On Vines, Pruning, and Fruit

Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 23-24; John 15

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples. (John 15:1-8, CEB)

I am not a gardener. I don’t have two brown thumbs, I have two black thumbs. On several occasions, Cindy and I have planted tomato plants in hopes of having some tomatoes that actually tasted like tomatoes (grocery store tomatoes are weak imitations at best). In truth, I am the one hoping for tomatoes. Cindy really doesn’t care. The only way she likes tomatoes is in a bottle of catsup. Me, on the other hand, even grocery store tomatoes are good (homegrown are just MUCH better). It could be said that I have never met a tomato I didn’t like unless it was rotten.

Imagine my disappointment when, in try after try, both in containers and in the ground, the plants would grow. The plants put on blooms. The plants NEVER produced more than four or five tomatoes. I am convinced it is better that God made me a preacher (or just about anything else) than a farmer. My family would have starved! (The boys don’t eat tomatoes either).

I do know a bit about plants. I worked in a gardening department for several months (before that I worked in the lumber department) of a smaller version of one of the big box home improvement stores when I was a senior in high school. While working in the gardening department I learned the importance of pruning. Whether you are talking about a flowering plant or a fruit producing plant or just about any kind of tree, pruning is important. A tomato plant, for example, will develop runners on it and runners don’t produce anything (or that is how I understand it). Runners do consume resources the tomatoes need to grow and mature (and yes, I kept the runners pruned off). Without proper pruning, the plant will not produce as much as it will with proper pruning.

For several years I served churches in and around Tyler, Texas. Tyler is the rose capital of Texas. To keep the roses blooming, pruning was necessary. I don’t know what to prune on a rose bush but I do know it is necessary.

Jesus, in today’s lesson, tells us about the importance of pruning as well. As people of faith, we are already pruned by His words that live in us. He continues by saying, if we remain faithful, we will produce fruit but if we allow ourselves to be disconnected from the vine, we will be on our own and produce nothing. And branches that don’t produce get cut off from the vine.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be cut off from the vine. May we all work to produce fruit for the kingdom of God. May we remain connected to the vine.

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

With Joy and Thankfulness,

Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


Spirita Spiro (Esperanza for "Spirit's Breath) is rather new in my life. But the blog is not. I began writing a blog several years ago. It lived under the title, "The Pastor Ponders." Over the years I have tried several different names and "The Pastor Ponders" always seemed to fit best. I am trying again with Spirita Spiro. For 27 years I was a full-time pastor in the United Methodist Church. This year, August 2018, I semi-retired (I can't actually retire quite yet) and began teaching social studies. It is something I have always wanted to do and if I was going to do this, I needed to make it sooner rather than later. So, I made the move. I thought with the career change there also needed to be a name change to the blog and other things, such as spiritual direction. Spirita Spiro is my attempt to share some of my thoughts. I often share what I am thinking with my dog "Bishop," but he keeps his thoughts to himself. He will even go to sleep sometimes while I am sharing my thoughts with him. The truth is, if it doesn't involve getting his ears scratched, his belly rubbed or some kind of treat, he really doesn't care. I will say this for him, he never argues with me or tells me I am wrong. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts with whoever might come across this blog in their ramblings around the Internet. I live with my wife Cindy and our little dog in Lufkin, Texas. I spent the past 27 years as a full-time United Methodist pastor. Most recently I served as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Sweeny, Texas. I have also served United Methodist congregations throughout East Texas including rural Madison County (Elwood UMC), Lovelady (First UMC) and Kennard (Center Hill UMC), Canton (First UMC), rural Smith County (Mt. Sylvan UMC and Union Chapel UMC), Grapeland (First UMC), Tyler (Pleasant Retreat UMC), Santa Fe (Aldersgate UMC), Freeport (First UMC) and Oyster Creek (Oyster Creek UMC), Diboll (First UMC), and now Sweeny (First UMC). My wife Cindy and I have been married for over 40 years. We have two grown sons. Wayne and his wife Nikki and all our grandsons (Kaleb, Noah, and Jaxon) live in Southern California. Christopher and his wife Morgan and both our granddaughters (Jenna and Natalie) live in Tyler Texas. I enjoy preaching and all aspects of preaching from research to writing to the actual preaching event. I also love writing, reading, playing the guitar as well as a bit of drawing. I have spent quite a bit of time over the past two years working with paracord on various projects, mostly prayer ropes I usually give away. I sing bass with a local barbershop chorus called The Coastalaires. I have also recently begun doing a little wood carving. I also enjoy playing with Bishop, something he likes a great deal better than listening to my thoughts. I hold an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Business Data Processing, specializing in Microcomputers from San Jacinto College in Pasadena, Texas, a Bachelor of Science in Political Science with a minor in History from Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, TX, a Master of Divinity from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX and a Doctor of Ministry from Carolina University of Theology. When I was a student at Carolina, the school was in Iron Station North Carolina. They have since relocated to Manassas Virginia (Yeah, go figure, a school named Carolina geographically in Virginia). This blog is mostly devotional writing, but there are other things here too. Just about every week I will either post my sermon manuscript or a video of the worship service. On occasion, I will post something I see in society. Occasionally I write a short story, a poem, or a song and will post it here too. I will say this, my motivations for writing this blog are really selfish. I write it to get what I am thinking out of my head and onto something a bit more permanent. They say, after all, once something is on the internet it never really goes away. Still, I hope you enjoy reading it. And, should you desire, you can one-up Bishop and actually tell me what you think. Who knows, it might generate a bit of discussion between you and me and anyone else who might make their way here. With Joy and Thankfulness, Keith Sweeny, Texas May 2018

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