Monthly Archives: September 2014

“Strive to Thrive”

                           4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.                   Treeof40fruit         John 15:4 (The Message)
(Found on

“A Syracuse University art professor is getting worldwide attention for his Tree of 40 Fruit, an idea that ripened more than half a decade ago.

Sam Van Aken designed the stunning, multi-colored tree that can bear 40 different kinds of stone fruit — those with pits. The artist and sculptor, who teaches at SU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, creates the trees through grafting.

Syracuse University told The Post-Standardin 2011 that he designed the “living art” as a symbol for the Central New York school’s 9/11 memorial service. The tree was planted on the SU quad three years ago, and tended to by Van Aken in hopes of growing various types of cherries, peaches, plums, nectarines and apricots.

“It’s a metaphor for a lot of things,” Van Aken told the newspaper then, though he specifically chose 40 because it’s a number that appears often in the Bible. “It’s a number that represents bounty.”

“Van Aken chose 40 because it’s a number that appears often in the Bible, he said. It rained 40 days and 40 nights, and after the rain stopped, Noah waited another 40 days before opening the ark. Moses stayed on the mountain for 40 days, the Israelites spent 40 years in the wilderness, and Christ spent 40 days on earth after the resurrection.”

I have learned that the process of grafting is simply to take a branch from one tree and attach it to the branch and trunk of another tree. What strength does a branch have on its own? How much fruit can one branch produce on its own. Even the most vibrant of flowers wither and fade once they are cut off from the main plant. Yet attached and together, each branch can produce far more than they ever could on their own.

It is like that in our own lives. How much can we accomplish on our own, one single branch. What happens when the storms of life come? What happens when droughts hit our lives? Together, attached, connected to God, we are far stronger, can produce far more and be more fruitful and thrive than we ever could on our own.

Come join us this fall as we share a sermon series and worship experience that will teach us and allow us to “Strive to Thrive”. We will discuss practical and spiritual ways we can overcome obstacles and adversities that daily life brings and do more than just survive.

There is a line from the song “Thrive” by Casting Crowns that I mentioned in my last article, It says:

We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives. It’s time for us to more than just survive.

We were made to thrive.”


In the bridge of the song, it speaks of:

 “Joy unspeakable, faith unsinkable, Love unstoppable, anything is possible”


Would you like to find unspeakable joy in life, a faith that is unsinkable and an unstoppable love? Would you like to live life in a way that “anything is possible”?

Come join us at Akron First UMC this fall, we will be learning how to experience these things in our lives on Sunday mornings and during the week. Follow us on Facebook for events and opportunities.

I look forward to seeing you this fall.

Jesus said, “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”

(John 15:5-8 The Message)


Pastor Dave