In John 15, Jesus uses a vine and its branches to teach us about spiritual growth. Our spiritual fruit is the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. In order to bear spiritual fruit, we have to be connected to the vine. Sometimes, even though it may cause suffering, we have to be pruned. God’s pruning process produces a bountiful harvest.
I’m so glad it’s summer.
There are many reasons for this—sunshine! patio dining! sundresses! But the number one reason is that it’s simply not winter.
This is an adapted excerpt from Connected to Christ: Witnessing in Everyday Life by Mark A. Wood.
There is so much to say about Jesus that it can be hard to find a place to start. But because there is so much to say about Jesus, there’s something in Jesus’ story to share with everyone. You can be confident that there is something in Jesus’ story that relates to the person you are conversing with because Jesus’ story connects to every human being. Your challenge as His witness is to determine something to share that is meaningful for and interesting to the other person. You can do that by seeking out a point of connection between Jesus’ story and the other person’s story.
My son, who loves to spend time drawing, has a hard time with his drawings not turning out exactly how he envisioned them in his mind. For a long time, he would only spend time drawing if I was going to draw with him and draw everything the ‘‘right way.’’
Ann Landers once wrote, “Hatred is like an acid. It can do more damage to the vessel in which it is stored as well than to the object on which it is poured.”
This time last year, I had a notebook full of unruly notes and an awareness that the messes all around me weren’t all there is to life.
I had zero idea on how to form my unruly notebook into a book. My thoughts overflowed onto page after page without any boundaries or order. I turned to my friend, Sarah, and said, “Help me name this thing, this feeling, this truth—there are messes in life that I have very little control over. Some of it is caused by overt sin, mine, yours, everybody’s. But sometimes the mess just is. It looks like mental health challenges and other health problems, relationship struggles that have very few good answers, or earthquakes, floods, loss.”
This is an adapted excerpt from Walking Together: Simple Steps for Discipleship by Ted Doering.
What is God saying? This is a question about knowledge. What is God calling me to do? This question applies that knowledge in your life. What is my next step? Here, we take that knowledge and application and put it into practice. Now, this is specifically phrased. The question is not about some long-term plan, your destiny, or a mountaintop experience. It’s literally about your next step. On a long journey, sometimes the only thing that can be done is to focus on one more step.
I will be what one Christian author and speaker would call a pioneer parent. Pioneer parents are mothers and fathers who did not have the examples of Christian parents to follow in their own childhood. I, simply put, without the help of the Holy Spirit, have no clue how to raise my future children in the faith. I didn’t grow up going to Sunday School, saying bedtime prayers, or attending church. How will I parent in a way that reflects and teaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ to my children?
Let’s get the basics out of the way. I am the wife of a man who is studying to become a pastor. My husband, Joel, is entering the final stretch of his second year in the master of divinity program at Concordia Seminary. We’re currently waiting for the next step in this seminary process, which is the placement service for vicar and deaconess internships. Anyone who has been through this knows the agony of the wait. It feels so different from any move I’ve made before. I’d like to invite you into an understanding of how we are feeling and ask you to pray for the students and their families during their formation for pastoral ministry.
We live in a weird time—not only are we still in the midst of a global pandemic, but we also are living in an in-between time.
Some churches are open, others are not. Some people are back at work, others are not. Living in the in-between means everyone is at a different point, making it hard to serve one another. Your elderly parents might be vaccinated, but you might still not be able to see them. Your church might be open, but you might not feel comfortable attending services in person yet.
No matter what point you’re at, you can still serve your neighbor! Here are some situations where you can serve your neighbor in the current in-between time.