We came back from vacation and our tomato plants have grown at least another foot. Unfortunately those pesky weeds grew also. The weeds needed to be removed so that the tomatoes could grow even larger and the plants would bear more fruit. We face the same thing in our lives, as we grow in Christ there are some things we need to remove before we can grow even closer to him and bear more fruit. Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

One day I was talking to Billy the Kid about engine building, not because I wanted to build one, but I wanted some understanding about the process. Before I came to RWJM I worked in manufacturing, I made things work, so I have always been intrigued about engine building. Billy and I talked about a spec engine or “recipe” engine. If I understand it correctly there is a list of parts you can use and from those parts you build an engine.

To some it sounds easy but Billy explained that picking the right size parts to go together can make all the difference in the world. Some of the parts, although the same, don’t match up right and wouldn’t work well together. You have to keep the right ones and discard the ones that don’t. When you put the right ones together you produce more horsepower and isn’t that what it is all about.

Now that I think about it, the same process must be why some chocolate chip cookies taste better than others. The ingredients are pretty basic, but some cooks just know how to put the ingredients together in such a way as to make them irresistible. I must confess though, there aren’t too many chocolate chip cookies I don’t like, but I digress.

Our lives are a lot like tending a garden, building a motor or even making chocolate chip cookies, some things are desirable and some things don’t belong. Only the right combination of things produces the desired effect. We can only live a life that honors God when we remove the things that drain our resources and fertilize the things that grow us into the people we need to be. Jesus talked about it in John’s Gospel.

John 15:1-8; “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

Gardening is a constant process of pruning, cutting out things that are not useful, so that the things that are useful can grow and flourish. It seems counterproductive but if you let something grow without some pruning it gets unruly and out of control. It really parallels our lives, if we live without someone pruning us and shaping the decisions we make, our lives would become chaotic and unproductive. We would destroy ourselves. No one can live a long and productive life without some pruning.

Keep in mind though, we cannot cut ourselves off from Christ, once something is cut from the main plant it loses its source of living power, withers and dies. We need to stay connected to the source of life, true life, Jesus Christ. He provides the life we need and apart from Him we can do nothing, nothing worth doing that is. All we become if we are not connected to God through Jesus is deadwood.

To lead productive lives that honor God a few things have to take place; first we need to be connected to the Father through Jesus. Jesus is the vine that brings to us the essential elements for life. We need to accept Christ and allow him to provide for us the very source of life. He will lead us to the Father. 

Second, we must allow God to prune, mold and shape us into the person He created us to be. Let’s face it that is not a comfortable process, cutting things off, changing things, thinking differently, but it is a process that is necessary if we are going to live an abundant life. Some of the things we think and do are not beneficial to us, they just don’t belong. God will remove those and help us to grow in the right direction.

“A lady studied the art of bonkei: she learned how to place curiously shaped rocks and bonsai plants on a tray spread with sand to create a miniature landscape. But … the final secret eluded her: no matter what she did, her sand never held together in the perfect waves and ripples of the master’s precisely arranged grains. Finally, after many years …she was told the answer. She bowed at the feet of the master, and he spoke. ‘Use glue,’ he said”

Jesus is the glue that holds our life together, he keeps us connected to God. Without that connection we will wither and die. God is the master gardener that shapes our lives into the life He created us to live. God uses the Holy Spirit to communicate to us the things that have to removed, adjusted and encouraged for our lives to honor Him. Remember that passage from last week?

1Corinthians 10:23 “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”–but not everything is constructive.

We sometimes think we can handle it when, in fact, we shouldn’t even try. We need to turn our life over to God and let him prune and shape us into what He created us to be. We need to stay connected to Jesus, without that connection we will wither and die. We need to call on the name of Jesus and seek God while He can still be found.

Until next time, remember God loves you and Jesus is Lord over Auto Racing! God Bless. Remember, that your prayerful support helps us continue this ministry. Thank You.