Archive for the ‘fruit of’ Category

  “How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I wrestle with my thoughts  and day after day have sorrow in my heart?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?  Look on me and answer, LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall.  But I trust in your unfailing love;  my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me (Psalm 13:1-6).”

I walked out of my job today. I literally went and got my next contract from the boss’s secretary and left.

What I did was either one of the most stupid things I have ever done –or the smartest. Only time will tell.

The truth is, I am exhausted. Thus, when an “incident” was brought to my attention by my new supervisor,

I had no patience to deal with it. When I asked “is there anything else?” and the reply was “no”, I  flew the coop.

The “incident” was just the tip of the iceberg related to an ongoing problem on my job. I have tried to get the attention of people in authority to do something about it for months, but to no avail.

Therefore, when I was being called on the carpet for my handling of an issue directly related to the problem, I just did not have the inner resources to respond with aplomb.

This begs the question,”Why not?”  You might ask,”Why didn’t you just rely on the capacities of Jesus instead of your own?”

These are very good questions for which I do not have a ready answer. The issues are complicated; one might even say “thorny”.

What I mean is what Jesus said when he told a parable concerning different ways a person can respond to the message of his kingdom.  Jesus, using the image of a farmer sowing his seed, said: “The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful (Matthew 13:22).”

The situation with my heart is not right these days. It is full of worries and trying to make ends meet. 

I am not doing very well at handling the distresses and agitations produced by my concerns, nor am I producing enough wealth to support my family.

I am in a vicious cycle of bad cause and effect. I am too busy at work to fix the problems in my life and at home. The intended effect of my work i.e., the money needed to support myself and my loved ones, is also not there. As a result of these negatives, I guess you could say my life is a mess. 

 Before I die, I would like to be a fruitful Christian.  I haven’t been very productive since I came to Christ at the age of 17.  My thorns always get in the way.

Jesus had a crown of them at his crucifixion. He carried my problems in those thorns with Him on the cross.

Indeed, the Scriptures say He is a “lily among thorns (Song of Solomon2:2)”. He can take my smelly, ugly issues and make them aromatic and beautiful.

Like any human, I suppose I have developed an “enemy’s list” (a term made famous by Richard Nixon). They are thorns in my way, but they are not a problem to God.

The biggest enemy, my largest thorn in the side, and obstacle to my frutifulness for God, is Satan. He is apt to destroy me if I let him. If I get behind God and let Him fight the Evil One and his cohorts for me, I won’t.

I am tired of The Monster having his way with me and mine. God struck him down in Christ, and I don’t have to succumb to him anymore. The Scriptures say so:

“In that day, the LORD will punish with his sword— his fierce, great and powerful sword— Leviathan the gliding serpent,Leviathan the coiling serpent; he will slay the monster of the sea. In that day—

   ‘Sing about a fruitful vineyard: 
  I, the LORD, watch over it;
   I water it continually.
I guard it day and night
   so that no one may harm it…

 I am not angry.
If only there were briers and thorns confronting me!
   I would march against them in battle;
   I would set them all on fire. 
Or else let them come to me for refuge;
   let them make peace with me,
   yes, let them make peace with me.’

 In days to come Jacob will take root,
   Israel will bud and blossom
   and fill all the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:1-6).”

Instead of God’s Word not hitting paydirt as in days gone by, I can see a future which includes good soil and fruitbearing for me and my own. I dont think I am fantasizing when I write this, even though I just quit my job.

On the surface, I have put myself and my family in financial jeopardy by floating out of my workplace today. However, there are more important things in life than money.

In the next few months there would have been more of the same: constant work. With the issues facing me and my wife and kids, the workplace is not where I need to be, I think. There are things from God which money cannot buy:

1) The ability to listen to Him in peace (Isaiah 55:1-3) AND

2) Time to seek God and His Word, and let Him and it bear fruit in my life (Isaiah 55:6-11).

This is a worthy saying:

 “You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands. 
Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
   and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
   for an everlasting sign,
   that will endure forever (Isaiah 55:12-13).”

My heart has to date has produced nothing but thorns and thistles, that prickly plant that hurts those it comes into contact with. I am tired of my life, and the pain. Really tired.

I know I am in danger and ruthless action is needed:

“Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned (Hebrews 6:7,8).”

When the writer of Hebrews wrote the words above, he added a positive note to his readers, which I trust will apply to me as well:

“Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation (Hebrews 6:9).”

 Pontius Pilate presented Jesus to the mob. John paints the scene:

 Once more Pilate came out and said to the Jews gathered there, ‘Look, I am bringing him out to you to let you know that I find no basis for a charge against him.’  When Jesus came out wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe, Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ “.

Jesus is my King and He bore my worries and anguish. I don’t have to deal with them anymore.  For me, here and now, Jesus is “The Man”.

Maybe now I can trust him with my future. I am banking on the truth that He remembers that I am a ball of dust and subject to mistakes, like losing my composure today.

God, come in and fix them, and me, too.

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name
For the Son of God, who came
Ruined sinners to reclaim.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned He stood;
Sealed my pardon with His blood.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we;
Spotless Lamb of God was He;
“Full atonement!” can it be?
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die;
“It is finished!” was His cry;
Now in Heav’n exalted high.
Hallelujah! What a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King,
All His ransomed home to bring,
Then anew His song we’ll sing:
Hallelujah! What a Savior!


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“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).”

Tthe last couple of weeks I have twice lost my temper, badly.  Sadly, these fits of rage have occurred with my family.

I have been working hard at controlling myself of late, so I have been wondering where all this wrath comes from.  Is this intense anger genetic, originating from my Irish roots? (They don’t call it IREland for nothing.)  Am I mad at my mommy and daddy, as psyschiatrists might have me believe?    Or am I just plain insane?  After all, an archaic term for insanity was “rage”.

I’m not taking anabolic steroids.  If I were this might explain my fury.  I could write it off to “roid rage”.

It could be I have a disease.  The etymology of the word ‘”rage” includes rabia, the Latin root of the term “rabies”.  So maybe I have become like a mad dog because one bit me in my sleep.

Or maybe I’m mad at God, and therefore I  take it out on my the nearest target, my fam.  After all, the Bible shows that people get get mad at Him (Job 15:12,13).

Whatever is causing my fury, I have to get a handle on it.  It’s not good for my health for one.  Anger increases the heart rate and blood pressure. 

Some people can’t even turn off their fury.  According to the famous website “How Stuff Works”, these folks may not be able to produce a hormone called  acetylcholine, which limits the effects of adrenaline. As a result, they stress their onw hearts and stiffen their arteries.

What is worse than the physical effects of my rage is what I know its doing to my family and my other relationships.  The same website says:

“Chronically angry people may have built up years of expecting to be disappointed and frustrated by events around them. These people react more angrily to even small stressful events, but in doing so, they create even more reasons to be angry. Individuals with higher anger describe higher levels of family conflict and lower levels of social support because of the effect their anger has on those around them.”

What is ironic about raging at other people is how hypocritical it is. Judah was ready to burn his daughter in-law Tamar at the stake when he was told she was pregnant out of wedlock.  Then he learned that he was the father (Genesis 38:15-26).  People even get mad at God when they are only just reaping the results of their stupidity (Proverbs 19:3).

 Rageaholics tend to go to extremes in their anger, also. They do not fit the punisment to the perceived crime. For example, God allowed Israel to punish their brethren from Judah because of their sin, but they overdid it.  They enslaved them.  God was not a happy camper.

He sent a prophet to rebuke Israel.  The prophet said to them, “Because the LORD, the God of your fathers, was angry with Judah, he gave them into your hand. But you have slaughtered them in a rage that reaches to heaven (II Chronicles 28:9).”

God also got angry at Edom for their ongoing destructive rage against their blood relatives from Israel. He said, “For three sins of Edom, even for four, I will not turn back my wrath . Because he pursued his brother with a sword, stifling all compassion, because his anger raged continually and his fury flamed unchecked (Amos 1:11).”

I am as hypocritical as these biblical folks were.  I get mad at my family when they are late, bicker with each other, or slow my progress. Yet, I operate on my own selfish schedule, argue with them myself and hinder their goals, also.  

I also tend to mete out massive punishments for slight offenses. I am ready to give out a week of house arrest for a small tussle between the kids.

Look, God obviously doesn’t approve of my unjust rage and punishments. Otherwise, He wouldn’t have told his people, “But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips (Colossians 3:8).”

What’s the solution?  How do I do my part and get rid of the rage.

If I had all the answers I wouldn’t be throwing hissy fits. However, I do think am getting better.  My anger events are less frequent and less intense overall.

One thing that I believe has helped me contain my fury is medicine.  Not everyone agrees with its use, but I think it has kept a lid on my rage. Yesterday, I felt like a boiling pot, but I didn’t melt down to the point of doing something really stupid.

The other factor that has definitely helped is that I am seeking the Lord out more than ever before. His Spirit within me frees me from self condemnation and helps me to move on from my rage events.  The Holy Spirit I also believe is supernaturally helping me with my anger as I walk with Him (Romans 8:1-10).”

Even so, I want my ire events to cease completely. I know God isn’t pleased with them.  I don’t want Him to say to me “I know where you live. Don’t make me come down there”, as He did with the enemies of Israel  (II Kings 19:27).

God cares for the downtrodded and oppressed, and He cares for His people.  He said of Israel,

“Their people, drained of power, 
 are dismayed and put to shame. 
 They are like plants in the field, 
  like tender green shoots, 
 like grass sprouting on the roof, 
 scorched before it grows up (II Kings 19:26).”

This is a good description of my family at the moment. They are worn out.

God cares for my wife and kids, and so do I. They are precious to Him and to me. I am responsible for them before God.  Therefore, I don’t want to add to their problems with my temper tantrums.

I may be walking with the Spirit, but I tend to be a bit behind Him. It’s time I catch up.

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“He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me,  and he prepares the way so that I may show him  the salvation of God (Psalm 50:23).”

When I was a senior in high school, an acquaintance wrote in my yearbook,”Your pervasive air of disgust was a constant source of amusement to me throughout the year.”  The boy labeled me for life.

I have gotten a lot of yuks over that statement and the thought it communicates.  This is because my older brother and I have taken pride in the idea that the males in our family are curmudgeons. As he went into middle age, my brother said to me,”Well, I guess I have inherited Dad’s curmudgeon mantle.”  I thought his comment was hilarious.

To me, being a crabby, ill-tempered guy was a symbol of who I was .  I have seen our family personalities as a badge of honor.

Now, I’m not so sure. As I get older I am becoming quite congnizant of my infirmities, weaknesses and sins. As I reflect, I am experiencing some regret over my curmudgeonly attitude.

 While being irascible might have been humourous before, it is not so funny now.  (Well, maybe still a little.)  This is because, when set in the context of my other issues, my curmudgeonism just adds fuel to my flaming behavioral fire.

Primarily, I have been wondering what God thinks of the air of distaste around me. I have a sneaking suspicion that He doesn’t care for it.

First, God wants me to be thankful for what He has done for me (Psalm 50:14).  Conveying my repugnance toward life doesn’t seem to fit that goal He has for me.

Second, God values kindness (Isaiah 63:7).  He wants me to reflect this aspect of His character to others (II Samuel 9:3).  Part and parcel of being a curmudgeon is spreading my sour spirit around to other people.  This seems rather unkind to me. It doesn’t catch the spirit of who God is.

Finally, conveying my general displeasure communicates a certain disrespect to God. It tells Him and others that I am not trusting in His care, or even worse, that I  believe that He is just flat out not  kind and loving.

Spreading around my revulsion is dissing God because in fact He is just waiting to come to my aid.  He wants me to call on Him when I need help with my problems (Psalm 50:15).    

Basically, I now think God isn’t pleased with the ambience of loathing surrounding me. He’s not like me, and doesn’t approve of a professing Christian such as myself communicating that He is (Psalm 50:21).

I have the idea now that I should be acting like a man created in the image of God.  This is what I am, and what others are. We’re not maggots, as one of Job’s friends intimated (Job 25:6).

That old high school yearbook is nowhere to be found now. It’s been lost in one of our many moves. It’s just as well. Having dispensed with my high school friend’s comments, it’ also time to lose the air of distaste and develop an appetite for what God has for me.

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