Traits of a Godly Person - Goodness

I am skipping from 2 Peter 1 to Galatians 5. I thought it would be useful to talk about goodness while we were still mulling over the idea of virtue. A question comes to mind when looking at these two words side by side. Can a person be virtuous without being good? Can a person be good without being virtuous? It seems to me these two words are very closely related, almost like two peas in a pod. Each one is distinctly its own thing, but they are two parts of a larger entity, which I will call morality. Can we truly have morality without having virtue and goodness?

Image by  Ruslana Babenko  from  Pixabay

Image by Ruslana Babenko from Pixabay

Websters Online Dictionary defines the noun goodness in this way:

1 - the quality or state of being kind, honest, generous, helpful, etc

2 - the quality or state of being useful or effective

From a philosophical perspective, the word goodness and the word virtue are two distinctly different things. A person can be virtuous, meaning they have the qualities of courage, diligence, chastity and so on without being a good person. A person can also be virtuous, but not necessarily good at it. For instance, if a person bravely runs into a burning building to save someone, we would say he has the virtue of bravery, but if he trips and falls and dies in the fire and never saves the person, we would also say he wasn’t very good at following through on that bravery. Even though, I am married to a philosophy professor, I have no desire to go any deeper into the intricacies of virtue and goodness, other than to point out they are two distinct things and one does not necessarily depend on the other.

For this post, I want to stick to the idea of what goodness looks like as a state of being and as a state of doing.

1 - Goodness as a State of Being

It is my personal opinion that in order to be good and express acts of goodness, we must first be good inside. Think about acts that we would deem good: things like kindness, helpfulness, honesty and generosity typically grow out of thoughts that revolve around kindness, helpfulness, honesty and generosity.

Of course there are people who are deceptive and are not truly doing things out of goodness. They are manipulating the world around them by being good, in order to get something, even if it is the satisfaction of feeling like a good person. For this series, I am speaking to people who truly desire to be good and do good things for the sake of the gospel, or for the sake of doing good.

Image by  skeeze  from  Pixabay

Image by skeeze from Pixabay

Let me interject here, that the Bible is clear on our goodness:

9 What then? Are we Jews any better off? No, not at all. For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin,
10 as it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one;
11 no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
12 All have turned aside; together they have become
worthless;
no one does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throat is an open grave;
they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of asps is under their lips.”
14 “Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 in their paths are ruin and misery,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
— Romans 3:9-18 (ESV)
Image by  Sarah Richter  from  Pixabay

Image by Sarah Richter from Pixabay

Paul was writing to the Jews at the church in Rome, however, he included everyone in this group, both the Jews and the Greeks, or in other words, Gentiles. Anyone who wasn’t a Jew was a Gentile. So, you see, we are all sinners. No one is righteous. No one is truly good. Sure lots of people do good things and live their entire lives with honesty, kindness, helpfulness and generosity, but for the sake of this study, the trait of a Godly person is that it is a trait that makes him/her Godly, or in other words, more like Jesus. The only one who can truly make us more like Him, is Jesus Himself. That is part of why Galatians 5 lists the fruit of the Spirit. This goodness is His fruit. In order for us to live in a state of goodness, we must immerse ourselves in Jesus; in His words; in His spirit.

You might be asking yourself, “How in all of creation, then, are we really supposed to be this goodness? How are we supposed to live in a state of being good?”

I am so glad you asked, and I am even more glad that Jesus, through His spirit and His inspired Word, gave us a clue. Let’s look two more verses.

8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:4-9 (ESV)

God has given us clear direction on how to get our mind going down the goodness track. Every word and action begins in our minds. What we spend our time thinking about will show in our actions. If we think about how many things are wrong with the world, with other people and even with ourselves, we will be anxious and frustrated. If we think about past mistakes and wrong choices, we will be consumed with guilt. However, if we think on these things, as Paul encouraged us to do, we will be more likely to be good people.

2 - Goodness as a State of Doing

Frankly, what good does it do to be good and not act on it. If we are truly good, this should lead us to take action. Those actions will include three areas: goodness towards our God, goodness towards others and goodness towards ourselves. Let’s look at each of these briefly.

Goodness Towards Our God

How is it that we can be good towards God? Just as we choose to commit wrong, we also can choose to commit good. Doing good towards God, would be refraining from choices to sin, committing time to prayer, study of His word and worship. In addition, doing good towards God would include the simple act of thankfulness. Have you ever tried to worship or pray when you are angry and upset? It does not work. However, as soon as we humble ourselves and begin to nurture a thankful heart we change and we bring honor and glory to our God.

Goodness Towards Others

It is easy to be good to people who are good to us, but what about people who are negative, ungrateful and demanding? Does that sound like anyone in your life? I think we all have at least one person in our lives like that. It is easy to hold a grudge; to begin to not like that person, and eventually to not do good to and for that person. God’s Spirit in us, is able to produce good acts, even when we don’t feel like it or want to be good, but we have to choose to let Him have his way and bring to mind verses like those in Philippians and others. A big chunk of exhibiting all of these Godly traits we have been talking about is yielding to His Spirit in our lives and in our circumstances. As we think on good things, acting with goodness towards others, the choice to be and do good will become more natural and Spirit driven.

Goodness Towards Ourselves

Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull

Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull

In all honesty, this is probably one of the areas I struggle with the most. For me, it is easier to be good to others: customers at work, my family, friends, and others, but when it comes to myself, I am my own worst critic. My husband has this problem too. I have definitely softened towards myself over the years as the Spirit has brought me light on the topic of who I really am: created in His image, a royal priesthood, beloved and other wonderfully descriptive words. I still have days where I look in the mirror and am convince I am a cartoon character and should be residing in a comic book. I also have days where I feel so completely inept and unworthy, but these thoughts are not from God. (See my fiction piece The Tower, for a look inside my own struggling soul).

It is important that we give ourselves grace on a regular basis. We are not perfect. We are on a journey, just like everyone. It is also important to treat ourselves with goodness. Look in the mirror and thank yourself for getting rest the night before, showering to get clean and drinking lots of water. Make a mental list of your good traits; those beautiful eyes, pretty collar bones or shapely legs. Give thanks to the One who made you with an incredibly creative mind that desires to please Him.

There can never be enough good in the world, so let’s be sure we are doing what we can to make goodness, not only a state of being, but a state of doing.

Have a great day!



Cats and Dogs

I want to apologize that I have not been as consistent as normal with these faith posts. Writing a faith post is much more time consuming and in need of focus, than when I am writing a post about an outfit I put together. When I am writing a faith post, I want the information I share with you to be as accurate to the truth of God’s word as possible. I wish I could say that all I have to do is pray and I am infused with God’s spirit speaking through me, much like the original writers of the Bible were inspired to write the words, but it doesn’t always happen that way.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Once in a while I get a shot of inspiration, that is like an injection of caffeine straight into the blood stream. It is as though I am suddenly awake and all that has been foggy becomes sharp and in focus. It is amazing when that happens. I feel more alive than normal, and my pen or keyboard moves at new speeds. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

My husband and I joke, that in the animal realm, he would be a cat and I would be a dog. His cat-like tendency is to pounce or attack whatever the task is to do and then take a nap. My dog-like tendency is to keep plodding along, trying to do everything that has to be done and keep trying to smile and wag my tail while I do. Ha, ha.

Image by  Rohit Tripathi  from  Pixabay

Image by Rohit Tripathi from Pixabay

Have you ever thought about how many tasks in life take dog-like perseverance? Women, especially, keep going, until they collapse at the end of the day. We get up, usually earlier than anyone else. We get ready for the day, get everyone else ready for their days, go to work, or start our tasks at home, like dishes, laundry, cleaning, decluttering, organizing, meal planning and prep. In addition to all of those activities, women are most often responsible for the smooth running of their homes, their families’ lives and their work environments. It can get a little overwhelming at times.

If you take a look at those two cuties in the above picture, you will see a pretty similar picture in my husband and I. My husband has ADD. He was never clinically diagnosed, but when our younger daughter was tested as an adult, we saw amazing similarities between her and my spouse. My daughter regularly takes Ritalin to be able to work and study for her college courses. My spouse does not, but he has had students with ADD in his classes and they have asked if he had it, as his teaching style is so well suited for people with this learning disability. That cat in the picture looks ready to chase something. My husband’s mind is often working at a million thoughts a minute, taking him down all sorts of rabbit trails and squirrel holes.

I, on the other hand, just keep plodding along. The look on that little pup’s face, is often how I feel. I never feel that I am doing a good enough job. I always worry that I could be better, prettier, thinner or smarter. I often wonder what I might have done that made my masters upset. I would, in a confrontational situation, run away and hide. However, dogs also have many wonderful traits. They are loyal, trustworthy, hard working, loving and hopeful. Most dogs are also fiercely protective of their flocks.

Image by  coffy  from  Pixabay

Image by coffy from Pixabay

In Colossians 3 Pauls discusses things we are to put off and things we are to put on. He reminds us that we are to focus our minds on things above, not on things on this earth. He ends the chapter with a call to work on our relationships with one another. One verse stands out to me.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
— Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)

Whether you feel like a cat, a dog, a human or something in between, we need to remember that what we do is to be done for Him, not for our spouses, children or even our boss. I often find myself feeling let down and unappreciated, because no one say’s thank you, when I do all the things I do, but I need to remember that I do it for Him, not to be thanked. The verse says that from Him I will receive the inheritance as my reward. Having an inheritance with an almighty God is a pretty big deal.

I’ll continue to plod along, in dog-like fashion, but I will have hope, because I do everything for Him.

Have a great day.

Traits of A Godly Person: Virtue (Moral Excellence)

It is time to get back to my Traits of A Godly Person, series. I have spent several weeks dwelling on other topics and working through my own discouragement over the circumstances of life. There are still bad things happening out in the world, but in order to walk upright through the difficulties we need to remember whose we are and what is expected of us.

Image by  Andrew Martin  from  Pixabay

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

Superheroes are usually looked at as individuals who are virtuous. We usually look up to them as examples to follow for goodness towards humanity and of course saving our butts when we are in a bind.

This week I would like to look at the characteristic of virtue. We do not hear this word very often any more in the world we are living in. In order to understand why this is, let’s look at how Webster’s Online Dictionary defines it.

1 - conformity to a standard of right; a particular moral excellence

2 - a beneficial quality or power of a thing

3 - a commendable quality or trait

4 - a capacity to act

Let’s take a look, once again, at how virtue is used the 2 Peter passage.

And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
— 2 Peter 1:5 (KJV)

If you remember when I did the study of 2 Peter 1:1-11, I mentioned that there was a logical progression to the list of Godly characteristics. In the original study, I used the New American Standard Bible. In that version, virtue is called moral excellence. I actually like the idea of moral excellence better than virtue, but there are some things about the term virtue that give us added insight into the idea of moral excellence.

First of all our Webster’s definition says that virtue is conformity to a standard of right, or a particular moral excellence. If anything has become skewed in our world it is the idea that there is a moral center or standard that we are to adhere to. We now live in an age where morality is about being a good person, but then people have their own definition of what a good person is. How can we even define things like truth, morality, or goodness if we have no standard against which to measure it?

Image by  Wokandapix  from  Pixabay

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

If we take a look at the physical world we see that there are standards that define it. We measure length in inches, feet and yards. We weigh physical objects in ounces, pounds or tons. We have formulas to define volume, mass and even things like statistics and interest rates. We learn about how animals migrate, mate and live in herds or prides. We have standards set by scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and others on how to building bridges, skyscrapers and jumbo jets. We even have standards to which our children and grandchildren are to adhere in order to pass each grade and eventually become members of the adult community. Why then are we so willing to give up the standards by which to live life?

Pixabay - HOmework

Second, Webster’s says that virtue is a beneficial quality or power of a thing. For something to be beneficial it has to be good. In other words it has to have benefits. Often when we speak of virtues we think of things like courage, honesty, faithfulness and so on. Certainly, those things are beneficial to all beings, not just a chosen few. Wouldn’t all humanity be better off if each of us were courageous, honest and faithful? Virtues of this nature (and others) have a power to help, and to lift others up.

Image by  Military_Material  from  Pixabay

Third, Webster’s states that virtue is a commendable quality or trait. Similarly to the last definition, we have to ask ourselves what is commendable? If you surveyed the general population you would probably find that most people find faithfulness, honesty, courage, kindness, generosity and others commendable traits. Why then, do we have so much disparity when it comes to what people really want and how people really live?

Why, if people want honesty, do so many live lies? Why, if people want courage, do so many struggle with anxiety? Why, if people want kindness, are so many fighting and bullying? Why, if people want generosity, do so many only spend what they have on themselves without any regard to others?

I personally believe the disparity exists because so many are trying to live without Jesus. That leads me to the last definition I listed from Webster.

Fourth, a capacity to act. As with all things, growth comes through practice. We do not obtain virtue, by merely sitting on our bottoms and talking about it. We need to be doing something.

Don’t just discuss the benefits of honesty…BE honest.

Don’t just wish you were courageous…do things that will make you BE courageous. (This does not necessarily mean running into a burning building to save a life. This might mean, calling your local representatives about bills that go against a Godly standards, or telling someone about Jesus, or taking that position on your church’s worship team. Courage comes in many forms.)

Image by  Dennis Gries  from  Pixabay

Image by Dennis Gries from Pixabay

Don’t talk about that lady that was mean to you….BE kind in return, or pay it forward to someone else. God told us in His word, to be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:32)

Don’t talk about maybe you’ll give…BE generous. Give your money, your time, your love, your life. Isn’t that exactly what Jesus did and wants us to do?

I didn’t spend any time delving into the scriptures for this post, because each area of virtue, and there are many more than just the ones I listed, has its own verses to back them up. In addition, many of these will be covered in future installments in the Godly Traits series.

For now, focus on a virtue that you struggle with and just BE.

The Trickle Down Effect

I am putting my Traits of a Godly Person on hold to address, once more, the need for constantly abiding in Christ. Living this life is no easy task. Maybe for some, the living of life bears no heavy burdens. Your life is free of insecurities and unknowns. You haven’t experienced the death of a loved one, or the loss of a dear friend. Maybe you’ve never watched an aging parent slowly fade as their mind gives in to the devastation of dementia. You might even be a parent, but have never had a child who rebelled against all you taught them because of a dark secret they carried. Maybe you’ve never gone without a job or had to scrimp and save, just to put food on the table. Most of us don’t have that privilege. Most of us struggle day after day and many of us lose hope.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Why abide in Christ? What difference does it make? Will He relieve us of these burdens by removing memory of our loss, or by showering our houses with gold coins, or by healing the minds of our kin that are turning into literal mush? Probably not. Why then abide?

Andrew Murray says it best,

Dear souls! How little they know that the abiding in Christ is just meant for the weak, and so beautifully suited to their feebleness. It is not the doing of some great thing, and does not demand that we first lead a very holy and devoted life. No, it is simply weakness entrusting itself to a Mighty One to be kept — the unfaithful one casting self on One who is altogether trust worthy and true. Abiding in Him is not a work that we have to do as the condition for enjoying His salvation, but a consenting to let Him do all for us, and in us and through us. It is a work He does for us — the fruit and the power of His redeeming love. Our part is simple, to yield, to trust and to wait for what He has engaged to perform.
— Andrew Murray - Abide In Me

When you are tired, abide.

When you are weak, abide.

When you feel lost, abide.

When you feel tempted, abide.

When you experience loss, abide.

When you experience joy, abide.

When the sun rises in the morning, abide.

When the afternoon grows long, abide.

When that same sun sets in the evening, abide.

Day by day, hour by hour, moment by moment, abide.

Abiding is made much easier when we recognize two truths.

Truth 1 - God is Sovereign

The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
— Psalm 103:19 (NASB)
13 I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate,
14 that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,
15 which He will bring about at the proper time—He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords,
16 who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen.
— 1 Timothy 6:13-16 (NASB)

No matter what we think or what we do, we cannot change the fact that God is and He is supreme. We cannot put Him into a box of our design, even though most people try. We cannot make Him do what we want, even though we pray with pleading and begging as if it will make a difference. We do not control Him, nor do we control the things that come into our lives, unless they are the result of our own choices. Even those, are sifted through the fingers of the Almighty. This idea is what I like to call the trickle down effect. Nothing comes into our lives that does not first go through the hands of God.

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

You might be thinking at this point, “Well, if that’s the case then God is an overbearing, bad guy.” But that brings me to the point number 2.

Truth 2 - God Loves You

Image by  Vlad Ymyr  from  Pixabay

Image by Vlad Ymyr from Pixabay

It might be hard to see that, when you are going through a difficult struggle, but it still holds true. We can say, “I do not believe the sun will come up tomorrow.” However, tomorrow the sun will come up. Our saying I don’t believe something, does not make it the case. God is love and God loves us. He is the purest, most perfect form of love. No matter how sacrificially we love, our love is still imperfect compared to the love with which God loves us.

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
— John 3:16 (NASB)
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
— John 13:34 (NASB)
Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
— John 15:9 (NASB)
and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.
— Romans 5:5 (NASB)

That last verse speaks a truth we need to hear and remember. Hope does not disappoint. Why? Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Dear ones, God loves you and the testimony of that love is the Holy Spirit that lives with in you. Should we not also do Him the service of living within Him. This is what it means to abide. To dwell within and with, not just when we are strong and things are good, but especially when the darkness has fallen.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

I love to go for walks with my spouse in the darkness of night and see all the houses with their lights on. I am not looking in like a voyeur, but in amazement and thanksgiving, that even in the darkness light still shines because someone is living there.

The light shines within us, even in the darkness, because He is living there and we abide with Him. Knowing that nothing comes into my life that He hasn’t already seen with His eyes, heard with His ears and felt with His heart gives me the strength to stay in that safe place, nestled in His arms.

Lessons from Loss

I’ve decided to take another week off, before getting back to my series on Godly traits. On Monday my daughter texted me that a woman from our former church had died unexpectedly. I was in shock. Mary was only a few years older than me. She had five grown children, a devoted husband and her first grandchild, a girl, whom she adored. She was dearly loved, not only by her immediate family, but by siblings and church family and friends. What really floored me, and many others, was the fact that last summer Mary had gone into the hospital with a lung infection. After months in the hospital and rehab, she seemed to get better. She got to go home and resume a somewhat normal life. Not long after life started having some semblance of normalcy, Mary lost her sister to cancer, this was just last month. Last week, Mary ended up, back in the hospital and Monday morning she died.

Sweeny family. Mary is in the middle with her husband Paul. My daughter took these pictures this past spring. Photo credit  Rebecca Trumbull.

Sweeny family. Mary is in the middle with her husband Paul. My daughter took these pictures this past spring. Photo credit Rebecca Trumbull.

I felt myself questioning God. Why, Lord? Why? This was a beautiful woman; one of your sheep, who loved and gave and was gracious. She was a beautiful soul, inside and out. She loved her family and took others in as if they were part of the family. She exuded the peace that passes all understanding and I would often see her posting quotes from Ann VosKamp’s One Thousand Gifts on being thankful. The funny thing was, I didn’t really know Mary that well. We moved in different circles as our kids were growing up and while we went to the same church, we weren’t able to spend vast amounts of time together. However, I still feel this loss. It is as if in a galaxy full of stars, Mary’s shown so brightly, that the burning out of that star affected the whole universe.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

I am not sharing this with you to look for sympathy. This was a tragic and unexpected loss, but what I wanted to do was use these musings as a branch from which to tie a rope, take a leap, swing out and fall into the river of God’s grace.

How do we deal with these things? How do we get past the shaking of the fist towards the sky, to the questioning why, to the acceptance, to the choice to believe that He is good, no matter what, to the final step of lifting our hands in praise, adoration and thanksgiving? Two words come to mind which I have used on the blog before, baby steps.

Image by  Barbara Jackson  from  Pixabay

Image by Barbara Jackson from Pixabay

A baby does not learn to walk immediately. It is a process. They reach, they scoot, they rock, they roll, they crawl, they grab, they pull themselves up, they move around the furniture and eventually they let go and take those first steps. Those first steps aren’t perfect, but they are full of enthusiasm. When we are new in our relationship with Christ we are full of enthusiasm. We want to tell the world what He has done, not only for us as individuals, but for the whole world. We want to share the good news that Jesus loves the unlovely, rescues the drowning, lifts up the cripple and fully redeems that which was completely lost.

Then life happens. We experience disappointment, pain, heartbreak and loss. If we are being honest with ourselves we do not like these things and many of us probably thought when we came to Christ that it was going to be smooth sailing. How very wrong we were. If anything, it seems, at least for some, that we are being shot at by the biggest guns available on a US battleship. Worse yet, we might be getting hammered by friendly fire, while well intended, completely misses the mark and wounds us instead of helping us out.

So how do we approach loss without losing our faith? How do we endure pain without giving up hope? How do we continue to walk when we are clearly wounded and would rather lay down and die?

One baby step at a time.

Baby Step 1 - Shaking fists and questions.

Image by  Niek Verlaan  from  Pixabay

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

God is much bigger than we are. He created us and He knows our frame is but dust. As the Creator he manipulated that dust, breathing life into it. Don’t ever think, He doesn’t get it. He most certainly knows our weaknesses, our pit falls and our innermost feelings. You might not be literally shaking your fist at Him, but He knows what you are thinking on the inside. Sometimes it is okay to get mad, to raise our hands, not in praise, but in frustration, anger and pain. The key is to not stay there. It is okay to say:

I don’t get it.

It’s not fair.

Why? Why? Why?

I don’t like you right now?

It hurts and you let it happen.

That is exactly how I felt about Mary’s death. She was a vibrant woman and God let her die. I couldn’t help thinking, there are thousands of others, suffering with debilitating illnesses, pain and complete loss of ability to remember their own families or even how to use the bathroom. Why not take one of them? Why not relieve someone else of their burden? But He didn’t. He took Mary.

It felt wrong to have those thoughts and feelings, but they are real, visceral, but real and doesn’t God know that? He gave His own Son to suffer and die. He knows loss. He knows pain. Jesus knows loneliness and abandonment.

This is an absolutely acceptable part of grief. Whether your loss is the death of a loved one, an unfaithful partner, a divorce, a rebellious child, a parent going through Alzheimers, or the loss of a long time job, it is okay to feel anger, and it is okay to question why.

Baby Step 2 - Wear the blanket.

Image by  Katrina_S  from  Pixabay

Image by Katrina_S from Pixabay

When my father died back in 2006, I distinctly remember walking in a fog. Life just seemed rather cloudy and my brain felt full of cotton. Often when we grieve we think that the best thing for us is to throw ourselves back into life, subduing the overwhelming sense of loss to a dull ache. In most cultures the process of grief is much more elaborate and loud.

In 1985 I spent a summer in Africa. During that time, I got to experience a true death wail. It was unnerving as a group, of mostly women, wept and wailed and cried over a baby who had tragically passed away. This was no reserved whispered ceremony. This was a loud progression of frenzied sobs and tears. They let their expression of the sadness they felt erupt into the still, dark night, like a mass of molten lava pouring out of a volcano.

While I do not expect that, here in our US of A, we are going to start doing a death wail, it is good to allow ourselves to feel grief. I truly believe wrapping yourself up in the blanket of grief every once in a while, helps you to heal faster. If putting on a real blanket helps with the symbolism, go ahead. However, you do it, take some time to feel the sadness and the pain. Cry, sob, moan and even wail. It’s okay. Then when you feel a bit of relief, put the blanket away and go live life. Eventually, you will find, you don’t need that blanket quite so often. Eventually, you will be able to put it away, all together.

Baby Step 3 - Choices.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

The best way to handle making choices during a time of grief is to choose slowly and thoughtfully. Don’t rashly give up your faith. Don’t decide to sell everything you have, join a commune and move to Tibet. Don’t start drinking. Don’t obsess on your loss. The greatest mistake we make when we are in the throes of grief is to think we are okay and we can handle this on our own. It is important to choose to take care of ourselves and to allow people to take care of us. We were not meant to be islands. We are supposed to live in community with others. In fact you might find there are others who have already been through the grief process before you. They can help, if you let them .

In addition, choose truth. Often we question whether God really loves us when someone or something has been taken away from us, but if we keep our eyes on scripture we will remember verses like:

The Lord appeared to him from afar, saying, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.
— Jeremiah 31:3 (NASB)
nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
— Romans 8:39 (NASB)
Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.
— 2 Corinthians 13:11 (NASB)
But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us,
— Ephesians 2:4 (NASB)

God does love us and He always will. He will always be there for us, even in the midst of trial and grief.

Baby Step 4 - Take Action

Image by  Olya Adamovich  from  Pixabay

Image by Olya Adamovich from Pixabay

Once we have worked through the emotions of anger, pain and sadness we can begin to, once again, take action. Action might start out with something simple like getting out of bed, taking a shower and getting dressed. Eventually, you might be able to go out and take a walk or meet a friend for coffee. Down the road, you may make it to church and then out to do something fun again. Your loved ones would not want you to stop living life. Besides it is in the choice to start living again, that God reveals His most precious and magnificent promises.

After I found out Mary was gone, I knew my sadness and shock was not as sharp as the edge on the sword her family was and is feeling right now, but I also felt that God had let me down. I prayed for Mary’s healing and He didn’t come through. That evening, my husband and I took a walk. I looked up at the expanse of night sky and heard His voice saying, “I’m still right here.”

Wow! That was just what I needed to hear. He is still right there and He always will be. He is there for us to lean on, pound on and depend on no matter what and knowing that is sometimes all we need. When I realize He is really all I need to get through, I am able to raise my hands in praise to Him and I can start remembering what I am thankful for.

My friend Mary was a Christian. She is with Jesus now. She is also with her mom and her sister who went before her. She left behind a legacy of love, and friendship for her family and her friends. The world is a more beautiful place because of her and I can be thankful that I knew her.









A Lesson in Weaving

She watched her through the open window that looked down on the small balcony. The young girl looked out over the river that lazily wandered past the castle. The child was hers, but she was no longer looked like a small girl. She had grown in those years she had been held captive by the enemy lord. She felt a lump in her throat that she could not swallow. The girl, her girl, didn’t want anything to do with her, her very own mother, nor her grandfather, the King.

Image by  DarkWorkX  from  Pixabay

Image by DarkWorkX from Pixabay

When they had first found her in the enemy’s castle she was like a caged animal. The room they found her in was filled with waste and squalor. The girl did not recognize her mother at first and when she tried to take her in her arms, which ached to hold her again, the girl screamed. That scream had pierced her soul. They were finally able to get her out of the castle by coaxing her out with sweets. The thought of it still made her shudder.

Eventually, the girl saw that they were not going to hurt her and in fact were going to provide for her pretty clothes and good food, things that she hadn’t gotten when she was a captive, but still, she kept asking when she could go home. It galled her to think her only child thought of his palace as her home, even after how she had been treated.

A noise from behind her caused her to turn. Her father, the King, approached. He put his arm around her shoulders and gave her a squeeze.

“Father, I don’t know what to do. I feel absolutely helpless…I know she is hurting, and probably angry at me. I let it happen. I let her get caught by that evil man. I am to blame and now, I can’t even look at her without feeling utterly hopeless.”

The King took in a deep breath and let it out very slowly. She often saw him do this when he was thinking before he spoke, a practice he always thought wise.

“Daughter, you know how very much I love you, so I can understand those feelings of helplessness and even hopelessness. Did you know that I could not sleep at night when you were being courted by your late husband? It terrified me to let you go, knowing each step you took towards independence took you further and further away from me. But, I had to learn to trust the One. I knew that He would always take care of you, no matter where you were. Even when I eventually sent you into battle.”

Image by  Enrique Meseguer  from  Pixabay

She pulled away from him, suddenly feeling angry. “This is not a simple courting session that my daughter went through. She was beaten, starved and we don’t even know yet, if he did other vile things to her. She was just a child. Was the One with her, when that was going on, or has He abandoned her…has He abandoned us?”

The King sat heavily in a chair that stood near the fire burning cheerfully in a brazier. He pulled the footstool in front of him and patted it.

Once again, he wanted her to sit, to listen, to learn from him.

As she did so often, she began to pace. “No! I am not going to sit at your feet, like a little child and have you explain to me, how I need to trust the One. He let my little girl get hurt. He let her get caught by that vile enemy.”

“Now wait a minute. Is it your fault, or is it His fault?”

She stopped and stared. “Well…I….I….I don’t know! All I know, is that little girl is not the same person I knew before she was taken.”

“Are you the same person you were before she was taken?”

She inhaled, trying to practice the same technique he did, not speaking until she was sure she was in control.

“No. I am not.”

He patted the foot stool again and smiled.

Reluctantly she sat.

He leaned forward and took her hands in his own large ones. She could feel the callouses there. He was no show piece. He was a king who fought and bled beside his own men for the causes he believed in. How could he keep his calm demeanor? He always seemed at peace, no matter what.

“How do you to it? How did you send me into battle, knowing full well, I might never return?”

“Do you remember how your mother used to love to weave tapestries?”

Image by  MrsBrown  from  Pixabay

Image by MrsBrown from Pixabay

She smiled, remembering her mother, the Queen working tirelessly into the night weaving various colored threads together. “She used to hang it, so that when we came into the room, we could not see what the finished picture would be.”

The King let out a chuckle. “Oh yes. Once time I tried to sneak in when she was away and she had the loom booby trapped! I suddenly found myself doused by a bucket of honey mead. I couldn’t get the flies away from me for weeks.”

She laughed, remembering her father taking bath, after bath, after bath, but unable to get the sweet ale completely washed out of his hair.

He squeezed her hands. “Your mother always had a purpose for everything she did. Why do you think she presented the tapestry to us only from the back side, until the work was done?”

She shrugged. “I had always assumed she just loved the surprise on our faces when we finally saw it.”

“Oh there was definitely that! However, in addition to that she wanted to remind us of what real life is like.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Life is made up of all manner of threads, some beautiful colors and others dull and even ugly. If you didn’t know that the front of the tapestry was going to be made into a beautiful work of art, you would have thought the piece merely an ugly, jumble of random colored threads and knots where the threads had been tied off. It is that jumbled mess that makes up our lives. The ugly threads and the beautiful ones are all necessary to make the completed picture.

The One is weaving those threads. He is making all of it, even the threads we don’t understand or want to understand into a picture of such great beauty that it will be declared a masterpiece, when we finally see the finished product.

Your mother was an artist and she taught you those same skills before she passed on. What are you going to do with your threads? You can use them to create beauty, or like our now dead enemy, you can use them to weave chaos.”

The King leaned forward and kissed her forehead, then he rose to his feet and quietly left the room.

She stared into the fire, that slowly claimed the fuel it was burning. The fire was chaotic, yet it served a purpose to provide warmth and cook food. It was even beautiful in its dance of flame. Could it be, her father was right; that beauty could come from the chaos of life?

She knew what she had to do. She would teach her daughter the loom. She would teach her the dance of light and flame, darkness and chaos and pray the One would bring healing and beauty for them both.

This is a fiction piece by Amy D. Christensen

In 2010 Ravi Zacharias wrote a book titled, The Grand Weaver. It was this book and the images he shared of God being the grand weaver of our lives that inspired the imagery revolving around the tapestry in this story. If we can grasp His divine plan for our lives, in which He uses all the good, the bad and the ugly, how much easier would it be to let Him have control. I hope you enjoyed this story.

You can see the previous parts to this story by clicking on the links below:

Part 1: Return to Battle

Part 2: A Father’s Perspective

Part 3: Waiting

Part 4: Ready to Die


Traits of a Godly Person: Patience

Have you ever said a prayer, in a whispered rush, because you didn’t know what else to do; you had reached the end of your string and thought you would lose your mind or at least your cool?

“Lord! Please give me patience!”

What were you thinking?

I used to pray that prayer too, but then I realized something. Every single time I prayed for patience, things got oppressively worse. Why was that? I finally stopped praying for patience because I realized life, by its very chaotic nature, requires a camel’s hump worth of patience.

Image by  Wolfgang Inderwies  from  Pixabay

Since we looked at diligence last week, it seemed fitting to peer at patience as the two of them go hand in hand. Practice is an extension of diligence. If we want to learn a musical instrument or a language, we must diligently practice. In the same way, patience is required when we are trying to be diligent. We must be patient with ourselves. To think I will be able to play Beethoven after only a few hours of practice would be an error. Indeed, it might take a month, a year or a lifetime, to really master something, and that takes patience.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

The Bible tells us that patience is a fruit of the Spirit. In order to fully grasp this idea we must look at what patience is not.

Patience is not getting my own way.

We might like to think that if everyone would just fall into line, my line, that all would be well and I would never have an impatient moment. How likely is that?

Image by  Dhamma Medicine  from  Pixabay

Image by Dhamma Medicine from Pixabay

As moms we know how hard it is to get the miniature people in our lives to fall into line, let alone the full sized ones. We are born with a desire to be individuals, and God is okay with that. He made us all uniquely different. God also created us with a desire to know Him. It is only in following Him, and getting into His line, that we will truly understand what patience is, and become partakers of it.

Patience is not being perfect.

How many of you have had thoughts like this, “If I was just more…..”? You can fill in the blank with words like pretty, skinny, smart, rich, sexy, outgoing, bold, and so on. Wouldn’t it be easy to be patient with ourselves and others if we were all perfect? Honestly, I think that would get a tad bit boring. Perhaps that is why God made us so differently; different colors, different languages, different approaches to life, different likes and dislikes. Perfect? No. Different? Yes.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Patience is not practiced.

This might seem counterintuitive, but think it through for a minute. You can practice the piano. A child can practice riding a bike or tying his shoes. A teenager can practice driving a car. The only way to really practice patience is by placing yourself in a situation that would require it and who it their right mind would want to do that?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

“Hey, I think I’ll go to my doctor’s appointment an extra two hours early, just so I can practice waiting.”

“I think I’ll get on the highway at rush hour, so I can practice not getting angry.”

“I need an extra dose of patience, so I’m going to have the dentist put crowns on all my teeth!”

I mean really. Who thinks that way?

What do we do about patience? We all know we need more of it, especially in our chaotic world. Politics, racial issues, religion, family life; everywhere we turn we need patience. How do we obtain more of it?

Since patience is a fruit of the Spirt it makes sense that in order to have it, we need to be in close contact with the One producing the fruit. As I have said other times in this Godly traits series, being in close contact with the Almighty is the only way to truly obtain all of these traits. These are Godly traits, or characteristics that He has. In order for us to have them, we need to be walking in fellowship with Him. Prayer, Bible study, fellowship with other believers, are all part of the formula for becoming a more Godly person.

In addition to that, here are a few real world things you can do, to help raise your patience level. I have found these most helpful when faced with those situations that make you want to scream, stomp and pull your hair out, or at least use a few very naughty words.

Take a deep breath.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Swimmers know that it is important to breathe. In addition to knowing the precise strokes, having strength, and practicing, knowing when and how to breathe is also important. When you are swimming through life and the waters get turbulent, remember how to breathe. Sometimes when I start to feel anxious I will take a deep breath in and then slowly blow it out. A simple practice could be the next time you are stuck in traffic, take a deep breath in and think about Jesus, a verse or a prayer. When you exhale, imagine you are blowing away the bad feelings, including those naughty words you were thinking in your head. Ha, ha.

Distract yourself.

Pixabay - smart phone/waiting

Having appointments, where you have to sit and wait are pretty common, especially as we age and have to spend more time at doctor’s offices. It is so much easier these days with our smart phones to play a game, get on Facebook or even listen to music, while we are waiting. It makes time go so much faster. The plus to this is, you can even listen to or read the Bible. There is really no reason to be impatient while you are waiting in our tech savvy society. However, do not use your phone to distract you while in a traffic jam! The results could be disastrous.

Think about others.

This attitude has often helped me in the retail business. When a customer gets cranky, I always try to remember they might be going through something difficult. They might be having their patience tried in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

Image by  WikimediaImages  from  Pixabay

Image by WikimediaImages from Pixabay

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Walk a mile in his moccasins.” I didn’t know until I looked it up that this actually originated with a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap (1838-1895), who was an American poet, Methodist Episcopal preacher, prohibitionist and suffragist. You can see more on her and the poem in full on the blog, James Wilson - Writing & Things. Here are the first three stanzas from the poem.

“Pray, don’t find fault with the man that limps,
Or stumbles along the road.
Unless you have worn the moccasins he wears,
Or stumbled beneath the same load.

There may be tears in his soles that hurt
Though hidden away from view.
The burden he bears placed on your back
May cause you to stumble and fall, too.

Don’t sneer at the man who is down today
Unless you have felt the same blow
That caused his fall or felt the shame
That only the fallen know.
— Mary T. Lathrap from Judge Softly

Trust Him.

If you read my faith post regularly, you will see a pattern. I always want to direct you back to our Creator. We know what it is like to be impatient, but there are times when life becomes so overwhelming we no longer feel the ability to wait for the Rescuer to come. These are the times I must choose to trust.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

The Bible, God’s inspired word says,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

This is a promise and when life gets to much to bear we must claim it. Paul said he was confident about this. He knew that God was working to perfect us in Christ Jesus. All the waiting, the hair pulling and the struggles are for one purpose, to make us like Jesus. If we do not believe that, then it all seems for naught.

I know that You can do all things, And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
— Job 42:2 (NASB)
Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain? Or can the heavens grant showers? Is it not You, O Lord our God? Therefore we hope in You, For You are the one who has done all these things.
— Jeremiah 14:22 (NASB)

If God can do all things and has done all things, won’t He most certainly give us the patience we need when life becomes a waiting game?




Traits of a Godly Person: Diligence

When I began taking a look at the first chapter of 2 Peter, I briefly went over each of the Godly traits listed as I went through the passage. I came to the conclusion, that each of these traits is so important that they deserve their own day in the sun, so to speak. So, if some of these ideas seem repetitive, that is because they are. Ha, ha. But you probably already know, repetition is often the way we learn. Though memorization no longer comes easy to me, when I was younger, it was through repetition that I memorized large portions of scripture and made it through classes in college like Anatomy and Physiology. That being said, let’s review this idea of diligence.

Websters online dictionary defines diligence in the following ways:

- steady, earnest, and energetic effort : persevering application

- speed, haste

- the attention and care legally expected or required of a person (such as a party to a contract)

Image by  Martin Melicherik  from  Pixabay

In my original post regarding verse 5 of 2 Peter 1, I compared the diligence we are commanded to have in the Christian life to the diligence of things like worker bees and ants. You can see that original post here. When it comes to the insect world, ants have earned an reputation as one of the most hard working and diligent creatures. They can also be a pain if they are invading your pantry or other parts of your house or yard. Ha, ha. Even the Bible speaks highly of the little ant.

6 Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
7 Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
8 Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
10 “A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
11 Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
— Proverbs 6:6-11 (NASB)

Here is a short PBS video on the leaf cutter ant.

There are several characteristics these ants have that show diligence.

1 - Hardworking.

As you can see from this video, the ant is never sitting around watching Netflix. He is constantly working, doing his part for the survival of the community. He doesn’t take coffee breaks, go to movies or get a pedicure. He works hard, all the time.

Image by  Bruno Glätsch  from  Pixabay

Image by Bruno Glätsch from Pixabay

If you look at the people in your circle I bet you can pick out the movers and shakers. They are the ones who work hard. They work a job, raise their families, volunteer. host gatherings at their homes, and go to their kids games. They just seem to be moving, and doing all the time. Most of these people are the ones who get things done. They organize, prepare or take the initiative to get others to do these jobs. These people make me tired! Ha, ha.

Before you panic, that I am saying we should all be that way, I am not. However, I do believe we can all be hard working like the ant. Yes, some of us need more sleep, need more alone time and cringe when we have to go to another social engagement, but there are many ways to be a hard working diligent ant. You can cook or bake for shut ins and new moms, you can clean or drive when these services are needed. Maybe you love to buy and send cards, then you do the hard work of encouragement. Everyone needs down time, but let’s make sure we are all hard working as well.

2 - Focused.

Here is that word again. Focus. The ants are all individually focused, not on themselves, but on what their job is within the community. They don’t think about the job, they just do it. They don’t question why or whether this is the right job for them, they simple focus on getting the job done.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

How focused are you on a daily basis on your work, your home, your family, and your spouse? Or are you focusing on yourself? Imagine if any one of those busy ants decided they didn’t like what they were doing? Or suppose numerous ants decided to go on strike? In the natural world, those ants would probably become ant poop and the community would keep on functioning as normal. In the human world, one person’s self focus and dysfunction can become a trial and difficulty for many other people.

Focus on the good of the community is of primary importance for the diligent ant and should be for us as well.

3 - Team players.

When we think of team players we usually think of sports. Football, basketball, baseball, and many others involve players working together to win the game. There are other team players in our society as well, such as fire fighters, police officers, soldiers and doctors. Even retail businesses work like a team to deliver products to the people who need or want them.

Pixabay - surgery

Team work in our communities is just as important as in the leaf cutter ants’ communities. Working as a team allows for the best outcome or the win, as it is in sports. Just imagine the picture above, an operating room, where the surgeon, nurses, anesthetist and other caregivers are not on the same team? The outcome would be devastating. In the same fashion, if the ants did not work together as a team, the community would not survive.

How do we take all this information and apply it to our lives as Christians and what does all of that have to do with diligence?

In my life as a Christ follower, I need to be hard working, focused and a team player in my relationship with God and with others. Things like reading God’s word and prayer are hard work, but absolutely worth while. Becoming more Godly, takes focus, and other people. We are not an island, unlike Paul Simon believed. We are meant to be part of a body. That body might include your family, the church and others who encourage you to keep growing and challenge you to not become an ant that is self-absorbed.

In addition, becoming more Godly takes a diligent approach in our relationship with the Holy One Himself. If we are diligent in our jobs, our families, our churches and other areas of life, how much more so, should we be diligent in our faith and relationship with Jesus?

Image by  Peter H  from  Pixabay

Image by Peter H from Pixabay

My husband and I have been without a home church for three years now. We both know this is something we need to focus on and be diligent about finding. We know how important it is to be accountable to others and to be challenged in God’s word on a regular basis. Until that time we find a new church, I thought it would be helpful in my own life to really get back to regular Bible reading. Doing these studies for the blog does help keep me in the word, but both my hubby and I used to read through the entire Bible on a regular basis. I was told about an app I could download to my phone that does just that. I don’t get to it every day, but I like the freedom of being able to listen to the Word spoken when I am doing my make up, eating breakfast or doing the dishes. This is a way to be diligent in my relationship with Christ.

Diligence takes work, focus and it certainly helps to have others keeping you accountable. What areas of your life do you need to have more diligence? Is there a specific area that God is convicting you needs to come under His authority? How can you make this happen by being more diligent?

Here are a few verses to think over on diligence. Thanks for following along. I’d love to hear your thoughts on diligence in your own life. Leave a thought in the comments.

Have a great day.

Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by Him without spot or blemish, and at peace.
— 2 Peter 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,
— Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
— Proverbs 4:23 (ESV)
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
— Philippians 3:14 (ESV)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might.
— Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)










On Focus, and Ignorance, During Hard Times

I decided to take a break from the Traits of a Godly Person series for this week. There are so many things going on in our world, and I often wonder should I talk about some of the more difficult issues. I like my blog to be a place of encouragement, whether it is to dress better or to grow in your walk with Christ. However, there are people out there, some of whom might be following my blog, that need a different kind of encouragement.

Life really can be stinking hard! Relationships are complex and often the source of our deepest and darkest pain. More often than not, people who are going through great difficulty do not feel at liberty to talk about the situations they are facing, which means, they are not getting any support or encouragement. People who are going through great loss, also, don’t always feel free to talk about their grief and pain. I’m not really sure, how we got to this point. Why is it that we are afraid to let people know that we are not okay? Why do we hide our pain behind a smile and tell everyone who asks that we are doing fine? Maybe it has to do with not being able to express the deep pain and sadness we feel. Perhaps we are afraid that others will think less of us, if we show them our reality. Maybe we are just too dang tired from trying to cope, that we’d rather not put in the effort to explain all that is going on.

Image by  lisa runnels  from  Pixabay

Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay

I think there is something much deeper and darker going on when we are struggling. Obviously, I believe in a real God and a real devil. I believe that Satan is our enemy and he is out to kill and destroy.

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
— 1 Peter 5:8 (NASB)
Image by  steffenwienberg  from  Pixabay

Image by steffenwienberg from Pixabay

Our enemy is compared to a roaring lion. Why do you suppose Peter used the idea of a roaring lion, rather than that of a snake or some other creature? Obviously, lions are creatures to be respected. A lion can easily kill a man along with a host of wild creatures. Peter didn’t just make the comparison of the devil to a lion, but to a roaring lion. There is significance in the roar. Roaring commonly means, “This is my territory. Don’t get anywhere near.” Isn’t that interesting? Our enemy isn’t just trying to trip us up, he is trying to make us his own. He wants to claim us as his territory.

There are two problems that come up when we are going through difficulty that really affect our next step and our way of thinking. The first is our own focus. It is incredibly easy to focus on our pain. It is, our pain. The struggle is our struggle. Why wouldn’t we focus on it? This is made even harder when there is pain, illness, anxiety and broken relationships. Job loss is hard, but add to that a divorce and a persistent gall bladder problem and you are probably going to be feeling pretty overwhelmed.

Let your eyes look directly ahead
And let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you.
— Proverbs 4:25 (NASB)

Why is our focus so important? When you are walking you need to watch where you are going. This is especially important if you are walking on a narrow road, a path along a steep gorge or across a Lego filled living room. in those situations, it might be important to not be looking at your cell phone, reading a book or closing your eyes. This is also true when we are driving. The need for this straight forward, pay attention routine is even more important when things are getting chaotic, such as heavy traffic or passing pedestrians or bikers.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

When we are going through the hard bits of life, or even through the longer pits of life, we need to keep our eyes on our Savior. In fact it is even more important to focus on Him when we are faced with difficulty. I have been reading, Abide in Christ, by Andrew Murray. I started this book a while back, got about half way through and got busy, so put it aside. When I picked it up a week ago, I decided to start again at the beginning. There is so much good stuff in this book. Read these two quotes:

It is not the yoke, but the resistance to the yoke, that makes the difficulty; the whole hearted surrender to Jesus, as at once our Master and Keeper, finds and secures the rest.
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray - Chapter 2

Remember how Christ tells us if we are weary and heavy laden we should come to Him.

28 “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
— Matthew 11:28-29 (NASB)

Murray was referring to these verses when he was talking about the rest that is secured in Christ. Now look at this next piece from the same chapter in Murray’s book.

With this grace secured, we have strength for every duty, courage for every struggle, a blessing in every cross and the joy of life eternal in death itself.
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray - Chapter 2

Christ is to be our focus. Come hell or high water, this Warrior Prince named Jesus, has our back for every duty, every struggle and every cross we have to bear in this life. All you have to do is come to Him and believe He will do it.

The other problem that arises when people are going through hard times is the ignorance of those around them. How many of you have been struggling with a situation, only to have a friend give you advice on how to solve your problem? How did that make you feel? If you are like me, when I was going through a very difficult time in my life, the last thing I wanted was advice. What I really wanted was an arm around my shoulders, a friend who would pray with me, not tell me they would pray for me, a sincere hug and two listening ears.

Image by  Anemone123  from  Pixabay

Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

My dear friends, I can not emphasize enough how important it is to keep your mouth shut and refrain from giving advice when someone close to you is going through a hard time. Give hugs, give time, bring food, pray with them, listen to them. If they ask you for advice, then and only then, open your mouth and be sure you are speaking from the Lord, not from your own large vat of worldly knowledge. In addition to that, sincerely, truly and intensely pray for that person. You will not know all the details and that is okay. God’s bigger than you and will work it out. Just pray.

He who despises his neighbor lacks sense, But a man of understanding keeps silent.
— Proverbs 11:12 (NASB)
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is considered prudent.
— Proverbs 17:28 (NASB)
Pixabay - hope

Life is difficult. Some of you are going through things that you never thought you would have to go through. Don’t give up. Keep you eyes fixed on the author and perfecter or our faith. And for those of you who are watching a friend or loved one suffer, don’t give up on them either. Pray, for and with. Love, help and even just sit in silence with them. For all of us, let’s remember this:

Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence.
— Psalm 42:5 (NASB)



Traits of a Godly Person: Moral Excellence - Part 2

In our world today, it is hard to talk about morality. As soon as the word shows up in a conversation or on social media, accusations fly of a judgmental attitude or intolerance. While it is true, that some people who try to be moral, can be harsh and unloving, that does not define what morality is, or who authored the idea. As I said last week, moral excellence is merely the desire to do what is right and avoid what is wrong. The question then must be pondered as to who determines what is right and what is wrong.

Image by  Johannes Plenio  from  Pixabay

Image by Johannes Plenio from Pixabay

If we believe we evolved from a primordial soup, then the determination of what is right and what is wrong can get a little slippery. The mentality of most animals is survival of the fittest. If we did, evolve from animals like monkeys or, as my husband likes to ponder, bears (since we really should be hibernating in the winter), then we would only be concerned about our own survival and our own well being. If I feel I am being threatened, don’t I have a right to eliminate the threat? If I feel hungry, don’t I have a right to eat whatever I want, wherever I want without any repercussions? If I believe I need a new car, shouldn’t I just be able to go to the car lot, pick out a car I like and then go demand the keys? Maybe I feel a little blue, shouldn’t I be able to drink, smoke pot and take opioids without any long term effects?

My examples are a little extreme, but I am trying to make a point. Our society and our world as a whole does have a moral standard. We have laws in place that are meant to protect. Where did those laws and standards come from? Did some monkey come up with them? Did a being, somewhere along the evolutionary line decide, “Hey, I want to be a good person and I want everyone else to be a good person, so I am going to come up with a set of standards. I’ll call it a moral code. It’ll include things like: we shouldn’t kill each other; we shouldn’t go over to our neighbor’s cave and steal his wife, no matter how pretty she is; we probably shouldn’t steal his food either….”

If we have truly evolved, then why are we still so blasted ugly? We hate, we kill, we covet, we have affairs, we promote twisted sexuality by making porn available, we steal, we do drugs, we even kill ourselves. How is this moral excellence? How is this morality at all? It’s not.

By placing ourselves under the authority and wisdom of a loving and just creator, we can easily buy into the moral code that He provided. The ten commandments were taken as truth ever since God’s finger wrote them down for Moses on Mt. Sinai. In recent years, however, attacks have been made on these commandments in a real and visceral way, from cars crashing into stone fixtures on which the commandments were inscribed, to Satanic groups protesting them, to lawsuits filed by the ACLU, this early list of moral codes has been focused upon as a religious issue, but in reality aren’t the ten commandments a moral standard that everyone, should ascribe too? From the religious right, to the liberal left, the Satan worshippers and the members of the ASLU, shouldn’t all of us live by these ideals: to not murder, to not covet, to not steal and so on.

Image by  Jondolar Schnurr  from  Pixabay

It is hard to talk about moral excellence without broaching these ideas. That being said, let me remind my readers, I am writing to an audience made up mostly of people who believe similarly to myself. I am not trying to convert you to my belief system, though I would be thrilled to talk to you about it. I am just trying to get you to think about the whole picture. Why is the world so against the idea of a moral compass? What is wrong with wanting to have standards of right and wrong? But hey, if I take on the mentality of those who would prefer to not have a moral code, then by all means, do whatever you want, as long as it isn’t hurting anyone. But then who is going to decide what hurt really is and who is really feeling it?

Okay, I’ll step off my soap box now. Ha, ha.

Image by  jussiak  from  Pixabay

Image by jussiak from Pixabay

So how do we, as Christ followers attain and maintain moral excellence? I have several ideas and if you have more, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

1 - Know To Whom You Belong

Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
— Psalm 100:3 (NASB)

If you have made a decision to believe in the work, death and resurrection of Jesus you are part of His family now. Knowing where you belong, can make a big difference in where you place your trust. The one you trust determines where you are going to place your faith and how you are going to live your life.

2 - Grow in that Knowledge

6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
— Colossians 2:6-7 (NASB)
Image by  O12  from  Pixabay

Image by O12 from Pixabay

A relationship with Jesus is not static. When you determine to follow Jesus, you don’t suddenly arrive and become that morally excellent person you should be. You have to learn more and learning takes place by studying His word, being around others who will encourage your growth and reading authors who studied the Bible and lived life.

3 - View it as a Relationship

I think we learn more and are more motivated if we are invested in the relationship. Being a Christian isn’t just a contract between, you, Jesus, the Father and the Spirit. It is a living, thriving, growing, loving relationship.

Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
— John 14:23 (ESV)

I have always loved that verse, because it sounds so familial. God is going to come and make a home with us. it doesn’t say, He’ll meet us at the office or in the garage, but in our homes. That is so relational.

4 - Choose morally good things

It is easy to let our guard down and start watching shows and reading books or going to movies that may not be what is best for us. We all have a different standard factor, meaning some people can watch horror films and not have nightmares afterwards. When I was younger I used to love to watch scary movies. I still occasionally get fearful when I am home alone, thinking the boogie man is lurking in the shadows. I don’t watch scary movies any more. Now I am noticing that other things seen in shows are starting to bother me as well. That is only one example. You know what your standard triggers are. Just like an alcoholic has to stay completely away from alcohol and those situations, we need to make choices to head to the moral high ground, so that God’s work in us is not for naught.

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
— Philippians 4:4-9 (NASB)

I love this passage and I often quote it when I am feeling anxious, but verse 8 really can up our moral excellence factor, if we allow God to bring those things to mind.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I hope this study of the traits of a Godly person is challenging your thinking and causing you to dig deeper into God’s word and into your relationship with Him. Thanks for reading.

Traits of a Godly Person: Faithfulness - Ours

Faithfulness is a trait we might wish more people had. Employers wish their employees were more faithful getting to work on time, or even at all. Wives with their husbands were faithful to getting work done around the house. Pastors wish their congregants were more faithful in their church attendance and in their giving. While many people are very faithful, we all probably struggle with being totally committed in all areas of our lives.

Image by  Pexels  from  Pixabay

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Let’s look again at the definitions of the word faithfulness:

1 - steadfast in affection or allegiance

2 - firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

3 - given with strong assurance

4 - true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original

5 - full of faith

Faithfulness is a fruit of the Spirit. We took a brief look at God’s faithfulness last week and we learned that His faithfulness is everlasting and from generation to generation. We also learned that God’s faithfulness is great and because of that we can have hope. So what about our faithfulness? Are we as great as God that we can be steadfast in our allegiance and affection? Or are we guilty of wavering in the commitments we have made?

Image by  diapicard  from  Pixabay

Image by diapicard from Pixabay

I would like to take a look at several areas where our faithfulness is tested and often found lacking.

Our Relationships. Human relationships are not always easy. The variety of personality traits, points of view and communication skills makes for an interesting stew. Being faithful in our friendships, families and marriages is not only important to the institution of human relationships, but to our relationship with God. Our faithfulness to others is a testimony of God’s faithfulness to us. That includes faithfulness when it is hard. God doesn’t give up on us, when we sin.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.
— 2 Timothy 2:13 (NASB)

Faithfulness may not always mean continuing to have a relationship with a certain person. We live in a broken world where divorce, personality disorders and toxic thinking affects our relationships with other. A marriage that involves abuse or infidelity may need to be exited. A friendship that is detrimental to your health or well being should be left behind, but that does not mean that we should give up praying for these people.

Here are a few ideas for how to remain faithful in our relationships:

1 - Make contact. Not everyone is a good communicator, or outgoing enough to make the first move. I have several friends that I only see a couple times a year. However, we do make it a priority to make contact and meet up, even though infrequently. We are faithful, because we care and want to continue to a relationship.

Image by  5688709  from  Pixabay

Image by 5688709 from Pixabay

Making contact is also important in our marriages. Have a date night, or breakfast together once a week without the kids, cell phones or other technology. Actually talk to each other, not about your own hobbies, but about your relationship. Talk about the hard stuff and work through it together. Faithfulness is far easier when you make a regular effort.

2 - Invest. Investing in each other takes time and commitment. It means finding out what the other person likes and dislikes. It involves going the extra mile to encourage and uplift. In a financial situation, making investments means studying where your money is going to grow the most. The same is true in our relationships. Investing in each other, especially our friends, children and significant others will allow the Holy Spirit to produce the quality of faithfulness that God desires we have.

3 - Forgive. Relationships are not easy and remaining faithful, as you know takes effort. We live in a very self focused world, so it is not surprising that we throw away relationships with regularity. Probably the biggest factor in this throw away mentality is the inability to forgive. We all mess up. We get mad, impatient and fearful. We yell, we cry and we lash out. I am guilty of all of these things with my own family. However, I am still married to the same man and my girls still hang out with me. There are two factors that have helped, apologies and forgiveness.

When my girls were young, I blew up with some monthly regularity, but whenever I did, I tried to go back to them later and apologize. My moods were not pretty and I didn’t like my Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde moments, but God’s Spirit was at work in me and always brought softness after the anger. Today, when the girls talk about the past, they laugh about my craziness and talk fondly of the good times revolving around family trips and holidays.

But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your
— Matthew 6:15 (NASB)

In addition to apologizing, we need to offer forgiveness. We have all been hurt in our relationships, especially the people that are closest to us. How many wives have noticed their husbands’ looking at another woman? How many moms have been hurt by a comment their teens have made? Who hasn’t felt the snub of a friend, when they weren’t invited to an event or included in recent news? Faithfulness will compel us to literally forgive and forget whatever offenses were done, many of which are done without thinking.

Another area where our faithfulness is often tested is:

Our Public Affiliations. When I refer to public affiliations I am talking about work, church and school if you are currently a student. This could also include things like utility providers, banks and other public institutions. You might wonder what I mean by being faithful with regards to these public entities. Think about it. Our faithfulness in the work arena, church, school, and in paying our bills on time, being kind to the clerk at the grocery store and so on, all reflect God’s faithfulness to us. It is not that we have great affection for our electric provider or our garbage man, but that we adhere to our duty to pay them in a timely manner.

Image by  rawpixel  from  Pixabay

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

In regards to work, are we getting to work on time? Do we interact with our fellow employees in a Godly way that exudes kindness and compassion? Do we attend church regularly and encourage those who sit in the pews next to us? All of these things require faithfulness and will operate better if we are faithfully committed.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
— Colossians 3:23 (NASB)

The last area I would like to look at where our faithfulness is regularly tested is:

Our Relationship with God.

I cannot begin to emphasize enough, how important faithfulness to our God is. This is the Almighty One who created us. He breathed life into our dust and made us living, breathing beings. He is the one who provides. He is the one who made a way when all was dark. He is the author of light, the repeller of darkness and the burning heart of pure, undying love. He does not cast us aside. He does not believe in a throw away society. He is the cradler of each unborn child, the arm around each forsaken wife, the hand that holds those who are ready to come home. Isn’t this One, worthy of our faithfulness? Doesn’t He deserve our allegiance, our duty, our assurance, our standing true and our faith?

Image by  Free-Photos  from  Pixabay

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Just how do we show our faithfulness to Him? We show it in our faithfulness to those He has put around us. We show it in our faithfulness to His body, the church. We show it in our attitudes towards others and towards His creation. We also show it as we spend time with Him, studying His word and getting to know Him better. Faithfulness is an investment and will not return void.

....This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of God’s people.
— Revelation 13:10 (NASB) last part of verse





Traits of a Godly Person: Faithfulness - God's

This week and next, I want to look at the trait of faithfulness. Galatians 5:22 lists faithfulness as one of the fruits of the Spirit. Let’s take a step back for a minute and think about the two passages we are looking at that list the traits of a Godly person. 2 Peter 1:1-11 and Galatians 5:16-26. When we compare the two we see many similarities, but the 2 Peter passage seems to put the emphasis for obtaining these Godly traits on us.

Image by  congerdesign  from  Pixabay

Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
— 2 Peter 1:5 (NASB)

We are told to apply diligence.

Whereas, Galatians 5 seems to put the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit. It is His fruit that is being brought forth in our lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
— Galatians 5:22 (NASB)

Seeing these two passages separately we might think they are not both talking about the same concept, that of Godly traits, but I believe these go hand in hand, complimenting and enhancing one another in a dance that only the Holy Spirit can direct.

Since we discussed Faith the last two weeks, it seemed fitting to move on to the trait of faithfulness. The definition of faithful goes something like this according to Webster’s Online Dictionary:

1 - steadfast in affection or allegiance

2 - firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty

3 - given with strong assurance

4 - true to the facts, to a standard, or to an original

5 - full of faith

This week I want to focus totally on God’s faithfulness to us.

The book of Psalms is probably one of the clearest books in the Bible on God’s faithfulness. The psalmist, who was most often David, understood the difficulties of life. He fought giants, ran from King Saul who was trying to murder him, committed, not only the sin of adultery by being married and laying with Uriah’s wife, but also had Uriah killed. He was on the run, running the kingdom and messing up, yet he repeatedly saw God’s faithfulness to him. That doesn’t mean he got away with his crimes. His sin found him out and the unrest in his kingdom lasted until his death. For more on David read 1 Samuel 8 - 2 Samuel 24, as well as 1 Chronicles 10 - 23.

Image by  Parveender Lamba  from  Pixabay

Take a look at how the Psalmist describes God’s faithfulness:

For the word of the Lord is upright, And all His work is done in faithfulness.
— Psalm 33:4 (NASB)
Your lovingkindness, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
— Psalm 36:5 (NASB)
I will sing of the lovingkindness of the Lord forever; To all generations I will make known Your faithfulness with my mouth.
— Psalm 89:1 (NASB)
Before the Lord, for He is coming, For He is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness And the peoples in His faithfulness.
— Psalm 96:13 (NASB)
For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
— Psalm 100:5 (NASB)

In addition to the psalmist, a man called Jeremiah understood what the faithfulness of the Lord was. If you have a few extra minutes today read Lamentations 3. Read all 66 verses. There are four verses that stand out and that you have probably heard before.

21 This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
— Lamentations 3:21-24 (NASB)

Why is it that both of these writers speak of God’s faithfulness during and after great tragedy or difficulty? I believe, that is when we see God’s faithfulness most clearly. Let’s face it, when life is going well, most of us don’t really think about what is going on behind the scenes. We get food from the grocery store. We go to the doctor if we are sick. We have the Geek Squad to help us with our phones and computers. We don’t really have to think about where the food comes from, or will I be able to get in to the doctor, or even waiting very long to get a problem fixed. We live in a drive up window, instantaneous fix society. When things really go wrong and we have no easy answers, that is the time (hopefully), that we realize how very precious each day is and how faithful God has been to us throughout the years.

I am sure each one of you has a story of God’s faithfulness. I love it when God goes over and above to show me His love in the simplest of things. During an especially difficult time in my life, I was feeling very hopeless. I knew in my mind that God was faithful and that He would work things out, but I felt very alone in my grief. It was spring time and my husband and I decided to take a walk at one of our local parks. In my mind I sent up a prayer to God that went something like this:

Image by  Ulrike Mai  from  Pixabay

Image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay

“God, I know that You are faithful. I know that You will work all things together for good, but right now, I need to see You. I need to see something to remind me that You are there and that You are at work.”

I have inherited my mother’s love for birds. I don’t have the time to be a true birder, but I always get excited to hear them in the morning, especially in the spring, as birds that left for winter, return. Shortly after I prayed my desperate prayer, I saw a flash of red on the trail before me. Ohio’s state bird is the cardinal, but this was no cardinal. There perched in a tree right along the trail was a Scarlet Tanager (click on the link to see a picture and read more about this bird). If you know the bird I am talking about it is brilliant red with a striking black wing and tail. These birds like to stay hidden in the foliage of oak trees, but there he was, just waiting for me.

I knew that bird was my answer to prayer. It still makes me tear up, knowing that the Almighty God did that for little old me. That is faithfulness. It shows His steadfast affection for His creation and His allegiance to upholding me through every circumstance.

I know some of you who are reading this are going through terrible stuff. God wants to remind you, He is faithful. Always and forever.

I would love to hear your stories of God’s faithfulness in your life. We are all in this journey together, so please share. You never know how your story might encourage someone else and remind them of God’s great faithfulness.

Next week, we will take a look at what our faithfulness should look like and how we can make this Godly trait a regular part of who we are.











Traits of A Godly Person: The Choice to Abide

Before I actually get into the various Godly traits we are going to look at, I felt I needed to spend one more post leading up to the characteristics. What I have noticed, in my years of living a Christian life, is a definite disconnect between the flesh and the spirit. Obviously, this is expected. When we read, again, the passage from Galatians 5, we know that the flesh and the spirit are at odds with each other. We are commanded to walk in the spirit, not in the flesh. Yet, it is our flesh that must do the actual action of walking. How, then, do we get our flesh and our spirit to come into line with the Spirit of God?

Image by  Iván Tamás  from  Pixabay

Image by Iván Tamás from Pixabay

As I explained last week, once you accept the person and work of Jesus Christ as your Savior, His spirit comes to dwell in you. Let’s take a look at a few scriptures.

but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.
— Acts 1:8 (NASB)
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.
— Acts 2:4 (NASB)
Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
— Acts 2:38 (NASB)
All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also.
— Acts 10:45 (NASB)

I am not going to get into a lengthy discourse on baptism in the Spirit versus filling of the Spirit and other such conundrums. My personal opinion is, we receive the Holy Spirit at the moment of conversion. Whether we can access more of Him versus less of Him, or whether you believe in angelic tongues versus foreign tongues is not the point of this series. The point I want to make is simple, we who have been washed in the blood of Jesus have access to His authority, power and understanding, by the Holy Spirit.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
— John 16:13 (NASB)
The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,
— Romans 8:16 (NASB)
In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;
— Romans 8:26 (NASB)

The difficulty I feel we have is maintaining a dynamic, open and moment by moment awareness of that fact. The Holy Spirt isn’t going anywhere, meaning once you have accepted Jesus, the Spirit is with you all the time, but I do think we move. We wander away from that closeness we are able to have with Jesus because we allow other things to become static in our open line to Him.

Image by  Annalise Batista  from  Pixabay

Andrew Murray was a minister in South Africa. Being of Dutch and German descent his parents send he and his brother to school in Scotland and the Netherlands, where they studied theology. Murray was a prolific writer and is best know as as a significant forerunner to the Pentecostal movement. He was a believer in healing and the continuation of the apostolic gifts. (Information taken from Wikipedia).

I am not a Pentecostal. I do however, believe that we can have a deeper, fuller, richer relationship with our God, not merely through intellect and rote memorization, but with the inclusion of our emotions and intuition. Do I believe I can hear God speak to me in His spirit? Yes. Do I think he cares what color skirt I put on today? No. I bring this up because, I have heard well intended Christians say, “God told me to do this or that….God told me to tell you….God wants you to go here, or marry that person…” I believe we can be lead by God to make choices regarding who we marry, whether we should buy a house, praying over a person who is ill and so on, but I also believe God gave us a free will. We can decide what to eat for breakfast, what movie to go see (even if it is a bad one) and who we are going to hang out with on Friday night. However, the right to choose, does not mean we will always choose right, and it is in this area of faulty decision making that we can sharpen or dull our ability to walk in the Spirit and hear God’s voice.

Image by  Jason Gillman  from  Pixabay

Image by Jason Gillman from Pixabay

One of the books that Murray wrote is called Abide in Christ. This book is an amazing progression into the deeper layers of God. I do not believe reading this is for everyone, but it is for everyone who really wants to grow, not only wide in their walk with Christ, but deep. Let me share a few quotes.

And observe especially, it was not that He said, “Come to me and abide with me,” but, “Abide in me.” The intercourse was not only to be unbroken, but most intimate and complete. He opened his arms, to press you to His bosom; He opened His heart, to welcome you there; He opened up all His Divine fulness of life and love, and offered to take you up into its fellowship, to make you wholly one with Himself. There was a depth of meaning you cannot yet realize in His words : “Abide In Me.”
— Abide in Christ - Andrew Murray

With versus in. The word with gives you the idea of coming along side or being next to. The word in is simply that inside or within. We can describe the idea of being with someone else by discussing a person’s proximity, but it is harder to explain the word in without using the word itself. In has a sense of being contained, surrounded, and protected. In also gives us the idea of a continuous connection that never goes away. Water that is in a glass, always has a connection with the glass. As long as that water remains in that glass it will be connected to it.

Image by  rawpixel  from  Pixabay

Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

When we abide in Christ, we are in HIm. We are contained, surrounded and protected. We are always connected to Him as long as we abide. It is in this ability to abide in Christ that we will be able to begin to grow in our walk as Christians. As we abide, we will come to display the traits of a Godly person.

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing
— John 15:4-5 (NASB)
Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
— John 14:23 (NASB)

I especially love that last verse, because of Jesus’ absolute familiarity with us. He’s willing to make His dwelling with us and that is exactly what He does. He is with us and we are in Him. With this in mind, we will begin looking at the traits of a Godly person next week.

Have a great week everyone!



Traits of A Godly Person: A Look at Two Passages

This week, I want to continue my introduction to the traits of a Godly person by looking at two passages, 2 Peter 1:1-11 and Galatians 5:16-26. Just a few weeks ago, we finished a Mulling It Over series on 2 Peter 1:1-11. It was this series that got me thinking I should follow that up with a series on the traits of a Godly person.

Image by  Myriam Zilles  from  Pixabay

Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

When I speak of Godly traits, I am talking about the characteristics outlined in scripture that are those traits that God desires of us. These are traits like love, brotherly kindness, faith and so on. Let’s review 2 Peter 1: 1-11

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
— 2 Peter 1:1-11 (NASB)

In this passage we see nine Godly traits: diligence, faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

The other passage I want to stew over is in Galatians.

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.
17 For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.
19 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,
20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,
21 envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.
26 Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.
— Galatians 5:16-26 (NASB)

In order to fully understand these passages and fully grasp the traits that each is referring to, we must understand the work of the Holy Spirit.

Image by  Gerd Altmann  from  Pixabay

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

When a person accepts the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ he or she is choosing to place their faith in His person and His work. As a person He is fully God and fully man. His work, didn’t just consist of pertinent teachings such as kindness and love, but it included the most important work of all, that of bridging the gap between a Holy, Perfect, God and a fallen, sinful humanity. That is why He died on the cross. It was for us, to make atonement or a payment for the wrongs that all of humanity has done since Adam and Eve chose to eat of that tree in the garden.

Image by  jaaannnaaa  from  Pixabay

Image by jaaannnaaa from Pixabay

When you place your faith in Him, we then receive the person of the Holy Spirit. This is the third person of the trinity. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Each are uniquely different, yet all are of one mind and being. It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the ability to walk the Christian life. Sure people can be good, and love and be kind, but it is only these traits that are done in the Spirit of the triune God that truly last.

Image by  Colin Behrens  from  Pixabay

Image by Colin Behrens from Pixabay

The other thing that this bond with the Holy Spirit does is allows us access. We have access to God the Father, a direct tram to the throne room, so to speak. We have access to the forgiveness and cleansing of Jesus and we have access to a powerhouse of God-given ability to live life, but life more abundantly. The Holy Spirit is in essence, the mover and shaker of the God-head. Obviously, there is controversy over how the Spirit conveys His work, but no matter how you look at it, the Holy Spirit helps us to live a Godly life.

Next week, we’ll look a bit more closely at this relationship between us, the Holy Spirit and His ability to manifest Godly traits in our lives. I hope you’ll join me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post. If you have the time, leave a comment below. Have a great day.





Traits of a Godly Person: An Introduction - Becoming Like a Child

It is time that I get back to regularly posting on my Faith page. I apologize for the hiatus. Faith posts are more difficult for me to write, because I want to be accurate, according to Scripture, as well as sharing information that is encouraging. This often requires a quiet place to write and the time to do it.

As a writer of fiction, I can get into a groove of writing a scene or dialogue and conquer pages without even blinking an eye, but as all authors know, those times are infrequent. Writing is a discipline, just like going to the gym, watching what you eat and spending time in God’s word. As I have confessed previously, I am not a very disciplined person. That may be why I don’t have anything published yet. Yes, I do blog on a regular basis and that is a form of published writing, however, in the writing to publish realm it only counts as a way to build a following and a way to practice writing. That is okay. I need all the practice I can get, and you would be surprised how much better my fiction writing is, because I regularly write this blog. That’s a big shout out to all of you who read my blog, because you keep me writing. Thank you.

This morning my older daughter and I went to the gym. It has been a while since we have gone, so as hard as it was, I felt good afterwards. We didn’t get overly zealous, just did a fifteen minute walk on the treadmill, a few weight machines and some stretching. Still, it was a choice to do something good.

Image by  David Mark  from  Pixabay

Image by David Mark from Pixabay

As I was pondering good choices after I got back and took a shower, I thought about my last Mulling It Over series in 2 Peter 1:1-11. I had suggested that perhaps further study into each of the characteristics listed in that set of verses would be a good idea. I was about to begin a few other tasks after breakfast, when it struck me to sit down and do my devotions. I am sporadic at best, and I usually reach for Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest. You might think me strange, but this is the only devotional I have been using for, lets see, the date inside the book says my hubby gave it to me Christmas of 2007, so over eleven years.

The title of today’s devotional was, The Habit of Having No Habits. You can read it in full by clicking on the title. You can see that I actually read the wrong day…or did I? If you believe in an Almighty Creator, who is able to control all of our circumstances, then you will probably agree with me, that God could have easily placed May 12th in front of my face rather than May 13th…or it could just be the dementia setting in. Ha, ha.

If you read the devotional you will see Oswald talking about the habit of becoming godly. When we first become a Christian, many of our habits may have to change and we purposefully have to make choices to change them. It is when those habits no longer have to be thought about or fought against, that our lives have become, as Oswald says, “…the simple life of a child.” It is with this in mind, that I want to start this new series.

When we take the time to look at children, we can see, generally they live without a care in the world. They trust their parents to take care of them. If they are afraid, they know they can go to their parents and be reassured. Children are full of curiosity, innocence and joy. Sure, they have their moments, but don’t we all?There are references in the Bible to children and becoming like a child, revealing a special fondness our Creator has for these miniature humans.

At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 And He called a child to Himself and set him before them,
3 and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
4 Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
5 And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;
6 but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.
— Matthew 18:1-6 (NASB)

I would love to go into a detailed description of the place of torment I believe God has for predators of children, but I’ll save that for a fiction piece. Make no mistake, what Christ says in these verses is of primary importance. We cannot become Christians if we do not become like little children. God is also a God of justice and those who lead little children astray will be subject to an Almighty God’s wrath.

You might be wondering what all of this has to do with the traits of a Godly person. If we do not become like a child, as Christ said, we cannot enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I also believe that it is only in becoming like a child that we are able to obtain these traits of God, traits like love, joy, peace, brotherly kindness, etc.

A child has a large ability to believe, and belief is key, both in becoming a child of God and in walking in His spirit. Ask a four year old if he believes in Santa Clause, unicorns, or a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. They believe these things because we as parents invite them in to a fantastic world of imagination and possibility. In the same way our loving Creator invites us in to a world of unfailing love, perfect peace and streets paved with gold.

Image by  Stefan Keller  from  Pixabay

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Becoming adults, we think we are doing ourselves a favor by putting aside our imaginings and dreams, but we only do ourselves a disservice. Obviously, only a chosen few have had the privilege to see God. The rest of us must leave his appearance to our imaginations. Using our imaginations does not make God any less real, in fact, the ability to believe who He says He is, and what He says He can do, takes a bit of imagining, but who gave us this ability? He did, and He did it so that we could come to know Him more fully, so that we could come into His presence and experience all that He tells us in His word.

As we begin to look at these Godly traits over the next few weeks and perhaps months, try to revisit the feelings and thoughts you had as a child, when you looked forward to Christmas morning, a vacation or a surprise. Look with anticipation and joy at what God will teach you, and me, with trust in His very best for us.

Mulling it Over - Part 9

Once again I am looking at 2 Peter 1:1-11. Over the last number of weeks I have been walking slowly through this passage, desiring that you and I ruminate on the verses each week, much like a cow chewing on his cud. We want to read, reread and reread again. Not only read, but really think about the words that God inspired His chosen ones to write in the Holy Scriptures.

Image by  blende22  from  Pixabay

Image by blende22 from Pixabay

The context of this passage written by Peter was to encourage believers that were scattered throughout the areas of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. His readers were mainly Jews who had become believers. Seeing as it was a large area Peter was writing to, it makes sense that he was trying to cover the main points of what a walk with Christ would look like. Let’s look at the whole passage again.

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

As we have learned in our study, the eight qualities that Peter lists are ours to have because of Jesus’ great and magnificent promises. They are to be increasing in our lives, meaning we need to be putting in the effort to focus on these qualities and determine, how we can allow God to bring them to fullness in us.

Today we are going to finish the passage, by looking at the last two verses.

10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
— 2 Peter 1:10-11 (NASB)

Therefore, brethren…

Once again, we are reminded that these letters were written to believers. In the Christian community we look at our fellow believers as our brothers and sisters.

…be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you…

I believe in eternal security, meaning once you make the decision to accept Christ as your Savior, you are always saved, however, there are decisions made when emotions are high, that aren’t necessarily real. I grew up in a Bible believing church and was taught that asking Jesus to be my Savior was a decision I had to make. While my Sunday School teachers did an excellent job to teach me how to make this decision and what and who exactly I was believing in, it wasn’t until I was twelve that I fully committed my life to Christ. That decision was real. I knew exactly who I was talking to, when I prayed that prayer, on my own, in my bedroom at home.

Image by  reenablack  from  Pixabay  

Image by reenablack from Pixabay 

When Peter says to be diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you, He isn’t saying you might have lost your salvation along the way. He’s saying, make sure that decision was real when you made it. I also think that he is encouraging us to go back and ruminate on what, exactly Jesus did and why He did it. With Easter just around the corner, what better time to be certain about His calling and choosing. Did you make a decision to follow Jesus? What it real? Has it changed your life? That brings us to the next phrase.

…for as long as you practice these things you, will never stumble…

Do you believe this? There is a connection here between the two phases. Practice is essential for not stumbling. The passage doesn’t say, “…for as long as you read about these things…” Nor does it say, “…for as long as you occasionally do these things…” The word is practice. You all remember the old saying, “Practice makes perfect.” Of late, there is a new movement towards a different mentality of “Practice makes permanent,” which actually might make more sense. We want what we practice to become a permanent part of who we are. If I am practicing brotherly kindness, I want to practice it and practice it, until it becomes a natural response for me.

So what exactly does it mean when it says, we will never stumble?

If we were truly practicing all of the qualities listed in this passage, and it was a practice that made permanent, I think Peter would be right, we would never stumble. Unfortunately, how many of us are practicing these qualities until they are firmly embedded on our minds and hearts. Sure we might be really good at brotherly kindness, but when it comes to self-control, we trip up. Yes, we might make a regular practice of moral excellence, but when we have to be diligent we fall short. I do believe we can become better and better at every single one of these qualities, and we may even get to the point where we no longer stumble, but again, it is only Jesus and his Spirit that gives us this stumble proof ability.

For in this way, the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.

If we don’t really pay attention, one could say that this verse is a proponent of good works theology. This is theology that says, we gain entrance into heaven by our good works. But the Bible is clear on this:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
— Ephesians 2:8-9 (NASB)

i believe this verse is speaking as a matter of degrees. The Bible says,

...that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved
— Romans 10:9 (NASB)

If we believe in Jesus we will be saved. We will get into Heaven and dwell with the Almighty forever. What this verse seems to be suggesting is that it can be even better than that. It says that entrance into the Kingdom will be abundantly supplied to us. Abundance implies wealth and resources. Maybe for those who have been practicing these qualities and striving to be diligent and remember God’s precious and magnificent promises, they will receive a ticker tape parade. I really don’t know, but I find it interesting that the point was made that the entrance into the Kingdom will be abundantly supplied.

Image by  Dimitris Vetsikas  from  Pixabay  

Image by Dimitris Vetsikas from Pixabay 

I hope you have enjoyed this look at 2 Peter 1:1-11. Next week, I hope to do an Easter post. After that I might return to the eight qualities listed in this passage and start looking at those in depth. Until then, have a great week everyone.




Mulling it Over - Part 8

I love to watch British mystery shows. I’ve worked my way through several and have thoroughly enjoyed them. I often think of reading and studying the Bible as a mystery investigation. We have many questions in life that we want answers for. The Bible gives us understanding as we learn to investigate its depths and trust God to teach us from it.

Image by  M W  from  Pixabay

Image by M W from Pixabay

Just as a child has an immense sense of curiosity, in the same way we need to be curious about what God says in His word. Reading it, is a good start. Studying it, is even better. Mulling it over and ruminating on it is best. This is how we have our curiosity satisfied and it is how we learn.

Today we are looking at 2 Peter 1:9

For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
— 2 Peter 1:9 (NASB)

For he who lacks these qualities…

Peter is, once again, referring back to the qualities that were listed in the previous verses. Let’s review them as they are listed in the verses 5-7.

5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
— 2 Peter 1:5-7 (NASB)

We can draw the conclusion from the beginning of verse 9, that not everyone was practicing these qualities. This letter written by Peter was specifically for Christians, people who already believed in the death and resurrection of Christ. We can better understand this if we look back at the book of 1 Peter and the beginning of this chapter.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen
2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
— 1 Peter 1:1-2 (NASB)
1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
— 2 Peter 1:1 (NASB)

It would seem, then, that not all Christians have these qualities. That may give us added insight into why Peter wrote these two letters in the first place, aside from the Divine Inspiration, aspect. God inspired him to pen these words, because there were Christians who were not exemplifying these qualities.

…is blind or short-sighted…

Talk about a slap in the face! What Peter is saying is that those who are not exhibiting these qualities are unable to see. What exactly does that mean? Obviously, there are lots of people who call themselves Christians, because they have accepted Jesus as their Savior, but they are not showing the qualities that Peter lists above.

Image by  OpenClipart-Vectors  from  Pixabay

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay

Let’s stop for a minute and talk about this. All of us fall short. I believe I have mentioned this before. None of us is perfect. As I have mentioned I struggle with things like self-control, diligence and love. However, struggling with doing these on a regular basis is different than not exhibiting these qualities all together. If you ask my kids and my husband, they would tell you I love them. If you ask my boss at work, she’d say I am diligent. The fact that I have chosen to not drink alcohol or smoke, tells you that I have some self-control. So what does Peter mean when he says that those who are not practicing these things are blind?

I believe that when we do not practice these qualities we become insensitive to the movement of God’s spirit in our lives. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit, when we accept Jesus’ work, life, death and resurrection, is the string that connects us to the Almighty. The Holy Spirit’s work in us is to make us more like Christ.

But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.
— John 16:13 (NASB)

The Spirit’s job is to guide us into truth. He teaches us about diligence, knowledge, brotherly kindness and all the other qualities that we are to be practicing. When we don’t pursue these things, we become blind or short sighted to what the Spirit of the Living God wants to teach us.

…having forgotten his purification from his former sins.

Sin is not something we spend huge amounts of time talking about or thinking about, but we should. When we forget sin, we forget the whole reason, Jesus had to die on the cross. We begin to forget that we were and are sinners, saved by God’s grace and mercy. We buy into the lies that the world puts out there, that sin is a bad word and all the bad things in the world are a result of bad luck or the choices of others. We are playing a long, drawn out version of the blame game and in the end it leads to destruction.

Image by  ErikaWittlieb  from  Pixabay  

Image by ErikaWittlieb from Pixabay 

As we begin to think about Easter, which is only a few weeks away, I hope that each of us will spend a little time in self-reflection asking these questions:

Am I practicing the qualities Peter lists in verses 5, 6 and 7?

Have I forgotten why Jesus came to die on the cross?

Have I stopped believing what God says about sin?

Have I really taken a look at myself lately to see where I am sinning, and where I need to confess and receive His forgiveness?

Let’s keep practicing these qualities. Not only will it draw us closer to Christ, but it will make us much better human beings.

Mulling it Over - Part 7

We have been working our way through 2 Peter 1:1-11. If you are just coming in to this series and want to check out the previous posts just click on the links below:

Part 1 Part 4

Part 2 Part 5

Part 3 Part 6

Today we are going to mull over verse 8:

For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
— 2 Peter 1:8 (NASB)
Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/Skitterphoto-324082/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2254970">Rudy and Peter Skitterians</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2254970">Pixabay</a>

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/Skitterphoto-324082/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2254970">Rudy and Peter Skitterians</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2254970">Pixabay</a>

There is something about spring that really sets our hearts to racing. It is like a romance with nature, as she offers her ever increasing beauty for all of us to enjoy. The same can be said of our relationship with the triune God head. He is ever increasing our ability to experience Him more deeply. Let’s take a closer look at today’s verse by breaking each phrase down. Please remember, this is my take on the passage. I am neither a Bible teacher or a scholar, just a Holy Spirit filled woman who follows Christ.

For if these qualities…

The qualities referred to are the ones previously mentioned. Let me list them: diligence, faith, moral excellence, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love.

…are yours…

Have you made these qualities a part of your life? Remember back in verse 4, Peter refers to God’s precious and magnificent promises, which, when we claim them as our own, we become partakers in the divine nature. All of these qualities are the same qualities we see in God. It is His divine nature that gives us the ability to make these qualities ours. We do that, when we make Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. I will talk more about this event in the days leading up to Easter.

…and are increasing…

I find it interesting that Peter was sure to include this phrase. The aforementioned qualities are not just to be ours, but are to be increasing. It really is easy for many people to be “good” for a day, a week, a month or even a few years, but remember last week, when I shared Jeremiah 17:9?

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

Even the best of us, fall short. It isn’t enough to have the quality of self-control, or diligence or brotherly kindness. Each of these needs to be practiced and it is by practice that they become more a part of who we are. Instead of anger, it becomes our natural response to be kind. Instead of hatred, we return love. Temptations that once assailed us, will no longer have control over us, because our diligence and self-control are stronger.

…they render you, neither useless nor unfruitful…

If those qualities are increasing, then we are neither useless nor unfruitful. We are often encouraged to be about the Lord’s business, whether that means sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ, or being involved in a ministry for the homeless. It really doesn’t matter what we do, as long as these qualities are increasing in our lives. Being fruitful isn’t just about the souls we are going to take to heaven with us, it is about glorifying God in all we do and say.

When I was a student at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL the president at the time often used the terminology, “being a person of excellence.” For some reason, that has always stuck with me. The reason we want to be a person of excellence, is because of who we are representing. It makes sense to me, that if the qualities of diligence, godliness, self-control, and so on are increasing, we will automatically be useful and fruitful.

so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;
— Colossians 1:10 (NASB)

This verse from Colossians also talks about increasing, specifically in the knowledge of God. It also talks about bearing fruit. This idea of increasing in the knowledge of God and bearing fruit, seems to go hand in hand. Maybe that will need to be looked into at a future date. That brings me to the last phrase of this verse.

…in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Once again, knowledge. Not just any old knowledge, but the true knowledge of Christ. There is plenty of untruth in the world. There is falsehood, lies and a twisting of the truth. People say there are no moral absolutes and everyone should be able to do whatever they want. That would be fine, if every single person was increasing in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, there are many false teachers and false teachings out there. Often, they are dressed in robes of that look godly, but really are not. All the more reason, we need to be diligent, increasing in these qualities and truly learning more of God, by studying His word, the Bible.

How do we increase in this knowledge? Reading the Bible, prayer and fellowship are good practices to get into. Don’t just read your Bible, study it. Don’t just pray, but do spiritual warfare when you pray. Find a church where you can actually worship and hang out with other like-minded, godly individuals. In addition, ask God to show you which of these qualities you need to be increasing in.

I hope you are enjoying this study of 2 Peter 1:1-11. Have a great day and check back again next week.

Mulling It Over - Part 6

It is always refreshing when we can learn something new. It is also good for our brains. As we age things in our bodies change and that includes in our brains. That is why I like to do this blog. It has helped me learn many new things, such as how to build a post and actually get it out there where you can see it. It also has given me the opportunity to go back to Scripture and learn new things. I am a graduate of Moody Bible Institute. I was brought up in a Bible believing church where the word was preached every time the doors were open. My husband and i brought our children up in a Bible based church where both of our daughters were involved in Bible quizzing. To say that God’s word is important to us is obvious.

Image by &lt;a href="https://pixabay.com/users/stempow-4705662/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;amp;utm_content=2110439"&gt;stempow&lt;/a&gt; from &lt;a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;amp;utm_content=2110439"&gt;Pixabay&lt;/a&gt;

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/stempow-4705662/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2110439">stempow</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=2110439">Pixabay</a>

However, that doesn’t mean life has been perfect. We have walked through some very difficult times and probably will walk through more, but then that is the beauty of a life walked out with Jesus Christ. He is always there, through every difficulty, and with each difficulty He brings new light and depth to our understanding of Him. It doesn’t matter how many times I have read through the Bible. It doesn’t matter that my education revolved around the Bible. Today, I still learn new things from God’s word, and that is exactly why I like to do this series.

Let’s review by reading through this passage in 2 Peter 1 again:

1 To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.
10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
— 2 Peter 2:1-11 (NASB)

Today we are concentrating on verse 7:

7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
— 2 Peter 1:7 (NASB)

…and in your godliness…

Last week I spend some time discussing what it means to be godly. We looked at how godliness enables us to persevere. You can read that full post here.

I’d like to take a closer look at this idea of godliness; what it is and is not. Let’s look at some verses:

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,
4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these
— 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NASB)

We are told in this passage that in the last days difficult times will come. If you look at the descriptions that follow, we would probably agree that these times are already on us. The words that describe these “men” are, unfortunately, words that paint a picture of the daily news. Words like unloving, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, conceited….all describe people we either know first hand or that we have read about or seen on various forms of media.

The point I want to emphasize is in verse 5. “Holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power…” How many people do you know that say, “I believe in God,” but their lives show no evidence that they really know who that supreme being is? Their form of godliness goes under the guise of good deeds, kind words and harmony. There is nothing wrong with those things, but those things do not make us godly. Those things do not have any power.

It is true, that being kind and doing good deeds are beneficial. What a better world we would be living in, if everyone actually did those things, but it is God who makes us godly, not the things we do. As much as we don’t like to hear it and as much as we want to be the good guy, the Bible tells us that we are wicked.

9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?
— Jeremiah 17:9 (KJV)
Pixabay

Pixabay

I found it interesting as I looked for this verse. I memorized it in my younger days in the King James Version, so that is what I was looking for. As I looked at various translations it was interesting to see the condition word that was used to describe the heart. These were some of the descriptors: desperately wicked, exceedingly corrupt, mortally sick, desperately sick, incurable, beyond cure, desperately corrupt. How does that make you feel? These are words God inspired to describe our hearts. So when it says that men are holding to a form of godliness, yet there is no power in it, it makes perfect sense. We cannot be godly without God, and it seems that the One True God is being shoved to the back seat, as an after thought, rather than a priority. For many, He is not even an after thought, except to take His name in vain.

…brotherly kindness…

I just got done saying that only God makes us godly, so why then is brotherly kindness attached to godliness? The Bible is full of examples of what modern day philanthropists would title a social gospel. Before there was a politically correct way of looking at the world, the God who created the heavens and the earth, had already put into motion a social system that took care of those who had to do without. If you are ever interested do a study of the complex social system God places on the Jewish people. This system did not allow the unseen to fall through the cracks. People were taken care of, either by family or by the community in general. If they didn’t have food, those that did were instructed to leave their excess for the use of those without. Brotherly kindness also transcends the bounds of our immediate community as it is an attitude that we can take with us any where.

Image by &lt;a href="https://pixabay.com/users/PremierCompanies-372586/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;amp;utm_content=411949"&gt;PremierCompanies&lt;/a&gt; from &lt;a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;amp;utm_content=411949"&gt;Pixabay&lt;/a&gt;

Image by <a href="https://pixabay.com/users/PremierCompanies-372586/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=411949">PremierCompanies</a> from <a href="https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=411949">Pixabay</a>

What does this have to do with godliness? The ability to extend brotherly kindness, reminds us of who we are. We are created in the image of a God whose lovingkindness is everlasting. When we look beyond ourselves to the needs of others we are doing what God Himself did when He offered His only son, Jesus, for our redemption. We cannot be godly, if we are not trying to become more like Him, by living our lives in the service of others.

…and in your brotherly kindness, love.

Many of you who regularly read God’s word are familiar with the 1 Corinthians 13 chapter on love. The chapter, which is all about the characteristics of true, godly love, ends with this simple culmination:

13 But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.

— 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NASB)

How fitting that this list of characteristics of Christian virtue, ends with love. As Paul said in his famous chapter, anything I try to do without love, means nothing. All those acts of brotherly kindness will only reach as deep as our love for the people we are serving. Many acts of brotherly kindness have been done in the name of self. After all, doing things for others, makes us feel good. However, only real, godly love will make the acts that we do last. We can take water and food to people who have none, but if we leave having done, only that, the food and water will run out and the difference that was made will only be temporary.

Love fuels brotherly kindness. Without love we are a noisy gong or a clanging symbol; making a lot of noise, but not making an impact on people’s lives.

As you go about your week, this week, think about what you are doing. When you are serving someone else, is it a reminder to you of your position before God? Are you extending brotherly kindness, but doing so with love?



Mulling It Over - Part 2

It was a good morning to stay inside. The temperature hovered at 32 degrees Fahrenheit making the moisture that fell turn everything into something similar to a glazed doughnut without the sweet taste. Even now, as the temps have risen to a balmy 34 degrees, the ice still lingers, stubbornly clinging to branches, wires, driveways, cars and buildings.

Ice on back door
Ice on branches
Ice on plant hanger

I am looking at a portion of scripture that I introduced last week in the New Testament book of 2 Peter. Peter, one of the original twelve disciples, authored 1st and 2nd Peter. Here is the passage again.

1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:
2 Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;
3 seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
4 For by these He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.
5 Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge,
6 and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness,
7 and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.
8 For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9 For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. 10 Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;
11 for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.
— 2 Peter 1:1-11 (NASB)

Last week we looked at verses 1 and 2. You can see that post here. This week we will dissect verse 3. If you have not been a participant in my Mulling It Over series before, let me briefly explain how this works. I love to let the Bible speak for itself. The Holy Spirit gives us the capacity to understand scripture, so what I am doing is sharing with you what I have learned in my study of certain scriptures. I think is is wonderful to study the Bible in different ways, so I would strongly encourage you to do further research and study on various passages, but for this particular study we will just chew on what it says and let the Bible do the talking.

On to verse 3:

...seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.
— 2 Peter 1:3 (NASB)

…seeing that His divine power…

The fact that it is divine power, means that it is power of God, not men or machines or whatever you want to use to fill in the blank. This power is from God. It is His to give and His to withhold. Here are a few other verses that talk about His divine power.

With Him are wisdom and might; To Him belong counsel and understanding.
— Job 12:13 (NASB)
I will instruct you in the power of God; What is with the Almighty I will not conceal.
— Job 27:11 (NASB)
O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!
— Psalm 68:35 (NASB)
Daniel said, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, For wisdom and power belong to Him.
— Daniel 2:20 (NASB)

…has granted to us…

I looked up the word granted in Webster’s Online Dictionary. There are two specific definitions that I feel define the way the word is used in this sentence. The first says, “…to permit as a right, privilege or favor.” God has given us rights. He has privileged us and he has given us favor. It may not always seems like it, but it is true.

The second definition says, “…to bestow or transfer formally; to give the possession or title of by a deed.” God, in His great generosity gives us things. Just as a good father loves to give his children gifts, so too, our Heavenly Father derives great pleasure from giving His spiritual children gifts.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!
— Matthew 7:11 (NASB)
Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.”
— Ephesians 4:8 (NASB)
Arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you.”
— Genesis 13:17 (NASB)
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
— Matthew 7:7 (NASB)

So what, exactly, is it that God granted to us?

…everything pertaining to life and godliness…

The word everything is pretty all encompassing. We could all list things that we have wanted that God didn’t necessarily give us, so why does it say everything. The key phrase here is pertaining to. Everything pertaining to life and godliness. We all might think, now wait a minute, there are plenty of things pertaining to life that I haven’t been given. For example, a woman who desires to have a child, but is unable or someone looking for a life partner, but not able to find the right one. What about the man or woman who is out of a job and can’t find work, or people in other countries who live in fear for their lives and the lives of their children? Isn’t the ability to find love, have a family and have a secure, safe place to live all part of life?

How many of you remember the song, sung by Lynn Anderson, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden? Here’s a refresher if you have the time to listen.

The first few lines go:

“I beg your pardon, I never promised you a rose garden

Along with the sunshine, there has to be a little rain sometime.”

It might sound rather trite, especially if you are going through a hard time, but there is great truth there. God didn’t promise us that we would have everything we want, or even everything we need. The power He has granted to us is the ability to live life, regardless of what difficulties come along.

Notice that the verse says everything pertaining to life and godliness. There seems to be a connection here which cannot be ignored. Godliness goes hand in hand with living life. We don’t become godly after life is over, we become godly as we live life. As many of you have already experienced becoming godly often happens during the most difficult portions of life, not during the rose garden moments, but during the monsoon moments. It is during these monsoon moments that God grants us what we need to keep living life, or the grace to give up.

Pixabay

Pixabay

There is nothing wrong with giving up, particularly if you have struggled and struggled. There are times that the giving up is more a matter of our pride than it is the desire to get what we want. We don’t want to look weak, or stupid, or unable to cope. We don’t want to ask for help or admit that this is definitely not what we thought life would look like. But it is okay! Come to terms with it, you are weak, sometimes your decisions are stupid and frankly I have had many days where I just could’t cope, but God has always been there through it all and that brings me to the last portion of this verse.

…through the true knowledge of Him who has called us by His own glory and excellence.

That divine power that grants to us everything to live this journey we call life and make us godly is only obtainable through the true knowledge of Him. In other words, it is through our acknowledgment and acceptance of Jesus as our Lord and Savior that we are able to live life and be godly. We can’t do this on our own and that is precisely the point.

God called us, each one of us, by His own glory and excellence, which was personified in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the crowing glory of the Father and Jesus is the perfect man, a man of true excellence. When we come to know Him by our faith in His virgin birth, life, death and resurrection, we are given the ability to live this life, no matter what it throws at us. Our loss is an opportunity for gaining more of Him. Our weakness is an opportunity for being infused with His strength. Our stupidity is an opportunity for learning more of Him and growing in His wisdom. Our deepest, unmet desire is an opportunity for becoming intimate with a Holy, loving god.

I hope this verse has given you hope. You are not living this life alone. He is with you, granting you the ability to live life, no matter what storm you are going through. Hang on!