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Fruit of the Spirit: Goodness & Kindness

When my eldest daughter was little, she loved and admired her grandfather greatly.  She loved him to such an extent that if she were caught doing something she shouldn’t, he could just look at her and she’d cry.  She wanted so much to please him that she would do anything to be in his good graces.  My question for you is, who do you love and admire so much that you would do just about anything in order to please them?  You take their advice.  You model your behavior and even thoughts after them.  You may not even realize you have a relationship like this with someone but you probably do.  

The danger is that, as infallible humans, we will invariably get something wrong.  It’s how our idols fall into disfavor.  Relationships get fractured when the one we’ve placed on the pedestal fails us.  There has only been one person that walked this planet who truly deserves that level of devotion – Jesus.  So, my other question is, have you placed God at the top of the list of ones you most love and desire to reflect?

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11

What exactly is this “good” that is a reflection or imitation of God?  The word “good” is written 725 times in our Bible.  From Genesis 1:4 all the way to 3 John we read of good and goodness.  I’ll take a leap here and say that of all the fruits of the spirit, love, peace and goodness may be the most misunderstood by Christians and especially non-Christians.  

When we say something is “good” its use can be as widespread as “loving” something thing.  “I love good sourdough bread” is not the same as “loving our neighbors reflects the goodness of God.”  The first is a fleshly desire of something made well.  The second describes a self-less act imitating the character of God.

God is not merely good, but goodness; goodness is not merely divine, but God.

C.S. Lewis

Each one of the fruit of the spirit listed by Paul in Galatians deals with either the state of our soul and/or an action thereof.  All of the fruit are a result of the Holy Spirit’s work in us in creating us more like Jesus.  Therefore, the “goodness” in this list requires us first to investigate what is the goodness of God?

Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
    which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
    in the sight of the children of mankind! Psalm 31:19

When you look up the word “goodness” in Strong’s Concordance it has you refer to the index.  In the index it equates what goodness refers to in various parts of scripture.  All the references are attached to God’s character:

  • Abundant (Exodus 34:6)
  • Great   (Psalm 31:19)
  • Enduring (Psalm 52:1)
  • Satisfying (Psalm 65:4)

I would add to this list that God’s loving character also brings these other good things to our world: light, faithfulness, joy, mercy, and grace.  The words “it was good” are used over and over coming from God’s mouth to describe His glorious creation —  His great love in action.

When I said that the word “goodness” or “good” is listed among some of the most misunderstood I meant this – that apart from God no one’s soul imitates this goodness.  Yes, even that person that seems really, really good.  

If you ask a Humanist or atheist to define their morals or values, they’ll probably list things that actually are God-given commands.  The difference is, commands such as “do not steal” become wishy washy depending upon the non-believer’s circumstances.  You see, we ALL choose someone or something to imitate and hold up as the pinnacle of moral authority.  But non-Christians (and unfortunately some Christians) hold up humans as that authority.  And we are and do what we love, made worse when it is ourself.

Goodness is virtue and holiness in action. It results in a life characterized by deeds motivated by righteousness and a desire to be a blessing. It’s a moral characteristic of a Spirit-filled person. The Greek word translated “goodness,” agathosune, is defined as “uprightness of heart and life.” 

Got Questions, A Christian Podcast

Righteousness, “uprightness,” can only come from one source: the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  He not only cleansed us of the guilt and sin we carry but made it so we can be called to goodness.  To reflect the goodness of God.  

God wants to be united with us in full.  He loves us, brings us joy and peace.  He’s asking us to be so in love with Him, so admiring of Him that we too want to fill our souls and the world with light, abundance, mercy and grace.  To set aside all other idols and place Him front and center.  For when we do, our goodness will naturally lead us to action.  Those actions are called love, patience and kindness.

Coming up: Selfishness or Selflessness

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Joy In The Small

The six of us sat around the table enjoying our meal of tacos as we somehow found ways to laugh and grab hold of normalcy.  Then one of us heard her voice call from the other room.  My daughter jumped up to see what was needed.  Upon returning she announced, “She wants a taco!”  And so, a small plate of our feast was made and delivered to the other room.  We gathered around the bed of my dying mother-in-law watching her savor a few bites of her favorite food.  She had proclaimed to a nurse just a few weeks prior that she couldn’t wait to be healed so she could enjoy a taco and a beer.  Although no beer was in sight this night, we all watched her take small bites of that tiny gift of a taco.  We cried in our laughter.  And I realized this was joy. 

For the Lord takes delight in his people;
    he crowns the humble with victory.
Let his faithful people rejoice in this honor
    and sing for joy on their beds. Psalm 149: 4-5

I mentioned at the beginning of this week’s look at joy that God brought me into one of the most difficult experiences of my life not too long ago.  When we finally submit ourselves to God’s will we can look back over our lives and see the pruning He has done in us for our good.  Those trials and tests were given at just the right time for the right purpose.  To see our lives this way we must recognize not only the love He has for us but His soverenity over us.  He knows our timeline backwards and forwards.  It’s why we must give up telling God what to do and instead ask Him to reveal His will to us.  And although I don’t know what else He has in store for me in the coming years I do know He prepared me for the death of the woman who started me on my joy journey.

“(Jonathan) Edwards teaches us, then, of the God-centeredness of all joy in this fallen world.  He reminds us that the formula to joy is not God and _____ so much as God in ___.”

Dane Ortlund, Edwards and the Christian Life

God was in the room with us that night as we watched Bev groan in delight with each tiny bite.  She wasn’t pain free, she wasn’t healed, but she was joyous.  In just a few days she would be gone.  In her wake she left a trail of glorious blooms.  Joy-filled moments with friends who came to say goodbye.  Quiet, joy moments at 2:00am while pain medicine was administered, holding hands and remembering together.  Laughing as we struggled ineptly to changed bedsheets under her ravaged body.  We could do this because she loved the Lord more than anything.  We could find joy because we knew the Lord was waiting for her.

As for me?  Had the Lord taken her say five or ten years ago I would have been angry.  I would have felt so lost without her.  As I write this, yes, I’m crying from missing her but I’m not angry.  I’m so happy for her that she is free from pain.  She sits in the loving arms of God waiting for the last chapter to commence.

"Those who sow with tears
    will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
    carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
    carrying sheaves with them." Psalm 126:5-6

The question for you is do you believe Him?  Do you abide in Him?  Do you believe that our tears will turn to joy one day?  I know a number of Christians who have a very difficult time believing this.  The have a difficult time with the apostles and Jesus reminding us to find joy, yes, even in the trials.  Yet we are surrounded every day with brothers and sisters who do fully believe this truth.  

It’s not they that are a mystery – the ones who seem joyous in adversity.  It’s those of us who aren’t joyous that are the mystery.  We have the promises of God at our fingertips.  We have been lovingly provided for by the Father.  He has been with us in our trials.  He is with you right now in whatever you are going through.  He is pruning.  He is watering you.  Seek Him.  Abide in Him.  Ask Him to show you His will.  Thank Him for what you do have today, for there is always something for which to be thankful for, like a taco.  

 "If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete." John 15:10-11

“What the sun does to a valley as night gives way to day is what joy does to the Christian as the heart is filled with joy.  The Father is the sun itself, the Son is the brightness of the sun, and the Spirit is the warmth of the sun,”

Jonathan Edwards
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Joy In Our Obedience

I told a friend recently that maybe I should apologize to the world for the COVID pandemic.  You see I had for years been praying to God for patience and joy to be cornerstones of my life.  I thought if I just tried really hard at not doing certain behaviors I would succeed at this task.  While I had found some success in listening to God and obeying when He asked me to take certain actions, I bucked and kicked at fully surrendering myself to Him.  And then the pandemic came upon us.

As most of us experienced, our lives were thrown into chaos.  Some people almost completely shut down.  Loved ones lost not only their jobs and communion with family and friends, but their very lives themselves.  We were placed in a state of intense fear and uncertainty.  Where I live the government restrictions became egregious, almost to the state of Marshall Law.  People were afraid to leave their homes.  In some areas you could be fined over $1,000 just for sitting in your parked car on the street next to the beach.  In another, the city “outlawed” people from driving up to senior care facilities and waving at them from their windows.  Despair, anger, fear, was thick in the air whenever you made the allowed trip to the grocery store.  And boy was I angry.  

I became angry with the media for putting out confusing messages.  At government officials who chastised us for wearing masks then not wearing masks.  At neighbors who jumped to the other side of the street as though we each were walking around with deadly leprosy.  I despaired over my church closing indefinitely and not seeming to care of the state of their members. I wanted to rage on social media, to my friends and my husband.  Discord, not joy, was my refuge.  While each day I spent hours doing my various Bible studies no less!  I told my Bible study ladies, “I’m a great Christian when I’m at my house, until I walk out the front door.”

Then one day my husband, the chief operations person for a group of Alzheimer’s care facilities, came home looking completely undone.  The exhaustion on his face confirmed his first words to me, “That’s it.  I can’t do this anymore.”  The long days and nights keeping his residents and staff safe while managing the ever-changing governmental rules had taken its toll.  I realized he needed joy not discord from me.  He didn’t need to hear me complaining at dinner about the latest news announcement.  He didn’t need to feel my anger over something that happened at  the grocery store.  No, he needed me to be a mirror of the Holy Spirit.

“Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.”   James 3:5-6

So, my true journey of seeking joy began thanks to the pandemic.  It was a test for many of us Christians.   I knew my past failures meant a new approach was needed.  One that was Holy Spirit directed.  We can no better wish for, pressure ourselves, think into action, joy than a tree can try really hard to make cherries. But what does a cherry tree do in order to create that beautiful fruit?  It allows its very essence, it’s holy purpose to do its work inside the roots, trunk, branches, leaves and blossoms.  Effortlessly in full submission to its Creator. 

“A Christian new birth brings a change made in the views of his mind and relish of the heart so that the regenerate person seeks his interest and happiness in God.”

Jonathan Edwards, Religious Affections

You see, when we seek real change from the ugliness this world grows in us it means we seek to become who God intended us to be.  People close to Him, loving Him and being immensely loved by Him.  It’s no wonder “love” is listed first as a fruit of the Spirit.  Without it, the rest would be impossible.   In researching Christian joy, I discovered these three characteristics of a joy-filled life in full bloom.

1. Submission:  “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  John 15:5

This submission is not slave to master as some non-Christians like to portray.  No, it’s a loving mentor, teacher, parent who sincerely knows and wants the best for us.  But unlike those relationships we never grow out of needing the Lord to guide us.  He just guides us through more difficult and more beautiful experiences.  His loving omniscience is where we must put our trust.

2. Seek to Glorify God’s Will: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:1-2

With each word we speak, each action we take, even every thought it should be with turning ourselves over to God in worship.  When we wake in the morning,  prayer sets us on the right path in seeking ways to glorify Him to our family, friends, co-workers and strangers.  In other words, the old saying, “What would Jesus do?” should be on our minds in conversations with the Spirit throughout our day.

3. Seek God’s Glorious Beauty: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15. 

 Jonathan Edwards’ theological focus through the entirety of his life was God is the foundation of beauty.  Nature doesn’t exist for itself but for the glorification of God.  I took up a challenge to think on God every 30 minutes earlier this year.  Whether in my car, cooking dinner, shopping, I stop for a minute, look around and thank God for the amazing creation around me.  The beautiful sky or quenching rain.  The child’s laughter nearby or even the opportunity to sit in traffic so I could listen to the rest of a podcast.  He is all around us in full color and glory, especially during our trials.  Praise Him!

Friend, our joy comes from the love God has shown us with the work His son has already done for us.  It comes from the work the Holy Spirit is doing in us.  The blossom?  The fruit?  That’s the work He is doing through us for all the world to see. 

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Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

The search for joy and happiness has been called one of the great universal mankind desires by pastor and theologian Jonathan Edwards.  It’s this craving for joy that leads some to dangerous, adrenaline junky activities.  For others it sets a bar so high in relationships that they burn through marriages to find the “perfect one.”  Some seek this seemingly elusive state of being through drugs, alcohol, or the accumulation of stuff.  “If I only I had that car or house, I’d be happy,” the poor man speaks.  “If I had a husband or children then I’d be happy,” says the single woman.  As God so often does, however, He turns the world’s understanding of this simple three-letter word, joy, inside out.  

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4

When I first read these verses a few years ago I had to laugh.  It reminded me of a scene from an old movie, National Lampoon’s Animal House.  In it, young men are pledging to be members of a college fraternity.  In one scene they are being given the paddle and are required to yell out, “Thank you, Sir!  May I have another?!”  In other words, they are to act like they are enjoying the painful beating.   

The disciple James admonishes the scattered Jewish Christians to rejoice in the persecution and difficulties they face.  And so many of us read that, scrunch up our face and say, “What?”  Prior to studying the Bible and taking my faith seriously I thought joy or happiness meant smooth sailing.  When I wasn’t in that state of joy, I surmised I just wasn’t trying hard enough.  When trials came, as they always do, I despaired over my lack of joy.

I spent an entire year announcing to anyone that I was seeking “sparkliness.”  Yes, that’s a word I made up.  But you probably know what I mean.  I wanted to exude joy whenever I walked into a  room.  To be shiny and happy and light in my demeanor.  To be free of sadness and negativity.   Sounds beautiful, right?  So, I put on a happy face wherever I went.  I worked hard at not saying anything negative.  I told myself to shake off being mad or sad.  Friends, I’ve got to tell you, I failed miserably.  Because if we are “faking it,” it will show up in our fruit.

“It is evident, both by Scripture and reason, that God is infinitely, eternally, unchangeably, and independently glorious and happy.”

Jonathan Edwards

So, why couldn’t I be gloriously happy as well?  Which brought me running headfirst in to the book of James. My worldly version of joy was completely upended.  I learned what makes God truly, gloriously happy – when we place our trust, our love, our worship in Him and Him alone.

You see, while I was striving so hard to find joy, I hadn’t realized what can truly give me a life of joy.  A life where I allowed the Holy Spirit to burn away my joy-killers – discord, gossip, neediness, conceit, and envy.  A life that worships and gives glory to the giver of all beautiful gifts, Jesus.  The difference between those young men trying to get into a fraternity and receiving their “dues” is as a Christian we can find joy in knowing any persecution or affliction we face can be experienced in Jesus’ name.  Can be turned over to our loving God for help and comfort.  

The Holy Spirit and I, we started off with little tests along the way.  Helping me to see the bits of goodness when things didn’t go as planned.   The process of rebirth led me to one of the most difficult experiences I’ve had to date.  Through terrible sadness and mountains of tears I found joy.  I found it by leaning heavily on the Lord.

John Calvin was right when he said, “We can experience joy in adverse circumstances by holding God’s benefits in such esteem that the recognition of them and the meditation upon them shall overcome all sorrow.”

This week our look at the Fruit of the Spirit, joy, may feel like one of the hardest to understand to some.  If, however, we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior,  we must also look to Him for the truth of what lies beyond this world.  An eternity with our gloriously happy God who loves us so much He longs to be with us in the New Eden.

Coming Up: Obedience vs. Joy or Obedience=Joy?

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God’s Flawless Words

“Every word of God is flawless;
    he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”  Proverbs 30:5

In January 2020 I embarked on a faith journey of which I am still on today and will be for the rest of my life.  It was a simple journey, for which I only needed one book and the desire to converse with God.  I added a few new friends and a few old timers who understood God a lot better than me.  And so began my study of the infallible Word of God, the Bible.  I appreciate the way one of the “old timers” I’ve had with me describes this amazing book.

We have a more sure word of testimony, a rock of truth upon which we rest, for our infallible standard lies in, “It is written.” The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible, is our religion.”  

Charles Spurgeon

What I found, having researched the Bible’s origins and its mind-boggling consistency in truths over thousands of years and multiple writers, is that God is never wrong.  He’s never been mistaken.  He has never told a lie or broke a promise.  Most “confusion” over His Word is typically because we humans can’t understand a being that loves us so much that He hates sin.  Other issues with His Word abound because we don’t take the time to place the stories in context of the times or within their original language.

More importantly what I have found is comfort, peace, joy and hope.  Comfort that He never leaves us and is always teaching, guiding, encouraging, forgiving.  Peace in that He wants a relationship with us free from strife and He shows us how to live in this world knowing of the beautiful eternity to come.  The joy He brings is through His love of this place we call earth.  His creation is so gloriously beautiful and intricately woven together.  And of course, the hope that Jesus gave through the forgiveness of our sins.  Knowing that when the day of judgment comes, He will welcome us into the New Eden with open arms.  Hope that sees no pain or suffering.  No sadness or despair.

My friends, don’t let the unbelieving world define God’s Word for you.  Read it for yourself.  Study it with all your heart, mind and soul.  There is nothing else that will bring you such comfort and hope.  There is no other book that will tell you as much about the world, its people and its creator as the Holy Bible.

Thank you, Lord God for your infallible Word.  Speak to me in my confusion, my pain, my sadness, my joy and my hope through the pages of your book.  Amen

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Spread Good, Wise Words

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply— and how good is a timely word! Proverb 15:23

A few weeks ago, Associate Pastor Myron Wideman Jr. asked his Instagram followers to do something radical.  To spread a rumor.  Yes, you heard that right.  But here was the twist: it had to be about something positive.  We so often are quick to post that negative review on Yelp or comment to others about how bad someone or something is, meanwhile there’s blessings upon blessings going around us each and every day.  

Our sinful, flesh natures do love a good controversy, don’t they?  A little bit of whispering and gossip is all we need to get our juices flowing.  How about today or even all this week you take the time to send a text, email, letter or (gasp) speak directly to someone with a positive comment about them or their works?  If someone asks for your input or feedback start with as many positives that you can come up with.  Avoid the negative unless absolutely necessary.

Friend, God started out this beautiful place called “Earth” with words of great joy – “let there be light!”   And when He, through His words, created man in His likeness, the kindness He showed to us with a beautiful garden and all we would need was immeasurable.  It wasn’t until we were unkind to Him that something negative took place.  So, let’s work harder at a “Kindness First” approach as believers.  Spreading rumors and gossip of His love for all to hear.  Let’s put not only a smile on someone else’s face today but also on our Holy Father’s.

Holy Father, you are so kind to me, first with the gift of salvation, and then through the fruits of the Spirit.  Help me to remember to reflect your kindness through a positive and timely word to others.  Amen

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Less Babbling, Please 

"Sin is not ended by multiplying words,
    but the prudent hold their tongues." Proverbs 10:19

I was tempted to not write anything for this verse.  It surely speaks for itself.  It’s a lesson I should have tattooed on my wrist so I never forget it!  When I am nervous, angry, excited, or joyful, I talk.  I babble.  I had to apologize recently to a fairly new friend about my babbling.  She introduced me to her friends and I found myself a brook overflowing with silly words.  I walked away praying, “I did it again!  Why can’t I just be normal and stop talking??”  

The Holy Spirit, boy does He deserve a medal in trying to help me with this.  I think He sees progress.  I am being more discerning about keeping my mouth shut when others share their difficulties.  I’m not always jumping in and giving my personal or political opinion.  I’m also refraining from feeling the need to lash out when offended.  I’m seeing the fruit of zipping my lips.  Shocking, isn’t it, when we take God’s Word to heart how it seems to actually work?

So today my friend, here’s a challenge, unless asked for your opinion, don’t give it.  If someone is sharing a story, don’t add your own.  If you are confronted by a stranger, as Dr. Laura used to say, “smile and wave.”  Zip your lips for a day.  You just might find a bit more peace.

Holy God, although I know you enjoy a joyful noise on occasion, I also know you appreciate the beauty of silence.  Help me today to be silent when needed.  Amen.

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Taking The Easy Way   

 “Let all who are simple come to my house!”
To those who have no sense she says,
17     “Stolen water is sweet;
    food eaten in secret is delicious!”
18 But little do they know that the dead are there,
    that her guests are deep in the realm of the dead. Proverbs 9:16-19

There’s a great debate raging in the United States today about achieving equity through stealing.  Where I live, a law was changed so that if you steal less than $950 and are caught you might receive a small fine.  As a result of this change, reported (much goes unreported) larceny as has gone up 3% in just one year.  Property crime has increased in 24 counties throughout the state.  Stores are closing in areas where shoplifting has skyrocketed.  As one woman put it in an interview, “If I need diapers or formula who is going to get it for me?  They aren’t out there arresting people for shoplifting and everyone knows it.”

Now this post isn’t a spotlight on political missteps or any particular point of view.  But there are consequences when we choose to live and make decisions outside God’s plan for us.  And one of the oft repeated admonitions in Proverbs is about laziness or taking the easy way out.  Some argue that being against allowing people to steal for what they call “basic needs” is racist or discriminatory.  But what really is at work in this particular issue is people who are not in need, such as politicians and activists, taking the easy path.  “Well, if we just let people steal without punishment that solves the problem, right?”

There are free needle exchange programs, safe drug taking areas, laws removed to allow for sleeping on the streets, money thrown at problems, etc.  None of these choices make us step back and take the harder, more intricate path.  Some would say they exacerbate the very issues we are trying to resolve.  As Christians we should be convicted to be more thoughtful and loving and wise.  To have the desire to help God’s fellow sheep be lifted from sin and despair.  

My favorite reality contest show was Biggest Loser.  Not only was the goal to lose weight but the show counseled participants on the root of their weight issues.  Many discovered their pain from abuse or loss triggered their unhealthy eating habits.  Without resolution of that pain, they were sure to continue on their destructive, “easier” paths.  

Friend, if in your own life you seek bandaids rather than true healing, if you try to avoid doing things the right way because it just seems easier, God is calling you to wisdom.  Stolen water is sweet but the dead live in that realm.  He is calling you to life and true joy.

Father, at times it seems simpler and less painful to take the easy path.  Please guide me to making better choices that effect both my own life and the world around me.  Amen

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Peace-Creating Discipline

For lack of discipline they will die, led astray by their own great folly. Proverbs 5:23

Charles Spurgeon, one of the most prolific pastors of all time said just a few weeks before his death, “I look back, and remember what I might have done and have not done; what opportunities of usefulness I have not seized; what sins I have allowed to pass unrebuked; what struggling beginners in grace I have failed to help.”  A man who had spoken to millions.  Who brought the good news of Jesus’ healing lights to so many, this man in all humility felt he could have done more.  

How many of us can say we have used our time as wisely for the Lord?  How many of us have instead placed so many other activities ahead of helping others out of their darkness?  Of allowing the Holy Spirit to help us out of our own darkness?

When we hear the words “Christian discipline” it may cause us to cringe or to worry about what will be required of us or what we will have to give up.  It sounds harsh and monk-like.  Our thoughts on it may be borrowed from what the world may think of Christians – joyless, rule followers.  However, we are told throughout Proverbs that God’s idea of discipline is actually a lifesaver, peace creator, and joy maker.  

Because God loves all of us – believer and non – He yearns for us to live on the disciplined path.  One that seeks to keep us from the darkness of sexual immorality, greed, self-importance, violence, and more.  

Christian discipline includes these aspects: spiritual, social, physical and mental.  Each, when practiced close in hand with Jesus, is intended to live the full, beautiful, peaceful and joy-filled life God wants for us.  When we stay in His Word and prayer, when we are careful and loving with our relationships with others, when we are good stewards of our bodies, and when we keep our thoughts free of lust, greed and self, we will find our paths simpler.  Our decisions about life get easier.  That’s not to say we won’t encounter push back from the world or even trials.  But in the midst of all that life will throw at us, our Christian discipline will keep the path forward clear.  

Heavenly Father, help me to develop a disciplined life that aligns with your Word so that I may become more like Jesus and experience the life you intend for me.  Amen

Bible, bible study, Christian, Christian Church, christian encouragement, christian men, christian parenting, Christian women, Faith, Jesus, Jesus Follower, prayer, religion, Uncategorized

The Hope That Will Come

He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

How many of you need to not just hear these words but soak them deep into your heart right now?  For the last few years, we humans have been through a lot of turmoil.  I won’t say it was the most difficult time ever because I realize the world has been around a lot longer than my 58 years.  In the two world wars alone, it’s estimated 120,000,000 people died.  That doesn’t include the folks who passed from ordinary daily illness, accidents, and old age.  

This year, as so many of us tried to go back to our lives post shutdowns and lockdowns, we found ourselves back in the ordinariness of trials, tragedy, human depravity, illness, lost dreams, violence, and political infighting.  And so, we cry out to God for peace, for healing, for freedom from suffering.

I’ve been pretty quiet this year with my writing as I also deal with the world coming at me from all sides.  With the sudden loss of my beautiful “other mother” I have felt so alone at times.  I scroll back over her last text messages to me and I can hear her voice so clearly.  Since that time, we have celebrated graduations, milestone birthdays, anniversaries, and now the holidays.  In addition, my husband’s business has yet to recover from the financial destruction the last few years have wrought.  We have seen future goals dissolve into mist.  And still we find joy.  We find peace and we find hope.

I listened as my neighbor recently listed all the tragedies that have befallen his family over the past year and I heard the pain in his voice.  What I didn’t hear was how Jesus is helping them cope.  They are going it alone.  On the flip side I sit with my friend who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer.  And she is hope-filled.  She is finding joy and goodness in the face of something so scary.  She sees God working in every corner of her life, bringing the right people to her and watching her diagnosis heal broken relationships.  While her earthly doctors will work to heal her body, her faith is also healing her.  Healing her soul and heart.  Comforting and bringing peace to her mind.

I was recently asked in an Advent study to write what I hope for next year.  More importantly it asked how I would react if none of those hopes came to fruition.  It then asked this: list the things you can find hope in that you KNOW will come to pass because of Jesus Christ.  And here’s my answer.  I know that Jesus will never leave me or forsake me.  I know that Jesus has a better, more beautiful place waiting for all of those who believe.  I know that whatever I go through next year God loves me and he loves you.

So I’m starting next year closely tethered to the hope I know will come to pass.  Beginning January 1, I invite you to join me on a 31 day journey through God’s words of wisdom.  His playbook for a life lived as best we humans can.  He is not a god who keeps secret how to more smoothly navigate through the trials and tribulations of life.  No, besides the Book of Proverbs He has given us so much wisdom and insight into the Christian life.  A life that may at times look very different to the rest of the world but a life that is intended to bring about goodness, grace, mercy, and love.

Please join me for 31 Days of God’s Wisdom and invite your friends, families and neighbors.  Be sure to have them sign up at to receive their daily email.  In this way you can be a part of spreading His message around the world!

God bless you and Merry Christmas.