Thursday, February 23, 2017

FRUIT DOESN'T LIE

An Exerpt (in highlighted purple italics below)is taken from one of my all time favorite books! (In My Father’s Vineyard, by Wayne Jacobsen)
I have led multiple small groups through this incredible book study. It offers very powerful principles that have been applied to raising my children, building relationships, leading people and walking out every single day of my own life, abiding in Him, "In My Father's Vineyard", one season at a time. Because stuff this good never grows old....and is meant to be shared often, I decided to pull it from the shelf, dust it off and crack it open again. I hope it speaks to you today.

***************** IN EVERY GRAPE, the history of the vine is told. If it was a good year and the vineyard was properly cared for, the fruit will burst with sweetness. If the vineyard was neglected, the fruit will be small and tart. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE.
The truth of a branch’s life is found in the harvest. The branch that remains in the Vine will reap an abundance of fruit, useful to the Master in extending his kingdom. His character, developed in the branch, will demonstrate his love and grace to others. However, there is a less joyful side to the harvest. The branch that did not pursue friendship with Jesus wholeheartedly but neglected spiritual nourishment will face a sad reality at harvest: puny fruit, or perhaps no fruit at all.
If we resisted the Master when he sought to train us to the wire or we cast off our fruit in the weariness of summer’s heat, the harvest will reveal what has happened. If we stay just close enough to Jesus to survive, our fruit (if any) will be pale and tasteless.
Worse yet, if we only pretended to draw life from Christ but in fact resisted his work in us while serving ourselves, our fruit will bear our own likenss and not his. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE. It expresses the life of the vine. That’s why scripture views the harvest in both positive and negative terms; it demonstrates the quality of our lives, whether good or bad.
Fruit cannot be faked. Though we may be able to pretend a godly attribute for a brief season, in weak and tired moments our lives will reveal our true choices, priorities and attachments. Fruit makes the invisible visible. It shatters all pretense and over time marks the true depth of our friendship with Jesus. Don’t expect grace to cover up your neglect by producing spiritual fruit. Grace restores us to God’s presence. Grace forgives our sins and offers us a fresh start. But grace will never produce fruit when we have not paid the price to remain in the Vine. It will not make up for the times when we have given in to the enemy’s deception. FRUIT DOESN’T LIE.
When it finally appears, it reveals what has been going on in the vineyard through all the seasons. And God’s harvest is often full of surprises. The people we thought were pursuing God may not turn out to be his followers at all. The activities and pursuits in our own lives may turn out to be fruitless--or they may produce the joyful confirmation that we remained in the Vine. *****************
I know the physical harvest may be far removed from our thoughts. Afterall, it is February. But don’t be fooled. The depth of our friendship with Jesus, will be measured by the fruit we bear, no matter what the season.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No Good Thing Does He Withold! Savoring The Gifts.


Rushing through the crowds of holiday shoppers just a few short weeks ago,  it snuck right up on me, uninvited, yet so very welcome!    It's amazing how one piece of music can flood the soul and overwhelm the senses.  First I heard it playing loud through the mall and then a  joyful tear and a lump in my throat welled up.  Memories of preparation for that exquisite January wedding day stopped me right in my tracks and I savored the gift.....a very special one of a kind gift that required no wrapping, ribbons or even fancy bows.  



The very music (recorded above) that filled the holiday air, just so happened to be the same music that accompanied the processional of  brides maids, flower girls  and yes,  my own beautiful daughter, as she walked her wedding aisle exactly one year ago today.
(perfectly timed out and dramatized for effect--her grand, closed door entrance, happened at precisely 3:33 min) 


Psalm 84:11 says,  "The Lord bestows favor and honor.  No good thing does he withold from those who walk uprightly.  

What may appear to one as just another arrangement of music, becomes to another,  far reaching passion and emotion during an incredibly beautiful, bridal processional moment....A GOOD THING.    

What may appear to one holiday shopper as joyful music filling the air, becomes to this mother, a gift (of memories) that keeps on giving....A GOOD, GOOD THING. 

This past year as been one of watching my daughter embrace the marriage journey with joy and zeal and tenacity.  So today, just like one year ago...WE CELEBRATE (albeit just a little less exquisite).  The marriage journey is ever filled with new seasons, new hopes and dreams, new goals and purposes, new mountaintops and valley lows.   The memories will always remain our constant joy, but to all that lies ahead, the next year and the next, continue growing in grace, in love and in beauty. 
I'd say there isn't a finer piece of music that represents more completely the both of you, who you are, and what you share. 
THAT MOMENT, THE MEMORIES, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, 
YOUR LIFE TOGETHER....A VERY GOOD THING! 
                                                                                                                                                   
  
         Christmas Eve 2016                   Wedding Day January 15, 2016

HAPPY ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY, TYLER AND SARAH
We Love You! 



Saturday, December 31, 2016

Settling For More in 2017


Reading a "hot off the press" autobiography, given to me as a gift by my daughter (who completely understands my love for really good books), is how I spent much of my evenings in the days following Christmas.

Now, making my way into the office on these final pre dawn hours of 2016,  reflecting on all that has been and all that is yet to come.... these three words (which also happened to be the title of that autobiography) beat lock step with my heart...SETTLE FOR MORE!

More FAITH....because faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
More HOPE....that necessary posture of the mind that keeps us moving forward, sometimes against very difficult odds.
And,
More LOVE....because it is the greatest of all!

Settling for more is not so much an end game, rather it is an active process (and sometimes a daily choice).  Life changes, therefore, it requries that I change too.  The joyful, exhilorating moments that go perfectly and as planned speak for themselves, but when moments of stress and complacency and disappointment and unmet expectations attempt to define me,  may I find courage to risk, stand alone if necessary, shine a light thru the darkness, and SETTLE FOR MORE....a more that goes way beyond anything good that I could ever hope for or imagine.

The passing of time is marked by a turn of a calendar page, but for this moment,  here's to a  NEW YEAR and SETTLING FOR MORE.                                
HAPPY NEW YEAR 
CRYSTAL 
   2017