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.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Fruit of the Spirit: Love

I want to take some time the next few posts and look at the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5 and ask ourselves how much the Spirit has been producing in us.

The first fruit is love. Love is more than just a warm, fuzzy feeling that you can just as easily get from swallowing a caterpillar. It is an inward feeling, true, but it is one that manifests itself in outward actions for the good of another. Jesus tells us that we are to love others as he loved us. That love is a sacrificial love that is concerned with the well-being of others. Jesus said that the greatest love is to lay down our lives for others.

It is good to ask ourselves from time to time, "Do I put others first?" "Do I work for the good of others?" "Am I willing to lay down my desires, my wishes, my agenda?" "Am I willing to compromise (without sinning) for the good of another? In short, "Am I willing to give my life for the well-being of others, regardless?"

I know that this is something that I sometimes struggle with, at least as far as motivation goes. That's why community is vital. We need the encouragement and examples of others. I am thankful for what I see in so many of my brothers and sisters.

Let us continue to encourage each other to follow Jesus more closely.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Weekend Wanderings

Jan and I spent the last two weekends visiting our son and daughter-in-law in Seattle. Our daughter came up from California for part of the time, and we were able to spend a couple days with Jan's sister. We had a wonderful time. It definitely was cooler there than here in the sunny South.

Where have all the Christian intellectuals gone?
Jeremy Myers on Biblical illiteracy.
Good article from Michelle Van Loon.
Having good discussions.
Good essay on nostalgia.

In defense of play.
Funny article from McSweeney's.
How to be happy at work.

Boasting in weakness.
Being a peacemaker.
Knowing we are Christians by...
Surviving a crisis.

Good article from iMonk.
Scot McKnight on Kingdom mission.
Good post from Jonathan Merritt.
Daniel Wells on church refugees.

Have a blessed week!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Refreshing Streams

A couple of weeks ago, I took a Saturday and went up to a mountain area not too far from here. After dealing with a bit of anxiety that had caused me to end up in the hospital with what I thought might be a heart attack (thankfully, it wasn't), I realized that some old hurts still needed healing and were causing me to be anxious about certain things because I was afraid of being hurt again. A lot of things had been happening in my life the past couple months and I succumbed to the temptation to worry about some of them.

As I was hiking through this area, the air was hot and humid, and the trail was dry. I drank enough water before I started walking, so I wasn't in danger of dehydration, but I did start to get thirsty. After about a mile or so, I came to an area that had a stream flowing through, with a bench for sitting. As I journaled and prayed, one of the thoughts that came to me was the Psalmist saying that he panted after God like a deer pants after water. Even though the stream next to me wasn't fit to drink, I was still reminded of the many times God has refreshed me when I was dry and thirsty.

My Abba Father has always been there for me, even during those times when it didn't seem like it; those times when I felt as if I were wandering in the desert with no water in sight. I can go on these mini retreats because I do have a source of living water from which to drink my fill. I realize there will be times when I will be panting and thirsty, but God will always be there with living water, even if it takes a while to get there.

I know that there will be times ahead that could cause anxiety and that I will be hurt. It goes with hanging around people. But I am also realizing that I am only called to show God's love to folks. I am not responsible for the results. I am learning again to trust my Father's love and goodness, and let him take care of me and those I care about.

The dry, thirsty trails are still there to wander down. But, there is cool, refreshing water along the way.

Moving On

It's been a while since I've written here. Life has been happening the past few months. I have decided to start fresh, so I'm mo...