When I was a very small child, my mother read Bible stories to me each evening before bed. She always read the same stories, Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors, Moses and the Nile River, and Samuel, A Dedicated Child. I loved all three of these stories and the care given as she read. I didn’t know that she was shaping me for my future.
Happy New Year! 2019 is finally here. I’ve heard a few people say, “New Year, New You.” I prefer “New Year, New Start” because it’s the same old me, just transported into a new year. But my ideas, my creative surges, my hopes and aspirations are all bursting through this old me and encouraging me to a New Start.
I’m anticipating producing FRUIT! Not the edible kind (although that fruit is good too), but the Fruit of a Productive Life.
In John 15, Jesus teaches a wonderful lesson on how to life a productive life. I sum it up this way; Productive Living is possible through RELATIONSHIP with Him, RELYING on Him, and REMAINING in Him.
I must have an authentic relationship with Christ in order to understand my role. He is the Vine, the Father is the vinedresser, I am the branch. Simple right? This relationship tells me I am going to be pruned by the Father in order to produce more fruit for the Vine. Pruning is a stressful process but it is never intended to harm me. I can’t complain about it or be mad about it. It’s just the way it has to be if I am going to live a productive life.
I must rely on Him for my very existence. It’s like the unborn child in the womb connected to its mother (life source) through an umbilical cord. All the sustenance needed for health and survival is provided as the child relies on this vital connection. As I rely on His sustanence I will produce the fruit of more love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. I can’t do it on my own.
I must remain in Him at all times, but especially in the difficult days. Difficult days bring waves of crisis that cause ministry burnout and feelings of “I Quit!”. But remaining in Christ , even in the difficult days, gives power to hang in there and survive the storm with a focused mind that allows me to continue loving others while doing His will. Nope! No time to ‘lay my religion down.’ Time to put on the whole armor and stand. I can only stand by remaining in Him. On my own, I might as well be riding a roller coaster – ups and downs that make you sick, with a lot of hollering and screaming to end up at the same place you started.
So, Hey, it’s a New Year and I’m looking to live a productive life of fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. I believe it’ll happen too.
“A culture may be likened to a river with a surface level and a deep level. The surface is visible. Most of the river, however, lies beneath the surface and in largely invisible. Anything that happens on the surface of the river is affected by deep-level phenomena such as the current, the cleanness or dirtiness of the river, other objects in the river and so on.”
His analogy revealed something obvious to those who live in the culture of Black American, those who are viewed from a surface level of behavior yet often without going deeper to examine the causes of that behavior.
It is good for us, as Christians, to explore various theories and concept of culture and worldview. It is also good for us to examine the roots of the European sentiment geared towards cultures other than its own. I appreciate reading authors who originated from African, Asian, and Latin American cultures to gain input from one who is the subject of mission and colonization. As my overall learning increases,perhaps I will be able to contribute on a scholarly level an opinion on the effects of the theories within the African-American culture toward missions in Africa.