Monday, September 26, 2011

Tending Our Gardens: What We Need to Have a Harvest

Listen! A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants, so that they did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up, grew and produced a crop, multiplying thirty, sixty or even a hundred times. Then Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” Mark 4:3-9

Last spring when we planted our garden, I planted pumpkin seeds at my son’s request. The pumpkin seeds eventually sprouted and grew into long vines that spread across the little garden. The vines produced big beautiful flowers but no pumpkins.

The vines looked lush and green. The flowers were beautiful, but there was no fruit. October came-- the time I should have been harvesting our pumpkins. But all I had was the memory of the flowers. No fruit.

That is how our spiritual life can be sometimes. Flowers, but no fruit. Over the years of gardening, I’ve learned a few things about producing a harvest and what we do naturally can also apply to how to produce spiritual fruit in our lives.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Tending Our Gardens: Got Fruit?

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11: 12-14

In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, "Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!" Have faith in God," Jesus answered. "I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and does not dout in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours." Mark 11: 20-24

Last year, I planted pumpkin seeds in my little backyard garden. Instead of big orange pumpkins during harvest time, all I had were big pretty flowers. This year my cucumber plants produced an abundance of little yellow flowers. Every day, I would go out and look for the signs of a cucumber growing. But just like last year with my expected pumpkin harvest, this year my cucumber plants produced no fruit, just flowers.

Jesus is also looking for fruit in the lives of those who call on his name.

“So, my brother, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God. (Romans 7:4)”

But are we producing fruit or just flowers?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tending Our Gardens: Flowers, No Fruit

The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. Mark 11:12-14

I have a little garden in my backyard. It’s a small plot of land that was ready to plant a vegetable garden in when we bought the house. I had never gardened before but when I saw that little plot of land in the back visions of tomatoes and cucumbers danced in my head.

The first year I planted tomato seeds I didn’t know what I was doing so I just planted a bunch of seeds and I had a bumper crop of tomatoes.

Last spring when we were planning our garden, buying seeds, plants and deciding what we wanted to grow, my then 8-year-old son asked if we could plant some pumpkin seeds. Now I have never grown pumpkins but I was willing to give it a try. We bought a package and planted the seeds. Before long, the green shoots of the pumpkin plant poked their head through the soil. Soon, long vines stretched out of the little barbed wire fence into the yard. Before I knew it, big beautiful flowers emerged from the pumpkin vine.

We were excited because our experience had taught us that the flower was the preliminary stage to the fruit. I also have an apple tree in my backyard and every spring it explodes into beautiful white flowers and then those flowers transform into little green apples. The yellow flowers on my tomato plants become red ripe tomatoes. So I was expecting these large orange flowers on the vine to become pumpkins.

Every day I would go out in the garden and look for signs that a pumpkin was on the way.

No pumpkins.

Eventually the flowers would shrivel up, but then new buds would emerge. But still—no pumpkins. The vines looked lush and green. The flowers were beautiful, but there was no fruit. October came-- the time I should have been harvesting our pumpkins. But all I had was the memory of the flowers. No fruit.

That is how our spiritual lives can be. Jesus is looking for fruit. All he is finding is flowers.

Jesus is looking for fruit or at least signs that fruit is coming, but all he is finding is flowers. He is looking at our churches where we meet every Sunday and some Wednesdays. He is looking for fruit. He expects fruit. He is looking for a harvest. Jesus wants to find some fruit, but all he sees are leaves and flowers. We look good. We might even smell good, but we aren’t producing fruit. We seem fruitful in appearance, but we’re barren in reality.

Every day he is looking at our lives. Every minute he is examining our hearts. He is looking for fruit.

Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

What is Jesus finding in your spiritual garden? Fruit or just flowers?

Next week: Tending Our Gardens: How to Grow Fruit

Friday, September 9, 2011

Just Another Day: 9/11/01

This week our nation remembers the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001 when the United States was attacked by terrorist and nearly 3,000 people lost their lives. Most of us remember where we were on that fateful day that changed our lives, the country and the world. That beautiful September morning, I was pregnant and taking a non-fiction creative writing class at a local community college. My daughter was in kindergarten and my husband was a national correspondent for the New York Times. In remembrance of September 11, 2011, I am sharing with you what I wrote a few days after the tragedy for my creative writing class.

Do you remember what you were doing that day?

September 13, 2001

It was just another day. I woke up at 6:30 like every other weekday morning and prepared to take my daughter to school. Breakfast. Brush teeth. Throw on some sweats and a sweatshirt and head out the door. My husband told me to wait. He was going to ride with me this morning. Great, I thought. He can put some air in my car tire.

I dropped my daughter off at school and kissed her goodbye. We stopped at a gas station, filled the tire with air and the tank with gas. When we arrived home, our biggest concern was installing a new mailbox. That soon changed.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Top At the Well Postings for August 2011

In case you missed them, here are the At the Well postings that had the most views for the month of August.

Enjoy them for the first time or again. Share them with a friend. Write your comments or share some of your life lessons learned.

Peace and Blessings,
Monica Fountain

 













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