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May 2008
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July 2008

Pruning the Vine

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.  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. (John 15:1-2 NKJV)

Pruning.  Tree experts know the importants of the process.  They cut off seemingly healthy branches of a tree in order for the tree to grow stronger and fuller, bearing more fruit than before.  It seems strange to me that the process works, but it does. 

Jesus uses a similar metaphor with a grapevine and applies it to our lives.   When we are in His will, bearing fruit (good character, soul-winning, edifying the body of Christ) for Him, we will get pruned from time to time.  When God sees that we are doing some things right, he starts cutting away some of the excess "branches" in our lives to make way for His master plan - a bigger plan - to unfold.  He removes some of the good in our lives - a ministry, a relationship, a hobby - to give us time for the best He wants us to achieve.  It is not very fun to get pruned.  However, the long-term effects are worth it.

Keep in mind that being pruned by God is equivalent to being disciplined by God.  While both may involve some pain, pruning is not accompanied by a sin in our lives needing to be eliminated.  If you are going through a painful time, ask God to reveal to you an area in which you need to change.   If God doesn't reveal one to you, you may be in the pruning process.  Thank Him for His faithfulness in trusting you to participate in His plan and stay close to Him.  He will reveal the bigger picture one step at a time.

For further thought:

  • What is God trying to prune away from your life? 
  • What are you trying to hold on to that might be keeping you from God's greater plan for your life?
  • Do you have a Life Purpose Statement? 

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


Tolle on Heaven

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. (2 Peter 2:1-2 NKJV)

As promised in my last post, I am going to share some of my "findings" in Eckart Tolle's, "A New Earth".   But first, some may be asking why I would waste my time elaborating on a book that is in my opinion dangerous and heretical.  Simply stated, belief in false teaching promotes a way of thinking, and therefore living, that is contrary to the word of God.  Living outside of God's plan results in bondage to things and behaviors that aren't in our best interest.  The consequences run deep.

Let's first consider Tolle's view on heaven, stated on p. 23 in his book.  Here he describes the inspiration for the book title, references a few bible verses and states:

We need to understand here that heaven is not a location but refers to the inner realm of consciousness.  This is the estoteric meaning of the word, and this is also its meaning in the teachings of Jesus.

A "new heaven" is the emergence of a transformed state of human consciousness, and "a new earth" is its reflection in the physical realm."

Tolle often quotes Jesus wrongly and outside the context of the entire Bible, which can be confusing to Christians who have a mere cursory understanding of the Bible.  The Bible is very clear throughout that heaven is a physical place and not just a state of mind.  In this specific case, a belief that heaven is not a literal location could cause someone to also question the literal existence of hell.  Questioning the existence in hell will cause us to lose our sense of urgency in sharing the Gospel with others?  Can you see how a downward spiral regarding the truth of all scripture arises from just one little lie?

For further study:
1) How would you defend your belief in a literal heaven?   Look up what Jesus really says about it and decide for yourself.

2) What is the "lens" through which you view your faith and study the bible?  To understand more about how our interpretation of scripture is impacted by our preconceived notions, check out the post "Presuppositons of the Faith" at Truth Talks.

 

 


Unity, New Age & Oprah

Once again, I am compelled to depart from my "traditional" post on this blog to stand for the absolute truth of the bible.  Why this time?  Because Saturday's edition of the Kansas City Star, my hometown newspaper, featured an article entitled "Oprah's remarks rile some evangelical Christians". 

The article is pretty straightforward about how Oprah's most famous (or maybe infamous) book club choice, Eckart Tolle's "New Earth" has upset many Christians.  It should rile all Christians.  In addition, the author interviews Paula Coppel, VP of Communications for Unity Church.  In the interview, Coppel says:

"I have to wonder if Oprah's critics have read Tolle's book or watched any of the Web series beyond the inflammatory clips on YouTube."

"Unity teaches that there are many paths to God, that no one path is right or wrong."

I have three questions:

1) Why is it assumed that Tolle's book hasn't been read by those who disagree with it?

2) Have the proponents of Tolle's book read The Book, the Bible?

3) How can a person be a Christian (defined as a believer in Christ as the only way to heaven/God) and profess that there are many paths to God?

Dear readers, I have read Eckart Tolle's book completely.  Its teachings do not line up with Christianity.  I'll be posting on some of these teachings in some future posts.  Please examine your faith with an objective mind in light of what God, the author of Truth says in the Bible.  If your belief system doesn't align with it, then please ask why and diligently seek out the answer. There is nothing more important in your life than this.

All roads do not lead to God.  A sincere belief in something wrong just makes someone sincerely wrong.  Your eternal soul's destiny depends on what you believe.  You owe it to yourself to search for the Truth.

NOTE: For more resources and articles to help you understand the Christian faith, visit my other blog, Truth Talks, where I partner with speaker/author Sharon Houk.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.


Blessing, Cursing and Compassion

"Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the LORD your God, being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. - Deut 28:1 NASB

"But it shall come about, if you do not obey the LORD your God ... that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:" - Deut 28:15 NASB

It seems so simple, doesn't it?  So cut and dried.  Obey and be blessed by God.  Disobey and be cursed by God.  These were the instructions given by Moses to the people of Israel, straight from the mouth of God.  Despite the clear instructions, however, throughout recorded history Israel cycled in and out of obedience, blessing and cursing.  I shake my head at them until I realize that I am oftentimes no less stubborn in wanting to pursue my own way rather than God's way.

Granted, my stubbornness doesn't get me into the same kind of trouble.  I've yet to receive a literal plague upon my home or person, and I have literally gone hungry or thirsty from a famine or drought because I failed to wholeheartedly pursue God's path.  But objectively as I look upon my life, I know I've received some "plagues" in a figurative sense and missed out of God's blessings as well.  No matter who we are, God's timeless principles apply.

The good news is that while God promises not to spare us from calamity if we disobey (note that he also might cause some distress to bring us back to him), he is also quick to forgive and return us to favor in his eyes.   

"So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you ... and you return to the LORD your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul ... then the LORD your God will restore you from captivity and have compassion on you ... " - Deut 30:1-3a NASB

Our compassionate God will restore us and bless us again, no matter how far we've strayed from him if we sincerely come back to him.  His anger towards disobedience only exists because of his great love for us.  Is there something you need to run from so that you can run back to God today?  Are you being disobedient as a result of not doing what God has called you to do?  Don't wait.  A blessing awaits.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.

 


Do I Really Want the Blessing?

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
For I am the LORD your God...
(Isaiah 43:2-3a NKJV)

While I was journaling a few nights ago and trying to focus on God's role in a current situation, my thoughts wandered to the blessings God provides if we just persevere.  He promises us strength, companionship, and courage along the journey as well.   As I thought about this though, I couldn't help but think "Do I really want the blessing?" 

Think about the following:

You need to be...                               to experience...
Weak                                               God's strength
Lonely                                              God's companionship
Afraid                                               God's courage 
Disappointed                                      God's sovereignty/Goodness
Defeated                                           God's power
Sad                                                  God's comfort

And the list goes on...

Stay with me here.   Yes, I do want the blessings and promises of God to come my way.  Even if I have to endure some difficulties here and there.  We can't stop them from coming anyway, can we?

What are you trying to survive?  Whatever it is, don't give up and keep hanging on until you get to the other side.  A blessing awaits.

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.

 


Joy Comes in the Morning

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life:  weeping may endure for the night, but joy cometh in the morning.  (Psalm 30:5)

The Psalms are loaded with God's promises for us.  Check out my post today over at Laced With Grace to learn about the joy we can have because of God's love for us, no matter what life circumstance has us down. 


A Willing Heart

From what you have, take an offering for the LORD. Everyone who is willing is to bring to the LORD an offering of gold, silver and bronze; - Exodus 35:5 NIV

Rain brightened my day this morning because my golf game was cancelled.  I welcomed the cancellation because I'd been out of town and wasn't real thrilled about feeling obligated to play in a league event I'd signed up for several weeks ago.  However, I would have shown up out of obligation.

While we are obligated to serve and worship Him, God wants more than a sense of obligation from us.  He wants our efforts to come from the heart.  He craves willing hearts to serve and worship Him.  In Exodus 35:5, Moses relays God's message regarding this very subject.  He wants His chosen nation to take what they have and bring it to Him for an offering.  Notice that God does not say for everyone to come, just "everyone who is willing". 

How do we become willing to sacrifice ourselves for God's work?  The more we want to learn about God, the more He will show us and the more we will be changed.  The more we spend time with God, the easier it is to be willing to give up our plans for His plans.  Eventually, God changes our hearts and our attitudes from obligation to offering.  God does the work if we let Him in.  He creates a willing heart.

For further thought:

1) What are you doing out of obligation for God?

2) If you are giving an "offering" from an unwilling heart or not serving God at all, ask yourself why you are giving or not giving.  Consider also a) How much time you are spending with God.  Is it enough?  and b) Was this "offering" your idea or God's?

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Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them.  For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.

 


Making His Faithfulness Known

I will sing of the mercies of the LORD for ever: with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations. - Psalm 89:1

As I speak this week in Alton, Belleview, Highland and Collinsville, Illinois, I will remember this verse.  Why?  First of all because it is God's word and I should.  But most of all, because I will be making God's faithfulness to me known as I share my story of how through the years I've learned to reliquish control of my life to God.  Let me tell you, it hasn't been easy.  It still isn't easy!

God's mercy for us and others does endure forever, in spite of our shortcomings as Christians.  In closing, I'd like to share a poem I wrote back in February of this year in response to a CBS bible study homework assignment.  I think it sums up my talks for the week and the thankfulness we should all have towards God's mercy, even though sometimes we don't understand His ways. 

Why do You love me,
Why do You use me,
When I can't help but go astray?

I want to understand,
Yet I cannot understand,
How You decide the way.

Through the trials I will trust You.
Through the darkness I will follow You,
As You light up my way.

Thank You for Your mercy,
Thank You for Your grace.
Thank You for Your power to change.