Archive for August, 2011

For love is a willful stirring of our thoughts unto God, so that it receive nothing that is against the love of Jesus Christ, and therewith that it be lasting in sweetness of devotion; and that is the perfection of this life. Richard Rolle 

i have seen many things during my lifetime that i thought… no they were wrong and yet i ignored them feeling like they were out of my reach to do anything about them. So instead of doing something—even something small, I would grumble and complain about them as i let them disappear from my thoughts until the next time. Recently i received this story and it stirred me deep inside. i began to dig deeper which i’ll share, but first i must share the story behind these next few posts.

The story is told about several friends who spent almost a week living at the Dream Center in Los Angeles. The Dream Center is a converted hospital run by Pastor Matthew Barnett and his church, Angelus Temple. It is a 700 bed facility that is a homeless shelter, a drug rehab, a healing place for those rescued from sex trafficking, an education facility and a ministry hub for over 120 outreach programs to help people in need.

This person went as a woman in ministry.  She went to help meet needs. But she quickly realized she was there as a woman in need. A woman who needed God’s reality to fall fresh and heavy and close and real and too in her face to deny.

Because sometimes she says that, she finds herself talking about God so much that He becomes an identity marker but not an identity changer in her life. She shares that having God as an identity marker is nothing but a label, a language, and a lifestyle. I’m a Christian. I talk like one. I act like one. But having God as an identity changer is something so much more. It’s lavish abandon to who God is and who He’s made me to be. Holding nothing back. she states that, “Only lavish abandon to God can do what I saw at the Dream Center.”

It’s what changed the ex-gang member with eight bullet hole scars into a Jesus loving servant. So gentle.

It’s what changed the ex-prostitute into a counselor for girls being rescued from the streets. So pure.

It’s what changed the ex-drug addict into a loving father teaching his son how to be a godly leader. So integrity filled.

Then the question comes much like it does for me . What in heaven has been holding me back? Seriously.

What has been stopping me from absolute lavish abandon to God?

She said, “I need to know. I’m desperate to figure it out.” my words exactly!

Hebrews 2 comes to mind here… 1-4It’s crucial ed that you keep a firm grip on what you’ve heard so that you don’t drift off. If the old message delivered by the angels was valid and nobody got away with anything, do you think you can risk neglecting this latest message, this magnificent salvation? First of all, it was delivered in person by the Master, then accurately passed on to you by those who heard it from him. All the while God was validating it with gifts through the Holy Spirit, all sorts of signs and miracles, as he saw fit.

 

“Be not afraid of going slowly; be only afraid of standing still.”

The main challenge of Peter’s words, the real point is, not that i am supposed to read the Word, or study the Word, or meditate on the Word, or memorize the Word, i have tried all those, the real challenge of these verses is that i am supposed to “crave,” “long” for Him… who is Word, i need to do more than just talk about it, quote it, share it and even more than simply wanting it.

Genuine spirituality, genuine Godliness, is marked by a love for and a delight in God’s truth. Jesus said, “He who is of God hears God’s word,” He also said, “He who is a true believer,” in the same chapter, John 8, “keeps God’s word.” Paul expressed this love for God’s word in the believer’s heart when he said, in Romans 7:22, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.” Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” The Psalmist said in Psalm 1, that the Godly man will be blessed because his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night.” Later David says in Psalm 19, “The word of God is more desirable than gold, and much fine gold, sweeter than honey, and the drippings of the honeycomb.” And in Psalm 40:8, the Psalmist expresses the cry of the Godly, “I delight to do Thy will, oh God, Thy law is within my heart.”

my delight in, my love for, should be a craving to know God. It’s what Peter is writing about in this passage. He is calling me, by way of command, to desire the pure milk of the word, to long for it. Peter is commanding me to have a consuming kind of craving. It’s obvious that i crave things… i wouldn’t be human if i didn’t would i? Example, when i begin to desire a new car, i suddenly begin to notice or mention the things that are wrong, or could go wrong, or that i imagine are or could be going wrong with my current car. As the craving grows the more things i claim until everyone agrees with me that i better get a new car as the things i have stated are going to cost me a lot of money. i go so far as to price out these imagined repairs compared to purchasing a new car. And this isn’t just with cars, it’s a pattern and seems to be the same for most anything that i really want. This creates a problem in the area of my children wanting to give me gifts for Christmas, birthdays or Fathers Day, as i have everything i want because when i want it i get it and that leaves nothing for them to give. So he wants my craving just as obvious regarding Him.

i understand passion. i understand longing. to some degree i understand what it is to be thirsty. i understand, perhaps, what it is to be hungry. i don’t understand what it is to be hungry having not eaten for several weeks and to have that tremendous craving. i know the cravings that i feel toward the things in life that are not only good, but the things that are bad. i have a longing for love and affection. i have a craving for companionship. i have a craving for information and understanding.

Peter says, “With all your longings, this is one you need to have – an intense, passionate, overwhelming, insatiable craving for.” And he defines it as the pure milk of the word; pure, a word meaning “uncontaminated.” It’s a pure substance in the midst of a world of corruptible, contaminated, polluted things. And he uses the analogy and imagery of a little baby who longs for the uncorrupted, unpolluted, unadulterated milk of its mother’s breast. And as the milk nourishes the infant so i to will be nourished.

i do experience a craving for God and His word but it’s… well, part-time, when it’s convenient, when i seem to have no choice.

When you’re green you’re growing, and when you’re ripe you start to rot.  ~Ray Kroc

In spite of the required effort to live in the words of Peter, it is my hope that i am still green… i am not ready to be ripe and start rotting away, only to be plucked from the vine and discarded. i do have a sense that i am moving to slowly, so i try to press forward with an element of haste. Recently i did this and now i am thinking that i made a huge mistake because i tried to move quickly. Perhaps my desire to remain green and to keep moving forward, despite the slow pace is that craving?

And so much of my life has been about returning home and longing for home, wanting my children to know about my roots. And I thought I can’t be the only one to feel this way so I thought it would be an interesting topic to explore. Sela Ward

So that i don’t forget to mention this later, this chapter is a continuation of chapter one. To get the whole perspective of what Peter is saying it would be advisable for me to read chapter one prior to my posting this. i also was not aware how this flows out of my last post into this one until i reread the last one. i love it when these little things happen and give me some confirmation that i am led by the Holy Spirit in writting this blog.

1 Peter 2:1-3 SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind. 2Like newborn babies you should CRAVE (thirst for, earnestly desire, long for) the pure (unadulterated) spiritual milk, that by it you may be nurtured and grow unto [completed] salvation,3Since you have [already] tasted the goodness and kindness of the Lord.

There are several ways for me to look at this verse. The first which seems the most obvious yet, most difficult is, “SO BE done with every trace of wickedness (depravity, malignity) and all deceit and insincerity (pretense, hypocrisy) and grudges (envy, jealousy) and slander and evil speaking of every kind.” Is it supposed to be that easy? So be done. Just stop it! Don’t do it anymore. No… i’m sorry it’s not that easy. i also notice that everything listed has to do with relationships. Each of them are about my interaction with people. While i know that the verse is about relationship i don’t think its real meaning is in this list od “Do nots.” There must be something else. So taking a second glance at these verses i might think the main point would be how i need to read the Bible. Since milk, looking at the context, obviously refers to the Word, and Peter says in verse 2 that just as infants need their mother’s milk in order to survive physically, i need a regular intake of the Word in order to survive spiritually. But taking a little more time and looking closer, i realize that this passage is not saying “just stop,” nor is it stressing my need for the Word despite my need for both, but the real point is something different. The real point of this text for me is in the middle where Peter writes: “…CRAVE for the pure spiritual milk.”

That’s a command and everything else in these verses revolves around that command. When Peter tells me to put away all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy and all slander he is telling me what i must do if i am going to obey this command to long for the Word. When Peter brings up the illustration of newborn infants at the beginning of verse 2 he is describing the way i am to obey this command to long for the Word. Peter explains that it is by the pure spiritual milk that i grow up to salvation and calls on me to think about whether or not i have tasted of the Lord’s kindness in verse 3, and he is explaining why i ought to obey this command to “crave” for the pure spiritual Word. That’s more than just doing it or even reading it. It is allowing it to be life.

The word long is a word you might use to describe the way some single people feel about getting married. It’s a word you might use to describe the way someone who is out in the desert with nothing to drink might feel about a glass of water. It’s a word you might use to describe the way a parent feels about an unrepentant, prodigal child. Most graphically, it’s a word you might use the way Peter does here, to describe the way a newborn baby feels about his mother’s milk. When your around a child who longs for his mothers milk you will know it. He let’s the world know it. Just as he is loud til he gets it he is quiet once he has it.

All children crave milk as infants. They make an audible groaning sound once they finally received the milk for which they were crying so loudly. Nothing can be substituted. A pacifier would quickly be spit out. Water is unacceptable. It must be the milk and nothing else. i need to have the same kind of focus upon the word of God and life it will generate in me. i have tasted it, i see that the life of a disciple that comes from the word of God is good. i see that it will give me growth. i will see that the Lord is good even in the face of suffering and distress.

An infant is a great illustration but that infant “craves” naturally. i know that i can aquire a taste for but can i aquire a craving for? Hummmmmmmmmm? i suppose i can or do i uncover the craving that is already within me? i am narrowing this down to spiritual matters. When made in His image and likeness was the “crave” put inside me so that it is natural? And where does it go when i don’t seem to crave? is there a way for my natural crave to come into position like that of the new born baby? It seems to come out when i don’t eat or i’m thirsty. i can be driving 70 miles per hour down the expressway and if i get hungry i will slow down, get off the expressway and make my way to a place where my need will be met. Isn’t that craving and if so what am i willing to do for Him, or don’t i get that kind of craving for Him? Too many questions for one day.

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

Recently my son asked that i read a book that he and his pastor were reading together as a study. i was impressed that he made the commitment to read it and that even after his pastor departed from it, my son finished it. i really didn’t want to do it as i am very selective about what i read… with the caveat, when it suits me. i decided to read it as he had read some things i had asked him to and again just by the fact that he made the commitment and kept it to the end, i needed to suck it up and read it. i made a slight change and purchased the video to watch verses actually reading it. i did purchase the book and the work book which he had no idea that there was one. i watched the first session and was less than impressed, but still curious as to what this book would say to keep my son so interested. i then scheduled three nights where i would show the video and invite others to join me. i must admit that i thought this was very seeker friendly and probably light for those that decided to join me. This material while being light was heart stirring and in the video series there is a session that is not in the book, which amazes me as i thought it brought all the rest together. It is out of that session that my heart has been stirred. In the work book there is an assignment which we did not officially do but conversed around it and then let it go. Later i received an email asking to be forgiven for lying because they did not tell us that last session was an eye opener for them. They felt like Craig was reading their life out loud in front of everyone. Then i got comments from others that they too just swept the real thoughts and feelings they had during that session under the rug in hopes that they would just go away. As for me i did the same, i let it pass or i hoped it would pass. It hasn’t and so today i will open the work book and face the music. The book is called The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel and the topic of this session was about being “lukewarm.” The questions are to help me determine if that’s what i am or better yet not if but to what degree i am “lukewarm.” There is a small sense of fear in what the results may reveal and i realize that this is only as good as how honest i am with myself. But that’s the point or at least part of the point.

There are ten questions or statements and i am to answer them with the following choices.

Almost never true of me, occasionally true of me, Sometimes true of me, Often true of me, Almost always true of me.

1. I crave acceptance from people more than acceptance from God. occasionally true of me. i think that it is part of my desire to find significance.

2. I rarely share my faith in Christ. Often true of me. Much of this is due to the circle of people i do life in. i rarely am out…. no this is not true, i am out a lot and as i think on this, i am more likely to share an action that i think represents God more than i am to just talk about Christ with a stranger.

3. I do whatever it takes to alleviate my guilt. Almost never true of me. i have learned to repent quickly and so guilt does not linger. my disappointment with my consistency in doing the word is just that disappointment and not so much guilt.

4. I think more about life on earth than eternity in heaven. Almost always true of me. i have never been a pie in the sky person and my focus to things on earth are usually about being in this world but not of this world. i guess i have always thought that if i live each day here on earth in the word then i won’t have to think about eternity.

5. I gauge my morality by comparing myself to others rather than God. Almost never true of me. i work hard to not do this but once in a while i find myself there. Once i see it i am able to correct myself quickly.

6. I want to be saved from the penalty of sin without changing my life. Almost never true of me. i am very much aware that without change nothing happens and that my life in Christ will never be experienced to its fullness without change… continuous change… never-ending change.

7. I only turn to God when i am in trouble. occasionally true of me. i spend much time in the environment of God and sometimes that becomes my relationship. Then along comes a circumstance that hits like a ton of bricks and i find myself engaging more in my relationship with Him versus the environment of Him.

8. I give when it does not impinge on my standard of living. NEVER true of me and i realize this was not one of the options. i am a giver and probably give when i should not.

9. I am not much different from the rest of the world. Sometimes true of me. If i consider my whole life i think that this is sometimes true of me. The television i watch comes to mind. Is there anything good on television and the commercials will get you all the time. There are other areas and so in a casual meeting, or one time meeting i’m not sure that i would be found as different from the world. i would hope that in longer lasting relationships i would be found somewhat different.

10. I want the benefits of Christ did without conforming to who He is. NEVER true of me… no almost never true of me. there are moments when i want it for free or i want it to be easier. There are times when i just want a break for it all… so i think. i am not a person who wants a hand out or something for nothing. i believe in hard work and equal pay for equal work so i recognize the value and respect the pain and suffering that Christ paid for me. i say i want to be like that but given His situation and knowing the cost i can’t say i’d switch places. i can say that while i do not measure up i am in awe of the love that God has for me as inconsistent as i am.

The words of my lips are “whatever it takes,” but the actions of my life are really “sometimes” whatever it takes. Craig says, “even if i have to fight, scrape, crawl away from being a Christian Atheist, into a genuine life of faith and radical obedience to Christ, I’ll do whatever it takes. Craig sounds absolutely convinced and, well as for me… i say it and have been saying it for years and yet i still find myself to be self involved. It is my opinion that today myself and many others are infatuated with the idea of whatever it takes and short on the reality of what that actually looks like in real everyday life.

There is one last question Craig has for me to answer. Where would i say i am right now? One being, i am not yet ready to make changes in my life and Ten being, i am ready to do whatever it takes to live like i truly love God. At this moment and trying to be totally honest i can’t put a number higher than a six. This brings tears to my eyes and causes my heart to hurt. i am thankful for being presented with this book and called to task. If i could tell the author one thing it would be to put session six in the book as it brought it all together for me and others as well.

i will close with Craig’s closing thoughts. Wholly surrendered. These are beautiful words, nourishing words for a God hungry heart. They mark the beginning of a journey from life as it is, to life as it could be. Welcome to true Christianity.

Matthew 11:29 Walk with Me and work with Me — Watch how I do it.

ed just in case you didn’t get it the first time let me say it again in a different way because this is important for you to get. That is what i interpret His words Walk with Me and Work with Me to say. He says, this is what I do.

It has been years ago that i was taught a process for learning. It goes like this.

I do you watch. I do you help. You do I help. You do I watch. We used this format for everything and it fits here in these verses about learning. Jesus puts the idea of me being along for a free ride out of the picture. He says come to Me, walk with Me but work with me. He says, i will do my part but you will have to do your part. The work He has for me is to learn.

According to Webster’s regarding the word learn is to: Acquire experience – Acquire ability – Acquire skill

          Acquire: to come into possession or ownership of

i am to come into possession of, or ownership of, experience. He goes on to tell me exactly what He wants me to learn in order to have my life restored from being tired, and burned out. So…. deep breath…. what am i to learn, come into possession of, experience? Unforced Rhythms of Grace. i hope this is not a dance class because other than a slow shuffle of my feet i have two left ones.

Unforced: Not resulting from undue effort. David said in Psalm 16:9 I’m happy from the inside out, and from the outside in, I’m firmly formed. i lam to learn how gracious He is. i learn that He can handle events in ways that i can not dream of or anticipate. i need to see Him work things out in ways that i could never have guessed. i must not only learn but also believe that i always triumph in Him. This does not imply that i will understand any of it any of the time, but non the less it is the truth.

Rhythms: A specific kind of, a pattern. i then learn some things about myself. i learn that i am not as strong as i thought i was. i wanted to bail out much sooner than i thought i would. i would have to say i am more spontaneous than i am rhythm. But in my walk or i should say in our walk, God and me, spontaneous does not always work to my advantage. These verses would seem to support that and thus would make continuous spontaneity a not so desirous way to go. When my inner strength of character is developed in this learning process, i find hope… i need to possess HOPE. (To look forward to with confidence or expectation:) Jesus says, I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. David said, What am I doing in the meantime, Lord? Hoping, that’s what I’m doing.. hoping. The word tells us that hope deferred makes the heart-sick. Hope is a pattern, it flows and i am awkward at hope in the same way i am at dancing. Job 8:13 says That’s what happens to all who forget God… all their hopes come to nothing. i get tired, i get worn out, i get burned out when i forget God. When i forget God my heart becomes sick. David says, Why are you down in the dumps, dear soul? Why are you crying the blues? Fix my eyes on God… soon I’ll be praising again. He puts a smile on my face. He’s my God! In our house we have for years had a saying. At times Ann Marie is the faith and i am the hope, but more often i am the faith and she is the hope. She is good at finding hope and thus does much better with rhythm which makes her a good dancer as well. By the way it just occurred to me that it is rhythmS not rhythm. It’s plural, what does that look like?

Grace: favor rendered by one who need not do so. Grace seems to be a word that is totally misused today. Much like love it is hard to really place a single definition on it. But the definition above works for me. It is my opinion that i am sometimes very presumptuous when claiming to use God’s grace. God’s grace is not about me living life in my own way, doing my own thing without any regard for consequences because i claim God’s grace covers me. Simply put i actually believe that God’s grace applies to the element of my salvation. i am saved by grace. my actions and words are not overlooked by grace. i am not saying that salvation is the only thing God’s grace applies to but i do not believe that it applies to my willful neglect of His word and i get favor that removes the consequences nor the accountability. This is a topic in and of itself that i may look at another time, but for now i will keep it directed to the unforced rhythms of my salvation (grace).

The closing words of Matthew 11 say this, “Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” i would have to say that i am not keeping enough company with Him at this time. Why, because i have not learned to live freely and more so lightly all the time. It’s as though i have a part-time relationship with Him. Perhaps it’s better descibed a s a long distance relationship? It seems like i have been in school forever and yet i am not learning the lessons, so i have to repeat over and over. i want to keep company with Him continuously and yet i find myself being enticed to walk with someone, or something else down an entirely different path.

The vision i get of this is like Adam and Eve in the garden, taking long walks with God before the fall. How great the walks must have been and yet they got distracted. Is there any hope of my walk turning out better than there’s? There’s that word hope again, and yes there is a hope if i learn from the past and keep learning the rhythms of His grace every moment of every day. Big undertaking? Not so much if i remember that it is the unforced rhythms of His grace not my works.

Am i tired? Not so much. Am i worn out? A little bruised and battered but still good for several more years to come. Burned out on religion? Absolutely and that’s not anyone elses fault. It is my treatment of the word working in my life through as evidenced by my actions and words that i am burned out on.  “ed, come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with Me and work with Me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with Me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. (Matthew 11: 28-30, The Message)

i have no solution for the inconsistent fruit i buy at the market, other than i must make an adjustment that will have enough tolerance for biting into a piece of less than expected flavor. Even having someone cut it or peel it and then taste it will not solve the problem because their taste and tolerance will vary from mine. So it’s an issue that i must deal with. i think it’s called an attitude adjustment.

On the contrary i can do something about my spiritual fruit. He invites me to sway with the rhythm of grace. It’s been some time since i thought of grace having a rhythm. In light of my fear post and the idea of slowing down for God in the way i did for the patrol car and the officer driving it, these words came to mind. They are the answer to what i wrote was a problem in my life of not recognizing God in the same way i do some things of the world. i am in rhythm with something other than God. i don’t mean my entire life… just portions of it.

Matthew 11:28 Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Marriage? Children?

  1. Come to Me. Get away with Me… i would think that this should come naturally by this time in my life… and i would be thinking incorrectly. As an 21st century human being i want to know the purpose and the benefits before i consider seriously doing something. The old ed would not waste time considering anything if the purpose did not line up and the benefits were not sufficient? Today, i actually do many things without knowing the full purpose nor if there will be any benefit to me. But in this case the scripture tells me both the purpose and the benefit. The promise, the provision! “ed you will recover your life.” (Obedience provides provision) God is calling me to Him. God says, “ed come on, let’s just you and Me go off by ourselves and just be.” God is also saying that He wants to get away with me so He can give me something of benefit. He says, “if you come and get away with me i will give you back your life.” “Get away with me and you will not be tired, worn out, burned out. You will be more consistent in the Messiah, in Christ, I will lead you from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through me, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere i go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, i give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat me more like the stench from a rotting corpse. 2 Corinthians 2:13-15

The story is told of Charles Finney that one day he was riding on a train in up-state New York and as he passed through this town… not stopped in the town, merely passed through, on the train, still moving, men in the taverns fell to their knees and accepted God into their lives. That’s an exquisite fragrance! Talk about Christ, leading you from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. “ed come to Me. Get away with Me.

While not trying to compare my life with Finney’s, i have to say that he must have been far more consistent than i have been to this point. i imagine he had to persevere often on his knees and face before God. i will have to PERSEVERE: persist in or remain constant to a purpose, idea, or task in the face of obstacles or discouragement. Be persistent, refuse to stop;

There’s a bird sitting in a tree watching as a caterpillar makes a very slow ascent up a barren peach tree. The bird asks sarcastically, “Why are you coming up here? There are no peaches on this tree.” The caterpillar, lumbering along, says in a most assured manner, “There will be by the time I get there.”

When i am tired, worn out, burned out, i am tempted to give up. David said, Be brave, Be strong. Don’t give up. Expect GOD to get here soon.

According to Matthew being tired, worn out and burned out , if i let it, will teach me how to be steady in life. i go through a tough time and i get all panicky; then the Lord stills the storm and i think, “Thank God that’s all over. I’ll never have to go through that again! I’ve learned my lesson!” And two weeks later, there is another storm. But this time since i’ve been through it once, i should respond a little better and a little quicker. When i persevere, something happens to me on the inside that i need… i develop inner strength. i LEARN! i acquire experience – i acquire ability – i acquire skill

When i persist, remain constant to the purpose, or task (Come to Me, Get away with Me) in the face of obstacles or discouragement i will recover life. i must go to Him, get away with Him and THEN, i’ll recover life. What i acquire, experience, ability, skill, will come into play the next time.

Then He says, “I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” TAKE: get into my possession by force, or skill. It will not come by coincidence. It won’t just happen. Jesus says, “i must purpose to develop inner strength, to LEARN, take a real rest.”

i am driving to the campus today paying special attention to my speed as it’s the first day of school. i was convicted to obey the speed limit about 6 years ago so i am pretty cautious every day, but feeling the need to be more aware today. The following has happened to me on several occasions, in fact almost every time i am driving and i see a patrol car.

So… i am going around 45 in a fifty speed zone when in my review mirror i see a patrol car. Immediately… panic comes over me and i hit the brake nice and slowly as if to slid into the proper speed limit and not be noticed. Go figure, i am under the speed limit but i act as though i am not. The patrol car then comes along side me and he glances my way as he passes on by leaving my mind frantic with thoughts. Then as if all this wasn’t enough he slows down and lets me pass him. Is this some type of mind game? Is he running my plates? What’s going on? Now, i know for a fact that i was not speeding and i know that there is no reason for him to stop me, but the threat that he could caused my mind to produce more thoughts than i could take captive and i acted on them. i’m now doing 40 in a 50, i checked my seatbelt and then i checked Ann Marie’s. We are good here as i tried to calm my racing heart, even though i know there is no reason to be concerned. i turned, he turned and life was normal again.

Then the thought came, ed you just changed your actions for no reason. NO REASON! i might have been stopped for only God knows what. Then another thought, you slowed down putting aside the fact that you were already driving under the speed limit and you double checked everything you could to make sure you lined up with the law. Your heart raced with fear, an unfounded fear. You knew… but were willing to surrender to the idea that you had done something wrong. You considered a well dressed lie even if only for a few minutes, to be the truth.

Then the voice in my head proceeded to ask, “Why don’t you consider those things on MY account?” “When I come along side you why don’t you hit the brakes and slow down?” “In fact, why don’t you even notice when I come along side you.” “Why don’t you double-check you life, your actions your words as you did with the patrol car?” “ed does your heart race when you notice Me?”

i had not even had time to process any of that when Ann Marie and i had words. Yes it happens, more lately than any other time in our relationship. In spite of these blogs i simply don’t get it right, and this frustrates me to no end. Ann Marie is my best friend and i value that far more than our relationship as husband and wife, mother of our children. It is strange to me, as we have just made plans and i mean spent hours making these plans for three trips between now and the end of the year for us to be together for some special time, that we have these moments. How can two people who want to be together all the time have moments that seem to say we’re better off apart? That thought is a well dressed lie. RABBIT TRAIL!

Perhaps if God drove a patrol car i would have a resp[ectful fear of what He could do to me? Fear…. the phrase “fear of the Lord” occurs twenty-five times in the New American Standard Bible (NASB). The phrase occurs twenty-three times in the Old Testament and two times in the New Testament. It first appears in 2 Chronicles 19:7 and then again two verses later. The other references are as follows: Job 28:28; Ps. 19:9; 34:11; 111:10; Proverbs 1:7; 1:29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10; 10:27; 14:26-27; 15:16, 33; 16:6; 19:23; 22:4; 23:17; Isaiah 11:2-3; 33:6; Acts 9:31; and 2 Corinthians 5:11. “Fear of the Lord” appears more times in the book of Proverbs than in any other book in the NASB.

Fear of the Lord. The word “fear” in the phrase “fear of the Lord” comes from the Hebrew word YIRAH (transliterated), and it means “to be terrified” (Jonah 1:10), “to be awe” (1 Kings 3:28), and “to have respect” (Lev. 19:3). The “fear of the Lord” is the reverence one would pay to a king because he is the majesty. But if one has offended the king and punishment is coming, that fear in the Hebrew is YARE. YARE is used in the phrase “fear the Lord” 31 times in the Old Testament. Therefore, when one sins, that person might fear God’s discipline (Deut. 10:20).

Proverbs says that the “fear of the Lord” – honor and respect for the Lord – is wisdom and it is the beginning of knowledge.

In closing, i realize i have my fears mixed up. I have fear for the law of the land… not so much for the life giver. i must be serious about my relationship with God. If i “fear” the Lord i am not anxious about my relationship to Him, or afraid of Him, i take very seriously my responsibility to Him. As for patrol cars and officers…. well’ i think there is a healthy fear of them as well. They serve as a reminder that there are laws that must be followed. The problem may be that by the time i see the patrol car or officer it’s too late, i have already disregarded my fear for those laws. i do not want to make the same mistake in my spiritual life.

Ecclesiastes 12:13 (NIV) Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.

I pray to be like the ocean, with soft currents, maybe waves at times. More and more, I want the consistency rather than the highs and the lows. Drew Barrymore

i had to go to one of my least favorite places for many reasons but i had no choice. i arrived and there was a man unloading his cart into his vehicle. He looked up and saw me waiting for him to finish so that i might have his parking spot. He continued at a leisurely pace and finally completed the task. He pushed his cart to the front of his parking space and walked around to the driver side, looking up at me again. As he slides into the front driver seat he again glances my way as if to say something that i have no idea as to what it is. His break lights go on and a puff of emissions comes from the back of the car and so i prepare to move into his empty slot.

During this waiting period my thoughts are calm yet somewhat judgemental as if it were me i would pick up the pace so as to let the person in need have the space, but not this man. He had his agenda and his time frame and my waiting there was of no type of encouragement for him to get out of what is now known as “MY SPACE.” i mean it served him well and now it’s time for him to go and let it serve others. As i am sitting there anxiously awaiting him to back out i look over to see him, now with his hat off, a comb in hand, and he is combing his hair and doing whatever as he looks at himself in the rear view mirror. For a moment i interpreted this as a statement towards me and it said, “this is my spot until I release it and I will release it when i am — well ready.” My mind kicks into high gear and yet i am able to take the thoughts captive by telling myself that i am in no hurry, which i was not. Finally he puts his hat on… so why the comb, and begins to back out of the spot.

As the vehicle comes more into view i see a sign on his door that says, “Inspired Landscaping.” Well the first thing that i though was how appropriate for this man to own a landscaping business. So all the combing and primping fit him well, it’s who he is or at least what he does. Whether it’s a lawn or his head makes no difference and i guess you could say that at least he is “consistent”. Now here comes the other side of it. This mans actions were a description of him and the question came to me, are my actions a description or a picture of me? As i sat there waiting what was i doing? As a man who directs a prayer center i guarantee you that no one would have known it by watching me as i watched him. Then i wondered how many times have i delayed someone or something because i was praying? How many people are sitting and waiting for me to finish praying or studying so that they can have what i posses at the moment. i wanted his close to the door parking spot. Do i have the same, want a close to God seat or spot on the floor?

What if i had sat there and prayed during my wait time and it’s not important that anyone actually saw but what if they did? Would they perhaps have wanted me to pray for them? Is it possible that they, wanting what i had at the moment, enough that they would have knocked on my glass and asked me to pray for them? Someone asked me how they would have known i was praying. my closing words from Friday were, “In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads me from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through me, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere i go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, i give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat me more like the stench from a rotting corpse. 2 Corinthians 2:13-15 That’s how and i wish i could have told this from that perspective and i would be sharing so great story about how God healed someone or that someone got saved, but instead it is one of my typical lessons in which i am made aware of what could have been if i had been paying attention to Him instead of him. i am so inconsistent, but God is so consistent in who He is.

I like consistency. If you’ve had a childhood like mine, you want some things you can rely on to stay the same. Norman Wisdom

The word “Spirit” is with a capital “S” – which means these 9 fruits are coming directly from the Holy Spirit, not from ourselves. It’s not in my own strength but it is God…! Who is all the while effectually and fervently at work in me…! Creating both the will and the desire to do His good works.

What this means is that God’s love, God’s peace, God’s joy, and God’s goodness can start to be transmitted up into our personality. These are His divine attributes and personality qualities that will start to move into the core of my personality. Think about the ramifications of this – that God the Father Himself is allowing me to share in a part of His divine nature by allowing His Holy Spirit to transmit and impart these nine divine qualities right up into my soul and personality!

Jesus says that, “He is the vine and we are the branches.” The branches draw their life from the vine, not vice versa. Just as the branch draws its life from the vine, so too must we draw my life directly from Jesus. Jesus will release His life directly into me through the Holy Spirit in the exact same way that the vine will release the life of the tree into the branches.

In one short, but incredible powerful Scripture verse, God the Father gives me an incredible revelation on what can go on behind the scenes in the spiritual realm if i am willing to do my part in this process.

Jesus gave Peter the power and ability to be able to walk on water. But there was one thing Peter had to do before that supernatural power was released to him. He had to get out of the boat and start walking straight forward on that power. It was only when he got out of the boat and started walking straight forward did the supernatural power of God manifest that allowed him to literally walk on water!

It’s the exact same way in this life changing journey with the Lord. God, through the Holy Spirit, will give me the supernatural power to change, transform, and purify me – but i will have to be like Peter and be willing to live and walk in that supernatural power before it can really start to work to change and purify me.

Jesus is coming back for a Bride that will be without spot or blemish. He is calling His Church meaning me to clean up my act and allow His Holy Spirit to begin this deeper purifying work in my lives. The choice is mine. Purification or the Fruit of the Spirit is not something that can be forced upon me. God really respects my free will and He will never force His will or His ways on me.

i have decided to enter into this purification process with the Lord – realizing that it will not occur overnight. The Holy Spirit will set the pace and timetable that He will want to work with me on. i can perfectly trust Him to handle each of the areas that He wants to get into.

Some of this has been and will still be a bit painful at times, since don’t particularly like to admit that i have anything that needs to be changed, i will let the Holy Spirit take me as far as He wants to go with me in this journey – and I know that my life and my state of well-being will all be changed for the better – much better!

i made it all this time without going to Webster’s for a definition of inconsistent but, i officially yield to today.

Inconsistent: lacking in harmony between the different parts or elements; self-contradictory: an inconsistent story. lacking agreement, as one thing with another or two or more things in relation to each other; at variance: a summary that is inconsistent with the previously stated facts. not consistent in principles, conduct, etc.: acting at variance with professed principles.

That last definition catches my attention, acting at variance with professed principles. my experience with fruit is just that. The fruit has a variance from piece to piece. i can eat a couple of grapes that are just as sweet as can be and then get one that is just bad, a variance. The professed principles are not verbal profession nor a written profession but rather an implied profession. Once i taste the flavor and or sweetness of any piece of fruit i take it as a profession of what it is and what i can expect from it now and in the future. Then when i get something less than what i thought was professed i become dissatisfied. That will preach.

As for principle: the nature of, a piece of fruit, in my mind should have a nature that is common from one piece to the other. An orange should have the same nature from piece to piece. i will surrender to the idea that there are different regions an orange can be grown in and that will adjust the taste. i also understand that the soil, the weather, including temperature and a variety of other things may also adjust the taste, but ultimately my opinion is that if there is not a consistent acceptable level of flavor then why bother. i see that applying those thoughts and views to my spiritual life does not work so well. Just as the “world and life” play havoc with the taste of my fruit so it does with my spiritual walk.

i have been looking at why the fruit is inconsistent and have found some scientific answers. Now i must remember that good or right answers are not enough. Knowing the why does nothing to change the fruit directly. But knowing why can help the fruit grower and i to make changes. my words and actions can become a sweet-smelling fragrance… In the Messiah, in Christ, God leads me from place to place in one perpetual victory parade. Through me, he brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere i go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, i give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation—an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat me more like the stench from a rotting corpse. 2 Corinthians 2:13-15

Realize this is the goal to be achieved and not what occurs on a consistent basis at this time. Each day i should wake up and apply a label that says, “New and Improved.” The other option would be to say, “Buyer Beware” as you never know what you’re going to get from day-to-day. That works for my spiritual life as well except the buyer is the Father and those other people that i am to love as myself.

I learned that it is the weak who are cruel, and that gentleness is to be expected only from the strong. Leo Rosten

GENTLENESSprautes – We do not find ourselves needing to force our way in life. i remember in the past having what we called faith projects. Those were the times when we had to force our way to come out victorious. While i still believe in siezing the moment the reasons for instituting force has changed.

Col 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people whom he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Gentleness is mildness combined with tenderness. Gracious, kindly disposition, controlled strength. A disposition that is even-tempered, tranquil, balanced in spirit, unpretentious and that has passions under control. A character that is equitable, reasonable, forbearing, moderate, fair and considerate. Power and
strength under control. Willing to pardon injuries, correct faults. One who rules his spirit well.

Whether some like it or not, Jesus was fully incarnated into a human, flesh body – but this incarnation was done as a man – fully Man and fully God. Since Jesus walked our earth as a man – the Son of Man – i am to study His actions very carefully when i read the gospels and see how He handled different types of people. There were times that He would engage and set people straight, like He did with some of the Scribes and Pharisees. But there were other times that He dealt with people very gently, with kindness and love.

Again, Jesus is the perfect role model for me to study and learn from – especially with how He handled people. For men in particular, His actions and behavior towards others have been and continue to be an ongoing study for me and my goal is to apply what i learn to my own daily walk with Him. One of the divine qualities that He had operating in Him with great abundance was the quality of gentleness.

So many people including myself have been beat up and hurt in our dealings with other people – just a gentle word, a gentle touch from another Christian can really open up the door for a person to be able to receive Jesus and His healing, saving, and deliverance power.

Once i really started walking in the Holy Spirit with His divine fruits operating and flowing through me– i was able to feel and sense when i should handle a certain person or a certain type of situation with more gentleness rather than with any kind of stern rebuke or condemnation. There is a time for tough love – but there are also times that just a gentle and loving touch is all that is really needed.

As i learn to walk in gentelness i will have more peace since i won’t always have to be fighting and striving with others.

SELF-CONTROLegkrateia – i am (wish i was) able to marshal and direct my energies wisely. while i am consistent in many things i am so inconsistent in just as many. Sometime i can capture every thought and take it captive to the word and other times i see the cake with that delicious chocolate frosting and i eat half of it at one sitting.

1Co 9:25 All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Self-Control is temperance, rational restraint of natural impulses. Restraint or discipline exercised over one’s behavior. Sober, temperate, calm and dispassionate approach to life, having mastered personal desires and passions. Calls for a self-disciplined life following Christ’s example of being in the world
but not of the world.

And the biggy… This one is huge, and I mean huge! i have a certain amount of character flaws operating in my personality. There are some bad and negative qualities that still have to go.

The word says that my spirit and my flesh will war against each other in this life. my  flesh wants immediate self-gratification at all costs and will stop at nothing to try and get it. my spirit knows that some of my fleshly desires are not right for me and as a result, there will be a tug of war between the two – and sometimes it will be a life or death tug of war. The only thing that will be able to control and curb some of the desires of my flesh is the quality of self-control through the Holy Spirit working in me.

Since i live in a very self-centered and materialistic type world today, many times i have poor impulse control. If i see something i immediately want, i will do anything i can to try and get it. i will not be denied until i get what i want. This is why the word tells me that if i can learn how to really walk in the Holy Spirit, then i will not fulfill the lusts of my flesh.

If i do not have God’s self-control operating through me – i will have very little victory over such things as bad tempers, judgmental and critical spirits, an unforgiving spirit, and a variety of other vices .

His supernatural power in this area will blow me away once i see how far He can really take me to become the person that He would like me to become in Him in this lifetime.

Galatians 5:25,26 Since this is the kind of life i have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let me make sure i do not just hold it as an idea in my head or a sentiment in my heart, but work my heart, work out its implications in every detail of my life.

That also means i will not compare myself with other as if one of us were better and another worse. i am an original. Everybody’s worshiping something… That’s what we were made to do!

Joshua 24:15 If you decide that it’s a bad thing to worship God, then choose a god you’d rather serve—and do it today. Choose one of the gods your ancestors worshiped from the country beyond The River, or one of the gods of the Amorites, on whose land you’re now living. As for me and my family, we’ll worship God.