Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fresh Fruit

“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they?  So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit.  Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.  So then, you will know them by their fruits.  - Mathew 7:15-20

As I was getting ready this morning and this verse came to mind.  The more I thought about it, the more I wonder what kind of fruit I have been producing. In Galatians it says that the fruit of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  Are these fruits actually what I am producing or am I producing fruit other than these?

As I break them down I came up with these thoughts:
  • Love - sure it is easy to love others, but then again there are those who aren't so easy to love.  I know I don't always choose to love them the way God would want me to.   
  • Joy - well, not doing so good here either.  I guess joy doesn't mean you are always happy, but I do get consumed sometimes by worry which I know steals our joy.
  • Peace - well, I would love to say that I am good at this would, but in reality I do like a good argument and sometimes struggle with keeping the peace.  I'm not saying that I am for war or believe in going out and destroying peace that way, but I certainly know I am not at peace all of the time.
  • Forbearance - (otherwise known as showing patience or leniency)   I can show patience for a while, but after some time I certainly allow things to eat at me and all leniency tends to go out the window.  
  • Kindness - I guess it depends on what you view as kindness.  I try to be kind and polite to people, but I know I don't always do the greatest job.  
  • Goodness - well, the Bible says not even one is good, but I certainly try to be.  
  • Faithfulness - I certainly try to be faithful, although I know I do allow things to come between me and God and I did that in my marriage then it could be considered unfaithful.  
  • Gentleness - I certainly try to be gentle, but there are times when I most certainly am not.
  • Self-control - wow, this can cover so much. Eating, spending, time useage, just to name a few.  I know I have self control in some areas, but I also know there are few areas that do a better job of controlling me than I do of controlling me. 
Now, I know God gives us grace and mercy when we make mistakes and that we are to be ever growing/changing.  I think it is good, however, for us to examine if we are expressing quality fruits or not so that we can know how others view us.  I know we want others to be able to see Christ in who we are.  If we arn't producing His fruits, we are getting in the way.

Maybe you struggle with some of the same issues.  Maybe its times to examine and ask God to help you in a specific area or two. Just remember, when it comes to these, He will certainly grant you opportunities to express them.  They are not something He will necessarily just give.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Waste

Sometimes I wonder how much of our life is wasted on unimportant things.  I think of how many hours of TV I have watched in my life time and how many missed or un-built relationships I have because of how I have chose to use my time.  Sure it is nice to be able to sit down and unwind every once-in-a-while, but I wonder how many hours we waste doing pointless things that cost us time in this short life we have to live.

I was listening to a discussion recently about how much we have compared to other people throughout the world and how our "poor" aren't really poor in most instances. While I could go on and on with that topic and discuss my views, I have to wonder if in the midst of those who have so much "less" than us, do they perhaps have more in some ways than we do. 

Think about it for a minute.  If you don't have a car, you don't have to waste time putting in gas, changing oil, maintaining and repairing.  There is a lot of extra free time in that.  Granted they can't typically go very far and therefor are limited when it comes to work, but if you can learn to live on less you can really afford to make less.  If you can afford to make less then you can work less and have more time for the more important things in life.

I'm not saying that everyone is called to this, because I know God provides opportunities for people to work and helps some be able to make more so that they can take care of the less fortunate.  I just wonder how much of our lives we spend doing things that waste our time and we miss out on opportunities that God has for us. 

Anyway, it's just a thought for now.  It's something I have been wrestling with for a while.  It's one of those ideas where you wonder if we have become so "advanced" as a society that we miss out on the blessings that many past generations had when they didn't have the things that are supposed to make our lives better.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

But I Can't

I've heard the phrase, "God will never ask you to do anything you can't do," far too many times in my life.  In fact, I have probably said it before myself.  That may be because people are actually referring to 1 Corinthians 10:13, that says, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it."  Even then we often forget the part where it says He will provide a way of escape. 

As I listened to a speaker today on the radio, he made the point that God does in fact ask us to do things we cannot do.  Case in point, would be the story of "The Woman at the Well."  It's a fairly well known story of where Jesus interacts with a Samaritan woman and goes against all sorts of "rules," but just speaking to her.  What I have never paid much attention to before, however, was the fact that He asked her to go get her husband, when He knew she didn't have a husband.  He asked her to do something she couldn't do. 

As I began to think about it, I think about the things I feel like God has been asking me to do, that seem like things I can't do.  I have to believe that God sometimes asks us to do things in our lives that we can't do, because He knows our heart and wants to use that question to point out an area in our life where there is something we can't do on our own, but rather He has to do it for us.  It is a point of our lives that we have to submit to Him because He is the only one that can.

Take for instance, the "Rich Young Ruler," who asked Jesus what it would take to gain eternal life.  When Jesus listed off all the commands and the ruler said that he had done those things since he was a child, Jesus said, ok, God sell everything you have and give it to the needy.  First, there was no way that man had kept all of those rules since he was a child.  No one is perfect, but even if he was speaking of the fact that he had been forgiven by God, the point was that he was still looking for what HE could do to EARN his way into heaven.  Jesus told him to do something that he "couldn't" do, while trying to help him realize it had nothing to do with his works, but rather in came through Jesus himself.

So really, its somewhat of a two fold thought.  One, Christ does ask us to do things we can't do.  Two, asking us to do something we can't do helps us realize we have no hope outside Jesus.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lack of Unity

I was reading a book today, that my wife got me for Christmas, called Red Letter Revolution.  I find it interesting as it coincides with a lot of my own personal feelings of how off track the church has gotten.  In the current chapter I am reading, the authors point out an interesting fact about John 17.

John 17 is Christ's longest recorded prayer.  In the midst of that prayer He prays "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me." - John 17:22-23

Christ's desire for us was to be unified yet with over 32,000 denominations we are far from being unified. We have a huge lack of unity.  

Now, I have to admit I am one to distance myself from denominations.  I have felt so much pain by people of the church so focused on what the denomination believes over what the Bible teaches that I have wanted nothing to do with any denomination. As I was reading through the book however, I was reminded that no one is perfect and that I have made my fair share of mistakes.  We have to look beyond the differences and realize (as one of my friends put it) if it's not an issue of salvation, it doesn't really matter.  

I wonder how much more unified we would be as the Bride of Christ if we focused more on His teachings and being the Body than perfecting our dogmatic beliefs. I know Christ has called us to so much more.   I feel Him stirring in my life and challenging me to be something more than what I currently am. I admit at points I am terrified to give up my comforts that I have become so accustom to, yet excited for what God has in store.

On a side note, I also read another great thought I just had to share. The book didn't list the author, but it said, "I heard one gospel preacher say it like this, as he really wound up and broke a sweat: “We’ve got to unite ourselves as one body. Because Jesus is coming back, and he’s coming back for a bride not a harem."

Monday, February 18, 2013


Lately, I have been trying to wrap my mind around a few questions I have had based on some recent events.  Before I go into elaborating on those questions, as I hope to in an upcoming blog post on each, I wanted to share them.  For me they are challenging and I want to make sure I think through the implications before I actually delve into what all it could mean in my life.

Question 1:
I recently heard it stated that all the laws of the Old Testament (of God not necessarily man) had to do with life and death.  Choosing to follow those laws would bring life and choosing to go against those laws would mean death.  Christ came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill the law and gave us a new command that can be summed up in "Love God and Love Others." He also said that He was the life.  Could it mean that none of the other laws matter if we follow, "Love God and Love Others," and that in doing so we find Him and in-turn receive that life?"

Question 2:
The gospels are full of words spoken by Jesus, many of which Christians pay very little mind to.  I even struggle with them.  Could it be that if we focused just on the words of Jesus and looked at the rest of scripture through His teachings that we would see God in a new way? 

Question 3: (relates to question 2)
If we were to look at all scripture as to what God was doing rather than what man was doing could we see God in a different way?  Do we get so caught up in the story of "man," that we miss God?  Don't get me wrong, I believe the story of man can be powerful and we have a lot to learn, but what if we are really missing the point in how we read it?  Maybe I am alone on this one.

Anyway, those are the 3 that I am really trying to understand right now.  Feel free to share your thoughts.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Have you given up?

So I read this last Friday and realized I had to share this.  I know we have to make sure our dreams align with the dreams God has for us, but I wonder how many of us have given up on our dreams.

Recently posted on the Storyline blog:
Henri the painter is one of Steinbeck’s quirky characters in Cannery Row. He’s known for the unique and intricate boats he builds, often taking years to work on each one.

But there’s something odd about Henri. He never finishes a boat. When it’s almost completed, he takes it apart and begins anew, having no intention of ever putting the boat in the water. Two of his friends discuss his behavior:

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Friday, February 8, 2013

Where have you been?

If you followed me most of last year, you have probably seen a steady decline in my posting over the last couple months.  I don't know what it is for certain that has given me some what of a "block" as to what to write about.  I have come up with several topics, but never can justify sharing them nor feel like they are even fully developed in my mind yet.

I say all of this because of a recent realization that I have come to.

I like conflict.  Not necessarily that I like to argue with people or that I want to be "better" than someone else, I just find my mind consistently running towards conflict.

I began to see this most recently when I was discussing with my wife about the thought that America has been blessed. I have heard many people say this over the years and I have always had a struggle with understanding how they can say that.  I believe God blesses His people, but I certainly don't believe He blesses a physical nation when it is so far from Him.  I could go on and on, but that is not the point.

The point is, this is where my mind goes.

On the other hand, I have a friend who would say ultimately it doesn't matter what we believe about it.  It is not a salvation issue.  It is not something that would stand in the way of my relationship with God.

It is hard for me to think like that. 

As I look back at some of my blogs I see lots of thoughts that are not salvation issues, but rather issues that concern me or topics that have really changed the way I view things.  It makes me question sometimes if any of my thoughts on topics really matter.  After all the message of Christ is so simple we often miss it for no other reason than we want to over complicate it or we find a divisive issue that makes us feel better than someone else.

Anyway, that's where I am at.  Trying to figure out a few things.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Shane L. Windmeyer

My dad recently shared this article with me by Shane L. Windmeyer.  As I read through it, I couldn't help but share.  For those of you who got caught up in the whole Chick-fil-a debate, you have to read this.

I spent New Year's Eve at the red-blooded, all-American epicenter of college football: at the Chick-fil-A Bowl, next to Dan Cathy, as his personal guest. It was among the most unexpected moments of my life. 

Yes, after months of personal phone calls, text messages and in-person meetings, I am coming out in a new way, as a friend of Chick-fil-A's president and COO, Dan Cathy, and I am nervous about it. I have come to know him and Chick-fil-A in ways that I would not have thought possible when I first started hearing from LGBT students about their concerns over the chicken chain's giving practices. 

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