Friday, September 28, 2007

pruning

Jesus used the analogy of pruning to explain how we are to grow in our Christian lives; like grape branches connected to the vine. One year my mother told me to trim all the grape branches. I didn't want to so I really did a wack job on them, I mean really cutting them back as if just to cut them out. We had the most amazing yield of grapes that following harvest and every year they kept getting a little less and less because no one wacked them back like I had.

Pruning in our lives certainly doesn't sound pleasant. It's actually a cutting out a part of who we are. But often parts of who we are are not good, at least not in God's eyes, and in the end not good, period. But in our sinful minds and hearts we hold on to these things for dear life, not wanting to let them go. Or wanting to want to let them go if we know they're wrong, yet gravitating back to them.

Pruning as in God cutting things out of our lives is necessary if we're branches that are to remain in the true Vine- Jesus. If we don't receive this pruning we're eventually cut off, we wither up and die. But when pruned we end up bearing much fruit, showing ourselves to be Jesus' disciples.

What are we aware of right now that we're holding on to, but we know is not right? It could just be a thought, but a sinful thought. Or attitude. We need God's pruning in that area by the word and by the Spirit through Jesus. It will be painful, yet afterwards will come the fruit of righteousness and peace.

16 comments:

L.L. Barkat said...

Oh, I love your story! You really got my attention. I could just see your boyish response to this task. And it makes me think how God may prune just as deeply but with perhaps a more purposeful, guided hand.

The other day I was walking through the woods and smelled this incredibly strong fragrance, sweet and berry-like. Upon examining the side of the path, lo and behold, big juicy dark purply grapes! I don't know whether nature has its own pruning tools, but the result was heaven. Do we have any pruning tools of our own?

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., Thanks and good question!

God's word does tell us to put to death and get rid of whatever belongs to our fallen, sinful nature. And by the Spirit to put to death the (mis)deeds of the body. And when I enter into that I find God's blessing accompanying it- as I think a bit on how I've experienced it.

I think prayer, the word of God/Scripture, repentance, faith, ongoing dependence, interdependence in Christ on each other, these all can help.

I'd be interested from your creativity how you would answer that.

Ted M. Gossard said...

By the way, I've never seen much or heard much of such grapes. Though as I now remember, I think Deb pointed out to me such grapes one time.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

plenty of scriptural support for your notion - just no time to send it to you now - the crazy people I work for seem to actually want me to work.

don't know if my thoughts on addiction will be helpful or not, or even that they will be my thoughts - I've been wanted to get back to the book ESI recommented by Ed Welch - it's my all time favorite on the subject - so if you haven't read it, I'd sure recommend picking it up - called Addictions: Banquet in the grave.

Dave J. said...

My grapes probably need it. Had zero yield this year.

On my desk, I keep this list:

Seven levels of change:
1. Effectiveness
2. Efficiency
3. Improving
4. Cutting
5. Copying
6. Different
7. Impossible

Most of the time we hover at 1 & 2, and #3 feels like an accomplishment. Cutting is where this list starts to get hard.

NaNcY said...

my husband is a winemaker...so
i can really relate to this cutting back of the vines

i really liked the story of when you were cutting the vines on request of your mother.

i am thinking that it is a lot in the asking of God to make us aware of what we are holding onto so that we can ask for help in those things...and to ask Him to continue to prune away what we were and to renew us in the Holy Spirit.

NaNcY said...

i also like the idea of the continualality of the pruning and thus the renewing of the spirit.

that is something for me to talk with God about today.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, Yes, I have the same problem!

Sounds like a book that will have some good help. The title reminds me of the book of Ecclesiastes. I'll have to get my hands on it.

One thing that stands out to me today is that this pruning is certainly ongoing in being needed.

We need to be open for more of it, and always so open. And it is ever painful but ever accompanied with God's blessing, if we just submit (and I would say, even look for it from God).

L.L. has set me to thinking more about how we can be involved in making sure we're open and even perhaps facilitating more pruning of our lives.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Dave, Interesting list. Don't know what to make of it except I'm thinking of how I may like something in my posting on a blog, but realize it doesn't fit or is saying too much, or whatever, and I cut it off. Not that I always succeed in this in that.

I'm reminded of Hebrews 12:1-2 where what we may hold on to may be good in the right place, but it may not be helpful for the race we are called in Jesus to run. Then we have to cut and this must be something we do with our heart in time catching up with our action. Maybe that's even more related to the besetting sin, or the sin that so easily entangles us that we're to rid ourselves of, along with the unnecessary additions.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, In glancing at the info on the book you and ESI recommend, I think his emphasis on idolatry and worship is good. I certainly agree that addiction probably has plenty to do with us as worshiping beings, and addiction as being a perversion and result of false worship.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Thanks for your thoughts here. Good way of describing it, too.

Yes, this needs to be ongoing for me, and we need openness to this.

And I think we need in being open to pruning remember that the goal is growth and fruitfulness, just as you allude to in your comments.

If we feel deadness or seem unfruitful in God and not growing, that is a sure sign we need pruning.

And surely I need it daily even when I think it has been going on with some good results.

Wine growing in Oregon! Sounds mighty fine.

NaNcY said...

i think the KEY is in the asking.

daily
time with God
and

asking
what the dead branches are
what does God want to show me

confession
of known problem areas that are on my heart

asking
for forgiveness

accepting
forgiveness
so as not to gratify the desires of the sinful nature

asking
for the Spirit to fill the spaces that are now free to be filled.

asking
for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


this done before we feel deadness or see the signs unfruitfulness.

daily is ongoing

asking, is opening our selves up to God for the pruning.

if not. we forget and get behind in the work of God. unfruitfulness.

be encouraged to ask God daily.
in Jesus

love

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Good words. And I like your point about doing this before we live in the deadness and lack fruit.

jps said...

Ted,

This reminds me of the story of Eustace in Voyage of the Dawn Treader when he was a dragon. He tried to cut the dragon skin off, but couldn't. Finally, in despair, he asked Aslan to do it. When Aslan cut, he cut deep, real deep, and it hurt; but the result was Eustace was set free from the dragon skin.

As I typed this, I started to realize it isn't exactly the same thing, but the fact that you cut the vines way back reminded me of the depth to which we need to be pruned—actually to the point of death to self—in order that we might bear fruit.

James

Ted M. Gossard said...

James, I like that story and analogy from it. Certainly only God through Christ can do that for us. And it does hurt, but the gain is an altogether different and new life. And it seems to me that this is ongoing. Death to self a great point too. I think our Christianity too often downplays that perhaps because of our too often too low view of the possibilities of sanctification in this life.

Ted M. Gossard said...
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