I believe spiritual fruit is obtained when we become more and more like Jesus. That’s what happens when that grafted transplant grows deeper and deeper into the vine, it is still itself but it becomes more and more like the vine. When we long to live like Jesus more than how the world does, that is spiritual fruit. When we show kindness and patience to those who aren’t easy to love, that is spiritual fruit. When we show joy in times of trials, that is spiritual fruit.

 

So the next time your toddler is coloring on the wall with your favorite lipstick, respond with patience drawing deeply from the Vine. When your spouse comes home and has forgotten to pick up the 3 dozen cupcakes you need for the school bake sale respond with kindness that only comes from being tapped into the Vine. This is what bearing fruit lived out can look like.

 

When verse 2 talks about pruning the fruit bearing branches, I get a little squirmy. This is because, although I’m trying to be the best fruit bearing branch I can be, I still think pruning sounds painful.

 

Wikipedia says the purpose of pruning is: “shaping (by controlling or directing growth), improving or maintaining health, reducing risk from falling branches, and both harvesting and increasing the yield or quality of fruits. The practice entails targeted removal of diseased, damaged, dead, non-productive, structurally unsound, or otherwise unwanted tissue from plants.”

 

This definition when applied to my life does sound like it is good for my overall growth and fruit bearing…still painful, but very needed.

 

What is God pruning in your life? He has definitely been shaping me lately. I read back through an old journal recently and for over a year I was asking the same question of the Lord essentially. Of what should I do about this situation, I didn’t like the situation, but I was stuck. Stuck so deeply that it got painful when the Lord got the pruning shears out and got to work. That pain made me move from my stuck situation, and fruit has begun to grow again.

 

So sisters, I pray that you will root yourself deeper into the Lord if that is where you are at.

 

Cling to what Colossians 2:7 says: “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.”

 

rooted

Or, if you are like me and are in a season of pruning, I pray that you will let the Gardener do the work necessary for you to become more fruitful.

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Twists and Turns

Welcome to the new blog!!! There are a few finishing touches that are coming but I’m so very thrilled with its beautifulness! Be sure to check out Little Web Writing Hood (she is pretty awesome!) I hope to begin offering Words with Winter next week as a link up party so be sure to follow me to be the first to know!

This post is dedicated to to a really special group of kids. A group of kids that I am honored to have been apart of most of your lives since 5th grade. A group of kids that have blessed me more than I likely have them. I have watched you grow into such amazing young men and woman and am so blessed to have been your Sunday school teacher and later, your youth leader. You have blessed me by being so very patient with me as the Lord has grown my teaching and speaking skills. I have been blessed and challenged to dig into God’s word, to be a planner and organizer of events, to love each of you more than you know. You have impacted the Kingdom so much already in your young lives, and I know that you will accomplish great things in the future.

As you head into the future, don’t be discouraged if life twists and turns. It will likely take you in directions you didn’t plan. I certainly didn’t plan to stand where I am now when I was your age. Each year I watch kids tell their plans and see the eagerness that only the young can have. I always want to tell them don’t lose that, even through the twists, don’t lose the eagerness and hope in the future. For even if it looks different than the plan, there is greatness.

When I was a graduating senior my plan was to get married that summer, attend a commuter college and major in elementary education. Prior to that I wanted to be a doctor so that I could grow up and heal my grandpa, well he passed away, and I took chemistry so the new plan was born.

I did get married that summer, but I did not begin college. I can admit now I was just too afraid. Afraid of meeting new people, of failing, of not being able to afford it, of not being able to keep up with working and studying.

I began working at a local optometrist office, being trained on the job as a technician, vision therapist, and scribe. Nearing 14 years later I am still in this field part time.

Even though this was fun and challenging, I admit that it didn’t fill all the dreams.  So I dreamed of photography. It was creative, it allowed me to meet new people (I had gotten over my fear of new people),and it allowed me to be the boss. It also was highly competitive, not financially consistent, and became all about supporting my family and no longer about being creative.

If you have visited me before, most of you will know that during the time of photography dreaming, God really got a hold of my life again. I had given my life to Christ at age 14. I loved to serve, by age 16, I was already organizing youth events, and encouraging people to grow deeper in their faith, even at that young age. Unfortunately I attended a church that, at least at that time, didn’t believe in women leading and quickly put the lid on my leading any youth events. That caused me to grow distant and unsteady in my faith. I questioned my purpose in His Kingdom, if I felt passionate why wouldn’t the Lord want me to do these things I questioned. Thankfully by 2005 the Lord lead us to another church home, one that I found a place in youth ministry at.

Through that time in youth ministry God grew me. He showed me how to love a group of kids like my own. He showed me how to teach, how to dream, how to serve, and showed me my very passion-encouraging others to grow deeper in their faith. He also showed me difficult lessons, how to love when it’s difficult to love and when to let go because He is calling you someplace new.

I find it amazing that the Lord took my dreams from early childhood and early twenties to create who I am today. I wanted to be a doctor, I now hope to bring healing through His words. I wanted to be a teacher, I am able to teach His word. I wanted to be creative, I now create with words and photography.

I tell you all of this graduates, so that you know life gives twists and turns. That good, purposeful turns happen. That God is with you each step, He will guide and direct you even if you don’t see a way.

James 1:5 tells us, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.”

wisdom

 

 

Did you get that guys, He wants to supply you all the wisdom you need! He won’t think your crazy, He won’t ignore you, He will supply it.

You are created as the Lord’s masterpiece, He has plans for your life. It can be easy to forget this, I say that from experience too. It took me a long time to see my worth and purpose. You, my lovely seniors, helped me to find it.

So to Alec, Bre, Corynn, Keaton, Madison, Mike, and Nick you all are so very loved by me. I definitely find myself feeling sappy as I write this! I am only and have always only been a text a way. So as you move into a new phase in life remember these things:

You are created for a purpose and through the grace of the Lord you will accomplish what He has for you to do.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

You are loved by the very creator of the universe, He cares for the sparrow so He definitely wants to bring good to you.

“So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows.” Matthew 10:31

He doesn’t promise the easy life but He does promise to always be with you.

“You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth.” Psalm 71:20

You are the masterpiece of the Lord, that truth can only be found in Him.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10

Don’t live as the world does but as He calls you to live.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

In the footsteps of Alec I must end on an analogy. Life is like a twisted gravel road. Don’t speed, you just might wreck or miss beautiful scenery. Don’t get lost in the dust cloud that those in front of you leave, and don’t be surprised at the twists in the road, just lean into Him. Most of all, stay hopeful of the view that can be found around the next corner.

 

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