In the last week of his life Jesus gives the Olivet Discourse in John 15. Jesus talks about being the vine and us being his branches. Jesus says the Father prunes the branches, so they become more fruitful. Then Jesus told his disciples that they were already clean because of his words to them. When I read the Bible, I tend to read it to add something to my life. But the way to fruitfulness is to read the Bible to prune something away from my life. The way to fruitfulness is less of me and more of Jesus.

In so many words Oswald Chambers wrote that the sole value of a Bible college is that Jesus can help himself to a student; the college has no other value. The same thing can be applied to the church. As an organization the church has no value if it isn’t enabling Jesus to help himself to people. That must be modeled in church leadership. The desire of church leaders to be taken captive by Christ so we live and move and have our being in Jesus keeps the church from a mission of simply keeping the doors open.

Oswald Chambers writes “God breaks up the private life of His saints, and makes it a thoroughfare for the world on the one hand and for Himself on the other.” My introverted nature rebels. Then I am reminded of Jesus. I think a case could be made that He was an introvert. Yet, Jesus was either deeply engaged with people or going off to a secluded place to be deeply engaged with God. Apart from a thriving relationship with Jesus, I can do no good in relationship His people. My relationship with God is not simply for my own enjoyment.

It seems God desires to teach me about intuition as it keeps popping up in my reading. It is defined as the ability to understand something immediately without conscious reasoning. Lolly Haskal says it is knowledge based on experience stored deeply in your brain and quickly available on demand. John Maxwell says we are naturally intuitive in our area of giftedness. Others have described intuition as being based in the heart or even the stomach. Oswald Chambers described it as impulse trained by discipline. Wisdom is more than academic. Wisdom employs intuition disciplined by the Holy Spirit and experience.

Today would have been my father-in-law’s 98th birthday. I only got to know Elmo for a few years and then we lost him to ALS. I am thankful for the way he loved my wife as she grew up. I am thankful for the blessing he was to us in our early years of marriage and ministry. I am thankful for the godly heritage he instilled in his family and for his sense of humor. Elmo reminds me to be thankful for all the people who have blessed my life and to be a blessing to someone else today.

As I look at the rain and snow, I think of our farmers who are watching multiple thousands of dollars of crop being ruined. Moisture has prevented planting in season and harvesting in season. I am reminded of Habakkuk 3:17-19 where a decision is made to rejoice in God despite crop failure. Many times, David was downcast in his soul. He had reason to be. Our farmers have good reason to be. Then David would instruct himself, “Put your hope in God.” (Psalms 42, etc.) Hope is not natural; it is chosen in difficult circumstances.

I am not naturally positive. Reading from Zig Ziglar and John Maxwell has been helpful. Zig Ziglar says, “Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.” John Maxwell illustrates: “Planes have an attitude indicator at the center instrument panel. The attitude is the position of the aircraft in relation to the horizon. A nose high attitude has the nose of the plane pointed above the horizon. The attitude determines a plane’s performance. Speed increases in a nose-high position. People need nose-high attitudes rather nose-down attitudes.” (The Winning Attitude, pp. 3-4) Get your nose in the air!