Fruit or Foliage?

The majestic Hendersonville, North Carolina mountains beckoned my friends. The air was fresh; the breeze was crisp; the sun was glorious; the fellowship was easy. We awakened all excited to visit Sky Top Orchard. We were going on an apple-picking adventure. So many lessons came to my heart on that beautiful orchard about bearing fruit or foliage.

Friends Bearing FruitIMG956157-1 IMG_1768

We pulled into the gravel parking lot and my heart beat quickened.  Acres of you-pick apples, jugs of fresh apple cider, and fun hay rides– all waiting for us.

The orchard was brimming with huge apple trees, as far as your eye could see.  It was amazing.  I climbed to the top of one of the apple trees, teeming with ripened fruit. All I had to do was barely shake the tree limb, and the apples fell effortlessly to the ground. The life application came to mind immediately…

How many of us have driven hours upon hours to the mountains of North Carolina or even flown to the Northeast in the autumn to spend a weekend “leaf looking”? The majestic transformation of the leaves in the mountains or in the Northeast is a sight to behold–for a few weeks. It is amazing to think that this beauty only lasts a mere three weeks or so. Then the leaves fall from the trees, withering and dying on the ground, crunching beneath our feet.

As I climbed down from the apple tree to pick up the buckets of apples on the ground, it occurred to me how fun yet full of hard work truly bearing fruit is. Flashy foliage is so appealing from a distance. Unlike the absolute majesty of “leaf looking,” would you make a special trip to see an apple tree ready to harvest? To see apples hanging on the limbs juicy and ripe, enough to feed a family sustainably for days, weeks, or years if needed? Sadly, the answer may be an under-the-breath “no.”

If you’re like me, at some point you may have started off doing a service for God, only to slack off in just a few weeks and get tired. I confess to you that in my past, some flashy foliage resulted instead of long-time sustainable fruit for God. Bearing fruit for Jesus Christ to better God’s Kingdom is exciting, yet not a glamorous job.

“‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples….You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.“–John 15:5-8, 16. NIV

May we all take a trip to our own heart’s orchard, knowing we are called to bear much fruit for Jesus. The message is that simple, is that hard. Let’s roll up our sleeves, delve into God’s Word daily, work diligently for the Lord and bear much fruit.

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Patti Lesslie, Lee Warlick, Sarah Lerner, and Renee Konieczny for bearing fruit with me. I love y’all! Photo Credit: Thank you, Renee Konieczny! You are a precious friend and amazing artist.

Reflect:

–What are your plans to bear more fruit? Please comment.

–How can you encourage the “flashy foliage” bearers in your life? Please comment.

Renew:

–“‘ Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.'” –Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

–“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Recharge:

–“If Christ, the heavenly Vine, has taken the believer as a branch, then He has pledged Himself, in the very nature of things, to supply the sap and spirit and nourishment to make it bring forth fruit…The soul need but have one care—to abide closely, fully, wholly. He will give the fruit. He works all that is needed to make the believer a blessing.” –Andrew Murray

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The Cost of Paying Attention

Fall yard raking brought on a much-needed life lesson for me.

My family’s huge oak tree sheds practically every leaf each fall and winter. At the base of this tall oak tree is a small dogwood tree. As long as I can remember, both the oak and dogwood have been there, coexisting sweetly in the front yard. I appreciate the oak’s shade and its majesty. I appreciate the dogwood’s beautiful white and bloodstain-tipped blossoms in the spring, right around Easter, reminding me of the blood sacrifice Jesus made for all of us.

Back to my story. So I was raking, just as I have raked much of my adult life. Soaking up the beautiful autumn blue sky, gentle breeze, crisp air, I looked down and noticed a bright red berry in the grass. Where could a berry have come from in my front yard? I looked up and saw the dogwood. Squinting, I noticed something different. Clusters of deep, red berries amidst the changing leaves of the dogwood!  Beautiful. The sight was beautiful!  Blood red berries, as deep as the red on the bloodstain-tipped blossoms in the spring. I was awestruck.

All these years, all these autumns. I missed it…until now. I paid attention.  Grabbing my phone, I captured this photo.

How have I never noticed the autumn berries on my dogwoods before now?

Why have I never noticed?  Why have I not paid more attention?

“Pay” attention. The verb we use before the word “attention” causes me to ponder. Pay. Like paying for an item in a store. There is a cost. There is value. There is sacrifice. Yes, I desire to pay more attention.

The Bible is full of passages about “paying” attention.

Pay attention and listen to the sayings of the wise; apply your heart to what I teach.” –Proverbs 22:17 NIV

Forgive me, Lord. Forgive the blinders of my eyes and heart. Forgive my hurried pace. Please help me pay more attention.  Help me notice You, Lord. Help me pay attention to Your majesty, from the gorgeous full moon last week to the fresh morning dew in my front lawn to the bright red berries on my autumn dogwood leaves and branches. Beauty surrounds us if we look.  Paying attention is worth the cost, Lord. I pray to experience life through Your lens and Your timing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 Reflect:

–How would you rank your life’s pace? Please comment.

–What intentional act will you do to unrush yourself? How?  Please comment.

Renew: 

–“The Lord will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the Lord your GOD that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.” –Deuteronomy 28:13 NIV

–“My son, pay attention to my wisdom, listen well to my words of insight.” –Proverbs 5:1 NIV

–“You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” –Isaiah 42:20 NIV

–“We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. –Hebrews 2:1 NIV

–“And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” –2 Peter 1:19 NIV

Recharge:

–Please enjoy at least one unrushed moment with your spouse, child, loved one today.

–Savoring a few minutes of prayer and quiet devotional time in the Bible sets a more unrushed pace and peace for the day.

Resource:

–www.thebestyes.com

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Fruit or Foliage?

The majestic Hendersonville, North Carolina mountains beckoned my friends and I last weekend. The air was fresh; the breeze was crisp; the sun was glorious; the fellowship was easy. We awakened all excited to visit Sky Top Orchard. We were going on an apple-picking adventure. So many lessons came to my heart on that beautiful orchard about bearing fruit or foliage.

Friends Bearing FruitIMG956157-1 IMG_1768 We pulled into the gravel parking lot and my heart beat quickened.  Acres of you-pick apples, jugs of fresh apple cider, and fun hay rides– all waiting for us.

The orchard was brimming with huge apple trees, as far as your eye could see–Granny, Fuji, Jonathan, Mutsu and others…some kinds of apples I had never even heard of. Rows and rows of them, apples just hanging off the branches. It was amazing.  I climbed to the top of one of the apple trees, teeming with ripened fruit. All I had to do was barely shake the tree limb, and the apples fell effortlessly to the ground. The life application came to mind immediately…

How many of us have driven hours upon hours to the mountains of North Carolina or even flown to the Northeast in the autumn to spend a weekend “leaf looking”? The majestic transformation of the leaves in the mountains or in the Northeast is a sight to behold–for a few weeks. It is amazing to think that this beauty only lasts a mere three weeks or so. Then the leaves fall from the trees, withering and dying on the ground, crunching beneath our feet.

As I climbed down from the apple tree to pick up the buckets of apples on the ground, it occurred to me how fun yet full of hard work truly bearing fruit is. Flashy foliage is so appealing from a distance. Unlike the absolute majesty of “leaf looking,” would you make a special trip to see an apple tree ready to harvest? To see apples hanging on the limbs juicy and ripe, enough to feed a family sustainably for days, weeks, or years if needed? Sadly, the answer may be an under-the-breath “no.”

If you’re like me, at some point you may have started off doing a service for God, only to slack off in just a few weeks and get tired. I confess to you that in my past, some flashy foliage resulted instead of long-time sustainable fruit for God. Bearing fruit for Jesus Christ to better God’s Kingdom is exciting, yet not a glamorous job.

“‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples….You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit–fruit that will last.“–John 15:5-8, 16. NIV

May we all take a trip to our own heart’s orchard, knowing we are called to bear much fruit for Jesus. The message is that simple, is that hard. Let’s roll up our sleeves, delve into God’s Word daily, work diligently for the Lord and bear much fruit.

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Patti Lesslie, Lee Warlick, Sarah Lerner, and Renee Konieczny for bearing fruit with me. I love y’all! Photo Credit: Thank you, Renee Konieczny! You are a precious friend and amazing artist.

Reflect:

–What are your plans to bear more fruit? Please comment.

–How can you encourage the “flashy foliage” bearers in your life? Please comment.

Renew:

–“‘ Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.'” –Matthew 7:15-20 NIV

–“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” –Galatians 5:22 NIV

Recharge:

–“If Christ, the heavenly Vine, has taken the believer as a branch, then He has pledged Himself, in the very nature of things, to supply the sap and spirit and nourishment to make it bring forth fruit…The soul need but have one care—to abide closely, fully, wholly. He will give the fruit. He works all that is needed to make the believer a blessing.” –Andrew Murray

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