Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TPP:The Pruning Process

Since my last entry on the 15th, I've studied John 15: 1-11 in conjunction with Bruce Wilkinson's book Secrets of The Vine. I read this book some years ago and gleaned what I needed from it. However, when God has a word for you, you have to go with it. The conversation I had with God regarding the true vine and the vine dresser was the beginning of a continued conversation that began a few years prior when I read Wilkinson's book. Funny how the lord picks up right where he left off, no time has passed for him spiritually speaking, because he is time, however that's a whole different conversation, but time has passed for me. Not enough that I forgot what we discussed then but enough to allow me to process, digest and excrete the gifts in which he stored in me then.
The pruning process can be a very painful experience. The strength of the pain all depends on your response to the cutting. However, it is still a painful process. As I refreshed myself in the book, I read and read and read some more until God spoke and said "this is where you are". The author, begins by breaking down the word of who the true vine and vine dresser are. He continues by discussing the array of fruit that grows on the vines which hang from the branches.

Now imagine, you're standing in a beautiful orchard of grapes. The most gorgeous green leafy vines and plump purple grapes. You look down and you see the vine, you think to yourself, "this is Jesus", your eyes move up toward the branches, "this is me" you turn to your left and then to your right and you notice the green leaves and the bunches of fruit that are hanging from the branches "fruit, those things in my life that are produced because of my love for God, some through good works, because of my faith and obedience" then you hold your head up and notice the many rows of vines and its various amount of fruit, "God The Father he attends to the vineyard". "Jesus, the true vine, the vine dresser is his Father, God, I am the branches and the fruit is what I produce".

Your next thought is why, why should I have to endure the pruning shears when I am doing so well. Well there was a time when you produced no fruit at all, you felt the pain in various ways but you didn't know exactly why. Somewhere deep down inside you get to the point where you have no other alternatives and you call on God, realizing he should have been your first call. "If your life consistently bears no fruit, God will intervene to discipline you".

So you have cleaned up your act and now you are bearing some fruit. But how much fruit are you bearing. Before your basket was empty, so you had "no fruit", now your basket has a few grapes in it, awe you have "fruit", but that's not enough because you desire "more fruit" well if your life bears some fruit, God will intervene to prune you, why, because you asked to bear more fruit. Okay, so now, you have arrived your okay with the amount of fruit you have grown and harvested, all is well, God is pleased and I'm good. You have met your hearts desire.

So what happens when Gods desire for you intervenes again so you can bear "much fruit" for him. This is where I am. A few months ago, I began to talk to God about my desire to openly pray at work without the feeling I would be fired for opening our meeting up in prayer before we began. I told the lord how I felt and that this was a struggle for me because I needed to do this but I cant do it in the position I'm in now I will be fired. I shared with God that I know without a shadow of a doubt that I am in the right field of work, however, I realize I am working for the wrong organization. I continued by pleading with God to fix this for me.

Little did I realize that I had opened the door to another pruning adventure. The first two to 40 + times were hard and painful enough, now what have I got myself into. I said, see that is why you have to be careful what you ask for, why couldn't I just be content with where I was. And a still small voice said, because you desire more and more means growing.

God needed me to move somethings out of my life. Things that distracted me, things that I needed to heal from, things that I had to let go of, like fear the reverencing kind. He needed me to trust him more. I already trusted him. I trusted him to take care of me and my family, my job, my ministry everything. But God said, More, I desire more of you. Soon after my journey began. Things began to test my faith, some I passed and some I didn't. I began to journal my experiences with God, some of which you have been privy too. One of my entry I wrote to Him saying "Father how much of whats mine have you already asked for and I have given it it you". I've surrendered my life, my relationships, my right to marriage, my children and grandchildren, my sex life, my job. Lord what else do I have to give. Is there anything I need to give to you that I have not given?

His response, was a little overwhelming. Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. This was a two part response from God, he wants me to accept the first part of this statement literally. Secondly, I need act on the second part of the statement. I responded, more of me lord, more of me. I need you.

Therefore, this area of pruning is a process of love, He desires for me to abide in him. To be able to remain, closely connected, settling in for the long term of being together. (now that was deep for me). Bruce Wilkinson's stated, In the seasoning of chastising and pruning, the vine dresser is proactive. He pursues, He initiates. Our role is to respond.

So, how does one abide? There is a 180 degree shift in who initiates the movement toward fruit fullness at the highest level. To abide we must act. Abiding is not, I repeat not doing more to make more fruit, however, we must do something and it wont come easily. In abiding, its always our move.

*There is a promise and practice of abiding.

*If you stay connected to him, if you draw spiritual nourishment from him, if you allow the power that flows through him to flow through you, nothing will hold you back from reaching the most abundant life possible.

*How many of us have been serving Jesus a long time and your not tired yet?

*In abiding, what happens on the surface doesn't count; its whats happening inside that does.

Abiding begins with visible spiritual disciplines, prayer, bible reading, and daily meditation are just few. I read Gods word, I read Bruce Wilkinson's book and what I have written is a portion of my experience. It's not about how I feel, its about my need for more of God. How about you?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Warning, Warning.....think it not strange.

Warning, warning, think it not strange.....waking up in the middle of the night, walking to the bathroom, I hear "think it not strange", I said, Lord, I know this text. I don't know where it is though. I said James maybe, then I proceeded back to my living room floor, as I decided to camp out there. "Think it not strange...hmmm, diverse temptation...James, I don't know. Okay Lord, I will look it up when I get up in the morning".
I awake a few hours later, the words blaring loudly in my mind, I greet my Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit...and I look for my Word. Praying, I open the book and turn to James chpt 5. I said, "well its not James, close but not". I pick up my phone and call my sister. She answers, "Good morning gurl", I reply, the same....I said "I can't find this text, think it not strange, I was thinking James but that's not it", she said "well, let us look up the text on Bible gateway", I said "okay". She said, "It 1 Peter 4:12" I said "okay thanks". We chatted a little and then hung up.
Reading 1 Peter, I wondered in my mind what I need not to think strange....I prayed some more and realized, its a warning, something is going to happen. I put the bible down and moved on with my morning.

A couple of nights later, while sleeping, I dream of vines. Beautiful ones, fresh, green and most beautiful deep green I have ever seen, then I hear, "I am the vine". I said, "I know these words"....I repeated them in my dream, "I am the vine, my father is the vine dresser". I awoke. I said, "okay again, I know the text, not sure where to find it". So I called my sister again. This time she says, "Good morning gurl" and I reply, "I am the vine" she says with an awe of surprise and nervousness "Awww what did I do now, what is have something to tell me" I said, "No, no, I'm sorry, I cant find the text...I am the vine...that all the lord gave me." She said, "oh, girl I thought you had a word for me, don't do that" with a little chuckle she continued, "its found in John 15." I said, "thanks, one of my favorite books." I told her I would call her later.

Two days later, both text seemed to ring loudly in my spirit....Think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you. I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser. Two text, Two day apart, Two day of processing....If nothing else, I knew it was a sure thing.
(and it was, and it is)
So, why am I taking my leisure to share this experience with you because, God is the kind of God who loves his children and he speaks to them. I was able to discern his warning that I was going to be attacked soon, but he didn't want me to worry or be afraid, or feel like "this is strange, I don't know why this is happening". He assured me that He is with me with the follow up text that came two day after the warning text. "I am the true vine, and my father is the vine dresser". In layman's terms. It means, I am with you, attending to your need. I looked up the words vine and vine dresser. Although I had to research them separately. A vine is a plant who stem requires support, which climbs or trails along the ground. A Dresser(n) is one who dresses or attends. God was telling me, "Shana, a fiery trial is coming upon you but be not dismayed because I am the true vine and my father is the vine dresser, we will attend and support you through this time."

My role in all of this is to stay focused and faithful to the true vine and the vine dresser, because he says, every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. He continues, "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit." So, he is saying to me, "Keep doing what your doing for me, By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit"

Staying faithful to God in a time that "feels" awful can be trying when you have the assurances of God. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to be in a trial, not know God and be unaware that his assurance is there for the asking but you not know him to ask him.

Walking with God means you too will endure what he endured her on this earth. He has overcome sin and because of Him you can too.
picture used courtesy of

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Divine Conversations

Today, as I read my daily devotional from Os Hillman, I reflected on how God and I communicate. I realized I work diligently to be in tune with him through his word and prayer. The devotional spoke to this, "Knowing and Discerning Gods Will". God has never steered me wrong. My faith and trust in him has grown and my desire to be like the tree planted firmly by the rivers of water becomes more real to me day by day.

Trees are so significant to me, I don't quite remember when I fell in love with them but they speak of Gods nature and my existence here on this earth. Psalms 1 speaks of the a tree that is planted firmly, what does this mean? Personally, its the assurance of knowing my foundational belief in a God who created this world out of nothing by speaking it into something from the nothing that it was made from keeps me in a steadfast immovable state with him.

In his mercy and grace he blanketed this world with trees,various kinds those that are liken to a faith walk of sorts. Some are seedlings just being planted, looking forward to the day they will grow big and strong, however, they have to weather some storms and heat waves to make it. Some are plucked up by strong winds, knocked over from heavy rains, break under the weight of ice or die from the scorching heat. Then there are those who make it through any type of weather because they are firmly rooted and hold on when the various waves of weather come along.

There is a tree planted here in Upstate New York on the 90 going west, planted a few miles after thruway exit 39. It's a beautiful tree, I am reminded of my desire to be more like Jesus with every passing of this tree. I call it the Uni bi Uni tree. It has the appearance of being one no matter what the season, with leaves and without. It isn't until you are right up on the tree that you realize there's a second planted directly next to it.

I remember the first time I saw the tree, I whispered a prayer for my relationship with a man to be as these two trees. So close and unified that you can't tell its two until your there in front of them. It wasn't until sometime later I understood my prayer was answered and realized that man was God.

It's in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eye on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone. (Ephesians 11:1 The Message Bible)

So closely knit that you can discern Gods will without having to ask him "Whats next", you just follow Him. That is where I am striving to be. It is a life walk of faith and trust in God, the one who created the heavens and the earth in 6 days and rested on the 7th.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My word for 2009


  • The chance that my investment's actual return will be different than expected.
  • The use of my gifts and talents to be used in anyway God sees fit.
  • Trusting in the historical accounts of my life; where God has led me.
  • The outcome/state/result/value is not known, however, In faith you know God is there.
  • Walking in accordance to Gods leading.
  • Giving God everything you have because its not yours anyway (thanks pastor:)

A few Conversations on Faith

Tonight, I listened as my friend spoke about her faith experience. I was able to share Gods word regarding those who diligently seek Him, and how God is a rewarder of those who do. I appreciate the small gestures of faith that I have witness from friends. Today, I listened to one of my students share her faith and hope for one of her friend who died last night. 15 years young he died from a gunshot wound to his head. She was hoping and believed he would end up in a "good place" as she called it. She shared how she prayed and prayed for him, how the weather was gloomy all the days he was in the hospital and the morning she found out he died, the sun was shining brightly. She said, "It was his time to go, and on one of the most beautiful days of this week, the sun was shining." He died, January 8Th at 6pm.

Witnessing hope, an assurance of things to come from small gestures such as a conversation on ones experience helps me to realize, how God's son, The Word, is the living, Walking, Breathing experience. God is real, alive and even the faith of a mustard seed provides a savor worth returning too.

I shared this Inspirational thought from Max Lucado with my friends, I will share it here in hopes that someone will be blessed by The Word also known as Jesus Christ Our Risen Savior.


Faith is the belief that God is real and that God is good...It is a choice to believe that the one who made it all hasn't left all and that he still sends light into the shadows and responds to gestures of faith....Faith is the belief that God will do what is right."Blessed are the dirt-poor, nothing-to-give, trapped-in-a-corner, destitute, diseased" Jesus said, "for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (authors translation- Max Lucado) Matt. 5:6 God says that the more hopeless your circumstances, the more likely your salvation, The greater your cares, the more genuine your prayers. The darker the room, the greater the need for light...God help is near and always available, but it is only given to those who seek it. Nothing results from apathy...Compared to God's part, our part is minuscule but necessary...Do something that demonstrates faith. For faith with no effort is no faith at all. God will respond. He has never rejected a genuine gesture of faith. Never.

A quote from one of my favorite Authors....
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”-Marianne Williamson
Closing thought...
I'm ending with this, I was reminded yesterday that it's okay to be nervous, but it's not okay to fear or reverence the fear, because fear is not of God. I stepped out on faith yesterday and completed an application that will be the door opener to my desire to return to a place I have longed to be for the last 7 years. Remembering, God's Word does not return void and without faith it is impossible to please him: for he/she that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. Heb. 11:6

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Codename:Operation Faith Walk

My weapons of choice......

My Bible, (two to three versions of course),a couple of devotionals, some great books, God (The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit) and a Journal.

For the last few months I have had the overwhelming desire to return to the environment that felt like home. I knew 7 years ago that one day I would return, however, if you asked me when I could not have provided you with an answer. This place provided me with such peace. You know the peace that surpasses all your human understanding. Trees and green grass all around, people who believe like you believe, freedom to be all you know how to be for and in God. Where is this place...

Well, walk with me through my journey. A journey of faith, love, instruction, correction, growth and trust.

It started for me in January 2008, the year of or for new beginnings. Twenty-o-eight was definitely that for me. I learned to live truly for the first time in my adult years. I learned to trust in a God who could identify with my heart-felt pain and anguish. I learned to live again after dying slowly day by day from grief. I learned to trust in strangers who had nothing but my best interest at heart. I learn to lean on friends and let go and let God. I grew deeper in my faith, dealt with my own (dis)belief system and the realities thereof. I accepted that I had to keep moving forward so I would not be sidetracked from what God had in store for me.

I learned to get up and get out...and too follow God. It was not an easy journey. There were times I could not pray, did not want to pray, refused to pray, too angry to pray. However, as the saying goes..."Somebody prayed for me, had me on their mind, they took the time to pray for me".

All I can say is....I'm GLAD they prayed for me and not preyed on me. 2008 was the preparation for Twenty-0-nine....