Tag Archives: John 15

Do you believe you can?


Like most kids my age, I grew up on “The Little Engine That Could” who, in face of a tough challenge,  kept repeating, “I think I can, I think I can,” until he could finally proclaim, “I thought I could, I thought I could.” Disney taught us, “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are, anything your heart desires will come to you.”


As I grew older, I was influenced by the positive thinking mantra of Norman Vincent Peale.   Meredith Wilson brought us the delightful musical, The Music Man, which had con man Harold Hill telling his students,  “you don’t have to bother with the notes.” Instead he taught them his “Think System,” which stated all you had to do was think it and it would happen. In recent years the mantra of many motivational speakers has been, “If you believe it you can achieve it.” Over and over we’re taught that road blocks don’t have to stop you. Find a way to get over them, around them, or through them. Be positive and it will all work out.



Actually, there’s something to be said for the power of positive thinking. At least it sure beats the failure of negative thinking. But will a “think system” help you accomplish all your dreams? If you simply believe you can, will you be able to accomplish the impossible?


With God all things are possible. Going to the source of that quote we find Jesus answering a rich man’s question about how to get to heaven. “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26) That is, if it’s God’s will that something be done he can and will do it. Do you believe it?


Maybe you’re saying, “Yes, I have a faith that is real and strong and true, but I don’t see the power. My prayers are still unanswered.” Maybe you ask, “How do I get a bigger faith?” I’ve asked that question. But a bigger faith isn’t necessarily the answer. Jesus taught us if we have the faith of a tiny mustard seed, we could move mountains.  (Matthew 17:20) Move an actual mountain? Do you  think of yourself as the doubting, “ye of little faith” or as one with faith the size of a mustard seed, that can move the mountains in your life? In other words, do you believe what you think and say you believe or do you know that without a doubt your faith is real and powerful? That’s what Jesus said. Do you really believe it to be true in your life?


The truth is our faith can move mountains, IF moving mountains is what God wants to do. But this mountain moving faith is not in ourselves. Scrunching up our face and straining our muscles will not move the mountain anymore than the branches of a grape vine “work out” to produce grapes. Our faith produces fruit when we abide in the vine (John 15) and our faith is placed in what God desires.


And still, James tells us that faith doesn’t sit idle. It works. All throughout scripture we’re told that real faith:

Faith feeds the hungry, shelters the homeless, visits the sick and those in prison, clothes the naked, gives to others when a brother is in need, has mercy on the poor, gives drink to the thirsty, bears each others’ burdens. (Matthew 25:25-40, Isaiah 58:10, Luke 2:14-18, Luke 3:11, 1 John 3:17-18, Proverbs 31:20, 4:31, Romans 12:20, Galatians 6:2) Real faith works. Do you believe it?


In each person’s life there comes a moment of truth when we determinedly decide to act on what we believe or hide in the shadows of denial; when we choose the will to face our fears and anxieties with action, or we cower in unbelief.


With God all things are possible.


But what happens when God moves in his mysterious ways and your pain and troubles  continue unresolved? When the cancer isn’t healed? When your friend’s grief will not be abated? When your pain finds no peace? It is then that he will see you through the struggle.


It takes courage to believe and more so to act on it. Don’t hold on to your mustard seed. Plant it, nourish it, and let it grow. Keep on believing. Your journey’s not done yet. And neither is the entire plan of God for you yet completed.


Whatever mountains you face, keep on believing. Don’t worry if your faith is small. Let it be real by acting on it.



Light in darkness



The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

YOU are the light of the world. Matthew 5:14

Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:15


These truths have been the theme of Go Light Our WorldTM (GLOW) since its inception. Many of our writings have focused on the light of Jesus shining not only into the world, but also into the depths of our own darkness, pain, and sorrow. It is a very personalized aspect of Jesus, the light of the world, illuminating the dark areas of our life, including not only the cross we bear but also shining his convicting light on our sin of wrong doing and wrong believing. His Word is a lamp unto our feet so we don’t stumble. It is a light unto our path so we are not without direction in our lives. What a gracious God we have that cares for us enough to bring us out of our personal darkness.


Jesus said, “Come to me and I will give you rest.” But His light, expressed all throughout the gospel, was never intended to be simply a comforter we wrap around ourselves. It is living hope for a desperate and dark world! He says, “You are the light of the world.” Our response is to take His light and run to the darkness. The darkness might not understand the light any more than we fully grasp the light in the darkness of our personal struggles. None the less, the darkness will not overcome the light.


The physician Luke wrote:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free…”       Luke 4:18

Adlai Stevenson, in tribute to Eleanor Roosevelt upon her death said, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.” Shouldn’t that be our reply as well?! Instead of cursing the darkness in your own life, be it depression, pain, disappointment, or other woe, let the light of Jesus shine in you and it will in turn shine into our world. It is the reason you were created.


There is a candle in every soul
Some brightly burning, some dark and cold.
There is a Spirit who brings a fire,
Ignites a candle and makes His home


So carry your candle, run to the darkness
Seek out the helpless, confused and torn
Hold out your candle for all to see it
Take your candle, and go light your world.

(Chris Rice lyrics, Go Light Your World)



Let your light shine




Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.


As a boy scout we would have skits at camp. Most all the skits were guaranteed ‘groaners.’ For example, the skit where one boy was desperately searching an area of ground in the lighted area. Another boy comes along and asks what’s going on. The first boy replies that he lost a quarter and is looking for it. The second boy asks where the quarter was lost. “Over there,’ answers the first boy, pointing to an area in the darkness. Confused, the second boy asked, “Then why are you looking over here?” The first boy responded, “The light is better over here!” (Permission to groan now.)


Jesus says, “I am the light of the world; he who follows me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) That light shines on because the darkness has never overpowered it. (John 1:5) Whoever asks Jesus to be Savior AND Lord of their life, always has light available to them wherever they go. If they go into the darkness of cancer or other life threatening condition, the light will shine into that darkness. If they go into perilous financial situations, the light goes with them. If they go into the dark abyss of depression, they will not remain without light. Whether we decide to live in that light is our decision to make.


Light dispels darkness. No matter how much darkness there is, “this little light” of ours cannot be quenched without our permission. As Sarah Young puts it, “His light shines on and in you, allowing you to shine your light boldly in the darkness.”  With light comes hope. And with hope comes endurance, the ability to persevere and find comfort even in the midst of the roughest season of your life.


Jesus says to those who follow Him, “YOU are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14) Don’t hide it, let it shine, His light in us is the mark of a believer.   Our job is to love God and love others, to let our light shine in dark places, where others are hurting and without hope.


Is this light of hope shining in your own life and in your response to disappointments and sorrows? Of course we doubt and grieve. That is part of our human existence. But we don’t have to live there. Does your light regularly shine into other’s lives through encouraging words, financial help, or an encouraging embrace to those around you facing tough times? Does your light shine across the world? For about a dollar a day you can sponsor a child through Compassion International (www.compassion.com), write to them, pray for them, encourage them, and shine hope into their lives. You can also visit our giving page here at Go Light Our World and learn how 100% of designated donations go directly to ministry, often in the poorest and darkest areas of the world.


Take your light and let it shine! Go light our world!



Dealing with frustration

It frustrates me to admit this but I sometimes still get frustrated, especially when I have to wait. How about you? The tell-tale sign is getting frustrated over small stuff that doesn’t really matter. But the big stuff especially causes us angst too, doesn’t it? Maybe it is an answer to prayer for a quicker recovery, a process to go more smoothly, a problem to be solved, or a conflict to be resolved. It is a challenge to be patient when it seems it has taken ‘long enough,’ isn’t it?

I tend to view infections and extreme weak days as setbacks and reminders of my vulnerability. I tell myself three infections in the last five months is worse than zero in the first 8 months. Wrong thinking, I know. The fact that feelings of frustration arise is not the problem; it is of course what we CHOOSE TO DO with them.

You have your own list of frustrating moments, right? The thing is, you can probably tell me the answer to dealing with my frustrations as I can with yours. I have to remind myself (or Marcia does) “This is how this day goes. What should I be thankful for? God is still with me.” I may be surprised by the circumstance but He isn’t. Nothing can separate us from His love, not even this time of waiting. I just need to remain in the vine. (John 15) Apart from God, I can do nothing. With Him, all things are possible.

As I write this (primarily to myself) I find myself again surprised by how simple it is…and how complicated I can make it when putting it into practice. 🙂 I hope your day is filled with the grace of staying connected to God who calls you by name, who knows your situation. Rest in Him and watch the frustrations dissipate.

Anchoring your mind


The subject of ‘mindfulness’ is frequently mentioned in the media, typically in the context of finding calmness in life balance. The idea is that we should take time each day to be mindful of our existence and our relationship with our world and others around us. The process is one of ‘anchoring’ oneself to inner values in a way that promotes emotional calmness.

Did you know that practicing mindfulness is at the very heart of focusing on and loving God? From the beginning, we are told to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5). Repeatedly, God prompts us to remember that He is our God (Numbers 15:41). We are reminded to meditate on His Word day and night (Joshua 1:8). We are called into His presence (Ps. 95:2) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:16). Jesus said that we can’t do anything without him, that we need to remain in him (John 15), and Paul tells us that with him, we can do all things.

Being mindful of who God is and who we are in his sight, is the essence of walking with God. It is our hope in Him that anchors us in the only way that is firm and secure (Heb. 6:19). It is the anchor that keeps us from drifting away from Him.

So how do we practice this mindfulness of God? Consider the following practical steps:
1. Find and make space for God throughout your daily actions and thoughts. When you find yourself getting upset and tense, create a space between how you feel and how you respond. In that space, think of who you are called to be. Ponder what a godly response would look like. A harsh word may seem like it would satisfy, but consider the longer-lasting consequence of that approach. Choose to be a peacemaker instead.
2. Don’t give in to fear and anxiety. Instead, practice being calm even in the middle of turmoil. Be mindful of God’s promises, His love for you, and how he has equipped you for every situation.
3. Get comfortable with silence. It’s impossible to truly hear what someone else is saying if you are always talking. Talk with God regularly and throughout the day, not just upon rising and going to bed. But more than talking, practice listening to God at least 10-15 minutes each day. Listen without interrupting. Practicing this after reading His Word will stimulate your listening ability.
4. Sharpen your saw. Break away from busyness. If you want to be more productive in what you do and to experience greater life balance and peace, practice being mindful of the One who loves you most. Stop drifting and enjoy the peace and wisdom of your anchoring your mind in meditation.

Time for pruning

It’s almost that time of year, when the temperatures start to warm a little but it is still too early for the grapevines and fruit trees to bud…time for pruning.

I remember when our grapes first started producing. We collected buckets of grapes, and I thought, “Why bother with pruning? This seems to be working well just letting the vines grow.” But the next two seasons produced diminishing amounts of fruit. It seemed the branches didn’t have strength to supply nourishment to all the buds. While seemingly wasteful, pruning actually produces more fruit.

That’s the way it is in our lives too. None of us look forward to pruning away the unproductive aspects of our life. But spiritual pruning is as necessary for us as physical pruning is for the vine branches. We don’t have enough time or energy for every ‘budding’ activity in our lives. Pruning causes us to reflect on our dependence on God, it brings repentance, and reveals again the purpose of our lives, that is to enjoy our abiding in the vine and to produce good fruit. Pruning, as painful as it seems at the time, causes us to live a life of greater purpose and productivity.

We associate pruning with pain, suffering, and the stripping away of pride and focus on ourselves. But the purpose of pruning is to bring about a closer relationship with and dependence on the vine, that which allows us to produce more useful and mature fruit. Jesus, the vine in John 15, reminds us that apart for him, we can do nothing. Matthew 19:6 tells us there are things impossible for men, but that for God all things are possible. Romans 8:18 and 28 promise that the weight of this present suffering cannot be compared to the future glory it will produce; that God will work all things for good for those who love him. We can be thankful for pruning because it produces God’s best for us and those whose lives we impact.

What trials and suffering are you facing in your life? Instead of complaining and fretting over them, consider what positive effect this pruning could have on your life and how you – and others – might actually benefit from this season of drawing closer to God.

Then Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of my branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.” ~ John 15:1,2

Winter pruning

It is too cold just now and of course I have no strength, but already my thoughts turn to late winter pruning. I will ask my doctor in a couple of months if I can return to yard work after a year of prohibition due to health concerns. The honey suckle is intoxicating with its delicious fragrance that wafts across the yard but it is voracious in its growth. If not pruned, it will quickly overshadow the garden and the pear tree in the NE part of the small orchard. The fruit trees and grape vines, similarly need pruning or they will not produce as much large and delicious fruit.

Jesus tells us of the value of pruning in John 15. In this parable he describes himself as the vine, his followers as those branches that remain attached to the vine and God as the gardener. Of course the branches only bear fruit if they remain attached to the vine and even these must be pruned in order to grow more branches and produce more fruit.

In the same way, we must stay attached to the vine, abiding in Christ, if we expect to bear much spiritual fruit. And also in a similar fashion, our lives must undergo a certain amount of pruning that we can produce the fruit we were placed here to produce.

When we prune the branches of our grape arbor, it looks pretty scrawny but it benefits in the long run when spring buds appear. We notice a significant change in our lives when we undergo personal pruning and the unproductive and unhelpful activities and thoughts of our lives are pruned away. But their absence makes way for a much more useful one. Just as grape vines and fruit trees are not meant just to produce more leaves, so our lives are meant for much more than an abundance of activities and possessions.

Galatians 5:22-23 tells us the fruit we are expected to produce are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Do you find any of these offensive? Of course not. Who wouldn’t want to bear more of this fruit in their lives? But how do we do this? By pruning away the excess in our lives and staying connected to the vine, throughout each day.

And the good part is that you don’t need a doctor’s permission nor wait til the end of winter. What needs to be pruned in your life? Negative thoughts and behaviors? Excessive habits and activities aren’t necessarily bad but you if find they distract your attention from your real purpose and diminish your love, your joy, your peace, it is time for pruning.

Let’s pursue love this year, and peace and all the rest. Lt’s pursue it with such diligence that pruning is welcomed to obtain what we most deeply desire and what is beneficial to those around us as well.