No More Defective Faith: The Exchanged Life (Hudson Taylor)

No more defective faith -- "The Exchanged Life" by Hudson Taylor - (Chapter and PDF) "Instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another." www.jeanwilund.com

Few books have affected me as profoundly as Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets. 

It’s available on Amazon, on audio and CD, and on Kindle.

(At the time of this post, the Kindle version is only 99 cents. Order it today!)

Who is Hudson Taylor?

Excerpt from the back of the audio CD:

You may be unfamiliar with the spiritual magnitude of Hudson Taylor, a great and godly man who was a pioneer missionary to China.

You will be amazed at the relevance of this man’s life as you see how effectively he modeled the integration of truth, faith, humility, and obedience.

His secret of the “exchanged life,” and his profound dependence on the Lord for every need, must be discovered by a new generation.

Physician, evangelist, administrator, visionary, compassionate husband and father–Hudson Taylor filled all these roles, and more.

He left a lasting mark on the great country of China, and few in the history of the Chinese church have accomplished so much with so little.

Hudson Taylor’s life exemplifies how to wholly trust God because God is indeed enough. That was the “secret” by which he lived and it can be yours as well.

In my recent post about The Vine and the Branches by David Tryon entitled Jesus Said, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” I said, “Huh?”, I credit Tryon’s writing and Hudson Taylor’s for crystalizing my understanding of what it truly means to abide in Christ.

All of Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets is brilliant, but Chapter 14 –– The Exchanged Life is the section I re-read the most.

In it, Taylor explains his breakthrough to understanding how to truly abide in Christ. 

I’m surprised I don’t have this chapter memorized as much as I’ve studied it.

I long for The Exchanged Life to be more fully reflected in my life.

I’ve provided the transcript of the chapter in its entirety below.

I transcribed it from one of my many copies of Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets. 

In fact, the copy I used is so worn, I’ve lost the cover and the first chapter.

But I’ve since ordered two new copies to replace the battered one.

I wanted two, so I can loan one out and still never be without one at home.

Smart, I know.

At the end of this post is a downloadable PDF of this chapter. But you really should buy the whole book. In fact, buy two copies.

Enjoy and prepare to be changed!


Chapter 14 — The Exchanged Life 

(Excerpt from Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secrets by Dr. and Mrs. Howard Taylor)

Yes, in me, in me He dwelleth — 
I in Him and He in me!
And my empty soul He filleth
Now and through eternity.
— H. Bonar

Six months after the foregoing letter was written, a junk northward bound on the Grand Canal was carrying a passenger whose heart overflowed with a great, new-found joy.

Mr. Judd in Yangchow was expecting the return of his friend and leader, but was hardly prepared for the transformation which had taken place in the one he knew so well.

Scarcely waiting for greetings, Mr. Taylor plunged into his story. In characteristic fashion–his hands behind his back–he walked up and down the room exclaiming.

“Oh, Mr. Judd, God has made me a new man! God has made me a new man!”

Wonderful was the experience that had come in answer to prayer, yet so simple as almost to baffle description. It was just as it was long ago, “Whereas I was blind, now I see!”

Amid a pile of letters awaiting Mr. Taylor in Chinkiang, had been one from John McCarthy, written in the old home in Hangchow.

The glory of a great sunrise was upon him–the inward light whose dawning makes all things new. To tell Mr. Taylor about it was his longing, for he knew something of the exercise of soul through which his friend was passing. But where to begin, how to put it into words he knew not.

I do wish I could have a talk with you now [he wrote], about the way of holiness.

At the time you were speaking to me about it, it was the subject of all others occupying my thoughts, not from anything I had read . . . so much as from a consciousness of failure—a constant falling short of that which I felt should be aimed at; an unrest; a perpetual striving to find some way by which one might continually enjoy that communion, that fellowship, at times so real but more often so visionary, so far off! . . .

Do you know, I now think that this striving, longing, hoping for better days to come is not the true way to holiness, happiness or usefulness. It is better, no doubt, far better than being satisfied with poor attainments, but not the best way after all.

I have been struck with a passage from a book . . . entitled Christ Is All. It says,

“The Lord Jesus received is holiness begun; the Lord Jesus cherished is holiness advancing; the Lord Jesus counted upon as never absent would be holiness complete . . .

“He is most holy who has most of Christ within, and joys most fully in the finished work.

It is defective faith which clogs the feet and causes many a fall.

This last sentence, I think I now fully endorse.

To let my loving Saviour work in me His will, my sanctification, is what I would live for by His grace.

Abiding, not striving nor struggling; looking off unto Him; trusting Him for present power; . . . resting in the love of an almighty Savior, in the joy of a complete salvation, “from all sin” — this is not new, and yet ’tis new to me

I feel as though the dawning of a glorious day had risen upon me. I hail it with trembling, yet with trust.

I seem to have got to the edge only, but of that which fully satisfies.

Christ literally all seems to me, now, the power, the only power for service, the only ground for unchanging joy . . . .

How then to have our faith increased?

Only by thinking of all that Jesus is and all He is for us: His life, His death, His work, He Himself as revealed to us in the Word, to be the subject of our constant thoughts.

Not a striving to have faith . . . but a looking off to the Faithful One seems all we need; a resting in the Loved One entirely, for time and for eternity.

We do not know just how the miracle was wrought; but, “As I read, I saw it all,” Mr. Taylor wrote. “I looked to Jesus, and when I saw–oh, how joy flowed!”

He was a joyous man now [Mr. Judd recorded], a bright happy Christian. He had been a toiling, burdened one before, with latterly not much rest of soul. It was resting in Jesus now, and letting Him do the work–which makes all the difference.

Whenever he spoke in meetings after that, a new power seemed to flow from him, and in the practical things of life a new peace possessed him.

Troubles did not worry him as before. He cast everything on God in a new way, and gave more time to prayer. Instead of working late at night, he began to go to bed earlier, rising at 5 AM to give time to Bible study and prayer (often two hours) before the work of the day began.

It was the exchanged life that had come to him—the life that is indeed “No longer I.”

Six months earlier he had written, “I have continually to mourn that I follow at such a distance and learn so slowly to imitate my precious Master.”

There was no thought of imitation now! It was in blessed reality “Christ liveth in me.”

And how great the difference! —instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another.

So great was the deliverance, that from that time onward Mr. Taylor could never do enough to help to make this precious secret plain to hungry hearts wherever he might be.

And there are so many hungry hearts that need such help today that we venture to quote at length from one of his first letters on the subject. It was to his sister, Mrs. Broomhall, whose burdens with a family which grew to number ten children were very real and pressing.

So many thanks for your dear, long letter . . . I do not think you have written me such a letter since our return to China.

I know it is with you as with me—you cannot—not you will not. Mind and body will not bear more than a certain amount of strain, or do more than a certain amount of work.

As to work—mine was never so plentiful, so responsible or so difficult, but the weight and strain are all gone.

The last month or more has been, perhaps, the happiest of my life, and I long to tell you a little of what the Lord has done for my soul. I do not know how far I may be able to make myself intelligible about it, for there is nothing new or strange or wonderful—and yet, all is new! . .  .

Perhaps I may make myself more clear if I go back a little.

Well, dearie, my mind has been greatly exercised for six or eight months past, feeling the need personally and for our Mission of more holiness, life, power in our souls. But personal need stood first and was the greatest.

I felt the ingratitude, the danger, the sin of not living nearer to God. I prayed, agonized, fasted, strove, made resolutions, read the Word more diligently, sought more time for mediation—but all without avail.

Every day, almost every hour, the consciousness of sin oppressed me.

I knew that if only I could abide in Christ all would be well, but I could not.

I would begin the day with prayer, determined not to take my eye off Him for a moment, but pressure of duties, sometimes very trying, and constant interruptions apt to be so wearing, caused me to forget Him.

Then one’s nerves get so fretted in this climate that temptations to irritability, hard thoughts and sometimes unkind words are all the more difficult to control. Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power.

To will was indeed “present with me” but how to perform I found not.

Then came the question, is there no rescue?

Must it be thus to the end—constant conflict, and too often defeat?

How could I preach with sincerity that, to those who receive Jesus, “to them gave He power to become the sons of God” (i.e., Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience?

Instead of growing stronger, I seemed to be getting weaker and to have less power against sin; and no wonder, for faith and even hope were getting low.

I hated myself, I hated my sin, yet gained no strength against it.

I felt I was a child of God. His Spirit in  my heart would cry, in spite of all, “Abba, Father.” But to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.

I thought that holiness, practical holiness, was to be gradually attained by a diligent use of the means of grace.

There was nothing I so much desired as holiness, nothing I so much needed; but far from in any measure attaining it, the more I strove after it, the more it eluded my grasp, until hope itself almost died out, and I began to think that—perhaps to make heaven the sweeter—God would not give it down here.

I do not think that I was striving to attain it in my own strength. I knew I was powerless. I told the Lord so, and asked Him to give me help and strength.

Sometimes I almost believed that He would keep and uphold me; but on looking back in the evening—alas! there was but sin and failure to confess and mourn before God.

I would not give you the impression that this was the only experience of those long, weary months.

It was a too frequent state of soul, and that towards which I was tending, which almost ended in despair. And yet, never did Christ seem more precious; a Saviour who could and would save such a sinner! . . .

And sometimes there were seasons not only of peace but of joy in the Lord; but they were transitory, and at best there was a sad lack of power.

Oh, how good the Lord has been in bringing this conflict to an end!

All the time I felt assured that there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was—how to get it out

He was rich truly, but I was poor; He was strong, but I weak.

I knew full well that there was in the root, the stem, abundant fatness, but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question.

As gradually light dawned, I saw that faith was the only requisite—was the hand to lay hold on His fulness and make it mine. But I had not this faith.

I strove for faith, but it would not come; I tried to exercise it, but in vain.

Seeing more and more the wondrous supply of grace laid up in Jesus, the fulness of our precious Saviour, my guilt and helplessness seemed to increase.

Sins committed appeared but as trifles compared with the sin of unbelief which was their cause, which could not or would not take God at His word, but rather made Him a liar!

Unbelief was I felt the damning sin of the world; yet I indulged in it.

I prayed for faith, but it came not.

What was I to do?

When my agony of soul was at its height, a sentence in a letter from dear McCarthy was used to removed the scales from my eyes, and the Spirit of God revealed to me the truth of our oneness with Jesus as I had never know it before.

McCarthy, who had been much exercised by the same sense of failure but saw the light before I did, wrote (I quote from memory):

“But how to get faith strengthened? Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”

As I read, I saw it all!

“If we believe not, he abideth faithful.”

I looked to Jesus and saw (and when I saw, oh, how joy flowed!) that He had said, “I will never leave thee.”

“Ah, there is rest!” I thought.

“I have striven in vain to rest in Him. I’ll strive no more. For has not He promised to abide with me—never to leave me, never to fail me?”

And, dearie, He never will.

Nor was this all He showed me, nor one half.

As I thought of the Vine and the branches, what light the blessed Spirit poured direct into my soul!

How great seemed my mistake in wishing to get the sap, the fulness out of Him!

I saw not only that Jesus will never leave me, but that I am a member of His body, of His flesh and of His bones.

The vine is not the root merely, but all—root, stem, branches, twigs, leaves, flowers, fruit.

And Jesus is not that alone–He is soil and sunshine, air and showers, and ten thousand times more than we have ever dreamed, wished for or needed.

Oh, the joy of seeing this truth!

I do pray that the eyes of your understanding too may be enlightened, that you may know and enjoy the riches freely given us in Christ.

Oh, my dear Sister, it is a wonderful thing to be really one with a risen and exalted Saviour, to be a member of Christ!

Think what it involves.

Can Christ be rich and I poor? Can your right hand be rich and your left poor? Or your head be well fed while your body starves?

Again, think of its bearing on prayer.

Could a bank clerk say to a customer, “It was only your hand, not you that wrote that check”; or “I cannot pay this sum to your hand, but only to yourself”?

No more can your prayers or mine be discredited if offered in the name of Jesus (i.e., not for the sake of Jesus merely, but on the ground that we are His, His members) so long as we keep within the limits of Christ’s credit—a tolerably wide limit!

No more defective faith -- "The Exchanged Life" by Hudson Taylor - (Chapter and PDF) "Instead of bondage, liberty; instead of failure, quiet victories within; instead of fear and weakness, a restful sense of sufficiency in Another." www.jeanwilund.comIf we ask for anything unscriptural, or not in accordance with the will of God, Christ Himself could not do that. But “if we ask anything according to his will . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.”

The sweetest part, if one may speak of one part being sweeter than another, is the rest which full identification with Christ brings.

I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize this; for He, I know, is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine.

It makes no matter where He places me, or how.

That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest position He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult His grace is sufficient.

It little matters to my servant whether I send him to buy a few cash worth of things, or the most expensive articles.

In either case he looks to me for the money and brings me his purchases.

So, if God should place me in serious perplexity, must He not give me much guidance; in positions of great difficulty, much grace; in circumstances of great pressure and trial, much strength?

No fear that His resources will prove unequal to the emergency! And His resources are mine, for He is mine, and is with me and dwells in me.

And since Christ has thus dwelt in my heart by faith, how happy I have been!

I wish I could tell you about it, instead of writing. I am no better than before. In a sense, I do not wish to be, nor am I striving to be. But I am dead and buried with Christ—ay, and rising too!

And now Christ lives in me, and “the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” . . .

And now I must close. I have not said half I would, nor as I would, had I more time.

May God give you to lay hold on these blessed truths.

Do not let us continue to say, in effect, “Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above).”

In other words, do not let us consider Him as far off, when God has made us one with Him, members of His very body.

Nor should we look upon this experience, these truths, as for the few. They are the birthright of every child of God, and no one can dispense with them without dishonouring our Lord.

The only power for deliverance from sin or for true service is Christ.

 

And it was all so simple and practical! —as the busy mother found when she too entered into this rest of faith.

“But are you always conscious of abiding in Christ?” Mr. Taylor was asked many years later.

“While sleeping last night,” he replied, “did I cease to abide in your home because I was unconscious of the fact?

We should never be conscious of not abiding in Christ.”

I change, He changes not;
     The Christ can never die;
His truth, not mine, the resting place;
     His love, not mine, the tie.


Read The Exchanged Life by Hudson Taylor. Great teaching on #AbidingInChrist. Click To Tweet

 

PDF of "The Exchanged Life" by Hudson Taylor via www.JeanWilund.comClick the photo above or link below to download the PDF:

The Exchanged Life by Hudson Taylor




Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” I said, “Huh?”

If you've ever wanted to understand Jesus' parable of the Vine and the Branches, you've found the right place. David Tryon explains it well. (www.JeanWilund.com)

Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” I said, “Huh?”

Then He said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).

That sounded important, yet still my response was, “Huh?”

Maybe if I’d lived on a vineyard in Italy this would’ve made sense, but I grew up outside of Atlanta, GA, better known for peaches, peanuts and red clay.

I couldn’t wrap my brain around how one could actually “abide in Christ.” Until . . . David Tryon and his article “The Vine and the Branches.”

Tryon made sense of this confusing, but life-changing truth.

I re-wrote all of it into more modern English, but I have no idea where it’s disappeared to, so I’m including the version my dear friend and mentor Grace gave me years ago.

Yes, this is long, but I didn’t want to leave any of it out for those of you who, like me, desperately want this truth to sink in and make a difference.

For those who don’t have the time to delve into this long article, I’ll be addressing this in much shorter clips soon, but please consider studying this. It changed me.

If God can use this to change me, why would He not do the same for you?  


 THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES

By

David Tryon

 

There are many Christians, struggling to live the Christian life, who have never discovered where the strength to live that life is to be found.

There are many earnest believers, young and old, who are continually being disappointed and cast down because they are finding their own resources so inadequate to meet the demands of real Christian living.

There are hundreds of Christians of all ages who are hungering and thirsting after a fuller, deeper life than that which they now experience.

What they need to know, and to know experimentally as well as mentally, is that all the resources of the Christian life are in Christ, and in Him alone, and that He lives in them by the Holy Ghost.

Perhaps there is no better and no simpler illustration of these truths than the Lord’s parable of the vine and the branches in John 15.

We shall look together at some of the great lessons which this parable teaches, with the prayer that God will use these messages to bring great blessing into the lives of each of us.

 

 1.  A USELESS BRANCH

“I am the Vine,” said the Lord Jesus, “ye are the branches” (verse 5).

Every true Christian is “in Christ,” a branch in the vine, joined to the Lord, a partaker of His nature.

“I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth not fruit, He taketh away…. If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered: and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”

The first lesson we learn from this parable of the vine and the branches is that a branch is useless if it does not bear fruit.

We need to be careful, when trying to understand the teaching of a parable such as this, not to press the details of the parable too far. There are those who teach that these words show that it is possible for a man to be “in Christ” and out again; to be saved and then lost; to have eternal life and then lose it. This cannot be. There are clear statements in Scripture to the contrary.

We must remember that no earthly parable can fully express all sides of eternal truth. Yet these words of the Lord Jesus are very very solemn words. Perhaps we shall more clearly understand the truth contained in them if we compare them with some words of St. Paul which teach similar truth.

“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (I Corinthians iii. 13-15).

The apostle is writing about Christian service and he likens it to a building. It is possible he teaches, for a servant of Christ, whilst building on the One True Foundation (verse 11), to fail to put into his building such materials as can stand the test of fire with the result that one day all his life work will be burned up, proving that he has been utterly useless, and all his work completely wasted.

This is what the Lord Jesus is teaching under the figure of the branch that does not bear fruit. A branch that does not bear fruit is a useless branch; its existence is a wasted existence; it is only fit for the fire.

How tremendously solemn this is. What a terrible, what a tragic thing it must be to be a Christian who is not bearing fruit! What a tragedy is the life of the careless Christian, the lukewarm Christian, the sinning Christian, the idle Christian, the worldly Christian, the prayerless Christian! How very seriously concerned we all should be as to whether we are branches that are bearing fruit, or whether we are fruitless, useless branches.

 

WHICH ARE YOU?

These words are certain to be read by many a fruitless Christian. Are you one of them? Do you know, as you read these words, that your Christian life has been a fruitless life?

It is not necessary to explain to you what is meant by ­”fruitless”; you simply know that you are not fulfilling the purpose for which God saved you, just as a branch that is not bearing fruit is not fulfilling the purpose for which it is in the vine.

Probably you judge your condition by certain indications in your life some sin that has dominion over you, a failure to witness, a lack of prayer, a distaste for Bible Reading, no power in service, a love for worldly things.

This may not be due to your carelessness or indifference. You may have made great efforts to become a fruitful Christian, to witness, to pray, to overcome sin. Yet you look back on failure. You know there has been no result.

On the other hand, it may be that you have just not let ” fruit-bearing ” concern you very much. You are a Christian (you tell yourself), your sins are forgiven, you will go to heaven. That is the most important thing. You have not felt that these other things matter very much. Your life is fruitless because you have not been particularly concerned whether you bear fruit or not.

But whether your life is fruitless because of your carelessness and indifference, or in spite of much deep concern, and longing, and striving, you know it is fruitless.

 

THE TRAGEDY OF A FRUITLESS LIFE

Before we go any further with the study of this parable, will you read again those words of the Lord Jesus about the fruitless branch, and in His Presence think for a moment of the tragedy of such a life.

What a tragedy it is in the sight of God. What a disappointment and grief to the husbandman is the branch that bears no fruit, that completely fails to fulfill the purpose for which it is in the vine.

What a grief to the heart of the Great Husbandman must your fruitless Christian life be, a continual frustration of the wonderful purposes of grace He had in mind when He placed you in Christ.

What a tragedy is such a life as far as others are concerned.

There are weary, fainting, thirsty, bitter lives in this wilderness world of ours; these lives are coming into contact with yours every day. It is God’s purpose that they should be refreshed and strengthened and sweetened by the fruit which you shall bear. And because you are a fruitless branch, these weary, thirsting, perishing ones have passed you by unrefreshed, unblessed.

Oh, the tragedy of it! Little have you realized the harm you have been doing; the love and joy and peace of which others have been robbed because you have borne no fruit. What a tragedy such a life is from your own point of view. It is a wasted life.

A branch is only in the vine for one purpose, to bear fruit. If it fails to do that, its existence is wasted. As far as its usefulness is concerned, it might as well not be there. It is no use at all. Your fruitless life is a wasted, useless life.

At the judgment seat of Christ you will suffer loss. All the produce of those wasted years will be burned up. What awful, solemn mystery surrounds those words of the apostle, “But he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire “.

This then is the first lesson we must learn from this parable, that if our life is a fruitless life it is a tragically wasted life, useless to God, useless to man, and an irreparable loss to ourselves.

Oh, let us ask God to teach us how we may bear fruit to His satisfaction and glory, to the blessing of others, and to the full salvation of our own souls.

 

If you've ever wanted to understand Jesus' parable of the Vine and the Branches, you've found the right place. David Tryon explains it well. (www.JeanWilund.com)2.  “THE BRANCH CANNOT . . .”

Now we come to a second lesson of the utmost importance.

“As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, no more can ye, except ye abide in Me . . . for without Me (or, severed from Me), ye can do nothing.”

So we learn that a branch cannot bear fruit by any effort of its own. Severed from the vine the branch can do nothing.

That fact is so obvious that we are inclined to pass it by without further thought, and so miss the far-reaching implications of this part of the parable. Think of it for a moment.

There is a branch, severed from the vine, lying before you on the ground. How utterly helpless it is to produce any fruit!

If a branch could have feelings and understanding it might be deeply conscious of its uselessness, and the danger in which it lay of being cast upon the fire. It might be full of the deepest longings after a life of fruitfulness.

It might make mighty resolutions to do all in its power to produce fruit. But it would be utterly powerless to make any move towards satisfying those longings, or carrying out those resolutions. That severed branch is a picture of the most complete helplessness.

“As the branch cannot . . . NO MORE can ye.”

Will you sit still a moment now, and let those two words “no more” sink deep into your heart?

You can do no more towards producing the fruit which God requires in your life than can that severed branch.

NO MORE.

You may be deeply convicted of your useless, fruitless, Christian life. You may be stirred up to a great longing that things should be different you may have been planning and contriving and resolving in order that your life may be different in future. But you can do nothing.

No stirring up, no effort, no determination, no strength of will, can make your life what God wants it to be. “As the branch cannot . . . no more can ye.”

 

UTTER HELPLESSNESS

Do not misunderstand this teaching of the Lord Jesus.

Many Christians who think that they have received this truth have not even got a glimpse of the depth to which it goes.

Unconsciously they are placing upon it limitations imposed by their own preconceived ideas of the possibilities that are in human nature.

The Lord Jesus is not teaching that:

because of your natural weakness, you need help to bring you up to a standard of life which you cannot reach yourself;

that by your own goodness and strength and courage you can get so far, but not far enough to reach God’s standard;

that if you made an immense effort it would help a great deal, but because of your natural limitations that effort needs to be supplemented by His power;

that a better, stronger, braver man than you are could get further than you can get.

That is not what He is teaching at all. This statement goes far, far deeper than that.

Go back to the parable again and ask yourself the question, How much can a branch do toward producing fruit?

Can a branch have some part in the production of the fruit?

Is it conceivable that if we found a branch clever enough and strong enough it could produce fruit of itself?

The answers are obvious. The branch does not possess in itself even the smallest glimmerings of fruit-producing life.

The best branch is as helpless as the worst; the strongest as helpless as the weakest, the most beautiful as helpless as the ugliest.

The branch whatever its natural condition, cannot …

“No more” can you.

It is not a question of whether you are strong or weak; good or bad, brave or cowardly; clever or foolish; experienced or inexperienced. Whatever your natural condition you are absolutely helpless to begin to live the life God requires.

Whatever your gifts, accomplishments virtues, experience may be, they are of no more help to you in producing fruit than is natural beauty in a branch.

In you (that is, in your flesh) dwells no good thing, not the first faint flickerings of the life that produces fruit.

Hundreds of Christians never find that out.

They spend their lives fighting against the admission of it.

They know they come short, but they think it is not so short but that a greater effort, backed up by the Holy Spirit’s power, will put them right. And so they ask His help, and try again.

 

AN ” UP AND DOWN ” EXPERIENCE

What is the result?

The result is what is sometimes called an ” up and down” Christian experience.

When they appear to be advancing in the Christian life; when they receive indications that God is blessing their service; when they get some definite, unmistakable answer to prayer; when they overcome some temptation; when they discover within themselves some thought of holiness, some virtue, some desire for the things of God, then they are “up”.

On the other hand, when they are conscious of failure and lack of progress; when they see no blessing in their work; when prayer is apparently unanswered; when sin gets the better of them; when they get some glimpse of the corrupt, sinful state of their natural hearts, then they are “down.”

They are “up” when they appear to be producing fruit, and “down” when they can see no fruit; ever battling against the admission of the truth that “as the branch cannot . . . no more can” they.

They know nothing of the rest which remains for the people of God, and which can only be entered by ceasing from their works.

Their life is one continual effort to produce fruit for God’s glory, to prove to themselves and to God that the branch can, after all, do a little to help itself.

There are many earnest Christians who have lived like this for years, and have become more and more disappointed with their Christian experience.

There are many young Christians, who, having begun well, have gradually slipped back, as they have proved by bitter experience how utterly unable they are to reach the standard which God requires.

Are you like that?

You know your life is fruitless, but it is not because you do not care.

You are tremendously concerned that your life should bear fruit; you have tried your hardest to be the best for God, and you have failed.

“It is no good,” you say, “I cannot be a keen Christian.”

Is that what you say? Is it?

Do you see what you are admitting?

You are admitting the very thing that God has been asking you to admit!

The Lord Jesus said, “As the branch cannot . . . no more can ye,” and you didn’t believe it; so He has been letting you find it out by experience.

And now, at last, you say, “It’s no good. I cannot….” You are admitting at last what He has been trying to tell you all along.

You have come to the place where He can begin to do His work in you.

Troubled Christian, lately you have said often, almost in despair, “I cannot.” It is true; yet if you could but see, that is no reason for despair, but rather for joyful expectancy that your barren days are past, for now God is going to show you what HE is waiting to do in those who “cannot,” and who admit it. You cannot.

Consent fully to that position of complete powerlessness. Do not be afraid to let go every hope of being able to make the smallest contribution towards the production of real fruit. Turn your back on self, and refuse to expect any good thing from it any more.

And now listen as He tells you of the Life which is going to do through the branch what the branch can never do by any effort of its own.

 

3. “I IN YOU”

“I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.”

“Abide in Me, and I in you.”

We have thought of the tragedy of the fruitless branch, and seen how impossible it is for a branch to produce fruit by any effort of its own.

Now the vine and the branches have another lesson to teach us a lesson which only those are prepared to learn who have in some degree mastered the former lessons.

If God expects me to bear fruit in my Christian life, and if I cannot produce that fruit by any effort of my own, how then does He intend that fruit to be produced?

We have the answer in this parable.

The fruit is produced by the life of the vine in the branch.

God intends that the fruit in my life should be produced by the Life of the Lord Jesus living in me.

“I live,” said the Apostle Paul, “yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Gal. 2. 20).

“Not I,” not by any strength or goodness of my own, no more than there is any life in the branch because of anything the branch has done,”but Christ liveth in me.”

His life is working in me the things which are pleasing to God, just as the life of the vine works in the branch to bring forth fruit.

This is God’s plan for every Christian, that the Lord Jesus, Who lives in us by His Holy Spirit, should work in us all things that are pleasing to God, bringing forth fruit in us to God’s glory.

When you have seen that, you have seen the greatest secret of the life which God wants you to live.

The Holy Spirit dwells in every Christian, and His purpose is to do all the work that God requires, all the work which is necessary for the production of the fruit for which God is looking. Only those who have learned the lesson of the utter helplessness of the branch can fully appreciate this wonderful truth.

Just in so far as you have grasped the great fact that you are utterly helpless even to begin to live a life which is well-pleasing to God will you understand the meaning of this, that God has given you the Holy Spirit to do ALL the work.

His plan is not that the Holy Spirit should help you to bring forth fruit, any more than the vine helps the branch.

It is not even that the Holy Spirit should work, and that you should help Him all you can.

The branch cannot help the vine in any way. No. Christ must do ALL in you, even as the vine must do ALL in the branch.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Let me emphasize that, for it is a truth that we are so slow to learn.

How much does the vine life do towards producing the fruit?

Everything.

How much does the branch do to help?

Nothing.

How much must the life of the Holy Spirit do in you?

Everything.

How much must you do to help?

Nothing.

Just as Christ in His death and resurrection did everything for your justification, and you did nothing, but simply accepted the benefits of a work finished nineteen centuries before you were born so Christ in you must do everything for your sanctification, and you must do nothing, but simply accept the benefits of a work which He will complete as surely as He has begun it.

“But,” you ask,” must I not do anything? ”

No, nothing.

“Oh, but now you are going too far. You can’t carry things to that length. Of course I must do something. Mustn’t I read my Bible and pray; mustn’t I witness for Christ; mustn’t I surrender everything to Him; mustn’t I do good works whenever I get the opportunity?”

Do you know what you are like? You are like a branch saying, “It’s no good you telling me that I mustn’t do anything in order to produce fruit. That’s going too far. Of course I must do something. Mustn’t I produce fruit?”

I should say to that branch, “Yes, of course you must produce fruit, but you’ll never produce fruit by trying to. It is not the fruit you need to be concerned about, but the life. If once you have got that, the fruit will come all right.”

And so I reply to you, Yes, of course you must read your Bible and pray and witness and do good works; of course you must surrender completely to Christ, but don’t you see, all these things are part of the fruit.

You cannot do them by trying to do them; you can only imitate them; you can only be like a branch tying on artificial fruit, because it does not understand that real fruit must be the result of the vine life within.

Leave the fruit for the moment.

Apart from Him you can do NOTHING; and prayer and witness and surrender are all included in that “nothing.”

Every single bit of fruit has to be the result of the life of Christ in you.

It is the Life you need to be concerned about; if you have got that, the fruit will surely follow.

 

HIS PERFECT WORK

So leave the fruit just now. Forget, just for the moment, about the need for Bible reading, prayer, witness, and all the other things, and concentrate your thought on the Life which must be the source of all these things.

That Life is Christ in you.

He lives in you by the Holy Spirit.

He waits and longs to do His perfect work in you.

He cannot do it while you try to do it for Him.

Is that what has been wrong with your Christian life-you have been trying to do His work for Him?

You have read the Bible and tried to understand its meaning. You have succeeded in getting quite a lot of it into your head, and perhaps can give very nice addresses from it, but it does not live to you.

You have tried to pray, but it has been a burden, and you know little of real fellowship with God.

You have witnessed but there has been little power.

You have tried to surrender everything to God, but more and more you are finding that your sinful heart does not want His will.

You are trying to do His work for Him; that is your trouble.

You have taken upon yourself the responsibility of a work for which He wants you to cast the responsibility on Him.

It is His work to make His Word live to you, to open the eyes of your understanding to behold wondrous things out of His law.

It is His work to witness with your spirit that you are a child of God, till prayer becomes to you the glad fellowship of a child with an infinitely loving Father.

It is His work to give you power for service, filling you with Himself, and making perfect His strength in your weakness, so that, as you lean on His strength, things happen as a result of your witness that are worthy of His power.

It is His work to bring you to that complete surrender which He requires, shining the light of His Presence upon the things displeasing to Him, filling you with His love till you see that it is best for Him to have His way with you.

This is all His work. You cannot do it for Him. You cannot in any way prepare yourself for His working. You must stop your futile efforts and look for Him.

He is in you, God’s full provision for all you need. He waits to do His work, if you will let Him. He will work so surely, so wonderfully, if you will give up your feeble trying and cast yourself on Him. He will perfect the work which you cannot even begin.

Will you not look to Him now, tell Him that you are not going to interfere with His working any more, and ask Him to complete in you the work which He has begun?

“Work on then Lord, till on my soul
Eternal light shall break,
And in Thy likeness perfected,
I satisfied shall wake.”

 

4. “ABIDE IN ME”

We come now to a critical point in our studies of the Parable of the Vine.

We have seen how necessary it is that we should bear fruit to the glory of God; we have seen that we cannot bear this fruit by any effort of our own; and we have seen that God’s way is for the fruit to be produced by the Life of Christ in us.

The questions that naturally come to our lips at this point are:

But how is all this to become real in my experience?

How can I enter from a life of fruitlessness and failure into this life in which Christ, by His Holy Spirit, is working in me?

How can my nothingness be connected with His fulness?

How is this wonderful prospect, of having the Holy Ghost working in me, making Christ real, making the Bible a new and living Book, making service fruitful and prayer a joy-how is it to change from a wonderful prospect to a personal reality?

What must I do in order that all this may be real in my life?

 

A VERY SIMPLE STEP

Before we look at the answer which the Lord Jesus gives to these and similar questions, let me emphasize one thing. The step from a life of striving and struggling and emptiness, of failure and feebleness, into a life of fulness and power and satisfaction, is a very, very simple one.

I want to lay great stress on that point. It is very important.

Will you accept it and believe it before we go any farther?

You can begin to enjoy all the blessing we have been thinking of by a very simple step.

“Oh, how unlike the complex works of man,
 Heaven’s easy, artless, unencumber’d plan.”

Satan will try to make you think it is complicated. He will tell you of all sorts of things that you ought to be and do. Do not listen to him.

Leave alone, for the moment, all the things that you ought to be and do. As we have already seen, they are the fruit.

“I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Cor. 11:3).

The way to this life of fulness is very simple indeed.

Now listen to the words of the Lord Jesus:

“Abide in Me, and I in you. He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit” (John 15:4-5).

Here, then, is the simple lesson that we have to learn now. We can put it like this: 

All that the branch has to do is to remain in the vine, and so the life of the vine will remain in the branch.

“Abide in me and I in you.”

“Abide” simply means “remain.”

The branch is in the vine. In order to have life flowing through, it has to remain there, that is all.

When you received the Lord Jesus, God forgave your sins and placed you in Christ. In order that His life may flow through, you have only to remain where you have been placed.

“Yes,” you say, “but what exactly does that mean?”

Let me answer with another question:

What did you do in order to have your sins forgiven, and to be placed in Christ?

Think back to the time of your conversion. You heard that the Lord Jesus had died that you might be forgiven. And you just trusted Him to save you because He had died.

Very simple, wasn’t it?

Forgiveness was there for you all the time. It became yours when you took it. That taking is called FAITH.

Then God placed you in Him.

So all you did in order to be placed in Christ was simply to trust in Him.

 

HOW TO “ABIDE”

Now, how are you to remain, to “abide” in Him? In exactly the same way as you were placed in Him.

Listen while He tells you that you are a branch in Him, the True Vine. And then just simply trust Him that His life is flowing through you.

So many people make the mistake of thinking that they got placed in Christ by trusting, and that after that they must bear fruit by trying.

No.

You remain in Christ in the same simple way that you were placed in Him. BY FAITH.

Faith is hearing God’s word and acting on it. That is how you abide in Christ.

You hear His word that you are a branch. Then you take Him at His word.

You say, “Lord, if I am a branch and in Thee, I thank Thee for it. I thank Thee, that just now I am in Thee, and Thy life flowing through. So I shall no more bother and try and struggle to be a Christian, but live my ordinary life counting that Thou art living through me.”

 

TAKING YOUR POSITION

You see, it is just a matter of taking a position that is already yours.

So many Christians will not take the glorious position which is theirs in Christ, and so they miss all the blessing.

It is as if a very rich man owning a great mansion and a vast estate became possessed with the idea that he was poor, and shut himself up in a small attic at the top of his mansion, and wished all day that he was rich.

He dressed in the shabbiest clothes, and ate the scantiest fare, and sat on the floor because he thought he could not afford a chair, and made baskets in order to earn a living.

And all day long he wondered how he could get enough money to buy a big mansion and own a vast estate.

There he would be, living in a little, cramped room with scarcely enough food to eat, and dressed almost in rags, existing like a pauper.

Why? Simply because he had a position which he would not take.

But it would be a very simple thing for him to change his method of living.

He would need first to have his eyes opened to the fact that he was actually living in a great mansion and that it was all his.

Once he had seen that, it would be the simplest thing to change his whole life. He would only have to act on the knowledge that he had.

He need not even leave the room to begin with; he need not change his ragged clothes. There and then, sitting on the floor of that attic in all his apparent poverty, he could take the step that would be the entry into a new life.

He need only say, “Why, I see it now. I have all that I have been wanting. All that I have most desired is mine. From now on I will live as if I had it, and be a fool no longer.”

The devil has filled the minds of many Christians with the delusion that they are poor, and in their poverty they must work and grind and toil in order to buy the blessings which are already theirs in Christ.

Perhaps he has deluded you in that way, and now you are just beginning to see that all that you need you have in Christ.

That is the fact. There is no need of yours which is not fully met in Him.

You cannot name a need which He does not fill. All you need you have now in Him.

And you are in Him.

You only need to take the position which is already yours.

 

Printed copies of this article in tract form are available from:
AFRICA EVANGELICAL FELLOWSHIP, Post Office Box 1679, Bloomfield, New Jersey 07003 (Except that I couldn’t find it on the internet, so you may want to just print this out for personal study.)


David Tryon isn’t talking about material wealth. He’s talking about something much greater. He’s talking about spiritual wealth, blessings and power flowing through us to live without fear, anger, or pride.

Let’s take the position we already have and walk in it!

Click below to download and print a PDF version of the above, which will be in its original formatting. Longer paragraphs, thus fewer pages to print:

 THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES by David Tryon

 

And thanks for sharing this with others!




God Must Do It All ~ Come Alive Dry Bones! (by Lauren Daigle)

Click to listen to Lauren Daigle sing Come Alive Dry Bones and read a powerful message if you've ever felt like dry bones or loved someone who is. God must do it all. Ezekiel 37 & Zechariah 4:6 God must do it all. Come alive dry bones!

I’d just finished play practice for West Side Story my senior year in high school when my friend Zach told me the horrible news that President Ronald Reagan had been shot.

Zach was such a jokester, I didn’t believe him at first.

Twenty years later I was standing in the kitchen when my husband Larry called me from work on September 11th. A plane had just hit one of the twin towers.

Five years later I was sitting on an airplane flying from Paris, France to Atlanta, GA when I finally grasped what it really meant that God must do it all.

When life-changing events occur, we remember where we were when they happened.

I imagine Ezekiel still remembers where he was when God gave him the vision of a valley of dry, scattered bones that rose up into an army.

In dramatic fashion, God restored the bones to a living, marching army with muscles, skin, and breath again.

The hand of the Lord was upon me, and He brought me out by the Spirit of the Lord and set me down in the middle of the valley; and it was full of bones.

He caused me to pass among them round about, and behold, there were very many on the surface of the valley; and lo, they were very dry.

He said to me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” And I answered, “O Lord God, You know.”

Again He said to me, “Prophesy over these bones and say to them, ‘O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.’ Thus says the Lord God to these bones, ‘Behold, I will cause breath to enter you that you may come to life.

I will put sinews on you, make flesh grow back on you, cover you with skin and put breath in you that you may come alive; and you will know that I am the Lord.’” (Ezekiel 37:1-6)

The only thing the Lord told Ezekiel to do with these dry bones was prophecy over them, “O dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.” 

The dry bones came to life because the Word of the Lord changed them.

Jesus is the Word.

The bones could look like a living man covered in muscles and flesh, but until God breathed life into them, they were still dead, dry bones.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. 

Why did God go to such elaborate measures to bring dry bones back to life?

 “and you will know that I am the Lord.”

In my last post, Waiting & Wondering Are Agonizing. God is Amazing, I shared how God grabbed my attention and confirmed to my heart that He heard my cries and is answering them.

Because of the amazing series of events, even I couldn’t miss that it was God at work in my life. 

“and you will know that I am the Lord.”

Do you feel like a heap of dry bones, far from the love of God?

Do you love someone who’s love for God has turned into dead, dry bones?

Or perhaps they’ve never believed that Christ is the only real path to God?

We can beat ourselves up thinking we hardened their hearts and caused them to turn into dry bones by our marred reflection of Christ.

We can pray for the perfect words to say that will fix everything or show them the truth. But it’s not by our power or our might that dry bones come alive.

“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD of hosts.” (Zechariah 4:6)

We don’t have the might to change anyone’s mind.

We don’t have the power to make anyone believe.

But the Spirit of God works and moves through His Word and draws hearts to Christ. 

While there’s breath, there’s hope.

When God’s Spirit moves through His Word, dry bones come alive.  

“and you will know that I am the Lord.”

Be encouraged as you listen to one of my favorite artists Lauren Daigle sing Come Alive (Dry Bones).

God must do it all, and He will!

 


When God's Spirit moves through His Word, dry bones come alive. @Lauren_Daigle #DryBonesComeAlive Click To Tweet

I’m going to be sharing more on how I came to understand that God must do it all very soon.

I did. Here it is: Jesus said, “Abide in Me.” I said, “Huh?” Understanding the Vine and the Branches

Have a great week!




Football, Fireworks, and a Big Green Piano

Click to read how God works in unexpected way, even Football, Fireworks and a Big Green Piano (by Leigh Ann Thomas via www.jeanwilund.com)

Have you found that God loves to teach us powerful lessons in the most unexpected ways and times?

My dear friend, and fellow Carolina Panther fanatic, Leigh Ann Thomas never expected what God had planned for her when she went to cheer on the Panthers.

I’m thrilled to introduce Leigh Ann to you now and let her share her bizarre and powerful experience with you. Her message gripped me. It will grip you, too.


Football, Fireworks, and
a Big Green Piano

by Leigh Ann Thomas

Every nerve-ending was fully engaged as I approached the massive football stadium in downtown Charlotte—home of the Carolina Panthers.

For most of the noisy throng pouring into the stadium, this was a typical Sunday afternoon amusement.

But not for this girl. Only my second-ever pro game as an adult, and wearing my new Panther’s t-shirt, I soaked in the sights, sounds, and smells like a kid at the county fair.

Tailgaters played corn-hole and tossed a football as smoke from their grilled hotdogs and sausages made my stomach growl. “Salesmen” held up hand-scrawled signs advertising extra tickets. Music of various styles and decibel levels floated from every direction.

In my over-fired brain, we were on track to having the best day ever.

After making our way through several security checks, my husband and I approached the gate and with a big silly smile, I handed the agent my ticket.

The last-hurdle-to-my-dreams gatekeeper scanned my ticket.

Then she scanned it again.

Um…and again.

Nothing.

She scanned my sweetheart’s ticket with the same results and then sent us to the ticket window to “clear up the confusion.”

Half an hour later we accepted the inevitable—our tickets were invalid.

All those nerve-endings felt weighted with disappointment—I was so close to seeing my Panthers!

We couldn’t afford to do business with the “salesmen” around the stadium, so we began the slow walk away from the game.

I looked over my shoulder as pre-game fireworks filled the air. The national anthem began and the fireworks display intensified. The crowd roared and I envisioned the mighty Panthers running through a fogged tunnel and onto the field.

As we walked through the downtown area, my sweet husband did his best to put a positive spin on the day. Maybe we could find a place to eat with a big-screen TV?

Not impressed, I commenced to sulk (which is not very attractive for a grown woman).

After a couple of blocks, my husband stopped mid stride. “Hey honey, look at that…it’s a piano.”

Indeed, there was a piano sitting outside in the middle of Charlotte, NC. With little-boy enthusiasm, he grabbed my hand and pulled me toward the crosswalk. “Come on and play for me…it’ll be fun!”

“Um…no. I don’t think so. That’s just…” I started to say “dumb” or “stupid” but I stopped at the look of eagerness on his face.

With a sigh, I crossed the street and sat down at the biggest, greenest piano I had ever seen and began to play a tune to humor my spouse.

The weather that day was pure southern magic with a touch of October cool and just enough sunshine to keep a jacket at bay.

Click to read how God works in unexpected ways, even through Football, Fireworks, & A Big Green Piano (by Leigh Ann Thomas via www.JeanWilund.com)With no printed music, I played from memory. I began with favorite hymns, then moved to a couple of childhood recital pieces. The breeze kicked up a notch and I closed my eyes as my fingers found the notes to a song I learned as a child…

He can turn the tides and calm the angry sea…He alone decides who writes the symphony…

And in that moment, I began to worship.

He lights every star that makes our darkness bright, He keeps watch all through each long and lonely night…*

The words of the song filled my heart as the notes drifted throughout the city block. The Holy Spirit began His work…

See, Child? The pleasures of this world will come and go…but worship of Me is eternal.

That afternoon, with the ballgame a distant roar, my sweetheart and I took joy in the moment, in each other, and in the crazy-fun of a big green piano. We laughed and giggled like kids and did manage to find a pizza place with a TV to catch the last quarter of the game.

I can’t even tell you who the Panthers played that day.

But the Lord used the experience to remind me of a couple of things:

Click to read about how God Works in Unexpected Ways, even through Football, Fireworks, & a Big Green Piano. (by Leigh Ann Thomas via www.JeanWilund.com) 1.   Without the right credentials, there was no way I could enter that football game.

It didn’t matter that my dad helped me obtain the tickets. My new Panther’s t-shirt didn’t matter one iota. The fact that I had driven three hours, spent money on a hotel, and was really excited meant nothing.

See where I’m going here? Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

When the reunions and celebrations begin on the New Heaven and the New Earth—with heavenly fireworks and incredible music—the only way to be invited in is to have the right credentials. Jesus. Only Jesus.

2.  And sometimes, God has other plans. 

If I dig in and insist on my own way, I may miss out on something better—something God-designed just for me. Am I willing to trust in His purposes?

My husband and I view our day of almost seeing a Panther’s game as an adventure and a treasure. We wouldn’t trade the unexpected joys for anything.

On track for the best day ever?

Absolutely.

Football, Fireworks, & a Big Green Piano - #God works in unexpected ways! #Faith&Football Click To Tweet


*Song-“He” by Richard Mullan, Jack Richards

Leigh Ann Thomas2Leigh Ann Thomas loves to pen devotional material, church worship drama, and short fiction. Her stories have won several awards and her latest work is included in the Southern Writers Short Story Edition 2015. She is the author of Time Out: A Quiet-time Devotional for Busy Moms and a columnist for AlmostAnAuthor.com. Leigh Ann blogs at leighathomas.com where she encourages others to live full lives in Christ.




Praise Picture: Not Every Tree Falls In A Storm (Colossians 2:7)


Not Every Tree Falls in a Storm. (Colossians 2:7) Praise Picture -- Let Your Roots Grow Down Into Christ (via www.JeanWilund.com)


Some days threaten to knock us to the ground more than others. Days like 9-11, for instance. Days when our hearts have absorbed all the pain they can take.

But not every tree falls in a storm.

Banyan trees send down roots from seemingly every corner, creating more than one trunk, each with deep roots.

It reminds me of the person who’s let his roots grow deep into Christ.

As he’s taken in truth from God’s Word day after day, his faith grows more roots. When the storm rages, his faith holds him, having grown roots stronger and wider than those who’ve looked to Christ, but only glance at His Word.

Let your roots grow deep into Christ, seeking Him with your whole heart through the Word of God. Then, and only then, will you grow strong in truth.

Truth withstands the fiercest storm. 

Faith rooted in truth produces thankfulness in the midst of turmoil. It’s not just possible, it’s inevitable. 


 

Not Ever Tree Falls in a Storm. #Praise Picture #911 #Faith Click To Tweet


Remember 911 -- Love fills the holes hate created.

Click to view: Remember 911 — Love fills the holes hate created.

 

Click to view music video: I Am by Crowder. (In the middle of the storm I AM holding on to you!) "I AM everything you will ever need for every moment!" ~ God (Exodus 3:14-15)

Click to view music video: I Am by Crowder. (In the middle of the storm I AM holding on to you!)
“I AM everything you will ever need for every moment!” ~ God (Exodus 3:14-15)

 

 

Click photo to view video: Music Monday: "We Won't Be Shaken!" by Building 429 ~ "Like a tree planted by the water . . . " ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8

Click photo to view video: Music Monday: “We Won’t Be Shaken!” by Building 429 ~ “Like a tree planted by the water . . . ” ~ Jeremiah 17:7-8




Parachute Lights & The Peace of Christ (They’re better than frown lines and fewer friends)

Click to read about the rehearsal dinner that led to parachute lights and the peace of Christ rather than frown lines and fewer friends. via www.JeanWilund.com

Forty-five people were coming to dinner, and it looked like we’d have no place to seat them.

This wasn’t just a regular dinner.

As if dinner for 45 people is ever a regular dinner.

Our son Bobby and his fiancee Kaitlyn were getting married, and this was their rehearsal dinner.

The groom’s family has one job. Just one. Feed the wedding party and special guests the night before the wedding. That’s it.

Plus, you want to impress the new in-laws, so they don’t grab their daughter and run.

So, what do you do when you learn the night before the dinner that there may not be a place to feed the 45 people coming?

“Peace I leave with you;
My peace I give to you;
not as the world gives do I give to you.
Do not let your heart be troubled,
nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.

Forty-five people are coming for an alfresco dinner with forecasts of thundershowers and the possibility of no place to seat them and keep them dry, but do not let your heart be troubled.

Sure, no problem.

My husband Larry and I pulled into Black Mountain, NC. and stopped by The Mill Pizzeria to size up the situation. 

While Jay, the owner of the restaurant, explained that the city hadn’t given him the permits he needed to finish the structure that would host our rehearsal dinner party the very next night, Larry and I listened and smiled.

I was going for a relaxed and casual smile as though I wasn’t worried at all that the dinner would be anything but a huge success. I’m not sure I achieved anything more than an awkward look.

Jay shared his vision for how he’d transform this construction site into the perfect, romantic setting for our dinner for 45 people in just 24 hours.

Did I mention there would be 45 people coming for dinner in 24 hours?

He explained how he’d take the rain-soaked parachute currently covering the footings and tie it to the excavator, which looked like a small steam shovel to me. He’d use it to hoist the parachute over one of the large tables.

If an army green parachute held up by a small steam shovel doesn’t shout wedding, then I guess I don’t know what does.

I fought the urge to laugh but couldn’t hold it in any longer when he said his next statement:

“Don’t worry. This place looks much better in the dark.”

Bahaha! I lost it — and now I have a new favorite line to repeat often.

 

I’m In

Jay instantly won me over.

All I could think was, “I’m in! Whatever he’s got planned, I gotta see it now.”

Besides, I knew the food would be great. His pizza is quite famous. Bobby and Kaitlyn chose it because it’s their favorite restaurant in Black Mountain.

What did it really matter if we had to eat in the rain, right?

There was a time when all this would have caused me to fret and pull my hair out.

Before I’d have been so stressed I would’ve snapped at Larry, the kids, and the dog if they even breathed wrong.

But over the years God has been graciously leading me through stressful situations and patiently pointing me to truth as I’ve studied His Word.

Studying God’s Word is a vital part. Before I studied God’s Word, emotions attacked me and truth eluded me.

Over time, God’s truth has begun to click and sink in as I’ve obeyed it.

Obeying God’s Word is the other vital part. If I studied it, but then didn’t do it, how could I expect His promised results? And His truths don’t really click until you put them to the test and see how faithful they are.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27

For those who’ll actually take God at His Word, Christ’s peace will fill your heart, and stress will dissolve in His presence.

Those who’ll choose to believe Christ will be able to choose not to let their hearts be troubled or be fearful.

That Thursday, Larry and I drove off in excited anticipation as to just how bizarre of a rehearsal dinner we’d be hosting.

One day earlier I’d not been so victorious.


What a difference a day makes

One day earlier I was sitting at my kitchen table throwing a crying fit. No peace to be found.

Would you be surprised to hear that a computer was involved? Not many things can bring a person to their knees faster than modern technology. 

I was trying to put together a sentimental video of Bobby and Kaitlyn’s life and love, but I couldn’t get the sound to work with the photos.

Then I realized that the wonderful Ken Burn’s Effect had effectively cut off their heads in many of the photos, and there didn’t appear to be an easy way to fix that.

I had wonderful, clear shots of their stomachs, but it’s not quite the same as seeing their smiling faces. 

I dissolved into tears. Larry could only hug me because computers bring him to his knees too.

But then, suddenly, as though a bright light of hope filled our home, our daughter Brittany came to the rescue.

She looked at my problem and then said the blessed phrase, “What if you just . . . “

Sure enough, it worked. She saved the day, and I felt ashamed.

I didn’t care that I couldn’t figure out the problem by myself. I was ashamed that once again I’d taught my daughter to cry in the face of struggles rather than rest in God.

Brilliant, Jean. I keep acting human! Imagine that.

But I can be taught.

So that’s why, when it appeared that 45 people would show up to a construction site for the dinner on Friday in the rain, I was laughing on Thursday.

God had mercifully reminded me through the video meltdown that resting in Him is infinitely more fun and productive than throwing a hissy fit.


To fret or rest. That is the question.

If you’re facing a trial today, you have a choice to make. Fret or rest.

Your trial may not be as inconsequential as feeding 45 people. It may be downright serious.

Regardless of our situations, we all have the same choice. Will we choose to fret or choose to rest in Christ?

How tragic that so many of us followers of Christ either refuse to follow His example of resting in the face of a trial (like I had with the video), or they don’t believe they can.

Many Christians actually think they can’t help but fret even though the Spirit of Christ assures us we can rest. He promises He’ll do it in and through us if we’ll choose to trust Him and choose not to let our hearts be troubled.

Christ is our example. He wasn’t feeding 45 people when He told His disciples not to let their hearts be troubled.

He’d already fed 5,000 with five loaves of bread and two fish without fretting.

Christ wasn’t feeding a crowd in the rain. He was facing His crucifixion.

Just look at what He said to His disciples next:

You heard that I said to you, “I go away, and I will come to you.” If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced because I go to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. (John 14:28)

When Jesus tells them they should rejoice that He’s going away, understand that He’s already been telling them that He’s going to be killed at the hands of His enemy.

I’m not talking about Christ being given a lethal injection. He knew He was going to be tortured. But much worse than torture, He knew He was going to become sin and be separated from the Father.

God would turn His face away from Christ as Christ bore the detestable sin of the whole world.

That’s a little heavier than a rehearsal dinner dilemma.

In fact, Christ had just sent His disciple Judas off to betray Him. And now Christ is scolding His disciples for not rejoicing over His impending death.

“Now I have told you before it happens, so that when it happens, you may believe. I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me; but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me. Get up, let us go from here.” (John 14:29-31)


But God, You don’t understand!

“But God, You don’t understand! I can’t have peace in the face of this circumstance!”

You can try to stand your ground and convince God of how right you are, but you won’t succeed.

God knows the truth. He is the truth.

You will, however, succeed in making yourself miserable if you don’t do what He commands. 

He’s actually commanding us to be happy, because when we trust Him, we experience His peace, which leads to happiness.

But Christ didn’t say He’d do exactly as the Father commanded Him so He’d be happy.

He says He’d do it so that the world may know that He loves God.

Happiness shouldn’t be our goal for choosing to rest in Christ in the face of trials.

That the world may know we love God should be our goal.

God’s glory should be our motivation. Choosing to rest peacefully in Christ is the path. Happiness is just a natural by-product of Christ’s peace.

 

Do you love the Father? Do you love Christ?

Then do exactly as He’s commanded you.

Stop fretting. Stop throwing hissy fits.

Trust.

Rest.

Rejoice.

And get up and go.

Leave the unrest in your heart.

Enter into the peace of Christ.

Remember that God’s taking care of everything that concerns you.

He may call you down a hard road, but He’ll lead you every step of the way.

And He won’t lead you down a place you don’t want to go unless it’s necessary.

We can choose not to worry.

“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
~ John 14:27


Follow the logic. Follow Christ.

I’ve never met a fretter who was happy.

I’ve never met anyone who worried themselves into joy.

But I’ve met perennial fretters and worriers who have frown lines and fewer friends.

We all have our moments, but if we’re characterized by fretting and worrying, we’re headed for misery — if we’re not there already.

I’ve never met anyone who truly rested in Christ who wasn’t happy or filled with joy. They tend to have laugh lines and people who love to be around them.

Follow the logic. Follow Christ. 

After my video debacle and in the face of a potential rehearsal dinner disaster, it was time for me to stop talking about trusting and resting, and do it.

 

Both Christ and Jay were right.

So, how did the rehearsal dinner turn out?

It was brilliant! And Jay was right. The place looked amazing in the dark.

But not because we couldn’t see anything. But because he’d created an artistic and serene ambience with lights strung everywhere, glowing through the darkness.

His wonderful, creative vision had turned into a fabulous reality.

It’s the same with Christ.

Christ’s truth looks amazing in the dark, too.

In the face of uncertainty, I chose to rest in Christ and His promised peace turned into fabulous reality.

Christ’s truth shine brightest in darkness.

Even the army green parachute held up by the steam shovel was magical. Seriously. He’d hung branches and lights down from the center that drew oohs and ahhs from everyone.

The picture below doesn’t do it justice. It was amazing.

Look in the bottom right corner and you'll see Jay working the steam shovel.

Look in the bottom right corner and you’ll see Jay working the excavator.

And we all got a great laugh when Jay decided to raise the parachute up a bit to give more clearance for our heads.

He cranked up the excavator and raised the parachute higher.

He gave a literal meaning to the popular phrase, “raise the roof!”

When he turned the excavator off, it all settled back down. The decorations almost popped Larry’s dad in the head.

Everyone laughed as he quickly cranked it back up again and hoisted the parachute and branches even higher.

That’s a story I bet no one else has ever gotten to tell. And as my sister Kimbi loves to say, when everything runs smoothly it’s boring. There’s no good story to tell, and everyone loves a good story. (She’s so right!)

And then came my video debacle.

Not the one at home while I was making it. The one at the restaurant when I was trying to show it.

We couldn’t get the sound to work.

Oops.

After much clicking of buttons and switching of cords, we realized that the problem was me. I’d somehow saved it without the sound.

Hmmmm.

Fortunately I had the original copy of it that did have sound.

Whew!

With the cheers of 45 people spurring me on, I started the video — just as a train came roaring by.

No one could hear a thing.

More laughter.

I hit pause and waited for it to pass.

It passed, I restarted it, and it went off without a hitch — until everyone noticed that on the last slide I’d typed the date of their wedding: July 25, 2105.

July 25, 2105

Oops! Apparently they’re not getting married for another 90 years.

More laughter.

Oh, and by the way, it never rained! Thank you, God!

 

I choose laugh lines and friends

I could’ve have been embarrassed, but laughing is so much more fun.

I could’ve fretted all week about the dinner, but excited anticipation is more fun.

I could’ve been upset that the restaurant wasn’t exactly as Jay had said it would be when we reserved it in the Spring. But the setting he created was not only more fun and unique, it made for a fabulous story.

Choosing fretting and frustration leads to frown lines and fewer friends. 

In this world we will have troubles. That’s a promise.

But when we choose to rest in Christ, we choose to glorify God. All who glorify God will be blessed.

Choosing the peace of Christ leads to joy and laughter.

I choose laugh lines and friends. I choose peace.

Not peace as the world gives, but the peace that Christ freely gives to all who trust in, rest in, and follow Him.

What will you choose today?

Click to read about the peace that Christ gives (John 14:27) and a pretty funny story too.

(I woke up the morning after Bobby & Kaitlyn’s wedding to this gorgeous, peaceful view of the mountains with the clouds resting among them.)


If this post encouraged you, then I’m thrilled our misadventures could bless you. I hope you’ll pass it along to others. 

And if you’re ever in or near Black Mountain, NC you’ve got to visit The Mill Pizzeria. Outstanding pizza baked by Jay, the fascinating, visionary owner, and his dog Anchovie. (Anchovie doesn’t make the pizza, but he’ll be glad to eat some of yours if you’ll share. Don’t worry, he’s not pushy.) Check them out on Facebook.


 

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