The Vine

“I am the true Vine and My Father is the vinedresser.”-John 15:1

Vines are awesome. Vines are climbing plants that travel about trying to find a place where they can climb and grow.  They twist and turn and bend in order to reach their maximum climbing potential. Growth and expansion drive the vine…doesn’t that sound just like Jesus?

In the beginning of John chapter 15, Jesus seeks to help us understand who He is, the vine, and who His Father is, the vinedresser. A vinedresser is also called a husbandman and more often nowadays called a farmer. The vinedresser is the one who cultivates the land, makes sure it has water and nutrients in order for the vine to grow. The vinedresser loves growing the vine and doing whatever necessary to make that vine healthy and strong. 

We immediately see in this short verse that the Father, OUR Father, is in the position of providing the power to grow the Vine. The Vine, Jesus, is drawing every ounce of strength from His rich support, His Father. I love this picture because it defines the relationship beautifully. God, the Vinedresser, is focused on making sure the ground is good which allows Jesus, the Vine, to grow and reach out to people. Neither one works without the other

To follow Christ means we have to be completely abandoned to God as the cultivator of our ground. Jesus is the example and this is certainly how He lived. He believed fully that God was providing all He needed in order to live, and we see that was certainly true. Our greatest challenge is to believe God is equally as interested in cultivating our lives as He was in Jesus. Or, maybe that’s just my challenge.

I need to believe that I am every bit as important to God as everyone else is and as Jesus was or else, I won’t grow. I’ll be a puny little vine that doesn’t seek opportunity to climb because I won’t be able to receive all of the support God has for me. I want to grow, to climb and to get all that God has for me!

This verse is a foundation verse, over the next few blogs we’ll learn more about who we are in Christ and how we are powered and empowered through the Father in John 15. 

Shalom,

KA 

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How many times have you prayed for something and then played the highlight reel in your head of all of your mistakes and reasons you don’t deserve Him to answer. By the time you’re done praying, you’re in a funk. I’ve done it more times than I can count, and I bet you have to.

Contrary to what we sometimes believe, God isn’t holding our sin in a basket with glee waiting for your next request so that He can say, “You have got to be kidding! You don’t deserve that, no way.” He isn’t judging you. He isn’t trying to hold you down. He isn’t spending one moment reminding you of your mistakes. He isn’t repaying you according to your sins.

God is beside Himself in love with you! Psalm 103:10-12 tell us that God doesn’t pay us back according to our sin because His love for us reaches up as high as is possible to go! And then, as if that wasn’t enough, He removes our sin from us. Be sure you capture this deep in your spirit. You can’t go past God’s love and you can’t access your past sin. Talk about freedom!!! 

The next time you ask God for something, speak against the voice that reminds you of your sin because that’s not God’s voice. Remind yourself that God doesn’t repay you according to your mistakes. If He doesn’t answer as you expect, it’s because He has a better plan, it’s not because he wants to punish you.

Shalom,

KA 

Victory is in Community

Victory is in community. Israel is fighting Amalek and as long as Moses had his arms in the air, Israel was winning. When Moses put his arms down, Israel started losing. Moses had two close companions, Aaron and Hur, who could see the struggle Moses was having keeping his arms up. So they put stones around to help them balance and they held Moses’ hands up. Because they came together in community, supporting Moses, Israel prevailed. 

I’m in a battle right now. I’m fighting against beliefs that say I’m not good enough, I’m not worthy and God doesn’t love me as much as He loves everyone else. I’m having to reach back into my story and speak against darkness that planted these words. I’m having to rely on what I know of God and His words, not what I feel. My initial reaction is to pull away, get alone and not sulk, but fight alone. This isn’t the way of God. 

God has built you and I for relationship. Relationship with Him and relationship with others. When I pull away, I am agreeing with darkness. I am agreeing that I don’t hold enough value to have anyone be in commmunity with me. My arms drop and I start to lose. Here’s why I won’t allow that any longer…Jesus. Jesus is the hero of my story and He has brought me into my specific community of close friends for a reason! This community is meant to hold each other up. It’s what we do. I love holding up my tribe and I have to start agreeing with heaven that they also love holding me up. That’s community!

Praise Jesus I reached out. Praise Jesus that I have close friends who have propped up my arms and are holding up my hands in prayer and love. I’m not going to lose this battle because I’m not going to fight it alone. Through prayer and words, my friends and I are coming into agreement with heaven, asking God to give stength, believing for God to give victory. Just like Jacob when he wrestled with the angel, I’m not letting go until God blesses me. 

I’m so thankful for my God and I’m so thankful for His provision…victory is in community. 

Shalom,

KA 

Come and See

Come and see. What a lovely and terrifying invitation!! The person presenting the invitation knows something you don’t, and they want you to see it. They don’t want to tell you about because they know their words won’t be enough, you have to experience it. 

Come and see: suffering. In John 11:34, Jesus and His friends are in pain because Lazarus has died. Jesus travels to the home of his now deceased friend and wants to go deeper into the moment, He needs to be where the body has been laid. The people lead him to the tomb and suffering with the invitation…come and see.

Come and see: intimacy. In John 1:39, Jesus has crossed paths with His cousin, John. John has abdicated leadership to Jesus and people who once followed John, now follow Jesus. They want more, they want to be closer so they ask where He is staying. Jesus extends the invitation to intimacy…come and see.

Come and see: repentance. In John 4:29, a Samaritan woman, an outcast, has just encountered Jesus in a way like none other. He has told her the truth about her life and she has  had no other response but repentance. She runs back home full of the mystery of Christ and can’t contain her heart. She extends the invitation to meet Jesus and experience repentance…come and see.

Come and see: resurrection. In Matthew 28:6, Jesus has been dead for a couple days and the women who followed Him are coming to the tomb. They are greated by a rolled away stone and an angel proclaiming that Jesus is now alive! They have to see this for themselves. The angel invites the women into resurrection…come and see.

Where is God inviting you to come and see? This is a personal and ongoing invitation because it is a catalyst to transformation. No one is the same after they accept the invitation to come and see. I said in the beginning that this invitation is both lovely and terrifying and here’s what I mean. It’s lovely because the desire of the invitation is deeper relationship. It is terrifying because transformation is never easy and it always requires more faith than we think we can muster.

Accept the invitation to come and see all that God has planned for your life. ♡

Shalom,

KA 

What are you seeking?

I’m finding myself deeply struck by the first recorded words of Jesus in the book of John. A seemingly simple question: What are you seeking? Seemingly simple and yet, I feel it is an invitation more than a question.

The book of John opens with some famous words that are rich in meaning and help set the stage for us understanding who Jesus is and His origin. John kicks us off with an existential defintion proclaiming that Jesus is the Word of God Himself and that He was around in the beginning. We begin to see the spectacular nature of God and Jesus and the mystery is laid before us.

Then John, the Apostle of Jesus, introduces us to John, the forerunner of Jesus. This quirky cousin of Jesus whose life is consumed with proclaiming the coming of the Savior. John goes around preaching the coming Christ with complete assurity in His supreme power. In just a few verses, we know that Jesus is something extra ordinary and that He is deemed worthy to follow. And so, follow Him is exactly what people start to do.

Now, after the beautiful build up and introduction of Jesus, I imagine something profound in His first documented words and instead we see what appears to be a random question, what are you seeking? I don’t know about you, but I have glossed over that question probably 50 times or more. It seems unimportant and yet, today it feels invitational. 

What are you seeking? Jesus knows that they are following Him for a reason, they have a need. I wonder if He’s asking this question to see if they already have faith? Perhaps He wants to see if they are self aware enough to know their needs. Or, maybe it was a way of entering into relationship with them. It was a door opening into their lives, a light shinning into their darkness. Jesus is leaning in to these new friends and asking for them to share deep desires.

What are you seeking? When you come to Jesus, what are you seeking, what are you hoping to find? A Savior? A Redeemer? Or something simple like a friend? Or something life changing like a reason to live? Whatever reason you are following Jesus I think He is still asking the same question, What are you seeking? I pray you take hold of the invitation and lean into this man, Jesus.

Shalom,

KA 

Are we giving out grace?

Grace seems to be in short supply these days. If we follow Christ, we know that we have received heaps of grace that we didn’t do anything to earn, and yet, we seem to be hard pressed to give away some of that grace.

Grace is favor that is unearned, unmerited and undeserved. Grace is the currency of heaven. Grace is love. Grace is Jesus. Grace has nothing to do with the recipient and everything to do with the giver. You can’t earn grace, if you could it wouldn’t be grace (Romans 11:6). Grace is what saved you (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Here’s what I think is happening, grace has been redefined to mean acceptance. This new definition of grace is making us terrified to give it away because we care WAY too much about what other people might think. Jesus didn’t care what anybody thought when He gave grace to the woman caught in adultery. And, even better, He showed her grace BEFORE He asked her to change how she was living. His grace was not contingent on her behavior, it was merely because of His love for her as a person. And while we have no way to know, I have to believe His grace changed her life. At the very minimum He gave her back her physical life.

Your pouring out grace on the people around you, from celebrities to politicians to your neighbors, doesn’t mean you agree, it simply means you aren’t going to judge, label or speak ill of the person. You are going to seek to understand and love them. You may never agree and that’s ok, your grace on their lives will stop you from tearing them down. Grace doesn’t align you with them, it aligns you with heaven.

So here’s me plea: give grace upon grace. 

Shalom,

KA