Fallen branches

Every day around here is pretty much the same. Get the girls up, help them get breakfast, wipe their faces (although, I admit, sometimes I forget about this step and I find myself frantically rubbing their faces as they get on the bus), pack up their backpacks, making sure they got their lunches, shoes on, jackets on, and head down to the bus stop.

On the way down to the bus stop each morning I notice many fallen branches. Some small, some really big. Unfortunately, that means some of our street trees are nearing the end of their lives, but other times, it means the branch was dead, barely hanging on, and they fell. They needed to be released from the tree firmly planted, because otherwise that dead branch would continue sucking life nutrients that the still alive tree needed. It could eventually hinder the growth of the healthy tree, causing it to become unhealthy. This reminded me of something gardeners do to keep plants and trees healthy and beautiful:


Just as beautiful trees, rosebushes, plants, etc need pruning from time to time, so do we as God’s most beautiful creation. Sometimes, we have things we are holding onto that are sucking life out of us. They are taking the nutrients our hearts, souls, and minds so desperately need. We all will have times in our lives that require pruning. It may look like stepping back from a relationship that is toxic. It may look like getting rid of certain environmental factors that are causing unnecessary stress.

Sometimes, however, it will be reaching into the deepest, darkest, most secretive places in your soul to finally release control of that area of life you have so desperately clung to. You know it is causing your soul to be sick, but you are afraid to let it go. You are afraid to prune it back for fear of what it will expose underneath. You are afraid if you prune that part, it will leave other parts vulnerable.

But, you see, by pruning your heart, you leave room for growth. Beautiful growth. Fruit bearing growth. Pruning prepares your heart for something more beautiful to come. Pruning allows the life giving nutrients to reach those places that used to be covered by the tangled mess of dead branches. Pruning allows the sun to finally shine on those cavernous places in your soul, bringing with it all the warmth, beauty, and light it was starving for.

Pruning, though painful and hard at the time, gives life.

I realized that I have a place like that. I have a place in my soul, in my life, that I am holding onto so tight you couldn’t break into it with the jaws of life. I need to uncurl my fingers and unclench my fist. I need to allow God to prune this area in my life. I need to cut off this diseased portion so that the beautiful parts can grow and be used.

Do you have a place in your soul that needs pruning? Will you release that today? Allow God to prune the dead so your beautiful shows even more? So that God can use you to bear even MORE fruit?

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

“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. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!” John 15:1-7





Growth takes pain

Having 2 young children I have seen my fair share of growth spurts. Teething. Emotional growth. Etc. The one thing that I have seen consistent through each of these phases is it all involves SOME sort of pain or discomfort. I said last week that I wanted to write a blog about growing spiritually and how I feel sometimes people can SAY they have a desire to grow, but when it comes down to it, they really don’t. People get comfortable where they are. I have times that its hard for ME to want to grow and work past something because I am comfortable. Growing takes change. Growing takes pain. Growing is uncomfortable. No matter WHAT kind…. I think people don’t want to deal with the pain and conviction that comes along with spiritual growth. They don’t want to give up certains sins that they love, or enjoy. They don’t want to change their friends, their lifestyle, their hearts… But being a Christian requires that, and it is worth it, and our lives are ALWAYS better in the will of Christ and keeping his commands than doing what we want and falling victim to the flesh and sinful desires. They may seem “fun” for awhile, but they lead to destruction.

Yes, it may be painful, but you will always come out of it more mature. As a child is taller physically after a growth spurt, growing pains included, their body has changed, it has matured, it has developed… it has grown. Spiritual growth will be painful too, but when we are through the hard part and the pain, and the period of growth, we will be “taller” spiritually. We should constanly be seeking to grow spiritually. There are seasons of growth that are warm fuzzies, and there are seasons that are painful. There really is no way to know which will be which. Now, I can 100% guarentee you if you are struggling with a certain sin and its hard to let go, if you truly want to change and grow, it WILL be painful. You WILL be convicted. BUT, you will also come out so much better in the end!! It really is worth it.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that  Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test! I hope you will find out that we have not failed the test. But we pray to God that you may not do wrong—not that we may appear to have met the test, but that you may do what is right, though we may seem to have failed. For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. For we are glad when  we are weak and you are strong. Your  restoration is what we pray for. For this reason I write these things while I am away from you, that when I come  I may not have to be  severe in my use of the authority that the Lord has given me for building up and not for tearing down.” 2 Corinthians 13:5-10

Staying in one place spiritually is kinda like having facebook friends or following people on Twitter. You may comment and “talk” to them occassionally, or tweet, but its more than likely pretty superficial. That isn’t the kind of relationship Jesus wants with his children.  It isn’t the type of Christian life he requires either. In John 10:10, Jesus says

“I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”

This kind of LIFE takes work. It will take not just SAYING you have a desire for growth, but actually STRIVING for growth… pain included. The Bible says that when we have trials and tribulations we should count it joy for this reason!! It is hard, yes, but the Lord is growing us and shaping us to be more like him. As Christians, we are to be like Jesus. How can we be like Jesus if we don’t seek growth?

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that  the testing of your faith  produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

Being a Christians isn’t simply another thing to check of off your “things you want to do” list. It takes work. It takes effort. It is more than just going to church Sunday and reading a few verses here and there, yet being in the club drunk on thursday nights or supporting for things that are CLEARLY against God’s Word. It is a relationship, and just like any relationship it takes work. It takes casting aside things that will cause that relationship to suffer.

“The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us  cast off  the works of darkness and  put on the armor of light.  Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But  put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” Romans 13:12-14

The Bible also says you will know his followers by their FRUIT. Does works save us? NO. It is only the grace of God… BUT those who are truly saved will WANT to have that abundant life, they will want to grow, they will be convicted of sin. If someone says they are a Christian and you never see fruit then biblically speaking, they may not be truly one of His sheep, in fact the Bible says they can be sheep in WOLVES clothing (think of Little Red Riding Hood! That is EXACTLY what is is… the better to eat you with my dear…). False prophets! The Bible says BEWARE of them!! TRUE disciples will produce spiritual fruit.

“I am the vine;  you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them  by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” Matthew 7:15-20

Is it time or some pruning? Some watering? Do you need healthy soil so you can grow? What I mean by healthy soil, to me, is what you surround yourself with, people you hang out with, activities you do, etc, if your soil is filthy and contaminated, you won’t grow, you may become “diseased” so to speak, as a plant would in contaminated soil. I am not saying that Christians only hang out with Christians, we should always be seeking to make a difference in people’s lives and share the gospel with them, but is how THEY live affecting how YOU live? The Bible says: “Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” 1 Corinthians 15:33, so we need to make sure that isn’t happening. We need to also have those around us to challenge us, call us out, hold us accountable, etc.

The above bolded verse, matthew 7, it says to put OFF works of darkness. Works of darkness are sins. The Christian life requires us to strive for holiness and holiness requires putting off sin. Holiness requires WORK. Holiness requires us to have MORE than a superficial relationship with Christ.

I leave you with this passage, it is 2 Peter 3. It talks of the coming of Christ. He IS coming again. We must be ready. It says in there be careful you are found without spot or blemish, meaning those who are TRULY saved and IN Christ are covered by His blood. Pease read this passage,click on it… A verse I want to point out in closing is verse 18

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” 2Peter 3:18