An Overgrown Life


In this message, we’re reminded that a fruitful life is more important than a comfortable one.

Welcome to Valley Creek Church. I am so glad you’re here on EPIC Week. Everything is a little bit different because it is EPIC Week. We are glad you’re here. We want to give a big welcome to our Denton campus and everybody who is watching online. Will you welcome them with me? We are so glad that you guys are here. And it’s epic so it means everything is change, we are preparing for an amazing week with our kids. Believing God is going to do something amazing and so I’m even wearing the cool red T-shirt because it’s EPIC Week. So here’s one I’d like to do today. We’re going to get into the message, but what I would like to do is a little bit shorter of a message today. We’ll pray. We’ll finish the message together and then I would just ask if you would stay seated for about five minutes after that because I have an announcement about a next step that we are going to take as a church. And I’m excited to share that with you and so I’m going to – you’re going to track with me all the way to the end now because I just set you up to want to know what it is. So can we do that together?

Can we do the message? We’ll pray and then you need to give me like five minutes. So mentally, just kind of set yourselves so I can share that with you, okay? Alright, if you got your Bible, John 15. We are in this series called “Less is More” and we’re talking about living a fruitful life. And we started it last week and we just said that the truth is for a lot of us, we are overwhelmingly busy and yet chronically unsatisfied. But we said that there’s all these busyness in our lives, but it doesn’t necessarily translate into fruitfulness and we talked about the unfruitful fig tree. This tree that spends all this energy and effort to produce all of these leaves that flap in the wind, but when you get up close to it, there is no fruit. And we said that describes a lot of our lives and yet we looked at John 15 and Jesus tells us that if we would make him our one thing, he promises that we will bear fruit in everything. In other words, Jesus says if you choose less, you will always have more. But you see, the truth for a lot of us is, is we just have overgrown lives.

Now, our lives are overgrown. They’re just packed with stuff. Stuff is growing out of our lives everywhere. Commitments, relationships, possessions, things, all of these. I mean, we are just this overgrown living kind of person. And if you’ve ever seen an overgrown tree, you know what I’m talking about. It just got these branches that go in like every different direction. The thing is out of control. It looks like a big knotted ball and all these branches are growing in all these different directions and they’re all kind of competing against each other for the same resources and for the same attention. And so, because it’s overgrown and there’s all these branches going in different directions, it actually is unable to support itself so it chokes out its own fruitfulness because it has way too many branches growing in its own life. An overgrown tree doesn’t bear good fruit. An overgrown life doesn’t bear good fruit. And the truth is, is our lives are overgrown. We’re just packed with stuff.

And all this stuff in your life, it competes with one another for the same resources, the same attention. And so in a sense, our busyness chokes out our very own fruitfulness. In fact, I think our lives are so full of stuff that we have no room left even for God sometimes because there’s just so many branches. And if you’ve ever seen an overgrown tree, it’s really interesting. An overgrown tree has all these branches growing in so many different directions and that tree is so burdened, so heavy trying to support all these branches and make everything work together, that the moment a little storm blows into town and blows on that tree, snap! It crashes, it breaks or it gets uprooted and turns over. You know what I’m talking about, right? Soon as there is a storm in town, you can just drive down the neighborhood and you’ll just see branches broken everywhere, trees uprooted. Okay, you realize that is a great picture of our lives. Our lives are so full of stuff that we are heavy and burdened trying to hold it all up, make it all happen and the moment a little bit of breeze blows on us, bam! We just snap.

I’m amazed at how easy people snap. Ever see somebody like at the grocery store happen and it just doesn’t work out right at the cash register and bam! They just snapped. You’re like, “Whoa, whoa! What’s going on?” They have an overgrown life and they can’t hold up all of these things, so the moment a little bit of pressure comes against them, bam! They snap and they respond incredibly poorly. You know what I’m talking about, right?

Unfortunately, I’m all too familiar with being the guy that feels like that or does that and I bet the same would be true for you. But we were never created to live overgrown lives, we were meant, created to live fruitful lives. And so the question is, is how do we deal with an overgrown life? If you feel busy, if you feel heavy, if you feel burdened, if you feel like you got too much stuff, it’s an overgrown life. How do we deal with an overgrown life and become fruitful people? Couple thoughts for you. First thing is this. You’ve got to trust the good gardener. John 15:1, I am the true vine and my father is the gardener.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so it’ll be even more fruitful. You are already cleaned because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself. It must remain in the vine neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I am him, he will bear much fruit, but apart from me, you can do nothing. Jesus says he is the vine, we are the branches and the father is the good gardener. I remember being a kid. My grandfather had a garden in his backyard, probably about a five-acre garden. And as kids, it was like our play land. We loved going over there and he was a master gardener. He could make anything grow. He had apple trees and pear trees and plum trees and cherries and raspberries and blackberries and apricots. I mean, everything you could think of that could grow in upstate New York.

He was able to make it grow and flourish and produce amazing fruit. And what always was amazing to me about my grandfather is he was so in tune with his garden. He knew exactly what every plant needed. He knew exactly what season they were each in. He knew what was going on around them, among them. He even kind of knew what was going on under the soil. It was amazing to watch how in tune with his garden he was. And in the sense, in John 15 that’s what Jesus is telling us about the Father. He says the Father is a good gardener. In fact, the very first place that God put Adam and Eve, put men when he made them, was in a garden.

Garden. Why do you put them in a garden? Because He is a gardener and He is in tune with your life. And He knows exactly what you need and He has totally committed to your fruitfulness. I mean, if you look at a good gardener, a gardener knows exactly what their plants need to grow fruit. A gardener knows that their plants need a storm so that those plants or the trees can be refreshed by the rains.

A good gardener knows that their trees need a drought so that the roots will not stay at surface level, but will go way down deep in the ground to find water so they’ll now be strong and sturdy. A good gardener knows that their trees need fertilizer. Some smelly nasty thing, stinky things, spread around the roots at the base of the tree so it can have nutrients to grow. A gardener knows their tree needs pruning, things to be cut back so it will bear much fruit. That sure sounds like life, doesn’t it?

Storms and drought and fertilizer?

Maybe you’re stepping in some today, some cutting. The gardener always does what the tree needs not necessarily what the tree wants. And the truth is, is that the good gardener, he is more committed to your fruitfulness than you are. He is more interested in your fruitfulness than he is in your comfort.

And this is where we get in trouble. You see Jesus never promises you a comfortable life. I don’t know why in modern-day Christianity we think that’s true. Read the – he doesn’t promise you a comfortable life. He promises you an abundant life, a healthy life, a peaceful life, a fruitful life, but not a comfortable one. And this is why we struggle aligning with Jesus because the truth is he’ll tell us things like this, pick up your cross and follow me or become the greatest servant of all or submit to your authority wherever you are in life or love your neighbor or your enemy, and all those things seem so confusing to us. He is trying to make us fruitful and we’re trying to be comfortable. But what you have to remember is fruitfulness is always more important than comfort. In fact, comfort is the enemy of fruitfulness. A comfortable tree does not produce fruit. It’s one that’s uncomfortable and has to go way down into the ground to find what it needs in order to grow.

In fact, if you read the Bible you’ll find that the most fruitful people, they lived really uncomfortable lives in a lot of ways. You’re like, “And this message is supposed to encourage us?” Yes, it is.

I mean think of Joseph. He was sold by his brothers into slave traders, ended up in an Egyptian prison. I mean, everywhere you turn something was going wrong in Joseph’s life. It wasn’t comfortable, but boy did Joseph become a fruitful person. Or how about Moses? He’s sent by God to lead two million people out of Egypt to go and confront Pharaoh, there ain’t nothing comfortable about confronting the most powerful man on the face of the earth. But, boy, Moses was a fruitful guy in the end. Or how about Paul, beaten, shipwrecked, persecuted, ends up in prison, falsely accused, there were nothing comfortable about that, but we’re still eating Paul’s fruit today. Fruitful. Genesis 50:20, what you intended for harm, God intended for good. Romans 8:28, we know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him. Jeremiah 29:11, I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans not to harm you, but for a hope and a future to prosper you.

In other words, the gardener knows what he is doing. And whatever’s happening in your life and whatever he is allowing or whatever is going on is because he wants you to be fruitful. All that fertilizer you wish you weren’t walking in today, it’s there because he knows what you need to become fruitful. The question is, is will you trust him. Isaiah 30:15, in rest and repentance is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength. When a tree is quiet and trusting, that’s when it’s strong. I mean remember, Genesis 1:28, first thing God says to mankind, be fruitful and multiply. Notice, it doesn’t say be comfortable and self-focused.

That might be in your journal, but it’s not in the Bible.

Be fruitful and multiply.

Live a life, we talked about this last week, live a life that’s beautiful, sweet, nourishing and life-giving. And what’s so amazing about that is God entrusts you to bear his fruit in your life. He trusts you so much that he’s going to produce his fruit in your life because you realize that’s not your fruit. It’s the fruit of the spirit. So he entrusts you so much that he says, you know what I’m going to grow my fruit in your life. And when it shows up in your life, the nations are going to be attracted to you and you’re going to feed and you’re going to nourish them. That’s why John 15:8, you drop a few verses down, Jesus says, this is to my Father’s glory that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. In other words, when you bear a whole bunch of fruit in your life, his fruit, we show the world the life-giving nature of our God. The gardener is totally committed to your fruitfulness. The question is, are you committed to trusting the good gardener, okay?

You got to trust the good gardener. Second thing is this. If you have an overgrown life, you need to allow your life to regularly be pruned. I mean, look at verses 1 and 2, I am the true vine, my father is the gardener, he cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so it’ll be even more fruitful. When a tree starts growing, it just takes off and it gets wild and unruly and out of control and just starts shooting out branches in all these different directions, it’s going to try this, it’s going to go here, it’s going to do that, all of these branches. And then the good gardener comes walking by and sees it and takes out his loving pruning shears and starts clipping things off to shape and mold that tree. And there’s three areas in particular, we read from these two verses, that we need to prune out of our lives. First thing is that you got to get rid of the dead things. You got to let the good gardener prune the dead things out of your life. Verse 2. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. These are the harmful, hurtful things that you allow to remain in your life.

These are the things like habitual sin or sinful relationships or pornography or addictions or unforgiveness or bitterness or suppressed anger, all those dead things in our lives that we allow to remain. What he’s saying is you’ve got to trust the good gardener enough to cut those things out of your life and you got to do it swiftly and severely. Second Corinthians 5, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come. You can’t live the new life in Jesus still trying to hold on to the old dead things of this world. Or how about Ephesians 4, you were taught with regard to your former way of life to put off your old self which is being crafted by its deceitful desires. To get rid of the dead things because they’re corrupting, they decay and they spread their disease, but to be made new in the attitude of your minds and to put on the new self created to be like God into righteousness and holiness.

You got to cutoff the dead things. In fact, when you allowed dead things to remain in your life, what you’re doing is you’re empowering Satan to rule and reign your world. That’s what you’re doing. Jesus says very clearly, all authority in heaven and earth belongs to him. And so then we wonder sometimes why does it seem like Satan has authority over my life? Well, Satan is empowered through human agreement. All authority belongs to Jesus, but when we choose to agree with Satan and allow his darkness to remain in our lives, we give it permission, we’re now choosing to align with him, and when you’re aligned with him, you give him access to your life, and he can take all of his darkness, his disease, his decay and it starts to spread through all the other good things of your life. We compartmentalize it. We say it’s just one branch. It’s just one thing, nobody knows about it. It’s my guilty little pleasure whatever it may be. You understand you’re aligning with Satan and you’re giving him access to all the other good branches of your life by tolerating it.

I mean, years ago when Colleen and I lived in our first home, we had this ant problem and we couldn’t figure it out. It was the weirdest thing. These ants would just show up like in every room of the house. It seemed like there was no rhyme or reason where they were coming from, and so, you know, you go through all the stuff. We sprayed around the hall outside of the house and we cleaned some things up and put some ant traps. We couldn’t get rid of the ants and I couldn’t figure it out. Well, come to find out we had a big tree in our front yard and some of its branches like rested up against the top of the roof of our house which really in my mind was no big deal. The only problem was there was a dead branch on that tree that I never cut down. And as it hollowed out, a huge ant colony nested inside that dead branch. And because it had access to the tree and those branches were touching the top of our house, all of these ants would just come through the good living healthy things and come and descend upon our house. And the moment I cut down that dead branch, we never had another ant in our house.

That is a great picture of what it’s like when you tolerate dead things in your life. You’re aligning with Satan and you’re giving him access to bring his disease into every other part of your life. You’ve got to prune the dead things. And the truth is, as I’m saying it, you know exactly the things that I’m talking about because the Holy Spirit is bringing them up in your heart. You got to prune the dead things. Second thing you got to get rid off are the leafy things. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit. It doesn’t necessarily just have to be dead, it could also be leafy. And this is what we talked about last week that a lot of our lives are leaves. We spend all this energy and activity to make all of the stuff, and from the outward appearance, it looks amazing, but when you get in close, you realize there is no fruit. I mean, this is Matthew 7, Jesus says many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, do we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you, away from me you evildoers.

In other words, Jesus says that people will come to him and say Jesus, look at all my leaves. I look so good from a distance. And he’s going to say, yeah, but you have no fruit. These are the things in your life that takes so much energy and effort, but they are unfruitful. Jesus says it’s time for them to go. Clip them off that you may be free. Dead things, leafy things and here is the one we don’t really understand, good things. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit while every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes so it will be even more fruitful. In other words, Jesus says the reward for growth is pruning. The reward for having fruit in your life is pruning, is getting some things cut back, and you say why, because he is committed to maximizing your fruitfulness. He doesn’t want you to bear some fruit, he wants you to bear much fruit.

And the truth is, is you can’t grow the best things when you’re still holding on to the good things. God can’t give you the best when you’re unwilling to let go of the good. And I am convinced that you have yet to grow the best fruit of your life. Convinced of it, my own life too. We have yet to grow the best fruit of our lives. And as we allow him to keep pruning us, the best fruit will come. I mean, I remember again my grandfather’s garden. I remember one time as a kid, we’re just walking through and he had this plum tree. Man, he could grow these plums. We would just – you get sick you’d eat so many of them. They were amazing. And we were walking through and it was spring time and here is this plum tree and on every branch, it’s got all these little half-grown plums. They’re growing, but they’re green and they’re small. And we get up there, and I remember, he always just kept his pruning shears in his pocket. This is a great picture of a good gardener. God keeps his pruning shears in his pocket. I know you wish he would get rid of them, but it’s His love.

And he pulls them out at any point in time and he starts clipping off these branches on this plum tree, full of half-grown fruit. And there are these heavy branches and he’s throw him on the ground and I remember talking to him as this little kid having this conversation, grandpa, what are you doing? He said, well – he said, there is way too many branches for this tree to be able to sustain all of them. This tree is not going to be able to grow great plums on all of these branches. And so we have a choice. We can let all these branches stay here and we’ll have a whole bunch of okay plums or we can prune some off and we can have some amazing plums. He said less branches means more fruit. Because now the tree can put all its energy and effort into those few branches and make amazing plums. The truth is you have more branches in your life than you are able to sustain.

You can’t do it all that’s why I’m trying to tell you. The world tells you, you can. It’s a lie. Don’t believe it. You can’t do it all and you know it. That’s why you’re exhausted and overwhelmed and like a tree, heavy and burdened trying to hold all these things up, trying to grow great fruit on all these things and not going to happen. An overgrown life leads to a fruitless life. A bunch of little bitter things that no one really wants. So what do you do? You got to prune yourself. Lamentations 3:40, “Let us examine our ways and test them and let us return to the Lord.” When was the last time you examined the whole scope of your life, processed it with the Lord and then let him go to work with these pruning shears? And you say, okay, well pruning, like what am I supposed to prune? I think there’s five categories. You need to constantly do Lamentations 3:48. Examine and go back to the Lord with five categories, really simple. First one is relationships. Today, even as we talk about this, just think about this.

There’s three types of relationships in your life, dead ones, leafy ones, and good ones. What needs to be pruned? What dead relationship have you allowed to stay in your life and it’s bringing disease and decay to everything else? What relationships in your life are leafy? They’re exhausting, they take so much energy but all they end up with is these leaves. And then what are the good ones that need to be trimmed or modified so they keep producing fruit? Okay, relationships. Second category is activities, you need to constantly look at your activities and decide what is dead activities and whether or not you intentionally choose these activities or not is besides the point. Where do you actually spend your time? What’s dead and needs to go? What’s leafy, takes energy but no fruit? And then what’s good that needs to be trimmed up? So relationships, activities, possessions need to constantly look at your stuff and all the things that we gather and hoard and hold on to. What is that thing in your life that you just know, all it does is cause fights in your family? That’s a dead thing.

Clip it off, let it go. You’re chuckling because you know exactly what I’m talking about. Some of you, it’s probably God’s invitation to say, “You’re aligning in the wrong direction and the answer invading your life.” Cut it off. Oh I can’t, we’ll get there in a minute.

Okay? So possessions, what are those things? Fourth category is commitments. What commitments have you just made over time that now starts stockpiling and you’re still trying to hold this one little branch up over here and you can’t do it. It’s exhausting. You need to look at that and cut those off. And then here’s the fifth one and we never think about this, beliefs. You need to prune your beliefs. So what does that mean? Romans 12 tell us, “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind. As a man thinks in his heart, so is he right thinking leads to right living.” Where do you need to prune in your thought patterns? What dead thoughts do you have that you just circle around on? You got to cut them off. How about this? What leafy thoughts do you have that loop, that you sit there and spin and spin and spin and spin and spin and it has never given you one piece of fruit in your entire life, but boy, it’s kept you awake at night.

But boy, it’s made you miserable during the day. But boy, it’s made a lot of anxiety in your heart, that’s a leafy thing. It’s time for that thing to go and then you need to meditate, give more attention to the good thoughts. Are you with me on that?

Listen to me. Pruning is painful but it will give you more fruit. And it’s okay to grieve something that has to go. It’s okay to look at it and say, I’m really going to grieve this. Grieve it with the Lord. He’ll grieve it with you. And let me give you two little qualifiers here. One is when I do a message a like this, it’s really easy to look at the person next to you and want to take out your lopping shears and start shuung, shuung. You know? No. Jesus says, “Why do you worry about the speck in your brother’s eye when you got a plank in your own?” Let’s just prune you today.

And the second thing is this, you don’t get to prune things God has told you to do. You don’t get to sit there and say, “I’m going to prune my marriage because that’s a dead thing.” Shuunk, no, no, no.

Honey, John said, “You know, just bringing just a lot of pain.” No, no. You don’t get to prune your ministry. “Oh that’s taking too much of time, I need more time in work.” No, no. You don’t get to prune the things God has already told you to do. You have to prune the things you’ve decided to have into your own life. Yeah. The more you are willing to prune, the easier it becomes. The reason it’s so hard for us is because we don’t prune along the way. This year, I’ve got two trees in front of my house I haven’t prune them in the last three years. You’re supposed to prune them every year, cut them all the way back and then they grow back. I haven’t done it in the last three years. This year I had to. I mean, it was a knotted mess. It took me like half a day to prune these things down and then I had like huge piles, piles so big that the, you know, the town wouldn’t even take them all in one shot.

I had to do two weeks worth of the truck coming by to get all the branches because there were so much pruning that had to take place. And if I would have just done it along the way, it would’ve been so much easier. Same is true with you. And so if I’m saying this, you’re like, dude, I can’t do all, just start – how about one branch today. How about just one? Hey Holy Spirit, what’s the one thing you want me to walk out of here today and prune out of my life? And he’ll tell you. You see what’s interesting about pruning is pruning is a sign of faith. It’s a sign of faith because what you are saying is I’m willing to let go of something before I receive the next thing. Hebrews 11:1, “Faith is being sure of what I hope for and certain of what I do not see.” Pruning is faith because what God is saying to you is he saying, “Hey, if you give me that good thing, I’ll give you an exchange and I’ll give you the best thing.” God can’t fill an already full life.

You have to let Him prune you before He can fill you, and He doesn’t want to just give you a bigger life, He wants to give you a better life. The gardener does not care how big the tree is, he cares how fruitful it is. The world does not care how fruitful the tree is, he cares how big it is. You get a choice of where you want to align, okay. And then the last thing is this, is you got to embrace the change. You got to embrace the change. Pruning brings us the change, okay. I told you I pruned those trees in the front of my house and literally cut them down to where it was pretty much just the stem and my kids walked out and they saw it and they’re like, “Dad, you killed the thing.”

It has no branches left. I know and they said, well, we like it better how it used to be. We always like it better how it used to be. We always want it how it used to be because you know what, it don’t look very good right now after I have been pruned.

You’re right. It doesn’t look very good now but we have to remember is that pruning is the birthplace of new growth. You cannot grow fresh fruit on old branches. You cannot. So our Jesus says, “New wine needs new wineskin.” And we sit here and we wonder why we can’t grow a new fresh fruit in our lives is because you’re trying to do it in old branches. You got to let them go, new growth will emerge. Isaiah 43:18 and 19, “Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?” In other words God says, yeah, cut some things out of your life, but look for the new growth that is coming, new growth is rising up and you’re going to produce fresh fruit on new branches. You have to be willing to stay in season with what God is doing now. I mean probably the greatest example of this for me in the Bible is how God has chosen to meet with His people. If you go all the way back in the Old Testament, you’ll find the first thing that God does is he says, “Hey, let’s build a tabernacle,” okay.

Would you build a tabernacle? In other words, it will be a tent and I’ll come and meet with you there and then as you move along, you can pack it up and take it to the next place, but that’s how we’ll do it. And so for years, that’s how they did and it was great. It was full of amazing fruit and then one day God shows up and says, “Guys, that’s been awesome. It’s time to prune it.” Prune it, what do you mean? Yeah, I want you to now build a temple. A temple that’s in one place that never moves. My presence will fill that temple and people all over the world will know exactly where I am and they can come and meet with me at any point in time. And don’t you know there was a whole bunch of people that said we don’t need the temple, we have a tabernacle. And the tabernacle has given us really good fruits, so we don’t want to prune it and go to the temple. God says, yeah, yeah you need to prune it because I got better fruit for you. And so then they built the temple and they had this amazing encounter with God and for years that’s where He was and they met with Him. And then, one day God shows up and says, “Temple has been awesome, it’s given us great fruit, but I have even better fruit for you. It’s time to prune the temple because I am about to give you my son Jesus.” And don’t you know there was a whole group of people that say, “We don’t want that guy right there, we’ve got the temple.”

We meet with God we know where He is. This produced great, we have eaten from this thing for a long time, do not mess with the temple, bro. And here’s Jesus, and you know what God does when he prunes? Nothing else is growing on the thing that He’s pruned. It’s dead and it’s falling to the ground and so they are sitting there trying to get fruit from a dead branch that God pruned. God wasn’t in the temple anymore. He’s now here in Jesus. So you get the choice, am I going to eat from the fruit that He’s doing now or am I going to still hold on to the branch He’s already cut away? And so Jesus walks on the earth for 33 years, hangs out with his disciples says, “Guys, it’s for your good that I go.” In other words, the Father is about to prune me. And the disciples say, “No, no Jesus, you can’t go.” He says, “No, no, it’s for your good that I go.” They didn’t want him to go but he said, “No, no, it’s good.” And Jesus gets pruned. And he says if a kernel of wheat falls to the ground, it will now die and it will produce an abundant harvest. Jesus was pruned and fell to the ground and an abundant harvest emerged and God gave all of us the Holy Spirit.

So no longer was it where Jesus was we had to be we now have Jesus within us, okay? And that’s where we are today but you know there’s another pruning coming, right? We got the Holy Spirit but Jesus is coming back, second coming, it’s a pruning and you know there’s going to be a whole bunch of people when Jesus returns on the cloud. They’re going to say no, no Jesus we got the Holy Spirit go back to where you came from.

I got some fruit. I have science and wonders, I’m walking breakthrough. Yeah, John told us spirit-filled life. I can do the things that you did go back to where you came from. But don’t you know the second coming is better. That’s how God does it and you get a choice, are you going to stay current in the season of what God’s going to be growing now or do you want yesterday’s fruit? Whatever God is asking you to go it’s always better than where you’ve gone. I say that you all the time because it’s true. And the truth is, is whenever he prunes you, you become even more fruitful than you already were.

I mean, have you ever heard someone say something like this, I’m the same as I was 10 years. Do you ever talk about like one of your friends or like a college roommate or somebody, they’re the same as they were like 20 years ago, you know what I’m talking about? They’re exactly the same as they were. We think that’s cool. That’s horrible! That means you have the ultimate overgrown life. It means, you haven’t pruned nothing and you have no fresh growth. You have no fresh fruit. That’s why when we look at you we say you’re the same as you were. You should never – if someone says to you, you’re the same as you’ve always been, that is not a compliment. Why? Because Second Corinthians 3 says we’re constantly transformed more and more into the image and likeness of Jesus. What people should say to you after they haven’t seen you for awhile is, man you’re so different. Really I am? Yeah. Why? Because now more of His fruit is being buried in my life and I have more things to feed you from it. I only had pears before but now I have apples.

Or plums or peaches or whatever. We’ve got to change our mind on this thing. The worst decision making you can have is it’s always been this way. It’s the worst. It’s always been this way so that’s why I should keep going that way in the days to come. What got you to today will not get you to tomorrow and our problem is, is we’re terrified of the unknown so we hold on to the old branch. And even one more step, I’m about to pull this all together is this, we have these branches in our life and this is what we think. Who will I be without that thing? That’s why you can’t prune it. The moment you think who will I be without that job, that title, that money, that thing, that relationship, that activity, that commitment. Who am I without that? That is the number one thing that God would be saying to you it’s time for that thing then to go.

If you don’t know who you are without that thing, then what he’s saying is I want you to cut that thing off because what happens when a tree gets pruned? Pruning strengthens its core. All the branches go and all the energy in life pulls into the center, the roots get deeper, the base gets stronger. It figures out who it is and then it starts to grow a new growth exactly the way the gardener wants it to grow. Pruning strengthens your core. Your core will never be strong unless you let yourself get pruned. You were created to live a fruitful life. And the gardener is committed to that. An overgrown tree may look better than a pruned one, but a pruned one produces a whole lot more fruit. May we be fruitful people and may we be a fruitful church, okay. So we close your eyes with me. And let me just ask you.

I mean what is God saying to you today in the midst of all this? My guess would be a lot. So just listen to Him for a moment. Holy Spirit, what are you saying? Would you give us strength and courage to respond to you? What’s one thing that needs to be pruned out of your life? Let’s just start there, just one. A relationship, an activity, a possession, a commitment, or a belief, just one thing. May you have the courage and strength to trust the good gardener.

It’s in quietness and trust that you will find strength. So Jesus, we say to you today, you are the good gardener and we invite you to pull out your pruning shears and clip some things out of our lives that are keeping us from being fruitful. And may we embrace the change that you bring because you want us to grow fresh fruit on new branches. Thank you, Jesus that you are committed to our fruitfulness even more than we are. So would you just give us the courage and the strength to respond. I feel like he just wants to tell you something so you just got to listen to it. You just got to hear it.

Thank you, Jesus, in your name we pray. Amen. Okay, take a breath. I want to keep preaching, it’s really what I want to do but I don’t have time for that. And it’s a hard transition sometimes to go from that to this but if I would have told you this first you wouldn’t have gotten any of that. I think God really wants – this is a really interesting series I wasn’t expecting it to go the way that it is, but God’s moving in it and my hope for you is that you will respond to it because He is committed to you having an amazingly fruitful life, okay. That’s what I wish I could send you out with because that’s why we end that way because I always want you walking out of your thinking about the last thing God said to you which is why don’t care what I have to say I care what the Holy Spirit has to say to you.

I’m just trying to set you up in that conversation and that’s why we always want you to go with that, but I have something that I need to share with you about our next step we feel like for our church. And this is the only way I could figure out how to do it to get all of you is at the end of service, so if you just give me 5 minutes and honor the people around you and just sit still for just a moment and then we’ll be done. After about probably about a year together as a church just as our leadership team and our elders just kind of praying and seeking God of what’s next and we just went through our mission and move breakthrough series and we’re moving forward with our Lewisville campus and the ministry center and all that stuff. And as we started to just unpack that, what is that going to look like, how do we reach more people, what is God inviting us to do in the city, how do we stay a fruitful church and stay in season with the things that He is doing? We heard Him clearly like we often do together in a community and sometimes the things God asked us to do, they’re hard things and there are steps forward, but we always know that he is the good gardener so we want to move forward with Him.

So, let me just go ahead and tell you of our next step that we feel like God is inviting our church to take and then let me explain to you why. So, we feel like God is inviting us to move our Saturday night service to Thursday night during the week, okay. So we feel like God is inviting us to take this service that we’ve met by about 10 years that we’ve meet every week on Saturday night and we feel like He is inviting us to move it to Thursday night. And then we feel like He is inviting us to go ahead and add a third service on Sunday morning because between our two Sunday morning services, we’re pretty much already full and as soon as we get back to school, we’ll be turning people away. And not only are we going to add a third 12:30 service on Sunday morning, so we feel like God is inviting us to start a venue campus that will happen every week Sunday mornings in the venue, which is that room right on the other side of the café, and it will be a full on campus. It’ll have a campus pastor, a live worship team it’ll have its own community. It will be exactly what happens in Lewisville and in Denton only in the venue.

And what’s amazing is it’ll give us about 300 more seats during the prime two spots, the 9:30 and the 11:15 service to reach more people because that’s when most people who don’t know Jesus tend to come to church. And so, we realized that’s a significant adjustment that moves a lot of pieces and so it wasn’t without a lot of prayer and with a lot of conversation and processing through what does that all mean. And that’s why we wanted to tell you and that’s why I’m telling you two months in advance. So we’re not going to do any of that until August 6th. August 6th will be the last Saturday night service we have together and then August 11th will be the first Thursday night service and then August 14th will be the first Sunday morning with three Sunday morning services and then a venue campus that’s running too, simultaneously. And so, I realize that that feels like a lot and maybe a little shocking to you which is part of why I wanted to give you a two-month time window, just let me explain to you why we feel like God’s asking us to do this because why helps answer questions.

There’s three real reasons that we feel like God is asking us to do it. Number one is mission and if we’re honest with ourselves the – in this city, the most missional day of the week is Saturday. It’s the day of the week when this city is out and about. I mean, I’m always shocked by how much traffic there is on Saturday just trying to get around, even get to church, but it’s because this is the day that our city is out and about and you know it’s true. Activities and parties and picnics and prom and graduations and ceremonies and pool parties and football games, I mean just you name it everything happens on Saturday. And what’s happened unintentionally by having a Saturday night service, instead of going out into our city and being in the church, when the world is open for conversations and relationships, what we do by having Saturday night service is we gather as the church and we neglect the world who is open for conversation. I can’t tell you how – I mean, it’s literally almost every single week that I talked to someone that’s like, “Yeah. I was at this picnic but I had to leave early to get to church.”

Or, “Man, we’ve got this thing right after service. So, we had to cut out early,” or “My kid had a game and it was awesome. There’s the big party at the end and we’re going to do a pool party and everybody to our house but we have to cancel it so, we could make it on time to be at our serving post for service.” And so, I’ve just watched over this last year as we’ve cut out these amazing missional opportunities to have a Saturday night service. So, instead of being the church we’ve been gathering as the church. And so, for no other reason than that, that is worth making the decision to make this transition because we need to be missional when our people in this city are open to our mission and the life of Jesus. Does that make sense to you?

I mean, every person that we’ve kind of processed through, I mean you could just – like it’s almost like this, oh that totally made sense and I know you feel it. You got a party to go. And some of you are like, “I got to go now. I got dinner to get to, like, wrap it up bro.” I know, I know. That’s not a good way to do church. That makes it about a weekend gathering. Not about the mission of Jesus.

And so, mission is the primary reason. Second reason is stewardship. We only have so much facility, so many staff, so much resources, so much time to be able to do things to help people take next steps on their journey with Jesus and the problem with having a Saturday night service is, it literally removes Saturday as a day for us to do any type of disciple making for the church at large. I can’t tell you how many planning meetings we sit it in as a church staff and we’re sitting there working through, “Hey, we want to do a men’s conference. Let’s do a women’s conference. Let’s do a marriage gathering. Let’s do a parenting thing. Let’s gather together and teach people how to hear the voice of God. Let’s do a freedom thing.” We have all these things that we feel like you want that you need that God’s inviting us to do and Saturday is the day when they would work. But we can’t do them on Saturday because we have a Saturday night service and you can’t do all that stuff in the morning make the turn and then have everybody ready to go for a great Saturday night service when people who don’t know Jesus are showing up.

And if not only for that, the discipleship as soon as we get into the next step center, you realize the primary day we’re going to be able to serve that, all of us as a church, is going to be Saturday. So I’m not okay saying we’re not going to do outreaches on Saturday because we got to get back to Saturday night service. I want to say there is no time window for the outreach that we’re going to do, stay as late as you want because this is Saturday, it’s a day when most people don’t work and we can engage in the world around us. I am not interested and nor are we and nor should you and I don’t think you are in being a church that makes everything just about a weekend experience. We are interested in helping people become like Jesus. You need more than the weekend to become like Jesus. And so by nature, having Saturday and Sunday, it’s a stewardship issue. We’re not able to steward all of the lives of the people God has given us by helping them become disciples, not just participants on a weekend. So we need to free up Saturday as a day, where we can make disciples and engage in the world around us. Makes sense to you?

So, mission, stewardship and third thing is sustainability. Saturday is no longer sustainable for our church at this size with our staff. On an average weekend, let’s say about 5,000 people are at Valley Creek Church. It’s no longer sustainable and as soon as we launch Lewisville, it’ll go up. It’s not sustainable for us to have Saturday night service to fully pray and engage with everyone that wants to stay and then go to sleep and wake up 12 hours later and show back up and do it again a couple of times. In fact right now, all the children’s ministry serve team members. They’re all sitting in those rooms and they have to make a decision. They were either going to serve tonight or they’re going to come to service or if they serve tonight they now, either miss church and all what we just talked about for the whole weekend or they have to come back 12 hours later. That’s not sustainable for the average family. It’s not healthy and I’m not okay what that does to the kids that grow up in that home and it’s not okay for our staff. It’s not sustainable for them anymore with the amount of staff that we have and the families that we have to make that turn.

It’s too hard to be here all the way till 8, 9 o’clock and then get back here at 7:00 in the morning and do that rhythm every single week, which is why we need to make some of these adjustments because we don’t want to be a firecracker, we want to be a long burning flame. We do not make short-term strategic decisions. We make long-term vision decisions. I’m not interested about short-term gains. I am interested in the long-term win. That’s how we’ve always lead this. That’s how we’ve always moved forward and that’s how I believe following the cloud with God is always leading us towards and what it is all about. So does that make sense to you?

So we’re going to move Saturday to Thursday and what Thursday will be Thursday night service, 6:45. Thursday night service, in my opinion will probably be the highest faith-filled service of the weekend. I think it’s going to be a lot of your people that are in it to win it, that are going to show up. And what we’re going to do is the whole goal for Thursday night is to capture the best possible recording for the weekend, full of faith. People that come are going to be full of life and they’re going to draw the — like you pulled things out of me tonight that are nowhere in my notes because you had the faith to receive it.

That just got captured in the video and that’s gets what’s going to be played tomorrow in Denton. So Denton will get the best possible message of the whole weekend because this room had faith that pulled it out tonight. I want that to be every week. And so we’re going to do that on Thursdays and then we’re going to capture it. We’re going to be able to play it forward and then we’re not going to have to worry about video or broadcast technology transmission issues on Sunday. So that’ll be Thursday at 6:45. Now, I realize for some of you that’s not going to work and that’s totally okay. Some of you say you’re going to move Saturday to Thursday. I can’t do Thursday. I know. I know not everybody can and for that, I’m sorry for the inconvenience for you, but here is what I would ask you, okay? Three things and then I’m done, okay? Are you still with me?

Can we just do this together? I realized this is shocking, a little bit, but it’s life-giving and it’s Jesus and you can feel that it feels right. Three things I just want to ask you. One, can we just finish well together? August 6 will be our last Saturday together. Can you please stay on Saturday until August 6, because if you start going we don’t have room for you on Sunday. If you start showing up on Sunday now, before we create the other space, you’re going to be turning people away and you’re going to pack up the room and as soon as we hit that back to school bump, it’s going to be nuts. So, we don’t have the space for you to show up on Sunday yet, so please stay. The reason I’m telling you two months in advance is because I want to honor you, that’s why. So I would just ask that you would honor back and choose to finish well with us because how you finish this season will determine how you start the next one. We want to give you two months to just pray about it and process it and talk as a family and figure out what works best for your family and where are you going to go and how’s it going to affect your life. I would never do that to you like giving you two weeks notice, I’m giving you two months to really pray and process together, okay, so finish well. Second thing is this. Could I really challenge you to make a missional decision? Let your decision of where you end up be missional in nature and what I mean by that is literally if all of you showed up at the 9:30 or the 11:15 service, we wouldn’t even have the seats tomorrow.

If all of you came tomorrow at the 9:30 or 11:15, we would be turning people away. We don’t have the room for it on Sunday. So, here is my hope is that you’ll make a missional decision. That you’ll say, “Hey, Saturday is moving to Thursday. If in any way it can work in your schedule, please come on Thursday. Let’s have – I mean, what would it be like to have 500, 600 people every Thursday night kicking off the weekend with high faith, great worship, moving forward, setting the tone for the weekend?

And then what’s awesome is you can come to that service and serve on the weekend or you can serve on Thursday night and then come on Sunday. It gives the space where it’s not the sustainability 12-hour flip. So make a missional decision. I would prefer you to start if you could Thursday at 6:45. If you say that doesn’t work, the second thing I would ask you is if you could help us start the 12:30 service. You say, “I can’t go from Saturday to Sunday and then to the 12:30.” Yeah, you could. You could.

You really, you could. If you could do that for us because we realize that again is not necessarily the ideal time, but the people that don’t know Jesus come when it’s most convenient for them at the 9:30 and what will be the 11:10. We’re going to pull that back five minutes. And so, I mean if you can in any way help us start the 12:30 service, take all of the life and the spirit that you’ve had in this service, go to the 12:30. And if that doesn’t work, when you say, “Man, John if Saturday is no longer an option, I need to be there at 9:30, 11:15, 11:10. Could you then choose the venue?” Could you be someone that chooses to say, “I’m not going to take a seat in the primetime spot in this room because remember, we didn’t build a mega building on purpose. So, we could be missional and raise up leaders. So, you might say “Dude, we just moved into this thing like two and a half years ago and you’re telling me we’re already full at the two primetime spots?” Yes we are. And that’s why we launch campuses and the venue is a campus. So, maybe your mission is not to go to Lewisville, maybe your mission is to go the venue and say, “This is excellent. This is how we do it.”

Video teaching. You realize it’s going to be – we’re going to go from three services in Flower Mound to six. The elders will only ever let me preach three services live. So, three by nature will already be video just like Denton gets three every weekend. Lewisville will start with two every weekend and we’re going to continue to bring more and more video technology into the life of what we do because, like I said, if you showed up tomorrow, you’d be better getting the recording of what just happened than what’s in my notes, especially if the group is grumpy.

You’ve got to change your thinking. That may be some pruning that needs to happen in your mind. I promise you, we play the best – there’s some weekends, after I preach I’m like I know, it won’t be said better than that not because I’m good, because there was faith in the room and God pulled some things out. I don’t remember what they were. Let’s run with that. It’s the best possible message. So, don’t worry about video live. It’s really irrelevant to the thing. So, think missional for us and maybe if you’re sitting here and saying “But what about my friends? Where are they going to go?” Go together.

Just ask them and say, “Where do you want to go? Make a decision.” I got to finish this up. The third thing is this, consider joining the serving team. We’re going from three services to six. So, maybe this is your step to take a next step and join one of those services and start serving. In fact, I would welcome you in the 9:30 and 11:15 if you want to be an usher or greeter during that service. That would be your welcome in this room at that time. You’re welcome anyways, kind of, maybe.

But maybe you could be missional, okay. Let me close with this. There’s three of you. There’s three types of you sitting in the room right now. One of you, you’re sitting here and really honestly you’re relieved. You came to Saturday night somewhere along the way because we ask you to give up your seat on Sunday morning to make space. You’re relieved. You’re ready to make a change and God’s already been working in your life that way. There’s another group of you sitting in this room. You really don’t care. It’s totally irrelevant to you, you love Valley Creek, you love what God’s doing to your life. Dude, I’ll come to a Monday midnight service, you know like.

Midnight mass, man, let’s do it. You know kind of thing?

You don’t really care.

You just like being here. And then there’s a third group of you and honestly you have to grieve this and that’s okay. It’s shocking to you. You’ve got your life built around a rhythm. You’re not really sure what to do with this. That’s okay. I get it. Listen, Colleen and I got married. Two months later. We moved here to Valley Creek Church. We have raised our kids on Saturday night at Valley Creek Church for the last 10 years. So, we know. It’s a change for us too, not just for you. We are 100% in unity as the elders and the leadership team and my hope would be at this point in the life cycle of Valley Creek Church a 100% unity would communicate to you enough to say, “I don’t know need to know anymore questions. I can more forward with that.” I hope it makes you say “I love being a part of the church that is so serious about reaching our city and making disciples that they’re willing to do whatever it takes to lead us forward and that they are willing to honorably and honestly communicate things to us. So, we know the why and where we’re going together as a family,” okay?

So, Saturday is moving to Thursday in August. We’re going to add a third service on Sunday in a venue campus on Sunday mornings. I hope that you will be a part of one of those missional movements in a sense.

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