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Gods followers.jpg

I can’t decide where I land on the funny-to-sad ratio of that bumper sticker.

Imagine if every Christian walked around totally at peace, full of joy and the trademarks of us all were faithfulness and reliability. Would there be more Christians?

It’s easy for us to look outward, “If those people would only act like Christians!” “If that TV evangelist wasn’t always asking for money.” “If only that pastor didn’t sleep with his secretary.” THEN the world would change its opinion about being Christian. Those things may be true but, that ain’t The Plan.

The Plan: Abide in the vine (Jn15:4), be transformed (2Cor3:18), let your light shine (Mt5:16) don’t worry about what others are doing, work on yourself (Lk6:42). Sounds easy, lol.

As we work on the above (a lifetime process) we will start to reflect God’s grace in our lives. As Moses spent time with the Lord his skin actually glowed, as we connect, abide and spend time with the Lord we’ll be transformed and the evidence of that will be the fruit of the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22 “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

The Bible alternately likens us to a branch or a tree or a vine; connected to Christ, getting our sustenance from Him and, like a tree, producing fruit in keeping with our source. In Matthew 7 Jesus says that Christian imitators will produce bad fruit and His disciples will produce good fruit.  That fruit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.

I recently asked myself the question, “Would the people that know me best attribute the fruit of the Spirit to me?”  I hate to admit that I regularly fall short on multiple fronts.  My 16 year old son probably would not tell you that I am the most patient person he’s ever met. As a matter of fact, I recently wanted to buy a shirt that said, “Can we hurry this up?” I have other issues too, really, I could go on.

This realization effected me to such a degree that I recently sat my family down and apologized to them and let them know that I was working on this.  Seriously, what good is my faith if the people that know me the best think I’m an idiot? I picture God saying, “Yeah….he’s not with Me…” or as Jesus put it in Matthew 7, “22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

I want my life to reflect Jesus to others.  My wife and children, who I cannot fool, should see the fruit of the Spirit in me to such a degree that they want what I got. My light should shine to the point that it leads others out of darkness. My life and my countenance should provoke the unsaved to jealously. I’ve got a long way to go but, praise God, I’m not where I started.  I encourage you to join this broken vessel as I try to be consistent about my quiet time, allow His strength to be made perfect in my weakness and pray that my life reflects the fruit of the Spirit. C’mon!

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Stressing Over Christmas

December 21, 2017 — Leave a comment

Christmas stress

How ironic is it that as we celebrate the birthday of the Prince of Peace many of us are consumed with stress? Talk about using the Lord’s name in vain. It would be like someone wanting to celebrate your birthday by beating your children. How backwards are we?

There is no getting around the fact that Christmas has morphed into a retail nightmare and that’s not changing anytime soon. However, as Christians, we could insert some sanity into the picture, at least in our own lives.

How can we alleviate holiday stress? Here’s a couple thoughts…

Pray. OMG, has it come to this? Yes, it’s number one for a reason.  Philippians 4:6,7 Says that there is inexplicable peace in continually and humbly talking to God, being thankful and asking him for what we want. It may not even make sense but that’s why it’s called peace that “passes all understanding.” That’s a promise from the Bible.

Remember Jesus. It would bring me to tears to see my children stressing out, going into debt and beating each other up at Wal Mart under the guise of celebrating my birthday. As the Lorax speaks for the tress I speak for Jesus on this. If you doubt me, and if you know me at all you should, see Matthew 6:34, Proverbs 22:7, John 13:35 & Luke 12:24-26. If He is the reason for the season we should honor Him as we celebrate His birthday.

Practicing these two things should keep us busy and help peace to at least creep into our households. But, and it’s a big Santa sized butt, we are called to more than taking care of ourselves. We are called to be a light to the world and what better time than Christmas? Here’s one more thought…

Shine. Let the world know that you are at peace and happy to be celebrating Christmas! Provoke the world to envy with your joy! If you’re happy and you know it tell your face! We are celebrating what is arguably the most joyous event in human history. Luke 1:10 “I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people.” As Christians, the celebration of the birth of Jesus should be one of the year’s highlights.

I’ve been guilty of reeking stress around Christmas but today I choose not to participate. I have too much to be thankful for and Jesus is at the top of that list.

I’m not pretending that financial pressures, expectations, loneliness and depression aren’t real or that they are simply whisped away by Christmas elves. Many of us have known real hardship around the holidays, “In this world you will have troubles…” says Jesus. He’s talking about real troubles, the hard stuff. He goes on to say, “…But be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He encourages us to lift up our chin, put a smile on our face and walk in His peace. I prefer that.

Merry Christmas Brothers.

 

Just Fishin?

December 19, 2017 — Leave a comment

Cyan Fishing

A couple weeks ago I took my 10 year old daughter to a Tennessee Titans NFL game. I sent my buddy, Tony, a picture and he said, “She thinks you’re just fishing.”  His comment was a reference to a country song, “Just Fishin” by Trace Adkins. The song tells the story of a father taking his little girl fishing and, while she thinks they’re just “drownin’ worms and killin’ time” he appreciates that there is more at work, they are strengthening bonds and making memories.

I love my Titans but the time I spent with my little girl that day was bigger than watching Derrick Henry break off a 75 yard run to put the game out of reach. We were strengthening our relationship while sharing the majesty of a Titans win.

My father in law got me addicted to fishing and now that passion runs deep in our family. My teenage son and I often fish together. When we get out there in a stream there are no discussions about household issues, we just enjoy the experience and each other’s company. He thinks we’re just fishin’ but we’re also investing in our relationship.

My Dad and I get along great, but we had some rocky years early on and there may be old scars from that but now-a-days, we go fishin’.  We usually don’t talk much as we wade down a small river, reeling in feisty smallmouth or largemouth lunkers. We’re just fishin’ and we are content to be together. I  purposely try to appreciate the moments when we’re out there and understand that it’s more than fishing although I doubt my kids have that perspective. I’m sure my Dad does.

I’m thinking that I might be like my kids when I take the time to get into God’s presence, potentially unaware of the significance of what is going on. Maybe when I actually press in and engage God says, “He thinks he’s just praying” or “He thinks he’s just singing” but something much bigger is happening. I’m also being transformed, strengthened and renewed. Spiritual warfare is taking place and things are being overcome spiritually that can only be handled while I’m with Him. Maybe those are the times when I’m most receptive to hearing instruction or encouragement.

While I’m thinking, “I’m just going to church”, I’m actually reassuring my wife that my priorities are in order. I’m showing my children how a husband and father should act so my sons know how to lead and  my daughters know what to expect from a Godly man.

As it turns out, there is often more going on than the activity of the moment suggests. I appreciate all the other stuff that’s happening but I am also forever grateful to be “just fishin.”