The True Vine

It’s quite amazing to me how much insight the seemingly insignificant objects and circumstances of our lives have to offer us if we’ll just stop for a moment to look and listen. Like word pictures on a life size screen they patiently wait for us to focus on them to impart to us their message.

Last week I gathered together the remnants of the partitions that I had moved from the ministry center and used them to construct a playhouse for my daughter. It worked out nicely because I also had several bundles of shingles that had been left sitting in the yard by my brother in-law to use for the roof and this was the proper motivator for me to deal with them.

As I was sitting outside admiring my handiwork one evening in the relative coolness that so blessedly replaces the intense midday heat of August,  my attention was drawn to the artificial vines that I had draped across the structure. I was impressed by their realistic appearance as they moved with the occasional light summer breeze.  So beautiful! Unlike the real vegetation in my yard that was starting to wither from the heat, they were unchanged…

I saw these real grapevines growing and so I snapped this shot to use for comparison.

They look as if they’ve been through a hot summer. Most of the leaves have wilted and fallen off allowing a better view of the delicious fruit they’ve given their all to produce.

All of this vine viewing caused me to take a serious look at my own spiritual life.

Is my Christian life just about appearances?

Do I really have a connection to the true vine?

Given the choice,would I rather not “get real” if it meant that I couldn’t remain unchanged and indifferent to my environment?

Am I really so superficial that I’d prefer to be something with practically no value primarily because it required nothing of me other than to go through the motions?

Am I “okay” with never bearing any real fruit because deep down I know what a drag it is being a fake…

John 15:1/5

1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

My recent evangelistic/ministerial efforts fell pretty far short of what my hopes were for them but I feel as though I learned many valuable lessons in the process. I’m still very interested in seeing my vision of a ministry center happen, I think it’s a great idea that could produce a lot of fruit!

Basically the idea is for the church to connect with people by providing assistance with many of the common issues that are causing both the churched and unchurched so many problems today. It’s more than just mentoring, it’s free help with things like exercise classes and health maintainence information, diet and food issues, money stewardship, family skills and counseling, substance abuse and addiction support meetings. All centered around the practical application of biblical principles as the solution to every need!

Why not put it all under one roof and make it convenient and organized so that people could be more easily helped? There would be paid teaching/training positions as well as a lot of volunteer work done by members of  local congregations which would provide their members with great opportunities to  stir up the gifts within them as they serve God and their communities!

According to the statistics I’ve read put out by The Barna Group we’re losing the battle for souls in this nation. If I were to speculate as to why that is I’d have to say that it seems as though the church has gotten a reputation for being about all of the wrong things. We’re hypocrites, child molesters, thieves and con men in peoples eye’s who it seems really only care about one thing and that’s money!

And according to author Anne Rice who recently “quit” Christianity,

we’re primarily known for what we’re against, not what we’re for…

What better way can you think of to let people know what we’re actually “for” ?

This can be accomplished by promoting what it means to live victoriously in a tangible way they can easily relate to.  As the true vine we’re called to love above all things, which can perhaps be defined as being willing to ask,

“How can I help?”

We as the church must attempt to reach everyone that’s “wrestling” with all of the weapons that have been formed against them by the powers and principalities of our enemy. The only way that we can lose is If we continue to do nothing but sit back and wait for the lost to come to us instead of going to them.  Instead we should be open compelled to do whatever it takes to share the good news of salvation and deliverance with everyone who’s life is plagued by the effects of sin!

The Father gave us the resources to build multi-million dollar churches, He left us with His Holy Spirit to help us, and He sent us Jesus who defeated the Devil for us so that none of these weapons can prosper against us unless we allow them!

What will we as the church do with all of that?

I guess that depends on who and what we really are…

Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

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Author: altonwoods

I've always loved to write...and since I've discovered blogging it's been my pleasure to share my perspectives and experiences with the whole world!

14 thoughts on “The True Vine”

  1. This was a great post!

    I encourage you to continue to do what the Holy Spirit leads you to do in reaching the hurt, the broken and the addicted. He desires to touch their lives and He wants to do that through a willing vessel like you.

    1. Thank you Larry!

      I get a little excited when I start talking about marching into the enemy’s camp and taking back what he’s stolen from all of us!

      I’m ready to go into battle!

      1. What an amazing and inspiring post! I can’t agree more. It’s time to take back what is rightfully ours. I was reading Genesis last week and the big light bulb came on when I was reading about Esau and Jacob. Hope you don’t mind if I share! Because Esau hit tough times he GAVE his birthright away. Nobody stole it he just GAVE IT AWAY like it was nothing. Because of the death of our Savior we have the most fantastic birthright that we just give away all to often! Bad enough the enemy steals it but to just think it not worthy of fighting for?? Thanks so much for your blog time! It was just so inspiring to me today!!

        9Jacob was boiling pottage (lentil stew) one day, when Esau came from the field and was faint [with hunger].

        30And Esau said to Jacob, I beg of you, let me have some of that red lentil stew to eat, for I am faint and famished! That is why his name was called Edom [red].

        31Jacob answered, Then sell me today your birthright (the rights of a firstborn).

        32Esau said, See here, I am at the point of death; what good can this birthright do me?

        33Jacob said, Swear to me today [that you are selling it to me]; and he swore to [Jacob] and sold him his birthright.

        34Then Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils, and he ate and drank and rose up and went his way.

        Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.

        1. Thank you for the kind words, and for bringing your perspective! It’s true, we need to realize who we are in Christ and start acting like children of God who are empowered by Him to love others!

  2. “Basically the idea is for the church to connect with people by providing assistance with many of the common issues that are causing both the churched and unchurched so many problems today. It’s more than just mentoring, it’s free help with things like exercise classes and health maintainence information, diet and food issues, money stewardship, family skills and counseling, substance abuse and addiction support meetings. All centered around the practical application of biblical principles as the solution to every need!”

    Such a fantastic statement. I know of several people who, because of the economy, lost everything. Sadly, the churches they were a part of did absolutely nothing. One lady ended up living in her car.

    We can’t allow ourselves to devolve into a merely social gospel, but God throughout the Bible is interested in social justice. I think that is what James 2:14ff is all about. John makes a similar point. If we don’t actively love one another, what power does our faith really have, and why should anyone think the church is any more relevant, any more meaningful, than any corporation? What’s scary is that, in that sense, a lot of corporations are far more meaningful, as they seem to put more back into the community than many institutional churches.

    As that band of theologians called Hanson once asked, “Where’s the love?”

    1. I think the church is at a “crossroads”, and that in addition to all of the great international missions it’s responsible for it’s certainly time for it to have a much greater domestic mission focus as well!

      If you agree, join me in praying that The Father would use each of us to play a part in bringing about the revival of this nation.

      I believe it has to start with individuals who are hungry to see a new move of His Spirit!

  3. Absolutely wonderful post!! I’ve been discussing the need for the church, specifically my little community church, to reach out the addicts in our community. There are so many. I know they need our help, I’m just not sure how to go about offering the help. Nor am I certain about how to reach the addicts. I’m going to follow you blog more closely. God bless you!

    1. Thanks for the compliment!

      Perhaps there is a “Ministerial Alliance” of some type in your area that would consider becoming partners with your church in a joint mission of this type. Try contacting them or attending one of their meetings to present the idea.

      Even going to AA or NA meetings to support and encourage people you meet there is a very good ministry opportunity!

      Sharing Christ with others is something that’s accomplished by Gods Holy Spirit through a yielded vessel such as yourself, don’t be discouraged because you may not feel qualified or because you don’t have a specific plan, having love in your heart is the key to reaching people!

      Trust God to give you the way!

  4. The Word says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
    Being a burden bearer requires that we pray for one another, for sure, but it also requires that we take practical steps to meet one another’s needs whenever doing so is feasible. If indeed it’s true that “all things are possible” with God, we must conclude that it’s feasible to collectively help one another far more often than some people are willingly to admit. These are admittedly hard times, but we must not be defeated by negativity.
    My own plan for addressing unmet needs, especially in the Body of Christ, includes the creation of an online network which I plan to call the Need Meeters’ Network (There will also be a related PDF newsletter which will be called the Need Meeters’ Network News). Such a project would serve the purpose of facilitating unhindered communication between people in need and people in a position to help to meet those needs.
    There’s nothing “pie in the sky” about my concept. I know that it will work, because it’s already worked for me, on several occasions, during the past several years.
    God’s people don’t always respond appropriately to God’s call, but I can nevertheless cite some inspiring examples of love and compassion which I’ve observed during the 41 years in which I’ve tried to serve God with my talents.
    I’ve already created a blog specifically for the purpose of explaining the Need Meeters vision. (Visit http://needmeeters.blogspot.com/.) More content will be added there in the near future.
    I haven’t yet created the Need Meeters’ Network itself, but I’ve already created a similar social network, which was launched about 1 1/2 years ago, called the Artistic Christians’ Network (http://artisticchristians.ning.com). That network currently has about 30 members. It’s a work in progress, partially because of financial limitations which have hindered me from adding some of the more advanced features I want to add in the future, but it’s been enough to convince me that I possess at least some of the skills I need in order to take my vision to the next level.
    It seems to me, Jeff, that your idea and mine are complementary. Please keep me apprised of the progress of your vision. I’ll pray for your success, and I hope you’ll likewise pray for mine.
    mwp1212[AT]gmail.com

  5. “My recent evangelistic/ministerial efforts fell pretty far short of what my hopes were for them…”

    I’ve been there, done that, and bought the t-shirt. So, I understand your disappointments and frustration. But I can almost guarantee heaven is applauding your dying daily, inch by inch, breath by breath, drop of blood by drop of blood. Heaven loves to watch us die.

    Your biggest hindrance is your calling. If you were called to be a pastor or evangelist, you’d be heading down the road with flags waving, but that’s not your calling. You’re called to be an apostle. So, check out the calling of the apostle in the Bible. It takes time and death of self and eventually, it will be worth it.

    1. Thanks for your comment! Larry, But I’m just a guy with a great mustache, remember? I have looked into the biblical definitions of what is an Apostle and I don’t know if that’s really me or not…I will say this though, “I’d like it to be!” I don’t care where or how or what part of the body of Christ I am as long as when I’m done I can be called a “Good and faithful servant” Amen?

  6. I think it’s interesting that you quote Anne Rice in your recent blog post about your desire for a ministry center. Anne was very supportive of my idea of a Christ-centered art colony, when I sent her an e-mail message a couple of years ago in order to share that vision with her. Unfortunately, my effort to persuade her to offer tangible support which would help me to make progress on that project were unsuccessful, but I believed her nevertheless when she said she thought it was a great idea.

    Recently, the chaplain at the shelter where I currently stay looked at me and told me that he saw me as a “visionary”. He might say the same thing to you, Jeff, judging by your own vision for a ministry center.

    I haven’t conversed with you recently via e-mail, and I don’t recall ever doing so with you via phone. Feel free to call me at (360) 201-6473, or send me an e-mail at mwp1212@gmail.com.

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