What Fruit Do You Produce?

Fruit.  I love fruit.  I know a fruit when I see one.  Apple, orange, pear.  You know it when you see it.  It’s unmistakable.  Not because of how they are displayed in the grocery store, but because of what you know to look for.  In the culinary sense of these words, a fruit is usually any sweet-tasting plant product, especially those associated with seeds (Wikipedia).

 

Our walk with Christ should be the same way. We cannot produce fruit if we are not connected to the source of life.  Just like an apple tree cannot produce apples if it is not connected to the root.  Jesus addressed this when He was talking to his disciples in John 15:1-8.  He said, “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! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.”

 

If we are true believers and are walking in obedience we will produce sweet fruit and it will be recognizable to those around us.  Jesus was very clear about this.  In Matthew 7:15-20, He said, 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”  To me the false prophet could be compared to a tomato.  A tomato is a fruit but is unrecognizable as such.  Holding it up to what we know make a fruit a fruit, a tomato falls short.  But it is indeed a fruit masquerading around as a vegetable.

 

So, how do we know if we are producing good fruit?  We take an inventory.  I came across this quote the other day and thought is was a great way to break things down.

A Partial Inventory of Spiritual Fruit.

A desire and ability to:
1. Pursue God’s glory (1 Cor. 10:31).
2. Mature in Christlikeness (1 Pet. 2:2).
3. Be kind to others (Eph. 4:32).
4. Restore relationships (Mt. 5:9).
5. Rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4).
6. Persevere through trials (Jas. 1:2-3).
7. Suffer persecution for Christ (2 Tim. 3:10-11).
8. Delight in God’s commandments (Psm. 119:47).
9. Read, study, memorize, listen to and meditate on the Bible (Jos. 1:8).
10. Share your faith (2 Tim. 4:5).
11. Be patient with others (1 Thes. 5:14).
12. Contribute to church unity (Eph. 4:3).
13. Desire goodness (2 Thes. 1:11).
14. Pray without ceasing (1 Thes. 5:17).
15. Faithfully prioritize church (Heb. 10:23-25).
16. Prefer others (Rom. 12:10).
17. Surrender fully to Christ (Lk. 9:23).
18. Act faithfully (Gal. 5:22).
19. Serve in the church (1 Cor. 12:7).
20. Experience true peace (Gal. 5:22).
21. Be a committed marriage partner (Col. 3:18-19).
22. Love God and others (Mt. 22:37-39).
23. Guard your heart (Pr. 4:23).
24. Manifest a tempered spirit (Tit. 2:2).
25. Exercise self-control (Gal. 5:23).
26. Grow in the knowledge of God (2 Pet. 3:18).
27. Repent of known sin (Lk. 13:5).
28. Develop biblical wisdom (Eph. 5:15).
29. Examine yourself (1 Cor. 13:5).
30. Practice hospitality (Rom. 12:13).
31. Be humble (1 Pet. 5:6).
32. Work hard with integrity (Col. 3:23-24).
33. Act with gentleness (Gal. 5:23).
34. Manage your home (1 Tim. 3:4).
35. Instruct and discipline your children biblically (Eph. 6:4).
36. Listen more than you speak (Jas. 1:19).
37. Want Christian fellowship (Ac. 2:42).
38. Speak wholesome words (Col. 4:6).
39. Encourage others (1 Thes. 5:11).
40. Be an example for others (1 Tim. 4:12).
41. Forgive others (Mt. 6:12).
42. Fast (Mt. 6:16).
43. Hate evil (Rom. 12:9).
44. Be filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18).
45. Support missionaries (3 Jn. 1:7-8).
46. Engage in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:13).
47. Sacrifice with your finances (2 Cor. 8:3-5).
48. Experience hope (Heb. 6:11).
49. Sing spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19).
50. Develop biblical convictions (Jas. 4:17).
51. Commit to pure doctrine (Tit. 2:1).
52. Desire God’s will (Jn. 4:34).
53. Be thankful (Col. 3:15).
54. Submit wherever necessary (Eph. 5:21).
55. Prioritize spiritual things (Col. 3:1-2).
56. Long for our Lord’s return (Rev. 22:20).

Note: Our hearts must always be examined as much of this can be produced in the flesh.  -Randy Smith

 

We could spend days talking about this subject.  My whole point is to get us thinking.  In this day and age we have lost touch with what actual spiritual fruit is.  I don’t think we know how to recognize it anymore because of our lack of strong connection to the true Vine.  Just because someone is a good person doesn’t mean they are producing good fruit.  Hold what you know up to God’s standard.  Ultimately we need to make sure we are holding ourselves up to the standard first.  So, how is your fruit?  Something to think about.  =)  Be Blessed!

Advertisements

The Beginning of A New Journey (Part 2)

(This is a continuation of my post yesterday, The Beginning of A New Journey)

When he had notified them of his resignation, they gave us until Tuesday to make it official, just in case we changed our minds after praying about it some more.  Like I said, we had come across a church that evening and on Friday we spent the day mulling and praying it over.  After submitting our resume that Friday night, we waited.  We included a link to Tevis’s YouTube page and checked is everyday to see if it had been viewed by anyone in TN and how they got there (either by search, email link, etc.)  We figured it wouldn’t be viewed until at least Sunday since they were more than likely taking Saturday off.  Monday rolled around and it still hadn’t been viewed.  Tuesday came and still nothing.  Late Tuesday night, we made it official that he was going to resign.  “Okay God, You know what Your doing!  This is crazy, but we are trusting that You have it all worked out!” is all that kept running through our heads.

Wednesday morning rolled around.  I got up and checked the YouTube page as usual.  Nothing.  Broken hearted and starting to get discouraged, I was (loving the Yoda thing right now).  I go about breakfast and go and check Tevis’s email at 10:30 and we had gotten an email from Life Point.  Awesome!  I holler for Tevis to come downstairs, that TN had emailed him back.  We read it over and later that afternoon we emailed them back with our answers to the questions that they had.

We didn’t know how long it was going to be until we heard from them again, if at all.  The next day, Tevis was going to be gone to the Leadership Summit with the rest of the staff from church.  At their afternoon 3:45 break, they gathered all the staff together.  They had Tevis announce his resignation to them.  Tevis calls me at 4:05 (yes I really do remember the dates and times of this stuff), and tells me to get a hold of a couple of people for him from the worship team and to tell me that everyone on staff now knows and it’s official.  After I made the calls, I checked his email again.  There in his inbox was an email from Life Point.  They had sent it at 4:35.  They were asking us to come down to visit.  YOU HAVE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME!!!!  24 hours after the first email from them and 30 minutes after he let staff know, Life Point was asking us to come to visit.  In ministry, the hiring process rarely, if ever, moves that fast.  The timing of all this was blowing my mind.  Every time we took a step, God showed up. Doors just kept opening.  So, we just kept walking.

I’ll pick up again from here tomorrow.  =)  Be Blessed!

The Beginning of A New Journey

What a crazy two and a half months it has been!  We have been in the process of moving and what a story it has been!  Of which I will be filling you in on as the days goes by.  Needless to say, a lot of stretching and growing has been and will be going on.

In August, we felt it was time for us to transition; that God was moving us some place else.  We had been feeling this way for some time but were waiting it out to see where he was wanting us to go.  God, having the sense of humor that He has, was wanting us to jump out of the boat first…then He was going to tell us where to jump to.  I cannot tell you how excitingly terrifying that is!  There is a different between me and Tevis.  That being that I am spontaneous and he is structured.  I like my structure, but I love doing things that others would think to be absolutely nuts.  This was one of those things.  Tevis put his resignation in in August without having another job in place.  In todays job market, that’s crazy, but God did His thing.

That evening, after he let them know his decision, I was browsing churches and came across this posting:

Life Point Church is a church plant in Northeast Tennessee. We began in October 2010 and are located in the heart of the Tri-Cities which include Kingsport, Bristol and Johnson City.

We are looking for a Worship Pastor with a heart for God, an ability to work with a team of vocalists and musicians and will work in unity with the Lead Pastor within the vision of the church.

Expectations:
Work together as team with the Lead Pastor and have a big picture mentality of the church.
Coordinate worship sets for Sunday and Wednesday services
Coordinate and lead worship rehersals each week.
Lead worship each Sunday morning

Vision: We are a church of nearly 100 with a heart to reach our community and the world for Christ. Our desire is for this position to be part-time until the ministry grows and can support a full-time minister. The salary is somewhat negotiable depending upon background and experience. If you have the drive and desire to minister through worship and to see God’s kingdom grow and the ministry flourish, you could be exactly who we are looking for!

It grabbed my attention, so I let Tevis know about it.  I dug around and gathered info (as much as I could) about it.  One of the main things that kept calling out to me was, after reading about the staff, Stephanie, the Children’s Director, had a background in Special Needs education.  There was a heart for special needs.  Oh the joy!  A (emotional) safe place for Hunter!  I will fill you in on a little detail.  It is HARD to work in ministry and have a child with special needs.  Not only do you break all the stereotypical “pastor’s families” ideas, but it makes it difficult to participate in ministry.

Anyway, we spent the next day really talking it over and praying about it and talking some more.  Mind you, I knew it was where we were heading, I just had to wait for Tevis to get there too.  We decided to submit our resume and take the leap.  If we didn’t, we would never know what God had planned.

Tomorrow I will fill you in on the next leg of the journey!  Have a great day!  =)  Be Blessed!

Those Misspoken Words

What a treat today has been.  It’s been rainy and cloudy.  We had a coupon for Chili’s for the kids to eat free, so we hopped in the car and went for lunch.  Can’t beat feeding a family of 4 at a sit-down restaurant for $15!  What great conversation we had.  It was nice to be able to sit and Hunter not be bouncing off the walls (though he did plenty of that once we left!)  The thing that has been a reoccurring theme for today has been misspoken words.  Mainly from the kids.  It had me thinking about all the things that we say everyday that don’t come out the way we were meaning.  For example, we were talking about the bartender and what he does.  We were explaining to the kids that not just anybody could be a bartender but if they are good at it, it does pay well.  The next question asked was, “Do they get laid?”  Tevis and just stopped and looked at Destiny.  Needless to say, she was laughing hysterically because what she meant to say was “Do they have it made?”  Such a simple mistake.  Interestingly, she didn’t really know what it meant that she had said.  Another example was this evening.  I had walked into the kitchen with Tevis and we were talking about what I was going to make for supper.  I told him that I couldn’t do anything until it was cleaned up (I will explain more on that when I tell you about our new adventure).  Hunter, not missing a beat, says “MOM!  Don’t worry about it!  Don’t cook!  We can just eat scraps!”  Tevis and I lost it!  He was meaning leftovers.

How easily it is that we misspeak things.  There are many, many scriptures about speaking; what we speak, how we speak, etc.  We are to be careful in what we speak.  I have to say I fail at this DAILY!!!!  I have a sarcastic sense of humor and that is not always in my favor.  I have been known, on occasion, to have a quip that has went to far.  I later run through it again and again in my mind.  Proverbs 12:18 says, Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.  I have to ask myself “is what I’m speaking healing or hurting?”  Most times I ask it a little too late.  We speak so carelessly anymore.  We have gotten away from realizing how much weight our words carry.  God still expects the same from them today as he did then.  He intends us to use our words wisely and to use them to build others up.  Take a look:

The tongue has the power of life and death.  (Proverbs 18:21)

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil. (Proverbs 15:28)

Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone. (Proverbs 25:15) 

The tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Proverbs 15:2)

The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. (Ecclesiastes 9:17)

We are to speak softly and with wisdom.  And being slow to speak leaves room for the wisdom.  We need to be more responsible for the words that we speak and how they are spoken.  Matthew 12:36 says, Men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken.  I will need to remind myself more often of the account that I will have to give of my careless words.  What would that account look like?  I don’t know if I really want to know.  As of today though, today is my day to start anew.  I love how God uses my kids to reveal things to me.  He’s not done with me yet!  =)  Be Blessed!

God In the Small Things

I have found that I have always looked at God as this HUGE being that was hard to get to.  You know, in all honesty, He really isn’t that hard to reach.  I have been starting to make myself look for Him in the smaller things.  The simple things.  It’s not that He’s hard to find there.  He’s been there all along.  It’s just that I haven’t been looking for Him or expecting Him to be there.  He isn’t this thing that is so hard to obtain that we struggle and struggle to get there so we can receive Him.  We make the process so much harder than it really is.  And the answer is pretty simple.  Just be still.  Notice the little things around you.  We don’t allow ourselves to be still enough to even hear a scream from Him more less a whisper.

We have to be willing to make the time to meet with Him.  The devil has done a wonderful job of screwing our priorities up.  Where we think we have to be busy all the time to have accomplished anything or to have all this stuff to prove successful.  Do you realize that by NOT being busy all the time that you can actually get more done?  Or in NOT chasing after all the “stuff”, you have more contentment and joy.  And did you know that in that quiet, down time, God uses those times to speak to you?  To tell you how much He loves you and wants the best for you.

When it comes to decisions that we have to make, even about the small things, there is nothing wrong with taking the time to pray about it.  And sometimes it takes more than five minutes to get the answer.  When we are only willing to rely on him in the bigger things in our lives (normally crisis mode), it makes us pretty narcissistic.  It’s like saying that we don’t need Him until we can’t handle it on our own.  When we start to rely on him EVEN in the small things, we are nurturing something so great, we don’t even understand it.

Just always remember, yes God is there with you through the big stuff (death, job loss,etc) but more importantly, He’s there even in the little things.  While you’re cleaning the toilet, doing the laundry, bathing your children.  He’s there.  Just let yourself feel his presence and bask in it.  Even if you don’t know what His presence feels like, making yourself aware of Him is a big start.  Peace will be soon to follow…even in the small things.  =)

New Creation

Needed to re-read this since I totally lost it last night.  We started AIT (Auditory Integration Therapy) yesterday for Hunter and it is taking a lot out of me.  All the driving, time involved and wrestling with him takes it out of you.  He is very disorganized right now in how he handles himself, which is a result of the intensiveness of having his brain retrained.  Needless to say, I was wore out and lacked a TON of self-control.

Today I have really struggled with myself.  I have really felt bad on nearly everything about myself.  Tevis and I were talking and I just started listing everything that I didn’t like about myself, everything that I feel I have failed at, etc, etc…  I started ranting about failing at homeschooling, failing at keeping up with the house, failing at being a good wife, being overweight…yada yada yada.  You get the point.  I started crying about wanting to have a counter like the ones in the model homes where they have just a papertowel holder and a few canisters on them.  Why I was so focused on that, who knows.  Tevis just laughed at me and said “what home do you know of that is like that?”  I said, “Peoples!”  That’s all I could come up with.  In my head that’s the way everybody’s house is.

I think the main thing that gets me down is that I don’t live up to my own expectations.  I have this image in my head of what I want our house, family and life to be like.  I like the order of things.  Where everything runs smoothly, the kids love each other and don’t fight.  There are days where it straight up hits me that we are no where close to that image and it really bothers me and I dont’ know how to fix it.  But so often that image that I want to live up to is really nothing but a comparison of someone else, of what I THINK their life is like.  I’m craving to be like someone else because their grass is greener.  But, I’m not seeing myself or our family through God’s eyes.  How easy it is for Satan to weasel his way into our minds and to plant these little thoughts that really can wreak havoc on us.  What I need to do is go and pull out my paper that has all the things that God says I am, and read them.  I need to dig in and stand on THAT truth instead of Satan’s lies.  I have to admit though, it is really hard to change your way of thinking when you have let negative thinking become some a habit.  Especially when it’s about yourself.  But we are to have a renewed mind.  And I need to remember that I am a new creation in Christ and so are you!  =)  Be Blessed!

Conveniently Inconvenienced

Note: This is a previous post that I am transferring over here to my new blog.  =)

I have come to realize though that modern conveniences are a pain in the tookus because they are just that…conveniences.  And conveniences are only convenient until they require effort.  I am thankful for them though.  Our water heater bit the dust.  We replaced the thermostat (mainly because it TOTALLY melted) and the bottom element.  OH YEAH (we thought), we have hot water again!  So, I got up this morning and……nope.  No hot water.  The ol’ girl doesn’t have anything left in her.  So, we have to install a new one (which I’m hoping they will come to do by this weekend).  This is on top of a bunch of other things that seem to have wanted to stop working all at the same time.  Tevis informed me today that this gives us a chance to experience the old days, sorta, since we have to get the water from the tub (kitchen faucet stem is full of sediment) and boil it on the stove and then put it in the tub for a bath or the sink to wash dishes.  Not that they went to the tub to fetch water…but you get the point.  Mind you that I TOTALLY understand the whole roughin’ it mentality.  We lived without hot water for 6 months before.  I am thankful for what we have though.  What a blessing it is to just have shelter from the rain and wind.  We get to where we believe that we HAVE to have all these modern things.  Why?  Sure, us having to boil water requires more effort than just turning on the faucet, but we still have running water.  We still have a way to heat it.  It just takes a little more time.

God is so amazing in how he provides and cares for us.  He is amazing in how he allows inconveniences to happen in our life that teach us about perseverance and trust and some good ol’ fashioned hard work.  These are the times that we find what we are made of.  How strong our faith is.  How strong our trust in Him is.  What our foundation really consists of.  Too often we try to handle everything on our own.  By doing that, we run out of steam.  We get burned out.  We become distressed and we start to become depressed.  We are relying too much on our own strength.  Why is it so hard for us to just lean back into God’s big arms and let Him carry us through the muck?  We are such a rushed society.  I don’t think we really know how to just stop and let God do what God wants to do.  God is at work all around us, but we have to be able to slow ourselves down enough to see the work He is doing.  The whole water heater thing is a lesson for me.  I have to take the time to fill the stockpot.  I have to take the time to heat it on the stove.  And I’m having to take baths right now instead of a shower.  I’ve had to slow down.  And during the waiting in all that I find myself talking to Him.  What else do I have to do?  Perfect time as any so I’m taking advantage of it.  Maybe you can find those moments of “inconvenience” as a convenient time to talk with God.  =)