What Is Your Story?

Have you ever met that person (or perhaps you are that person) who likes to have their hands in everything?

I don’t mean that in a particularly bad way, but just that they seem to be involved in just about anything and everything possible?

I was that person in High School and my early years of college.

Granted, I wasn’t super involved in sport (shout out to my golf peeps!), but just about anything else and I was there.

That was my story.

That’s what defined me; what filled up my resume and what I presumed would get me into college and eventually land me that good job.

Even beyond the resume though, I believed that’s what made me me.

With every commitment, every enthusiastic ‘yes,’ every appointment-filled block in my planner…I actually believed I was creating myself; my identity.

I was writing my story.

What I failed to recognize until years later is that I was not necessarily writing my story, I was trying to find it.

One activity failed, so on to the next one, and the next one, and so on.

A goal never came to pass, so I’d just create another one, and another, and so on.

One school wasn’t all that I had hoped it would be, so I transferred to the next one (thankfully there’s no ‘so on and so on…’ with that).

But you get my point.

I didn’t realize that I was developing this addiction to searchingstriving, and always looking for…well, ME!

And in this searching, I filled up my time, my energy, and my space with so many things that I almost lost what truly made my life special.

I came home one day from work to find this beautiful gift from a friend sitting in front of my door. It was a really cute planner with a note that read:

‘…as you get busier and busier with your life and all things social, I hope this planner helps you organize your daily duties. Just be sure to pencil me in from time to time.’ 

I couldn’t keep the tears from slipping down my cheek.

Some of them were grateful tears for the amazing friend God had placed in my life. But most of them were tears of regret.

I couldn’t believe that I had filled up my time so much with searching and striving that even my closest friends felt that they needed to be penciled into my schedule.

That’s what did it for me.

It was in that moment as I read and reread that dear note (which is still sitting on my desk) that I realized the patterns of my past were the same patterns of my life right now.

Nothing had changed.

I was still looking for me and in that search, was neglecting my story.

One of my favorite songs – and the one that inspired this post – is titled My Story by Big Daddy Weave.


If I should speak, then let it be of the grace that is greater than all my sin;

of when justice was served and when mercy wins;

of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in.

Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him.



Mercy-filled justice.









This is my story.

This is your story.

Our story is not one shaped by our circumstances, our achievements and failures, our pursuits and our strivings.

It is not one created by our own hands, but by the hands of grace and mercy stretched out on the tree.

For it is in Him that we live and move and have our very being (Acts 17:28).

Outside of Jesus Christ, we don’t have a story worth reading.

So instead of telling you a story of all that I did, all that I was involved in, all that I accomplished, or all that I was back in the ‘glory days,’ I will tell a story of forgiveness and grace.

Instead of telling you a story of all that wronged me, all the bruises and scars, or all the pain, fear, and uncertainty that I have faced, I will tell a story of hope and freedom.

When the vain pursuits and frantic strivings of this life beg for your attention, offering lies of prosperity, I want you to remember something.

Remember that Love is what built you.

Recognize the Sacrifice that saved you.

Know the Grace that covers you.

And believe that Victory awaits you.

People should be able to look at our lives and see the grace of God in our bold steps, hear His love in our words, and recognize freedom in our undivided devotion to the Lord.

That’s one heck of a story, don’t you think?

If I told you my story now, it wouldn’t be one of striving and schedule books. It wouldn’t be one of 3-hours of sleep and endless cups of coffee. And it certainly wouldn’t be one lacking in joy and purpose.

If I were to tell you my story, it would be a story of Him.


Chin Up, Buttercup!

I was struck with a moment of truth recently.

After dealing with some disappointment, I found myself purposefully preoccupying myself in this space of self-pity.

You know how when things don’t go our way we tend to revisit all those songs, verses, and quotes that offer condolence and make us feel better or more hopeful about our cruddy circumstances?

Stuff like –

    ‘Let it go.’

    ‘Be at rest once more, O’ my soul, for the Lord has been good to you’ (Psalm 116:7)

    ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God…’ (Matthew 6:33)

    ‘For I know who holds tomorrow.’

    ‘Earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.’

    ‘Put one foot in front of the other.’

In the past, when faced with moments of drought that often felt like a thousand years, I would dwell in this mess of doubt, disappointment, and an assortment of screenshotted quotes and verses for a number of days, allowing time to do its best work and mend my bruised heart once again.

Can you relate to this?

Have you ever found yourself in a place where the ground beneath your feet feels unsteady and unfamiliar?

Where God’s voice seems so obscure that it’s easier to just listen to the voices running wild in your head?

Where walking on water seems impossible because you can’t even manage to keep your head above water, much less your tired feet?

I’ve been there.

Life can throw some pretty mean punches, leaving us beat up and miserable.

Yet, I realized that sometimes I do this to myself.

I keep feeling as if I’m getting kicked while still down not because life is just that cruel (though sometimes it certainly can be), but rather because of my own unwillingness to simply get up and walk away.

The thought ran through my head one morning as I listened to the song Matter by For King & Country – what if instead of just listening to this song and allowing it to make me feel better…what if I actually lived today as if it were true; entirely true!?

What if we actually approached each day as if we mattered to ‘the one who spoke and set the sun ablaze?’

What if we held our heads a little higher, knowing that ‘the one who stopped the storm and walked on waves’ actually cared about our hurting hearts?

What if we actually saw ourselves as the ‘treasured possessions’ (Exodus 19:5) that God says we are?

What if we actually lived as sons and daughters of the Lord Most High?

What if it was actually, truly, deeply ‘well with my soul?’

Too often I think we like to dwell in this place of self-pity; like ‘I know I’m treasured by God; I know I matter to Him; I know…I know…I know…’

But we never move past this point.

We remain in the knowledge but never actually translate that knowledge into action.

We allow our emotions and feelings to dictate our behaviors when instead we should allow what we know to be true to determine how we act.

I’m not saying that we aren’t going to hurt and I’m certainly not saying that we aren’t allowed to feel disappointed and worn thin. What I am saying though is that we need to stop allowing that disappointment to keep us down.

We can still move forward while hurting, it might just require a little more concentrated effort, extra time, and the help of others coming alongside us.

After some extensive introspection, I had to ask myself why I like to dwell in my disappointment and hurt. The answer I came up with was tough to accept, but it has done wonders in adjusting my attitude towards the drought seasons in life.

I found that I would relish the times of uncertainty because it seemed to justify my doubting God.

No one ever said that trusting God was going to be easy, and it isn’t. So when it seemed like my circumstances ‘justified’ my questioning Him in the eyes of the world, I would take full advantage.

Has this ever happened to you?

I discovered that we have a lot in common with the Israelites in the beginning chapters of Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 1:26-27 describes the emotional and mental state of our newly delivered Israelites from their slavery in Egypt – But they were unwilling to go up; they rebelled against the command of the Lord their God. They grumbled in their tents and said, “The Lord hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.”

Are you unwilling to ‘go up’ today?

Are you allowing your feelings and emotions to dictate and contaminate that which you know to be true?

Do you find yourself grumbling about your circumstances and the manner in which God is working through them?

The Israelites were unwilling to move forward because they were so preoccupied with their self-pity and the memories of their past (Egypt) that they rebelled against the command of the Lord – Do not be terrified; do not be afraid…(vs. 29-31).

How many times do we find condolence in verses like this – Deuteronomy 1:29-31; John 14:27; Isaiah 35:4; Joshua 1:9 (to name a few) – yet don’t actually believe them or practice them?

Do we ever take steps to confront our fears and hurt with truth in action or just spiritual sounding quotes and Scriptures?

In our unwillingness to ‘go up’ as the Lord commands, we may be missing our opportunity to see the ‘promised land’ He has for us; God’s dream and intent for our lives.

In spite of this truth that we have nothing to fear, just like the Israelites we do not trust in the Lord our God, who has gone before us on our journey to show us the way we should go (vs. 32-33).

What a sad reality it is that many of us might actually miss the best intent for our lives because we’re holding onto disappointment and uncertainty.

Yet, there are some who have overcome.

We can strive to be like Caleb, who even through his pain of past slavery and uncertainty of what lied ahead, was the only one of that generation to actually see the promised land because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly (vs. 36).

I am not saying that after bouts of disappointment and drought we should be able to bounce back immediately. That would dehumanize us and leave us with no compassion or understanding for the pain others feel.

However, if we follow God wholeheartedly, even after coming through seasons of drought, disappointment, and uncertainty, we will come to realize that it is because of that time that we can come out stronger; that we can come out even more prepared and even more equipped to carry out God’s dream for our lives.

We might actually…

    ‘Let it go.’

    ‘Be at rest once more, knowing that the Lord has been good to us’ (Psalm 116:7)

    ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God…’ (Matthew 6:33)

    ‘Know who holds tomorrow.’

    ‘Believe that earth has no sorrow that heaven can’t heal.’

    ‘Put one foot in front of the other.’

So chin up, buttercup!

You’re going to be just fine.

You Are Not Disqualified, Part II

Regardless of what you think disqualifies you from the grace of God, the reality is that you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). You have an eternal position at the right hand of God and your purpose on this course remains eternally intact, regardless of how you get there.   – You Are Not Disqualified, Part I


Therefore, we can find absolute freedom from the crippling belief that our shortcomings disqualify us from the grace of God.

We know that our eternal position in Jesus Christ as the righteousness of God is not dependent upon our performance, but rather upon God’s wonderful grace and mercy, for while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

We rejoice in this and yet in the same moment we have the nerve; we have the audacity to believe that while the grace of God has indeed saved us, we better work hard to get ourselves out of whatever deep, dark place of bondage we now find ourselves in (Judah Smith).

Society and even the Church has developed this idea that even though Jesus freed us from the condemnation of sin, we still have to work hard to free ourselves from the power that sin has in our lives right now.

Romans 7:7-25 paints a picture of our inherently sinful nature, noting that we don’t even understand our own sinful impulses, let alone possess the ability to actually overcome them.

Paul spends 18 verses trying to understand why he doesn’t do what he knows is right and true, but instead does what he knows is wrong and sinful (vs. 15).

I think we can all relate to this – knowing intellectually the Gospel truths and what is right versus what is wrong, yet still dealing with this internal drive that urges us toward sinful behaviors every day.

Paul comes to this realization that apart from God, we have no good thing (Romans 7:18), which was a replication of David’s song found in Psalm 16:2.

So where then do we get off believing that we can actually work ourselves out from under the weight and power of sin?

Paul exclaims in Romans 7:24“What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of sin?”

This verse is incredible for so many reasons – 1) Paul admits his inherently sinful nature [what a wretched man I am]; 2) He recognizes the fact that he cannot rescue himself [who will rescue me…]; and 3) He understands that it is not just from the condemnation of sin that he needs rescuing, but from his daily battles with sin as well [who will rescue me from this body of sin].

What I find fascinating about this passage though is that the very next verse following this one of questioning and concern is one of rejoicing – ‘Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vs. 25)!

Not once did Paul hint at any self-righteous attempt to work himself out of his wretchedness, but rather rejoiced in the fact that it was through Jesus Christ that he could be grateful to God for rescuing him from his daily screw ups.

I think the most important, yet one of the hardest lessons to be learned is not necessarily that we have been rescued from the consequences of sin, but that we need rescuing from the power of sin right now.

We forget that the same authority that freed us from the condemnation of sin is also the same authority that is freeing us from the power of sin, and will one day free us from the presence of sin all together.

Unfortunately though, the salvation story often becomes one of past tense.

We say things like ‘when I got saved…’ or ‘I was saved on…’

There is a distinct moment when we are born again; when Jesus Christ enters our hearts and we are saved from the condemnation of sin (i.e. hell).

However, it is often overlooked that salvation is an ongoing event; something that should be recognized in every moment of every day.

Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross offered us forgiveness from our sins – true!

But that’s not all it did.

It also offered us a new identity which we can live by right now!

We tend to think that there is this gap between forgiven and eternally positioned; we believe that though we have been rescued from the powers of hell, it is still our job to attain that ‘child of God’ position.

I often feel like if I haven’t worked hard to attain it, I don’t deserve it and that, my friend, is the exact opposite of the Gospel message.

Just like we are no match for the powers of hell, we are no match against our sinful impulses.

But that’s okay! We weren’t built strong enough to do that.

We weren’t created strong enough to actually attain a ‘good enough’ status to be welcomed into the family of God as His children.

We were never meant to achieve that on our own.

Just as the cross bridges the gap between eternally damned to hell and forgiven, it also bridges the gap between forgiven and child of God!

Jesus did not die to only save you from the powers of hell. He died so that you would also find freedom from your daily mistakes; that you would be able to humbly accept His sacrifice, knowing that regardless the mistakes you make here, you are still firmly established in His eternal glory as a child of God.

So it’s time to stop trying to get ourselves out of whatever battle we’re fighting by ‘working harder.’ Stop trying to earn that which has already been given; stop believing that just because you did it to yourself, you deserve to fight this battle alone.


It’s time to stop walking towards Calvary, ready to do whatever it takes to be ‘good enough’ and instead start walking towards the empty tomb.

Rejoice in the truth and knowledge that we were intended to experience salvation every day through the power and the grace of our risen Lord and Savior.

You Are Not Disqualified, Part I

The conditions couldn’t have been any more perfect.

Senior year, I had home course advantage, my first nine holes had placed me in the top three thus far, and I only had five more holes to go.

My team was currently holding the lead and I knew that if I finished strong, not only could we win the Conference tournament, but I might actually place in the top three for the first time in my golf career.

It was now or never.

And I failed.

I broke a rule. On accident of course, but I broke a rule nonetheless and had to pay the consequences.

With five holes to go, I was disqualified from the tournament for misplaying an out-of-bounds ruling.

I was devastated.

Not only had I let that top three ranking slip through my fingers, but I had let my entire team down as we ended up coming in second that day.

I wish I could say that I came back stronger after that incident, but that would be a lie.

My game and my motivation for this sport that I had grown to love began to suffer.

I grew timid; unsure of myself and my abilities, and because of that I could not for the life of me maintain a consistent game.

It wasn’t until several weeks later and a number of tournaments and pep-talks later that I regained my confidence and continued to excel at the game of golf.

I look back on that season of my life and recognize some very important life and faith lessons that can be drawn from that tournament in particular.

Sometimes we really screw up; we make a mistake that simply cannot be undone and now we have to deal with the consequences.

Similar to my response to getting disqualified, many of us allow those fears, the disappointments, and the regrets to preoccupy our hearts and our minds.

We grow timid and uncertain; we lose focus and motivation to move forward and our faith that was once stronger than ever grows inconsistent, sending us on a roller-coaster of hills and valleys.

Have you been there?

In the tournaments that followed my disqualification, I remember trying so hard to avoid the out-of-bounds areas.

I took it upon myself.

I told myself I was going to get better, I was going to discipline myself more, I was going to get myself out of this.

Before I knew it, my focus became so consumed with all the dangers around me and my own ability to avoid those dangers that I forgot about the little yellow flag at the end of the fairway.

I had forgotten the purpose of the game.

Ultimately, regardless of how I played the course, the flag was always there.

That was fact. That was reality.

Regardless of how we navigate this game called life, God, our ultimate purpose, has been and will always be there.

While a mistake like mine in tournament play resulted in disqualification, be joyful in knowing that a mistake in life does not leave us disqualified.

You are not disqualified.

Don’t allow the mistakes you’ve made to further draw your purpose off course by preoccupying your thoughts and attention.

Don’t allow your failure to motivate you into trying harder.

Allow your failure to humbly lay you down beside still waters because He has already overcome the stronghold of your sin.

All too similar to golf, it is so easy to allow a mistake to negatively influence how you play the rest of the game; how we approach the next hole or perhaps how we approach the next day in life.

We have a choice though.

We have a choice between permitting our mistakes and our failures and our inherent sickness to bind us or we can look at Jesus, bound and beaten, and humbly accept His deliverance; humbly accept the fact that it was for that very mistake, that exact failure, and our crushing shame and disappointment that He died; that He took our place.

This is your reality. This is where you stand firm, in knowing that an out-of-bounds shot on hole five does not mandate a bad score on hole six.

A mistake two years ago, a month ago, today, whenever…a mistake does not mandate a life forever lived in shackles.

Because our purpose and our freedom is not influenced by our performance.

Regardless of what you think disqualifies you from the grace of God, the reality is that you are the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). You have an eternal position at the right hand of God and your purpose on this course remains eternally intact, regardless of how you get there.

That will never change.

So the next time you find yourself focusing on all your mistakes and failures; all those dangers and ‘what if’ questions…

What if I get hurt?

What if I fail?

What if I let people down?

When you catch yourself dwelling on these things, set your focus on the flag at the end of the fairway.

Recall your eternal position in Jesus Christ and the purpose of this game we call life.

Your position is found in God, not on the scorecard you hold at the end of the tournament.

And while there is tremendous opportunity for redemption in an 18-hole golf tournament, there is even more so found under the grace of our God Almighty.


A Matter of Perspective

I was so upset.

Why did I only get a dollar bill when my older brother got FOUR quarters!? How was that even fair?

My finite, 4-year old mind just could not understand why my mom had given my older brother more money than me.

Of course, it’s easy to look back on that moment now and see how petty it was, but at the time, my perspective was so narrow and so preoccupied with what I hadn’t received that it felt as if my whole world had been shaken.

It wasn’t until I gained a little perspective that I was able to see that even though what we had been given may have looked different, we had both received the same amount of money.

Since that moment, I have found that perspective is one of the hardest things to attain.

It seems to require this constant effort to restrain from embracing the presently preoccupying patterns of this world in order to keep my heart and mind focused on Jesus Christ.

Why is this so hard?

Why do we struggle with remaining focused on the reality that this world and its desires are indeed fleeting, but that the one who does the will of God participates in eternal purpose (1 John 2:17)?

This is such a beautiful and exciting truth, you’d think we would be more apt to focus on it rather than on the hum-drum ways of this world.

Yet here we are, unable to see the forest for the trees.

And I’m just as guilty as the next person.

I get so distracted sometimes.

I lose sleep over things.

I get preoccupied with my work, my relationships, my expectations, and my writing (yes – even my writing).

Does that mean we can’t dedicate time to these things?

Of course not. They are important and they deserve our attention.

What makes something – even something good – preoccupying though is when it “dominates or engrosses the mind to the point of completely excluding other thoughts.”

Early on when I first started writing, it was all I could think about.

It started out innocently and was rather exciting, but there was a moment when I realized that the time I had dedicated to God in the mornings had somehow become my writing time.

And while my writing revolves around my faith and is often about God, it still falls short of a heart consumed by Jesus Christ.

I had allowed myself to become so preoccupied with my writing, with developing a brand and creating something people would want to read that I forgot where the insight and inspiration actually came from.

This preoccupation with my writing had indeed excluded all other thoughts, including any regard for the importance of time spent alone with Christ.

So what do we do when we notice that our thoughts and time have become preoccupied?

Over the last several months of writing and learning to delegate my time and attention, I have found that simply returning to basics is invaluable to regaining eternal perspective.

Let’s take David for example.

In 1 Samuel 17 we read of David and Goliath – how this young boy defeated a warrior with a simple sling and five stones.

In this beautiful story of faith in action there are two, very conscious behaviors that David practices as he deals with his present situation

The first – He remembers his eternal position in Jesus Christ.

When you lose perspective on a situation and become preoccupied with the giant before you, read 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (vs. 21).

In returning to the core of our faith – to the truth that because of Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf we are made righteous before God; as we return to this realization, our perspective will begin to shift from feelings of self-preservation to acting out of our eternal position already determined in Christ.

Second – He minimized.

As David approached one of the biggest (literally – Goliath was a giant!) challenges of his life, he didn’t scrambling to acquire all the knowledge and resources he could before actually making the decision to face Goliath.

In fact, he denied it (1 Samuel 17:38-40).

Instead, he took with him:

  1. His sling. This was his practice; his job. He knew how to handle a sling better than anyone because it was his livelihood.
  2. Five stones. The resources God had blessed him with. Though it seemed bare in the eyes of the world, it was more than enough, and David trusted that.
  3. The power of God Almighty. David remembered the God he served and trusted in His promise to never leave him nor forsake him.

Are you getting this?

Whenever I had a big decision or challenge before me, I often sought out all the advice, all the knowledge, developed a lengthy pros and cons list, and had a well thought out A, B, and quite possibly C Plan.

This is not what David demonstrates though.

David trusted God and His provision.

He remembered and acted out of his eternal position as the righteousness of God.

And he utilized the platform on which God had placed him, making use of the skills he had already developed.

When we need a little outlook, it’s in the returning to the very basics of who we are and who we serve that provides such an eternal perspective.

So perhaps it’s time to stop for a moment.

Take a breath.

Put down your pros and cons list.

Postpone that coffee date.

Take inventory of what God has provided you and the platform on which He has placed you.

Remember that you are the righteousness of God through Jesus Christ.

You have an eternal position in heaven and with that comes an eternal perspective.


Clear your schedule and clear you thoughts – trust that God will make His light shine in your heart to give you the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6).

And always remember – you are a son or daughter of eternal purpose and belong in the big picture. Stop preoccupying your thoughts with the finite and take in the magnificent view.


More and More

One of the major lessons that I’ve learned in the year I have been writing grant applications is that this line of work is a continuous cycle of research and writing/submitting applications.

The more I research the more grant applications I submit and therefore the more funding the agency receives.

Grant research is not always easy though. Sometimes you get stuck and can only search for funding so many different ways until you completely run out of options.

But I do it nonetheless because if I stop researching then I won’t produce any results and therefore grow stagnant in my profession.

1 Thessalonians 4 encourages us to continue on with the good already instilled in us; to do more and more of what good we have been and are currently doing.

…brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more…(vs. 1 and 10).

Do so more and more…

That sounds exhausting.

I struggle with growing idle in my faith because I often take on the ‘diet’ mentality – I do good one day so I relax in my efforts the next and eventually this cycle turns into a ‘one-step-forward-two-steps-back’ routine, ultimately cultivating a complacent heart.

This is the exact mentality that Paul warns us against, encouraging us to combat these complacent behaviors by way of continuous growth and continuous development in our faith.

John 15:4 explains that in order for us to produce; in order for us to avoid complacency, we must remain firmly attached and grounded in Jesus Christ. We are stagnant and dying only when apart from Him. It is when we remain in Him and in His Word that we grow in faith, produce fruit, and continue to do so more and more.

However, if we fail to remain in Christ as John 15:4 instructs us to, we eventually forget where our true ability to produce fruit comes from.

Take Deuteronomy 8:10-18 for example.

Verse 18 sums up this passage by instructing us to remember the Lord our God, for it is he who gives us the ability to produce, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to our ancestors, as it is today.

It is only in and through and for Jesus Christ our Lord that we produce fruit.

However, it is in pride that the wicked man does not seek him [Jesus]; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  – Psalm 10:4

A complacent heart is rooted in pride. When we start believing it is from our own doing that we can produce any kind of spiritual fruit we will eventually grow stagnant because we detach ourselves from the only true source of Life.

When there is no room for God there is no room for growth nor is there room for a spirit that does good and continues to do so more and more.

Jeremiah 10:21 says that the shepherds are senseless and do not inquire of the Lord; so they do not prosper and all their flocks are scattered.

Tying in directly with John 15:4, when we are not inquiring of the Lord; if we are not rooting our lives in Him, we become senseless in our pursuits and do not prosper in our actions.

I’m learning this very lesson today as I continue growing in my writing.

In order for me to produce any kind of Godly wisdom or understanding, I must first remain completely dependent on Christ and the only way to do that is to eliminate any trace of pride that I may have in connection with my writing.

If I am at all prideful in my work, it won’t be very long before I begin relying on my own abilities, forgetting to inquire of the Lord and therefore growing complacent in my faith.

If our work is not done in and through and for Jesus Christ, then it is void of divine impact and everlasting hope.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.  – John 15:4

Only in connection to the Lord our God are we able to produce any kind of good work and it is only by continuous growth in Him that we are able to do so more and more.