27 February 2016

Growing Fruit

Thanks to +Julie Moore
The following is a loosely organized summary of a discussion held in the college group I teach.  We've been working through a series on the teachings of Jesus and were discussing the concept of spiritual fruit from Matthew 7 this past week.

What is good fruit?

Good fruit is Spirit-produced righteousness, including (but not limited to) moral character traits (external) and God-celebrating heart-attitudes (internal).  These are not merely good character traits, but the supernatural result of sanctification -- the natural result of God’s grace at work, progressively transforming your heart and your behavior.

How do we grow good fruit?

  • Fruit comes from pursuing relationship with God (John 15.1-5); relationship with God is active and intentional prayer, studying and loving His Word, serving others with gospel-intent (i.e. more than just being kind) (Matt 25.34-40)
  • Fruit is the result of the Spirit’s influence (Gal 5.16, 18, 22-24); we have a responsibility to be humble and pliable before the Lord and He will do the work in us; it is He alone who gives the growth

There is a huge difference between working to prove oneself (false, pharisaical, works-based salvation), and surrendering daily to the Lord to work a change in you (true, humble, faith-based salvation).  God is the one who does both the growing and the pruning -- He is both the vine from which we grow as well as the vinedresser.

The primary goal is not to grow fruit, it is to glorify God.  Fruit is merely the evidence and the result, not the objective itself; we must be focused primarily on God.  To be focused on the fruit and not the Father is an idolatrous priority!  Hebrews 2.1 teaches that we should “pay much closer attention” to the truth we have learned (Gr. = prosechein perissoteros -- literally, “addicted especially”).   In other words, we should OBSESS on, be ADDICTED to the gospel & the person of Jesus Christ.  THAT is our goal and our focus.  Fruit follows suit.

Why should we grow good fruit?

  • a lack of fruit is indicative of an unchanged heart (Matt 7.19; 21-23)
  • a lack of fruit correlates to a lack of humility/selflessness (Jas 3.13-18)
  • a lack of fruit is an inability to serve others (do good works) (Titus 2.11-14)
  • a lack of fruit is an inability to properly worship (Rom 12.1-2)
  • producing fruit is the difference between being DEAD and being ALIVE (Eph 2.1-10)

As the fruit is evidence of the health and vigor of the tree, so the believer’s life, attitudes and behavior should reflect the presence of the Holy Spirit.  For me to be alive in Christ and not bear fruit is to wither on the vine.  Jesus cursed the fig tree for not bearing fruit (Mark 11.12-25); how much more do we squander the grace of God when we fail to grow?

Can fruit be in-progress?  Yes!  Can fruit be absent?  NO.

05 February 2016

Reviews, Part 8

Part 1 -- Part 2 -- Part 3 -- Part 4 -- Part 5 -- Part 6 -- Part 7 -- Part 9

Next on the playlist!

Here are the album reviews I've written since October.  As usual, clicking on the album covers will take you to the band's music where you can listen to and/or download the album in full.  The hyperlinks will take you to my reviews.

Lots of USA prog this round, and a couple of local East Coast bands for me as well!


Flying Colors - Second Flight: Live at the Z7 (USA)
[PROG Mind / Tollbooth]

Raw, precise, and inspiring, Second Flight: Live at the Z7 is yet another taste of the virtuosity that Morse, Morse, Portnoy, LaRue, and McPherson provide for Flying Colors.

Advent - Silent Sentinel (USA)
[PROG Mind / Tollbooth]

Silent Sentinel is the inspiring and anthemic third release from a mature band now well into its second decade.

3RDegree - Ones & Zeroes: Volume 1 (USA)

3RDegree’s first album in three years (their fifth overall) is a heavy-hitting, well-rounded, and mature addition to their discography.

See also: Interview with Rob and Pat

The Tea Club - Grappling (USA)
[PROG Mind / Tollbooth]

Grappling succeeds Quickly, Quickly, Quickly as another refined work in The Tea Club’s expanding library.

Unified Past - Shifting the Equilibrium (USA)
[PROG Mind / Tollbooth]

The symphonic metal band’s seventh album adds another notch to the rockers’ belt and a new lead singer to their roster… but not much more.
Rick Miller - Breaking Point (Canada)
[PROG Mind / Tollbooth]

Another release in a long sequence of albums, Breaking Point is Rick Miller’s newest foray into psychedelic progressive rock.