“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. You are already clean because of the word which I have given you [the teachings which I have discussed with you]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers and dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you, My Father is glorified and honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.” John 15:1 AMP
A little while back our Bible Study class was discussing this passage in the book of John; pondering it brought to mind the many years that I had my gardens. Specifically it reminded me of tending to the couple dozen tomato plants I would plant in my vegetable garden each year.
Left alone tomato plants will overtake a good portion of your garden space while producing little or no fruit. They love the heat and the sun… add water and you have the makings for some pretty big plants. Notice I say “big plants”… I didn’t say a lot of tomatoes, just big plants.
“So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.” “Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?” So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.” 1 Kings 19:19-21 NIV
Elijah, a Prophet, was commanded by God to anoint several Kings as well as anoint Elisha as his protégé and successor. Until that time, Elisha was a farmer plowing his family fields, driving a team of oxen behind the plow. Just living his life.
In an instant his life is transformed when Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. At that time a man’s cloak was a prized possession. It served as his protection from the weather and any other dozen uses. But in this instance the cloak denoted the office of Prophet. The act of Elijah covering Elisha with his cloak was to show that he would be come Elijah’s successor. Elisha dropped what he was doing and ran after Elijah. But he stopped him and asked to be allowed to go back and say goodbye to his parents, to which Elijah agreed.
A minute doesn’t seem like a big deal. After all, it’s just 60 seconds. It goes by in the amount of time that the average heart beats 80 times… or for the average lungs to breathe 20 times. A minute is fairly insignificant if you think about it. We really don’t focus on the single minutes of our life. They are not accounted for in big plan of our life. They tick away and before we know it, all 2400 minutes of this day are done and we are starting on the next 2400 minutes.
So what can happen during one minute?
- 25 Americans will get a passport
- 58 Airplanes will take off around the world.
- 116 People will get married
- 11,319 UPS packages will be delivered
- 243,000 photos will be uploaded to Facebook
- 250 Babies will be born
- 106 People will die
- 360 Lightening strikes will hit somewhere on the earth
- 7,295,000,000 human hearts will beat 582,800,000,000 Continue reading
This is a re-post of this article first written in 2015. How sad is it that all we need do is to change the name of the Church or Synagogue and it is as relevant today as it was three years ago.
My heart hurts today. The news on every channel is filled with images from South Carolina and the senseless killing of nine precious saints in the AME Church in Charleston. My heart weeps for the destruction.
satan has stepped up his unholy boldness; he is no longer lurking in the shadows. Oh no, he is taking his evil right to Main Street America.
his pervasive evil now invades our homes to steal our children right from their beds only to rape, maim and murder the innocents – all done in the name of evil. And satan laughs.
Evil now walks upright in the full light of day directly through the front door of our schools and opens fire on the innocents – killing all in its path; leaving a trail of destruction and tears that can never be repaired, never be forgotten – all done in the name of evil. And satan laughs.
Evil now boards our airplanes – unafraid and undaunted. It takes control and three thousand innocents are murdered – all done in the name of evil. And satan laughs.
“As we are approaching the end of this age, we will come to see that those things which are to be shaken shall be removed and only those things which are not to be shaken shall remain. May we therefore seek for things unshakable which come through the spirit of wisdom and revelation.”[i]
Recently we began an all Church Bible Study called Experience Life by Pete Briscoe. In the week two study, we are challenged to develop and deepen our relationship with Jesus by committing ourselves to spending time with Him, becoming more the person He desires us to be. “Discipleship requires Discipline” “We have a new life in Christ – a relationship with our living Lord!” Just as when we meet a new friend, we want to get to know them better, we do this by spending time with them – talking, learning about them, their past, their likes, their dislikes, etc. “For the Christian, isn’t that what spiritual growth really is – getting to know Jesus better, communicating with Him, learning what He likes and doesn’t like, and adapting our lives to His?” Continue reading
Kingdom Citizen: Your Role in Rebuilding a Broken Nation by Tony Evans
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“The news is filled with stories of violence, division, and despair. American politics have become polarized. Effective leadership is in short supply. Change may seem outside our reach. And Christians struggle to understand their role in reversing the downward spiral of our nation.
Dr. Tony Evans offers a healthy dose of hope: the solution to our nation’s problems and unrest isn’t out of reach. The solution is here—and each one of us as Kingdom Citizens has a vital role to play.
Be assured that our God is greater than any challenge—and He has promised to equip His people. In Kingdom Citizen, you’ll discover how to respond in faith, in spite of a country and culture in decline.
Here is a powerful call to action for concerned Christians. Here is a call for unity and restoration. And here is strong assurance that each of us has the ability to walk justly, to seek truth, and to stand in the gap for our land.”
Does God Really Forgive Our Sins? And if He does then why do we keep taking them back?
So a few weeks back, I was having a sweet chat with a dear friend and she said to me, “Do you believe that God really forgives our sins?” Without hesitation, I said yes I do.
She went on to tell me that sometimes she feels like no matter how many times she asks forgiveness, she feels like He doesn’t hear her. She doesn’t feel forgiven; thoughts of that particular sin seem to plague her.
There are dozens of Scriptures that talk about repentance and God’s forgiveness in the Bible, here are just a few that I shared with my dear friend.
Transforming Presence: How the Holy Spirit Changes Everything-From the Inside Out by Daniel Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Why did Jesus say it would be better for Him to go? He said the coming of the Helper – the Holy Spirit – was that important. And that the Spirit who so powerfully turned bumbling disciples into unstoppable world changers is alive in us. But misunderstandings, confusion and contention are keeping us from the abundant, satisfying life God has for us in Him.”
Transforming Presence by Daniel Hendersonis an eye–opening book on the subject of Holy Spirit. The author reminds and teaches us that He is not just a “member” of the Trinity. He is God. “Because Holy Spirit is a person, He can be intimately known deeply loved, and clearly understood. Because He is God, we relate to Him in abandoned worship, unquestioned obedience and full surrender.” (Page 84) And as such we have the gift of the indwelling presence of Holy Spirit in each of us; our role is to let His presence invade not just our life and the life of our churches as well.
Praying God’s Promises: The Life-Changing Power of Praying the Scriptures by Linda Evans Shepherd
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
“Prayer changes things. Praying God’s promises changes everything. The Scriptures tell us that when we pray the will of God, he delights to answer our prayers. But what is God’s will in any given situation? How can we know it? And if we don’t know it, how can we pray it?
In this inspiring book, Linda Evans Shepherd reveals that God’s will is not a mystery–it’s clearly laid out in his Word through his many promises. Through stories, practical application, examples of prayers, and guided reflection, she leads you toward a more powerful prayer life. Arranged by topic for ease of use, this book shows how to pray God’s promises of peace, for health, for relationships, for our children, and so much more.” Continue reading
This article is reprinted in it’s entirety with the permission of the Author – Ethan Renoe
The other day I was in a coffee shop in the mountains, seated near the counter. A guy in his early 20s walked in wearing a TOOL shirt and a long ponytail. I could overhear his conversation as he approached the barista and they began chatting. Somehow it came up that she attends a Christian university and he clearly didn’t approve.
“Do they incorporate religion into all the classes there?” he asked. “Even the science classes? How does that work?”
She valiantly began explaining how they pray before every class and teach from a Christian worldview, but it soon became evident that she was being crushed in this conversation. He was well-schooled in the writings of Dawkins, Hitchens and Nye, and began doling out the punishment.
I use the word punishment because this poor barista has herself been punished by a church system which, for the past 200 years, has begun discarding intelligence in favor of emotion, conversion experiences and passion. Ask most American Christians today any question deeper than “Does God love everyone?” and you’re bound to get some sort of response suggesting that that sort of discourse should be reserved for theological universities.
The other day, a friend of mine said he sees no merit in understanding Calvinism or Arminianism because he just wants to love God and love people. And it seems that the ball stops there for most Christians today. No need to know any more than that.