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Episode 3: Cultivate with Mandy Sullivan

Alli and Kathryn bring in their good friend Mandy to take a deep dive into what it means to prepare and produce spiritual fruit in our lives. Mandy also shares why she chooses to identify with Christianity.


We first learn that Mandy likes a certain type of pizza depending on the hour of day, Kathryn thinks she can communicate with animals, and Alli relates herself to Tommy Pickles (wing Chuckie... for all of you Nickelodeon and Enneagram lovers!)


In our main topic we relate spiritual growth to the way a plant grows: a plant begins as a seed, gets planted in soil, gets watered, and eventually, produces something of value to its environment.


In the same way a plant grows, spiritually we begin as seeds. Imagine our souls as seeds; our growth depends on our posture before God. Mandy shares how the story of Mary and Martha illustrates the "one thing that is needed" is sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to his voice. Blessed is the poor in spirit for the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them...those who recognize their need for Jesus experience Him in their posture. there's always more we can learn about Him in becoming like Him.


A seed is then planted in soil. Soil in the spiritual growth process is what surrounds us, or what's in our heart. What can we do to help prepare our hearts for the work God is doing within us? How can we make sure our soil is nutrient rich? We discuss ideas such as creating boundaries, removing anger, and seeking out community. (Kathryn and Alli completely mess up the reading of the Scripture, lol guys~we are works in progress)


Matthew 13: 1-9 and 18-23

The Parable of the Sower

"That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.  Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed.  As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up.  Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.


 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means:  When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path.  The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.  But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”


Next, plants need water. The water in our lives is God's living water, His Spirit through His Word. God promises us that His Word is alive and active, always available and accessible to us. Hebrews 4:12 says, "For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." We talk about the Samaritan woman at the well, and how everyone who drinks of the living water will never thirst again. He alone is enough to sustain us and bring us endless life through salvation and sanctification. When we're feeling tired, a little weary, withered or "crusty", Jesus can give us everything we need. Psalm 61:3 says "God, are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you, in a dry and parched land where there is no water." Psalm 1:1-3 also encourages us to seek after a life where we walk in God's ways:


 Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night.  That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither— whatever they do prospers.


Yielding fruit is a beautiful end goal for any plant, and for us spiritually. The fruit produced by us spiritually is going to reflect the work that Jesus is doing on the inside. The fruits of the Spirit all apply to relationships, so we can be sure if we are acting in accordance with His Spirit, the result will be "the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). We will reap what we sow, so we want to make sure we are reaping healthy fruit in our lives. Yet, there is always grace for our shortcomings (we will make mistakes!)

Action Steps:

1. How are you currently positioned before God?

2. What is the condition of your soil, (aka your heart)? Is there anything you feel God is asking you to remove or strengthen?

3. How can you experience more of God's living water in your life? What can you do to spend more time in the Word?

4. Reflect on spiritual fruit you are seeing in your life. Pray and ask God to help you experience John 15:2: " He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful."


Resources:

How People Grow by Henry Cloud and John Townsend

God on Mute by Pete Greig

Toppling the House of Cards by Greg Boyd


Listen to Episode 3 Here!