fruit is meant to be eaten

 

My uncle sent me a text not too long ago after I asked him about the farms in southwest Iowa. It read, "Many mouths will be empty in the world, I fear." The summer has been a big, ugly drought here in the Midwest.

And that has me thinking about provision.

There's no way around it - we need food. We might be confused about how much we need, but the fact that we need it is not up for debate. We are wired to need food.

The reality that we depend on food is something God uses every day to remind us of our dependence on Him. When we have daily bread, we are thankful. When we lack daily bread, we remember that He is the bread of life. Whether we are hungry or full, God is always the Provider.

As I think about the fruit produced in John 15, I wonder what happens to all of the produce. Have you ever thought of that? God is the vine and we are the branches. If we remain in Him, we will bear MUCH FRUIT. It is clear that God is the Provider - what branch can produce fruit separate from the vine? But, for the person who remains in the Lord, what is to become of the fruit he/she produces? Does it just accumulate and then fall to the ground under the fruit-heavy branches?

Fruit is meant to be eaten, at least where I come from. I love the summer months that bring blueberries and sweet bing cherries. I love the fall months that bring Honeycrisp apples and grapes and pomegranates. I love the winter months that bring out the canned peaches and strawberry jams. I love these fruits because they are delicious.

So, what if we thought of the fruit on our branches in the same way? What if, as we are remaining in the Lord - knowing Him, finding out what pleases Him, and delighting to do those things - we are a fruit factory

What if God serves up fruit through our lives so that others can taste and see that HE IS GOOD? Isn't this what it says in Matthew 5:16, "Let your light shine bright before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise the Father in heaven."?

As we remain in Him, we cannot help but produce fruit - delicious, ripe, fresh-off-the-vine fruit. Now, if we could just find ways to serve others with this precious produce. Our fruit is not meant to rot on the branch, but to be shared and enjoyed!

The fruit produced by branches connected to the vine is meant to be eaten by others, enjoyed by others, and served to others. Let this be the way we handle the fruit of the Spirit.

Remedy

Talk of the economy and taxes and 'Greece-is-our-future' can get a sister down, you know? It's not just the old folks who are saying, "What's this world coming to?" No, that phrase is open to all ages because nobody knows anymore and it's a little frightening. Safe to say, everybody is looking for something. Also safe to say, everybody is looking for something to fix whatever's broken.

Here's something to sleep on by the Welcome Wagon that might chase away some of those bad dreams.

Enjoy!

http://vimeo.com/43865331

Bible literacy, Must-see films, short-term missions, and Micah Project

Hey, friends! Here's another short-list of things you should read/click/watch/do. I hope this Monday is anything but manac and everything wonderful!

  • This series on short-term mission trips from the Gospel Coalition is extremely helpful in giving some understanding to a really hard topic. Short-term missions is just something Western churches do, even if it doesn't need doing. Read the first article, "Celebrating the Short-Term Missions Boom " and then the second, "Why You Should Consider Canceling Your Short-Term Missions Trip ." There is a third on the way.
  • So, my favorite film critic Brett McCracken, has a list of Best Films of the first half of this year. Take a look and see what you think.
  • How many of you start books and never finish them? How many of you are "reading" 5 books at the moment and a few of those you've been "reading" for 5 years? This article, "Biblical Literacy Begins with Reading," reveals a problem we may have thought little about. It's not about getting the Bible into the hands of more people. It's about teaching those people to obey (Matthew 28) by actually reading and understanding the Bible in a way that translates into life.  But not the kind of reading that we do haphazardly - intentional, focused reading with accountability.
  • There are a lot of Christian books out there about how to be radical today - how to live simply, be significant, make a difference, and all that jazz. Micah Project, an organization I worked with while I lived in Honduras, is not a tagline, but a transformational ministry. Take a look at this video to see their story (narrated by a boy who went from street kid to professional through the power of Jesus).
  • And, just because I don't want your Monday to drag, check out this article on the "awe of God." It puts theology and Mondays in their rightful places.
  • Here's some background music for your morning: [bandcamp track=3338549774 bgcol=FFFFFF linkcol=4285BB size=venti]

Have a great day, my friends!

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

human eyes; heaven sight

This morning the ice clung to brown, lifeless branches.And we are all dying.

This past weekend my mom sent an email my aunt wrote about my grandpa's graceful, shuffling steps into this strange season of life. I've re-read these words so many times - grateful for the way they hug my soul. I know my dad and his seven siblings feel the weight of love and the weight of age in this man in a way I cannot, but as I read my aunt's words my eyes were wet with something new.

She wrote,

Dad's prayers were so personal and full of thanksgiving to His Savior, especially mentioned was the gift of Eternity and his family.  He didn't want to walk this road, but it's here, and he is going to walk it with grace and dignity to the best of his ability, and with his Savior's and his family's help.

Our bodies fail. They fall apart. And we shuffle where we once skipped. We shake where we once snapped with the energy of youth. We age. Our eyes grow dim and our ears faint. Mortals.

But the stiffness of his joints has not crept to his heart.

Eternity looks just as glorious on the horizon with shuffled steps as it does with skips. The promise of salvation is as bright with eyes of age as it is with the eyes of youth.

And with every sunset, one can turn to face the rest of the sky and see a glorious reflection. All the mysterious hues that explode before night falls, chasing after the golden orb, light up the rest of the blue expanse and color the clouds.

I'm witnessing this reflection as I watch my grandpa - human eyes with heaven sight.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.                                                    2 Corinthians 4:18

There is no way around it - we have human eyes confined to human bodies and human limits. But our sight - oh, our sight - is able to see clear through to heaven.

As Grandpa fixes his eyes on the unseen, we are blessed to watch the sky light up with the glory of his heavenly pursuit.

The ice will melt and the trees will bloom. Let the winter come, for it is the only path to Spring.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy with human eyes and heaven sight 

notes & words

Here are some of the tunes I've been loving on lately. I think there's a little bit for everyone here, but probably not all of it will suite you. If you don't listen to anything else, at least check out Josh Garrels today and I promise your Monday will dance. Josh Garrels [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IctD9l4F-ag]

Jeremy Larson [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcwJD00QhOQ]

Sugar and the HiLows [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvU5PNGnyn0&feature=related]

William Fitzsimmons [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbQ7g18IGZs]

High Society (this is rap - fyi) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6juP1xvu27w]

Jenny and Tyler [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7G3tQKA2GSI]

Lighthouse and the Whaler [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J00ZPwJcGw]

this & that

Well, happy Monday to you all! This is kind of a heavy "this & that" post, but I'll try to throw something lighter in the mix.

  • This article over at The Gospel Coalition caught my eye for two reason - it's about apologetics (which I love) and it's for "the rest of us" (which is definitely referring to my layman-trained mind). Appropriately titled, "Apologetics for the Rest of Us," it's worth your time.
  • Remember what I was going nutso over last Spring? I'll give you a hint: The Gospel Coalition National Conference. That's not really a hint, it's the whole answer. If I'd been there, I would have heard this message by Mike Bullmore. I'm so thankful I wasn't, because I was in Honduras watching the Lord work like crazy.

http://vimeo.com/22661408

  • I'm a little (A LOT) obsessed with this post, "Fiction for the Common Good," at Qideas. I willingly followed the little rabbit trail that led me to "wish listing" a whole bunch of books on Amazon. If you like fiction, but are snobby and must always qualify it by saying, "I like good fiction," then please read this article. And then conspire with me about how we can inspire classic book clubs.
  • Although I think qualifiers like nominal and mediocre are unnecessary to put in front of our identity as Christians, I do think we can benefit from skillfully re-packaged Biblical truth. I think that will be the case with Jared Wilson's idea of gospel wakefulness. Go ahead and read this little plug over at Desiring God and let me know what you think.
  • Thanks to Tim Challies, I found this little collection of Jonathan Edwards' quotes, True Excellency. Not an Edwards fan? Read 'em anyway and see what you think! :)
  • Something lighter... Well, you know I like rap, right? I wonder if rap will have this effect on my kids someday. :) [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=D7_0SOTQLIQ]

That's a wrap, my friends. I hope you don't have the case of the Mahndays as you read this. The tried and true solution I've always found is to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

so maybe try that! :) 

we could be...

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gO65INW2NC0]

We could be reveling forever in the love You bring and we could be wasted on You and not count it loss 

Like fools in love we're bound to make a scene

Our hearts bleed for you, whoa

What beautiful way to usher in a Monday (fyi - John Mark McMillan comes out with a new album tomorrow).

Especially after such a blessed weekend, I love this.

Like fools in love, we're bound to make scene. Isn't that the truth.

Do your days feel like this? Like you can't HELP but make a scene? If we are reveling in the love of Christ - wasting everything else and not counting a loss, then our lives will speak (maybe even shout) like crazy that there is something greater!

We might be the people that get pointed at or the people that get ignored, but the bottom line is that the scene bound to happen is for an audience of One.

The Lord welcomes His sons and daughters into worship, where our hearts bleed for the Creator of the Universe. I'm so thankful that God also knows, as we endeavor to worship with our very lives, that there are bound to be scenes.

Our love can look near foolish, but if anyone deserves a scene it is certainly our Lord and Savior!

How could you be reveling today in His love?

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!

On Loving God

Honestly, my knees wish I was writing, "On loving icy hot..." but I resist (so if you have any pointers for fooling your body into feeling younger LET ME KNOW! Apparently 20 minutes w/0 heels and a large glass of orange juice is not the cure). Instead, I've got this quote on my brain,

"Why should not the creature love his Creator, who gave him the power to love? Why should he not love Him with all his being, since it is by His gift alone that He can do anything that is good? It was God's creative grace that out of nothingness raised us to the dignity of manhood; and from this appears our duty to love Him, and the justice of His claim to that love." - St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Must we always ask and rebel and shake our fists when we are struck by humanity's brokenness? I love the words, "Why should not..."

I love that these words invite me to think of all the reasons I shouldn't ... and that I come up with nothing. We must start here, at God's creative grace that raised us to the dignity of manhood, if we are ever going to end up talking about justice and injustice - if we are going to talk about our delight and duty to love Him. We must begin with the question, "Why should not the creature love his Creator, who gave Him the power to love?"

Well, I may just have to leave it there to rest, before I start making applications about the cookies that just came out of the oven and how they should love me because I created them.

let LOVE fly like cRaZy

things are not what they seem - including Mondays

I started a mental list awhile back, because I always happen upon the strangest things. I realized, they might not be strange after all, just bad assumptions. Before I get into my somewhat silly list, let me be serious for a second. Three things happened today that made the world shine like a candle at a Christmas Eve service. 1) phone chat with my mom and grandma, who came through surgery like a champ 2) a skype call with a dear friend that made distance feel like "just around the corner" 3) the most GLORIOUS reunion of baking goodness with my favorite high school ladies...

AND bonus number 4) students huddled in my office for the first mission trip meeting with excitement practically bursting out of their buttoned up uniforms.

These things prove again my belief that any "case of the Mondays" can surely be cured - Mondays do not have to be the dreadful thing they seem. My favorite scene from the day involves: one student working through a series of facial expression while texting, another student busily finishing college applications, and myself dancing around the kitchen to Mariah Carey's "All I want for Christmas," while piping hot Nutella-Peanut Butter brownies cool on the counter. Mondays? Yes, please!

Okay, here's a few examples of bad assumptions:

  • A sign that says "maquinas trabajando" does not necessarily mean machines are working... it could also mean men with pickaxes and shovels.
  • When you see sewer covers in the road, don't be fooled - they may not have a long life as a sewer cover. Chances are, you will soon have to swerve around that spot with great skill because someone has swiped it to make a buck.
  • Those silly yellow and white lines on the road are not to indicate to drivers what should and should not be done in traffic. Nonsense! They are to decorate the otherwise dull streets!
  • Whoever said there is such a thing as "too much of a good thing" has obviously never tried the nutella + peanut butter combination.
  • That terrible cliché about "dancing like no one is watching" is horribly misguided. I think it should go something like, "dance like everyone is watching... and just keep going!"

Okay, that's all for now. I hope you bursting with joy tonight - don't forget to

let LOVE fly like cRaZy!