I Am the True Vine–John 15:1-10

15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.3Alreadyyou are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers;and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me,so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love”.

I’ve been meditating on these verses a lot over the last 9 months–closely looking at the growth, the steps involved in the production of fruit, the work and expense of harvest, then the vines seasonal changes, the agricultural and viticulture maintenance practices - as I drive past them most days,traveling to and from Launceston going to work.

One very obvious point we may either not notice, or perhaps gloss over, never considering, is this: the vineyard exists–its there! Vines, posts, wires, farmer, tractor–all these things are already there! They don’t need re-creating or ripping out to put in a dairy farm. That’s a HUGE task–to do something completely different when all you have to do is EFFECTIVELY work that which already “is”. To do just that–to better work

what already “is” requires significant thought and a willingness to face facts, to probably change,to embrace fresh ideas or new strategies–yet we often look for something completely different instead of adjusting or fixing that which is right there in front of us. Why go in a different direction WITHOUT HAVING FIRST thoroughly explored the aspects of that which already exists.There’s a heap of posts and wire in that photo above, let alone the huge labour and time cost to put it all in! How many times do we long for, or actually even look for, something else before we have fully extracted the benefits of the existing scenario.

I’m reminded of Genesis 1: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep”. And God said ‘’Well that didn’t work and was probably a dumb idea anyway, this planet stuff is really just too difficult–ah well,but at least we had a go I s’pose... Holy Spirit, wadda you reckon”?

Now quite obviously,we all know this NOT how Genesis 1 unfolds!–But doesn’t it highlight in a crazy sort of way just how some people think–no,in all scenarios, there are always things that need to follow, be worked through, need re-evaluating, require more knowledge, have to be tidied up–hey, you cook dinner, eat dinner and then you still have to do the dishes afterwards!- you get the idea.

We must definitely master our existing worlds before the Lord will give us new worlds to conquer. That’s partially why its also important to work diligently, behave appropriately, to not burn bridges, to close doors gently–because it may not yet be time to cross the bridge or walk through the door-just yet! Nothing is ever as it first appears at first glance!The benefits of the existing season MUST be exhausted before we exit toward the next season–no winemaker leaves half the grapes still on the vine because he’s excited about the wine he wants to make! No–properly finish picking this year’s crop before you wander off to the next thing!

If the vines aren’t growing too well, maybe you need to fertilise, spray the bugs or mulch them. The viticulturist suddenly doesn’t import 300,000 tonnes of new soil–no they work with and adjust the soil they already have.

Yes, it’s 4am and I know I’m ranting,but think with me,how our lives would have been different if we’d taken time to evaluate and then proactively sought adjustment and change in advance,instead of actively trying to patch things up afterwards.

Joe, what’s your point I hear you say–Us producing fruit, working in harmony with the Vine, other branches, the fruit itself,all for the Vinedresser,is really a very simple process–not necessarily easy–but certainly simple. Let me summarise a few points:

  • Be who God says you are–learn all the 134 In Him, In Whom, In Christ scripturesin the New Testament,accept them, believe them and work hard to live them each day.
  • As a branch, never compare yourself to the tractor, the post or even another branch. You can only compare yourself to the kind of branch that you were last season and genuinely try to be even stronger, heathier and more productive next season. Anything else will definitely cloud or complicate the picture of who you really are in Christ.
  • Live in harmony with others, avoid strife, forgive quickly, be gracious, mind your own business,choose to bean active, vibrant healthy contributor and stay in your own lane unless you are invited out of it,then do so humbly, conscious of the protocols of the new lane.
  • Study and work hard to understand and respect the seasons of your life. List as many of them as youcan and see how feel about each one–thengo andsearch your Bible to see what God says about each one and compare the two–our own opinion is so fickle, we must only rely on “thus saith the Lord”.‘Thy will O Lord be done, not mine’.... You get the idea.

As we think through these things, may I also encourage you to study Colossians and 1 John.

Radio Update

What a huge year it’s been and we are only halfway through.Niven continues to do outstanding work turning our recordings into programs and podcasts.He and his family have gone overseas for a few weeks so please pray for them, actively thanking the Lord for safe travels for them all. We have programming done through to August which is great.

I’m very excited about the series that we did on Producing Fruit and the other on Please Get Involved–the Body of Christ needs to step up to the plate and swing–really working hard at taking our Christian beliefs and belief system into the marketplace of life. The world around us is becoming increasing more ungodly–and dangerous–and it’s only the collective Body of Christ bringing God’s Word and ways to the forefront that can stop the rot.

Ministry Progress Update in 2024

This year we have embarked upon a complete rebuild of our web and online presence. I have written some300 what-will-become blog posts that we’ll pre-load for say twice a week upload,to the website/subscribers.

Niven has started work on the very large podcasting aspect and Duncan has done a mountain of work in website changes, shifting to new platforms and a whole host of behind-the-scenes tech stuff.

We will have it all finished in the next few months in preparation for a very active launch in early 2025.

In March, Lynda and I also had the great joy of traveling to Sydney earlier this year to visit with Ps Al and Annette and all of the wonderful Church family there. Was so good to see some of you all as well. We are very grateful when you make the trip to Sydney to visit with us. I also had the great honour of ministering at Church that morning.

Duncan, Niven and I spent most of a whole day at the Airport hotel, planning and working through the huge list of improvements we wanted to make this year. Certainly,an excellent meeting indeed, lots of very exciting things planned which are well and truly underway. The three of us planned a follow up meeting in June however this was the fog at Launceston Airport when Lynda and I tried to fly out–which sat there all day,along with some 1000+ hopeful travelers.

The bits of light are the café fluoro’s reflecting in the glass. We sat there for 10 hours, had our flights cancelled, couldn’t get any other flights for a few weeks so are now coming up again in July on our Jetstar vouchers! Niven and Duncan spent the day working without me and the hotel has alive flight data board so they could see our 9am flight turning into 6pm +...and then not at all.

We can laugh a bit about it now but it wasn’t fun at the time–pretty annoying actually as it was a significant planning follow-up meeting before Niven went overseas for a month. Never mind–we’ll get there. Lesson learned however–come in the day before! Still getting heaps done though,which bodes very well for 2025

Election Result-A Truly Remarkable Outcome!

In June, the Northern Tablelands NSW by-election there was an unknown Independent running–who only registered and ran roughly 4 weeks out from the election itself. Talk about step up to the plate and have a swing–go Duncan!!

The result - Independent Duncan Fischer,7.17% - the Greens on9.13% with Shooters, Fishers & Farmers on 11.35%. The safest National seat in Australia so The Nationals romped in but what a phenomenal result for Duncan in three–four weeks of campaigning with a mere pittance spent. Makes the Greens and SFF look a bit ordinary as nationwide parties when a completely unknown Independent can bite their heels with ease. The other independent is on 4.3%.

To me, this screams out how important it is for Christians to get into the marketplace and have a go. Who knows where all of this will land, career-wise for Duncan, but what an exciting “watch this space” indeed. Wow–in just 4weeks–nearly 8% of the vote!

Congratulations Duncan on a job well done indeed,with obviously much favour from the Lord. May the Lord bless you in these endeavours, grant you wisdom,provision and favour,protecting you along the way.

The Majesty of The Lord

Talk about a happy Lynda! The Aurora-chaser of the century, sitting up in bed on her phone at horrendous hours of the night watching the KP Index–me (trying to sleep) hearing wildly excited squeals at ungodly hours as it“hits a really high index at whatever time”! Anyway, after driving around Tassie on and off for 4 years at all stupid times of the night...FINALLY...

Auroras 5 minutes from home! What a remarkable display of God’s genius in creation. Breathtaking!This went on for hours and hours–absolutely staggering displays of changing colours and effects.Hopefully the aurora appetite is satiated for a while and we can rejoin the normal humans who sleep at 2 am!

On a Personal Note

The‘nearly sea-change’ move in to the West Tamar has been a great move for us. It’s very quiet and peaceful where we are,5 mins from the water and some lovely rolling wine country–kind of Hunter Valley vineyards 5mins from the water.It is 40 minutes commute to work each day but we car-pool (with each other) which is nice. We need some better boundaries though as both of us are often on the phone dealing with work at 7.00am+. So much for the drive in together...☹!!Praise the Lord to have productive,responsible jobs though–so many people don’t have a job let alone a great one that the Lord provided!

We still have had quite a bit to do,to settle in around the yards,but got a heap of that done Nov–April, on top of our insanely busy day jobs,as well as all the Living Success work we are doing, whilst we maintain our Radio commitments.

Yes–work is pretty busy and it’s taken its toll of late. Lynda has also been acting Principal whilst her very diligent boss is on a well-deserved long service break.I have that many holidays backed up,that I’m needing to take a week per month off, for 6 months, just to bring them back to something sensible. We are both pretty tired indeed and are hanging out for July School holidays where we get a bit of time off. I’m still heavily involved in the $2m internal renewal of heritage listed St Johns Church, which is an extraordinary experience,on top of my day-to-day workload. Crazy busy!

All of this has made me seriously behind inmost things Living Success related. I’m desperately trying to write messages and record and really get ahead in 2024.The week off, every month(since May) will help enormously and Duncan and I can liaise a lot in those periods–bit harder for Niven as he is also an insanely busy School Teacher with huge responsibilities. Please pray that we maintain such productivity with such workloads. Thank you.

Praise the Lord, the drainage we put in our yard all works very well and typical Tassie rains have given it a good test out. We’ve also built some raised garden beds–big puppies–some 6m long x 1500mm wide which will be great when they get up and going. Grow a heap of veges for the families around us–great way to help form relationships with our neighbours.

Lynda wanted them with waist high sides so she doesn’t have to bend over when she gets ‘really old’–not sure if she thought through the 6 tonne of garden mix she’ll need to shovel off the ute to fill them. No doubt she’ll cheer me on from the sofa as I get to shovel for her. No, seriously she does help enormously when we have larger jobs on and even helped me lay concrete slabs for three sheds!

We are pretty tired though and do need a break in July.

Prayer Requests

A daily habit of reaching out to the Lord on behalf of others is a powerful thing. Build that into your life as it’s one of the important things that help us build capacity for life and capacity for spiritual things. Please send us your prayer requests–email to:pray@livingsuccess.org - it is an honour to reach out to the Lord on your behalf.

Please remember to email through your prayer requests–Lynda and I really want to seek the Lord and intercede for you.1 John 5:14And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.