After the fallout: Finding God's path and reclaiming our faith (part 12: practices in general)
DISCLAIMER: Please don’t see these practices as all in, all now, in all ways. I have found that there are seasons where I change some of the expressions of the way that I pray or read etc., etc.
The main thing is this: Find a way to practice each of the 7. These 7 have been the culmination of 25 years of ministry and coaching. I think these cover the basics of the Christian life.
Also, it is worth noting this: all of the practices are interlocked. It is hard to talk about one without talking about another one of them. That is fine. We love separating life into buckets and executing things in their own little world - again a project of the industrial-mechanical values that are in the air conditioning.
BIBLICAL BASIS FOR PRACTICES:
John 15:1-8 is a passage that gives us great insight into the need and importance of practices in our lives.
This is what John 15:1-8 says:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 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. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.
You can draw a straight line from the Master Key parable - again, the first parable in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke to this passage in John 15. John 15 is the grounded, earthy parable of Jesus. The same principles expressed in different terms in both the Master Key Parable and John 15. But there are some practicalities (or actions explained) that are highlighted in this passage.
1. God is the farmer or vinedresser. Again God is the one that tends to that which is growing. Therefore, when we enter the world of tending to what He is growing, we are doing God’s work on this earth. Sounds a bit like Genesis and the garden and the responsibility of taking care of the planet, doesn’t it? The Bible is one story and the way seeds grow over seasons to produce fruit is the way that He does His work throughout all of life. I would make the argument, and I think I would win that this metaphor of the ground and how things grow is the dominant metaphor of all Scripture.
2. Jesus is the vine. He is the connector. He is our source of life and nutrients. To the point where Jesus says here that if we do not remain in him, we can do nothing. Therefore we can not do some things, a few things, many things no - we can do nothing apart from Jesus. Notice, we bear the fruit of God, we do not make it.
3. If we remain in Him, He will remain in us. He will be able to give life to us because we are connected. I am not for sure from the passage as a whole if the purpose is a threat like, “If you don’t stay with me, then I will leave you.” As much as it is about, if you are not connected, you will not be able to have the life that I offer. In other words, you will miss out. That is the more natural reading of the text. Jesus wants us to have life and life to the full (John 10:10b). We can not argue over this fact: God is for us, not against us. Here the promise is great - if we stay connected, then he will literally grow His fruit through us.
4. By remaining connected, you will bear fruit. In other words, we stay connected to Jesus, then the fruit will be produced. Compare that to the end of the Master Key parable of the sower:
The seed scattered on the good soil is those who hear the word and embrace it. They bear fruit, in one case a yield of thirty to one, in another case sixty to one, and in another case one hundred to one.”
God is the producer of fruit. Our role is to stay connected. If we remain connected, then we will bear fruit. In other words, we bear fruit, not create it. When we believe it is us that make the fruit, we are buying into the lies of the industrial-mechanic value system. In other words, if we hear and embrace the word, then a great crop/results/fruit will be produced.
This producing fruit is how we show we are Jesus’ disciples or aka as learner of Jesus. This is the proof or evidence we are His if we produce fruit.
So how do we stay connected and bear fruit? Which is another way of asking how do we hear and embrace the Word(s) of God?
I will say that the way we do that is through these 7 practices. These practices help us to nurture, maintain, and stay in proximity to Jesus.
And when we stay close/connected by hearing/embracing the word, the fruit is produced. Thus these practices are for us to be formed, shaped, grown, and tough to tend by God.
These practices are how we put ourselves in front of God so He can grow in us the God things. This is the Best of Ways.
 Common English Bible. (2011). (Jn 15:1–8). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.
 Common English Bible. (2011). (Mk 4:20). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.