Wisconsin Baptist May 2017 Lead Article

“Trees and Fruits”

John Jones IV Associate Regional Minister—Education

You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? In the same way, every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit.” Matthew 7:16-18 NRSV

They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.”   Jeremiah 17:8 NRSV

As our weather warms and the sun shines longer, I’m eager for the season of beauty and bounty when the miracle of agriculture can be seen up close and personal. When we reap the harvest of good fruit this summer, we’ll know directly the wonder of God’s gracious care. But even a romantic city boy like myself knows how much hard work goes into the care and preparation that makes that bounty possible. The soil must be prepared, the roots tended, and water provided. The fruit is wonderful, but the work is real and often hard.

This month, as 5 students celebrate graduation and commissioning at CENTRAL Wisconsin, we will all be celebrating with them the fruits of their labor. I hope you’ll consider joining the celebration and worship on May 21 at 3pm. And I’d encourage you to pay attention to the fruits that will be born out through these student servant- ministers well into the future – the fruits of compassionate ministry, of care for the needy and the lonely, the fruits of the spirit that Paul mentions in Galatians. They will bear much good fruit because they, we – and you through your support – have done much good work to make that possible.

We are constantly bearing fruits of all sorts. I’d encourage you to pay attention to what you’re producing, but also to pay attention to your roots. How are you honoring the soil from which you grow? How are you recognizing the many gifts given by the people that make you possible? As we celebrate the fruits of graduation and commission looking to fruitful ministries of the future, I’m so grateful for all the gifts of God’s people – the deep roots and good soil – that make our work possible. The lives of the faithful who have gone before us, the hard work that we do, and most importantly the sustaining grace of God all make possible our new and novel growth to produce new and beautiful fruits for a new day.

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