If They are Fruits of the Spirit the Stop Looking for Veggies

In a lectio divina group Estee and I are a part of, the eight  participants reflected on a section of John 15. In this "divine reading" an insight came into focus about Jesus talking about bearing fruit. Beginning with the thought that Jesus does not say we are to bear vegetables but fruit. Which on the surface seems silly, then the conversation opened up the metaphor.

I am not a farmer and know very little about growing produce. What I know is that to grow, say corn, one would plow the soil, sow seeds,feed and water the seeds and when the harvest comes, you cut the corn down and then you begin the process over again the next year.

What is great about growing vegetables is that there is an almost immediate return on the work. You plant a seed then later that year you get corn or carrots or beans or squash. This is why kids are always introduced to gardening with growing vegetables - you do not have to wait too long for veggies.

This is not the case with most fruits. Peaches, apples, olives, cherries all take a number of years before food is produced. At the end of the process, being a farmer of fruit looks like being a farmer of vegetables. However, in the beginning fruit farmers do not get to 'eat' from their labors in a few weeks. They must wait years. However, fruit farmers also do not have to take time each year to till and plant - the vegetable farmer has to.

It is a simple thought but one that has larger ramifications for spiritual formation - are we like vegetable or fruit farmers?

Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are doing the same work work year after year. Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are always busy getting ready for the next season that we cannot abide in the presence of God. Vegetable farmer spirituality might look like we are being fed, but not patient enough to discover the sweetness of fruit. Vegetable farmer spirituality has some risk but only short term - because there is always a new season to try again. Vegetable farming spirituality looks like one who does not feel a need to trust very deeply, because in just a few weeks you just start again.

Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are engaged in the hard work at the start then we must trust that fruit will come - never knowing if all the years of waiting will lead to any fruit. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are barren for a long time. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like we are not doing much as we wait but we are busy developing trust. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like silly because you may not eat for a while. Fruit farmer spirituality might look like one who, after a long time, cannot help but be deeply rooted and continue to grow fruit even if the farmer dies.

On a side note, fear seems to be a component of developing vegetable farmer spirituality. Friends, I can tell you there at this moment in the church and world, there is an abundance of vegetable farming going on.

Originally posted on May 14, 2012

Blogs are like breakfast

Something that should be apparent in the world these days is the difference between blogging and other mediums. 

This is not a newspaper. I am not a reported. This is not an entry in a peer-reviewed journal or an encyclopedia. This blog is not a sermon. Because it publishes with great regularity (although not so far this month!) it is a direct reflection of the continuing ongoing thoughts in my life. 

Trying to find a metaphor that best expresses the etiquette of a blog, I fell short. Luckily this metaphor came across my reader from swissmiss

“There’s something sacred about reading a blog post on someone else’s site. It’s like visiting a friend’s house for a quick meal ’round the breakfast table. It’s personal — you’re in their space, and the environment is uniquely suited for idea exchange and uninterrupted conversation. In many ways, we should be treating our blogs like our breakfast tables. Be welcoming & gracious when you host, and kind & respectful when visiting.” – Trent Walton

As such, I have always tried to be respectful of those who take time to sit at this table. You are not required to sign in or even have a name associated with your comments. You are free to share as much as you like under a very open Creative Commons License. Just a reminder to everyone that blogs are personal things. It required vulnerability. It requires time. It requires patience and commitment. It does not require readers or subscribers. Blogs are written for those who write them and we the readers are not mandated to read. I am thankful for those who write (see "Change Agents" to the right) and allow me the opportunity to set up to their table and share in a meal. See how they are doing. Hear what they are thinking and walk away without a sense of reciprocity.

I want the church to be a bullion cube

When I was a kid my mother would make roast. There would be carrots and potatoes as sides along with some bread and the occasional ice cream desert. It was a fine meal, no complaints.

As I think about this dinner, that was a common set up for my childhood, I cannot help but think about how this is a representation of how many of us grew up thinking about church. That is to say, every area of our lives had it's own area on the plate.

There was the place where we worked (carrots). There was the place where we lived (potatoes). There was the place where we attended church (roast) and there was a place we attended school (bread).

Every aspect of our lives was separate and distinct from other areas of our lives.

And this is where the struggle lies. We have a growing generation of people for whom all aspects of life are becoming intertwined.

We work at home and we play at work.

For many people, there is a desire for church to be done in the other areas of their lives as well. Not just on Sunday.

That is to say, some people are not looking for a church to be like a roast - separate from the other elements on the plate. Rather the desire is that church would be like a bullion cube - infusing itself into all the other elements on the plate.

I desire a church that will be willing to melt or die to itself - to give up being a separate space in my life. I desire a church that infuses itself into all the areas of my work, play, school and life.

I don't need more on my plate, I just want my plate to be flavorful.

Give me the bullion, you can keep the roast.

Why most devotionals lead us astray

The last post commented on a desire for preachers, when it comes to how we use scripture, to shift from diving to swimming.

Not everyone is a preacher. But many of us have a devotional reading which might be diving boards.

I am not a huge fan of most daily devotionals. Most of them are set up so that you have a line or two of scripture and then a little reflection written about those lines. The reflection generally includes some sort of "moral" or "life application" that we can "gain" or "take" from the scripture. Devotionals are assumed to be "quick" so that we can get our fix and move on.

This is all well and fine but it may be sapping us of the richness of the scripture.

The challenge is that when we read just a line or two, we miss the much larger picture. Just like in a movie.

We watch movie clips and know that these clips are a part of a much larger story. So while we can watch a classic clip, we know that there are a number of motivations and plot twits going on up to and beyond this point.


So to with scripture. We can quote it and say it, but if we are unaware of the larger story going on then we are just a bunch of people sharing movie clips of a movie that not everyone has seen.