A different lens: Perception

52901658_10218410674563181_2225174297805062144_n 2 awakened_arts

 

I recounted a story that changed my perception years ago, at Shaey Anthony on YouTube.
If you are interested, give it a view as it places this blog in a fuller context.

Fruit of the Spirit part 2:

rotting apples

Part 2: The fruit is Rotting

The journey to writing about Spiritual Fruit, actually started because I knew I had produced fruit in my life at one point, but in the most recent season, I was not seeing the evidence. It was almost as if my Fruit of the Spirit was rotting away. 

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.

Reasons your Spiritual Fruit may be rotting.

  1. You are leaving your harvest behind in your walk. You may have the Fruit of the Spirit at the moment, but when life gets hard or the world is tempting you have let it go and become buried in the mess.
  2. You have not shared the harvest with others by connecting with a community. You must USE your fruits of the Spirit. We cannot hold on to our fruits of the Spirit for our own gain. Our gifts are to bless and impact the Kingdom. It is then that we will see more fruit production because God’s math multiplies a good thing!
  3. Distraction is a killer of the fruit of the Spirit. When we are consumed with the weight of this world or the busy craziness of life, we are not focused on our God. He is the producer of our fruit. If we are disconnected from Him our fruit will rot.

 

Let’s look at the fruit of the Spirit and see how it may look when rotting. Now mind you, I am not talking about a once in a while I messed up, but if I am constantly walking in the ‘mess’ I am going to have rotting fruit.

*LOVE: Love your neighbor as yourself, love your family, love your church, love the stranger and love your enemy well!

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

I already failed at this one today, as I was not very patient or kind with my own husband.  I was tired and moody and failed. I was not showing the fruit of the Spirit within me. Now he was gracious and the Lord gives us grace, but how much more love will the Lord bless in my heart when I can actively obey his call to LOVE and love well?

*JOY: A feeling of great happiness. A source or cause of delight.

Psalm 47:1- 
Clap your hands all you nations; Shout to God with cries of Joy.

When I was grumbling and complaining to my husband about what I perceived as an offense, I was not shouting for Joy. I was not walking in joy. How many of us grumble and complain from the moment we see someone until we depart?
If we are grumbling and complaining we are not showing the fruit of the spirit, Joy.  If we are spending more being critical than we are walking in Joy, we are going to be sitting on the rotten fruit of the Spirit.

* PEACE: It is impossible to walk in stress and anxiety at the same time as peace.  I may begin my morning in peace, and by the afternoon of facing the daily stress, I often have chosen to let peace fall to the ground and rot. I must WALK in peace.

Isaiah 26: 12- 
LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.

God has established His peace for me, I do not need to pick the garbage back up. He has done it and I have to share it.

 

*FOREBEARANCEHolding back or self-restraint. Specifically, a refraining from the enforcement of a punishment; holding back judgment.

Matthew 5:38-42
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.

Oh how I have wanted to retaliate, throw the stones back that was smacking me in the face. Even though I didn’t, my heart was so ugly with the thought of revenge. My Forbearance was undeveloped for sure. I don’t even think that one had a chance to rot. But now that I am aware of what it is and how to walk in it, Lord will give me the strength to sow that seed with HIS grace.

*KINDNESS- Friendly, thoughtful and considerate. 

Luke 6:35- But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

I think kindness is taking love into action by actually connecting. For myself, in the past, I could compare my kindness vs. others towards me and get disgruntled. But I must be kind to the ungrateful enemy as well as those that will sow back. I can’t expect anything in return, just sowing the kindness for the sake of being kind. Because the Lord has given me much, I must share much.

*GOODNESS- The quality of my character and conduct. For example; integrity, honesty, and uprightness.

Ephesians 4:29- Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

It is so easy to tear down what we see as flaws, but the Lord directs us to build up. Edify others with our speech and conduct. He has called us to be faithful and honest. In my name of ‘sickness’, I have not walked in goodness but in despair and my character showed it. I affected the atmosphere around me and truly was giving off an offensive rotten fruit.

* FAITHFULNESS- Faithful, constant, loyal imply qualities of stability, dependability, and devotion.

Matthew 5:7- When you make a promise, say only “Yes” or “No.” Anything else comes from the devil.

I am learning to take on less so that I can be faithful in my YES. There is nothing more frustrating to others in my life when I can not follow through. This area of study has me more thoughtful on what I am able to do.  

*GENTLENESS-  Walking in the tenderness of the Father. Choosing to use a soft word.

Proverbs 15:1- A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

So many times with my family I have been harsh and I have watched the anger stir up. I have also experienced the anger stirred up in myself from the harshness in others. At the same time, I have seen the hand of God move when I answer with a gentle and tender heart. Lord I am praying that my action of tenderness is my first and my fruit won’t fall from you and rot.

*SELF-CONTROL-   Controlling your emotions and desires or the expression of them in difficult situations. 

2 Timothy 1:7- For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid; but gives us power, love and self-discipline.

God has given me the tools I need to be self-controlled. When I blow up in my emotion of the moment, I have not glorified His work in me. I have not turned to the creator with my emotion. I have let my spirtitual fruit is rotting.

I am still a work in progress, and I know the Lord gives me grace in my seasons of mistakes, but I have made up my mind to not WALK in this state, but rather in HIS POWER.


I once failed at love- Until I learned what it truly is

In my past, I had a world full of people around me, yet I felt so alone.
I had been hurt that others in my life were not listening or there for me in the ways that I thought they should be. I read recently that those that overshare on social media are often the loneliest people and that was me. I was so lonely. Yet, the lonelier I felt the more isolated I became. Shutting people out, to avoid the feelings of hurt.

I lived in a world where others were not being aware of MY needs. When these trials arose,  I would often pout, shout or shut down completely into a world of poor me.   I began to get bitter and turn people away.

I can see where this destructive pattern began. There was one that cut and hurt me so deeply, it shook my very worth.  I was done with living and I was done with people. So one by one, I deleted them from my life. I was not going to face that abandonment again. I would dispose of them before they disposed of me.

While my flesh was saying that this was the way to self-protect, God pointed out ever so gently in His amazing ways that I was on the road of self-destruction.

Where my immediate family is concerned, In the early days of wife and mother, I had completely ruined the atmosphere in my home with my grumbling and complaining.

I would blow up when my comfort levels were disrupted or when they were not meeting my need as I felt they should. If I called for the kids to stop arguing and talking back and they ignored me I would yell, react in the flesh and get bitter rather than giving the soft answer that the Bible calls for. If my husband wasn’t giving me the attention I wanted I would complain about every other little thing he would do, rather than discuss the issue. I would shut down and hide inside myself, making the problem worse, not better.

I was unhappy, depressed, to the point of suicidal. Nobody was there for me (my perception of the moment) and I didn’t know why. I was in the darkest place and when I asked the Lord why. His answer shook me.

The issue was not them, but me.

I was not loving!!! I did not LOVE myself, my family or others.

Love is not self-seeking.

Why is it that I find their actions concern me so much? Why was my comfort level controlled by their actions? Were my desires so much more important than theirs?

In order to understand the fullness of joy the Lord has for us, we MUST comprehend love.

When I am not seeing my needs be met by humans, I need to seek the Lord to meet those needs. I need to ask God how can you use me to help show your love to others?
God has made it very apparent to me what love was a while back. And for the most part, great joy has come in as I settle on the word and apply love like His in my life. I have become more patient, more kind, more peaceful overall.

I do fail and I do miss it, but thankfully I fail and miss it less and less as I learn more and more.

Love is an action. It is not a feeling. When I am irritated, self-seeking and impatient I am not acting in love. Criticism and judgment is not love. Manipulation and tantrum throwing is not love. Bitterness and impatience is not love.

The bible is very clear on the actions we are to take in love. Jesus was loving, he was giving, he was kind and I am to be Christ-like. I want my friends and family to see the kind of love that lives and dwells in me when I allow my self to get out of my own way.

Challenge this day my friend: Find areas that we can exhibit love that we never thought was an act of Love before. Look at the individuals you have cut off and ask yourself… was that an act of love? Sometimes God calls us to walk away for a healthier us, but sometimes, we are a healthier us by growing in the act of LOVE.

 1 Corinthians 3:4-7

Love is PATIENT, Love is KIND.

It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.

It does not dishonor others, it is NOT SELF-SEEKING,

it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs

love does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth.

It always protects, always trusts always hopes, always perseveres

 

Clanging cymbals

 

I Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.”

I have read this scripture many times over the years. But recently as a friend of mine was hurting in her anxiety and depression, and I was shouting out God’s goodness and how He pulled me through, I realized in a moment that I was not loving her. I was not meeting this friend where she was but trying to shout out how the Lord pulled me from the pit.  I wanted to see this same glorious victory in her life,  but there is a time when if all I am doing is shouting out joy, joy, joy… I can be a clanging cymbal.

It may not be comforting to a friend that is watching her life crumble around her, to hear,  ” I have been there, this is what you need to do!”
While I do believe in encouraging and edifying my sister and I do believe it is so important to sing the praises of my Jesus when He has shown me His joy,
There is a time and place for it.
Love is patient, kind, does not boast, not-self seeking. Am I being kind, patient and not self seeking when I want to hurry my friend through her burdens rather than walking by her side? I want her to be full of joy, but is that because I am uncomfortable with her hurting?

The word says there is a time and season for everything. There is a time to mourn but JOY comes in the morning. Am I rushing my friend to her morning, before God has completed the work in her? Am I a discouragement, when she is not seeing the joy that I am proclaiming and as she sits there while I am dancing about blind to her sorrow?

If I had been a clanging cymbal to you my friend in the past as I rejoice in my joy. I am sorry. I want you to have joy in abundance, and I want to share how I reached it, but in your time, when you are ready. God has begun a work in you, and He will complete it, in HIS time.

Lord grant me the wisdom to know when to be quiet and walk beside and when to SHOUT out your glorious JOY. For I don’t want to be a clanging harsh noise to the ears of those around me, but a song of praise stirring within the spirit of those hurting. Help me to know what is needed in the moment.

 

 

Saving Biblical Marriage

Saving biblical marriage is a phrase that  is thrown around often these days. Mostly I hear this concerning same sex marriage protest. The fight against marriage being redefined in the United States across the board is a very heated topic that causes much dissension.

“Biblical marriage = 1 man + 1 woman”, is often quoted by Jesus followers. And this is where I let out a big fat raspberry with an eye roll!!

For starters I don’t see why we must define biblical marriage simply as one man and one woman. This would mean every single heterosexual marriage was biblical. I am sorry that is not the case. You must have God as the center of your marriage to be a biblical marriage. Just because one man and one woman marry, does not make their marriage biblical.

Secondly, to allow the state to define biblical marriage, what would we do if the state decided that christians could no longer be legally wed and all marriage licenses are void, does this mean that the whole church would be practicing fornication if they remained married? OF COURSE NOT. Biblical marriage is a covenant with a man and a woman AND God. The state has nothing to do with it.

Lastly, my biggest frustration over the biblical marriage fight, is there are millions of fingers pointing at the same-sex couples as the destruction of marriage, and no fingers pointing within the walls of the church. The issue isn’t what others are doing that is destroying  the church and the marriages within, it is the actions of christian heterosexuals that are destroying the biblical marriage!

The afflictions are hidden in closets of the church goers, even blatantly in front of the church and overlooked with a simple “grace covers all sin’! Affairs at the pulpit and beyond, pornography, pedophiles, divorce, alcoholism, addiction, lying, hatred, bitterness, anger and abuse are all causes for the destruction of a biblical marriage!

Yes, to have  a biblical marriage, the word says one man and one woman. But less we forget the other scriptures concerning marriage?

Ephesians 5:25- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. ( GAVE HIMSELF UP ) This means men die to your selfish lusts and addictions that are destroying your marriage! Then you look at the meaning of love as described in the bible…

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Bible believers are we making sure that our marriages  are filled with Christ’s love?! I can see in this scripture areas I struggle in often… patience is a huge problem with me !

Let us not forget what the word says to women directly, that many in the church today roll their eyes and take lightly. This is an area that yes I agree with, I often struggle with my own stubborn self.

Ephesians 5:22-24 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. This is such a brief overview of what the word says about a biblical marriage. I am not getting overly deep in it today. My purpose is to shout out… Let’s stop focusing on what those outside the church are doing to ‘destroy’ marriage, and look within to save marriage as God intended! One thing Jesus never did, and that was to force anyone to live biblically.

When we as His followers as a whole don’t live biblically, why do we feel it is our duty to force others to?

I know this is not a typical blog post for Writing For Joy, but isn’t a biblical successful marriage, a key to living joyfully as well? Blessings

A letter for my sons

Dear Son,

You are kind, loyal, faithful, trusting, and extremely focused on those you love. When you love, you love deeply and carry your heart on your sleeve. You are all in, and want that one special someone until the day you walk down the aisle. You do not desire to ‘search’ around and as you say, “window shopping is not for me.”  So unlike most people at 16 you were looking for a wife. As your mom I was saying, don’t date, slow down,  just wait and this is why…

This is my concern. In this world today, most people believe you need many life experiences, they choose to date many people, and at a young age are taught to follow their hearts. Often times they will for the moment be interested in all the things you offer and play you along that they are just as happy and all in like you and do not express their true feelings until the very last-minute, but instead lead you along on a string. You have to realize that a guy that is marriage minded is what a girl wants….for a moment. But at a young age as this, they begin to start seeing all that they will become and for many the complete and utter focus on you at such a young age is not in their best interest.

Also, because you offer them what they want for a moment, such as the flattery, the loyalty, the commitment and complete devotion, when their world shifts or their interest changes or they were not all in as you once believed, then it is you that is left confused, and hurting and the realization that you were played.

Honestly son, I know you and at times I know you better than you know yourself. My desire for you is that you would maintain friendships until you are ready for the big day that you have a bride. The thing is, when you are young, it is about learning to love and often that young girl is driven by emotion, excitement, hormones, feelings, and still confused about what she wants to do with her own life when she ‘grows up.’

My desire for you, is that one day you will have one that loves you fiercely with a GOD love. Not based on emotions and feelings but based on love that is described in Corinthians. I want someone for you that will stand by your side in the waves of life. But that is a big commitment to ask of a girl not ready for marriage. Heck, I have been married to your father for 18 years and it is still a day-to-day commitment for me.

Sometimes all people are pulled by their desires and they realize that isn’t what God may have for them after all. It is a good thing when someone walks away sooner, rather than later.

For you my son, I don’t believe dating is your calling.  I desire you to focus on building your future, when you are ready to take a bride, it is that time and season that you allow the building process of the friendship around you to take root, or wait for that one to be placed lovingly in your path, by the Father, whom already knows your future. Until this time, a girl is a distraction, she takes your energy, your focus, your time and keeps you from the one that has been quietly tapping on your shoulder, saying… “please recognize me and my presence.”

I know you are young, and you will follow your heart as you always have. I just want to share a bit of wisdom. You are still discovering yourself, becoming the one God created you to be. You are shifting and changing daily and maturing by leaps and bounds, it is not fair to expect others to not be shifting and changing daily in their life process and at times, it takes them down a different road, even if we don’t desire it.
Protect your heart and if I could request it, don’t give it away so freely and completely to anyone except the Lord. Once He holds it, He will give you more than you ever imagined possible.

Mom

 

ps. this is some good advice on the subject 😉

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/42855-8-women-christian-men-should-never-marry

Time to defrost

I have a person in my life that does not like others very much. This person is often judging and being hurtful with their critical views and lashing tongue. This person does not have much joy. This person was me.

As I began to reflect on my own self and how there was a season that I was so sick of people. I was so tired of being hurt. I was tired of being used or left behind. I often would tell my husband my new name should be ‘afterthought’.

I had a very long season where I had a hardened heart. I would not let others in. I would smile, but inside I was ice. I would not allow anyone beyond the smile on my face.

I noticed fewer and fewer people in my life, and I was okay with that. I didn’t want anyone there. Others just messed everything up anyway.

Then one day I noticed I had no feelings towards a rather catastrophic event. There was something wrong, my compassion was evaporating as quickly as the people in my life.

I realized in that moment that the joy was diminishing as well.

I had my self secluded in my own frozen shell and even though I was not raw and exposed for everyone to hurt me, I was not living either. I was not sharing, caring, being an example, loving and being loved.

I was loving with condition. I was not exposing my full self.

The Lord told me to stop gauging how I was going to love others, and to let my heart defrost and just love.

Love with no expectation, no judgement, no harshness, and fully without expecting a return.

That moment that I allowed the Lord to completely defrost my frozen heart, I noticed a change. I noticed I was open to Him even more. Now when someone hurts me, I can look at the situation with different eyes. The Lord comforts me, He is my shelter.

I no longer have a fear loving. I can see the same hardened heart in many around me. It often comes from being hurt, rejected, ignored, torn down, or abused in some way. To harden ourselves is the way we hope to preserve ourselves yet we are not producing life when we allow the enemy this ground.

I encourage you, if you hold others at arm’s length out of fear…. it is time to defrost.

If you are cold and harsh because of anger…. it is time to defrost.

If you are so busy judging your brother you do not see the sin in your own life… it is time to defrost.

Why defrost? Because you can not grow and develop if you are frozen and planted in one place. You can not move on, press on, move forward if you are grasping and clinging to winter. Let yourself experience all the seasons of life.