Fruit of the Spirit

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:16-26 NLT

I had a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who said, “pay attention! It says Fruit not Fruits.” How often do you hear people say, “The Fruits of the Spirit?” These are not separate “fruits” to strive for but one big fruit, which is probably why I like this print so much. It’s one fruit with all the parts listed in it.

So that means that the goal is not to simply master one of these but to master them all, so that your fruit can harvest. Let’s take a look at the list again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What in the list do you find easy? What do you find hard?

For me love is easy when the person is easily loved. I read a newspaper article earlier today where a man with Developmental Disabilities who was supposed to be in a safe place but was used, abused and eventually murdered. It’s hard to love the people who did that. So I guess I have to work on love some more.

Joy, comes from the anguish, heartache and grief of difficult situations. So getting to joy is not fun but joy in itself is good. I still think some days I need to work on letting more joy into my life.

Peace, this feels pretty easy until I start worrying about something. Most of the time I am peaceful but when I’m not, it’s easy to pray to God and ask for peace.

Patience…oh boy. I really need to work on patience. I feel my sinful nature coming up when I’m impatient. I don’t have patience with myself, I don’t have patience with drivers on the road, I don’t have patience…. Let’s just say I need to work on this one.

Kindness, I feel pretty confident with kindness. Unless you’re that person on I-70 that cuts me off, then my patience is gone and all you are getting is my anger. Again, another moment when my sinful nature comes up. So kindness is easy when life is easy.

Goodness, again I feel like I have goodness down, until something happens that makes things not so good, then my sinful nature shows up.

But faithfulness, I’m definitely good on this one. I don’t like to brag, but I will for this purpose. My faith in God is strong, it always has been. When I was a child, I had a fight with a friend and was worried that we would never be friends again. I was tossing and turning while not sleeping in my bed and God tapped on my shoulder and I just knew that a) it was him and b) everything was going to be ok. And then I fell into a deep peaceful sleep.

Gentleness, hmm I could probably work on this one too. What can I say I’m a work in progress?

Self-control….I think I’ve explained that I need to work on this, just see above.

Ok, so I need to work on all the aspects of my fruit. What about you? Are you where you think you should be? What do you feel you need to work on?

Lord, we thank you for spending time with us tonight and for showing us what we need to work on and where we are letting our sinful natures rule. We ask that you walk alongside each of us as we work to have better love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that we are a work in progress, please help us to remember this as we work on the fruit of the spirit. We know that you give us these things from the Spirit and as we strive to do better at each of them we ask for your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, for we learn best by your example. Lord thank you for all of your gifts and please be with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We ask all these things in your precious and holy name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Fruits

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Harvest of Blessing

“Dear Brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:1-10 NLT

When you read this passage what sticks out to you? Is it that we are all to help each other back on to God’s path when we are sinning? And while helping that we are not to fall into temptation as well? Is it that we share in each other’s burdens? Is it that none of us is too important to help another human being? Is it that focusing on helping others will keep us from trying to be better than anyone else? Is it that we will always harvest what we plant? Is it that we should not get tired of doing what is good? Is that by doing good we will reap the harvest of blessing?

What’s great about this passage is that it speaks to all of us. We are, each one, responsible for our own actions and for helping those around us and with an air of humility, knowing that we are not too important to help. Wouldn’t it be great if we went to one another asking for help when we get too close to our sin? Alcoholics do this when they get too close to having another drink. But I can’t think of any other group that is self-aware enough to say, “hey, I feel like sinning.” But wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did or if we could see when someone is about to sin.

Like, “ooh I see Jenny is thinking impure thoughts I better go see if she needs my help.” But that’s not exactly something you can see. You might be able to see, “oh wait a minute, Micheal looks like he is going to gossip, I better go stop him.” But really how much of our sins are visible? I don’t know about you, but I try to hide my sins. I mean it’s not like I walk around waiving the red flag that signals that I will be sinning soon. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something like that, that would help us prevent sin.

It’s only when our sin becomes visible that we seek help. And sometimes our sin is so great that reaching the end of our rope or rock bottom is the only thing that makes us reach out to others. This is of course the perfect time to help others but wouldn’t it be great if we could prevent sin? I think this actually might be possible because when we help others, in the moment when they need us most, we open the door for them to need us again. We open the door to us needing them as well. Starting a relationship by helping each other is how we prevent sin in the future. The starting of the relationship is the planting. We are planting seeds of love, of compassion, of forgiveness, of trust, and like the author says, whatever we plant will grow to harvest.

Lord, please help us to be more aware. Help us to stop and look and listen to those around us and help our focus to be on each other and not just “getting the work done.” Lord, help us to be better Christians and better friends and better sisters and better brothers and better moms and better dads and better wives and better husbands and better cousins and better aunts and better uncles and better grandparents and better kids to all those around us, those we know and those who are unknown. Lord, help us to reap the harvest of blessing. We thank you Lord for spending time with us and we ask all these things in your loving name Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Cross

Get your own wall hanging at Hobby Lobby.

Hero: What’s Your Definition?

TNT has a new show that will star THE ROCK called THE HEROFrom the previews I’ve seen of this show it looks a lot like FEAR FACTOR or some other stunt show. In one of the previews I have seen they have linked being a hero to that of being an athlete.

It’s funny, if you read the bios of the contestants you see that some of them are already heroes, like the single mother of the deaf son or the police officer. They are already heroes but are going on this show to prove they are heroes by doing ridiculous stunts. Isn’t it enough to be a hero in real life?

Why does performing several different kinds of stunts make you a hero? They say there will be a moral component to the show but I don’t see how that will factor in.

When you think of heroes who do you think of first?

  • Just this past week in Moore, OK there were many heroes: the teacher who huddled with her kids, the first responders who searched for victims, the people that dug others out of rubble praying that the victim would be alive when they reached them, etc. And there will be many more heroes that come forth as the time goes on. If I were searching for a hero in this case it would be the people that act without thinking, the people that do what they’ve been trained to do and the people that put others needs before their own. How do you possibly measure that on some reality TV show?
  • Memorial Day is coming up, who are the heroes that fought for our freedom? I have plenty of friends and loved ones that have served our country either here in the states or abroad. The people I know gave up their cushy lifestyle not for fame or fortune but because they felt a duty, because they felt called to fight for others. The winners of this reality TV show will get fame and fortune, if they were a real hero wouldn’t they give that up?
  • When we’re little we think of our parents as heroes as they save us from car accidents (you know the whole step on the break and put an arm across your body to hold you in your seat thing). They save us from skinned knees and teach us valuable lessons. What will a bunch of spoiled people on TV teach us about ourselves and life in general? 

The ultimate question in my mind is what does TNT think being a HERO means? It’s pretty obvious to me, every time I see the commercial advertising this new dumb show that they have no idea what it means to be a real hero or what it takes to be a hero.

The dictionary defines a hero as, “a man (obviously they are not very enlightened, substitute person for man) of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities.” (found on 5/22/2013 @ 6:18pm on dictionary.com). It also says that the person who is seen as a hero then becomes the “model or ideal” that we all look up to and want to become.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to become some yahoo who wins some dumb prize on a reality show. I’d rather be someone who risks their life for mine. I’d rather be someone like Mother Teresa who sacrificed herself for others, or the teacher from Moore, OK or a first responder or someone who puts others before themselves.

I know the Sunday school answer is, “I wanna be like Jesus.” After all he was a pretty good hero. He died for our sins and he healed the sick. He traveled with and talked to the outsiders of the world and he worked hard to change people’s opinions.

I don’t want to be like some unknown person who goes on a reality TV show and turns the word HERO into some lame thing. I want to be like Jesus, Mother Teresa, the teacher, the first responders, the armed forces. I aspire to be the person who does things not for recognition or for fortune and fame but rather because it is right and there was never a thought to do anything different.

A short definition of a hero is someone ordinary doing extraordinary things. It’s someone who puts others first, someone who does what’s right not for fame but because it is right.

The picture I’ve attached is a picture of the heroes I want to look up to. It’s ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES!
Ordinary people rescuing other people: HEROES! (taken from http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-moore-oklahoma-2013-5)

To see more photos go to: http://www.businessinsider.com/inspiring-images-from-moore-oklahoma-2013-5

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe the show will be better than I think it will be, maybe these contestants will prove through stunts and fake challenges what it means to be a hero but either way I’m going to aspire to be the ordinary who steps up to do the extraordinary and leave the reality TV kind of hero to someone else.

Aspire to be a real hero…..not with stunts but in real life when the going gets incredibly tough.

Grief: Annoying or Necessary

Grief is one emotion that seems to never end. It’s quite annoying….or is it?

Grief gives you a chance to weep for the loss but also remember the great times.

During my time at Seminary I lost two/three Grandmothers. Grandma Vi I lost early and I’ve gotten to the place where remembering her doesn’t lead me to tears. There are moments when I cry because she’ll miss out on some important times of my life. For instance, she never knew that I got two Masters: MDIV and Recovery Ministry (which I will receive in a few weeks, I would go to graduation but its 3 hours long and my sister is getting married :)). She also won’t be at my little sister’s wedding in a few weeks.

Grandma Summers I lost late. It’s been a year now without her and my heart aches. Just thinking about her and I’m weeping. She’ll also miss Rebecca’s wedding. It will be a joyful day but also a little sad because she won’t be there. I cannot wait until I can remember her for just a moment and not be weeping.

The third grandma I sort of lost was my Grandma Shirley. She’s gone. No matter what my aunts and uncles say she’s gone. The shell of who she was is still with us and this may be the hardest grief of all. Because I still have to look at pictures of the shell. Pictures that show that’s she not really here anymore. It’s completely sad but I cannot wait for her to be with Jesus. I cannot wait until she is free from the bonds of this world. I don’t know what will happen when she gets to heaven but my hope is that her mind will come back to her and she’ll be partying with all my grandmas and grandpas in heaven. My hope is that the real her will come back and she’ll be preparing a place for me.

My cousins lost a grandfather last week, a grandfather that was ready to be with the Lord and needed to go. But a loss nonetheless. To me Grandpa Ed (he’s not really my grandpa by blood but with Ed and Dorothy blood relation means nothing and they insisted that we call them Grandpa and Grandma) was a funny guy who passed out at inopportune times. He had narcolepsy (I think) and often had attacks when he had extreme emotions. He could be anxious or excited and then he would just pass out.

The family always handled these attacks with grace, they’d catch him and then set him down and laugh it off. As a kid I was never scared when he had these attacks, of course I was never in a car while he was driving as it happened.  Around me they happened in the safety of a home and I thought they were funny. I could see how they could be scary for others but the family made it safe.

When I told Ed and Dorothy of my desire to go to Seminary they were excited for me and Dorothy encouraged me. I was not as close to Grandpa Ed as his vast family but he always made me feel a part of his family and I grieve the loss of a loving man but I am glad he is with Jesus, sitting at his feet, soaking up the words of wisdom and earning his reward.

Grief is both annoying and necessary. It’s annoying when it hits you at inopportune times like the sleeping attacks that hit Grandpa Ed. When remembering my Grandma brings tears to my eyes no matter what I’m doing, when it brings me to my knees it’s absolutely annoying. I’d like to think of my Grandma without wetness filling my eyes. No matter if I’m remembering one of my last conversations with her, calling her a dumb-ass for wanting to go grocery shopping without her oxygen tank, which I think is funny and proves how awesome our relationship was or remembering seeing her in the casket (which I’m hoping to erase from my memory banks soon). I’d like to remember my grandmother without it feeling like I just got kicked in the gut. But that’s the necessary part of grief. Grief is necessary because the process allows you to go on, to move on, and to realize that moving on is exactly what you’re supposed to do.

Let’s move out of grief for a loved one because grief is more than just the loss of a person. Grief is a process that should happen any time you lose something. Of course the grief over a lost job should last shorter than the grief over a lost Grandmother. I’ve grieved several losses in my life. One of the most important places in my life that I had to get through loss was when I was abused. I had to grieve, years later, the loss of innocence, the loss of purity, the loss of feeling safe, the loss of childhood. Even if grief happens years later it has to happen. Since going through the process of grief in this area of my life I was able to let it go. To let go of the things that were taken from me, to let go of the things that never were.

The same could be said for the loss of a loved one. It is important to get through the process of grief and to allow it to happen at whatever pace you need so that you can get beyond it, so that you can see the joy, so that you can see the lost one as they were before you lost them.

Grief can be absolutely annoying but it is also absolutely necessary.

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