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Growing up in the religious South, I heard stories of creation, the flood and the Lamb of God since birth. My parents raised us in church for a majority of my growing up years. I learned the books of the Bible backward and forward, made sure to tithe and be in the church building every time the doors were open. My mom tells stories of my questions that stumped the preacher. My dad accompanied me to Brazil on mission as a high schooler. 

I remember very clearly the Sunday I walked forward and desired to come to Christ. I confessed my need for Him as my Savior and was baptized a short time later. My pastor kindly handed me a Survival Kit to teach me about what it meant to be a Christian. Just one thing was missing…grace. I thought that if I didn’t do just right, according to what I believed, then I was living in sin and there would be no hope for me. 

So, I lived as a judgmental teenager, believing I was “better than” my peers who were choosing to live lifestyles of blatant sin – whether actual or perceived in my eyes. Those years quickly turned into a hidden lifestyle of rebellion and sin in my own life. Relationship after relationship ended in sin along with heartbreak and a hardened-heart. I desired to know I was loved and accepted as I was and so I made myself to be what I believed I needed to be in order for someone to love me. All this time, I hid guilt and shame…or at least I tried. I believed Christ was my Savior and still I lived as if it were up to me. My beliefs didn’t line up with my choices and my choices didn’t line up with my said beliefs.

Many things, good and bad, have happened in my life since my early twenties. The Lord has brought so many people into my life and spoken to me through a number of them. Not too long ago a dear friend sent a few of us a message about a John Piper message where she quoted him as saying, 

“When guilt remains so does the wrath of God and everlasting misery.”

My pastor preached the next Sunday on grace. And it hit me that often we say we believe the facts of the life of Christ – he died on a Roman cross to save one from the eternal punishment for one’s sin, was raised to life after 3 days in a grave so that one could spend eternity with him in heaven and ascended to the Father where he makes intercession (prays). These are all good things, eternally vital things. But have we put our faith in the facts alone or in His grace that says these things were for us? His grace and love for me led Him to die on Calvary’s tree and raise to life so I might live, in Him free.

Too often our choices dictate our beliefs instead of our beliefs dictating our choices. His grace gives us space to make our choices line up with Biblical beliefs. Grace says there is freedom from our past and freedom for our future. Grace doesn’t hide, make excuses for, or remove our past. Grace says our past failures can be redeemed for the glory of God. Guilt and shame have no place where the grace of God abounds. 

The church is still a vital community for me and for my family. Biblical truths, both taught and sung, help me to see the grace of God. His faithfulness is to all generations. May we looks around at the testimony of creation – the way the seasons change right on time, the way He provides for the birds, how vibrantly He clothes the wildflowers – and see His enduring faithfulness, not just for us, not just for now, but for ages and generations to come. May my redeemed life be a testimony of His grace and His faithfulness both for now and for generations to come. 

This post is part of the Five-Minute-Friday link up.

We were talking about this just last week in Sunday school. Who is my neighbor? What interesting neighbors have we had? The ones we are most thankful for…or remember the best. Truth is I need neighbors now. The good Samaritan did not physically live by the Jewish man who was beat to a bloody pulp. He simply found him on the road and gave aid to his need. Isn’t that what we all need, for someone to find us on the road and lend their aid? As a woman it is often difficult for me to trust other women. I have found our ways and means of attack are often mental and emotional rather than physical. To trust my neighbors would be potentially painful and disabling. And we are all there at some point…swallowed by pain and physically, emotionally or mentally unable to move on. Lord, help me to be a neighbor to those in need. To not worry so much about my own safety or inability that I miss meeting someone else where they are and forego the opportunity to walk the road with them.

Dear Ann,

We had quite the introduction today. I must say it was refreshing to become acquainted with an inspirational woman, such as yourself. Your strength and confidence was simply empowering. As I sat hearing your story, many things piqued my interest. Why would a woman, like yourself, choose to go against the grain of your time, moving out of your father’s house before you were even married? What was it like to immerse yourself into study that was not thought to even be for women at that time? And not to mention, moving to a new continent only two weeks after you married. The lessons I could learn from time with you.

Oh Ann, I wish to be able to just sit and listen to you – as a woman, wife, mother and missionary. You are inspiring as a Christ-follower and disciple-maker. You studied theology out of desire not obligation. You saw the need for the education of women and made a way. It amazes me the dedication you had in learning a new language and of translating The Scriptures into it for the benefit of the native speakers. Your desire to rescue young girls from slavery and educate them to give them a chance, awe-inspiring. You were a trailblazer.

Yet, you were not a stranger to loss and pain. You cared for your imprisoned husband for nearly one and a half years, following him from prison to prison. You stood on his behalf before government officials, pleading his case. All the while carrying three children, at different times, and burying two before illness and death claimed your own life.

Oh, dear Ann, you are a mighty example for me. That I would serve our Lord, Jesus, the way you have: whole-heartedly and without despair, willing to leave everything behind for the joy that lay before you. You served your family, the Burmese people and most of all your God with great devotion. You did not allow an unbelieving world to shape and mold you into who they thought you should be. Ann, you were always true to the Creator’s unique design for your life.  Thank you for such a mighty example of a woman of God. I’m sure to find other resources in order to learn more about your life and the legacy you have left women living on mission today.

Sincerely,

Naomi

It’s amazing to me as a mother what my children treasure. My oldest son has for years collected plastic bottle caps. Why is unbeknownst to me yet he has a fondness for those orange plastic caps. Each of my boys have found pleasure in bringing me rocks of all shapes, colors and sizes. It really is the small things in life. As a child I was fascinated with a bottle that sat in my parents room on my dad’s dresser. It was a clear, glass bottle filled with marbles. Reds, blues, greens, oranges, yellows. They were all there. I always just assumed my dad was a master marble player. Later I’d find out that he just liked marbles…never even played! Those marbles still intrigue me. Why marbles in a glass bottle? I guess I could ask the same of bottle caps or rocks.

Our oldest son has started taking extra time at night to read before bed, which usually means I miss tucking him in because he goes to sleep a little later than his brothers. Last night I heard the bathroom door open so I went to his room with hopes of tucking him in bed. He was sitting there about to turn off his light when I came in the room. He smiled and I tucked him in. Now this kid is so easy to read, when something is troubling him you can see it all over his face. He looked up at me and ask, “Mom, what is religion?” I was a little surprised by the question seeing as his dad is a pastor and he has been in church since nine months before he was born. He pulled the book he had been reading down and showed me the page that made him question. I quickly read the passage and tried as best I could to answer his question. Here are a few things I shared with him:

  1. Religion is mans way of trying to earn heaven.
  2. Religion often weighs our deeds.
  3. Religion is something we carry – good and bad.

As I talked with him, I thought about those marbles that sat in that bottle on my dad’s side of the bed. Religion takes one marble and writes one deed on it. And it does so for each good and bad deed, thought, and attitude each day. Then we must carry those bags of marbles until we die. Religion says that if somehow our good deeds outweigh our bad deeds, heaven it is. The sad truth is that we are crushed under the weight of all our deeds – good and bad. My son said that it was like a line or two from Black Beauty, a character had “fell down with great force” and “he walked as if he were in great pain.” That is what sin does, it cripples us as we try to live good enough. Religion is us trying to get to a higher power or a heaven of sorts, all depending on which religion is followed.  Christ, however, came to us to carry our burdens to the cross so that we could have a relationship with him that would not crush us. He was crushed for us and defeated death, hell and the grave so that we could walk with Him. Doesn’t mean our life is perfect or easy. It does mean Jesus carried the weight for us because He loves us. The burden He gives us is love – for God and one another. And how we live that out daily is in obedience to Him.

So today, and everyday, I am choosing to treasure my relationship with Christ, instead of marbles of good and bad deeds. I’m choosing to take His yoke because it “is easy and His burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

I have a love for trivia games and shows. Trivial Pursuit, Disney Trivia, Who Want to be A Millionaire and Jeopardy! just to name a few. For the longest time I prided myself on the amount of useless knowledge I had gained. In early 2001, a new game show caught my attention, Weakest Link. The players would work to bank money based on answering questions correctly. At the end of each round the player that performed poorly was voted out by their teammates. Each weak link would be ousted by the host saying, “You are the weakest link, goodbye.” The final round was the last two teammates going head to head with one eliminated as the final weakest link. You can guess that the remaining teammate won, receiving the banked money as their prize. This game intrigued me. I wanted nothing more than to be the best, to take my “rightful” place as know it all, and receive the biggest prize at the end of the day – in MANY areas of my life.

Years have past and I’d like to think that I’m a different person because of my relationship with Christ. Romans 3:23 says, “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” The all have sinned part I have totally believed for years and years. It is the part in bold print that has so recently stung my heart. I have fallen short. I’ve missed the big prize. I do not measure up. On my own, apart from Christ, I am a weak, sinful mess. I am the weakest link.

Once again the Scriptures have brought perspective for me. In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul addresses the believers in relation to himself, dealing with unity within the body. It is no longer about one person – their actions, attitudes, attributes. It is wholly about the body of Christ.

Ephesians 2:18-22 (CSB)
For through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit.

I’m always intrigued by new construction. The mess that it begins as and the beautiful structure that is masterfully completed. I cannot understand why any draftsman would draw plans with gapping holes or any construction foreman would leave the materials piled without proper placement. It would never purposefully happen. And so it is in the body of Christ. The plans that God instituted, Christ carried out. Yet we, as the body, have many times refused to be built together. Each focused on the I – I want, I need, I think. Instead, Paul gives us a totally different perspective. There is one whole building and each of us belongs there. As we are being built together, we must come along side one another. No wall can stand without support. No beam can be placed without being secured. We, I, cannot stand alone. There is no ministry, no function of the church, that is solely dependent on me. And we cannot look around and boot out those we deem “the weakest link” – unnecessary, not needed. We cannot bear the load ourselves. We need one another. Where I am weak, someone else can impart their strength. Where I need wisdom, someone else has the ability to speak. Where I need leadership, someone else has been given the ability to guide. The know-it-all, do-it-all mentality is not supported in Scripture apart from the person of Christ, and still He willfully submitted to Almighty God. He has chosen to build together His Church so that His Spirit can dwell there. Don’t miss the blessing of His Spirit by taking it all on yourself, allow Him to work through others as they support, affirm and even help prune, areas and callings in your life.

2 Corinthians 9:13-15 (CSB)
Because of the proof provided by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedient confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone. And as they pray on your behalf, they will have deep affection for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

May God be glorified by our obedient confession of the gospel through whatever ministry to which He has called His church. May we have deep affection for one another because of the grace of God in our lives, knowing we don’t have to compete or stand alone, He has called and equipped us to work together for the sake of His Gospel and His Kingdom.

On the next to the last worn, wooden pew I sat last night and watched a generation of young women boldly share their struggles and their faith. Years removed from my own camp experiences, I was whisked quickly back to a faded memory of my own summers leading young girls. Only this time it was different. In my experience, camp had always been those mountain top experiences with emotional worship sets and extravagant, powerful messages. However, Last night felt like the very heart of God. Real. Awkward. Truthful. These mighty young women of God stepped up and admitted the sin that plagued them. They were beautiful, vulnerable, passionate. They showed great courage and humility in sharing how they too turn to Godly women for help. Their stories were remarkably ordinary. Yet each one owned her story, no matter how painful, embarrassing or difficult.

Nearly two decades ago, I knew the weight of my own hidden sin, the very things that were burdening my heart and my walk. However, I didn’t know the importance of community. I didn’t see the church as for the broken. then, Sunday was for the prettily put together people, for the picture perfect people. I couldn’t see past the outward appearance. but then again scripture says man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart. That’s where I struggled. The Lord was looking at my heart. He saw the pride, the lust, the control, the deceit. He knew the things that I tried so hard to hide from those closest to me. Yet He called me to be holy as He is holy. Still I ended up on an island – A personal island of guilt and shame, where sin continued to reign because I continued to live under the tyranny of fear. Praise God, He provides freedom for the captives!

Somethings I took away from last night:

  • We all have unspoken brokenness, that doesn’t always have to remain unspoken. This is the point of community – to bear one another’s burdens.
  • Don’t Boast in sin. Confess it, lay it down, turn to christ, Lean into His church.
  • We need one another. Even as an older woman now, I need these Godly young warrior women in my life as well as the older ones too. Because I have need for Christ, I also have need for His Church.

In the wee hours of the morning, as I pointed my headlights toward home, it occurred to me, this wasn’t camp, it was the beginning of a new generation of biblical community in the church. It was Titus 2 playing out in the most ordinary of ways. It was the beginning of freedom for many. And it was refreshment for my parched, weary soul.

They are starting to show up again, cracks in our walls. From the corners of door facings and windows, they move along the walls in jagged lines. My son’s little finger traces over the crack that moves from one corner of his window toward his bed. The windows themselves have begun to separate from their sills. You can feel the cool morning breeze from across the room, with the window closed. Door heights have had to be adjusted so they will lock closed. These are visible signs of an unseen problem – the foundation. This house was built upon shifting ground. Though the owners had the foundation anchored, the problems persist.

Often times I see the cracks in my own life. Anger. Jealousy. Fear. Control. These cracks are evidences of the major flaw in my foundation – sin. On my own I grasp for straws wanting something solid and sure. I’ve tried to build on my own personal abilities, talents and desires – like the time I wanted to sell Mary Kay products. Boy, that was an expensive venture that went no where fast. I wasn’t in it for any reason other than what I could get out of it. Money. And less expensive make up. Truth is, I told myself it was for my family. That if I could just make enough income to work from home then I’d be happy. Isn’t that what we want? To have what we want, when and how we want it. Happiness, information, fulfillment, fill-in-your-own-blank, on our own terms. Yet, there’s that crack, leaving another gapping hole.

As many times as I’ve tried to make things right own my own, those darn cracks still show up. Just like in my house, I can patch and paint over the flawed walls, yet after time they reemerge, some not quite as wide and some in new spots. The same is true in our spiritual life. It is not a matter of just fixing the cracks in the walls, we must address the problem within our foundation. Jesus is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 7 speaking to this very subject.

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on a solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Matthew 7:24-27 NLT

Notice in Jesus’ words the conditions that both houses faced. Torrents of rain come, floodwaters rise and wind beats against both houses. I’m not sure if you’ve ever found yourselves in the middle of a hurricane, but my husband and I rode out Hurricane Katrina in a second floor apartment south of I-10 in Baldwin County, Alabama in 2005. In the days and months following we saw the destruction left behind by that powerful storm. Foundations wiped clean. Lives lost. Possessions destroyed. The storm did not pick and choose which homes and families to devastate. It destroyed all that was within its path. There was not one life in it’s path that was left untouched – whether physically or emotionally.

Afterward, as we spoke with families that had been affected, we saw despair in the eyes of some and hope in the hearts of others. Why such a difference?

“Fear of the Lord is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”

Proverbs 1:7 NLT

There were many who had experienced loss of homes and possessions, even of family members, that their hope was in the Lord and in His faithful Word. While they were shaken to the very core, their foundation no longer lay within their own strength and ability but in the Lord.

Those cracks are just symptoms. Treat the symptoms and the problem still persists. The problem is in our foundation. Build upon the Rock, who is our God, and we will find true knowledge for He alone grants wisdom. We cannot depend on our own abilities and strength. His Word tells us in Proverbs 3:5-6 that we should seek Him in ALL we do. Not in half of what we do, or only when we think we need Him. We are to seek Him. Daily. Moment by moment. Worshipping Him alone. Then, we will see that what He is building is much stronger, much sturdier than anything we could build on our own.

And just in case we need a reminder, like the foundation of my house had to be anchored so that it wouldn’t continue to cause major destruction to the structure that was built upon it, we have an anchor also.

“So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”

Hebrews 6:18-19 NLT

** So thankful for a wonderful small group of women with whom I meet for Bible study.  This blog came after reflecting back over one of our recent sessions. **

I’ve always been a fan of sports. Not in the way that made me want to play as much as I enjoyed watching them. My younger brother played baseball from when he was young through high school. I enjoyed watching him play because of his love for the game. He would watch his favorite players and try his best to do as they did. And he was good at the game. Now, as a mom I have the privilege of being their biggest cheerleader when they take a field in competition.

Recently our oldest son started playing Upward basketball. Now, basketball has never been my favorite sport, but I am enjoying watching him grow in his skills, love of the game and sportsmanship. But just like anything, it’s a process. Last week, he had a pretty good game, save for the fact he kept guarding whomever had the ball instead of sticking with his assigned man. So after the game as we were walking to the vehicle I just reminded him that the coach gave him a man to guard, if he chose not to no one else is going to do his job and he wasn’t meant to do another man’s job. Which got me to really thinking…how often do we do this in the church?

In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.

Romans 12:6-8

It is so easy to get caught up in what we want to do well, what we can’t do well, what someone else does well that we don’t see what God has graciously gifted us to do well. So many times in my life I have fallen into the trap of comparison. “But God if only I could do what this person does, then I could serve you better.” or “But God if I only had this gift, opportunity, platform, then I could serve you better.” And then there have been times of “why this gift, opportunity or platform?” I made it about me.

If only I…

Don’t we all want to ball? Don’t we all want to make the basket, hit the home run, make the big play? His word says, He has given us different gifts, for different purposes. Not to compare to the rest of the body of Christ, but to build them up. A team works best when every person does their part, guards their man, runs their route, plays their position. And sometimes that means we need to do a little self evaluation.

What are my motives for wanting to do this? Is this something The Lord has gifted me to do? Will this benefit the Body of Christ?

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves.

Philippians 2:3

This is the way of life for the church. And the church is not a building where the people meet. It’s not a set meeting time. It is the people of God. The way we are to live Every. Single. Day. Day after day, month after month, year after year. We live in a constant state of self sacrifice – laying our pride, selfish desires, comparisons on the altar before Christ. Daily choosing His will, His way. Which means using our giftedness for His purpose and for the building of His church and His kingdom. Oh church, that we would desire what is good. Not what we think is good for us, not what we want to be good for us, not what is good for someone else. But that we would learn to live our lives and use the gifts He’s graciously given to each of us as a means of daily glorifying Him.

Teach me how to live, O Lord. Lead me along the right path…

Psalm 27:11

_______________________

No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good,
    and this is what he requires of you:
to do what is right, to love mercy,
    and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Church, when we each use our gifts, and stop desiring what was never meant for us, we will learn He is good. And we will edify the body of Christ in the process.

You know your own words will sometimes come back to bite you, right? That’s totally how I feel today after a disastrous evening yesterday.  Let’s just say coming to the end of one’s self…pride, abilities, relationships, etc….is no easy feat. It feels like stepping into the ring expecting a win and receiving a knockout in under a minute.

Last night our pastor (my wonderful husband) handed out paper to our small group and asked each of us to write these words across the top:

I am broken because…

And then to finish the sentence.  In an instant my face was flush, my pulse racing.  WHAT?!!? I couldn’t gather my thoughts. It seemed as if everything in that instant was swirling around me and I’d drown in my own words. Why would you ask me to do this?  TO NAME MY BROKENNESS.  I thought I was pretty clear in the last post (which, to his credit, he had not read) I don’t like my faults pointed out. 

I let perfectionism and control isolate me from people, often including, but not limited to, the church.

There it is. I said it. I was so angry that Anthony, the very man who loves me, protects me, trusts me, would ask me to name what is keeping me from Jesus. I couldn’t see past my husband to my Heavenly Father who was speaking through him.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Matthew 11:28-30 MSG

Burnout is real folks!  It doesn’t just happen in relationships or careers.  It happens anywhere we are spinning our wheels doing things our way. It happens when we are “looking for love in all the wrong places” (thanks Johnny Lee!). Whether that is in money, perfection, career, family, successful ministry, relationships, love, etc.  I’m burnt out on trying to be something I don’t have to be – perfect, having it all together.

Do you see where I’m going?  Jesus invites us to follow Him and learn the unforced rhythms of His grace.  There is no business model.  No twelve step plan. No formula to make this happen.  It is so simple…follow. Do what He did. Love who He loves. Obey what He commanded. Live by His example.

When it is all said and done and I stand face to face with Jesus, my pitiful perfection is only gonna look like garbage next to Him. He isn’t gonna weigh my good deeds against the bad. Not gonna look at any attendance record. He doesn’t keep score.

Only His blood covering me – the whole of me, the things I can see and the things hidden deep in the secret places of my heart- that’s what matters. He covers it all. Christ carries my burden. No, naming my brokenness, the broken mess of me, isn’t fun. I don’t like it, not even a little. I sure have no desire to put it out there for all of you.  Truth is, you can do, or not do, with it whatever you please. As for me, I must follow Him.

Through this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee.

Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

– Anonymous

Oh yeah, that doesn’t mean I can go at this alone. Because of my need for Christ, I need the church too. But that’s another post for another time.

O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me.

Psalm 139:1 NLT

The thought of any person knowing everything about me does not excite or thrill my soul. I am easily embarrassed at my myriad of shortcomings.  And I certainly do not like to have them pointed out. Yet there is something comforting about David praising the Lord for knowing everything about him, even down into the deep recesses of his heart.  And there is something just as comforting when I praise the Lord for knowing me fully, shortcomings and all.

My life has been filled with missed timing, painfully poor choices, a temper (and oh WHAT a temper!) and trying to hide from it all. I’ve always wanted to be perfectly put together, an outward appearance that would make up for all the skeletons in my closet.  To be without flaws.  Yet nothing could mask my heart, even though I thought nothing, and no one, could protect my heart – but me.

Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.

Proverbs 4:23

I’ve continually read that verse so out of context, with much misunderstanding.  Guarding my heart is not about building a wall around it to keep others out.  It’s not about picking and choosing who to let in. It’s not about pretending perfect. Truth be told, all that really does is just keeps one trapped inside, hardened and pretending still. Guarding your heart means to listen to the wisdom of The Word and live by it.  It is finding freedom to be fully known right where you are, as you are, for who you are by The One who Created you.  To hear Christ say, “Follow me,” and abandon self, pride and all, to follow.

My identity is not found in all that muck and mire.  My identity comes from and through Christ.  His cross tells me HE is enough for me, for my shortcomings, my sins.  HIS blood covers me. He is

… the author and perfecter of the faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2 NASB

So, in this new year, 2017, my desire is to abide in Christ, to remain in Him.  To be fruitful because I am grafted into The Vine, not hidden behind false perfection. Giving, and receiving, grace, mercy, love, gentleness, etc., as His Holy Spirit grows and changes me to be more and more like Him.

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

John 15:4 NASB