The Fruit of the Spirit

This morning I’m just thinking upon the Fruit of the Spirit:

Peace
Joy
Love
Patience
Kindness
Goodness (I like to think of this as humility)
Faithfulness
Gentleness
Self-Control

In some ways, they’re like a staircase going up in either direction. I can choose to accept the peace that surpasses and build upon it, or I can start with the strength God gives to lead me to self-control and go from there. Literally, one-syllable words, two-syllable words, three syllable words. Building. Growing. Improving. Being improved. Being redeemed from the un-fruit (selfishness being one – what others would you say?)

But also, I see the fruit as circular, one always leading to another, spiraling up and up towards what I was meant to be, but, in this life, never completing the rising. The sky’s the limit!

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Learning the hard way about the easy way…

Learning the hard way about the easy way…

399I believe in God, the Creator. I believe in His promise of an age to come where everything is made right. Fixed. Repaired. Like new. No more tears. No more pain. No evil. No dangerous options in the list of choices we have. (Personally, I hope to be eternally singing and playing in the band, serving with beautiful worship, but I’ll be ok with just making a loud, joyful noise – since I have experience at that.)

jack-palance-just-one-thingTherefore, my purpose is to listen and be taught by experience about spiritual things, to Share God’s Story in my life with anyone who’ll sit still long enough, to love, encourage, and be of service and support to the people in my sphere of influence, and to practice and prepare to exist in that coming age, whether it be a somewhere-else heaven, or an earth made heaven-like. This world is a classroom where I learn the hard way what the truly easy way is all about. I want to “pay that forward.”

Come and hear, all you who fear God. Let me tell you what He has done for me.
Psalm 66:16

IMG_3763To me, at first glance, that easy way looked like the impossible – and undesirable – way. “You want me to do what?” Trust in something I can’t see? Obey? Not please myself and enjoy? Not just have fun? I should do for others? Be a slave to “virtue?” Sacrifice? Of course, I turned the other way instead of the other cheek. Of course, I enjoyed physical pleasures and pastimes and the many things I could consume to achieve an “alternate” mood.

img_0885It took me four decades to realize that I’d taken a road that was not what it seemed, and I’d become owned by useless and empty habits and attitudes. I was shackled to, and solely, soullessly, pulling a heavy wagon overflowing with heaped-on emotional baggage. What had seemed the simpler, painless path was really a cleverly disguised gilded cage with a treadmill set next to a looping slideshow, a holodeck of holograms going nowhere, a bouncing in a rubber room of insanity. (You’ve no doubt heard the definition: doing the same thing over and over, but expecting the results to differ.)

In 2008, my pursuit of happiness via xxx, video gaming, and substance over-use came to crashing halt when I took a virtual two-by-four upside the head and awoke to realize with horror what I had been doing to myself. I needed help. I’d been given a preview of the gruesome downward spiral I was following full-speed, but I’d been given new life to seek a different race course.

adventureThis blog is the readable documentary of that salvation, a textbook of the lessons I’ve learned. It starts every morning with being still and knowing, with frankly accepting how I’m made, and with a daily resolution to go wherever the Maker leads. He is the One for whom I am here. I am now carefully choosing how to live. And that is not by self-centeredly living my story, but instead Sharing God’s Story in my precious life.

I invite you to join me on this journey. I welcome your comments and commiseration, and especially, your own enlightenment.

Blessings,image

 

Because it’s “good” to be “nice”. NOT!

Well, “not enough,” is what I really mean.

So, in the wake of yet another mass killing, I posted a meme on FB which (in summary) said, “The problem… is a Godless society.” It was questioned by some of my (atheist, I think that’s how they would describe themselves) friends, who tried to bring the blame to religion. I replied, “God, not religion.” And then, when they persisted:

Again, God, not religion. A deep, studied, learn-ed relationship with The Creator. A foundation for/of morals and ethics. …the difference between faith and a set of do’s and don’t’s (that oh-by-the-way everyone should follow; it therefore being ok that they are made to follow, or else …removed). Spiritual formation. The WHY we do and live rightly and goodly, not so much the how. Personal, individual, trusting-yet-testing against the delivered-over-generations Word of said Creator, and daily “communication” (for want of a better word) from/with The Creator. The #1 question we all need to ask ourselves: IS there a being, a higher power who created all? If I believe, I live one way; if not, it’s all about me (and others’ lives/lack doesn’t matter).

Let me be clear: I’m talking about where I come from, Western Civ, arguably founded on or with a very healthy dose of Judeo-Christian principles.

[But] “progressivity” has taken spiritual, moral, and ethical development out of the basic education of people for generations now. This part of learning used to have the practical, secular by-product of good citizenship, (even in non-radical theocratic societies (or so conservative people of those faiths seem to claim – I have limited knowledge in this area.)) However, TRUE Christ-likeness is peaceful and supporting of all, exactly as they are.

There’s a “sham” good without New-Testament God, because the “why” question is never answered. And what’s the #1 question children ask? “Why?” Why? Why? “Because it’s good to be nice” isn’t sufficient as an answer.

Let me be further clear: Conservative != Christ-like.

I stress, the “religion” commonly known as Christianity is, in many ways, a farce. It’s a show: church on Sunday, maybe, but without even dusting off The Family Bible (if there even is one in the house), and then complete lack of faith-based living in the rat-race rest of the week. The condition of first world, western civilization, (truly, the have’s of the world) which has been failing to invest in/failing to back spiritual… maturation for its people is partly to blame, in that it’s non-God-of-all-based living has fostered the acceptance of radicalization in those brought up in other faiths (mostly the “have nots” outside of western civ).

Wow, “There are a lot of long words in there, Miss; we’re naught but humble pirates. What is it that you (are trying to say)?”

“Christian” is not something I do; it’s who I am. It starts at an individual level, one-on-one, between God and me. It forms how I deal with, treat, serve, love, accept, give to others – expecting nothing in return, because that’s how God, The Creator, is with and to me. It’s a daily, on-going process; for example, every morning I ‘meet with the big boss’ so-to-speak, deliberately thinking upon my blessings, and thanking Him, and looking at areas for improvement in how I measure up to the standard He has set, Jesus Christ. (And I admit, I have a long way to go to even come close- but that’s another post.) In other words, spiritual growth. Just like exercise for physical health, and training for career improvement (learning by doing is best). (And by-the-way, I was one of those non-Bible-opening “Christians” growing up. I left it at the words of the preacher. Now I know this is not enough.)

Followers of this Christ-likeness gather together in the body of the Church. As an organization, the Church further clarifies/educates, and treats with, serves, loves, accepts, gives to other peoples and organizations. But again, regarding this education – it first has to pass the individual’s test, based on his/her reading and understanding of the divinely-inspired word, (which means, he/she actually has to read it, and know it.) Frankly, I’m not sure I know too many professing Christians who read the Bible at all, certainly not daily or deeply. And non-Christians (ok, non-religious) people seem to have absolutely no way to develop and grow their morals and ethics. (Which explains how things are today.)

The Church’s intended work happens to some extent these days, but not nearly enough. Instead, we people build our bigger barns, improve our little estates, enjoy our entertainments, our bread and circus, and wonder why the rest of the world hates us, and who should do something about it. It’s the same as in our political lives: “Vigilance is the price of freedom.” (And, really, this election cycle should make clear to us all our lack of vigilance.)