Summary: Based on Bruce Wilkinson’s study

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I admit that I am not much of a gardener, but let me share what I know.

The best way to garden is to put on a wide brimmed straw hat and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.

I’d be a great gardener if I could only grow green stuff in my garden like I can in my refrigerator.

Once I left a packet of seeds in my pocket and my coat turned into a Chia jacket.

I am terrible at weeding. I can’t tell a weed from a plant.

What is a weed anyway? A weed is a plant that has mastered every survival skill except for learning how to grow in rows.

When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

Last week we found one of the VBS kids outside chewing on a slug. After the initial surge of disgust I asked, "Well . . . What does it taste like?" The kid said "Worms".

Because the garden was a failure, Linda sent me to the market. I said: "My wife asked me to buy ORGANIC vegetables. Have these been sprayed with any poisonous chemicals?" "No," replied the produce guy, "you’ll have to do that yourself."

This is the third week in a four week series based on Bruce Wilkinson’s Bible study entitled “The Secrets of the Vine.” We are looking at a lesson Jesus taught to his disciples on the night of his betrayal and arrest. Jesus talks about himself as the a grape vine. God is the vinedresser. Every one who is “in Christ”, that is every believer is a branch. It is responsibility of every believer to bear fruit, which are good works.

According to Wilkinson, ever believer is in one of four conditions. Most, according to Wilkinson are not currently bearing fruit. Some are bearing fruit. Some are bearing more fruit. And a few are bearing much fruit. God is asking us all to move up this hierarchy from no fruit to much fruit.

Last week, Linda talked about moving from no fruit to some fruit. In that situation, something is wrong with the branch and the vinedresser is attempting to restore the branch to its natural state of productivity. Most translations talk about the vinedresser taking away branches that don’t bear fruit. That is a mistake. The word means, “to carry” and while that often has the connotation of “carry off” here it means “carry”. It refers to the vinedresser’s practice of taking fallen branches and reattaching them to the trellis. They are being “picked up” or “carried”, but not “carried off”.

Sometimes we fail to bear fruit because we are engaged in activities that separate us from the vine. Last week Linda talked about God disciplining us, just as we discipline our children, to move us away from destructive behavior and toward behavior that allow us to bear fruit.

Next week, Linda will talk about Christian’s who are in the third basket, the more fruit basket, and how they can move to real abundance – the fourth basket.

Today, I am talking about branches that are in the second basket – Christians who are bearing a little fruit – and how they move to more fruit. The passages says this. “Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. “

So what is pruning?

Most of us have pruned in the garden. I am a timid pruner. I clip here and there around the edges. It is as if the bush set down in my barber chair and said “just a little off the top.”

Real gardeners don’t do that. They lop off whole branches and cut others way back. Why? Don’t they like the plants? No, they just understand that pruning strengthens a plant and focuses its growth. Is there something wrong with the branches that get cut off? Usually no. Usually they are just growing in an unwanted direction. Under different circumstances those same shoots may have been kept while others were pruned.

Maybe I am so timid about pruning because I have a vague but enduring memory of a TV show that I saw a long long time ago. I know that it must have been a very long time ago because it was the Tonight Show when Johnny Carson was still the host. Johnny’s guest had a bunch of tomato plants and a lie detector. He would hook up the lie detector to a plant and chart the plants’ reactions as he pruned them or as he picked tomatoes. Not only did he claim that plants were upset when they were pruned, he claimed that the reaction started as the pruning shears approached, before there was any actual contact.

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