Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

Pruning: Cutting Out Things to Become Stronger and More Productive

I love being and working outside, especially this time of year with planting and gardening. Plants make me happy. I might even describe myself as an amateur gardener. However, I use this “gardener” term very loosely! Over the years I’ve learned a lot about God through the planting process. In fact, the bible is full of gardening and agricultural analogies, being they were so prevalent in that culture.

Because I love gardening so much, it’s easy for God to talk to me and for me to understand in gardening terms. For that reason, it happens a lot. Just this past week in fact I was reading John 15 where Jesus is describing himself and the vine, us as the branches, and God (the Father) as the gardener.

During this particular reading, the pruning process stood out to me. I think this was because of what God has been speaking to me about lately. Specifically, this made sense with regard to removing distractions when spending time with and listening to God. I mentioned last week that I was being “corrected” in this area! Therefore, pruning distractions fit right in the theme of what I was already learning.

John 15:1-8 (NIV)

“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, as I also 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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are 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 done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”

Bearing Fruit=Being Successful

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Funny Friday: Running Late

An actual photo of my kids when we're running late

Funny Friday: Running Late

Does this ring true for anyone else? Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there whose kids turn into sloths riding turtles when you’re running late!  Hang in there moms!

“This is all the more urgent, for you know how late it is; time is running out…” Romans 13:11a (NLT)

Stop and Take Time to Listen to God

Learn how to Stop and Take Time to Listen to God...

Stop and Take Time to Listen to God

Taking regular time to stop and listen to God is not a strong suit of mine. I do hear from God on a fairly regular basis. I know his voice and how he talks to me. Unfortunately I hate to admit that I kind of stink at being intentional about taking time to listen to God. This topic isn’t what I was going to originally write about this week. It was only because of taking time to listen to God that I decided to write about listening to God!

My notes are lost

I seem to have lost my notes for my original topic. I’m serious – I can’t find them anywhere! I searched my quiet time journal. I’ve looked through my Bible and sermon notes. I looked through my computer documents. I’ve looked through my phone notes. I even looked around for random post-it notes where I may have written some things down. Nothing. Now, I can’t even remember if I even wrote the notes down to begin with, but I could’ve sworn that I did.

After searching around frantically for my notes for well over an hour, I decided to just pray about it and ask God to help me find them. Then I remembered my quiet time about stopping and listening to God. It was about taking time to just stop and be quiet. So I decided to do that after I prayed about losing my notes.

Maybe they were “lost” on purpose

I began to think that maybe my notes were “lost” on purpose because God had other intentions of what he wanted me to write about this week. If I’m right, it’s what he’s been gently correcting me about recently. It’s about making time to stop and listen to him on purpose.

While listening, I had the thought, “Well, maybe they’re lost on purpose because I’m not supposed to write about them. Maybe I’m supposed to write about something else. I usually pray every week about what I’m going to write about, but I don’t think I did this week. I think I just decided last week what this week’s topic would be and then didn’t really spend a whole lot of time in prayer about it. Well, I guess it serves me right!” Leave it to God to conveniently cause my notes to go missing when I try to do things my way without consulting him or listening to him!

Oh, the irony

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Funny Friday: I’m starting to think my husband isn’t going to apologize…

I'm starting to think my husband isn't going to apologize for the way he acted in my dream last night.

Funny Friday: I’m starting to think my husband isn’t going to apologize…

“I’m starting to think my husband isn’t going to apologize for the way he acted in my dream last night.”  Does this happen to anyone else?  He just doesn’t seem to understand why I’m so mad at him!

“I have had a dream that troubles me and I want to know what it means.” Daniel 2:3 (NLT)

 

How to Conduct Research

How to Conduct Research

How to Conduct Research

Recently, I wrote a post on Barabbas and discussed how I encountered some conflicting information. I decided to do some research. During that process I found both credible and not-so-credible resources. The thought came to me that some people may not know how to discern if material is reliable or not. So this week I thought I’d share just some basic tips on how to conduct research and evaluate information.

They do teach some of this in high school and in college. So many of you might already know how to do this effectively. Sometimes though it’s nice to have refreshers. You might also learn a few tips and tricks of which you may have been unaware. I think you’ll also find some techniques very helpful when doing some Bible study and research.

Additionally, there may be some readers who find this helpful—especially in our current culture of biased media, people throwing out inaccurate data, and a world full of activist agendas. Even if you feel proficient in conducting research, feel free to watch the short video clips and learn a few tricks for web searches and such.

The CRAAP Test

I teach the CRAAP Test in my college classes. Sounds kinda crude doesn’t it? I joke with my students that this is the method they’ll use to recognize fact from crap! 😉 In all seriousness though, it’s a method used to help you know how to evaluate sources and material. It will help you determine which is good information and which isn’t.

Basically, CRAAP is just an acronym for Currency, Relevance, Authority, Accuracy, and Purpose. This handout by California State University, Chico is one we refer to and distribute in my classes. However to give you a basic rundown of what it entails, I’ll describe each step. Continue reading

Funny Friday: You won’t have a calculator…

You won't have a calculator with you everywhere you go.

Funny Friday: You won’t have a calculator…

Here’s another funny from my sister. 🙂  Remember when teachers used to say, ‘You won’t have a calculator everywhere you go.’  Well, we showed them.

“Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go…” Genesis 28:15 (ESV)

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Defining Tolerance

Tolerance is a word that’s tossed around a lot these days. People are constantly accusing Christians of being intolerant, bigots, and closed-minded. Then, we in turn accuse the accusers of being intolerant based on their very definition of tolerance! If we are intolerant because we refuse to embrace their worldview as equally valid, wouldn’t that consequently make them intolerant of us as well? It seems like a vicious cycle doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, the word “tolerance” is abused in our current culture. It seems as if the problem lies in the definition of tolerance. So maybe if we start by defining what tolerance truly is and what it is not, we can come to some common ground.

What tolerance is NOT:

  • Agreeing with another’s belief system or opposing worldview
  • Acceptance of an idea, belief or lifestyle (especially if it opposes your own) as being true or equally true
  • Refusing to believe in objective or absolute truth
  • Conceding that somebody is right, when you believe that they are wrong
  • Believing that others’ opposing views must align with your own

What tolerance IS:

  • Allowing for differences, disagreements and opposition in a kind, compassionate and respectful way
  • According to the Oxford Dictionary, tolerance is defined as “the ability or willingness to tolerate the existence of opinions or behavior that one dislikes or disagrees with.”
  • Another definition listed is “the capacity to endure continued subjection to something such as a drug or environmental conditions without adverse reaction.”

Note the secondary definition. Taken from a relational perspective, this would mean to endure opposing conditions (or people) without reacting adversely or in a hostile way. 

My favorite take on tolerance

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