Friday, September 23, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit: Patience

This is the fourth in the series.

The fourth fruit of the Spirit is patience. Depending on the translation, it is rendered patience, forbearance, or long suffering. I think any of those work, depending on our situation.

Patience is the idea of bearing up under some type of load, whether it's waiting for something, bearing with another person, or staying strong in the midst of trials. As we live in community with others, there are plenty of opportunities to show forbearance in our dealings with one another.

We also need patience as we wait for something we are praying for. As hard as it may be we must remember that God's timing is not like ours. As Aslan told Lucy, "I call all times soon." When we take the long view, we can see that our Father is never late.

As we walk in step with the Spirit, we become more patient with others, with ourselves, and with God.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Today we commemorate a day of tragedy. Fifteen years ago, our country came under attack as planes flew into the twin towers in NY, the Pentagon in DC, and a field in PA. Where were you when you heard the news?

Here are the links of the week:

One of those days we've all had.
An epidemic we don't often think about.
Something for the introverts.
Ten tastiest fast foods.

Good question.
A free bowl of oatmeal.
This is a great story.
This is not surprising.
This looks like a great idea!

Bob Edwards on justice.
Ten observations.
It's okay to be wrong.
Scot McKnight on charity.
The life God is in.

Frank Viola on faith.
Letters from the front.
5 smartphone myths.
Good post from Tiffany Childs.

Have a blessed week!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sad, Angry, and Hopeful

Today, I lied to one of my bus passengers. She told me she had been diagnosed with ALS and asked me if I knew anything about it. After stating a couple of generalities, I told her that I couldn't think of anything else because I didn't want to be the one to tell her that the disease is fatal. Two days ago, our next door neighbor died from pancreatic cancer, just a few days after coming home from the hospital. A week and a half ago, friends of ours lost their twenty one year old only son in a tragic accident. I see and hear of families and friendships being torn asunder because of pride and selfishness.

I am saddened by all these things. It is heartbreaking to see parents grieving a son that is supposed to outlive them. It grieves me to know that I will no longer speak to my neighbor across the fence between our houses. I am sad to hear of someone contracting a deadly disease. My heart aches to see relationships broken and people I know in pain.

I am angry because none of these things are the way it is supposed to be, the way creation was made to be. I am angry at evil, at sin, at the things that happen to us, and at the things we do to each other. I am angry because I feel helpless much of the time, knowing that so much is out of my control.

I am sad and I am angry. Yet, at the same time I am hopeful. I believe that the Creator of the universe has stepped into this world, taking on humanity. Entering death, on the cross, the King came through the other side and defeated death. His kingdom was inaugurated through this death and has been coming to fruition in small ways ever since. This King will return and set all things to right. I don't understand everything that happens in this life and there are many things I don't like. But, I do believe that one day there will be no cancer, no ALS, no death. I believe that all broken relationships will be reconciled and there will be wholeness and peace.

Even so come, Lord Jesus!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit: Peace

This is the third post in a series.

Another part of the fruit that the Spirit produces in us is peace. Peace is usually thought of as the absence of conflict or hostility. That is true. Christ brought peace and reconciliation between us and the Father and we are called to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation. I think in this case it goes deeper.

The Hebrew word Shalom, which is usually translated peace, carries the idea of wholeness and flourishing. We can have an absence of conflict or hostility and still not have wholeness. The culture around us tells us that the way to flourish is to drive this, wear that. Drink this, use this toothpaste. Accumulate things and buy a bigger house to put them in, get that perfect job. Marry that person.

Those things are not wrong in themselves. They become an issue when we think that those things will make our lives complete and bring us wholeness. Nothing in or of this world will ever bring us real peace. True peace only comes when the beauty of Jesus captivates us and our love for him grows and makes all other loves and all other narratives of flourishing fade. As that happens, the peace that the Spirit produces fills us whether we have much or have little. Then we can say with Paul that we have learned to be content in all circumstances.

May the beauty of Jesus become the all-surpassing story of our lives and may his peace fill us to overflowing.

Part 1
Part 2

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit: Joy

This is the second post in a series:
Part 1 is here.

Joy is defined as a feeling of great pleasure and happiness. I think that's a good definition because the words translated "Joy" in Scripture can be defined that way. I also believe that joy, at least for the child of Abba, goes much deeper.

We can find joy in many things. For instance, I feel great joy in serving with friends at a local men's shelter. I find joy in being with Jan, more so than with anyone else. I also find joy in simply spending time with my brothers and sisters.

What about when the shtuff of life hits the fan? That's when we have to find our joy in what Abba has done for us in Christ. Jesus endured the sufferings on the cross because of the joy in knowing what that suffering would do. If our suffering somehow complete's the suffering of Jesus and works for the Kingdom, then we can have joy even the midst of the most horrendous pain.

Abba, give us the joy in you that can lift us up and carry us through all things, even suffering.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Summer is winding down, most of the schools are back in session, and the tropics are heating up. Remember when Labor Day was the start of the campaign season? Wouldn't it be great if we only had to listen to the candidates for two months, instead of a year?

Off the soapbox and on to the links:

Millennial whoop.
Updated classics.
Pep talks and the gospel.
More classics.

Encouragement from Steve Brown.
Funny and challenging.
Documenting highways.
I don't think I could do this.
100 years old.

Rachel Miller on the subordination controversy.
Controversy in Vancouver.
Excellent article!
A bit of sanity.
Flying pizza!

Heart of a shepherd.
Good post from Scot McKnight.
Being right?

Have a blessed week!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ten Years Ago

It was on this date, ten years ago, that my mom left this life and entered the next. Today we went to the memorial service for the wife of a friend of my father-in-law. As family members spoke of their wife and mother, my mind went back to that day when we said goodbye to the one who had given me birth.

It was a bit hard to hear others speak of their mother on the tenth anniversary of my mom's passing. I thought back, as I heard the sons speak lovingly of their mom. While the last couple of years of my mom's life were spent dealing with the devastating effects of Alzheimer's, I can look back beyond that time to the person she was before the disease so cruelly took her away.

The thing that stands out most in my mind was the quiet, solid faith of my mother. She was not a theologian or one who taught great numbers of people. But, her life had an impact on me, my sister, our children, and many others. She was what C. S. Lewis would have called a mere Christian.

Jesus said that one of the defining characteristics of his followers would be their love. That was certainly true of my mother. She was known as one who loved. Her love for her husband and for her children was evident to all. Her love for others outside of her family was obvious to all who knew her.

Mom was kind and hospitable to all, and was generosity was well known. She was the epitome of grace and love to all who knew her. I pray that some of that was passed down to me. While the last years of her life were hard on her, and on us, I am thankful for the memories of a mother who kept the greatest commandments, who truly loved God and loved others.