Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Years Resolution - Firewood or Fruit

By Russ Ward
New Years get you to thinking about priorities in life and yes even dreaded resolutions. But, this year let's not look at our waistline for resolutions let's look at our lives spiritually. This year think about spiritually, whether we are firewood or fruit.

If you have ever been out to the farm where Shelly and I live you know that we have a couple of trees that needed to be cut down. One tree was resting up against the old milking parlor and the other tree was a one of those soft maples that grew in two different directions. It was also rotten in the middle where rain and snow had caused it to deteriorate over the years.

And these were not small trees. The one up against the building was bigger than 24 inches at the chest and the other was really like two trees in one making it nearly twice as big as the other one. Regardless both of these trees had gotten out of hand and had to go.

It is not that I had anything against the trees personally, They were a danger. With the wrong kind of wind or ice storm, we could have not only lost two big trees, but a couple of buildings and electricity. Not a very pleasant thought in the middle of the winter.

The problem with those trees was not the tree’s fault. The little, soft maple, whirligig seeds just happened to float down and find a seam of soil up against the building and they did what trees (especially soft maples) do, they grew. They were not tended to, guided or pruned. They were left to their own devises shooting up in any way they wanted to with only nature directing their growth.

This is what ultimately led these trees to the burn pile and for wood used at cookouts for hotdogs and S'mores.

As Christians we need tending. In the book of John 15:1 & 2 Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, so it can be even more fruitful.”

In this verse Jesus makes the point that he is the “true vine” and as Jesus continues to say in John, the 15th chapter, we see that the branches are the disciples and believers in him like us.

We are to be pruned by God and stay connected to Jesus to produce the fruit. If we do not produce fruit and are not connected to Jesus we will wither away.

The fate of the withered branches is similar to what will happen to the two trees cut down on the farm. They will find their way to a wood stove or the burn pile.

The result is that we should look at our lives carefully and see if we are still a branch connected to the vine. Do we get nourishment from the vine? Do we rely on the vine for all that we need? Or are we self dependent and try to live independent of the vine?

If we are connected to the vine then we should be producing some fruit for God’s Kingdom. But just some fruit is not good enough, we need to produce more. But, to produce more, we must be ready to get pruned. I’m no tree but that doesn’t sound like fun, however it is necessary to produce more fruit. This fruit is not for ourselves, but for the Kingdom of God.

Remember, even though pruning will hurt, we have a great gardener looking out for us! He will lovingly trim where it is needed to produce lasting growth.

If we allow this growth and stay connected to the vine, you won’t end up in the middle of the fire pit at a wienie roast.

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