Archive for March, 2013

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

This Easter weekend is a good time to reflect on the message of Jesus and the life we can have in relationship with Him. As the followers of Jesus celebrate Resurrection Sunday I think this is an important time to focus on the reality that a life worth living is one that is rooted in the Person and work of Jesus Christ.

In today’s world we have many voices that capture our attention. I realize more and more that I have been a product of the culture I grew up in. I didn’t recognize until the past few years that many influences on my life shaped me into a person with a strong desire to be productive and successful in life. You might say that results really matter to me in almost every walk of life.

This may be helpful in many respects, but when we come to living the Christian life we can very easily approach too many things with a “results” mentality. Many of us love to see the fruits of our labor and will do almost anything to see it happen.

Particularly as followers of Jesus we just naturally assume that living a fruitful and productive life is something that is pretty much expected of us. The critical thing is what the fruit may look like and the process we undertake that will produce it.

In recent years, I’ve begun to realize that for a season of my life I didn’t focus enough on developing a healthier root system in my life because of an overwhelming desire to see fruit that I wanted put on display perhaps before it ripened.

Jesus, our Master of growth, gave us many lessons from everyday, observable life in God’s creation.  At one point he said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.” Obviously there’s much to observe in the natural world that God has placed there to teach us lessons for spiritual and emotional growth.

The Apostle Paul in his words to the Colossians (above) told them to be rooted in Jesus Christ, to see Him as the source of life, growth and development.

In the natural world what’s the relationship between roots and fruit? Roots are hidden underground and fruit is observable above ground. Roots go deep and anchor a plant while fruit generally falls off the tree and is either consumed or decomposes. Roots are essential to the health and vitality of the entire plant and fruit will not be healthy, or edible, unless there is a healthy root system at the foundation level.

Our responsibility as followers of Jesus is to partner with Him in going through a process of developing our roots and leaving the results (fruit) to Him. I think we start to spin out of control when we start looking for quick results and fixes and neglect our root system. I believe this to be the case because I’ve experienced it and lived to tell about it!

When I look at Jesus Himself, He seemed to be much more focused on the process of life rather than looking for immediate results. For one thing, it is a well known historical fact that Jesus did not begin His public ministry before He was 30 years old. There was a season of development in Jesus’ life that took place before His public ministry. Even when Jesus did choose His disciples, He took them through a process of growth that never really ended but had many layers of ongoing development.

This spring why not begin to examine the root system in your life. Where are you focusing your time and energy? Is it trying to grasp for more fruit or developing your roots under the guidance of Jesus Christ?

A friend that regularly reads the correspondence I send out to my prayer partners noticed something recently. After I redirected my focus onto the roots and the process of growth she unexpectedly told me that she noticed a different and positive tone change coming through my writing. Something had shifted and she noticed it but couldn’t quite describe it.

I have little doubt that when we sink our roots into Jesus those around us will observe a noticeable change in our attitude, direction and behavior.

As in nature, the root systems in our lives are developed in the quiet, unseen life that we live with Jesus when no one else is watching. By sinking our roots deep into Him perhaps we will soon find the fruit bursting forth in ways we never imagined. 


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“But he answered his father, `Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.'” Luke 15:29 (NIV)

Disappointment in life normally comes from not getting what we expected.

A friend a few years my senior used to say often with tongue in cheek, “Blessed is he who expecteth nothing, for he will not be disappointed!” Unfortunately, we in the developed world have many expectations and when they go unmet we are left with disappointment and frustration.

At this stage of my life I have begun to realize that many of my aspirations of where I thought I would be at my age will not materialize, at least  not in the short term.  I often live with more disappointment than I’m willing to admit.

In the classic tale of the prodigal son Jesus told in Luke chapter 15 it is interesting to note the contrast between the two brothers in the story. As we know, the younger son  expected his inheritance early and upon receiving it, squandered it. But in doing so, he found the reality that a better life was to be had back in his father’s house. 

When the younger son returned home he received a very unexpected welcome – his waiting father ran to meet him and threw an extravagant celebration in his honor.

We usually don’t focus on the older brother who stayed home and saw himself as “slaving” for his father.  His life was full of disappointment because he must have felt that his commitment to keeping the rules would reap rewards down the line. Discipline and duty would surely gain him an advantage over his foolish, rebellious younger brother.

It is easy for some of us, yours truly included, to live life that way. We keep to a performance regimen so Dad will be proud of us. Maybe He will notice our exceptional behavior and give us whatever we want – when we want it. Unfortunately, we end up disappointed with that orientation toward life.

In recent years I’m learning much more about the way God designed us to live in relationship with Him by focusing on the process, or the daily walk with Him, rather than living with high expectations of what might result from my peak performance. It’s the difference between learning to enjoy the process as opposed to focusing merely on results.

Think of a skill or hobby that you really enjoy. It could be anything from learning a musical instrument to playing a sport or developing a new skill. It doesn’t take much to motivate you when you enjoy the process of learning even when you don’t see immediate results. The moment you switch over to focusing on the results the process becomes more laborious. Often the harder we try to do something the more ineffective we become.

A better quality of life emerges when we live a life of faith in God and let our expectations rest with Him. Accepting the results that come our way with a grateful heart may reap greater benefits in the long run than anxiously focusing on the results that seem beyond our grasp.

The words of the older brother in the story reveal that he expected  a certain level of attention from his father as a result of his good behavior. When the younger brother expected rejection and was willing to be put on the level of a servant, the father not only ran toward him but reinstated him in the family.

The broader implication is that we can expect our Heavenly Father to rejoice in us, to desire a relationship with us, to demonstrate love and generosity to us, to rejoice whenever we move toward Him.  Maybe, when we experience disappointment it’s because we are focused on the wrong expectations.

Perhaps the lesson that we need to hear is that duty and discipline when launched from the wrong motives will never win any credibility before a loving God who cares deeply for us and desires us to enjoy our relationship with Him. Moving in His direction will always reap unexpected benefits.

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