For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. —Romans 15:4

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Gentleness: In a World of Frustration

1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Photo by Maggie Wickline Jowers

I have to ask myself—am I reactive or proactive? Do I lash out or do I reach out? There are situations that make me angry. When someone is lazy, neglectful, or mean. But even in anger, God requires me to have a gentle spirit. In a world full of mistreatment, abuse, and let me put this gently-mouthiness, it's difficult to not react with louder, angrier words and frustration.

In the verses Peter shared, gentleness and respect go hand-in-hand. I love that. It makes sense. As a follower of Jesus, he wants me to be respectful and gentle, when I share my hope in Jesus. That's not being a pushover, it's being a Christ follower. The world is full of loud angry voices. It's time we show our gentle, caring spirits to the world by loving the difficult, the frustrating, and the unlovely. Jesus loved everyone—shouldn't we? Praise God for Jesus who loves you and me!
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Faithfulness: A Lesson from the Dog

2 Thessalonians 3:3
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Several years ago, when Tater was still an exuberant young dog, he caused me to take a trip to the emergency room. I had hooked him up to take him for a walk and before I could follow him out the door, he bolted and ran me straight into the door jam. I met the jam head on, stumbled out the doorway and passed out in the back yard. In a few minutes I came to. My glasses were flung behind me, pain screamed from my broken nose, and my dear dog stood over me wondering what had just happened. Long story short—Tim took me to the emergency room for a few stitches. A few years later, I tripped over this same dog and injured both knees. Eventually leading to knee surgery and replacement. By now you may be wondering why I still love this dog. One simple reason, he's faithful. He loves me more than I understand, and I love him right back. He's a nervous Nelly sometimes and drives me crazy when he jumps and barks when I get home. But he's my dog.

That must be how God looks at me. "She's my child." Otherwise why would he be faithful to me, a messy life-liver who gets sick, makes mistakes, gets scared, acts anxious, and sometimes wants to give up. That's the thing about God, he loves me anyway. He remains faithful and protects me from evil because I sure can't protect myself. He gives me strength when I'm about to let loose of the proverbial knot at the end of the rope. I'm thankful that no matter what happens, God remains faithful. He's the same no matter what. And I know without doubt that I will remain faithful to him. 
Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodness: Victory is Mine


2 Peter 1:4-5a
Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness…

Ephesians 6:14-17
Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

The large box jutted over the end of the cart making it difficult for the woman to see where she was going. She managed to maneuver the awkward package to her car. With the trunk flipped open, she struggled to lift the box. A gentleman walked up to her and asked if she needed any help. At first she said no, but he encouraged her to allow his help. He placed the package in her car without difficulty. When she thanked him, he said it was his pleasure. He had just returned from the war and witnessed so much distress and evil, that he wanted to come home and do good. As she pulled away from this gracious stranger, she watched him approach another person in need.

The soldier fought in a physical war where he witnessed evil, destruction, and despair. I've not been in a battle with guns and warfare, but each day a spiritual war swirls around me. Satan and his army attempt sneak attacks and outright assaults. He wants me to make bad choices and ignore good. He lurks around waiting for me to wear down so that I might lose my patience, criticize others, or just give up on my walk with Jesus. But Satan does not win the war of good and evil because Jesus, like the soldier, carries my load. As I think about the new year approaching, I choose to do good. I put on my gospel armor and prepare for the battle of life. You see, I love Jesus and he loves me. Without him I lose the battle, but with him the victory is mine.


Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
What battles do you face?

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Kindness: In Uniform

Ephesians 4:32
Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. 

Because I love snow and Christmas, Tim surprised me with a day-trip to Marblehead Lighthouse State Park. After four+ hours on the road and a quick stop in Gibsonburg to pick up my favorite doughnuts, we pulled into the almost empty parking lot. Snow covered the ground and before us stood Marblehead lighthouse decked out in garland and greenery. The moment I stepped out of the car a sense of peace washed over me. Calm swept across my being. I don't find many places on this earth where I fall into a totally relaxed state. But on that small peninsula surrounded by rocks, water, and this time of year—snow, my soul felt a sense of awe and wonder. We wandered around donned in Santa hats for an hour or so. What a wonderful gift for the season.

But that's not the whole story. As we explored on the rocks and snapped photos of the beauty that surrounded us, another car pulled in. Two young police officers climbed out and wandered toward us. They appeared to be checking on the park as they walked out to the rock we stood on. At first they chatted, asked us where we were from and what we we're doing. I'll admit, I got a little nervous. I thought maybe we shouldn't be in the park. As the conversation continued, they complimented us on our holiday hats. Then they did something so sweet. One officer reached in his pocket and pulled out a gift card. "We're doing 'Gifts from Cops'," he said. He handed me a Target gift card. Kindness in uniform. Not only had the trip made my day. Their kind gesture pushed the joy meter to the top. Policemen work on the holidays, they protect us, and watch out for us. And they take the time to be kind. I gave the young man a hug and snapped a photo of them with Tim. I pray those two young men have a blessed holiday.

I hope you have the opportunity to share Jesus' love and kindness with everyone you meet. Merry Christmas!

Galatians 5:22-23But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Patience: At Christmas?

Colossians 3:12
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.

I remember one Christmas, as a child, I snooped for gifts. Under my mom and dad’s bed I spied a toy ironing board and iron and a few other items that looked like they might be for me. That was the year that I figured out that Santa left the presents early and in my parent’s charge J. My lack of patience in waiting for Christmas morning brought some disappointment. I wondered if Santa even existed. I think I was about five or six years old. 

Had I waited until Christmas morning to unwrap my treasures, I could have avoided my doubt and enjoyed the morning through a child’s eyes one more time.

Sometimes as an adult, I forget the lesson I learned so long ago. I still resist waiting. In some translations of the Bible, the fruit of the Spirit lists forbearance as patience. Webster defines forbearing as holding back with effort. Patience requires acknowledgement and effort. Sometimes I'm not as patient as I need to be. Yet I know from experience when I do produce patience, God blesses me. I continue to work on this part of the fruit of the Spirit, and I thank God that he is patient with me.

Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.