The Vineyard – The History


Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.f

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and
prove to be My disciples.
John 15:7-8

“…That you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.” These words are in stark contrast to the statistics noted in the last blog!  (1% of Christians today take these words seriously!

What accounts for this radical shift from Jesus’ perspicuous command? Historically, what happened that produced this incredible alteration. The answer to these questions will produce invaluable information for the renewal of the old paradigm so clearly presented in both word and deed by Jesus

In church history it’s known as the Constantine Revolution ( 306 to 337 AD). Whereas there was a plethora of changes in the church, I want to focus on a few: 1)  following Jesus was traded for going to a church building; (A poll was taken in which this question was asked: “What most distinguishes you as a Christian.” The overwhelming response was: “going to church.”);  2) worship took the place of discipleship. The action of producing fruit and making disciples, the twice repeated marching order of Jesus, was replaced with passive observation, watching the priest “do his thing“.  3) following Jesus was traded for belief in Jesus. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s comment highlights the point: “The response of the disciples was an act of obedience to follow Jesus, NOT a confession of faith in Jesus (“After Constantine emperors had a duty to help the Church define orthodoxy and maintain orthodoxy. The Church generally regarded the definition of doctrine as the responsibility of the bishops; the emperor’s role was to enforce doctrine.“) [Constantine the Great and Christianity];  4) the priesthood of all believers (following Jesus to make disciples) was replaced by the professional clergy (priests) [a glaring contrast to the motley crew to which Jesus entrusted his enterprise] ;  5) the command to all believers to “follow and produce fruit” was transferred to missionaries (the word means “sent ones“). 


By the end of the 3rd century the preceding was the norm! Today, visit 100 American churches of whatever flavor. In everyone you will find the effects of the Constantine Revolution! The Master’s plan has been totally replaced.


The Vineyard – The Statistics


Stay joined together with me, and follow my teachings.
If you do this, you can ask for anything you want, and it will be given to you.

My Father is glorified by this:
that you produce much fruit and prove to be My disciples.

John 15:7-8


Greg Ogden (Executive Pastor of Discipleship, Christ Church of Oak Brookwrote the following appraisal: The Discipleship Deficit: Where Have All the Disciples Gone?  (Knowing and Doing)  Here are a few quotes from the article.






“According to Barna Research, fewer than one in five born-again adults has any specific and measurable goals related to his or her own spiritual development. Barna interviewed hundreds of people, including church leaders and pastors, and yet, shockingly, he concluded,’ Not one of the adults we interviewed said that their goal in life was to be a committed follower of Jesus Christ or to make disciples of the entire world—or even their entire block.’

The Scriptures picture all believers as those who share the story of their faith in Christ with others; in reality. We are called to be storytellers. The Bible spins a love story of God’s pursuit of wayward humanity. For those who have been captured by Jesus Christ, we each have a story to tell of how God chased us down and embraced us in his loving arms. In so doing, the Lord has written us as characters into his grand redemptive drama. We each have an assigned part to play on the stage of history, which is the realm in which God writes his story. As unique as each of us is, there is a common story line written into the script for each of our lives. “You shall be my witnesses,” Jesus says (Acts 1:8). We each have our story, a story to tell. For it is in the sharing of the story that others come to find that they too have been written into this redemptive drama.

How are we doing in telling the story? When believers are asked if they have intentionally built a relationship with someone with the hope of being able to lead the person to Christ, only one in ten could affirm that they had. “Fewer than one in five said that they knew a nonbeliever well enough that they could share their faith with an individual in a context of trust and credibility.”

Relative to “producing fruit” and “making disciples“, there’s a “Discipleship Deficit” in the churches of the US. This is the “cold, hard” fact! Let’s make it personal. Have you or a fellow follower of Jesus discipled one nonbeliever to maturity in Christ?

I have previously written about this situation. However, the implications of John 15:8 are radically important for those who profess personal attachment to Jesus!

Mental Health Monday- Refusing Meds!

What to do When Someone Refuses to Take Their Medication – Treatment Noncompliance

It’s unfortunate that many mental illness patients won’t take their medications as prescribed or just quit. The usual result is negative!  So is there anything you can do for such a person?


Why Does a Person Refuse to Take Their Medication?

There are three reasons mental illness patients are noncompliant.


  1. The medication isn’t working and their illness convinces them to go off their medication.
  2. Their medication is working but the side effects are intolerable.
  3. Their medication is working, they’re experiencing wellness and so they think they no longer need their medication.

Refusing to Take Medication Because the Medication Isn’t Working

Refusing to take medication that doesn’t work is understandable. We’ve all been there and we’ve all seen the futility of taking some medications. But, you have to get through the medication that doesn’t work to find the medication that does and going off of medication is not the way to do this. If the medication isn’t working, it’s time to work with a psychiatrist to find better medication that does work for the patient.

In this case a loved one might want to approach the case logically and say that without treatment, the mentally ill patient can’t get better. Stopping the treatment was understandable, but now it’s time to assert some control over treatment and find something that works.

Refusing Medication Because of Intolerable Side Effects

This is understandable as well. Many of us have been in the situation where side effects destroyed parts of our lives. But again, just stopping medication is not the way to handle this problem. Working with the doctor to find better treatment is the answer.

In this case patients often feel they have told their doctor about the side effects but the doctor hasn’t listened. This might be true. But that’s why it’s time to assert more control over treatment choices and state to the doctor clearly that these side effects are intolerable and another treatment must be found. If laid out in this straightforward manner, most doctors will get the message and help. Just “complaining” about side effects doesn’t have this same effect.

Families can help by attending psychiatric appointments to help get treatment back on track in a way with which the patient agrees. And it’s important to remind the patient that better treatments are available and they don’t have to live with horrendous side effects. Treatment is in their control.

Refusing Medication Because They Believe They Don’t Need It

Unfortunately, this can be the hardest situation. Once a person is well, they see the medication as a hindrance, forgetting that it is the medication that made them well. This is a trick of the mind. No one wants to be on medication and this is a trick the mind plays to provide an excuse for refusing medication.

A loved one can approach this situation with logic such as, “remember before the medication, you did such-and-such, whereas on the medication, you’re able to such-and-such . . .” (And I should mention that just because a medication works once, it doesn’t mean that restarting it will make it work again in the same way. This is one of the major dangers of going off of working medication.)

However, the truth is that the patient may simply have to fall before they realize that it was the medication that was holding them up. For a loved one this is painful to watch but try to remember to be there if something like this happens and help out with returning to treatment.

Helping a Person Who Refuses Medication

No matter what camp the person falls into, it’s very hard; but try to look at the situation from their perspective – they likely have a real reason why they are treatment noncompliant. Try to speak to that reason with compassion and concrete reasons why they should work with their doctor to rectify that problem rather than try to handle it on their own. Remember, the best medication is the medication a patient will take.

And as I’ve said above, remind them that real honesty with their doctor is the most important thing and that they are in control of their own treatment. And, if you can, try to support their wishes and act as their back-stop in psychiatric appointments. People dealing with psychiatrists often feel more comfortable being honest with this back-up which means they are more likely to get treatment that works for them.

There is actually much more to say about this problem, but, alas, I’ve gone long already. Hopefully part two will make it’s way here at some point.



About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.


The Vineyard – Principles of Remaining

Remain in Me, and I in you.
Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine,
so neither can you unless you remain in Me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches.
The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit,
because you can do nothing without Me.
If anyone does not remain in Me,
he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers.
If you remain in Me and My words remain in you,
ask whatever you want and it will be done for you.
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.

John 15:1-5


REMAINING! We have learned that remaining, staying at home, staying connected to Jesus, the vine, is absolutely indispensable for a life of multiplication that magnifies the Father’s glory! John 15 is my focus in that it records Jesus’ last words to the Eleven hours before his death. You may think this melodramatic. So, I ask: IF you knew the precise time of your death, what would you say to those whom you love? 

There’s no more vivid illustration of remaining than baby in a mother’s womb, the place of connection and attachment. It’s the ultimate home! Padded by sponge rubber of flesh, baby is able to endure the most shocking bump. And, given the mother’s health, baby receives a constant flow of gourmet nourishment. No need for anything outside the home!

So, how does one “stay at home“?

It’s not that difficult. Jesus said: “The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be (home).” (Matthew 6:21) Why do we say, “There’s no place like home“? Because home represents everything we value most!  heart and home go together.

 There are three fundamentals, two of which I’ve alluded to before. (Maintenance of Life: Intimacy with Jesus). Interestingly, Step 11 of the Big Book outlines two steps: “Sought through prayer and mediation to improve our conscious contact with God.”

What’s the purpose of the womb? GROWTH … a secluded, private, comfortable place for growth.

Second Touch – Partners in Growth

For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.
Philippians 2:12-13

We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything
to work toward something good and beautiful
when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan. 

From the distant past, His eternal love reached into the future.
You see, He knew those who would be His one day,
and He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son
so that Jesus would be the firstborn of a new family of believers, all brothers and sisters.
As for those He chose beforehand, He called them to a different destiny
so that they would experience what it means to be made right with God
and share in His glory.
Romans 8:28-30

 In the process of growing to be Jesus-like, (those who would be His one day, Father chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son) we are not on our own. We have a partner whose singular purpose is to help in our development. “God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.” This is precisely what Jesus promised before his crucifixion. (John 14:15-18I will ask the Father and he will give you another Helper…. The Helper is the Spirit of truth. (Mentor of Life)  He lives with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you all alone like orphans.” (John 14:15-18) Note,In our progression we are never alone.Remember, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20) The basic task of The Helper is to facilitate our becoming like Jesus. He employs three fundamental methods: coaching, counseling and correcting.
The Spirit has unlimited scope In His operation. “We can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.”  (Romans 8:28)If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us ALL THINGS? (Romans 8:32) Yes, that includes everything we classify as “BAD.” We might even think/say: “What good can out of this!” Well, absolutely nothing is beyond the Spirit’s power to transform it for our good! Now then, we must remember what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit. Only God’s Spirit gives new life. The Spirit is like the wind that blows wherever it wants to. You can hear the wind, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going.” (John 3:8)
 What’s “the good” as stated above? There is but one primary purpose in the Spirit’s operation. “He chose them beforehand to be conformed to the image of His Son! Put a set of glasses on. The glasses will determine the way by which you see everything. If the glasses blur your vision, you will see everything indistinctly. That’s the way it is. Without the glasses of the Spirit you will have no clarity about the events of your life. In partnership with your decision “to live according to His plan” the Spirit will correct your vision so that it’s 20/20.