24As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

John 15:5

Good Monday morning from Elizabeth Baker! As wordsmiths and lovers of letters, authors often have a unique way of looking at the world. I suspect we tend to dig a little deeper and look for answers even when others are not asking questions!

One of the first things a writer learns is to continually ask, “So, what?” For every article, every speech, every motivation of a fictional character, asking “So, what?” is critical to literary success. No matter how well placed the modifiers or how skillfully crafted each sentence, if there is no answer to that question, readers will drift off and soon lose interest.

I suppose that’s what instantly drew me to today’s verse. The “So, what?” answers fairly jump from the page promising not only logical solutions to practical problems but what writers call, “high take-away value” as well.

The first answer is the reality of fruit. It is actually possible to have more love, more joy, more peace, more patience and all those other delightful tidbits Paul identified as the fruits of the Spirit. [1] These are not pie-in-the-sky or wishful thinking or day-dreams. They’re real things that make a real difference. That is a big, “So, what?” because having more of that kind of fruit will change my world!

The second, “So, what?” is perhaps the most significant of all. It’s the good news that I don’t have to work up these good things on my own. I can get off the treadmill, leave the rat-race, rest. It no more depends on my efforts to grow fruit than it depends on the efforts of a branch to grow grapes. The effort and power come from the vine. A vine can get along without the branch just fine but the branch without the vine is dead before it hits the ground.

And, the last really big “So, what?” is the other side of that coin. While the fruit does not depend on me, that doesn’t mean I’m useless. I have a significant responsibility. I contribute to the process. If I don’t do my part, I won’t share in the benefits of fruit production. Other branches will take my place. They and the vine will go on without me. My job is to cling tightly to the vine. I don’t focus on fruit production, I focus on the vine and fruit comes as a byproduct.

Unfortunately, it is possible to be a Christian attend church and even read the Bible but stopped asking the question, “So, what?” When that happens, faith becomes disjointed from daily life; religion separates from living, and experiencing the dynamic flow from the Vine slows to a trickle.

How sad! For the solution to the problem is simple. Jesus told us about it before he left. We make it our business to firmly hang on to the Vine and a good way to do that is to keep asking the question, “So, what?”

 [1] Galatians 5:28

 

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Sherry Kyle headshotHi! Sherry Kyle, here, writing from my laptop in central California with a word of encouragement for you.

Romans 15:13 says,

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

(def) hope:  1. to have a wish to get or do something or for something to happen or be true, especially something that seems possible or likely. 2. To believe, desire, or trust.

What is your hope today?

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Sherry Kyle headshotHi from the central coast of California. This is Sherry Kyle with a word of encouragment for you.

Psalm 28:7

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.”

 

I love this verse.  It reminds me of the chorus to the children’s song:

“The joy of the Lord is my strength.” 

 

Do you remember singing that song in Sunday School when you were a child?  For those of you who didn’t grow up in a Christian home, those eight words are repeated four times in a simple melody.  Simple words with great impact! 

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Sherry Kyle headshot

Sherry Kyle, here, writing from my laptop in central California.

Do you feel tired today? Has the festivities of Christmas worn you out? Maybe you had a deadline on top of all the shopping, decorating, and baking this past month and you’re at the end of your rope. Or perhaps it’s been a dry season and you’re hoping for a new book contract. 

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CAN Blog

Dianne Neal Matthews here, hoping to encourage you on this second Monday of the month. This morning I’m writing with a new and improved attitude—all because I found an old file on my computer.

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